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.

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do poster from Futurama Which is why I've been wearing plastic bags on my feet. I have a pair of cross trainers I picked up during summer, a nice pair of Nikes just sitting on a dumpster — practically brand new! (Even after decades of living outside I'm still amazed at what useful things people throw away or casually discard.) Well, they were great for hot summer days, but nowadays even a puddle only half an inch deep will soak my feet! Being shod in plastic bags is another one of those things I used to swear to myself I'd never do, by the way, alongside pushing shopping carts and rummaging in trash cans for food. In fact, I'm probably going to start wearing garbage can vests beneath my jacket on days when it rains especially heavily or I'm out canning in the more intermittent or light variety. You gotta do what you gotta do, as the Futurama poster guy over there so poignantly says.

Fortunately for me, a good friend of mine works for Dr. Martens and is going to hook me up with a pair of decent footwear tomorrow. Which makes the next hurdle in my race against walking pneumonia finding suitable and affordable rain gear, probably in a thrift store or the bargain basement of Next Adventure. That and a pair of good long johns are the only remaining clothing items that will cost me any significant amount of money; everything else I can buy, find, or get donated to me by local charities. Which reminds me of the scarf another good friend of mine has waiting for me to grab at TPI's mail room, which I need to do soon because when those fools aren't losing mail they're returning it (I seriously need to get a PO box one of these days!). In short, I'm probably more worried about getting through the winter than I need to be; I've always been a fretful soul.

In order to ameliorate some of my anxiety I've decided to whittle down my clothing stockpile to just two sets that will each be worn four or five days, leaving me with less belongings to attract the attention of the roaming packs of thieving tweakers that now swarm Portland's streets like a bad parody of a biblical plague. Other than buying another can of bear mace, which is forty dollars at Andy & Bax, I don't know what to do about them except avoid them and hope the rain and the police keep them at least a few blocks away from me. My buddy K— will be moving into an apartment soon and has offered me his spot, but his street sees a lot more shady midnight creeping than mine does so I doubt I'll take him up on it. God damned homeless “occupational hazards”; I'd better not wake up one of these nights with a face full of metal pipe because some dope fiend out of his mind from three weeks without sleep thinks my backpack will score him another bag. Only idiots of an astronomical scale get hooked on a kamikaze pilot drug.

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