So…This Is What Complacency Feels Like.

After a late winter snow storm, Grosvenor Park, North Bethesda, MD, USA.

Yawn. I don’t know if I can get used to this. Let’s see. I’m 56 years old. In a sense, I’ve been to hell and back. I’ve suffered a stroke. I’ve been a drug addict. I’ve been homeless for years. I’ve been stabbed (left forearm) and shot (left shin). I’ve had my life threatened by a crazy drug dealer in L.A. and have hanged out with the worse people in the worst places in NY, Nashville, LA and Seattle. I’ve owned many musical instruments over the years which I eventually sold to pawn shops for a pittance. Did I mention I’ve been homeless in Rhode Island, NY, Nashville, LA and Seattle? I’ve been hospitalized for psychotic breaks and am now diagnosed as being autistic, diabetic, and suffering from PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea and gouty arthritis. Yes, I have abandonment issues and I’ve made one serious suicide attempt which landed me in a now-defunct psychiatric hospital (Creedmor) for two months. I’ve also been a tortured, miserable nurse for about 30 years and have had my share of near-death experiences driving a cab in snowy weather. Hell, I wanted to end it all when I became ultra-dehydrated and weak from riding my old, clothes-laden bike for two days (about 100 miles) in the hot sun from White Plains, NY to Saugerties, NY. Through it all, I somehow managed to study Jainism, play in bands, record a few albums, drive around the country, and write and publish some novels, screenplays, audio books, short stories, and so on.

Then, two days ago, everything stopped.

I’m complacent now. Thanks to SSDI, I don ‘t have to worry about food or a place to live. As a matter of fact, I’m in my dream home – an adult community in a safe, quiet, artistic, progressive town on the waterfront. I have good doctors and, even though I don’t have a car anymore, the bus service is pretty adequate around here. And even though I should, I don’t get out as much as I’d like – except to the food bank every week – because I have a big ass ROKU TV and Android TV to entertain me, as well as two computers (including this one month old, spanking brand new HP), a new 88-note semi-weighted keyboard, new audio monitors, and enough audio creation software, music, movies and games to keep me busy for the next 20 years or so. So what have I been doing for the past two days? Sleeping.

Maybe I miss the days when danger was just a few steps down the way, when, at any given moment, the police could suddenly roll up on me as they’ve done several times in NY, LA and Seattle. Maybe I miss freezing to near death in my car and then being forced against my will to do crazy things like break into a bank, a church, an abandoned building, or a police station. Maybe I miss the decrepit, dangerous, dark crack houses dotting the thorniest places from coast to coast. Sigh. I do miss ambling about naked in public parks and supermarkets, but that was my bipolar talking, not me. As it stands, technically, I don’t have to write books or music to try to make a living anymore; I’m already there. I suppose I can just get wasted every day and watch the world go by. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be too thrilling, though. I hope all this complacency is just my depression, and our rainy/snowy winter weather, talking. If not, I don’t think I could last too long this way.

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Do Advocates For The Homeless Actually Keep Our Numbers Up?

I’ve been reading in different places online that administrators, and other people in charge of eradicating homelessness, actually don’t do that because they’re making six-figure salaries, and housing the homeless would mean an end to their careers. If that’s true, what a shame. I hope some kind of outside authority investigates that, but I fear that this level of corruption could possibly lead even to the mayor’s office. Obviously, I can’t just walk into a homeless advocacy office and ask to see their numbers, their track record of placing the homeless in housing. It’s probably quite poor and they would never admit it’s just a scam. Making money off the city’s most vulnerable. Isn’t that a shame? Later on today I’ll write to some of those concerned and see what they say. In my heart I know what they’ll write will be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Maybe I won’t waste my time and just celebrate St. Patrick’s Day drinking green beer like everyone else.

One Month In Port Townsend

Port Townsend is a boat building, Victorian, seaside arts community that is popular with the retirement set. I’ve been here for one month and so far I have mixed feelings about it. Some people I’ve run into are outright friendly; others give me the feeling that they’re undercover racists but are too ball-less to show it. I could be wrong; wouldn’t be the first time, but that gnawing feeling one gets when one is stared at by strangers in public emporiums and other places seems to invade my thoughts negatively every so often. I’m holding out hope that, being homeless, I’m just accidentally running into the dregs of society and things will take a turn for the positive once I’m domiciled.

As far as the city proper is concerned, it is a small town so I wasn’t expecting wall to wall excitement. There are a lot of parks around, enough so that I can find places to doze off, in my car or out. They have quite a few restaurants, too. The problem here is they’re all expensive. Average meals range in price from $10 to $14 as opposed to Seattle where I’m used to $7 to $12. The two libraries I’ve been to are par for the course. Architecture here is great if you’re into that sort of thing. Crime isn’t frequent or intense here. About four to six people end up in jail every day because of crimes like drug possession, misdemeanor assaults and driving violations. I did notice an apartment complex that, while not ghetto, did seem ghetto-ish from outside. It has a pretty name, too: Nor’West Village. My name is on their wait list but I hope they don’t pick me.

The beaches here are pristine, almost as if no human has ever set foot on them. That was a surprise given how people love to graffiti and litter at every opportunity. I’m still in the shelter and probably will be for the next month or two. I try to come in late and leave early as much as I can because some of the clients rub me the wrong way. There is no lack of negative personalities here, that’s for sure. Next week I’m driving down to Poulsbo to pick up my bi-pap machine; people complain a lot here about my snoring so the machine should help. So far, I’m surviving. Things could be better, things could be worse. I’ll give the city another a month or two. If things don’t start looking up I may reconsider shooting back to Seattle. We’ll see.

The Homeless Problem

News media outlets cover the plight of the homeless in their tabloids every day, presenting to the world all kinds of statistics related to the downtrodden and un-domiciled. And, you know, when you’re in the midst and thick of it as I am, you can get pretty cynical in regards to how the government is actually working to end homelessness. Here in Seattle, the attempt is a joke. To wit:

In any jurisdiction, you call 211 for info. Their job is to steer you towards assistance. Right now, I won’t go into how ineffective they are, but after calling them up a few times, it’s pretty obvious the volunteers are clueless.

I was recently looking into CEA – Coordinated Entry for All – a system that’s supposedly in place to get people off the streets. I went so see them Thursday & Friday but was told I had to make an appointment through 211. So I called 211. They said I should try the CEA offices in the Central District because the Northgate Office I was looking into works by appointment only. Or, 211 suggests, I can always take a trip to the Redmond Public Library on Monday between 1 to 3 PM, but like the other CEA officers, I am not guaranteed to be seen because they operate on a first come first served basis. The 211 operator told me to call him back next Wednesday to see if any interview slots opened up. Now, I don’t mind sleeping in my car, but suppose i didn’t have it. Where am I to sleep for the next frigid weeks? Shelters are filled up around town and public parks kick you out from 11pm to 4am – perfect sleeping time.

The Homeless Problem is getting no better in Seattle. Maybe I should try homelessness somewhere else, like Port Townsend or Port Angeles. Now, that’s an idea.

I’m Back In Seattle Again…But Still Homeless.

Redneck Wedding

Oh, well. I guess I’ll never learn. I was pretty busy today, setting up my life in Seattle again. Gave me something to do. I also contacted a woman re: subsidized housing in Port Hadlock and Port Townsend. She’ll be sending me the application this week (I receive mail at the Ballard Food Bank) which I’ll fill out and return to her as quickly as possible. She says the wait list is around six months. Not bad. I can sleep in my car another six months. Piece of cake. Too bad the subsidized housing here in North Seattle has a wait list of, like, 2 to 5 years and beyond. Pretty ridiculous. Can you imagine the large number of people with SSI or SSDI living on the street who can easily afford a subsidized place for around $250 – $400/month? I know I’m not the only one. In any case, mentally, I feel much better than I did up in Forks. Too bad it didn’t work out there. At least I know now, first hand, what it feels like to live in a freezing cold trailer in the winter time. Man, those things are just impossible to keep warm in! And with all the loose dogs around the trailer, I was like a prisoner in my own home. And don’t even get me started on the rednecks! (Yes, I dress like them now, but it’s not like I have a durn choice!)

Bye, Forks.

Well, that didn’t take long. I told my landlady, through my realtor, that I’m not happy in Forks and wish to break my lease. She agreed; now, I can leave any time. There’s a trailer for $40K I was looking into in Port Townsend, but since I don’t qualify for a personal or home loan from my bank, I may have to end up going back to Santos Housing, the transitional shelter in Seattle I’d just left three months ago. At least I gave it a shot. Forks isn’t conducive to my mental health at all; in fact, it’s been downright depressing these past couple of months. Everything works at a snail’s pace here. The operative word is wait – wait for this, wait for that, wait for the other thing. In the meantime, you just sleep to pass the time. That’s what I did. I accomplished nothing – no writing, no blog entries, no walking. (You can’t freely walk around here because of the large amount of dogs strolling about loosely). It was costing me a fortune to stay here, too, as everything had to be paid for – electricity, gas, heat, mailbox, garbage disposal, internet, etc. I went from $405/month at Santos to about $1,000 a month here, and I was happier at Santos! Hey, at least I gave it a shot. Tomorrow, I’ll call up Santos and ask to go back. Hopefully there’s a room available. If not, I’ll just look for another transitional shelter somewhere. I’d stay in my car but it’s a bit cold for that.

RIP, Charleena Lyles. Mental Health Treatment Is A Joke.

For a long time, I’ve always thought that psychiatry is a joke, a clownish affair, a profession for buffoons who couldn’t guess their way out of a paper bag. I’ve even blogged about it in the past few months, especially in relation to me. Psychiatry and psychology has failed me; pills don’t help. All they do is infuriate me and perhaps even make me crazier. I’ve also stated that, if I had a serious psychotic break in public, the only way society would know how to deal with it is put me down like a dog.

And then that’s exactly what happened this past week.

I live in the same apartment complex as Charleena Lyles, Charleena was 30 years old with four kids and the fifth on the way. Like me, Charleena was black, homeless, and suffering from mental health. In essence, she was the female version of me. She called the police Sunday morning about a burglary in her house. Words were exchanged, bullets flew, and Charleena died in the presence of three of her kids. The police had the audacity to say the kids were unharmed. Of course they were harmed. They’re psychologically fucked for life, that’s how they were harmed.

Once again, the most vulnerable of this society has been failed. Societies like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will come along, speak to the press, and say, “This tragedy could’ve been prevent.” Yeah, no shit. Can NAMI prevent it? Or any organizations that claims to assist the mentally ill? Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all they’re doing is picking up a paycheck because, guess what, their advocacy don’t mean squat in the real world. There will be another Charleena tomorrow, only this time she’ll be called Robin.