Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Day in the Life ....

Is the place you sleep at night physiologically safe?  Pyschologically safe? Emotionally safe?

My wish for you:  May it be so.

One of the circumstances that occurs for those of us without homes is having a place to sleep during the pm hours; and wandering the streets during the am hours.

That's not a diss.  It's merely a statement of fact.

I am very grateful to the shelters (temporary winter shelters, daily one-night line up shelters, emergency short-term shelters and the other shelters that exist) for their offerings of sleeping facilities.

Most days, you'll see many of us (us = myself and others like me without homes) on the streets, in places where there are a lot of people to blend in with (like Hollywood Blvd), on public transportation, at libraries, in malls, in parks ... or wherever it is you see us.

Yesterday (December 25, 2010) was an exceptional day of the year as many places I go for safety, warmth, and electrical plug-ins were closed.

My feets are tired!  ::grin::

It was also an exceptional day, as I had the opportunity to take some photos and movies of where I was on the iPod I was given by / / @hardlynormal.  Therefore today is an exceptional day for you because you get to see the photos (naw, don't go looking for professional shots -- I can barely hold the equipment still!)

The day started out by locking my trusty steed D'Artagnan (a glorious tricycle I use to get me to rail stations) at a bike rack big enough to hold it safely all day.  Nope, no shots of D'Artagnan at this time!

Traveling the rails to a well-used bus-stop, Gilda Radner's *fixed* Hollywood star jumped out at me!  How wonderful to see it fixed (shots of what it used to look like a few months ago are on my posterous page--you'll have to scroll down that page to see the original shot).

Imagine my surprise of getting on a random bus (I was heading to 3rd & Fairfax to see what was up in that area) only to find myself face-to-face with an astounding gentleman without a home (David), whom I had met at a Winter Shelter only days before!  I had gone to the Winter Shelter to participate in a memorial ritual for the homeless who have died on the streets in the year 2010.

During the short conversation another gentleman, with a gorgeous eagle bolo tie, on the bus introduced himself to me.  It wasn't hard to ascertain I am homeless as David (my friend using the Winter Shelter) asked me loudly on the bus if I was homeless.

The eagle bolo tie gentleman (whose name I forgot to ask) pointed the way to a place that was offering free Christmas day dinners to the populace of the area.  I have a new-found respect for the Laugh Factory, in Hollywood.  I mean, I knew they had supreme talent there-- I'm new enough to the streets, this time around, that I didn't know they served a meal.  In fact, as the gentleman pointed out to me they served multiple times during the day.  At 1:pm, 3:pm, 5:pm and I think he said 7:pm -- but I could be mistaken on that.

However, it must be well-known to the locals, because that line you see forming (look closely) is at 10:30am and the first dinner was not due to be served until 1:pm.

What a tremendous thing!

The day doesn't end there, however.  I had much more time to wander, until dark-thirty became a reality!

Next was a trip to downtown Los Angeles, to find a public restroom I could use.  So it was off to Patsaouras Transit Plaza, and one of the grandest moments of my day, the fish!  If you look carefully, you'll see the shadow of the child in the reflection of the tank glass.  He was rushing up to get a look at the fish, and his head actually pops into one of the frames for a brief moment.

Pausing to sit down for a bit, I found out about the event taking place in Pasadena ... so it was onto the Goldline and over to Central Park.  Wow!  What a scene!  It was HUGE!  The park was overflowing with people, volunteers and attendees.  I like it!

Union Station  Homeless Services was producing their Dinner in the Park.  Not only were they serving "wonderful and nutritious holiday meals to those in-need in the community" they were providing a Santa's Village for children to get gifts; resounding music throughout the area; and an unplanned play area for LeafBall throwing.

Now, being the intrepid reporter-on-the-streets ( ::rofl -- I've always wanted to use that phrase, however, I don't think I wanted so much emphasis of  "on-the-streets" ::giggle:: ) I needed to stop, rest my feet and sit-a-spell.  The Coffee Bean close to the park did the trick.  However, trying to get my laptop to function was a half-hour ordeal, and the bless'd little thing apparently was having battery problems as well.  I gave up and moved onto my next destination.

Taking a slow moving bus (as opposed to the faster moving Goldline to the Redline) I dwaddled my way over to Hollywood/Highland again.  This time to meditate with the dragon.  Yes, it is possible to meditate surrounded by myriad folks ... just harder for me than being at Zuma beach at sunrise!

The number of people on the Blvd. area was astounding!  It must have been 4:pm-ish and the sidewalks were jam-packed!  But I did wander into Grauman's Chinese Center Court to a spot where no people were so I could take my last shots for the day.  I adore this dragon.

It grew darker, much colder and it was time to return to the location where I'm sleeping on the floor; giving me the ability to recharge my valiant laptop and put up this diary entry for you to browse through.

May your days be merry and bright ... and may all your dreams come true, each night.

A pleasure to be with you mes amis!

Friday, December 24, 2010

People to Know About in the Homeless Community

I have never listened to Sirius radio.  There are two reasons for that:   1) When I listen to something I devote my full attention to it, or should I say it takes my full attention. Radio, TV, a movie-- if it's not the only thing I'm doing at the time, it's like the static of white noise to me and I have no conscious awareness of it.  I'm a firm believer that the multi-tasking craze that has run rampant in our society for decades is detrimental.    2) Sirius costs, and it's not something I have the coin for.

However, thanks to a free week trial download, I was able to participate as a listener; and as a tweeter annoying the heck out of those that follow me by tweeting my enthusiasm for a few of the important conversations that went down on Zo Williams' "The Voice of Reason" broadcast with The Foxxhole.

The show "Homeless for Christmas" broadcast live from The Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles.  Those whom I share the streets with went in to eat and got to see the broadcast as it was taking place. Now that's class.  We may be the people of the streets because we have no homes, however, that doesn't make us second-, third-, or fourth-rate citizens.

In order of appearance, Zo Williams; Andy Bales; Joel Blau; Mark Horvath; Tony Rock; Jessica Page Morrell; Jeremiah Johnson; Andrea Richardson; Anthony Ortega; A.J. and Mary Goode; Kevin Sessions; Shareema Williams, and a special mention to Kitty Davis-Walker.

Apologies in advance to anyone's name I didn't spell correctly.  ::grin::  It's not intentional.  Between my dyslexia, hearing and the rapid flow of information on the show, I may have caught your name incorrectly.  Please let me know the correct spelling of any names!  (and links for ya!)

Of the myriad topics covered, here are some of the things that stayed with me longest (paraphrased):
What are some of the things that can effect change?
  • heart change
  • get rid of the stereotypical myths
  • regionalize the solutions (housing, bad weather shelters; transitional housing)
  • facilitate life transformation
The impact on individuals and society?
  • The trauma of dealing with homelessness
  • Stats are overwhelming! Single women and families –> homeless numbers are escalating
I feel fortunate to have learned of more service providers during the show, and to have heard some folks who have shared the streets with me.  You hear me talk about Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) all the time, since he's a mentor.  Thanks to his loud-mouth (yes, he takes that as a compliment and it's thoroughly how I mean it) I now have the opportunity to widen my communications circle.

If I could give you all what I consider to be one of the most important gifts of any season, it would be the gift of active listening.  You can give the gift to yourself.  Listening is not agreeing.  It is hearing and acknowledging.

Listen to yourself.  Listen to those around you.  Listen.

And acknowledge those who listen to you, they are giving you a true gift of love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glendale Homeless Connect Day 2010

Photo from
Homeless in LA blog -- if you don't read the
Homeless in LA blog
you should.
Crisis. Overwhelm. How do you define it? How do you handle it?

Let's leave the can of worms of “what is normal” at the door. We hereby agree to let the definition of “normal” sit in the wings for now, we can attend to it later.

“The mass of men lead quiet lives of desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau
Overwhelm. What happens when you are feeling overwhelmed? What happens when others are feeling overwhelmed?

Why should you care? For your health, wealth, and well-being; and for the health, wealth, and well-being of those you choose to care about.

Are you in crisis?

No, it's not a stupid question.

Some people can't tell if they are in a personal crisis.

Go ahead, laugh. Yuk it up. I'll laugh with you, because I've been one of those people who could not verbalize or identify a personal crisis; and most folks who have association with me recognize I am astute and reasonably intelligent.

The inability to define a personal crisis situation can arise from myriad circumstances.

I was responsible in nearly all of my jobs (almost half a decade's worth of work) for identifying and resolving other peoples crises: I did it well.  I've always done things for others well.

Thanks to a supremely talented therapist, utilizing EMDR techniques, along with a panoply of eclectic tools, I'm coming to a point where I can recognize when I'm in  personal crisis, and find a model of reasonable action (for me) to handle it.

For the therapist alone, I can highly recommend PATHAchieve as a resource for the homeless – once a week they have a therapist come in offering a Stress Management group session, a Parenting group session and individual appointments during the rest of the day.

This has been my saving grace. I would not have found this therapist (and I've been in therapy since I was a tween) if I hadn't become homeless at this moment in time.

That PATHAchieve has one of the preeminent advocates for the homeless on their staff, Mark Horvath (the founder of both WeAreVisible and InvisiblePeopleTV) is the second greatest thing about their crisis services to the homeless.

All you need to do to find out more about them is read through their website. I highly advise you contribute to them – inkind, $$, time, decent wearable clothing, toilet paper, shampoo, socks … whatever you are comfortable affording.

Crisis ranges from personal to cosmic.

It helps for you to know how much you can handle; what your methods for coping with crisis are; your awareness of when you are in crisis; your awareness of when others are in crisis; and your awareness of what you can do, including finding/recommending other resources.

The tools you use to handle a crisis can be assistive or detrimental.

If your particular crisis is homelessness (or someone you know – spread the word), and you are in the Los Angeles County area – do yourself a favor and attend the Glendale Homeless Connect Day 2010.

Yes, I'm homeless.  Yes, I'll be there as a person looking at all the services and accepting help from those I connect with.

Yes, I want to see you there and connect with you.