Showing posts with label sleep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sleep. Show all posts

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Oh, It Is Saturday

I had no idea what day it is today.  I was thinking it a weekday, most likely Friday.    The lack of sleep has made me tired, the kind of tired that puts you in a zone where you know better than to over exert  yourself.  You go into low gear, mentally and physically.  Things like knowing what day it is, are put on the back burner.  I didn't realize until I just looked on my computer screen that today is Saturday, the weekend.  If I had known what day it was, I would have slept in.  Instead, when I awoke around 5am, I packed up my things and head to McDonalds as my place to wake up.  I have notice that the homeless living on the streets are not harassed so much on the weekends.  I could have slept another couple hours this morning without harassment.  ugh.

We had another floor show last night - for those who don't know, I'm talking about the schizophrenics who wander the streets late at night screaming and yelling at their demons. They can prevent you from getting a decent night's sleep. Some times you can understand a story behind their rantings, other times they growl and groan instead, venting their souls of perpetual anguish.  Why can't schizophrenics suffer from an overabundance of happiness instead?   Makes me think that mental illness is not so caused by a chemical imbalance but by mistreatment at the hands of others - this mistreatment is what causes the chemical imbalance, of which only more chemicals can correct it.

I skipped taking a shower yesterday.  Being on my computer all day, it's not like I built up a sweat during the day.   But I must remember to take one today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tired

Sorry, I haven't posted much today, I'm feeling exhausted from a lack of sleep.  Hopefully tonight I'll get some good hours in.   I have the nods so bad right now, I almost fell out of my chair. ugh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Sun Also Rises

Well, it was a close one.  At 8pm I walked down to my sleeping area to find that the cops had already arrived and were chasing everyone away - with ticket books in hand.  If I had shown up just 15 minutes prior, I would have been caught up in this mini dragnet.   I watched the scene for a couple minutes before heading back here to the cafe.  It happened about 3 and 1/2 weeks ago there as well, but that time it was in the morning.  Over the past 3 weeks the number of people sleeping in this area, across the street, and trolley tracks, from the library, had returned and was slowly growing.  With tickets given to these homeless violators of the law, I'm sure if they are caught sleeping in the same place again, they'll get a worse punishment.  I'm speculating of course, but why else would the cops even bother.

The sad part of all this is that the area is the safest of all the homeless sleeping areas.  It is safe for the very reason that it's also highly visible to the people who live near by, and it's a high foot traffic area.  The sidewalk is very wide and the sleeping homeless don't create any hazards by being there.  Still for the sake of those people who feel put out by having to see homeless people, the homeless are being shooed away.

And that "away" is a problem.  Just because you can no longer see the homeless does not mean the homeless are no longer homeless.  It only means that these people are being forced to go deeper into hiding.  The bad thing is, these "hiding" places are a great deal more dangerous for the homeless.  The criminal element is encouraged to ply his craft when he thinks there's a good chance he won't get caught.   In these deeper hiding areas the homeless get mugged, their few meager possessions stolen, their bodies broken by fists and baseball bats and knives, they are set on fire, they are killed.

The city of San Diego does not have enough shelter beds for all the homeless, and all the shelters have long waiting lists.  But sure, go ahead San Diego, and try to sweep the homeless under your proverbial rug.  Maybe if you ignore the homeless in your city, eventually they'll go away [/sarcasm].

So much for getting a good night's sleep.  If you have ever wondered why so many homeless people appear lethargic, it's because the good city will not allow the homeless the chance to get the rest they need.

Now I have no idea where I'm going to sleep tonight.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homeless Clean Consequences

Well, it was a close one.  At 8pm I walked down to my sleeping area to find that the cops had already arrived and were chasing everyone away - with ticket books in hand.  If I had shown up just 15 minutes prior, I would have been caught up in this mini dragnet.   I watched the scene for a couple minutes before heading back here to the cafe.  It happened about 3 and 1/2 weeks ago there as well, but that time it was in the morning.  Over the past 3 weeks the number of people sleeping in this area, across the street, and trolley tracks, from the library, had returned and was slowly growing.  With tickets given to these homeless violators of the law, I'm sure if they are caught sleeping in the same place again, they'll get a worse punishment.  I'm speculating of course, but why else would the cops even bother.

The sad part of all this is that the area is the safest of all the homeless sleeping areas.  It is safe for the very reason that it's also highly visible to the people who live near by, and it's a high foot traffic area.  The sidewalk is very wide and the sleeping homeless don't create any hazards by being there.  Still for the sake of those people who feel put out by having to see homeless people, the homeless are being shooed away.

And that "away" is a problem.  Just because you can no longer see the homeless does not mean the homeless are no longer homeless.  It only means that these people are being forced to go deeper into hiding.  The bad thing is, these "hiding" places are a great deal more dangerous for the homeless.  The criminal element is encouraged to ply his craft when he thinks there's a good chance he won't get caught.   In these deeper hiding areas the homeless get mugged, their few meager possessions stolen, their bodies broken by fists and baseball bats and knives, they are set on fire, they are killed.

The city of San Diego does not have enough shelter beds for all the homeless, and all the shelters have long waiting lists.  But sure, go ahead San Diego, and try to sweep the homeless under your proverbial rug.  Maybe if you ignore the homeless in your city, eventually they'll go away [/sarcasm].

So much for getting a good night's sleep.  If you have ever wondered why so many homeless people appear lethargic, it's because the good city will not allow the homeless the chance to get the rest they need.

Now I have no idea where I'm going to sleep tonight.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

All Was Quiet

I have my favorite spot to sleep at night.  It affords me as much privacy and safety as I can hope for considering it is just a section of concrete sidewalk.

I remember, several years ago in Nashville, this guy whose head was bashed in with a hammer as he slept.  I’m hoping to avoid a similar fate.   There is just enough room for me to fit my backpack and my head between two solid pieces of metal comfortably. Although my legs extend out into the sidewalk, it’s a very wide sidewalk and most people walk on the far side of it anyway.  I won’t be tripping anyone as they walk, even if they don't recognize that a person is there.  Besides, there are another dozen or so people doing the same sort of thing along this one city block.

I also made sure that the sleeping bag I recently bought was long enough to cover me entirely.  Although it gets uncomfortably warm to do so, I can cover myself completely within the bag.   The less of me that people can see, the less vulnerable I feel.  Next month, when I can afford to collect some more necessities, I’m getting a small tent.  I think it will go a long way towards getting a better nights sleep.   Ah, but that’s 3 weeks away.

I dread having to leave whatever I’m doing, usually internet surfing, so to bed down for the night, that part of me wants to put it off as long as possible. I also worry that if I arrive at my spot too late someone else might get it, and I’ll have to go looking for another spot. That would be a hassle, as well potentially unsafe. I have been going to bed earlier and earlier each night.

I awoke several times during the night.  Either I was in an uncomfortable position and needed to adjust, or someone was making noise, or I had to urinate.  Now, back when I was in the shelter tent, it was strictly forbidden to pee in a bottle.   The problem there was the portajohns were at least 100 yards away.  Having to get up and make that trek was difficult at times.  Some times I didn’t quite make it in time. Ah, but on the street, I can pee in a bottle all I want. I don’t even need to get up. I just grab the bottle, bring it under the sleeping bag, and hope there’s no spillage.

In the middle of the night last night something completely different woke me up.  It was the police.  Well, it was the sound of a police radio. Cops were standing near by.  I thought, “great, we are having a sweep”.  Should I get up and just leave, hoping they would leave me alone if did?

Then I started listening to the conversation one cop was having on the polioe radio.  They seemed to be focused on just one individual.  I then wondered if I  would be next.

But this homeless woman they were talking to didn’t seem right.  She was babbling on in spanish.  They were having a hard time understanding her.  The way she carried on, she may not have been understanding herself.

The cop asked her, “where’d you get that bump on your head’?   Did you fall, or did someone hit you?   Can you stand up? (she couldn’t).  Have you been drinking?”  She kept saying something bout her husband.  From where I was it was mostly inaudible.  Then I could hear the siren of an ambulance getting nearer.  All this was going on without me being able to see anything, being that I was covered.

Again I wondered if the cops would approach me next.  But after the woman was put into the ambulance and the paramedics packed up their gear and drove away, the sound of police radio faded away as well.  And I fell asleep again.  When I awoke hours later, all was quiet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Sleep Thing


I know I've been talking a good deal about sleep, but that's because homelessness is really all about the sleep.  Homelessness isn't about what you do during the day, everyone has activities that fill their time.  But, when you strip life down to it's bare ingredients, the only thing that really separates homeless people from everyone else is that homeless people don't have a secure place to sleep.  Once a homeless person is able to find such a place, then the rest of life is theirs to do with as they please.

I think one of the reasons that people get angry with the homeless is that the homeless act as a mirror of sorts, reflecting back the reality of the self, of the onlookers.  The onlookers who have bought into the idea that certain standards of living are important and necessary - they may not actually believe what they've been told about life, but they have conformed anyway.  Then they see other people getting away with not conforming, and that makes them angry, makes them jealous, makes them realize that all the things they pursue are but a mirage, a hoax, a facade.  They feel trapped in the life they've built around themselves.  The homeless are existing without conforming, and they think it's unfair, so they take out their self loathing on the homeless.

I guess this is why, when people try to end homelessness, they focus on denying the homeless a restful night's sleep.  Still, sleep is a human necessity, as necessary as food and water, we cannot live without it.  To deny people the right to sleep is criminal, is inhumane.  Sleep is a right.

Speaking on a restful night's sleep, I just figured out something - the importance of a good pillow.  I had been using my back pack as my pillow.   For one, I need something under my head when I sleep, and two, keeping my head on my back pack is an added layer of security so that no one steals it.  The problem is my back pack feels like a lumpy rock.  It is very uncomfortable.  So, for the past couple nights I've been rolling up my sweater and using it as my pillow, and for this my head feels more comfortable when I sleep and so I sleep better, and I get more rest.  I used to wear my sweater as I slept, but with the sleeping bag, I don't really need to. My body in general is getting used to sleeping on the cement.  I don't have as many aches and pains when I wake up.   That's a good thing!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Homeless Monday Update


Ok, I've been cement surfing for a full week now.   And it's been rough.  In the UK they actually call it "sleeping rough".  They may be on to something there. It seems to be the most accurate terminology for the event.  In the U.S. when people do recreational camping, they often refer to it as
"roughing it".  Right now the closest terminology in the U.S. is "sleeping out".   The urban dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/ calls it "cement surfing" (because I put that definition in there).

My cold doesn't seem to be so bad this morning, thankfully.  Last night I did get some generic Sudafed to take.  I had a few left over from the last time I was sick, back when I was cement surfing before getting into the tent, but those didn't last very long.  I for that, I am now officially out of money until next month's check.  I may try my hand at panhandling.  Since people are going to be giving to panhandlers anyway, might as well get my share of it.  At least I'll put it towards things like food and  laundry.

Although things are a bit dire I'm still smiling.  Why am I happy? you might ask.  Well I'll tell you.  There are few things that give me as much satisfaction as the success of my blog.   It's the one thing that I can say I created by myself that actually became something good.  It's not so easy having a successful blog, especially these days.   Most people have their noses stuck in Facebook and they rarely venture away from it.   But why am I smiling today?  Well, the blog's readership numbers are again sky rocketing.  That, and I'm starting to get hate mail again.   I've learned over time that there are certain types of blog posts that get the most attention, and I've been writing more of those.   A month ago I was averaging only 800 page views a day, but this past week I've been averaging 1200 page views per day.  And, at the same time the amount of hate mail I get is increasing.

I no longer pay attention to the hate mail, it's all the same - has been the same drivel since the beginning of the blog.  And I'm more thick skinned. That kind of mail used to bother me, and for it I would change what I wrote.  Of course then my readership would drop.  Well, no more of that.  I'm going to continue writing in the same fashion, regardless.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Am Sick And Tired


The symptoms came on slowly for a couple days.  Now it's a full blown cold.  My nasal passages are stuffed.  I've been taking a generic sudafed.  But even my ears seem congested - I can hear the hollowness of my own head.

Every night there is a cold breeze blowing in from the ocean.  Even while in the sleeping bag, the top of my head is exposed to that cold breeze and it's really uncomfortable.

Then there's the issue of sleeping outside.  Even though it seems like I'm getting the same amount of sleep that I was in the tent, I always wake up feeling like I didn't get any sleep at all.  And the nods are on me.  Working on the laptop, I'm very susceptible to nodding off - bobble-head style.   I almost missed my trolley stop today cause I fell asleep while riding along.  I was riding the trolley to the Y so to get a shower.  The shower always wakes me up some and that's good.  But I've been sleeping on the sidewalk for a week now and it's sapping my strength.   This really isn't a surprise, it happens to almost everyone when they are homeless, it even happens to me when I'm in certain shelters.   The productivity of my sleep is near zero.  Not only am I sleepy, but I don't have much strength either.

Sometimes you'll see homeless people laying about in the middle of the day. You might be inclined to call them lazy, but really, being homeless is punishing, even brutal, sometimes.  More than likely, those people are just suffering from sleep deprivation.  There is no need to hate on them. It really isn't enough to sleep on the streets if you are uncomfortable, or are worried and stressed.  No one can completely relax while on the streets, especially when trying to sleep.  I'm sure that makes the sleep less than productive.  One's body doesn't get a chance to regenerate from the toils of the previous day.

Being tired isn't going to help me overcome my cold any.   I will be going to my sleeping spot a couple hours earlier tonight, hopefully that will help some.  Being that it's Sunday night it should will be quiet around the place.   Last night it was pretty obvious when all the clubs closed down for the night.   The revelers all left the downtown area at the same time, being loud and obnoxious along the way. Many of them walk down the street where the homeless sleep.

Oh, and speaking of obnoxious.    I've noticed that the trolley drivers like to blow their horns as they travel through the area where the homeless sleep - even when there really is no cause to be blowing their horns.   As if the trolleys themselves aren't big noise generators.   The tracks rattle and the ground rumbles as they pass.   The horn is just adding insult to injury.

Friday, June 6, 2014

When I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I don't want to give away my exact location, but this is my current sleeping situation.

Click on the picture to see it enlarged

Homeless Sleep Routine


I was able to get a few hours sleep last night.  Still, I need to find a way to get more rest - I must find a place where I can nap a little during the day.  Last night I returned to the same place I've been sleeping since I started this.  My exact spot from the previous night was taken by someone else, but just a few feet away was a good place to bed down.

As per usual, there was some foot traffic through the night, and some noise - people arguing and some construction on the trolley tracks - but it was far enough away to be a little consequence.  I'm able to fall asleep faster with each night.  I place my backpack up against a wall and position it so to use as a pillow.  Then I unroll my sleeping bag in alignment with the backpack. I unzip the bag about half way and slide in with my shoes on. Once in the sleeping bag I take off my shoes.  This assures that no one will walk off with my shoes while I sleep - since they are at the bottom of my sleeping bag.  I zip up the bag all the way.  I then rearrange all the items in my pockets so that I am not sleeping on them - wallet, coins, ear buds, etc  I lay on my side and begin to relax. Still there is pain in my hip where it makes contact with the concrete ground.  I lean either a little forward or a little back to alleviate it.  Sure it is more comfortable to lay on my back, but I feel less safe that way.  I then put my hat on top of my face to block the street lights from my eyes.

I am completely broke until next month's check arrives, so additional items to help me sleep will have to wait. Before I start collecting more possessions, I need to get a cart of some kind in which to lug them around.  I will also need a way to pull that cart around.  My ultimate plan is to have a bicycle with a cart attached to the back of it.  The cart must be such that I can secure the items in it with a lock.  Otherwise people will surely steal its contents.  But all this will have to wait until July. Ah but then I'll be able to travel around the city, perhaps to the park, set up the tent and grab some shut eye in the middle of the day, when it's needed.

With no money, it's going to be a long 24 days. I have gotten used to eating at fast food restaurants with the money I get from disability.  I won't be able to do that soon.  I think I have a about 30 bucks to last the rest of the month.  This will force me to seek out homeless feedings.  I need to learn about those anyway.  The experience will give me something to write about.  Still, if you'd like to help alleviate some of this burden,  please feel free to click on my donation button and send a little money. I would certainly appreciate it.

the nods are coming back.  I need to go for a walk.                                                

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Even More Sleep Last Night


The problem I had yesterday, even though I did get some sleep, was that it wasn't enough sleep. All day I had the nods. Wherever I went, McDonalds, Starbucks, riding the Trolley, etc., I couldn't stay awake.   And that's a dangerous thing. Being told my a security guard or manager that "you can't sleep here" can easily lead to "you can't come back here."

But, last night I got even more sleep. Sure, as per usual, I did wake up a couple times during the night, but I laid down to sleep at around 11pm and woke up this morning at a quarter after 6am.

That's actually a little too late.  It is best to be up and away before workers at nearby businesses begin showing up.  There's a guy who is janitor of the building I sleep up against, and he came out of the building as I was packing up. He started griping because someone had defecated near by.  The thing is, I saw who did it.  It was someone else who was just walking by.  It wasn't any of us who slept in the area.  Still he was blaming us for it. The city has two public restrooms that are open 24 hours, but San Diego has a huge downtown area and two just isn't enough.

As with most homeless people, I would never defecate in public, a human body can retain shit for a long time, long enough to find a restroom somewhere. So there's no need to just squat wherever. The guy who took the dumb was drunk. Drunks do stupid shit all the time.

As for having to pee at night, that's a different story. I keep an empty, medium sized, orange juice bottle with me, preferably one with a wide opening so that I don't miss.  I can pee into the bottle while still in my sleeping bag, and no one's the wiser.  With the screw top lid, there's no fear of spillage.  Sometimes, though the bottle will need to be emptied, then I have to get up and deposit its contents on a nearby plant.   Anyone walking by would just think I was giving the plant some vitamin C.

The weather looks good for the foreseeable future. Life goes on.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Morning Update: SLEEP!


I remember the days when I could go 3 days without sleep and thought it was fun.  Now I go one day without sleep and I hurt.  Sure, getting older has its benefits, but wear and tear on the body takes its toll.  It seems more and more evident that I will not be living forever - dammit!

As you may have know from previous posts, I did not get any sleep night before last.  Well, yesterday evening I went to Walmart and bought a cheap sleeping bag (and a new hat) and that made all the difference.  Also, I found a different place to sleep, about 30 feet north of my usual spot - was less breeze there.   I don't do well in the cold, and if I'm too cold, then I cannot sleep.  Being wrapped up in the sleeping bag, and that bag giving me a little protection from the cold concrete as well, the only issue was the hardness of my "bed".  I adjusted the position of my body and the concrete didn't hurt nearly as much. I was able to fall asleep.

I spent the evening at Tom n Toms - a new cafe in San Diego (Korea's version of Starbucks).   After they closed, at 11pm, I walked down to my preferred area for sleeping.  I bedded down and worked to get comfortable. I fell asleep about midnight.   I did wake up a couple times during the night but fell right back to sleep.   It was remarkably quiet last night - there were no shenanigans by my fellow travelers that I was aware of.   I awoke at 5am, the very first hints of light were turning the sky above a dark blue - my favorite color.  The air was cool, but not cold.

I rolled up my sleeping bag, gathered my things, and headed to Starbucks for a well deserved urination.
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This is going to be a difficult month for me financially - if you ever thought about sending a donation my way, now would be the time to do it.  Follow the link above.  Thank you.  Have a good rest of the day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What Really Happened

If you recall my last post, or better yet, read that one first, I had planned out last night's sleep on the street.  But, something else happened.  I caught the trolley about midnight and rode it down to where I was to sleep.  It is in an area where many homeless sleep on the sidewalks.  As crazy as some homeless people are, there is still safety in numbers - even if those numbers are all homeless people.

I found where I wanted t sleep was vacant and the nearest other sleep was about 15 feet away, which is a good thing.  I don't want my usually loud snoring to piss anyone off.  I don't need enemies on the streets. I locked my backpack to the chain link fence and laid down, using the backpack as a pillow.   I immediately noticed a chill in the air. And through the night the air grew colder. There was a slight breeze, but it was constant, preventing me from conserving any body heat.  And it didn't take long for the concrete is begin hurting my bones, from the cold and the hardness.

The chain link fence runs along the border of an empty lot, and up against this fence slept dozens of homeless people.   Some had tents, others had sleeping bags.  Others had cardboard to sleep on.  I think I was the only idiot to be lying directly on the concrete. Although there was commotion through out the night, it was mostly quiet. Pairs of people walked from one camp set up to another.  Occasionally I could hear the anger and heated words between a man and woman, but it came from the other side of the empty lot.  A random holler would break through the cold air.  Since I could not sleep, I just watched and listened to the street sounds.

Then I noticed ants, not many of them, but they were on most everything.  They weren't a bother and sort of tickled my skin as they crawled along.  I empathized, thinking they were looking for a place out of the cold too.  A field mouse scurried by, then jumped into a small hole when it noticed that I noticed it.

Then about 1:30am the rattle of a jackhammer started up.  About a block away a construction crew started working on repairs to the trolley track.  Yeah, it had to be 1:30 because that's when the last of the trolleys pass by.  At 2am it was obvious that I wasn't going to get any sleep.  So, I sat up and started reading a book.  Not long after, the urge to urinate came over me.  Not sure where I could go, I just kept reading, remembering that Starbucks would open at 4:30am.  At about 2:30am a couple guys walk by, angry with each other, their banter was a continuous "calling out", threatening each other to fight.  Idle threats, they didn't even get loud. They kept on their way.

At 3am I unlocked my backpack from the fence, threw it on my back and started looking for a place to urinate.  Things were different from when I was outside last time.  I couldn't go where I used to.   Then I remembered a public restroom near the entrance to the Gaslamp District.  It was a few blocks away.  I headed in that direction.

Around the next block I saw that the new 7/11 was open.  I did not know it was a 24hr store.   I went in, but was told that their restrooms were not available until 6am - even if I bought something.  I bought an banana anyway and keep going.  4 blocks West and 3 blocks south and I was at the pubic restroom.  And, thankfully, it was open.  Still I had to wait my turn as there were other homeless people ahead of me.  With the pressure off my bladder, I no longer had a goal for the rest of the night.

This pubic restroom was next to a trolley station and so I checked the schedule.   In just a half hour (4am) the trolleys would start up again, so I thought I'd go for a ride.   I have a monthly public transportation pass.   The thought crossed my mind that maybe I could get some sleep on the trolley, but that didn't work out.

It was as if the trolley was a special service for all the crazy homeless people in the city at that time of the morning - the first trolley out of the gate.  All those people who couldn't sleep had caught a ride.  And they all tried to talk to me.   I'm half asleep, trying to mind my own business and read my book, and they're jabbering at me about something illogical and incoherant.  I think I'll pass on taking the first trolley of the day, next time.

Not having a plan, I decided to get off the trolley at the San Diego State University terminal.  It it located on the campus.  But the campus seemed like it was still asleep - school must be over.  I saw a sign for Jack-in-the-Box and walked that way, hoping instead to find a McDonalds near by.  No such luck.  I then walked back to the campus and waited for the tolled headed back into town.  That was about a 45 minute wait.   I used the time to finish watching "The Misfits" with Clark Gabble and Marilyn Monroe.  It was the last film for the both of them, Gabble died just a few months after the filming completed, Marilyn died a couple years later.

Once in town I went to a cafe for something to eat and wifi.  At noon I went to the Y to shower, then after that to this McDonalds.  It's now 4pm.  I'll have to head out to Walmart soon to get a new sleeping bag.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Where The Ragged People Go

Funny, since I left the tent shelter I have stayed three nights in a row in a cheap hotel.  Talk about procrastination.  Well, I have very little money for this month and so I won't be able to chicken out tonight.  Once I leave this McDonalds I will be heading down to where the ragged people go, for a piece of concrete to sleep on.

Today was another day, also, of spending my day in McDonalds and in cafe's for the wifi and the occasional sandwich.

Starbucks opens at 4:30 in the morning so I'll have that to start the day tomorrow.  I'm sure I won't get much sleep, if any.  Then I'll head on to the Y for a shower to complete the wake up process.  Afterwards I'll need to get a sleeping bag and something to use as a pillow.   I hate having to carry around such stuff, but I think it will be necessary for me, if I am to get any sleep on the streets.  Yep, it's time for making trade-offs - giving up things I like for things I need.  I just hope that whatever I get compacts nicely so that that stuff I'm hauling around doesn't look excessive.   I hate to look like I'm homeless.  I'm still not accepting it as my fate.

You know how it is when you move into a new apartment, but you're not really happy with it, would rather be else where, and so you never unpack your stuff.  That's because you know that unpacking means that you are giving in, accepting the place as yours, and you just don't want to do that. When you do, it's reluctantly. I know what I need, so  to be homeless, but I'm still putting it off.  Maybe I'll win the lottery this week.  Maybe someone will take me in cause they've got a spare room, or a big back yard where they'd let me pitch a tent, or even just a patio where I could bed down during the night.  ... if only.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ahhhh Sleep.....

Like I always complained of a lack of sleep. You bet I did. Depriving a person of enough sleep is a tool of interrogators and other torturers. From a combination of my sleep apnea, and of living in shelters that don't allow a person enough time and comfort to sleep, and sleep well, I felt like a walking zombie most of the time. But, another benefit of having my new place is that I feel more rested than I have since...well, since my last apartment I had three years ago.

This doesn't mean that I'm full of energy, I'm still grossly out of shape. But I'm not falling asleep while at the computer or reading a book, or during another other normal awake time.

So, next will be the start of getting fit - or at least fitter. I walk a minimum of 2 miles a day, just getting to the places I need to get to, but I will try to walk more, just for the sake of exercise. I'm also eating less, yet better quality food. So, once I've lost enough weight, I'll start jogging as well. I would still like to try the Country Music Marathon - 1/2 marathon, which will take place in 10 months from now. That should be plenty enough time to get in shape. My knees, my hip all hurt, so I'll have to see about them. Hopefully a better diet and exercise regiment will help them to heal.

Even my teeth are in better shape now. When homeless, a person cannot take care of much of anything like he should, like brushing his teeth regularly. But now I can, and now my teeth and gums feel healthier, and stronger.

Like the National Health Care for The Homeless Council says, a homeless person has the life expectancy of age 56, which proves how much the homeless life wears a person down. Now, I'm on the mend. Thanks to all to all of you, and the support you've given me to get to this point.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Cheap Motel

Last night I stayed at a cheap motel, thanks to a recent gift. (thank you, to you know who)

Walking in to the room, dropping my bags, shutting and locking the door behind me, pulling the curtains closed, and I realize just how stressed I am - stressed to the point of sickness. I fall onto the bed, bouncing a little, on my back with my arms stretched out, my feet hanging off the edge, and I burst out with a silly laugh. I can actually feel myself feeling better and better, honest to God real relaxing. And for a moment I almost cry.

There are two very real benefits to having your own place, especially if it's just for one night. And it's hard to choose which one to take advantage of most. Because really, they are kind of exclusive.

The first benefit is sleep. Oh dear God, how good a well made bed of springs and support feels, with just the proper amount of sheets and blankets and pillows, and the temperature of the room just the way you like it. Sleep comes easy, and is of an infinitely better quality than in any shelter. What a blessing. I feel so much better today than I have in a least a month, when I last got a cheap motel room.

The second benefit is privacy. The thing with sleep is that you are unconscious, and are unaware of your privacy, or anything else. To do whatever you want, whenever you want, is something homeless people are so deprived of. Many people wrongly assume that homelessness equate to freedom, but it doesn't, not even close. When you are homeless, you are always in the public eye, and people must act a certain way in public. When in the library, sitting down with your favorite book, you can't just kick off your shoes, or assume just any ol' position in the chair. You certainly cannot sit or lie on the floor in the library. You certainly can't fall asleep. You can't sleep in a public park either, or do any number of things that you wouldn't think twice about doing when at your own place. And that creates a stress that often goes unnoticed, until you are relieved of it. It's like all the sounds of the city. Your ear hears them all, but your mind selectively ignores them. And you don't realize all those noises are there until, like on a Sunday morning, most all the noise making things are turned off. Even when taking a walk around downtown on a Sunday morning, you can noise the quietness, and feel a sense of relief from the stress of it.

And with real privacy you can watch tv or not - and if so, you get to watch exactly what you want to, without having to compromise. You can take a shower whenever you want, for as long as you want, you eat dinner when you want, and eat what you want, and you go to bed when you decide to go. And so there is this temptation to stay up late, if not all night long, just for this time of being in control of your own life and actions, sans the shelter regulations and administrators who observe and dictate your every motion.

I didn't sleep as long as I hoped I would. But I was still able to sleep in. I awoke at 6:30, which is an hour and a half longer than I'm usually allowed to sleep when in a shelter. And by 6:30, in shelters, have already awakened, dressed, had breakfast, finished the chores of putting away sleeping cots, etc, and have been driven down to, and dropped off, at Room In The Inn. It's funny but true, that the homeless will have done more by 8am than many people will do all day.

But not me, not on this day. After I woke up, I turned on the tv and just vegged out for a while. Good Morning America, Regis and that other girl. Dustin Hoffman was on Regis this morning, promoting a movie. I don't think it will be a good movie, but it was interesting listening to DH talking about home life - like he's just another human like me.

Eventually I checked out of the motel and walked up to a fast food restaurant for breakfast. Then I caught a bus back into down, just in time for the bring-your-own-lunch/bible study at Downtown Presbyterian Church.

Yes, I stayed up longer than I should have - I could have gotten even more sleep at the motel. But I still benefited from a night of privacy - a privacy I might not again visit for another month.

I feel much better today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trying To Beat The Homeless At Their Own Game

Bench-Warmers Sought to Block Homeless

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A community activist thinks a few couch potatoes, strategically placed on sidewalk benches in an upscale shopping district, will keep transients on their feet and on the move.

Esther Viti, who oversees the donation of public benches for a merchants' association in La Jolla, sent an e-mail to 45 other activists last week asking them to sit in three-hour shifts, no bathroom breaks allowed.

"After all, you MUST OCCUPY THAT BENCH continually for three hours to prevent that homeless person from sitting on that bench," the e-mail said.

Donors weren't happy that transients were sleeping on benches they had provided for the public, Viti said.

The group previously tried installing benches with metal dividers that split the seats. Transients simply began sleeping upright, said Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla.

No one has offered to sit a shift yet, Viti said. Some potential recruits expressed concern that the bench brigade could provoke retaliation from displaced transients.

In 2006, the Regional Task Force on Homeless estimated the homeless population at 9,600 countywide, which included 4,400 people within the city of San Diego.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mundane Homeless Issues - Sleep

It's funny how the more common elements of life never get talked about, or blogged about. They are so "everyday" that they don't seem worth discussing.

With homelessness, one of those mundane things people hardly ever talk about, and I've only mentioned a few time, is how sleep evades us. Real rest is never achieved. To rest, one must be able to relax, and relaxing isn't something homeless people can do. In mission-like shelters many people are constantly crowded together, and being herded from one thing to the next. Even as homeless people sleep in shelters, there is no real relaxation. There is constant noise and disruption. It's hard to fall asleep, and people are always awaken before they are ready. Some people, in response to the harassment, are able to avoid the wake-up call by the program men at 5am, by setting their internal clocks. They awake before 5, on their own. Though they are able to avoid the rude awakening, they lose even more sleep for it. And, with technology being more accessible, many homeless people now carry cell phones with them into the dorms, and their "peeps" are likely to call them at all hours of the night. The phone rings and wakes every one up. Or they have watches with alarms, which they purposely set to an early time, or they don't know how to turn the alarm off, and the watches become a problem too. And all of this happens in addition to the general rowdiness of some of the homeless who want to talk all night , cause they are one drugs, or are mentally ill, etc.

And this, among other things, makes the Room In The Inn program so desirable. Sleeping in a room with 12 people is much more relaxing than in a dorm of 150 people. Still Room In The Inn has its issues too. There is one church that has their homeless guests sleep in a filthy storage room with a window broken out. And from with I've gathered, that window has been broken at least two months. So, not only does the church bearly heat the room, the cold is allowed in unabated. Why the church would not get that window fixed is beyond me. It's a safety hazard as well as a health risk, to the homeless having to sleep in that room. This makes for a cold night, and increases the difficulty of getting restful sleep. Sure, the majority of churches participating in Room In The Inn do at least an adequate job. But about 10 percent of them - about 15 churches, really need to take some drastic steps in improving their ministry to the homeless, or else drop out of the program. Cause really, they are doing more harm than good. Most depressing of all, is that the administration of the Campus for Human Development, the organization that operates Room In The Inn, is very much aware of these problems, but refuses to do anything about it. For them, having as high a bed count as possible is more important that providing for the actual needs of the homeless.

When a homeless person is actually better off sleeping outside, than in a shelter of any kind, then there is a problem with that shelter that needs to be addressed.

The lack of good sleep is one of the biggest problems for the homeless. And yet it is rarely discussed. That the problem is so common, that people hardly recognize it, and instead accept it as normal - that is until something happens that brings it to light.

The downtown library has a security staff. Usually 3 guards are wandering the library at any one time. And the thing they spend the most time doing is waking up homeless people. I experience this too, and fairly often. And I've known homeless people to get barred from the library for sleeping infractions. Some homeless guy sits down to read the paper, and before you know it, he's nodding off. Personally, I don't understand why the library administration makes such a big deal about it. Unless the sleeper is snoring loudly, he/she really isn't disturbing anyone. Even today, I caught myself falling asleep while in the middle of reading something on my laptop.

And homeless people will also fall asleep in the parks - and that too is against the law. The city parks are all closed at night, so it is also difficult to get sleep when outside - "sleeping rough" as they say in Europe. Even those who can find some hidden place to sleep, they are likely to get only 4 hours or so. Traffic noises, exposure to the elements also keep one from enjoying proper sleep.

The only way a person can get sleep is to have a room to one's self, with a door they can close and lock, and be undisturbed. For the homeless, that means spending about 50 bucks a night at some sleazy hotel. And since day labor usually pays less than that, living at a cheap motel is out of the question.

Four to six hours of sleep is all that homeless people can usually muster, and often times they go a whole day without sleep. Being well rested is so important to having a good life, and for overcoming homelessness, no wonder leaving homelessness is a difficult thing to do.

So, homeless people are tired. Of course, when you look at them at the park in the middle of the day you only see them as lethargic, and call them lazy.

But then, you really don't know anything about them, do you?