Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Strawberry

Image by chefranden, Creative Commons Attribution
I find it very difficult to enjoy the strawberry at the moment.

Appreciating the strawberry is a choice and not always the easiest choice for me to make, although I keep practicing it.

The actual zen tale, if you're unfamiliar with it:

A zen monk walks in the wilderness.  Turning a corner the monk encounters a vicious tiger.

Choosing to run and live, the monk comes to the edge of the cliff with the tiger immediately behind.

Choosing to grab a vine with both hands, the monk starts climbing down the face of the cliff.

Halfway down, the monk looks up, seeing the tiger at the top, baring it's teeth and fangs, clawing the earth.  Looking down the monk sees another tiger at the bottom, punctuating its wait with a roar or three.

The monk is caught between the two, dangling in mid-air on the vine, halfway down the cliff.

As if the monk didn't have enough to worry about, two mice, one white and one black, creep out of their den a little ways above, starting to chew on the vine.

At that moment the monk notices a plump, ripe, juicy wild strawberry growing out of the side of the cliff, within reaching distance.

Choosing to hold onto the vine with one hand, the monk's other hand reaches out, plucking the strawberry.

Plop!  The strawberry is put into the monk's mouth.

Ahhhh!  What a sweet, delicious, aromatic strawberry!

The conversation with DPSS today was so unbelievably uninformative and depressing I am having trouble chronicling it here.

The highlights were the gentleman telling me,
"Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do that is preventative.  We can't do anything about the fact that you are going to be homeless in 14 days.  You have to be in a shelter for some time for us to be able to do anything, and even then, we can only help those chronically homeless, those who have been homeless for 13 years or more.  That's all our programs do."

So I asked him, "well then who can help?"

His response was a mumble.  I asked him to speak up.  He said, "Well go to the City of Los Angeles."

I returned, "Who in the city of Los Angeles?  Where in the city of Los Angeles?  Can you give me a name?  An organization name?  A telephone number?  An address?  A website?"

After three minutes of my playing a broken record at him, "Los Angeles is a big city, you're not giving me any information to follow up on, please give me a name, an address, an organization name, something that I can follow up on.  Telling me to go to the City of Los Angeles is akin to not giving me any information at all."

Finally, he said, "Go to the internet and type in The City of Los Angeles, then type in Housing Program, then type in Section 8 Program".

That was the best I could get out of him.

So, I ask you ... what do you get if you follow those instructions? If you google, do you get something definitive? Please share with me if you do, because I'm not infallible, and I may simply not be understanding how to put his instructions together. I'd appreciate your comments.

Am I being a nimnull here?  I've resolved issues for computer users for nearly 3 years at my last job.  In previous jobs, I was always a service provider -- solving problems, getting things done, meeting heavy, hectic deadlines -- I would have been fired for offering such a vague solution to someone who was my client or a user I was assisting.

To top that off, yet another Notice of Action came in the mail this afternoon indicating my caseworker did not have me sign all the right spots of the paperwork when she and I met in her office in early June.

Along with those 5 pieces of paper, she is also asking me to sign and date a form that says I'm being registered for work so I can keep my foodstamps. A little form known as PA 1865 (Rev. 2/01), when I've already given her papers indicating my left arm is unusable that I've applied to SSI for federal disability.

Plus for some reason, even though it wasn't an issue that I had a car that wasn't working when I applied and received GR a year ago, for this annual review, apparently my caseworker has to submit that the same non-working car was stolen from me a few months ago, which I happened to mention to her and now she needs the police report for that.

I'm stymied, astounded, and having the dickens of a time choosing to focus on being in the moment.

Today's tiger at the top of the cliff, being homeless and on the streets with nothing but a bag on my back and health issues in 14 days.

Today's tiger at the bottom of the cliff, nutritional needs for particular foods (and to keep particular foods out of my system so I don't get sicker) and a non-usuable left hand.

The black and white mice -- continual notices of termination action from DPSS that present one trauma after another in trying to maintain food stamps and $221 a month to subsist on, while I attempt to gain some means of income and a place to be.

The strawberry ... hard to discern at the moment.

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