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Tuesdays In A Pandemic

I am not much fond of Tuesdays, as anyone who regularly reads my blog knows. Tuesdays are marred by ‘community meetings’ that go on for over an hour of the same old shit, that I have heard every week for nine months: outlining rules and regulations, being tested on the rules and regulations which have to be abided by in order not to be ‘DOS’d’ – denial of serviced – and sitting there listening to other residents get mad about stuff I can’t do shit about and to be frank, don’t want to hear. I don’t want to hear how one woman was angry her partner could not return because he had physically assaulted her in the hallways. I don’t want to hear how people are still vacuuming up socks and breaking the hoover. I don’t want to hear about who smokes where and how if we do not tell people where we are going and where we have been and what we are doing, and present for checks three times a day like a fucking JAIL, we will be thrown onto the streets.

I am not a rule keeper. I mean, I am not anti social, but I prefer to think for myself, and if a rule is stupid, I wont abide. I suppose that much is clear fro my actions. My room is always graded as an ‘A’, I don’t smoke inside, I don’t smoke outside within the parameters set, and instead stand with the bums on ____ Street, nervously smoking a joint, which might be the only damn thing keeping me vaguely sane right now. I have a small pack of mints, infused with thc and cbd they make the pain bearable, and chill me out enough that I don’t start sounding like I had a bad case of tourettes. I have a muscle in my eye which twitches from being so restrained and under such scrutiny for almost a year. I leave marks in the palms of my hands from my fingernails digging in as I try not to say anything, the veins popping on the side of my neck like vines ready for the plucking. I am swinging on my own frustration and fear.

Last night someone banged on my door repeatedly at 4am. BANG! BANG! LEMME IN! BANG BANG! I checked it was locked, and went back to bed, leaving them banging. “NOT YOUR ROOM, MOTHERFUCKER!” I yelled back. They went to bang on another door. And another. And another. Crack is one hell of a drug. I smell it’s cat piss and horse hoof glue aroma seeping through the vents regularly. No one cares. “They will never get the smell of the incense outta that room, Detroit!” “Come on now, darling, we both KNOW that ain’t incense…well not JUST incense..” Crazy. It is all crazy. It is all crazy and I am about to end up being one of the crazy bitches. I am cracking. I can feel the disintegration. I can feel the fault lines forming in my outer shell. I can feel the cracks spreading and diversifying. I can feel the form of my outward mask deforming. I cannot hold its integrity much longer. If I have to go down there today and get asked various questions about why I am not vaccinated. If I have hoovered socks (I don’t use the hoover. I have never used it. It is filthy. I sweep up with my own brush and dustpan), if I have to listen to some woman with the ability to leave bitch about her beater partner not being allowed here, or worse, if she won and he sits there smirking, gotten away with it all, a tom cat who got the creem, I might just flip my mind. Or at least a table.

I can’t go today. I can’t go again. Who the heck holds meetings in person in a pandemic, with a strain raging around that is highly transmissible. You think anyone pulls up a mask over their nose? Hell no. You think anyone cares about this stuff? Come and sit and let people cough into the air. Fuck this shit.

I am trying to formulate an excuse. I am trying to work out how to do this. The only rule I break, and I am not about to stop, is eating. I cannot eat what they provide. I cannot live on cold food only. I cannot afford to eat take out, even if there was somewhere that does gluten free vegan food, it is all fried stuff, and I just need rice and potatoes, gobo and miso. I am careful. I hide my cooking and eating. We never get lunch before three, because we have to hide we are eating. When people are living in there places for a year or so, they need proper food, or the ability to prepare it. My illicit rice cooker meals have kept me and the Boy alive. No one can survive starving. We have become adept at hiding bowls of miso soup when staff knock on doors. But still the scent of crack and weed from people smoking inside seeps through the vents. And still I have to go stand on the corner, like I am waiting for my man. I have developed an iron willpower. “Whaddchooneed?” “I’m fine, darling.” If I ever crack and split and disintegrate, I am in big trouble. There is only so much stress one person can be put through, and my upper limits are being probed like a hole in a gum where a missing tooth should be, open nerve endings and bloodied socket. I am careful not to speak failure into exisistance. All that negative talk has to stop. In my mind I hear Marley sing “one day the bottom will drop out” and I nod my head quietly. We all know it is true that if the bucket goes to the well every day, the one day the bucket will break. My well is still spouting plentiful danger and disrespect, unkindness and cruelty, pain and destruction and shame. One day the bottom will drop out. One day I won’t be able to drink that cruel brew and come out of it.

I am scared of myself. I need a person who wants to sell their script. Or else San Francisco to start prescribing dilaudid to junkies. I am scared of myself. I need a green card and a future, I need success and I need independence. I need fun. I need to cut loose. I need a house I can go into and shut the door and nobody ever knocks upon it. I need it today, but it won’t happen today. I need out of here before I disintegrate. I need a shower – at least there is that. One the road you can need a shower for a week and not be able to get one. I have gone to extreme lengths to get clean. Freezing cold water in a bucket outside in November, washing my hair in a camping space, using environmentally safe dish washing liquid. Putting my head under faucets trying to wash off some of the dirt. Stealing showers at campgrounds, doing a flit because I could not afford the $12 it cost for a family of four to get clean. Paying for showers and no hot water. Paying for a shower and getting scalded because the thermostat was set wrong. Hacking my hair off with kitchen scissors because the pandemic shut down bathrooms and there was no where to get clean any more. Washing in the broken RV shower tray, with a bucket of warm water and a bucket to drain it into. They called me a duckling. Water everywhere. I like to be clean. I need water to live. I can’t be dirty. No way to wash clothes, so just buy new dollar tees and new underwear and socks. Laundromats are more expensive than cheap clothes. I am scared of myself.

I would rather be free and on the road than trapped here today, but the Boy needs me to be here. I need a shower. I am too tired and too old and too broken to set off down the road again. And besides, no car, no Billy, no tent, no van. Can’t be done. Do I wish I never came inside? Sometimes. Selfishly. But I would do it all again for the kid.

There must be some way out of today. There must be a way I can survive and not go. All the cops and the clipboard holders, the box tickers and the hobos, the crackheads, and the wifebeaters, those that accept the status quo and those that rebel, they can all go take a walk. Or maybe that is what I am going to do…take a walk.

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