Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Streetpuppy is a Trekkie.
And remembers well the number one and most prominent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets which dictates that no Starfleet officer can interfere with the internal development of alien civilizations, especially if they have not devoped WARP technology which means they are incapable of interstellar flight, which in turn means they are unaware of other civilizations.
Basically, in a nutshell or -space capsule - that would mean that even in the event that the captain of the Enterprise had detected an asteroid heading for a planet he is approaching, he would need to assume that the people - or plants or sea life or vegetable life or whatever is down there - and most likely it would not be humanoid, let's get real - hasn't learned to hurtle a space ship through the heavens at many times the speed of light, thus would have no idea what an asteroid is and so will be burned to a crispy critter on impact and life would have to start all over again on that planet.
Here, on Planet Homeless, many Streetpuppy inhabitants face a similar and vexing situation.
They can't see the asteroid coming, and yes, it's aimed right at them, but the people who are in charge of taking care of them cannot tell the Streetpuppy Planet Homeless inhabitants about it, because, they must assume that the Planet Homeless inhabitants are not advanced enough to understand -besides the technical implications of an asteroid bearing down on them - that nothing is inherently good or bad and can only be judged from inside, and that if the Streetpuppies don't get it, that the asteroid is coming, the people in charge must only infer that most Streetpuppies are intellectually and morally lazy, and most likely incapable of mastering a skateboard let alone a WARP driven interstellar starship.
And many of the people in charge have a point.
The asteroids are all around Planet Homeless. Bobbing and weaving and dancing through the fetid air, and every once in a while one of them breaks loose and SPLAT!
There goes another Streetpuppy, down for the count before he or she could master the theory of flight and get the hell out of Dodge...or off Planet Homeless.
Be the asteroid alcohol, crack, meth, heroin, spice, bath salts or Oxycodone or a real bad choice lifestyle or companions
The Streetpuppy has fallen victim to one of those asteroids and then through the cracks - or worse, into a wooden box - and won't make it off Homeless Planet.
Let's get back to that 'people in charge' thing.
So many of them, be they police, counselors, addiction 'experts' or all of those coalitions, associations and groups who band together to raise money to support their office furniture and long lunch and company car habits have just plain given up, and understand that other part of the Prime Directive which says that indeed nothing is inherently good or bad and can only be chainged i.e. 'fixed' from the inside.
Kind of a Zen thing.
Like, 'it is what it is.'
Or, if it's broke, don't fix it.'
Or as Captains Kirk, or Picard would say as they turn the Enterprise homeward Earth from Planet Homeless "First star to the right and straight on 'til morning, Ensign."
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
We don't want to get too dramatic here, but the fact is that in Homeless Nation, the best way to go along to get along is to adhere to the tradition of omerta in all you see and do and hear.
It's like any other cultural and social and ethnic group -and yes, street puppies qualify as a separate group from say, firefighters - while you are where you are, be quiet, make no waves, and forget that you saw who took the shoes from the old street puppy who can barely walk to his panhandling spot.
Or that you know who stole the phone from the guy who so desperately needs to stay in contact with his day labor office for his only source of income and will probably be out of a job.
Or that you know who the woman was who savagely beat another woman for nothing more than admonishing the assailant that she shouldn't be defecating in a public park if for no other reason than if she were seen doing it her action would result in the neighbors believing that all street puppies did the same.
Or that you know the 'nice' couple who got a woman drunk on the day she cashed her disability check and then while she was sleeping it off went into her purse and took all of the money and retreated to a motel for a week long drinking and pill binge.
Or that you know who stole so and so's this and that, or that you are aware of the woman who regularly pimps out her daughter to make money for crack.
Or that you know the person who steals every day from the local convenience store...the one where the guy who owns the place won't allow homeless into the store anymore without an abusive remark because of the high rate of theft in his store.
Or that you know who regularly sells the crack and pills to the guys over on the corner who can barely stand up all day, and really don't have a shot at life anymore.
Or that you know who the guy is at the very helpful and famous social agency who regularly demands and gets sexual favors from women he is supposed to be helping in return for the services they so desperately need.
Or that you know who murdered your good friend.
So many secrets, so little time.
But actually no time to do the right thing because to do so would put you at great risk from the people in Homeless Nation who regularly prey upon their own, and who would think nothing of reaching out to hurt you, and if anybody saw it or knew of it, they would be silent.
But make a list, remember the faces and names of the people whom you know should be stopped -maybe not punished because you are not a judge or a jury - but stopped from hurting people who can barely make it in the world.
And when you leave Homeless Nation make sure that people who can do something about all that you have seen which needs to be addressed. Not avenged. Adressed by people who can actually fix it.
And maybe it will help to soothe your guilty conscience for keeping silent about so many things for the sake of going along to get along for so long.
Friday, December 21, 2012
It's the time of the year to remind all Street Puppies of the importance of maintaining some kind of civility in dealing with other people, civilians and Puppies alike.
Whether you are panhandling, bumming a smoke, stealing a beer, borrowing a charger, or trying to nail your best friend's ole' lady, there is a certain way to do things in order that you do not come up looking like an uncivilized Puppy.
Especially now, when demeanor is sooooo important because everybody has a spotlight on Street Puppies during the holiday season, when the wallets and the kitchen cupboards open wide in the name of holiday cheer.
First, the cigarette situation.
If you are going to bum a cigarette, for goodness sake, bum it from another Puppy, not a civilian.
Imagine being a civilian, just standing around minding your own business and some guy (you) rolls up on him, looking like you haven't slept in a year and a week worth of hair growth out your nostrils and you say, "Hey, you wouldn't have a cigarette on ya' would ya'?
What's he supposed to say? If he's smart, he'll say, 'as a matter of fact I don't, and get that hair cut out of your nose.'
Now, the proper way to approach a civilian with a request for anything is to say, 'Sir, I realize you are busy and I don't mean to stand in your way while you're trying to cross the street, but I really have a craving for a cigarette, and if you smoke, I would be delighted if you would share just one with me.'
You can amend that to include anything, such as money, a bus pass, or a new pair of nose scissors.
Ok, but if you are bumming a smoke or a quarter from another Street Puppy, you know the rules.
First, don't do it, but you will if you are an undisciplined, selfish, uncivilized Puppy and you need to remember that he or she is just as bad off as you are and for Heaven's sake, you're panhandling from another Puppy.
Second, if you're going to borrow anything from another Puppy, give it back.
No, 'can I hold five dollars for you for a week,' then forget you know the guy. No taking his phone charger for a half-hour then disappearing with it. No borrowing a cell phone to call your sick mother and then running his minutes out.
And then there's the problem of outright theft.
Do you really think the person whose 'spot' you have been sharing lately does not know that you are the one who stole his whole four pack of Natural Ice two nights ago when you were relieving yourself behihd the tree?
And what about the food stamp thing when you took his card and sold it for beer money even before he knew it was gone?
Oh, and then there's his ole' lady, and the time when he was in the slammer and you tried to convince her you are the better man for her? (You know, the one who gets the big check every month)
Yeah, theft is a bummer anytime, but in Homeless Nation it is especially sneaky and mean, and if you persist in this way of thinking and acting you will never make it out of the Nation.
But that's ok, so long as the bummed cigarettes, the purloined beer and food stamp cards and chargers and cell phones hold out, and the women with the big checks you'll be just fine.
But, because it's the holiday season, maybe give all of that a rest for a bit and enjoy and treasure the fact that generous - and there are many - people are so willing to give to and love Puppies during this season, and all year around, and they regularly do and being honest about all of it is the best way to go.
And if you can't get with that philosophy, well, remember, there's always....Karma.
Happy Holidays to all the Street Puppies, and no, I don't have a cigarette for sale, I'm not going to let ya' hold five dollars for me, ya' can't use my charger, and I know nothing is wrong with your mother so ya' can't use my phone either.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Remember the movie, Bucketlist with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman?
They are in a cancer ward and are both diagnosed with terminal cancer and given the same time to live so they decide to make a list of all of the things they want to accomplish before they kick the bucket, a rather quaint way to say 'die,' and probably having nothing to do with Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
The movie was awful, and I'll save you the time by telling you they do not die and find, after going around the world to accomplish their outrageous bucket lists, that the diagnosis for both of them was wrong and in fact they have all the time in the world so they go off to Maine and get married. Yeah, it was awful.
But it got Streetpuppy to thinking, what if a Streetpuppy figured out exactly how much time he or she had to be in Homeless Nation?
Remember, it's a lousy place to be, but it has it's moments, and one should always remember to make the best use of the time you are anyplace lousy or not, so there are probably things you would want to accomplish or even that you wish you could do, or would have done better in the time spent in Homeless Nation.
So Streetpuppy compiled a list of things -she knows when she will return to civilian life - a bucket list.
Learn to panhandle better. The only time I ever did it, I made exactly four-dollars and 26 cents, a pair of black socks, a whole bunch of prepared food which I could not possibly eat and an admonition from one elderly lady not to drink ever again, and was forever the butt of panhandling jokes in my neighborhood.
Pay more attention to those Bible study classes one must cheerfully endure before some of the feeds. I could have learned something, the Bible is actually a great history book, and I always felt guilty that I looked at the sessions as an appetizer.
Socked the large woman at the Salvation Army who slugged me for nothing at all and knocked my coffee right out of my hand. She was wrong to do it and I ended up cowering whenever I saw her around and I should have been braver than that.
Ditto for the woman who nailed me at another shelter and then chased me over the wall. I should have stood my ground, even though she was thrice my size.
Learn to figure out where the sprinklers are before I go to sleep on somebody's lawn.
Learn to keep my mouth shut when somebody cuts in front of me in a line..anywhere. But, Noooooooo, always had to say something to the butthead who did it and some of them are very scary people.
Learn to clean fingernails in the dark.
Learn to never give five dollars to anybody who says, "Can I hold five dollars for you 'til tomorrow?"
Ditto for a quarter or a cigarette.
Never, ever tell anybody about your past life, and if you have to, lie. You never know what they will do with the information, and that includes some of the so called 'case managers' in places called 'Homeless Recovery.' (And I should have socked him, too, and I think I just might.)
Learn to Trust. It's damm hard in Homeless Nation to trust anybody at all, especially new found friends be they Streetpuppies or civilians, especially if they say they want to help you.
Learn to wash up in the Mcdonald's bathroom and put on the makeup in three minutes flat.
Go and thank Charlie for all of his kind words and encouragement and joy,he's one of a kind and the best 'street preacher' I've ever known.
Go and find the witch who stole my one-hundred dollar bottle of Chanel 19 during the first week I was homeless... it was one of the few things from the previous life I had with me. She promised she would replace it, never has, and I want to look her in the eye and say, "Keep it, you obviously will never be able to make enough money on your own to buy anything at the rate you're going.'
Learn to wear shoes that are two sizes too large and grin and bear it.
Kind of pathetic, eh?
Just little things, but they stick out as either things I should have done, or want to do better, or didn't do and regret it. And I'll probably think of a hundred more things, but most likely I will have hung up my Streetpuppy ears before that happens.
And one more thing I need to put on my bucketlist to do in Homeless Nation. Go to Sacred Heart, get on my knees and open my arms to God, and Jesus and The Virgin Mary and all of my guardian angels and thank them from deep in my heart for watching over me for all of those scary days and nights and weeks and months.
Ditto for all of the angels at United Methodist Church and St. James and St. Andrews and Metropolitan Ministries, and they know who they are.
And Streetpuppy and Civilian angels I have come to know, and there were many of them, and they know who they are, too.
And they are all on the thank you part of the Streetpuppy Bucket List.
My next Bucket List will start out, "Return to Bangkok at least Once."
Ok, on second thought, I'm going to put Bangkok and Rome down further on my new Bucket List and start with "Ride a horse bareback under a full moon at full gallop down a beach on the Eastern Shore of Ireland......Naked.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Belive it or not, a lot of Street puppies come to Homeless Nation via a red carpet, and this designated stop is just another stop after the crazed late night club scene VIP room stop, the boogie till you puke sports bar stop, the divorce and lost everything stop, the court-ordered rehab stop, the sprained my ankle on the corporate ladder stop, or the 'met the wrong guy/gal stop and the next thing you know everything I had belonged to him/her...including the cat.
And if you are this kind of Streetpuppy, you're in for a tough time.
Welcome to the land of cheap haircuts, cheaper shoes, bad hair dye jobs, worse dental work, Taco Bell, the dollar menu at McDonald's, and nothing left over to buy a $100 bottle of Clinique moisturizer, or a $20 kohl eye-liner.
You won't be getting manicures and pedicures anymore - and that goes for the ladies, too - thus you will have to get one of those swiss knife thingys and make do with slicing up your own toes and smacking on some cheap polish, and be careful, you can get an infection, and you don't have enough money to pay a doctor and the ER tends to put you way on the back end of the to do list behind the chronic liver problems and beatings.
As for bikini and eye-brow waxing. Well, you can get one of those $5 kits with those little strips, but if you're not used to doing it yourself, it will hurt even more than when your favorite skin care expert attacks you with that hot wax.
Oh, yeah, skin care. Those days are so o v e r. Exfoloiate the word 'exfoliate' from your vocabulary.
Forget about crisp white pressed shirts, you don't have an iron and they will get dirty and wrinkled in no time.
Ditto on the really expensive pair of really good shoes you would wear with a crisp white shirt and neat little black skirt. Somebody will steal them and sell them for the $5 it will take to get a piece of rock to smoke.
We don't even want to hear about pearls. And that goes for that beautiful birth stone ring you used to wear, too. Only a fool would bring real jewelry into Homeless Nation, unless somebody taught you along the way how to really handle a box cutter.
You will be buying a lot of $4 'cheater' glasses for reading, and don't even think about those designer frames you had to leave behind, the ones that cost you $300, and not worth a penny of it.
We're hoping you didn't wear Burberry anything in that former life, thus the only designer names we will mention here which we know you will regret losing are Chanel, Calvin, Polo, Versace and of course, J.Crew.
Are you depressed yet?
Hold on, we haven't even gotten to the several types of work out shoes, the designer work out clothes, the cashmere everything, the $60 T tops, yadda yadda yadda.
We hope that all of this is enough to make you, if you are one of those VIP Streetpuppies, realize a couple of very important things.
There are a lot of people standing around you who have never had any of these things, and never will, and they spend their days mourning, not the loss of their hairdresser, but the loss of a simple roof over a simple place for themselves and their very hungry children.
And you knew it all along. Money isn't everything and certainly didn't make you happy, else you would not have ended up in this place.
And after wallowing in self-pity for awhile, you might be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the batting box. Just follow the lead of all those other people around you who are struggling for a lot less than you are asking for, and go out and do it everyday. (Don't pay any attention to the dolts who like wallowing in their self-induced misery, they like it here, let 'em stay."
And another thing, before you drown yourself totally in misery thinking about what once was...this too shall pass.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
In Homeless Nation, it really does matter where you are from. That is, which economic, ethnic, cultural and social strata you were associated with before you made your entry into what at first appears to be the dark side of the moon.
Whatever lifestyle, what ever your level of understanding of the nuances which separate people in the outside world, you need to learn to be flexible in Homeless Nation, because it's unlikely you will be associating with the same kind of people you associated with out there. Unless you were in a nut house.
But even in Homeless Nation there are cliques and pecking orders and yes, snobs.
The thing to do is to figure out which clique or rung on the pecking order or snobs you want to hang - or if you prefer, socialize - with.
This is important because you will definitely be associated, in the minds of the law, and future possible employers and with whichever clique or group you choose to be with, as being one of them.
First there are the old-timers. People who have been on the street for so long, they have forgotten about life on the other side. Some of them even have some money coming in, but they prefer that sleeping spot under a favorite bush in the park, and the once-a-month blow-out in a cheap motel with some other old-timers, and then the rest of the month eating at feeds and begging a few quarters here and there.
Then there are the chippers. The people who blast in and out with nary a clue as to what they have gotten themselves into, primarily because they are very young and the thing that landed them in Homeless Nation was an ill-timed remark to a parent or a spouse.
They like the illusion of the freedom of the streets compared to the discipline, the rituals or obedience required to live in any reasonable domestic situation. They leave soon, usually after a missed step into the dark side of homelessness has left them with a black eye and a longing for their favorite dinner at home.
And how about those shelter rats. They are a hybrid of the old-timers and the criminal fringe and they slink from shelter to shelter, using up their allotted nights staying in what can only be described as the hotel from hell plus danger. This situation can become too easy for you and instead of finding your way out of Homeless Nation, you will find youself on a hampster wheel of flophouses with fancy religious names.
Avoid them and the shelters.
The criminal fringe. Most of their conversation revolves around how to secure the next four-pak, or rock, or blow or chieap liquor. Most of them have tats. Prison tats. They are high on the police radar and for good reason as most of them are frequent fliers into the nearest jail, and have prison time to boot and are habitual offenders. They will give you the shirt off your own back, and your wallet with it, and cut you for both if they have to.
Avoid them. In fact, run from them.
The snobs. Most of them have some kind of income. And they hang together, too.
But they go to movies and read and find time to do things which will prepare them for re-entry into the real world, like staying off the four-pak, rock, liquor cycle and showing respect for the dignity of others.
And they are usually actively looking for employment and are convinced they will find work even if it takes forever.
They do not beg for money, or hustle for money, and they usually do not like to loan or give money. And they do not steal.
And when they attend feeds and other events meant to help them, they show respect and thnakfulness for the good people who go out of their way to give of themselves to lend a helping hand.
They are shunned by the criminal fringe, the shelter rats and the old-timers because they are viewed as, well as snobs.
Stick with them.
In all likelihood, you probably shared some similarities in the outside world.
Like, decency and honesty and integrity. And a good work ethic.
Funny, even in Homeless Nation there is social ladder, up and down.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
When a Street Puppy becomes weary of dodging the cops and traffic and needs a rest from the uncertaintities which accompany living on the street, and cannot take a well earned rest at a spa, a good idea would be to take a breather at a place one would least expect to find a Street Puppy mixing it up with others.
An activist group who are protesting something. Maybe it's the scones at the Starbucks, their college allowance got cut to a hundred bucks a day, or the lack of a union for left-handed daisy pickers, or maybe they just get bored with their lives and want to protest something.
Doesn't matter. These people always have a camp.
And camps always have tents, and a communal kitchen, and a water hose that's good for showering the dirt off your feet....and tents.
Now, in order to fit in to these camps, one must learn to dress and speak the language of people who usually occupy the protest camp.
In other words, dress down.
Find a few real old tie-dye t-shirts, some floppy sandals, baggy shorts, and don't even think about underwear.
Then, maybe, depending upon what the protesters in the camp are protesting, you might want to think about a nose ring. And one through the lip. And for sure the ear. We know, it hurts, but you can always remove it later, and it will signal to the others around the campfire that you are one of them and haven't come to tap their phone, or take their picture for the FBI.
You're going to have to speak their language, even if it takes a day to catch on. "Dude," is good, and used frequently to address men and women, usually because in some protest camps, one cannot detect by dress or hair growth just which gender you are speaking to. Also, "Bro."
Other than those two words, not much else is necessary as they usually begin and end every sententence. But be sure you know the how to prounce capitalism, and the phrase 'police state'. Those are the two most used words outside of Dude and Bro, and it should get you by.
And speaking of police state. You will most likely be encountering police a lot during your stay at the camp. They are suspicious of these people, sometimes for good reason. Don't use your cell phone a lot, the whole area is probably tapped, in an effort to determine if the residents are intending to take over the government.
Not to worry. Most people in protest camps can't run their own camp, so it's unlikely any of them will be running for public office. Unless it would be for the office of vice president of postage stamps.
Stay away from the power struggles. There are many, and these people are terrific back-biters, and as Henry Kissinger is so fond of saying, "These kind of struggles are so vicious because the stakes are so small.
Don't overstay your welcome. Two weeks to a month should do it. In fact, that is about how long you can live on the food, it is invariably Vegan.
Then, back to the street, to the spot, the sleeping bag, the feeds, and you will be better off for it if only because all that Vegan food you were eating resulted in a loss of twenty pounds, so, now you are going to be able to fit in to those real small Calvin Klein levis you find at the next thrift store.
Have fun, and remember to keep a sense of humor.