Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zen and Focus and the Homeless

All of the individual homeless stories and this is the one The Los Angeles Times puts its focus on?

Bamboo Charlie

Certainly it has its poignancy. And it looks to me like Charlie is a creative wandering spirit (that's a compliment) -- I most emphatically honor the growing of potatoes, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelons, peppers, okra and other fruits and vegetables; and his recycling.

But for journalism and reporting to try and romanticize homelessness? To put in media the tacit agreement of law enforcement who bring the gentleman Thanksgiving Turkeys; the land-owner who gives the gentleman the use of the land; and the Catholic church members who bring food once a week and allow their children to go on tour of the artistic area?

From my perspective, where I'm still scrabbling wildly to salvage some of the belongings that symbolize my life dreams in the next 15 days, it's neither a welcome path nor one that I physically can follow.

For instance where Bamboo Charlie proudly states
"I'm not going to ask another grown man for money. I never have, and I never will," he said, his face contorted in disgust. "People expect that from a homeless man."
I cannot state anything of the kind.

I've been on welfare for about a year now and while I don't beg from people on the street, I wouldn't be able to get the fruit I need to make the juice I ingest without the monthly food stamps.  Nor toilet paper, hair shampoo, laundry soap and other things that are essentials.

The process to qualify for SSI/Federal Disability is going to last well beyond the final days I have left in my room and may require a number of appeals just to prove that I'm disabled. I paraphrase from an associate who has some knowledge from being a worker within the system "it's a sad thing, but SSI considers that only those who have a true disability will go to the trouble and great lengths it takes to get qualified."

Am I jealous that Charlie has his situation in the news?


Well, now that I think of it ... yeah. He's 3 years older than I am, has tacit approval of his lifestyle from the authorities around him, and daily works on his dreams.

Me? I can't even get past 211. When you call an agency directly to ask for assistance because you are about to be homeless, the immediate and consistent referral is: 211. You call 211. They share with you that you must be on the streets to be helped by emergency shelter and that you cannot get into transitional shelter without being referred by emergency shelter.

Catch 22.

Perhaps, before I have to stop this blog due to the loss of my room, computer and other things to follow the path of having nothing on me because the only way I can get emergency shelter is to have proof from DPSS that I am totally homeless, I'll be able to blog an entry on the actual processes I've dealt with.

This is ... well, it's a different way of being introduced to the practice of zen.

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