Why can’t I be Ted Williams?
talk show host, on air talent, talk radio, the homeless blogger
(Originally posted 04/13/12.)
Why can’t I be Ted Williams?
(Originally posted 04/13/12.)
For years, I had the mantra: “Most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.”
Now I have many acquaintances who do one or the other.
Given recent instability in my support system, I myself may soon become one who does both.
My experience is much informed by what I’ve seen at the McDonald’s I frequent at Baltimore and Light Streets, where some people seem to panhandle outside all day long.
Having several interviews in quick succession has raised my hopes and made my dreams more vivid.
I can hardly wait to become a taxpayer again. This has been on my prayer list (I pray for it daily.) for more than two years.
They pass the offering plate at church, and now I’m wanting each time to put something in. If either of these jobs works out, I will be able to tithe, use my offering envelopes, and give $30 or $60 each week.
I dream of having a kitten, and cleaning the litter box each day. Seriously: I dream intentionally of playing with the cat, and cleaning the litter box. The point: I will have bought and paid for the cat, its food, the litter box, the litter, and the rent on this apartment, all with my own hard-earned money.
I likewise dream intentionally of washing dishes; sweeping and mopping the floor (normally on my hands and knees); and doing laundry. I take joy in these for the same reason: I bought the pots, food and dish soap; I bought the broom, dust pan, mop, bucket and detergent; I bought the clothes; I pay the rent, all with money I earned.
In my view, these dreams constitute prayer.
Yesterday at noon I had an interview for a Program Assistant position at a medical professional society downtown. This is straightforward secretarial work, and if I get hired will be $15.00/hour 40 hours/week. Thus my gross pay would be $600/week.
I have another interview on Tuesday, October 15, for a Secretary II position at a City agency. I am well familiar with this agency from my previous work with the City, and the job is located just a few blocks from the shelter. The pay would be the same.
(I observe that secretaries’ pay hasn’t changed since 2006.)
An income of $600/week has been my long-range financial goal for a long time. I figured out several years ago, long before Obamacare was ever conceived, that this income level was the threshold for my being able to buy my own comprehensive health insurance. Also, now I will be able to give $60/week to church! But will I be able to get my own place?
Or instead merely take my place among the working homeless?
I want to get a little studio or efficiency apartment in Washington Hill, a nice neighborhood located midway between my church and downtown. Then I’d be able to walk to and from work, and to and from church also. But will I be able to get that for $600/month? (The rule of thumb is that one month’s rent should not exceed one week’s pay.)
Affordable housing is a big issue in Baltimore, one I’ve heard a lot about, but have not personally had to face till now.
I’d rather not get a “room”; I just spent five years in a rooming house prior to becoming homeless, and am not eager to go back to the “drama” such places offer.
The other question I’m asking is spiritual: Do I deserve these opportunities now? Have I earned them? Have I done the work that my homelessness was meant to do? I recall having had the sense in January that my fortunes were about to turn around; that homelessness for me had accomplished its purpose. Maybe I’ve been homeless long enough. It’s been 2½ years.
Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness. Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream. I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.
Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.” Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.
|1.||Fear of the unknown. See From my diary: Learning to pray.|
|2.||Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am. Details here.|
|3.||Times of despair. I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen. Details here.|
|4.||Incidents of utter selfishness. Details here.|
|5.||Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.|
|6.||Cut loose the losers. Details here.|
|7.||Smoking. See posts tagged “Smoking”.|
Every month I send my brothers an e-mail to catch them up on the latest news in my life. The quote below comes from the one I’m sending them today. This is definitely not the last word on the matter. The detailed response I promised at first is still to come.
Brian and others have suggested I rebrand myself online as “The Homeless Blogger.” Then my work might get more of the attention they think it deserves. But I don’t want to be “The Homeless Blogger.” I want to be William Tell the talk show host (New idea: a homeless talk show host?), William Tell the secretary or cashier or grocery store clerk. I want to become one of the 53%, and a.s.a.p. Ironically, once I do enter the 53%, I’ll probably still be homeless.
Previous post: Marketing strategies, part 2: Streams in the desert
Yesterday I researched expungement in Maryland. My conviction was in mid-October 2010, and I’d understood one could get a misdemeanor expunged after three years, so I was hoping to take care of that now. Turns out there is no expungement of any guilty verdict, except in the case of any of a long list of truly trivial nuisance crimes, e.g. urinating in public or not paying one’s fare on the subway. To clear my record, I must apply for a pardon, for which I become eligible only after five years of being arrest-free after the end of probation (Oct. 2011). The paperwork is extensive. One’s application must include copies of one’s high school and college diplomas, any discharge from bankruptcy, and certified copies of one’s driving record from any state in which one has ever had a license (as in my case, Ohio until 1978).
So for the time being, until October 2016, my one (1) misdemeanor conviction will continue to bar me from employment with many of Maryland’s largest employers.
Previous post: Hiring discrimination and “backgrounds”
I participate on a certain online discussion board. My premiere antagonist is a man who got trounced by a playground bully in fifth grade. He never fails to seek to re-enact that battle with me (or any of certain others), hoping for a different outcome this time. He casts his opponent by turns as the bully he wants to be or the chump he fears he was; and interacts with those projections. It has nothing to do with me. He might as well be playing with his G.I. Joe dolls.
Andy Kessler’s 07/08/13 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Summer Jobs for the Guilty Generation,” is little different. In his quotations of others’ expressions, I hear compassion; he hears guilt. I hear gratitude; he hears guilt. I hear hope; he hears guilt. What’s up with this?
Kessler projects his own guilt feelings onto his son’s generation. That’s easier than owning them, but solves nothing.
One may need to take the term “intelligence” here with a large grain of salt.
At any rate, the reader has provided me with the actual text of the op-ed piece.
There is more to this than other commentators have indicated. I will have my own response here within a few days.
A reader just brought to my attention a recent “controversial article” by Andy Kessler that appeared in the July 8, 2013 Wall Street Journal, suggesting that I might respond to it here.
We’ll see. Thus there may be a “Round 2.”
One response to Kessler’s editorial: “Andy Kessler, Former Hedge Fund Manager, Says Shelter Volunteers Cause Homelessness”
The big obstacle is that the original is available online only to WSJ subscribers.
Quoting from my e-mail reply to the reader:
If you’re not familiar with the October 17, 2012 post, I commend it to your attention now.