Friday, January 14, 2011

Another Moment in the Life of ....

I'm looking at my hand-written notes and I *know* they were clear to me this morning, yet right now, they look like the ground a sick chicken clawed at. I know it was imperative I write this morning.

I wish I knew what it was that was so imperative to write.

Well, let's see what comes to mind as I translate the notes that make the most sense.

4:15 am
The elderly woman with the white hair on the cot next to me was coughing her lungs out last night -- right now she is sleeping semi-peacefully.

One cot katy-korner to me is another woman, a girl by my estimation, also coughing her lungs out earlier.

No coincidence that I, too, was coughing myself silly in fits during the night. We must have sounded like a right synchronous rasping section.

We were not the only ones, but we did have the corner on coughing in our two rows. There were lots more rows (at least 14 more).

4:30 am
If I don't stop writing now and get my teeth brushed, I'll lose my opportunity to get into the most usable of the 2 women's bathrooms.

Oops. Too late, there's a line now. So, I'm standing in line, writing in the night light.

A woman just walked out of the restroom on the far left. "It's nasty in there, it's wet all over and the other one is full of urine, so be careful."

I nodded.

Chose the wet bathroom (flooded since there's no real drainage in it -- happens all the time) and dragged a folding chair in with me to set my backpack and my toiletries kit down upon.

5:00am and lights are on
Asked myself, "Why haven't I taken a vid with the Flip of the winter shelter yet? I've been given this great means of recording things and I've not been able to get the personal physical energy up to use it."

Answered myself, "Because my comrades in this winter shelter deserve some privacy and if I film without asking that would be rudely intruding on the private moments we allow each other in this one room, holding 150+ of us."

The winter shelter is our bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen and communal area.

I just don't have the energy to ask permission at the moment, all of my energy is going into survival daily, so I forgive myself for not using a great gift (the Flip) yet as I had planned.

Actually, this morning I had a teensy bit of energy and daydreamed about things that could be:

You're housed and feeling under-the-weather. You've wisely chosen to stay home from work and most like you're also spending a lot of time in your bed, shuttling back and forth 'twixt it, the kitchen, and the bathroom.

When a coughing fit comes upon you -- you use the bathroom and wander back to your bed or the couch to lay down.

You utilize the fresh foods you have at your fingertips for appropriate nourishment. You tub soak to get the toxins out of your body through the largest organ you have, your skin, then you shower for as long as you need. Afterwords you step out onto a dry mat, have time to brush your teeth, rinse your mouth and do a bit of energy movement.

In your room, you casually touch base (telephone, e-mail, social media) with whomever you need to let know that you're not at the top of your game so they don't fret and worry.

Abruptly, since I now have to go to the bathroom again, the reverie is broken, and it's back to reality for the moment.

I haven't asked for permission to film anyone in the shelter, however, I can give you a tiny word picture snapshot of it this morning:

A long line to use the womens restrooms and pondering if some folks just grew up in a barn, or where never taught how to clean up after themselves. Plus you carry anything of import with you into the bathroom, even if your cot position is close to the restrooms. There are some less than scrupulous folks here and anything not on your person could disappear if someone isn't watching it.

Rolling up the sheet, pillowcase, blanket, and towel and stuffing them into the plastic bag with my name scrawled on it to turn in at the "Linen Closet" and get back tonight. Putting the pillow in the pillow pile to be handed back out to us tonight.

Breaking down the cot and dragging it over to the palette to be piled on. Yes, I could wait and let someone else do it, but I learn by watching and while I may have a bit of physical difficulty folding the darned little gizmo, I can get it done now -- given time. There is no reason why someone else should have to pick up after me.

Then it's waiting until 7:am, hoping for a bit more warmth as we are all unleashed onto the streets.

I still don't know what I was driven to write this morning, now that I have a moment at my computer, here in the library.

So, I guess this is "Another Moment in the Life of ..." entry. ::grin::

Oh well, so much for literary goals, and I highly recommend to you to smile, you'll never lose the ability even if you are losing teeth like I am. A toothless smile, given freely and with joy is more important than a clenched smile given because it's politically correct.

Go with peace and joy mes amis! And share those smiles!


  1. Thank you for your honest, unapologetic look at the struggles of the homeless. I'm sure many of us think of a shelter as a place with a bed and a hot meal where everyone looks out for everyone else...

    Why don't you ask around and see who's willing to go on camera to share their stories? You can post those with your Flip camera.

  2. God Bless You<3
    I have been through homelessness and I Thank you for sharing your experience in this as you are going through it-
    I think it is good for all to have an idea of what it is like to be in this situation- A lot of people i have talked too on this, get really quiet and or make harsh comments, but you really don't know what it is like until you have been through it yourself. I admire your strength, your positiveness, and your honesty- Keep up on this journey and don't give up- I am going to be keeping you in my prayers


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