The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Yesterday probably was the worst day so far being homeless. It was just an all around shitty day. I woke up feeling horrible from having an upper respiratory infection, that’s heading towards bronchitis. In the morning I try to get up and out of the room as quickly as I can but not yesterday. I don’t sleep very well in the shelter and even more so now that I’m sick. The Nyquil pills just don’t cut it like the liquid. So a combination of the lack of sleep, being sick and physically drained from all the walking just did me in. I got up late and had to rush around to get ready, which I hate doing. I forgot to take my medicine and I quickly put on dirty clothes because I haven’t been able to get to the laundry mat, nor do I have any cash for quarters. Each morning we have to take everything off the floor and put our stuff on the bed. Usually my stuff is very neat but this morning it wasn’t how I like it. I had took some laundry out of a bag that I needed and it was on top of the bed. It still was pretty neat but not how I like it. I brushed my teeth in my room, without any water and went on my way.

I had a meeting at 10 am with one of the workers who works on finding you housing. The staff have been acting like they had something lined up. That wasn’t the case which is fine because I had already found alternative housing. So the meeting was pretty uneventful he gave me a couple of more resources that might be available and that was it. I did find out that they will pay for six months rent once I get a place, so that’s good. By that point it was feeling better as I took Dayquil but still not great. At least I didn’t feel like biting everyone’s head off like a two headed monster. I quickly left for the bus so I could get out to the library, as it’s one of the few quiet places I have to go that’s safe. People don’t bother me and I can work on my comic book. At the day shelter it’s always loud and a lot of times there’s trouble. So I try to avoid that place as much as I can.

I love the library because I can get on the computer so I can write. Blogging has always been a therapeutic outlet for me. So it’s nice to sit down here and relax, and type out all my feelings. On a day like today it’s definitely needed therapy, especially since my therapist is on vacation this week. So yesterday I started to blog away and get my daily fix on a computer. Typing on my phone is so annoying. It was towards the end of my three hour limit when someone left something nasty about me about me being homeless on a Facebook group called Blaze it Forward. I had posted a week ago to see if I could find anyone near me to get to know. I was desperate for the comforts of a home so I posted in the group. Everyone was really nice and supportive. A few days later I had decided to ask for help, which I don’t like to do. The bookbag I had was really bad for my back, it was keeping me from walking very far as it killed my lower back. I also had spilled rice pudding all over the inside so it wasn’t exactly clean anymore. So I thought because this site was for paying it forward and helping people in need I would see if anyone would help me get a new backpack. People were kind enough and helped me get it. I really appreciated it. Now the new backpack doesn’t hurt me anymore. I can walk however ever much I wanted without it hurting my back. Plus I have more places to put my items in. I absolutely love it. It’s the nicest thing I own currently and I wear it proudly. When you get something new like this it makes you feel like a king. That’s how precious valuables are to someone homeless.

Well yesterday a woman felt the need to leave a comment a week after I had posted it in the group, saying I was asking for a lot. Instantly my heart sank. It was one of those days were it just took a whisper to knock me over. I felt guilt and shame. I was being judged and it didn’t make me feel good at all. I was giving this woman too much power and I tried to prevent it from getting to me but yesterday was tough. I felt like crying but I pushed through. It was a beautiful day out and it was really windy. So I decided to have a little picnic outside of the library. I sat down and ate my leftover pizza as the cool wind flowed through me. As nice as it felt I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman’s comment. It wasn’t just about her. Her ignorant, hurtful comment brought up my own shame for being homeless. The fact that I let myself get to this point where I was living in a homeless shelter. Her comment triggered every bad feeling I had about myself and it made me feel so little and alone. It’s easy to feel like the world is against you. So many people judge the homeless and look down upon them especially if they ask for help. They don’t have to say any words to you as you can see it in their stares. Overall I can push it aside but yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

I finished my picnic and headed to the bus station. As I was waiting for the bus the negative thoughts starting to flood in. They were loud and persistent. I had to use every last bit of strength in me to fight them away. I had enough on my plate to let my depression suck me under that bus. When I got to the day shelter I just wanted to chill and forget about that woman. I felt very drained and was enjoying the air conditioning. It was near dinner time and one of the main kitchen workers came up saying that they didn’t have any volunteers to pass out food. The room was full of people and no one was volunteering. Even though I was no way physically prepared to work nearly two hours on my feet I volunteered because it was the right thing to do and they had no one else. I couldn’t let people go hungry. It felt great to be giving back and it gave me purpose. I was determined to make the best of the day by helping other people.

At first it was only going to be me handing out food on eight different stations. We feed around 200 people and it gets pretty crazy at the start of dinner. Thankfully they found three more people to volunteer but only one was really helpful. The guy next to me was so slow that I had to do his other stations plus mine. If I didn’t pitch in we would have a line out the door and people get very inpatient. So I was working overtime to get people fed. I had never done this before and I really wasn’t trained but I went with it. It was a lot harder than I thought, especially because the kitchen was so short staffed. Usually they have one volunteer per food but not today. The guy next to me wasn’t carrying about portion control so the taco salad ran out quickly and that was it. After about 30 minutes the two (who weren’t good) ended up sneaking away and left. It was just me and another homeless woman, who was very helpful and nice. A half hour in my body was about to collapse. I looked at the clock and wondered how I was going to get through the next hour. I didn’t think about it, I just did what I had to do. People needed to eat and I couldn’t leave them empty handed. So I pushed through.

At first it was really rewarding even though I was beat but it turned quickly when the guy who is one of the main workers started to treat me poorly. I accidently had pushed the buffet table forward a little bit and I was trying to pull it back. He saw me and quickly pushed me aside and pulled it back. He goes you got to pull it like a man or something to that fact. Implying I was treating it like I was a boy. I have seen him enough to know the kind of attitude he has and this is how he is. He’s hard assed and doesn’t tolerate any sensitivity. He looks down upon it. It’s his way or the highway. One day there were no seats and I asked if there was somewhere else to sit to which he replied, you are just going to have to stand like the others. Well no one else was standing and he wasn’t very nice. Whenever I eat at the kitchen I do what I’m supposed to. I’m considerate and am not greedy. I say please and thank you. Which most don’t.

Once this guy got started he didn’t stop belittling me. I was enjoying working with Paulette, the other woman who volunteered. Once it slowed down we started talking and I mentioned how that a month ago I wasn’t barely able to walk a few hundred feet. I have been very proud of how far I have come. Well that didn’t make this guy happy and he started to tear me down by calling me lazy. Yes, he actually used the word lazy. I had enough fire in me to say it wasn’t from laziness and just went back to serving food.

Another thing that started to get to me were some of the homeless were just downright rude, demanding and greedy. I could have handled this if it weren’t for the worker giving me grief. One guy said I needed to wear a net around my beard. I wanted to tell him off and say that I was homeless too and that I was killing myself to feed your ungrateful ass. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be eating but I shut my mouth and went to the next person. Serving food wasn’t easy because a lot of people just stared at you confused when you asked them if they wanted the food I was serving. Which made it difficult at times to move the line but I did the best I can and I was always kind. Overall most the people were really cool and appreciative. It was nice when a few people came up to us and thanked us. Those who did that really made up for the unkind people before. I loved when it was slower because I could be myself and be more personable. There was this sweet old lady who came through the line and I enjoyed talking to her.

About halfway through we started to run out of certain items like the taco and macaroni salad. We had nothing to replace them with either so if you came later in the dinner service you just went without. The last fifteen minutes the only thing we had left were the entree and one of the green leafy salads, and not the kind everyone wanted with the tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms. I felt bad as people came through. We didn’t even have any desserts left to give out. Thankfully we had a lot of entree left so I tried to make up for it the best I could. I was really surprised how greedy some people were. If you go to the kitchen enough you know that they get low on food and they can only give out so much but that doesn’t stop people from demanding more. It’s one thing if they are knew but the ones who were demanding more knew better.

Usually the last fifteen minutes they call for seconds and anyone left can get more of whatever is left. If the food is really good there isn’t much left but if it isn’t there is usually plenty. Today there was plenty. Two big trays of the entree. There was no way they could give it all away. So I asked the manager of the kitchen if he wanted to call seconds as people were already asking. He said that it was okay and I called it. People started coming up with the trays they were using so I could give more. I didn’t take the tray to my side. They just put the tray over the buffet table and I put it on the plate. I didn’t touch their tray at all. Well this wasn’t how it was supposed to be done so I was publicly scolded for doing it the wrong way. Then I was also yelled at because I was giving out seconds when it wasn’t time yet. He kept arguing at me while the manager who told me to call seconds just sat there and not saying a word. Finally after a few minutes the manager told him that he allowed it. The manager was about to not say anything either. So I was flabbergasted. Still I just grinned and beared it.

At this point the mean worker tells the women that she can go eat and leaves me alone on the line to finish up. I was about to crash as I could barely move but once again I pushed through. It was 6pm and the kitchen closed. I was so relieved and was ready to go upstairs to the men’s dorm. As he was cleaning the tables he started barking at me about something. He was telling me to take the trays of food to the kitchen to cover up. He was ordering me to do more work. Something the volunteers don’t do. Usually when the dinner service is done they leave. So once again like the good worker bee I did what he asked for but then I was done. I didn’t care if this guy said anything else I was done and told him that I was leaving. The other woman he thanked profusely and told her how good of a job she did. I barely got a thanks. I could barely walk and I had to go back to the day shelter to get my belongings. It was so painful to carry my backpack upstairs.

Even though the guy treated me like shit I didn’t have the energy to let it get to me too much. I went upstairs exhausted but still feeling good about helping out. I was so hot and feeling horrible it took all my energy to get to my room. When I got to my room there was a note on my bed. At first I thought it was just to me. Occasionally they like to leave these notes about things that we aren’t doing right. This was one of those. Like I said every morning everything on the floor has to be put on the bed. There had been an inspection that day by upper management and the people who fund the shelter. They were not happy with the conditions they found in the rooms. I looked at the note and then my bed. I saw it wasn’t as neat as it usually is and everything just came crashing down upon me. It was like a tidal wave had took me under and I was drowning. I took it personal. If there hadn’t been more to the memo I wouldn’t have been so defeated. In the warning it was said going forward if your room wasn’t clean and your bed wasn’t made that you would get kicked out for the night. If you did it a second time you were out for good. I started to panic even though I really had no reason to as I’m usually pretty tidy. It’s tough to stay organized when you have nowhere to put things, they have no tables. So I have various bags that I have items stuffed in.

I went from defeat to anger. Then to rage and into sadness. Thankfully my roommate was cool and let me bitch up a storm. He wasn’t very happy either. We were joking about the conditions of the shelter and how they were worried if the beds were made. That was the biggest joke of the memo is the fact that the rooms are the cleanest part of the shelter. Our bathroom has a gaping hole where a sink use to be, that constantly drips water and floods part of the bathroom. There is a stall that’s out of order because people keep clogging it up. The other stall and urinals are always dirty with you know what and the shower is never cleaned. The floors of the men’s shelter are always dirty, so are the walls. The day shelter isn’t any better as the conditions are the same but worse because they lost their only custodian. So trash is overflowing. Floors are unswept and dirty as can be, and the bathroom is usually beyond nasty. Yesterday someone shit their pants and left their underwear behind the toilet. The urinal doesn’t flush and the floor is always littered with trash. They run out of food in the kitchen including utensils like spoons, etc. I could go on about the conditions but I think I painted you a pretty dirty picture.

Yet godforbid your bed is not made. That is an abomination. I wondered if the upper management was Miss Hannigan from Annie. I wouldn’t be surprised if she became the new manager of the men’s shelter. We will have to start mopping the floors on our hands and knees. We had a mandatory meeting at 8pm where the guy working overnight went over what happened, he wasn’t thrilled about it either. I guess he got yelled at too. The sad reality is those who needed to be at that meeting (the ones who leave their rooms mess) were the ones not at the meeting. I joked with my roommate that today they would get booted because they didn’t bother to pay attention.

Afterwards I tried to go to bed and just felt this sadness I couldn’t bear. I started to cry and was trying to hold it in the best I could because I didn’t want to sob in front of my roommate. The tears began to soak my pillow and I couldn’t take it anymore. As I bolted out the room I began to break down and thankfully the manager was in his office. At this point I was starting to sob and asked if there was a place I could go alone to cry. He quickly got up and found me a place, a private bathroom for the staff that was locked. It was dark and cool. I sat on the floor behind the door and just started to sob. I haven’t cried like this since my first heartbreak when I was 21. Everything hit me at once including my Mom’s death because it was in that moment that I needed my Mom and she wasn’t there. So I was alone and miserable. I had no one to turn to so I just hid in that bathroom for a good thirty minutes and let it all out. I have never felt more alone and desperate in my life. It felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.

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I looked at the open window and I really thought about jumping out of it. The pain was just too bearable. I begged God to listen to my tears. I cried out for my Mom. I’m not going to lie I was closer than ever to ending it all, then and there. Being homeless got to the point where it was just too unbearable and I didn’t feel like I could make it any further. I kept looking at that window as it was a relief to have that option. I continued to call out to my Mom and I repeated a song by Bette Midler from the movie Beaches. It always makes me cry and I was trying to release all the negative energy out of me. With each flood of tears I was starting to feel better. I had to get it out of me and then I just let it go. I stop trying to control the sobbing and let it take me over for a good five minutes. Then I saw this floating fuzzy thing in the room. It was something from a tree outside. It was slow moving and it was white. I could see it as clear as day. It graceful floated in front of me like it was dancing. It was so peaceful to watch and it calmed me. I felt my Mom’s presence and I felt safe.

I pulled myself together and cleaned off my face. I went to my room and I just laid down. I felt drained but empty in the sense that I let go of all the frustrations, anger and pain… well most of it. I still didn’t forget what happened and had no plans to ever help out the kitchen again. I value you my time and energy. I’m a hard worker and I refuse to be taken advantage of and mistreated anymore. I had trouble falling asleep and started to get hungry. I also hadn’t finished getting ready to bed, nor did I take my medicine. So even though I didn’t feel like moving and it was tough to do so I got up and did what I needed to do. I hadn’t ate since lunch. Whenever I get overworked both physically and emotionally I lose all of my appetite, food becomes sickening. By 9pm I was starving and thankfully I had more leftover pizza. I ate two slices and they tasted heavenly. I guzzled down my tropical punch Crystal Punch and felt so much better.

Usually my roommate likes to take control of the room. He closes the window because he gets too cold. Then he closes the door because it’s too noisy. Never does he ask if I’m okay with that. So he can sleep but I can’t. So last night I’m like I’m keeping the door opened and he didn’t say a word. He didn’t shut the window either. Which was nice because the room was nice and cool, so I was able to fall asleep fairly quickly. Otherwise I would have been sweaty all night and not being able to breath because the room had no air. I have asthma so my lungs were already in bad shape before I got sick and now I had just killed myself for almost two hours. By the time I got to the room I could barely breath, taking my inhaler didn’t help. So I was just happy I could fall asleep as I dreaded today thinking it would be absolutely painful.

Afterwards that was my fear, getting worse. I have to be careful because I can get bronchitis very easily and until you get it the Doctors won’t do anything for it. That’s what I hate about upper respiratory infections. You’re miserable and there is little that can be done to stop it. You just have to suffer through and hope it doesn’t get worse. That’s why I dreaded getting it because I knew what it would do to me. So I’m not getting better and my cough is getting worse. So I just pray that I feel better soon.

Again I woke up very tired and not feeling great this great. I was just going to put on dirty clothes and not clean myself. I just didn’t have the energy because I knew I had to make the bed spotless. If you piss me off enough I get petty and passive aggressive. So I was determined to make my bed look perfect. Last night out of all the stuff I had to do I also had to organize everything so everything was stuffed in all my bags neatly. Plus I changed all my bedding because I didn’t want to get kicked out for having dirty sheets. I also didn’t get a sheet to cover up with. I don’t make my bed, fuck that. I haven’t made my bed since I was a kid. I’m an adult I have the right to leave my bed ready to jump into. Beds are suppose to be comfortable. We don’t get a lot of time to get ready and out the door so I try to get out the door easily. So not having to make my bed is a plus and without a sheet I don’t have to. I just make the fitted sheet fit which it doesn’t because they are super loose and never stay on the mattress. I fluffled my pillows in spite and neatly stacked all my bags on the back corner of the bed.

I was about to leave dirty. I thought what’s the point in trying when I will just get dirty soon and I had very little energy left but it was strong enough to get me out of bed and into the shower. I got the last clean outfit I had, that’s very uncomfortable as it’s tight and showered. I refused to let yesterday defeat me. I wasn’t going to let it affect me today. I gave yesterday and the people in it way too much power. I was in the driver seat and I had no control over them. I got to the day shelter to wait for the first bus to the library. I just had to get out of there. While I waited I was very tired and still worn out. Thankfully I brought my pillow just in case I wanted to rest, which is tough for me to do sitting up. I started to feel remnants of bitterness and I didn’t like how it made me feel. I have realized lately that anger and negative feelings towards others only hurts me. So I try hard to let it go. So I got my pillow out, put on some relaxing music and rested my head on the pillow. I’m not sure if I fell asleep but I drifted off to the music. It was so relaxing and it felt so nice. I wish I could have just slept for hours like that but it’s too noisy there to do that, and uncomfortable. After about fifteen minutes I get up and feel completely relaxed.

While I have let it go I have learned my lesson. I will always be me but I will be more cautious how much I give myself. I have to set limits and speak up when my boundaries aren’t being honored. That’s the biggest thing that I’m working on. I always take care of everyone else and never have anything left for myself. I built a life around not taking care of myself. Finally I am starting to do that and I can’t be trapped any more. So I’m looking at yesterday as practice, apart of my training both in not taking things personally but not getting walked all over. I need to stop being a people pleaser because no matter how much you give it will never be enough to some people. A part me was like I’m not ever going to give myself again like this but that’s letting the win and I refuse to change who I am. I’m a good hearted person who is kind and thoughtful. I will take my energy and efforts to places that honor and cherish my work ethic. So as Bianca Del Rio (a famous RPDR drag queen) says, not today Satan. So when the kitchen asks me to help again because they know I will get stuff done and I work my ass off that’s what I’m going to say but more nicely.

That’s the problem with being an overachiever. Some people will take advantage of that especially if you are working with others who give far less than 100%. You have to pick up their slack because you do have work ethic and know it has to be done. So those over you will take advantage of your hard work by piling even more on top of you, like this man did yesterday. They know you won’t say no, it’s not apart of your worth ethic they think. That’s always been my problem with the jobs I have had in the past. Employers would always take advantage of me. I would work my ass off for six months and then I would get burnt out. You can only keep working like this before you start feeling used. So I would quit because I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. All the jobs I have had in the past have been like this. All but one that is. This just added to my mental illness and has lead me to the shape I am in today at the age of 41.

So while I won’t help the kitchen out anymore I will help in other places of the shelter and especially the staff I really like. It’s clear that upper management gave the employees a lot of trouble. You could see it today in their faces. The main manager of the shelter was out sweeping and you could see that even she was defeated. She’s usually full of energy and fire. She can get a little perturbed if you don’t do something but it’s nothing like this man downstairs. Usually she’s very nice, as long as you treat her with respect. I’ve seen her gone off on some fools and let me tell you she wins everytime. She kind of reminds me of Electric in my comic book Dragzilla. Honestly if it weren’t for the women workers the whole experience of living there would be pretty dismal. I have really bonded with many of the women. My favorite is Lucy. To work there you have to be to be stern because you have to put up with a lot of shit. People will walk all over you if you let them. Lucy isn’t afraid to let someone have it when they’re trying to play her or if they’re being rude. She will give it right back and then some. She’s told people to walk away. I just love her. As long as you treat her with respect and care she will do the same.

Lucy is like a mama bear. She will bite your head off if need be but once you are in her pack you’re her buddy. That’s how I have become. I would do whatever she wanted. One night the place was a disaster as the worker quit. So I helped her clean the place. She didn’t ask me I just did it. Lucy not only values my time and energy but she sees me for who I am and embraces me as Drew. She’s very cool with me being transgender. Lucy has been like that since day one. She doesn’t usually come up to people to say hello but she always does with me. Many evenings she sits at the employee desk in the day shelter and we just chat away. It’s my favorite part of the day. The other day when she got in the middle of the guy who was trying to beat up this women I didn’t think twice about protecting her. That’s just who I am. I protect and defend the people I care about. I’m fiercely loyal and nobody messes with the people I care for. Once you’re in my inner circle I got your back for life.

So even though I had convinced myself I wasn’t going to help for a while and I hesitantly offered to help Diane because I knew all that she did to accommodate me in the men’s shelter and how kind she’s been to me. Even though I could barely move and was still bitter I was willing to push myself further to help her out. I told her I couldn’t do much strenuous activity but I could clean the windows. She was appreciative of that and said she would get me some cleaner and that it was no rush. That’s the key she valued me and my time. Diane could have gotten the stuff then but she took my feelings into it and my body. So when I get back to the day shelter I’m going to help clean up the shelter because it needs it.

The sad reality it’s not really the employee’s fault that the place is in shambles. They just don’t have the time or energy to do everything. Many of them don’t get paid a lot, especially not what they give. They’re constantly stressed out and are often times running around like chicken with their heads cut off. Yes, there are a few bad apples there but many of them are good hearted and are there to make a difference. I have seen what they have to put up with and how mistreated they are. Honestly it breaks my heart. They have to deal with so many people with very little resources. They see the pain and struggles day after day. Yesterday a woman in her 40’s came into the shelter with two teenage boys. The one is 18 and the other is 16. The youngest has special needs. They have no family and have been living in the Mom’s car. I listened to Lucy tell them that the family shelters in town wouldn’t take teenagers and that the one that would wasn’t doing any intakes right now. Even the hotel program that Lucy runs is only good for three days. So what is this poor women to do? That’s the system that’s in place. So many people fall through the cracks. I can’t imagine what she’s having to endure. They showed up to dinner and my heart sank. I just wanted to grab all three of them and hugg them. I wish I had the place to give them. I would give them my place if I could. No child should have to live like this. Yet they do all the time.

The funding for the shelter is just the bare minimum and it’s obvious by the conditions. The shelter is understaffed. This morning there was no clean towels or wash clothes. The wash hadn’t been brought up yet, nor had it been done. Things like cleanliness go by the wayside because other pressing matters are more of a priority, like keeping a mother and her two children off the streets. The kitchen can only do so much with the little food they get and they have to make what they have last so it usually means food that’s not very filling. I heard the manager talk about the lack of resources lately. You can tell by the quality of the food and the fact that they ran out of food early. The guy who is running the kitchen is also doing what he can. He’s new and doesn’t really know how to cook. What he put together for the entree I guess was horrible. The meat was barely chewable and he only had so much to work with. You can’t turn fatty byproduct into New York strip steak.

There is trouble at the shelter all the time. It’s a daily occurrence. Cops are called out to the shelter all the time, so much they don’t take matters as serious as they should. People are passing out drunk often and they are carried away by ambulance every time. Fights happen all the time in both shelters. So many are loud and obnoxious, and have no care or consideration of others. They just don’t care and feel like the world owes them. So it’s a miserable environment for everyone involved. People are lost, frustrated and hopeless. Most just want the same thing; Independence, freedom. privacy, purpose, safety and happiness. That’s not found when you are homeless when you struggle with the basics like staying clean and feeding your hungry.

Today is a new day. Yesterday is over and I won’t be returning to that miserable day. While it might feel like Miss Hannigan is in control but in reality it’s Annie who wins in the end. She gets everything she’s dreamed of and deserves. As I’m going to do. The sun ☀ will come out tomorrow and it always does.

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Oh What An Uneventful Day!

****Warning towards the end I talk about a sexual encounter, so if you are squeamish beware. I promise you it’s worth the story.******

The life of a homeless person can be pretty chaotic and stressful. From seeing fights break out to spilling pudding all over your belongs life in a shelter can be rather in unpredictable. So when you have fairly quiet days it’s pretty nice, especially if it’s followed by a particularly stressful and chaotic day.

This was the case yesterday when three men came to the day shelter to beat the crap out of a women. The main guy hit her twice and she got away. He proceeded to chase her around the day shelter coming near me. I was ready to get up to protect her when she bolted out of the room and went behind the employee area.

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Of course he followed her and proceeded to attack her while one of the women employees Lucy tried to protect her. That’s when I got up to protect Lucy. Then the guy says something about bringing out the guns and that he’d be back. Talk about frightening. All I could think about was getting murdered in the day shelter. Thankfully they ended up leaving as more employees got involved. I was for sure they were going to return to shoot up the place. I was so relieved to wake up and nothing happened. I was in a panic all night getting ready to run when I heard gunshots. You just never know what people are capable of and when someone says they have a gun you believe them. Most people don’t realize how dangerous it is being homeless. Even keeping to yourself in the shelters presents its own dangers when you are surrounded by others many of them who know some tough characters, like this woman. On top of all of that you have to worry about being mugged. People will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. So you have to be alert at all times.

It’s the days that you forget that you’re homeless, even though it’s temporary, that are comforting. They are an absolute relief. There’s not a lot of opportunity to just let go and forget about your troubles. So when you can it’s a total treat. Comforts just don’t exist when you are homeless so when you have an uneventful day you bask in all its glory.

Mornings in the day room are usually pretty quiet. Most mornings that’s where I’m at as the busses don’t run that early and the library doesn’t open until 9am. Typically I’m out the door by 8am-ish to get to the library by the time they open. I enjoy mornings because I get to chit chat with one of the Volunteers of America employees, Robin, who sits behind the desk. She’s funny and I enjoy talking to her. I get a lot of gossip about the place so that’s fun. Today the talk was about hanky panky in the men’s dorm last night. Two of the guys were caught in the bathroom going at it. Obviously someone dropped the soap. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one to walk in on them. Drex, one of the guys, involved is pretty out there. I’m super gay but he takes the cake. I’m not knocking him at all I just cringe because it brings a lot of attention to him, and that could put him in great risk. Drex flaunts his sexuality proudly and often times is very defensive. He doesn’t really have boundaries. His excuse was that it was natural and not a big deal. I don’t get it. He’s got it really well in the shelter I stay out. He’s got his own area, granted it doesn’t have a door but it’s semi-private. Having sex in the dorms can get you banned. He’s lucky that he didn’t. The next time he might not be so lucky and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. I keep my business close to me. There are just too many risks to make yourself known in that grand of a gesture. I have found a lot of straight guys have a complex, especially around flamboyant individuals. They’re always thinking you are trying to hit on them. Drex probably would and that’s the problem. I wonder what his life before this. It’s obvious he’s been through a lot. I also think there is something going on with his mental health as well. I look at those around me and I picture their lives before. It’s really sad.

Lately I’ve been staying until 10am when they give out snacks. I’m watching what I eat so I have been getting candy for my 10 year old niece. Today I snagged three Hershey chocolate bars for her. She just had a birthday and I missed it because I was in the hospital. It broke my heart to miss her special day. So I’m trying to grab her some goodies. My favorite days are when I get to chat online with her. She’s so wise, witty and funny. She’s got this realistic attitude and I love it. She’s like a miniature adult.

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I was ready to leave for the library when I learned they were having pizza. Pizza is my favorite foods and usually the food they have I don’t like. So pizza days are a treat. Today was more like a trick. It was soggy. Still it was something to eat. I scarfed it down and headed to the library.

I’m not sure if it’s the dayquil I have been taking but it was easier to walk. At least for my legs. Breathing not so much because of having an upper respiratory infection and allergies. Still it was nice to not have much physical pain. I can walk longer and not get tired as much. So I hope that keeps up as it’s a relief both physically and emotionally. I have these unwritten goals that I’m setting. First was being able to walk without much trouble. Next is to improve my mobility in the shower, etc. Lastly I want to start seeing results. I keep looking at my reflection in the glass as I walk to various places. I get a bit frustrated when my I’m not shedding the pounds like I want but I use it to fuel me to push harder. I just want the weight off. I know that will take time and I must push through the frustrations and definitely the pain. I will have days I falter and days that I succeed but I can’t give up. I must remember it’s like my old therapist use to say, you can’t attach a cocoon to a stick and whip it around expecting the butterfly to emerge.

I love going to the library. It’s so quiet and peaceful, most of the time. There is a baby behind me crying today. Didn’t they read no crying babies allowed on the sign outside? The first thing I do is get on the internet. I gotta get my web on. I feel lost without my laptop. I thought about bringing it with me but it’s too risky. Blogging on my android phone is a pain in the butt, especially if it’s a long post but I make do. I usually start a piece on my phone and finish it at the library like today. Unfortunately you only get three hours of day on the computers so afterwards I usually work on my comic book and enjoy the air conditioning. It’s in the 80’s today.

Today I had other plans. I had signed up for a new app called MoviePass a while ago. For only ten dollars you can see one movie a day. I’m really in shock how cheap it is. So I treated myself to a movie. I went to see Oceans 8, which was wickedly awesome. I’m a sucker for a movie about strong women, especially if it’s a badass group of them like with this movie. It empowers me to see women kick ass and break the norms of society. I see myself in a lot of the characters in movies like this. From Hit-Girl from Kick-ass to the women in Sucker Punch. Oceans 8 was everything I thought it would be. I’m a huge Sandra Bullock and she was perfect as Debbie Ocean. The whole ensemble was phenomenal. My favorites were Mindy Kaling, Rihanna and Sarah Paulson. Rihanna as Nine Ball was pure perfection. She kind of reminded me of Miss Connection in my comic book Dragzilla. I loved how they used the Met Ball as the target of the heist. I just love the Met Ball it’s pure fantasy and totally fabulous. I’m a sucker for a ballgown. Anything big and flowing really gets me going like Anne Hathaway’s dress in the movie. Anne had me at pink.

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I left the movie feeling so inspired and empowered. I was ready to do high kicks out of the theatre or some karate moves. Instead I headed to the bus stop. Crime fighting would have to happen another day because I couldn’t be late for my bus or I would have to walk home. In the evenings you have to coordinate your trips or you might get stuck as the lines only run to certain times. So I perfectly scheduled times to have enough time to catch the bus at the end and enough time to get to the bus station to get my connecting bus. Plus enough time to get something to eat.

If anyone has ever rode on public transportation understands that bus times are just a guess really. They’re either early or late. This bus was really late, which pushed me close to not having enough time to get something to eat. Thankfully he was only ten minutes late. I will admit it was worth the wait because the driver was Rastafarian. He is probably the coolest bus driver I have ever met. He had dreadlocks and was listening to reggae music. He had this chill vibe to him. Like he was late and he’s just chill, no biggie. At the next stop he takes a break outside and I think he was smoking a joint, with a cop car parked in front. That’s how carefree he was. Just kidding, he was just talking on his phone. He was cool as fuck. I totally could see him as a superhero. The Bus Driver. Maybe he will make an appearance in my comic book.

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This is not him. 🙂

On the way to the bus station I noticed he was staring intently at something at a stoplight so I was curious and looked. There were what appeared to be huge strips of uncooked bacon hanging from clothesline. I mean they were gigantic. Each one was at least six feet tall and looked just like bacon. There had to be over twenty of them. The Bus Driver looked back at me and says, does that look like uncooked bacon and I agreed. Maybe I was the one smoking. It was a trip. We got to the station and I told him I thought he’d make an awesome superhero character for my comic book. I said goodbye and started walking to get something to eat. I think that’s what I enjoy most about being homeless is the interesting people that I’m meeting, even the ones who are scary and/or difficult. It’s all apart of the experience. I feel like I’m on this spiritual path of growing.

When I get a little extra money I tend to get cheap pizzas at Dominoes, as it can last for two days for me. When you live on little anytime you can do this is a treat. I made sure to order ahead with a set time so I could make the 7:15 pm bus. We have to get back to the dorm no later than 8:30 pm, otherwise we get in trouble and could get kicked out. So I was on a tight schedule and didn’t have a lot of extra time. I get there right at the set time and the guy looked at me confused. He looked all around and asked everyone if they’d seen my pizza. He went to his computer and found my order. I was starting to panic thinking I sent the order to the wrong store. Then he remembers it being made but doesn’t know where it went. The case of the missing pan pizza. I guess it ended up being taken on a delivery. My pizza wanted to go on a stroll, I don’t blame it. It just got out of a hot oven, it needed to get cooled off. So my pizza had to be remade, which meant I was going to miss my bus. Thankfully there was another bus after but that was the last one for the day. So I lucked out otherwise I would be walking home and miss my curfew. I had to wait another twenty minutes. I had sat down, as they have a seating area. The guy brings me two pizzas, the original and the remade one. I guess the original decided to come back. Maybe they were twins. Anyways I got two pizzas and a 20 oz of coke for free.

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While I was waiting I had a pre-dinner show going across the street. As I was walking to Dominoes there were two guys standing outside of their car. It was obvious that they had been running. They had very skimpy shorts on and were glistening from sweat. They weren’t shy and were almost showing off. One of them even snapped a selfie of the two of them. Both were in their 20’s and just glorius. That’s the one good thing about the heat is it brings out all the delicious men. I couldn’t help myself, I stared in awe. I was hoping for more than just a pre-show but as my pizza came they started to wrap up. Not before doing some stretches which showed even more of their beautiful bodies. They got in their black mustang and drove away. I needed a cigarette. I scarfed down two slices and made sure to leave early as I wasn’t going to walk home.

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I figured it would be extra pervy to take their photo, so this will do. I mean I literally was staring at them the whole time. 🙂

As I walked to the bus I felt like I was an antelope walking through a pack of lions. Usually a lot of homeless people hang outside the bus station. Here I was carrying two pizzas and I could see the looks. They were licking their lips and ready to pounce on me. Even a group of men were like are you going to give us any. I just walked away. I was really early so I had thirty minutes to wait. As I waited all I could think of is someone is going to rob me of my pizzas. Then I run into a failed hooked up from a few weeks ago. I don’t hookup that often and this experience is part of why I don’t. Now if you are sexually squeamish you might want to skip to the next paragraph. I promise nothing happened so there’s not too much to be embraced by.

It was on the days were it was in the 90’s so it was hot as fuck. Btw, I have noticed I swear a lot more now that I’m homeless. It must be some sort of release. Anyways I have to take a bus to where he lives, thankfully it’s not too far from where I was. I get to his house and he meets me outside. I’m not too attracted to him but I figured I might as well you know while I’m there. I wouldn’t tell this story if it wasn’t so tragic in many ways but as Drex says having sex is natural. So we go upstairs to his apartment and it’s a complete shithole. I swear I thought I was going to end up on the nightly news. There was nothing in the apartment. Nothing to sit on. Just extremely dirty floors with all kinds of waste on it. It was absolutely nasty and so hot. This is where he stays too. He’s got a bag of tobacco and his phone by the window that’s open, that’s just letting in more hot air. I don’t know why I didn’t just leave right away. I guess it was stupidity and my hormones, and part desperation as it had been a very long time that I had done anything. It was going to be completely one sided in me getting oral pleasure so I didn’t have to do anything. He wanted me to sit on the floor and I’m like no thank you. So he goes to his neighbor to get a seat, really dude? I sit down and he’s just bullshitting me. Keeps wanting to smoke cigarettes. Oh, I forgot the big part of the story prior to coming over he wanted me to buy him a cheap fifth of Whiskey, which was like four dollars and he said he’d pay me back. Looking back I should have seen the red flags.

He started talking about this chick he was getting to know and getting into a fight with her over money. This woman ends up telling him to leave and he has to walk miles home. After two cigs in I realized that I had to cut my losses and get the hell out of there before I ended up in his freezer, if he had one. Though I’m sure he did. So I made up some excuse and got out of dodge. I’m like don’t worry about paying me back and he’s like can I meet up with you later to pay you back. Like I was ever going to meet him again. I wanted nothing more to do with him. It was then I realized he hooked up to just get alcohol, it was just a scam. Thankfully I was out too much money but when you’re poor four dollars is food you don’t get to eat. Four dollars was worth being alive. I literally ran down the stairs, they were like those in a scary movie. I’m like don’t die, don’t die. I make it to my bus stop and I wait. A few minutes laters another guy walks up to his door and he meets him. This new guy has liquor in his hands and he lets him back in. I was like damn he’s got guys lined up, one right after another. I had thought if I hadn’t bolted would he have let this guy in two. In the back of my mind while he was bullshitting me I thought well he’s going waiting for some thugs to come over to kill me. So seeing this other guy unnerved me. Does he just have guys waiting outside in their cars until the trick is done and then tells them to come up?

I was just glad to be out of there. As I was riding the bus back to the library I thought about this guy and how sad of life he lived. I went from disgust to sympathy. This is the sad reality for so many addicts. They will do whatever they need to get their next fix, even if it means living miserable lives. It’s so tragic. He must do this pretty much every day, that’s no way to live but so many tolerate it because of addiction. This disaster of a experience made me realize that casual sex isn’t really what I wanted or needed, nor was it part of the new me. It’s not like that having sex is wrong but it’s just not satisfying emotionally. It’s just going through the actions and it does nothing for me. I want a partner, someone I can trust and love. That won’t happen with meaningless sex, there is no passion. Most of the encounters I have are like two fish flapping together. Sorry for that mental picture but if I have to have it so do you. It’s funny how buried inside your consciousness that your desires can be, like wanting a boyfriend. It’s so deep that you don’t have a clue it’s there until it’s triggered and swept out under the rug by force.

I was hoping to never see this guy again. Well as I was walking to area where my bus came I ran into him. I don’t know if he recognized me or not. He didn’t act like he did but he did bullshit me trying to get a slice. I thought you already scammed me out of four dollars, you’re not touching my pizza. Be gone you miserable man. Yes I judged him. I guess it’s the Southern Baptist coming out of me. Fool me once and that’s it. No more chances. As I wait I prayed he wouldn’t try to come talk to me. I counted down the minutes and held tight to my pizza, and belongings. Thankfully the bus station has security and they shewed him towards the front of the building as they don’t allow loitering.

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My number 10 bus showed up on time thankfully as I only had 30 minutes to get back to the shelter. My stop was less than a mile away so it didn’t take long. As I was waiting for the bus I was trying to figure how I was going to get two pizzas through the shelter without anyone noticing. Technically we aren’t supposed to have food in the shelter but usually you can sneak contraband through but that’s when the night shelter opens at 6pm, when no one is in yet. At this time I knew there would be a room full of guys who would con me out of all my pizza and the manager would be in his office. There was no way that I could fit two pizza boxes in my bookbag so I had to come up with a plan. Thankfully I had gotten the number of my roommate, the 70 year old man. He was having trouble getting his phone to ring so I got his number to call and I figured out that the ringer wasn’t turn on. So I had his number. I knew I had these blue cloth grocery bags in my room. All I had to do is convince him to empty one and bring me the bag that I could hide the pizzas in easily. He agreed cautiously. He’s a bit different, and pauses a lot. Finally he comes out, as I’m hiding on the other side of the building. I’m sure it looked very shady. All for pizza. I hid my pizza and went on my way to the front entrance. I acted like everything was normal and went upstairs. I walked past a group of guys and the manager, and went right to my room. I kind of felt like the ladies in Ocean 8. I succeed in the greatest heist there. It was a pizza mission and the reward was deep dish pepperoni and bacon pizza. The best pizza there is. I told my roommate that he could have some and he reluctantly took two. I think I forced him to eat. At first he’s said no then after a few minutes he’s like okay. Like I said he’s a bit different. He likes to stare at me a lot. I talk about the pizza heist and he mentions that it’s illegal to bring food in the room but that everyone does it, including him and that he didn’t think I was going to have him smuggle in anything that would get him in trouble. I wanted to say I only deal in pizza.

I must admit that I felt very guilty not sharing the pizza with anyone else. I’ve noticed since I have been homeless I hoard food. Usually I’m very giving. At the shelter if I see someone hungry I will give them some of my food. I’ve even given a few dollars to people for bus rides but I couldn’t spare a slice. In my mind I couldn’t risk giving up a slice in case I needed it. A lot of the food I eat is not satisfying so I go hungry. So when I do get a good meal like this I enjoy it immensely. Whenever I’m finished with the meal I get sad knowing it will be awhile until I get another meal like this because I can’t always afford to buy a hot meal. I just saw two pizzas and thought this could last me days. It’s not often that I have multiple days in a row that I get good food. So it felt like I hit the jackpot.

Part of why I didn’t share with the guys upstairs because of how they act. They stay up very late and are extremely loud. Curfew is at 8:30pm and they are technically supposed to be in bed by then but the managers let them stay up. Their often times rude and abrasive with few manners. They leave the bathrooms nasty and are very inconsiderate. Like they live in the only bathroom stall there is. One thing I have learned the last two weeks is a lot of people will take advantage of you if you’re not careful. Being gullible can cost you. I have been conned a few times but I learned my lesson and now I’m less likely to do it. I’m just as poor and desperate as they are. I gave the two dollars I had left in my wallet to a woman and her child so she could have bus fare not thinking I would need it later for laundry. She acted like she wanted to go to donate something and in reality she just wanted to go the laundry, as that’s where I found her. Which is fine but now I don’t have any cash to do my laundry and I’m out of clean clothes. My biggest flaw is that I take care of everyone else but myself. I’m horrible at that. I’ve worked hard the last year to overcome this but I still fall into that trap at times. It’s a process and I’m learning. Thankfully I’m only willing to give away things that are very minor but I have to be very careful because when you have little minor can be major especially if it means clean clothes.

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So now I have a whole pizza leftover plus a few extra slices that will last me until tomorrow. Yes, I eat day old pizza left out at room temperature. I have done it since I was 18. You don’t waste pizza and it’s not like I have a refrigerator strapped to my back. I’m not Refrigerator Perry for pete’s sake. I might look the part but I can barely carry my backpack. So now I have yummy food for a while. Lately the kitchen has been extra strapped for food. It’s been pretty pitiful. So this was a blessing but I still feel guilty. It’s also a little naughty because I will go off my diet (It’s not a diet but more counting my calories) for a few days because I will devore these slices like I’m Templeton at the State Fair. Two pizzas is a veritable schmorgasboard-orgasboard. Afterwards I will go back to counting my calories. I have this new willpower that I have never had. It’s taken over twenty years to practice I guess.

So that was my uneventful day and I’m now realizing that when you are homeless there is no such thing as an uneventful day. Here I thought I had a normal day and as I wrote it all out on the computer I realize how interesting and rewarding it was. There are just levels of interesting. Some are exciting and fun, while others are scary and dangerous. There is never a dull day. So I will take the exciting and fun days when I can get them because tomorrow is likely to be another crazy, chaotic day at the homeless shelter.

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The Various Characters on the Street

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I’m trying to look at being homeless as a new adventure. Some days are easier to embrace that than others. It’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover but if you look deeper sometimes you will be surprised. This works in reverse too. When you’re homeless it’s natural to be cautious. It’s important in staying safe. There are all types living on the street. Lots of people are unpredictable and it’s tough to judge this in others. There are those who are nice one day and unkind the next. A good portion have some sort of mental illness. Sometimes you just have to sit back and wish them well. Engaging a lot of times causes you more trouble than good and doing so could put you in danger. There are some exceptions to the rule. Here are some of my observations of those living on the street.

My roommate is very low key and I’m so fortunate to have him share the room with me. Not everyone is so lucky. Many of the guys who live in the men’s shelter aren’t to be trusted or at the very least aren’t fun to share a room with. Quite a few drink as well so they come to the shelter drunk and often times that causes problems. It’s the only shelter in town that the homeless can drink. Most nights there is some sort of argument and often times leads to an altercation. Cops are also often called to the homeless shelter. One guy stunk up the room so bad that his roommate had to tell the staff. He also slept naked. Most the guys aren’t quiet either. Last night during the NBA finals you could hear them very loud and my room is all the way on the end of the dorm.

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My roommate is 70 years old. He’s very easy going and is pretty quiet. He was living in an apartment where the owner was a slumlord. The tenant below brought in cockroaches that infested the whole building and the owner wouldn’t do anything. The city ended up having to shut down the whole place. He had nowhere to go or no money so he had to live in a shelter. He just was in the hospital for ten days as his health isn’t the greatest. Thankfully he’s got approved for a house via section 8 and soon will be out of the shelter, hopefully within the next few weeks. We have talked many nights about the riff raff in the shelter. We are a lot of like in many ways. Some people who are homeless are so out of choice. For some there tired of the system, which is horrible and the resources out there are slim. Others like the lifestyle. Neither one of us is like that. My first roommate was similar but he didn’t talk at all. He was also an older guy with a big ole beard. He left first thing in the morning and usually didn’t get back to the dorms until the latest possible time being 8:30pm.

As I’ve stated, many of the homeless have some sort of mental illness. There is this one lady named sister Mary. She is a black lady who always wore some sort of hair wrap and a dress. Sister Mary was always pulling her suitcase everywhere she went. If she wasn’t in the day shelter she was hanging outside in front of the building. She’s a character putting it lightly. Mary was one of those homeless who had two sides, actually three. One side was kind hearted and funny. Another side was a little nonsensical like her blurting out stuff about the bible and patriotism. She would just burst out into song singing America the Beautiful. She was definitely a patriot. She talked a lot about the United States. She never mentioned Trump, so that was a good thing. Oh, as far as I know she was never a sister. Though you never know maybe she was. The last side was not always very friendly. When she’d get frustrated she’d become rude and non-responsive. I learned to keep my distance when I noticed this side of her.

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There were days that I could take Sister Mary and could see the loving person she was but there others where I had to put on my headsets to drown her out because of my mood. She talked a lot and was at times pestering. Many of the other homeless and even some of the staff didn’t care for her. She annoyed many people and rightfully so. At first she annoyed the heck out of me too. Eventually I was able to look past the bad to see the person she use to be. Occasionally she would get confused and ask for confirmation about something. I wondered if she didn’t have early onset Dementia or Alzheimer’s. She was always talking about leaving on a bus, either going to Flint or Pittsburg. I guess she had been talking about in non-stop for months. A few days ago she got a check, bought a bus ticket and left. Everyone was surprised. Now that she’s gone I do miss her. She could be pretty comical if you looked past the annoyances. I wish her well and hope she finds what she’s looking for, including getting out of homelessness.

People will just disappear and you never really know what happened to them. Recently a lot of people got their Section 8 vouchers. I think 120 people were pulled, which is unheard of supposedly. I try my hardest to not judge people I encounter and it’s something I struggle with. Separating the person from the behavior is tough especially if the person is out of touch or a rough character. There are times you judge their character rightfully so. Some are just downright despicable and I make sure to stay far away from them. Yesterday there was an old man in a wheelchair who was hard of hearing and struggling. He needed to call for a cab. The lady working the front desk gave him a number and he attempted to use the phone on the other side of the room. You have to dial 9 to get an outside line and he couldn’t figure it out. There were a group of people next to him and not one person would help him. One of the women told him that it wasn’t her job. Then he was trying to figure out how to get to the front of the building which is not a straight shot. Again people just stared at him. I proceeded to help him and then someone is like go out this door right next to the day shelter, which usually isn’t where cabs go to. They usually use the main entrance. I ended up calling the cab company to make sure they went to the right place, they still went to the wrong place but thankfully a few minutes the driver went to where the old man was.

Life either spits you out in a few ways. It will leave you bitter, jaded and hateful. The victims of circumstances go from getting everything taken from them to then taking anything they can, even if it’s from ruthless methods. People like this feel like the world owes them whatever they take. Usually these types of people hang out with a group like them. Some become desperate and fall into part of that category. The difference is that they’re not assholes usually. The system is set up to fail the poor and homeless so getting out of homelessness isn’t easy and there are many, many obstacles in the way preventing you from getting stability. I would expect that if you’ve lived on the streets long enough and become desperate enough that you would do whatever you had to in order to survive. Then there are some who are the complete opposite. They keep to themselves and rarely talk to others. They accept the fate the world has brought them too.

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There is another woman named Mary who is one of those people. She rarely talks and stays in the same corner each day. I see many homeless who are dealing with some sort of addiction. It’s really sad to watch their lives fall apart and living just for the next high. To see people spiraling out of control breaks my heart. There was one man who worked at the shelter doing janitorial and was doing very well. The staff loved him and had high praise from him for what he had overcome. Recently someone came to the shelter trying to cause trouble. Supposedly there was an altercation between the two days ago. It was clear what the man was doing and it totally spooked the worker. You could tell that he was afraid that he would lose his job. You could see the gears grinding overtime in his brain. The next day he didn’t show up to work. It was payday and he chose to drink again. That night he was so drunk that the guys had to help him up the stairs to the men’s dorm. He used all his money to buy liquor. By the next day he had lost his job, which meant losing his housing too. The police had to escort him out. He was a good guy but his addiction got the best of him and it overtook him again. The other shelters in the area don’t allow drinking at all so where will he go? How will he get his next drink? It leads to nothing good. So many are like him. There is a lot of stigma out there towards addicts. People don’t see it as a valid disease, it’s a choice again. It’s easier to judge than it is to feel empathy towards someone who is struggling. Sadly this man didn’t believe he deserved anything good and so he went back to the life he could count on. I hope that one day he will see his worth as bigger than his addiction. Support is key to recovery and so many don’t have that.

So how do you tell the difference. Sometimes you can’t, at least not right away. If you live in the shelter long enough you start to see the patterns. One part of survival is being always alert of your surroundings. You learn the behaviors of other people and begin to pick them out early on. I’m no expert by any means but I’m learning. One day I’m highly skeptical of others, while others I’m more open minded but I still stay really hesitant. I tend to gravitate towards other women. Though you got to be careful because there are quite a few to not be trusted either. I’ve also learned if you become more friendly the more likely someone is going to ask something from you like money. Each day at the day shelter they give out snacks at 10am. The other day they had a whole box of cookies and I snatched that up. One of the guys tried to con me out of it. He’s like I will give you $4 for it and the amount kept going down when I said no. He eventually gave up. My instincts told me that he would say I would get you the money later and he wouldn’t.

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One law of the land is to not let anyone borrow your stuff, like chargers, phone, etc., because it’s easily for someone to steal it. You turn around and they are gone. The elderly are easy targets. One older black man gave his phone to another person thinking he was going to charge it. Four days later and he still hadn’t returned it. When staff confronted the guy he denied having it. Again another despicable person. Losing your phone is one of the biggest violations there are when you are homeless because all your information is in it. If someone took my phone I would have no access to the outside world. So when someone asks to use it I tell them it doesn’t have cell service, which it doesn’t. I don’t tell them that I use google voice to make calls when there is wifi. I feel bad not helping people because some truly have the best interest at heart but it’s just something I can’t risk.

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For someone who is LGBTQ being homeless can be even more complicated and dangerous. You really have to be on guard. If you live in a big city and are a homeless youth then there are options for you. If don’t live in NYC, LA or Chicago then the resources just aren’t there, especially if you’re homeless and identify as LGBTQ. I don’t know of any organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ adults recover from homelessness and that includes mental illness. I wish there was a program out there but so far there isn’t, at least not that I’m aware of and I have searched. Even though Lansing isn’t that big there is a gay man that is staying in my dorm. He lives a lot more openly than I do. The other day he was talking about gay pride right in the day shelter with a lot of people in it. He didn’t care. I respected that about him. It’s easy to see the men who are uncomfortable with him. I see the glares and stares. He’s very flamboyant. I’ve thought about trying to talk to him but he’s a bit unpredictable too. I have heard that he’s gone off on people before. I have seen it in small doses when he doesn’t agree with someone. He’s got this my way or the highway attitude. I’m sure he doesn’t out of protection. It’s a defense mechanism. I also think he’s got some sort of mental illness.  So I just appreciate him from afar. I have heard there have been other trans people come through the shelter. So we are out there. I keep being transgender on the downlow because I’m not passable at all and I worry it would put me in danger. I still do little things where I don’t hide all of who I am, like my headband. I’m putting my time in realizing that this place I’m in today is only temporary. It’s how I keep sane and from losing myself. I know it’s not the final destination.

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I’m fortunate and so many aren’t. When you look back at the homeless population it’s so easy to be disheartened to see so many people at such a low point. Last night a woman was crying in the lobby because a staff member laughed at her because of her situation. It was tough to watch her. I just wanted to give her a hugg. She talked about the low point of being homeless and how it feels to be judged. That’s one of the most sad aspects of homeless is how society treat us. Many see us as lepers, unworthy of any care. That being homeless is a choice and we could have done things differently. People judge you based on their own life experiences. Well if I am able to go to work and own a house, then everyone has those skills. So many walk by the homeless on the street and some even make fun of them. If it was a dog I could guarantee most would stop to help. It’s fine if you don’t want to help but keep your judgments to yourself. Most homeless haven’t had a decent warm meal in a long while. If you don’t want to give them money, offer to buy them dinner. In my early 20’s, I was with my sister and we saw a homeless guy on the corner of the street as we were driving. We stopped at the convenience store right near him and bought him a big brown bag full of stuff. To someone who is poor and struggling receiving such a gift is priceless. It’s easy to feel like the world has forgotten you and in many cases it has, so whenever someone does something kind like that it restores part of your faith in humanity.

The kindness doesn’t even have to be monetary. When you see someone homeless smile at them and see them for who they are inside. Each one of the homeless came from somewhere. Another experience I had with the homeless was when I was living in Chicago in 2004. It was in the middle of winter and I saw a lady taking refuge in the area of the bank where you need a debit/credit card to enter the lobby of the ATM. She had somehow found her way in and was staying warm. She was at least in her 60’s and was weathered. You could tell that she lived a hard life. I wondered what her life was like before she was homeless. What did she do? What made her happy? Did she have loved ones? I didn’t have a lot of cash on me so I gave the $5 bill I had in my pocket. I gave her a smile and left her to stay warm. As I started walking down the street two younger black men were walking my way. As they passed they said God bless you. There was no way that they could have seen what I did. It was confirmation of the good that I was doing.

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People question me about why I air my dirty laundry so publically. Some people just don’t get it and it’s not a message meant for them. I know what it’s like to be down and out. Forgotten. Less than. Unworthy. I’m open about my struggles for two reasons. First it’s therapeutic for me and often times it’s the only outlet I have to release the tension. My mental illness has led to me isolating and living a life like a hermit. My support system has struggled because of that. I mainly do it in order to help others. I have had my blog for a very long time and I have people comment about how my words have impacted them for the better. On an average day I have at least ten people view my blog. There there is my Facebook where I post more frequently. At times I don’t think anyone is seeing my posts then I find out later on that’s not the case. Not everyone is a vocal as I am. I feel like I’m making a difference while I’m taking care of myself.

My goal once I get out of homelessness is to be an advocate for the homeless. So many people need to be educated. The resources are severely lacking and funding needs to be increased. This will only happen if people get involved. Sadly with this current administration things will get worse before they get better. That’s why it’s so important to vote always because it’s people like the homeless and the poor who are hurt the most when rich people control our government. Ben Carson wants to make drastic cuts to HUD and increase what people have to pay for low income housing. What little there is could be take away. I wish people would look past to themselves but sadly many aren’t able to empathize until it happens to them like with the hurricanes in Texas and Florida last year. Just look at how our country has treated Puerto Rico. They have been forgotten and very little is being down. People are still without power and are homeless. This speaks to what the attitudes towards the homeless, especially those who are black and brown.

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If people knew what it really was like then we wouldn’t have such a high homeless population. The other day someone asked me what could be done proactively to prevent homelessness. I struggled to answer that because the solution is complex and will include improving many things. There isn’t one answer. Definitely the funding needs to be increased both for homeless shelters and low income housing. The number of people needing low income housing are way out numbered for what is available. The homeless shelters need a lot more money and support. The services are really bare bones and their resources are usually stretched to the max.

I don’t have the answers but that’s not going to stop me from trying to make it easier for those who are homeless. I do know one solution and that’s kindness. Do good. If you see someone in need, help them to your best ability. You could be the one hand that lifts them out of their struggles. Good deeds are the saving grace for so many. If you can’t donate to a shelter or buy someone food then volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Get to know the people and you will realize that we’re like everyone else. We want happiness and to live in peace. We deserve love just like everyone else. While being homeless is extremely tough I am blessed and forever changed for the experience and those I have meant. It’s taken being homeless to get my lifeforce back. I can only hope the same for all the other homeless people. I am better because of knowing all the characters of the street.

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Being Homeless Doesn’t Make Me Less

This isn’t the first time I have been homeless. In 2016, I was homeless for two days. I slept in a park in Chicago and the rest of the time was spent at a Starbucks. Thankfully I found a friend to stay with so I didn’t have to go to the homeless shelter. This time was different. I found myself in a situation that I had nowhere to go. Many times in my life I have been faced with homelessness but I was always able to find a way to escape being homeless. Now I’m 41 and don’t have the strength to fake it anymore. I’m tired of running and living without any stability, which is detrimental for someone living with a mental illness. Recently I looked back on the last fifteen years and realized that I had move twenty times, most of those were sudden and I had to scramble to find housing. Usually it meant running aka moving out of state. My twenties and thirties I tried desperately to escape the trauma of my past. I failed miserably. When my Mom died in 2012 everything came crashing down. I had no more energy to give trying to be someone I wasn’t and burying the pain deep inside.

So I had to deal with the pain. My Mom was the one person I had who was my champion and losing her made the world a much darker place. It wasn’t until a suicide attempt in 2013 that I started to take care of my mental health. I started to taking antidepressants and going to therapy regularly. This helped bring me out of the helpless dark pit I had been in but I still struggled greatly. The first two years after my Mom died I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, nor did I think I wanted to. A world without my Mom was unfathomable. The grief was raw and deep. I had never endured pain like that. Thankfully I was able to beat the beast and got to a point where I accepted my Mom’s death and was able to move forward from the pain.

I’ve tried hard the last two years to find alternative housing but for various reasons it hasn’t worked out. One roommate was a psycho and another ended up selling his house. I have had to move four times in that time period. This last time I just couldn’t take it anymore. While things had improved with my mental health I was still enduring severe bouts of depression. I’m talking about the deep, dark depression. I would do okay for weeks then I would get triggered, sending me into a dark spiral to the pits of hell. I started to become a wallflower. I hide in the corner of the place I stayed. I tried my best to stay out of the way of others. I would go weeks without talking to anyone other than my therapist. My weight had become uncontrollable. I was over 430 lbs and my mobility was horrible. I could barely walk a few feet without getting tired. I also couldn’t stand for very long. My quality life was horrible. I was alive but not living. I tolerated this for the last five years. Recently something changed within me and I’m not quite sure what caused it. I just woke up and said fuck this to hell. I deserve so much more.

For a good year I was drinking a two liter of Pepsi a day. It had been such a crutch for my anxiety and depression. Up until a month ago I was unwilling to stop drinking Pepsi at all. It felt impossible. I had decided that I would try to become more physically active. That I could manage doing a few steps at a time. On April 15th, I went to the Michigan Democratic Convention in Detroit. Doing something like this meant a lot of walking and I knew that I needed to prepare so the week prior I started to walk with a fabulous cane that my friend gave me. I was determined to get to Detroit, through an ice storm, to support a candidate that fought for those in need. I finally got there and while I was able to walk a bit farther but was still limited because of my mobility. Just walking to the area where the convention was held took a lot of me physically. So I sat most of the time. I sat as I saw the world flash by me. It was a great day and it really helped me put life in perspective.

It was also tough because I went from spending years by myself to being surrounded by a ton of people, that was also why I didn’t do much. I wanted to go to the LGBTQ caucus and vote for Dana Nessel. I did that and was exhausted so I just sat until it was time for the bus to leave. I left inspired seeing so many people step up to make a difference by running for office. I have always wanted to make a difference in this world. In the past I gave so much of myself that it would leave me empty. I use to think that making a difference meant going into service like being a therapist which meant giving up my artistic ability. One of the gifts the universe has given me. I have always been great at taking care of other people including being a fierce advocate for those in need. I was horrible at taking care of myself which just made my mental health even worse.

After 2012, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. I had various attempts at embracing my art but I always gave up because I didn’t believe that I deserved it… nor did I think anyone wanted it. It wasn’t until 2015 when I made a 5ft tree out of eyewear material that I realized the impact that my art had on other people. Even though I was starting to feel better about myself I still struggled to live in a world that needed me. I would fall into these traps of trying to save the world, which meant neglecting my own world. I did so once again after the convention. I decided I was going to run for office, which meant putting my recovery on the shelf. It was really the first time I had ever felt that empowered. Something had clicked in me that I can’t explain. It was then that I deserved nothing but the best.

Overnight I went from not wanting to stop drinking Pepsi to doing so within a week. I also started to walk a lot more. On top of all of that I started to drink water and eat more healthier. Within weeks I started to notice drastic changes in my mobility. I could finally bend down and touch my toes. I hadn’t been able to do that in over five years. I also started to be able to go longer distances. It felt great to start taking care of myself again. My weight kept me from enjoying my 10 year niece. I couldn’t do much with her if it meant getting off the couch. I realized that I was setting a very bad example for my nieces and nephew. I didn’t want them to see me dying on that couch. My health had started to deteriorate lately from my blood pressure to having asthma. I had wasted so much time hiding in fear and I feel like I have this time clock that I need to beat. My fear is that I will die without doing what I was meant to do. I knew if I didn’t make some changes I would die before it was my time. So these factors also contributed to making a change. In December I had a cyst and have had an open wound since then. It’s been slow to heal because of my weight and that scared the crap out of me.

I started to be able to go outside to play with my niece. It was so rewarding and it gave me the courage to fight harder. Then once again I found myself in a situation where I had nowhere to go. I can’t explain the level of panic that goes through your body from having the ground fall from under your feet. I couldn’t endure that panic anymore. I had to do something about it. I finally realized that I deserved so much better. I was unwilling to tolerate anything bad. Since October of last year I realized that I needed to be hospitalized to get my mental health on check but I had put it off due to fear of being confined to a hospital and what it meant after I left… living in a homeless shelter. So I put it off until I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I had no choice but to take the leap I had been avoiding. I checked myself into the hospital and spent two weeks in a psychiatric program. One of the reasons that I wanted to make a change was that I missed being around people and doing fun things. I would see people share pictures and stories on Facebook about the fun things they were having with their friends. I wasn’t having any of that. I longed for friends again. Sure I had friends all over the country but no one in person to really spend time with.

Being hospitalized isn’t fun let alone being in a psych ward. You are stuck, with no way out. All the doors off the floor are locked, even the elevator you had to use a key card to operate. You are surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t know, some who have severe mental illness. One day I was awoken to the woman next to my room screaming at the top of her lungs. Each sentence made no sense and it was like she was talking to a room full of people. She was loud and violent. This went on for a good hour. Later that day she was talking like she was the devil and ended up having to be subdued and sent to the other side of psych ward for the worse cases. Another patient was extremely abrasive and confrontational. So much so that he had to have a tech with him at all times as he was unpredictable. I avoided him like the plague. He treated other patients horribly usually those who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

Overall most of the patients were amazing. It really opened my eyes about the world. It wasn’t my first time in a psych hospital. It was my fifth time. Each time was just as scary as the first. The last major hospitalization was in 2014 when I was living in Chicago. During that time I met a lot of wonderful people who I became friends with afterwards. A few I’m still friends with.

This time was no different. I really feel that I was meant to be at this hospital. Originally I wanted to go to another hospital that my therapist recommended but they wouldn’t take me because of my weight, which just added to shame of my weight. It’s so humiliating to be told that you’re too fat to be admitted to a hospital. Even the place I ended up had to give me a hospital bed because my weight. In the past, this would have led me into a spiral out of control but this time that didn’t happen. It just added fuel to the fire to fight. I kept drinking water and made sure to go to all the groups. It was the first time that I wanted the help because I realized I deserved to heal.

By the second week there was a small group formed. We spent many nights playing games and talking. It was like our own breakfast club. It was amazing. What was most amazing about the experience is I finally felt accepted for who I am inside, a transgender woman. About six months ago I came to the realization that I was trans. I had worked hard with my therapist to become more comfortable in my skin. Prior to being homeless I had decided to change my name to Drew and I had started to tell people.

One thing I struggled with was how I could have gone 41 years and not have known that I was trans. Looking back I now know there were many signs. I had always said that inside I was a woman with a male body. I had thought that was because I was a gay male but recently I realized that it was much deeper than sexual orientation. Working on my comic book Dragzilla, the story of a drag queen superhero who fights high kicks one high kick at a time, helped me to discover that I was trans. I had created this character not realizing that I was Dragzilla and the stories I were writing were my own. Dragzilla not only gave me purpose but she saved me… I saved me…

At first I wasn’t going to say anything about being trans in the hospital because of fear. I was afraid of how others would respond, especially patients. There is a lot of ignorance out there and I have seen how many treat trans people. I was put in a room with four men and something didn’t feel right. I was going to stay silent but I started to look at my hospital band and it listed me as a male. It got to a point where that m became so large and loud that I had to tell my doctor. You would think that we live in a time where medical professionals would be educated and empathic to being trans but that’s not the reality. So I was nervous. My last therapist made transphobic comments before I realized that I was trans. I stopped seeing her after that and now I have a wonderful therapist who has helped me embrace my transness.

The doctor right away asked if it would be okay if I got my own room. The staff also started to use female pronouns. They even asked if I had another name that I wanted to be called. I said yes but that I wasn’t ready to go by Drew because it would confuse the patients and I wasn’t sure I was ready for the rejection. It was until I realized once again I was living in fear of what others thought about me. I was changing who I am because of others so I told the staff that I wanted to be called Drew. I even changed the name on my door to Drew. I started to tell patients that I trusted, the breakfast club. They accepted me fully and I felt like I was on cloud nine. The first person embraced me from the start, she was amazing and totally fabulous. It was because of her that gave me the strength to start talking about being transgender openly. Everyone was so supportive and accepting.

All my life I have felt like no one saw me for who I really am. This was the first time that I was being seen for the fabulous, beautiful person I am. I finally was embracing who I was both inside and out. I didn’t have to hide anymore. I was free.

I really feel like the hospital prepared me for living in a homeless shelter. The hospital forced me to interact with strangers and be able to tolerate an uncomfortable situation. I was also walking a lot more, which definitely has made a difference being homeless. I have to walk everywhere. On Monday, I had to walk a mile to get to a place to spend the day, as the buses were closed due to the holiday. A month ago I couldn’t even go a few hundred feet.

The difference today is that I’m forced to walk because I have to take the bus if I want to do anything and staying in the day shelter all my time would drive me crazy. There is no comfort at all. It’s basically folding chairs and a room. Plus people are loud and there is only a few desks. My big issue with being homeless (outside of safety) is finding things to do during the day. You need to leave the night shelter by 7am and you’re not able to come back until 6pm. So that’s a lot of time to fill, especially in this heat.

When I first started walking before I was homeless it was controlled. I could choose how far and would stop when I was tired. Now I don’t have a choice and I am not able to take breaks like I did in the past. Previously I could take a day break to allow my body to rest. Lately I’ve pushed my body so far it’s tough to walk a few blocks. I hate that feeling you get when you are so exhausted and sore that you start to panic. It feels like a million miles away until you can rest. I can’t do this is a common thought. Though I push through, stopping as often as I need. The heat doesn’t help matters either.

I get so frustrated. I’m at the point where I want to do so much more than I can. I would like to be able to walk as far as I want without any pain or discomfort. I’m having to push through in order to leave the shelter today and it’s tough. Like today I wasn’t going to leave the day shelter because I had an appointment at 11am but the kitchen wasn’t really stocked. They had cereal but no milk. Yogurt but no spoons. Stale donuts and that was it. So I didn’t eat this morning. I wasn’t going to leave because my body needed a rest. I’m having trouble walking very far because of my thighs, they hurt when I move. I had two hours to kill before my appointment and I was starving. There is a Burger King a few blocks away and I dreaded the walk knowing how hard it would be and it was. There is such a sense of relief when you make it to your destination. BK even had lounge chairs so I got a cheap meal and relaxed for an hour. Thankfully there was a store across the street where I bought some Motrin and that helped get me home, which was a struggle.

The conditions of the day shelter are very minimal. I have been leaving each but tried to stay there after my appointment was done as I didn’t think I had the strength to do the walking needed to go to the library. That was until people again were being unbearable and I just had to leave. It was either my santity or my body and this time my sanity was the priority. If it hadn’t been for the Motrin I wouldn’t have been able to walk the four blocks needed. I’ve started to have charley horses and those are horrible. I hope my body holds on long enough until I can get through this patch.

It’s almost been a week of living in the homeless shelter and it definitely isn’t easy. It’s not as scary as I thought but it’s pretty miserable. You learn to go without many things and one big one is comfort. When you are with a home of your own you take for granted the luxuries given like a comfy couch, your own shower and being able to cook in your own kitchen. When you are homeless there are no comfy couches where you can watch tv from. There is no privacy when you take a shower and you have no control over the kitchen where you live.

I hear all the time that being homeless is a choice. That those living in shelters do so because they want to. Some would like to make it out to be this fun, luxurious lifestyle when that couldn’t be further from the truth. You go without a lot. The soup kitchens have very basic food and it’s very much like prison food. A prime example was today for breakfast as I already stated, this is nothing new. The shelter is understaffed and funded so they do what they can. Often times I skip the meals because there is nothing I will eat. They usually have lots of granola bars, sometimes sweets but not very much in terms of substance that will fill you up and keep you satisfied. A lot of times I stay hungry. Then I will splurge and buy fast food. I won’t be able to do that often on my minimal income I get from state disability of $200 a month. I’m already low on funds.

Being MTF trans I was hoping that the homeless shelter would be able to accomodate me by not being around men but that didn’t happen. Thankfully I have really started to transition, other than growing out my hair. So I can kind of blend in but it’s still tough. They acted like I could get seperate show time and that didn’t happen either. So I’m doing what I have to in order to survive. At first I worried about using the shower around men but now I just don’t care. I get in and out as fast as I can. I don’t have the energy to worry about it. I have enough on my plate already. This shelter does have seperate rooms so that helps. I still have to share it with a man but it could be a lot worse like the other shelters it’s all open bedding. So I’m looking at the blessings.

Some might see this as me not being grateful but that’s not true. I’m thankful for what I have but I believe it’s important that the general public is educated to know what it’s like both in removing the stigma and getting the help that the shelters and homeless need.

Like I said the biggest challenge is finding places to go during the day. Thankfully the library is close and I can get on their computers 3 hours a day. I can also use their table’s to work on my comic book. Though on weekends I have no choice but to go to the hospital cafeteria. One thing I have noticed is craving a regular life, having a purpose. Surviving isn’t a great purpose. Yes, I have my comic book but the homeless life leaves you with tunnel vision. Today I just couldn’t take being in the shelter and I bolted out the doors. I keep hoping that someone I know in the area will invite me over to hang out but that hasn’t happened. I have even put out hints on Facebook with no luck. Even with going to public places there is no privacy or a way to relax. There is no alone time. It’s one thing to be having fun with your friends it’s another thing to be out by yourself trying to relax.

I crave for connection but am very careful as I don’t know who to trust. Many people at the shelter keep to themselves. There are definitely groups that stick together and they’re usually loud and unpredictable. People are suspicious and that’s to be expected. There are all types here at the shelter and sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference. I hear people talk about being on parole and others just talking nonsense, and it makes me really nervous. Safety is a huge issue with being homeless. People are desperate and some are willing whatever they have to in order to get by. Sometimes people are just greedy. For example, at the kitchen the other day they had maybe 10 small cartons of chocolate milk. One woman got three and she tried to get a fourth.

The other day I ran into this woman in line for the kitchen. I almost wasn’t even going to go down to the kitchen but I thought I would see what they were having. MK was her name. She had short hair with a pink bow in it. She was wearing a tutu like shirt with some cute pattern on it. It was in the high 80’s and she had a faux fur scarf on. She was a mix of Hello Kitty and a club kid. I knew right away I was going to like her before I started talking to her. Once in a while they will have something substantial in regards to food. This time they had scraps of ham. I will admit that I’m rather picky and don’t like things like salad, etc… which is usually what they have. So whenever they have meat like this it’s a treat. For me, whenever I get something like that I will gobble it up like I haven’t eaten in weeks. I got a plate and started to sit down. At first I wasn’t going to sit next to her out of shyness but today I decided to sit down next to her.

Her personality matched her appearance. She was bubbly and full of life. MK reminded me a cross between Hello Kitty and a club kid. Her voice reminded me of Shirley Temple or Betty Boop. She was adorable and fabulous. It was very interesting sitting and talking to her. She noticed that I drank Crystal Light and started to give me tips on mixing different flavors. I told her that I was  trying to be more healthy and she said that she was diabetic so she understood. MK’s boyfriend was just as interesting. He had a goth look to him with face tattoos and piercings. His name was Kraven or something like that. They both live on the streets, I think in the woods. Both were in their early 20’s. MK talked about loving to cook and missing the ability to do so. It’s interesting to talk to the homeless and hear about their lives before. I hope to run into them again as they were interesting to talk to and was my first real connection with someone on the streets. Most people I can’t relate to because no one is as flamboyant as I am. MK was unique and special. I felt like I could be myself with her and I knew she wouldn’t judge me. That’s something I don’t get with the rest of the homeless population. I keep my transness to myself for the most part. I still wear my headband so I’m able to embrace who I am in a small way.

The last few days I have been feeling a bit down because the reality has set in. That this will be my life for a while. Just repeating day after day. Having to leave at 7am each morning and having to find a place to stay. A lot of the times I feel so alone and I cope with it the best I can. It still catches up to me occasionally. Lately I keep wanting to call my Mom. It’s the thought, I should call my Mom she will make feel better but then I realize that I can’t and that makes me sad. I had a dream last night about her where she died all over again. Usually there is a moment where she dies and comes back to life, only to die all over again. I feel those moments of grief all over again. It’s just as intense when it first happened in 2012. The rest of the day I’m left with this aching sorrow.

My Mom was the one person I had. Our relationship was complicated at times but I knew that she loved me. She was always there for me. I no longer have this relationship. The struggle with living with a mental illness is often times you isolate yourself. You get into your head that you don’t deserve love. So you push people away or you get your life so far off track that you find yourself with no friends. For me, I moved away from all my friends and a life I loved because I self destructed. Deep down inside I didn’t believe that I deserved all this love and support. I have struggled ever since.

After my Mom died, I went inward. I was living in a small city with little money and no car. Making friends was almost impossible especially if I wanted someone LGBTQ. I went almost five years of talking to very few people. I became almost a hermit. For weeks my therapist was really the only person I would talk to, at least in detail. If it weren’t for my visits with my niece I probably wouldn’t have any other substantial connection. The longer you isolate the harder it is to come out of it. I would have moments where I tried to venture out into the world but it always led to me getting spooked and I would head back down to the rabbit hole. When you are homeless you don’t have a hole to hide in, well I guess you could find a place in the woods but I don’t have what it takes for that.

Now that I’ve awoken I have this sense of urgency of needing to get my life together. Recently my health has deteriorated and it has scared me senseless. I have wasted too much time living in fear and hiding. There are no guarantees and I don’t want to die without leaving something behind. Now that I’m taking better care of my body it feels great. The upside of being homeless is the walking and that’s helping me to lose weight. I just have to get past this phase of pain. I went from not moving at all to walking daily at least a mile. Before May my days consisted of waking up in the couch I slept in and watching tv. Only getting up to eat and use the bathroom. So it’s definitely been a major adjustment. The motrin is definitely helping. Today it was easier to walk, though I was still in pain and discomfort. My biggest issue is my lower back because I carry a backpack. I’ve tried to lighten the load as much as possible but it’s still pretty heavy because I carry supplies for comic book. Eventually I will be able to walk with ease and be able to go longer distances. I can’t wait for that day.

Next week I can file for section 8 housing. You have to be homeless for 14 days before you can be put on the waitlist. The only way to get on the waitlist these days is to be homeless. The waitlist hasn’t been open to the public in years. I’ve checked off and on for five years and I haven’t seen it open once. Even with being homeless it can take anywhere from three months to a year to get your voucher. Once you have the voucher you can live anywhere in your county that takes the voucher and then you pay 30% of your income. A few people in the shelter had recently received theirs and both had to wait six months. So it could be a long haul for me. I’m struggling one week in and can’t imagine what I will be like in six months. I just hope that it doesn’t take this long.

There are a few complexes that are project based near the shelter, that have seperate waitlists. One in particular has had a lot of crime there. The local news station did a report about the crime a year ago. So that’s a concern of mine. I almost rather wait it out until I can get a voucher, so then I can choose where I live. There is an apartment complex that I applied for in early May that is promising. It’s in a fairly nice part of the city. The only issue is I need to find a doctor who will say that I’m disabled. My primary care physician isn’t able to sign it because of the health department. It’s against their policies to get involved. Ideally a psychiatrist would be able to fill out the HUD form but I can’t find one who takes Medicaid for my county.

This speaks volumes to our current system. So many people who are homeless have some sort of mental illness but because resources are slim people find themselves in bad shape. If you don’t treat mental illness it can cycle into other types of mental illness like psychosis. Many of the homeless are veterans who have PTSD. What is sad that my Community Mental Health (Lansing) covers three counties and their services are pitiful. You can only see their psychiatrists if you have what they consider a more serious mental illness like schizophrenia. They can afford a new four story building but they can’t offer psychiatry care to those with Medicaid. For someone with mental illness being seen by a psychiatrist is extremely important as you need the medicine management. I’m forced to get my medicine managed by my pcp, who is not equipped to properly adjust my medicine based off my needs. So I just get by. I have to be hospitalized in order to get my medicine back on track, when they start to not help me. It’s sad that is what it takes to get healthier.

People think that there is all this help for those who are poor but honestly there isn’t. The resources out there are maxed out. Most think if you become homeless that you can get help right away. That’s not the case. There is no offense in homelessness, only defense. I could very well be living in a homeless shelter for a good year and that’s no way to live but you must do whatever you have to survive.

All the shelters have time limits. The one I’m in now has a time limit of 30 days. It’s possible to get an extension but it’s minimal. So that means jumping from one shelter to the next. For me, that’s even more problematic because at least the one I’m at is more secure and safe being FTM transgender. The other shelters are open dorms with hundreds of bed all next to each other. There is a city mission that you can stay for 90 days but there is no where to hold your stuff so what you have you must carry around. Currently I can leave most of my stuff in my room and it’s for the most part secure as no one is allowed upstairs during day time hours. I just hope they can accommodate me for being trans because otherwise my life will get even more hectic.

On weekends there is no day shelter where I stay, nor is the kitchen open. So you must find alternative places to stay and eat. Which I usually do anyways but there is something about not having the day shelter that makes me feel panicky. I guess as basic as it is I know that it’s there. There’s this fear when you are out in public that you will be asked to leave because you’re seen as loitering. Even at the library I fear if I stay too long they will confront me and tell me to leave. This is especially true on Sundays when I usually go to the hospital cafeteria because the library is only open for a short period of time. I use my privilege to my benefit and know that there are some people who don’t have that luxury. Sometimes it’s easy to tell if someone is homeless. The problem with the length of time it takes to get housing is when people start to deteriorate. Six months down the road I’m sure I won’t look as put together as I am just one week in being homeless. Right now I carry most of my life in a bookbag and I can make myself look like a student but eventually people will notice if I come to a public place too often.

These are all the things that run through my head. Some are just in my head and others are real dangers/fears. I have days where I feel good and being homeless doesn’t feel as scary but then others where it just gets to me. Overall I am handing it pretty well. Recently I had a friend who messaged me about me being through a rough patch and at first I thought what rough patch. At first being homeless felt like the scariest thing ever but once I faced it the truth was it wasn’t scary at all. I mean at times it is but overall it’s just annoying and uncomfortable. Of all the things I have endured in my life enduring homelessness is minimal compared to the pain I faced in the past. I was able to survive my Mom dying, so this is nothing. Once I was able to move past the pain and grief of losing my Mom then nothing else will ever hurt me again, at least to that level of pain.

I don’t have time or energy to worry about stupid shit anymore. Like whether someone wants to be in my life or not. I use to let something like destroy me but now I just don’t have the time to hurt over it. I’m too busy trying to figure out how I’m going to eat or sleep, or just staying safe being on the streets. Figuring out how I will do my laundry and make it so I’m not dirty. I’m just trying to survive.

I have this new sense of strength. My will power has always been a struggle but lately it’s like the energizer bunny. I know where I’m going is so much better than were I have been. I’m finally learning to love and accept myself. I just have no more fucks to give and the few left over I’m shedding one by one. Others can judge me all they want. As RuPaul says, that’s not business. One day I will look back at this time as test of my strength. It will be proof that I can tackle any problem. That nothing is too big or scary for me to overcome. You can’t get much lower than living on the streets. I guess that’s part of where my resolve comes from. There’s great power in realizing that no one can kick you further down than already. Often times it was from your own doing.

For over ten years I have tolerated horrible things. I felt like I was less than and built a life where I was a pitiful, useless person. This was especially true the last five years. Losing my Mom knocked me to the ground and I stopped trying to get back up. So I accepted the fact that I was going to stay on the ground until I died. I stopped believing that I could get up. I also thought I deserved to be on the floor. The thing about misery is that you can only handle so much before something is done. You either end it all or you start fighting. This time I was closer than ever to giving it up but I had this mustard seed of fight left in me and as I pushed myself more the bigger I realized it was. Now I realize that my strength was always ginormous it was just covered by a ton of trash. These experiences are only adding to my strength and brilliance.

I can do anything I set my mind to. I deserve great things and will make them happen. You don’t realize how important independence is to your health until you lose it. That’s the difference about today is that I’m finally living life on my terms and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to take back my independence. I crave for the stability that comes with independence. I know some people in my life have judged me for my life choices, like going for disability but the thing is they haven’t had to endure the things I have had in life. They’ve not had to walk in my shows. They’ve also not been able to have the knowledge and experience of the twenty years of my adult life. They don’t see the patterns and broken record that I have been on. The years of instability due to my mental illness. I recently counted up the number times I have moved since 2016 and it was over 20 times. Most of them were similar situations like I am today but back then I had the strength to move to another city or state. I no longer can live that way.

I’m finally taking both my physical and mental health serious. I’m treating my depression, anxiety and PTSD like Diabetes. I know realize that I must manage my systems until I die. That means taking medicine and being in therapy for the rest of my life. A big part of why I can endure what I am today is from taking care of myself. I have always been horrible at doing that. Since 2013, I have been on medicine and in therapy. I have never stuck to anything that long. This is a huge accomplishment for me. It’s been five years that I have stuck to treatment and the only other time was a year and a half back in 2004. I use to wait for other people to validate both the pain and progress. Whenever I didn’t get that it would send me spirally back into the grief and sorrow. Now I realize that the only person I need it from is myself.

You will wait a lifetime for other people to treat you the way you deserve. I’ve learned you can’t make anyone like or love you. Either they do or they don’t. You shouldn’t have to convince people to be in your life. If you do what kind of relationship is that anyways? I want people in my life who embrace who I am and realize that I am a treasure. Friends who make an effort to be in my life and enjoy my company just as much as I enjoy theirs. I miss playing board games and laughing. Going out to dinner with friends and talking about life. Seeing the latest sci-fi/fantasy movie in the theater. Having small get togethers at my place, where I cook for others. I want the life I have always dreamed of but was too afraid to make it happen.

I’m going to embrace the gifts the universe has gave me and fulfill the legacy I was meant to achieve. I will make Dragzilla a success. I hope that she can save others like she did me. I really feel like that is something I was meant to do. I believe in my idea fully and feel it’s something that the world needs to hear. We still live in a world where this a lot of hate, especially towards those who are LGBTQ+. So many queer people don’t have anyone to look up to, many of them children. I know what it’s like to be treated less than because of who you are inside. That kind of trauma eats away at your soul. Growing up I didn’t have many people to look up to. So I turned to Superman and Wonder Woman. I know that Dragzilla has that power as well. Actually I do. A while ago I realized that I was Dragzilla. The stories I was telling were my own. I’m the superhero of my story.

I’m not powerless. I’m powerful. It’s the struggles and hardships that define my character. The trials and tribulations I endure are not flaws, they are strengths. These hardships and experiences have made me into the beautifully fabulous person I am today. My light is shining as bright as ever and I will no longer dim it because of the fears and wishes of others. It’s not helping anyone to be hiding my light. Overcoming homelessness will be just another part of my story. It will be a testament to my strength and resilience. So whatever life brings me I will persevere. I will persist regardless the size or strength the opponent is. I realize now that I can handle anything.

The following quote sums this all up.

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

 

Stop Derek from Being Homeless

https://www.gofundme.com/dereksnewhome

A few weeks ago I received an eviction from the people I rent a room from to be out of here by the end of the month. It was unexpected and unfounded. I’ve been a great tenant, paying my rent on time. I’ve come to find out that they want someone else to move in. Now they’re trying to push up my move out date by a week, which has left me scrambling for a new place to live. As it stands now the only option I have is to go live in a homeless shelter. I’m trying to raise enough money to help pay my rent (for my own place) until my SSI court date in Feb next year.
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I’m disabled and unable to work. I’m waiting for a court date for SSI disability, which will be Feb 2017. I’m hoping to raise enough money to get me through until that date. I’ve suffered from major depression disorder and PTSD most of my life. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t suffered from depression and PTSD. When I have a PTSD episode friends/family become strangers and strangers become enemies. It’s like being in a war zone. My current living situation has pushed me to my limit, as the last few months have been extremely stressful living here.

Stability is something I’ve never had and something I’m so desperate for. Being able to get my own place would bring that into my life. Lately I’ve made an effort to better my life. I’ve consistently been in therapy and on medicine since 2013, as well as seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve recently moved all my services to this county and having to move out of this town would put my health at risk.

I have a new therapist who I love. She’s working on a new treatment for those with PTSD called EMDR. It’s helps the patient to reprogram traumatic events into more healthy ways. I’ve finally taken my life back after four years of complete hell. In 2012, my Mom died from cancer causing me to spiral into a deep, dark depression. It’s taken me four years but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’ve come to terms with my disablity and now realize that I need to treat it like diabetes.

I’ve tried to do this on my own and that doesn’t work. So I’m asking for help. I’m so very scared to be homeless. I’ve made a lot of progress the last few months and I want to keep moving forward. I’ve also started to embrace my art again by working on a new comic book. My passion for art has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Having my own place would give me a safe space to create new works of art.

I’ve suffered for too long and finally realize that I deserve better. I’m taking my life back and I’m determined to get my own place. No matter what is thrown at me I don’t let it keep me down. Every time a hurdle is placed in front of me I clear it. I will keep climbing this mountain until I get a home of my own. While the last two months have been some of the worst times in my life it has helped me find an inner strength that I didn’t know was there. All this time I thought I was broken but I always rebound. Then it dawned on me through all the bad things in my life I’m still here. I’m strong as steel.

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story. Please consider sharing this campaign with everyone you know.

Here are some of my recent sketches of my comic book. Also follow my facebook page for DragZilla! DragZilla is the story of a gay man brutally attacked because he’s gay. He cries out for help and in his hour of need a glimmer of light appears. A goddess like entity, who goes by the name Glimmer, transforms him into a drag queen superhero. He starts off his journey to find justice for his attack but in the process becomes a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community. I’m really excited to have started work on this new project of mine. Having my own place would help me bring to life DragZilla!