Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Where's Robot Santa?

How was your Christmas? Mine was very much up-and-down, which is part of why I took so long to update this thing.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Still Waiting for News

Looks like I won't know if I've passed my background check — the first of the eligibility hoops for me to jump through so that I may return to living indoors — until Monday at the soonest; the Fountain Place building manager is out until then, receiving training according to the maintenance man. I'm pretty confident nothing will come up that will prevent me from being approved, since I have no felonies or even recent gross misdemeanors, have no evictions, and even though my credit is lousy I don't have a legion of collectors after me. I just wanted the next phase of the process to at least be underway before the arrival of Christmas and the inevitable closures and days taken off that come with it and the week following. Anyway, I was going to wait to post until I heard some good news, but I'm not going to skip what's been a somewhat eventful week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Housing Jerk Around

I received a letter in the mail at TPI yesterday that informed me that I'd been removed from the Fountain Place subsidized housing unit wait list, so after grabbing some stuff shipped to me by a friend (a rain poncho, a second pair of long johns, and a pair of military wool fingerless gloves!) I headed immediately over to find out what the deal was; remember, I was just there a week ago checking in on my wait list status! Not only was I reassured that the letter was something I could completely disregard, he went so far as to say that he'd be able to tell me today how much farther up the wait list recent notices given have propelled me — implying rather strongly that a one-bedroom subsidized unit will be available for me. Which I took to be good news, because I'm sick and tired of living on the streets, now that everyone from all over the country is moving to Portland diminishing our local charities and importing their barbarism and madness and criminality.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Interview with Father Dan

The following is a short interview with Father Dan, a man who evenings Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays feeds people living on the streets in Northwest Portland beneath the I-405 freeway and in the industrial area, along with his son John. He also hands out socks, blankets, and other necessities and comforts whenever he has them. While until recently I've only sporadically partaken in his dinners — which range from pizza and Jack in the Box chicken sandwiches to home-made soup and the coveted last-Friday fried chicken — I've always been impressed with his hands-on personal dedication to helping the poor and the homeless; a far cry from the impersonal institutional approach offered by most charities and social services. I was pleased when he agreed to answer some questions, which I typed out and gave him to answer at his leisure, busy man that he is.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cusp of Hatred

Once upon a time there was a boy whose heart was a churning cauldron of viscous black smoke, who was filled to overflowing with self-loathing and whose eyes cast a baleful gaze imbued with arrogance, prejudice, and hostility out onto the world around him. Early on in life the neglect and abuse he endured taught him that he was discarded refuse, that people were either threats to avoid or (at best fickle) resources to exploit, and that life was ultimately a Darwinian hamster wheel driven by entropy. Jesus and the Buddha were frauds buttressed like cardboard stage props by apex social predators and deluded fools wearing blinders the size of traffic signs. As this boy entered adolescence he fell so deep into the well of his fire-ringed despair he went mad, spending much of two years in psychiatric wards daydreaming about incest and rape, walls of steel encircling an ocean of human squalor and suffering, screaming lunatics wielding weapons stolen from gods, and nightmare legions trampling the beauty of the world under scorched feet.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More Holiday Joy

Another holiday looms ahead like a lousy Super Bowl halftime show: Thanksgiving. I think this and Christmas are he toughest holidays for homeless people, because most of us have no place to go to enjoy fellowship, comfort, and the traditional meals except at the usual bumfeeds. Well, there is fellowship to be found among our peers, but even those among us who are social sometimes get tired of hearing the same tirades, snivelings, dunderheaded discussions, and lame jokes all told over godawful malt liquor. I guess it's just hard to feel thankful while out here basting ourselves in false cheer, and the love of God and the fellowship of man both seem pretty far away when the yule log serves only as an impromptu seat and the mistletoe serves only to keep the rain or snow imperfectly at bay. Even as nice as it is to be gifted hand warmers and knit hats, such utilitarian charity doesn't really feel like presents, at least not like the cool stuff some of us used to get when we were kids.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Casualty

Shitty Dave1 died last night, The Abstract World (another Dave) told me. Dave was one of those hardcore street drunks, the kind who will pass out before 3:00 PM in painful-looking contortions on a set of concrete stairs around the corner of the local gas station. The kind of guy who had two (or was it three?) toes amputated a couple years ago because he passed out on aforementioned stairs before 3:00 PM on a snowy day without being properly dressed for the weather and without being with it enough to at least drag the sleeping bag off his shopping cart to cover himself. The kind of guy whose sleeping bags — and even the shopping cart he used to carry them — periodically got stolen. The kind of guy who hung out with jackass thieves, who for the past five months have waited for him to pass out so they could yank all the cash out of his wallet after he'd already paid for their beers; a $1600 a month disability check siphoned into a murky bog of douchebag addict opportunism. The kind of guy who could have used that money to get into housing, so he wouldn't have died on the street only fifty yards away from the hospital emergency room.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Arctic Incursion

I'm sitting in the Friendly House wondering where in hell this damn arctic blast came from. Well, okay, I know WHENCE it came — I just said as much — but I'm still reeling in incredulity at the timing and ferocity of the frigid tendril that crept down the Columbia Gorge the day before yesterday out of the middle of the continent. It feels like Portland's getting a prolonged prostate exam by some naughty jǫtunn! It completely blind-sided us (especially those of us living outside!), practically shutting half the city down when the freezing rain and snow flurries swept over us yesterday; you have to understand, this time of year the average low is just above forty (5°C) and the average high just above fifty (11°C). And, it's not over yet: wind chill will push temperatures in the twenties (-2°C) down into the teens (-10°C) starting tonight and lasting through until Sunday night, after which the weather is predicted to slowly creep back up toward the seasonal average. I hope so, and we end up with the mild winter, but even NOAA seems to be rather poor at making long-term predictions; it's certainly time to begin preparing for the worse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fuck This!

Sometimes I just don't feel like doing this. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing anything. I suppose that nihilistic apathy is caused by depression, and by that I mean the clinical depression that is a legitimate and life-diminishing mental disorder not just “feeling blue”. Insofar as this blog is concerned, it's because I get tired of talking about how much of a failure or fool I am, how hopeless and pointless life seems, and how annoying or boring people and life are for me. I never felt like talking about my feelings or about the adversities of life is cathartic; in fact, I've generally only felt more distressed whenever I did. It also seems like a futile and impotent gesture to me, like a torrent of words as purposeful and effective as a stream running uphill into the sky.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Monsoon of Gloom

Our lovely Monsoon of Gloom has finally arrived, though the way I'm saying it makes it sound like it's overdue, which it isn't. The climate here usually works is there's a spring of volatile weather — during which days coats are constantly being donned and doffed — that lasts from March through June, which is followed by a very dry Mediterranean summer that can get QUITE warm (temperatures in the nineties Fahrenheit, low- to mid-thirties Celsius) that usually doesn't end until near the end of September, after which there's two to three months of a gradual cool down and easing into rains until December, when it REALLY starts to get chilly and the intermittent rains of fall give way to a nigh incessant and often blustery deluge. We get anywhere between seven to nine months of rain during the year, which for the homeless presents the grave challenge of staying dry, or at least having a dry place to sleep. Failure to do so can result in chronic bronchitis or even pneumonia, on top of discomfort and logistical headaches such as finding dry places to loiter during the day and leaping over or walking around lakes that form when drains get clogged with leaves.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shadow of the Spectre

A pall has fallen over the streets of Portland, and the streets are all abuzz about it and its cause: methamphetamine. Poor ol' junkietown's gotten itself all spun out, hearsay declaring the Mexican cartels have flooded the market; I know one can buy quarters (of grams) for as low as ten dollars. (I don't do the stuff, though I used to on occasion for two or three days.) I've been talking about tweakers off and on since I've been out here, but I have a feeling I've only been seeing the shadow of the spectre all this time — the foreboding, as opposed to the menace per se. Last Friday I went to my old freeway confluence stomping grounds, in search of free boots from a church school bus from Chehalis, and I saw tents and tarp-draped shopping cart pillboxes strewn all over the place; I'm guess the average block held AT LEAST ten people. Piles of junk, too, of course; every single one of the slinking figures I saw had sunken cheeks and scabs on their face. Tweakers, the real children of the corn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Caveat Emptor

Bed bugs. What I thought I'd left behind at that awful Fairfield roach hotel I used to live in crept back into my life a few days ago, hitchhiking on a pillow I bought at the William Temple. Well, it may have come from elsewhere, but the fact remained at the time that I had to do something about it, and QUICKLY! Especially after a few nights of feeling bugs crawling all over me and waking up with bites here and there, which may or may not have been real — it's pretty easy for me to freak myself out about that kind of thing, given my revulsion to most members of the insect kingdom.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pterodactyls & Geronticide Candidates

I haven't been very diligent in blogging and tweeting, I know. Sometimes I just get tired of sitting at the Friendly House, especially since it seems to have gotten much more popular with the local homeless and poor over the past few months. It can get rather noisy here when hard-of-hearing geronticide candidates get to bellowing at each other or hordes of wingless pterodactyls swoop in shrieking from Chapman Elementary. Not only that, but not much has been going on. Police harassment and fall's impending arrival have cut a swathe through the local sketchy street tweaker population, and I've just been lazy and hanging out with a couple of my peers drinking malt liquor. Well, for the most part; I've also been working on a blog for one of the aforementioned drinking buddies for him to use to help publicize his paintings. You should check it out.

I'll try to come up with something more informative or interesting next week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Winter Preparation

It's that time of year again, time to start gearing up for what I often call the upcoming Dark Monsoon: the gloomy and blustery rainy months that turn the homeless experience here into a daily struggle to be dry at least while sleeping (almost impossible to accomplish during the day if walking around a lot) and avoid chronic bronchitis and walking pneumonia. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be outdoors all fall and winter, and perhaps even all the way into next fall even, so it would behoove me to use the next couple months of likely fair to middlin' weather (NOAA's Climate Prediction Center estimates a 33% to 40% chance of above-average dryness and heat through the end of November) to do a bit of pre-emptive weatherproofing.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

So Much for Treatment

I only lasted three weeks in DePaul, having stormed out of the place in a huff Labor Day morning because some milieu counselor (what staff members there are called that aren't real counselors with degrees and certifications; basically the guys that tell you what to do, search the rooms and conduct UAs, and dispense mail, etc.) thought I was being a jerk because I complained about having to watch some schlocky mainstream Hollywood chick flick on a holiday instead of being allowed to read my book. I suppose it's a shame, since I was doing pretty well there and was due to graduate in the middle of this month and move into a unit in housing. It wasn't that I wanted to just keep on drinking; I just didn't want to have a bunch of twelve-stepping cultists and drones telling me who I am and what how I need to live my life, forcing their quasi-Christian protean “spirituality” down my atheist throat, while being surrounded by a bunch of punk kids full of gangsta bravado and buffoonery and rock 'n' roll ex-cons strutting around with giant limp dicks flopping out of their mouths ... only to end up stuck in some lousy housing building downtown full of these people and enclosed in a blockade line of bums, yuppies, and tourists. In other words, it was a mistake.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Time To Go

Going to residential drug and alcohol treatment tomorrow morning. You may not hear from me for three months or longer. When you do, it may be a pretty long post. Yeah, I talked myself back into it; it's been getting too damn stupid outside, or rather I've been.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Kinda I Want To

I've been getting a little crazy recently with the drinking, to the point where a few nights ago I ran around brandishing a metal pipe screaming at invisible thieves and traitors — which fortunately didn't result in anyone getting hurt or me getting jailed — and the next night I maliciously chucked a just-turned homeless girl's belongings onto the nearby freeway because I didn't want her around. Alcohol can easily make people weird and aggressive when consumed in sufficient quantities for long enough. It's not just getting black-out drunk and being a creep or jerk to whomever; when one drinks all day every day for long enough — and on top of that eats hardly any food, a common problem among all kinds of substance abusers — one slides into a dark fugue similar to drug-induced or trauma-induced psychosis. In my case it starts off with mad gibberings about being fae-blooded or some other kind of otherworldly creature, proceeds to black mutterings about the attainment of immortality and demiurge glory, and then progresses to animosity toward the world around me that often culminates in drama and violence. I remember how one time I was shot at by the owner of a bar when I fled the establishment after having assaulted a patron with a broken bottle because I believed the man held some dark design against me!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shop Cat

There's a new girl on the block, who visits me nearly every night and often in the mornings. I've named her Cordelia after the sympathetic daughter in Shakespeare's tragedy of King Lear who was disinherited and cast out by her father. She's a dark little tabby with some calico coloration who appeared in the neighborhood a week ago and whom I discovered to be the shop cat for the Land Cruiser™ dealership and service center across the street in front of my loading dock. She's a very charming little thing, and while she tends to interrupt my sleep at times when she comes over to visit she's more than welcome company. I'm guessing she's about a year old, and it wouldn't be at all surprised that she's one of those cats who got abandoned after her owners realized she's not a cute little kitten anymore, and would cost money to take care of and who may not put up with as much of their child's crap as she did when small and helpless — this happens more often than you may think. She's a very affectionate little critter: she loves to sleep on my chest, oftentimes kneading it as though she were making biscuits. (I've even made a silly song up to sing to her when she does this, titled “But Where's the Gravy?”) And, she's a climber, too! She leaped on my shoulder one night when she felt I was insolently paying my cigarette more attention than I was to her.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


You know, it's funny, but I remember for years and years I used to tell myself there was certain things I'd never do while living on the streets, spurning such things as if they were beneath my dignity and even ridiculing other homeless people for doing them. There is a certain ugly quality to human nature that impels us to raise ourselves up kicking others down, even if only metaphorically and cathartically. However, this time around on the streets I'm finding myself doing a couple of these things that I forswore so vehemently in past dereliction sojourns, and I can't help but wonder if maybe I'm not suffering from institutionalization and am embracing diminution.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

No Rest for the Wretched

I'm guessing I may have only gotten three hours of sleep last night. The Land Cruiser shop across the street from me saw some late-night activity manifested in engines occasionally thundering as musical motor vehicles was being played in the parking lot and the street between us, ending on dissonant note with the squealing metallic shriek of the gate being closed; Burlington Northern cast four of its freight trains out into the night, whistling plaintively (though at least I didn't get one of their engine cars trundling down the street my loading dock abuts, which happens every two or three weeks); but worst of all was the fleet of garbage and recycling trucks that roused me out of my fitful slumber at least eight times and filled me with consternation because I hadn't noticed them before and had always thought that Tuesday or Wednesday was the neighborhood's trash day. I even had my ear plugs in! So, I ended up getting hour-or-so coast-guard ration increments of sleep, starting around midnight and ending in frustrated resignation with my nose in a book at 5:30 AM, waiting for the Friendly House to open.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Forever Alone?

Not too long ago I read A Street Cat Named Bob, wherein the protagonist bemoaned his isolation from society, stating he felt utterly alone most of the time, like a ghost passing through the streets of London mostly invisible in the daylit world of suits and shopping bags. (I paraphrased perhaps somewhat egregiously; the author isn't very eloquent, though this doesn't detract from the book's overall merit — in fact, I recommend it.) Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It should: I used to tell myself this walking back from the chow hall at Ft. Gordon, an army base larger than many small cities; I've known kids in high school who thought this while texting friends in cacophonous cafeteria; in fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if at this moment there's myriad people in shopping malls, at board meetings, attending weddings, etc. thinking the same thing. But, is this ubiquitous angst based on anything real? Sure, some of us are pretty cut off from the world around us, but for the most part each of us not only has relatives and friends — and the occasional lover — but even people locked up in prison or bed-ridden in hospital deathbeds regularly experience human contact.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hospital Duty

Spent the last three nights at Good Samaritan Hospital, sleeping on the floor next to an acquaintance's dog. The patient was the fellow homeless person K— I mentioned in the last post, whose lung had apparently collapsed Saturday after a fit of screaming at Portland Patrol security personnel (for whatever perverse dissident grandstanding reason). I ran into him at the Northwest neighborhood public library branch on Sunday, whereupon he told me about the collapsed lung and that he discharged himself against medical advice earlier that day because hospital staff told him that unless he could find someone to watch over and walk his dog it would have to stay at the pound until he's released. I sympathized with his refusal to let his dog go to a Guantanamo detention facility for animals where a simple mistake can result in his dog being lost or even put to death, so I agreed to help him out when he asked me to return with him to the hospital. Alas, I've never been good at refusing people.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Jack Pack

The nearby Jack in the Box is a locus of traffic for local tramps. Every morning and evening I see up to half a dozen in there: munching on value menu items and sipping on coffee, reading, waiting to use one of the bathrooms, or just loitering for a bit to rest tired feet, gather the morning's addled wits, duck out of the rain, or formulate or reassess plans. For some reason, the Council of Elrond comes to mind whenever I think about it, even though that was a much more sober gathering. It's nice to have access to such a place, especially one that's closed for only five hours a day and which sells two tacos for a dollar. Management and employee reception is warmer and they're more lenient toward facility use than the handful of McDonald's are downtown — not to mention the old Carl's Junior was that went so far as to remove bathroom stall doors to discourage IV drug use. Don't get me wrong; I completely understand a fast food restaurant manager getting sick of legions of the more egregiously disgraceful and disagreeable bums repeatedly trashing the bathrooms, making the more domesticated and monied customers uncomfortable in the lobby, and aggressively panhandling outside the business doors. I suppose what this treatment really indicates is how much better the street scene is in the Northwest neighborhood than in downtown. Perhaps I ought to introduce some of my fellow Jack Pack members to you:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

All Quiet on the Northwestern Front

At least under present circumstances, it feels pretty awesome, having nothing much to say about my life. A lack of excitement is usually a good thing when you're homeless. It's not that nothing's been going on, it's that I'm not watching cop cars prowling around or parking nearby and spying on me through their side-view mirrors, I'm not shirking before shadowy figures engaged in theft by the light of the stars and street lights, and I'm not getting my tarp blown down the street by an icy wind or getting rained on while lugging a heavy bag full of bottles and cans. No news is good news.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Going Nowhere

I've been outside for a little over four months, and I'm not getting ANYWHERE at all!

I was supposed to wake up at the luxurious hour of eight o'clock this morning in a nice two-man tent concealed in some underbrush or a thicket somewhere in North Portland, sprawled atop my air mattress next to a book and the headlamp I used to read it last night, firing up my propane camp stove for a simple breakfast of chorizo hash and Irish breakfast tea, getting ready to break everything down and jump on my BMX to head down to Breakfast in Bedlam's fifth year anniversary to play meet-and-greet with the visiting therapy llama. Instead I woke up at a quarter to seven in the makeshift lean-to I make out of my Backpack Bed™, beneath the freeway I've spent most of the past three months beneath when I haven't been trying in vain to move to a location that's less tweaker- and cop-beleaguered (the last spot I tried turned out to be a mosquito-infested pissing ground for a couple street drunks!); cursing myself for my addiction to alcohol and my spendthrift ways, the city of Portland for its corruption and this summer's war on the homeless, and life in general for having made me so screwed up and the world so enthralled to ignorance and greed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Proletarian Aspirations

I've decided it's time for me to try to go back to work. I'm hooked up with an "employment specialist" at Central City Concern's Supported Employment program and have already gone to one interview and am balking at a temporary assignment as an evening desk clerk at the Helen Swindells, a low-income housing building downtown that's one of those places where people with severe mental health problems are washed up in a sort of last-chance tidal pool by social workers desperate to keep them off the streets; people who can't even be housed in my old building! I wouldn't get off until midnight, which means instead of getting only six hours of sleep a night at best I'll be hoping for four. And then there's the matter of the pre-employment urinalysis, which I can't possibly pass at this time; frankly, the idea of having to just to earn minimum wage galls me considerably — give me a liveable wage, benefits, and a union card, and I'll think about it!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yet Another Move

I moved out from beneath the freeway and away from the Maginot Line the night before last, my decision ushered along by the sight of the Midnight Creeper who woke me up with his flashlight Easter morning sauntering past the row of shopping carts and across the Wells Fargo parking lot while I was chatting with a couple of the neighbors there I'd gotten acquainted with. It was the last straw; I'd already had my backpack and sleeping bag stolen by a batshit crazy street girl who compounds her madness and misery with drug use, and the cops had begun to cruise through the area multiple times a day because the local tweaker scene had expanded its thievery to local residents and businesses. I wasn't about to deal with this guy again, especially since I suspect him of having stealthily unscrewed a couple of my shelter's carabiners the night before I spotted him.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Sometimes I just get tired of this blog, mostly because I weary of beating depressing and infuriating ugly truths and experiences into the keyboard. There's times when I want to take a vacation, but because I can't laze around the house or drive my Airstream down to Mazatlan all I can do is prop myself against a freeway pylon on a sheet of cardboard and quaff enough booze that I can get lost for a few hours in whatever scrivenings are pouring out of my pen at the time until I pass out early to bed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wild Wild West

Last Wednesday I was warned by a resident of the Maginot Line kitty-corner to me that someone had been seen in the neighborhood going through belongings left behind by some of his neighbors during the day, and was also "messing with people" during the night. I didn't ask what was meant by "messing with", but I found out Easter Sunday. At around 4:30 AM that morning I was woken up by a beam from a flashlight flickering across my face, and when I peeked out from around the corner of my shelter I saw a shadowy figure scurrying away from my spot. I was perturbed but remained nonetheless because relocating would have been a pain and probably have prevented me from getting back to sleep before dawn. Half an hour later he reappeared, this time sneaking around from behind me! Again I was startled awake by his flashlight; this time I peered out and stared at the guy, whereupon he muttered some balderdash about how I may "lose something", pointing at my backpack I was using as a pillow but trying to play it off like he meant the shopping cart I'd wheeled there the night before in preparation for the morning's marathon canning run I'd planned. I feigned ignorance of his larcenous intentions and patted the shopping cart by my head and asked him "What, this thing?", to which he answered yes and asked if it was mine. I responded in the affirmative, after which he wandered off. Goddamn CREEPY!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bottles and Cans Just Clap Your Hands

Canning is a job, and a dirty, tedious, frustrating, and humiliating one at that. Of course most people probably don't view it as being legitimate work, and insofar as I'm not a part of the production of a desired good or service they're right. But it IS labor, and it does pay, though seldom more than a third Oregon state's minimum wage and half of the federal. That stark nickel-at-a-time reality puts to shame my youthful resentment toward food and service work; how grateful I'd be right now to earn ten bucks an hour washing dishes! I wouldn't be making a pitiful spectacle of myself rooting through trash cans in public, only to lump heavy and unwieldy garbage bags or trundle a noisy shopping cart full of a sticky, leaky mess that smells like a whore used Purple Jesus for a sitz bath ... culminating wearying hours and blistering miles later in fighting with fickle and often broken-down deposit return machines at grocery stores, reluctantly tended to surly "courtesy" clerks plunging wood stakes through my heart out of the corners of their eyes. All the while hoping I don't cut my hands on broken glass or contract hepatitis C from a casually discarded syringe. Yessir, I'll stoically don that goofy wage slave uniform, choke down my ire at the one or two unflappably incompetent and jackass bosses, and not groan inwardly at my tax withholdings every time I get paid.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's Ride Ride How We Ride

The rain has finally let up, except for some lackluster midnight drizzle earlier. It even looks like we may see a few more days of mostly dry weather, but of course you never know. Sure, April showers bring May flowers; but it gets old, scrambling under cover every time the clouds darken and the wind grows skittish, to wrap a rainfly over your backpack to prevent your sleeping bag from getting soaked, as does smelling faintly like moldy bathroom tiles from the dampness that even days spent in the local library can't dry out. Alas, I won't be sunbathing in Speedos™ — I've work to do. I've been canning for the past couple days to pay for another month's locker use and to improve my overnight shelter by making it more modular and lightweight — I'm working on a two-tarp lean-to design, since a quality free-standing two-man tent would cost me around a hundred dollars and be a bit more conspicuous than I care for.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Time to Stop Moping

This spring has been a lot harder on me than I thought it would be.

That point was underscored this morning when I realized that I actually felt comfortable for once! Up until then I've been going to bed in a single sleeping on a thin thermal pad, which has resulted in over two months of waking up to pain in my hip whenever I rolled around in my sleep trying to get comfortable. I've never been good at sleeping, really, being apparently very much a Princess and the Pea kind of guy on top of being a very light sleeper and having a hard time even falling asleep in the first place because of my mind's tendency toward obsessional restlessness and disquiet ... I guess I forgot somehow just how poor my sleep had been in previous forays out on the streets, which is strange considering how poor my sleep was even when I was living indoors this last time around. I have sleeping medicine, but it's a case or too little or too much: one pill won't do enough for me, but two of them will leave me dopey for much of the early part of the next day unless I take them twelve hours before I plan on rousing myself into the day. Of course, living beneath a freeway isn't any help, either, but options are pretty limited for homeless people in this town, and this freeway is much less noisy than any other place I've tried to camp out at.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Big Four-O

It's my fortieth birthday, and I'm looking out the window of the Friendly House at the rain sliding down out of the gray sky, looking like the kind of misery that precipitates daily in the third circle of Dante's hell. Actually, it's not all that bad out, but it's awfully dreary and reflects my feelings about the current state of my life and what I've managed to accomplish in the years behind me. It's just plain depressing sometimes, being a bum living beneath a freeway, having for some reason I don't understand (but sometimes think I do) such a difficult time dealing with the normal world where people hold jobs and have relationships and live indoors. It's almost perverse to me, that I can't seem to manage to accomplish what thugs, boors, dolts, creeps, slobs, and jerks have little difficulty in doing. I guess it's just demoralizing, is what it is.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patty's Day!

So, today marks the anniversary of the day ol' St. Patty drove the snakes from Ireland. Actually, today is a traditional feast day celebrating the death of an uncanonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church who apparently was also a missionary responsible for — alongside his disciples — re-introducing Classical Greek and Roman literature lost in the fall of the Roman Empire to Continental Europe. For me St. Patrick's Day marks the beginning of spring, even thought it occurs three days before the actual vernal equinox; the onset of Daylight Saving Time mentioned in last week's post actually denotes a sort of pre-spring to me, a reminder that the still cold and dormant world is poised to waken out of slumber. Spring can actually be a rather unpleasant time of year for street people here because of how variable the weather can be; often you'll have balmy days followed by bracing days of miserable horizontal rain, even during a single day you can find yourself peeling off your flannel just moments after shaking off your umbrella! The only constant is the (welcome) addition of two to three minutes of light to each day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Five Days of Salami

No, I didn't JUST eat salami, but I did consume about four to five ounces of the delicious stuff each day; three different kinds of excellent artisan charcuterie: traditional Italian, Alsatian, and Spanish chorizo. Donated to Trinity Cathedral by Olympic Provisions, in apparently U.N. food drop quantity. Talk about an angioplasty waiting in the wings! A pity I never canned up the money for cheese to accompany it, alas. Still, even despite all that salami — not to mention the overall high fat content of my providential diet — I managed to slip into a pair of thirty-two-inch waist jeans donated Saturday, and without any blue-faced tugging or writhing! I can't recall a time when I wore jeans this slim ... maybe fifteen years ago? Well, anyway, I made up for the salami binge on Sunday by eating nothing but cottage cheese and salad (after finishing off the last of the chorizo) — hell, I even went on a lengthy four-hour canning run that day.

Monday, March 3, 2014


For those not in the know and curious, my diet is supplied almost entirely by free meals; "There but for the grace of God," and all that jazz. I suspect when people think about the homeless dining experience many of them still hold images in their minds of black-and-white photos taken during the Great Depression of blocks-long lines of men in tattered and faded garb winding their way up to a giant pot of soup doled out in metal ups; or perhaps Oliver Twist springs immediately to mind, with his audacious request for more gruel from the scowling orphanage worker; then again, I bet some people aren't even aware that there is free food given out on the streets and just assume we all root around in dumpsters or panhandle money for fast food. Alas, I don't go around asking people, nor is this sort of information typically volunteered in casual conversations between strangers.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fourth Time's a Charm?

This is the fourth time I've been homeless since I moved here (this time around — I'm an intermittent native) from Seattle via Las Vegas back in May 2000, and looking back I see a progression from living on the streets being a fun adventure to living on the streets being a shameful and arduous lifestyle of boredom, fatigue, inconvenience, and peril.

Monday, February 10, 2014


It's been one hell of a week; hell as in ninth-circle, because a winter storm struck the fair City of Roses with a ferocity uncharacteristically blustery and frigid of our mild Pacific marine climate. Hence the title, which is the name of the realm of the terrible frost giants in Norse mythology. Roughly five inches of snow accumulated between the first dusting on Thursday and the onset of freezing rain late Friday, which covered the snow with perhaps up to an additional half-inch of ice, making for treacherous footing. Not much by Midwest, Great Lakes, and North Atlantic standards, but it was enough to shut down a city that owns only fifty-five snow plows — a city typically more concerned about how storm water runoff affects the water quality in the nearby Willamette river than with snow accumulation — and certainly more than enough to freeze a man to death on a bench outside the Greyhound station a few night ago (hearsay).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

FYI Freeways Suck

I bailed out of my place at around a quarter after six, Tuesday, having woken out of a nap sprawled out on the floor with my head propped on my rolled-up sleeping bag; I was waiting for a couple neighbors to swing by earlier with a bit of chronic to send me off into the rainy night with some cheer. Of course, no one showed up, so I stumbled out of my "home" for the past four-and-a-half years with my monster trekking backpack loaded with my clothes and sleeping bag, while wheeling a heavy-ass K-Mart-special Mongoose in one hand and lugging my “homeless swag” in the other ... after having tossed a can of "ultra premium" to one of the neighbors who flaked out on me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dishonorable Discharge

I'm out of here, next Monday but I'll probably be outside a night or two before. Yes, outside, as in back on the streets. Why I haven't posted in so long is because a bit over a month ago I wigged out on some guy working in The Roxy — it was a Sunday morning after an exceptionally enthusiastic all-night quaffing — because he wouldn't sell me a book of matches because I had already been eighty-sixed out of there because of a previous incident involving a book of matches. Whatever, I've had one of them oblige me a couple times before, when it was dead. Also, whatever, I had three books nearly full sitting by my computer desk, as it turned out. In all seriousness, it was a stupid thing to do; I threw change at the guy in response to his shoddy customer service, pretty forcefully, and twice (the second time on the way back from the store I ended up buying matches at). Don't know if I hit him either time, but I hope I did and it hurt, because I despise that place along with Scandals next to it. Alas, part of the rental agreement of this building is the "good neighbor clause", namely the stipulation that we don't make ourselves nuisances to adjacent businesses on this side of the block we're on.