sand castle

Somewhere

I see fingers, hands and shades of faces
Reachin’ up and not quite touchin’ the promised land
I hear pleas and prayers and a desperate whisper sayin’
Oh, Lord, please give us a helpin’ hand!

I see those fingers, hands and shades of faces, too, Jimi…I hear those desperate whispers. They haunt my dreams. They call out for succor, they pray for a release that never comes in time, they hold out for divine intervention, because no human has ever come to their aid. Jimi is a God to me, but then I have always been prone to worshipping idols. At least Jimi was benevolent. At least he shone a light on the Killing Floor, and looked towards those Castles Made of Sand that the sea washes away.

I often wonder what a capitalist society thinks it can spare for free? The clean water our bodies need to survive? Food so we don’t not starve? Medicine so we do not suffer? Shelter so we are safe from animals both human and inhumane? A campsite? A space on the sidewalk? Being allowed to keep our own belongings and not have those that have, thrown away or stolen by what the powers that be see as trash and clutter? One person’s trash is another person’s survival kit. A sign saying “Standing on the Corner” might be the difference between a smile and a tear. How much money is considered a baseline to deserve happiness? What are the homeless allowed? A flashlight. A spare blanket. Some clothes? A canteen for water that is clean? Some water to go into it that won’t poison or sicken? Apparently not according to San Francisco city which keeps on sweeping homeless people’s belongings and fighting clean water and sanitation provision for all. They won’t help, but then complain about the human shit on the streets.

When I was outside camping for years, I often was led to wonder just where people wanted me to go? My feet had to be on the ground somewhere.

How about the right to roam and wander if that is what floats your highway boat? How free are we? The ability to run from danger without a cop asking you if you are living in your vehicle like it is a crime should….which it indeed is within the boundaries of various states of unenlightenment. For instance, Minnesota bans overnight sleeping in a vehicle, with a maximum of 4 hours allowed to rest, no overnight stops, not even in rest areas. Meanwhile, the housed and on vacation, who can afford campgrounds, can stay an entire summer in their campers and vans, and do just that, setting up camps for weeks on end, and even bringing out their armchairs and sofas for the duration. If they were homeless all their belongings would be swept and removed from them and they would be moved on. In fact in Minnesota, having paid every single night for camping, being silent and good campers, some housed people called the cops on us. Cops came and wanted to know when we were leaving the campground. We had paid. Paying wasn’t good enough. Capitalist exceptionalism even removes the right to own property for those too poor and destitute to afford it. The sweeps in San Francisco target the sidewalk-living people and take away every they have left that they own, including the means of their survival. How can this even be legal, let alone conscionable?

As we walked together yesterday, having our day off together, me and the boy walked past a group of people living on top of a bridge. They had claimed the smallest of spaces that no one else could possibly want, it was neither in front of housing, or shop fronts. It was right next to the traffic in a way that was dangerous to them if a car sped out of control. There was another small group of tents on a center meridian, taking up a tiny strip of land that was there for decorative purposes, and to separate traffic. Instead, it had become the tinest request for a home plot that anyone could ever imagine. A postage stamp of San Francisco, a tiny footprint. It housed three tents, under the civic beautification project trees. I expect they will be swept out of there soon. Even so little appears to be too much to ask.

How little do we as a society expect people to accept? What is our bare minimum that as a country we are willing to allow people to have? Clean water campaigns for the homeless should never have to be set in motion, and yet, here we are.

On top of the bridge there was a woman shooting dope. A woman who should have been offered safe injection facilities and support. On top of the bridge a man checked his feet. Feet are a constant battle. Gotta get those boots off and those socks off and clean up. Feet deteriorate fast. On top of the bridge there was a small community that just wanted to keep their stuff, that just wanted to live and party, love and care and do all the things that housed people do. When housed people can get drunk and obnoxious, can party and get high in clubs and bars, but our unhoused fellow citizens are held to higher standards, and seen as not deserving live itself, unless they are perfect: clean, sober, polite, decent, faultless! Who amongst us in this dirty old world are faultless! Why is Keith Richards lauded for being a badass, while I am derided for being the author of my own misfortune?

So much of what separates people into housed and unhoused is sheer luck and privilege. I ended up unhoused because I had terrible luck, and what privilege I had failed to protect me. When I married a man who was not caucasian, and had children who were not white, there was a certain exile forced upon me. I was exiled from whatever ‘family’ remained, racist motherfuckers that they are, and due to the vagaries of luck and chance and abuse, ended up set adrift, apart, separates, and without help. People who have people do not end up on the streets. I had no people. So many people who are out there, from my very unscientific survey of memories of those people I have love and lost and known and never forgotten, have no family support. So many out there are the victims of abuse. The unhoused are victims of life, circumstance, poor family connections, and a society that says unless you are just like everybody else, you are not worth anything at all. Society prizes success. It is ok to be different and weird if fame and fortune have smiled upon your life. It is not ok to be different if you are down and out.

As for me, I adore my little one bedroom apartment, and the living room that I have made into my bedroom. I have dragged my bed into a corner, put some posters up on the walls and plugged in a nightlight and set it onto a table that was donated by a kind furniture company. There is a green sofa opposite me, also donated. Down the hallway is a bathroom, and a doorway that leads to the room I gave to my son. It is the first time he has had his own room. There is a kitchen with an oven. We have running water, hot and cold. We have heating. We have a door. We have safety.

I am still a freak. I still sit here shaking in fear of losing it all. I still sit here convinced that the world wants me dead, and let’s face it, it probably does. I have a false sense of security given to me by those double locks on the door. I sleep with my windows closed, no matter how hot it is. I still position myself at the very edge of the bed, as if I have no room to sleep at all. I still wake at any small noise, jumping to defend myself and the Boy. I am still playing the game of survival: the apartment has not changed that. I might not be out there on top of the bridge, trying to be a part of a small community that looked as if it was trying to survive as decently as possible, and had the air of a group of people that cared about each other, but my mind is stuck outside on the streets. I can’t stop filling gallon containers of water, just in case. I still stand in the shower and make myself remember the times where I was desperate to get clean , and had no way to do so. I still stand in the shower and remember the times I froze out there, or the one time someone had turned the thermostat up too high on a shower without temperature control and scalded me. I didn’t matter like a tourist. I was homeless. I remember the spiders, and the dingy concrete facilities that looked like they belonged in a 1970s horror movie, but spewed out tepid water and allowed me to feel human. I remember the nights in a tent where animals crawled about us outside. I remember those days in the parking lots and rest stops, that we were not allowed to sleep in.

There are basic human rights: sleep, food, water, privacy. When society puts a price on dignity and survival, what does that say about us as a group? A species? Down the alleyways, out on the corner, in the parking lots, on top of the bridge and under it, people are trying to live and the City is trying to make survival harder for them. I would wonder if The Man would prefer that those who do not fit in with society, who are not straight, white, male, successful, simply disappeared. The mantra of ‘not here’ when asked where we can go, will not suffice. The trickle of outrage is building as more and more people lose their housing. When shelter becomes big business, the basic human right to survive has a price put upon it’s head and it is increasingly out of reach for even those who do play the capitalist game.

Like Hendrix said: “Those people are so uptight, they sure know how to make a mess!” Look, man…we all need SOMEWHERE….even if it ain’t quite the promised land! Relax…giving other people the basics of living won’t mean that the privileged lose anything, except the warm glow of punishing those already suffering. Sick bastards.

32 Comments

  1. Time Traveler of Life

    I truly wish it was not so, but as long as the Patriachs rules, it will be the same old thing. I have told some of my male friends who needed a come down, “When we take over, we will save a place for you!” The look on their faces was priceless. I also have told them, “You’re so full of s$%& as a Christmas Goose.” I should have a filter on my mouth, but alas it is broken or not working properly.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      The following was a comment on my blog yesterday…really upset me: “You can hate guns, self defense/martial arts, etc. The point is, to be in a position of not being the victim, it has nothing to do with using it (or fighting… you learn it so that you don’t have fight). Actually, the first thing you are taught, if you are caught bullying or fighting, and not in self defense, you will get the boot (you are not wanted). Your outlook on this is like sheep vs the wolf, you are strictly the sheep 🐑, wow… you personally need to go to a jiu jitsu dojo (open your mind)..” Men!

  2. Time Traveler of Life

    this person falls into the second catagory, and some of the shit is squirting out his mouth. I was a realtor for 30 years and I never carried a gun. I didn’t need to, because everyone knew that I would fight. My Mother taught me to believe, “fight if you have to, make sure you give as good as you get!” She also said to Win, even if you need the help of a 2X4. Jiu Jitsu is nice, but if I get close enough to your family jewels, you will be the last in your line. I have mellowed a lot, and Arthritis has contributed. 2X4’s are still strong.

  3. Time Traveler of Life

    Okay, unofficially, I have just been promoted to your Gramma! I usually tell people that the woman in our family live to late into their 90s, the men die, just to get away from us. My hubby is still hanging in there after 60 years.

  4. John Jr

    Thank you, The Paltry Sum, I think that this was my first time hearing the Somewhere by Jimi Hendrix; and I agree with most of your thoughts shared in this post.

      1. John Jr

        I wish that he would have gotten to live longer as well.

        He was an amazingly talented musician.

        I am trying to hang in there with my boring limited life that is somewhat overwhelming as I get stuck in waste time mode to avoid various unfinished tasks 😀 ; thank you for asking, I hope that things are going better for you than me in this new season. 🙂

      2. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        Things are good in some ways – the apartment is lovely, my kiddo is doing well…but my oldest friend dying, an overwhelming sense of failure and not being good enough. I dunno. I will be ok. I generally survive. Sorry to hear that you are having a tough time. It is this stupid pandemic. I am SO over it.

      3. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        We really have to choose a better dream time ‘signal’. How about a teapot? Hendrix would have done great things. I think he is possibly my favorite artist. Sheer musical talent and skill, he wins. Have you heard his ‘Gloria’? I am writing a piece on it, probably for tomorrow at this point. It is amazing. He really does his bandmates durty…Poor Noel!

      4. John Jr

        Hello, Detroit, a tea pot as a dream signal is another one I would not have thought of, I wonder if I have even dreamed of a tea pot before, that would be something unique & something that I am not likely to dream about normally.

        I could be wrong, but I do not think that I have heard Gloria before; unfortunately.

      5. John Jr

        Hello, Detroit, I am glad that the apartment & your child are doing well; and I am sorry about your oldest friend, et cetera.

        Thanks, we are hanging in there, and I think that you are tougher than me. 😉

        This pandemic has been an interesting experience, it has brought various issues to the surface that we as individuals & as societies, need to address, or we are really in trouble for the future.

      6. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

        I totally agree with you, John Jr. To be frank I feel like we are all being held hostage to our fears. I don’t trust this now to be the way the world works. Did you hear that Bill “hells’ gates warned about Smallpox? It has been eradicated!

      7. John Jr

        Hello, Detroit, it seems that they tried to scrub a good quality version of Gloria from YouTube or something.

        Nightmares for a week, wow, do you have any ideas for breaking the cycle?

      8. John Jr

        I wonder, our conversations about your nightmares was possibly inspiration of a dream that I had recently, that I still have not typed on my blog, in that dream I had to deal with some natural & paranormal & supernatural threats, and some of the things that I said to you probably inspired me in that dream to use the power of belief to fight the threats & even encourage some other dream characters to fight back & to share that power with them.

        So, we were able to fight even the demonic-like threats, by banishing and / or destroying them with literally just the belief that we could do so, so even a gun with no bullets would work & I was able to summon weapons & I was probably able to just say what I wanted to happen & it would happen, or I could just point & directly my belief / thoughts / emotions / will at them & banish or destroy them et cetera.

      9. John Jr

        Hello, Detroit, no, I have not heard about the Bill Gates Smallpox thing.

        Thanks, for the email address, you might want to remove it from your comment now so that spammers et cetera will be less likely to bother you. 😉

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