* Jacob’s ladder 06/26/13

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. Wednesday 06/26/13 I met my principal patron, hoping to pick up the second half of my allowance for the week. He could only give me 2/3 of the amount. With two minutes left on my phone, and no more cash expected till next week, I e-mailed a supporter in Texas and invited an early birthday present in the form of his putting minutes on my phone. I had to buy a soda at a corner store to get change for bus fare “home.” At the shelter, having my last smokes before going in, I began to figure.

Certainly I could not buy more than one more pack of smokes — to last four days. For certain, I will wind up using the nicotine gum Pastor worked so hard to help me get last fall. I would have to give up sodas. I might have to give up coffee in the afternoons. I might have to give up coffee in the mornings — and sit outside from 6 am to 10 am with nothing to drink and no access to a bathroom. I might have to stay one night at a different shelter. I might have to walk rather than take the bus to church Sunday.

Enigmatically, when I got inside and sat down on my bunk, I felt cheerful.  The last thing in the world I want is to be on the bus stop Sunday and find myself without bus fare to church.  This minimal amount of self-management, of stewardship, of planning what sacrifices I must make, gave me a degree of power and control over my lot.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

* Jacob’s ladder 06/19/13

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.  In particular, at the shelter in recent months have been several guys who just “came home” from doing “hard time,” and within days had found jobs.
  3. Times of despair.  I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen.  The question isn’t whether I fall down, but whether I’ll get back up.  A moment of despair doesn’t rule out faith long-term.  It can be OK for me to lie there and have a little pity party, as long as it’s reasonably brief.
  4. Incidents of utter selfishness.  (I may rename this if I think of a better name.)  Several weeks ago after church, I became impatient waiting for the person who had promised me a ride downtown, and waiting also for my principal patron, who was tied up in conversation with others.  I became disgusted with myself over feeling that way; and disgusted that I was hanging out there long after I would otherwise have left, having feelings all about obtaining favors for me, me, me.

That’s not a pretty way to end this just now, but in the long run I do think I need to be candid in admitting what it takes to climb one’s way out of poverty.

on air talent, talk show host, radio talk show, the homeless blogger

* The Gestapo librarian

Officer Nasty works security at the library.  He doesn’t wait for trouble to happen or for someone to ask him for help.  Instead, he constantly patrols the whole place looking for people who may be breaking the rules, so he can put them out.  He walks up and down the narrow aisles of the computer center to see what you have on your screen.  He comes into the men’s room hoping to catch someone in the act — act of what, I can’t imagine.  You get the picture.

The wi-fi cafe at the library is about 15 feet inside the front door.  My custom was, if I weren’t going back to the computer center (about 60 feet from the front door), to stash my two heavy bags in there when I went out for a smoke break, and then pick them up when I’d come back in.  Saturday 06/09/12 he told me I couldn’t do that, but must take the bags with me.

There were conversations behind that, and e-mails exchanged (Not naming him, but only asking about the rules.) with big shots, and over the course of a couple weeks I learned new ways to handle my bags so as to not draw his attention.  It was simple enough.

I found nevertheless that part of me — the impulse to seek or make trouble, which I may as well call here “the itch” — still wanted to bring a complaint and make this all out as some kind of personal vendetta against me.  Perhaps he wanted to make it that much more inconvenient for me, and that much more obvious to other people, that I have those two heavy bags and am homeless.

But the fact is, in light of the actual facts of the situation, that in order to make a complaint like that, I’d have to concoct some fiction — to make up some story — to lie.  And I’m not willing to do that in this case.

(Reblogged 05/28/14.)