August 18, 2011
So I think I’ve covered the basic story, up to entry into the women’s homeless shelter in the main city.
FIRST NIGHT AT THE WOMEN’S HOMELESS SHELTER
That night, I drove straight from the suburbs into the city. I checked in to the shelter around 9:30 or 10:00PM. I was so nervous that I didn’t eat anything, despite being offered dinner several times.
In the lobby area were an Asian woman with gray hair, and a black woman.
I sat next to the black woman (looked like some Native American in her, too) named Dee. I’m not sure how to spell her full name. Her voice was very comforting, soothing, and she had a kind aura/energy. She and I are becoming friends quickly, because we connect on some important beliefs about the truth of our world. She believes in Jesus, but also speaks out against the lies and corruption of religion. She knows about the Illuminati and chem trails, etc.
She felt timid about talking about feeling like she’s not from Earth, or feeling like “home” is now somewhere besides Earth…
…Timid, because in this shelter, there is a fine line between sanity and insanity.
IT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU’D EXPECT
All the stereotypes of homeless people are found here—most residents have some type of mental and physical illnesses. People talk to themselves, etc.
I found one young woman (not Dee) with whom I can have conversations about 2012, Reiki energy, spirits, and chakras. Unfortunately, this is also the same young woman who says she conjures Jedi Knights and Sith Lords in her bedroom, and transforms into a werewolf on the full moon, with all 100% seriousness in her face.
People scream at 1:00AM, people cuss each other out, people get possessive over chairs during meal times, and nearly everyone smokes, here. Many people have asked if I work here. I’m sure I have “suburban, college girl” written all over my chippy, cheerful forehead. But I find that I have a better time blending in with the crowd if I frown, stare at the ground, walk slower and drag my feet.
Lots of folks are “ticking time bombs”—frustrated at life and ready to yell at the next person who approaches. Lots of people blame others for everything that goes wrong.
ARE WE CUSTOMERS OR GUESTS?
The first night I came here, Dee was talking to the Asian woman, encouraging her to speak up for what she needs. I agree with speaking up, but the part I disagreed with was the reason why—Dee said it’s important to ask for what we need/want because we are customers, here. Non-paying customers, but customers none-the-less; the shelter employees are giving us (the residents) a service, and therefore we are customers. And in the eyes of the “Western World of Business,” this means that we have a right to ask for—and receive—whatever the fuck we want.
So I disagree. I believe we are guests in a home run/owned by someone kind enough to let us in without paying. The food, beds, hot showers, toilets, towels and linens are all borrowed gifts. Aka: Bonuses. Not entitlements to be taken for granted.
Maybe I naturally think this way, or maybe it’s simply because I was previously basically living in a forest, with mosquitoes day and night, limited food, not legally welcome, no toilet, a psuedo-shower, and no laundry ability. (Well, I probably could have used the biodegradable shampoo and pond water for laundry, but I tried to hold off as long as possible on that…)
So this shelter, to me, is heaven. It’s all relative. I don’t really care if the peas and green beans are served luke-warm, or if the only breakfast option is a bagel and cereal. It’s free. And it’s legal, according to the “Almighty System.” (sarcasm)
I think my bed has bed bugs. The sheets get washed by an outside company, en masse, weekly. But there are so many people here. Sometimes the corners in the building smell like urine, but not for too long. They do have a cleaning crew, here.
NIGHT TIME SCREAMING
I use ear plugs at night. It’s almost a nightly ritual for this particular section of the shelter to erupt into some loud yelling in the middle of the night. If it’s not yelling/cussing (“Bitch, please! I will knock you out!”) at each other, then it’s yelling on their cell phones at some guy. And how the fuck do they afford a cell phone if they are living here? I don’t have a phone. Wouldn’t they want to get the fuck out, and into their own space, asap? Priorities, ladies! Well, maybe not everyone needs as much privacy and solitude from phone calls as I do.
This place is designed like a dorm room, with bunk beds separated by corners and walls that go up to the ceiling (like a maze).
SIGNING UP FOR ASSISTANCE
People/residents here have “case workers,” but with 170+ residents with people sleeping on gym mats or old karate mats in the basement, it’s a little difficult to get personal attention and help. [The case workers were highly overworked.] So I’ve been asking Dee and other residents for information and I’m trying to take charge of my destiny as much as possible.
The second or third day I was here, I applied for food stamps [the state gives the approved applicant a card that can be used like a credit card, with a set amount of monthly money on it, to buy certain types of food].
A few days later, I searched [using the local library computers] for apartments and found one that works with something called Section 8, which, as I understand it, is governmental financial assistance with housing/rent. I’ve signed up for the “Section 8 Lottery,” which is a drawing held once in a while for people to get random financial assistance. There are rumors that the lottery is fixed and that it goes to friends and family of the people who run the lottery. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the truth, since our presidential elections are also rigged.
So I think I’m making good progress.
I’ve also obtained a “letter of residency,” given to residents of the women’s shelter after the first 5 days of living here. I’ve used it to get food stamps and to get a library card, so I can stop asking for a Guest Pass to check my email on their computers. The food stamp thing is an electronic card. Most likely, I’ll get $200 per month.
LIMITED FOOD OPTIONS
I wish I could have a kitchen to cook something, instead of always eating raw food [from the local grocery stores] or depending on the shelter’s food. They serve meat with every meal.
Tonight, my dinner was a “big ol’ plate of peas,” as the cook/server described it [the only other food on the plate would have been some kind of gross-looking meat], because I’m still trying to remain a vegetarian, although I did recently eat lasagna noodles surrounded with meat and meat sauce.
The $60 from the cop is already long-gone. I spent every penny of it on gas, to get back and forth to work in the suburbs and sleeping at the shelter in the city.
I found a place yesterday that serves breakfast to needy at 8:00AM, right after the 7:30AM women’s shelter breakfast. It’s bagels and Rice Krispies, but at least it’s something. The meals at the shelter feel like they don’t fill me up properly, and I often feel ill and malnourished. And the constant coughing from some of the women here doesn’t exactly help my health.