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.

That's right, instead of canning and saving money and using it to improve my lot, I've been going on wild four- to five-day binges of Four Loko and other awful malt beverages. I started out just fine, with the intention of abstaining completely from alcohol because of its prohibitive cost and its role as a potential liability to a precarious lifestyle. Then that snow storm came and I got bored and wandered around in the snow quaffing hobo antifreeze until it was time to lay down in an emergency warming shelter. You know you're an alcoholic when you can't pick up a drink without falling down a ravine and into a gully of backwash and B.O. I used to think that I could learn to become a social drinker or be one of those guys who sips at red wine every dinner to keep his heart nice and healthy, but for some time now I've realized that's simply not the case: I can't drink even a thimbleful of watered down Boone's without being cajoled by a black goat to join the witches' sabbath whirling intoxicated on the dark Bavarian hills looming on the eastern horizon of my heart. So, now I'm back to Square One, but wondering if perhaps it may not behoove me to seek some sort of treatment for the addiction. Alas, my materialistic disdain toward anything religious or "spiritual", my discomfort around people, and the obsessional nature of my thinking, seem to conspire to force me to tough it out alone.

I'm going to have do something if I'm going to recoup my losses, get the hell away from the encroaching police dragnet and the inevitable refugees of my more shady and troubled peers, and figure out how to eke out a meaningful and productive living. Every year it gets more difficult being poor and homeless, with no end in sight; wallowing in a mire of malt liquor isn't going to make it any easier.

But, who wants to be sober while sleeping in a tent by a freeway or wrapped up in a tarp like a derelict tacquito beneath an overpass? When having to disgrace yourself in public by spanging or canning whenever the need for money arises? Having to deal with mosquitoes eating your face during the warm months of summer; what would normally be a blessed season of respite from the rain and snow, the dampness and cold that no cover or clothing can stave off permanently? Lining up for a plate of tuna casserole and a cup of coffee less potent than what Confederate soldiers woke up to? The fights, threats, and thefts by your peers, and harassment by security personnel and cops? With little hope for upward mobility above and beyond landing a lead-poisoned ten-by-twelve cell in a roach hotel, pushing a broom for chump change part-time (unless you're young enough to go to college and have the gumption to get a degree in a field that won't end up in Asia within the next ten years)?

I don't, but it's a choice between alleviating the boredom, hopelessness, shame, and anxiety of the streets in alcohol and subsiding in a state of abject stagnation or gritting my teeth and holding back my tears every day so I may have a chance at landing a job through day labor. I'm probably going to buy a twenty-four of some of that delicious elixir of Kill The Poor, but if I'm going to be doing that it would certainly be wise of me to limit my consumption of one daily and in the evening when bed time approaches.

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