I was asked this one day by the boys in my room at the shelter. "Are you bitter yet?", Guy said. They had seen me come home from a less than good day in a fairly bitchy mood. And I joked with them back, “Bitter, no. Jaded for sure”. But on that day rule #1 of homeless 101 was solidified. Don’t trust anyone. Douglas,the man with Heritage Health and Housing and the man who picked me up initially at the airport had turned his card being a good but senseless administrator and screwed me out of $100 a month. $100 of my money. Never mind how he did it – explaining the ins and outs of this fucked-up system is even way too tedious for this blog and its dedicated readership. The point here is that he had a choice, and he could have done something that helped someone, yes, in this case me. But instead, he behaved like too many cogs in too many clattering social machines behave and did something that served him and his organization well, but not the people well.
I hope he enjoys the $100 in loan money he denied me from my government. Bet he had a cold one on me this weekend. Asshole. But assholes are in no short supply in these waters. In my second week, two sweaters were stolen from on top of my locker. We are told not to leave things there, but I had made a mistake. The sweaters had become damp in a rain. Am I bitter yet? Not yet. I worry about becoming institutionalized to the point that I say I am bitter though. Tonight at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration a man came up to me and said he had become a follower of this blog. He called the work being done here, “Path breaking”. I was taken aback a bit so I queried him some on what he meant. “Path breaking?”, I said. “I had someone else tell me that this is the first blog to address homelessness in an articulate and lighthearted manner. But I couldn’t believe that no one had ever done this before”. “No one has”, he returned. “What you are doing is needed. It’s fresh. It’s honest. It’s path breaking.”
Another woman who visits me at Zuccotti, a psychiatrist, has told me a similar thing. She wants to get me together with a professor friend of hers at
on the homeless subject and see if we can do a New York Times story together. I would like that. So I’m not bitter quite yet. Taking whatever this is by the horns. Owning it. Writing it. Not dwelling on it but creating through it is a platform I could have never ordered. But a platform I would be terribly remiss in not addressing. There are people to be helped here. And there’s something artistic about seeing and experiencing something for the first time. You see it as you will never see it again. Henry Miller said it this way: "Lifes becomes a spectacle and, if you happen to be an artist, you record the passing show." And so that’s all I do. That and live. Columbia
One of my favorite signs at the demonstration says, “The beginning is near”. I like that. I hope it is correct. Because I’m not bitter yet. Pissed off sometimes. But not quite yet bitter. Yet.