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God, sometimes I know exactly how you feel. In a not so authentic and meaningful way, but in an "I know exactly how you feel" kind of way.

Taking a break is a good thing. Rest up for the rest of the game, honey.

Who takes care of you while you're taking care of the world? When you think about it that way, it doesn't feel so bad to take a break, does it?


The primary distinction between homeless and homeful: we get to do drugs indoors and they don't. I like that a little too much. Remember the monologue from Tom Waits' homeless guy character in "The Fisher King"? Something like, "They're paying not to look." It always comes to mind. Heh. Dandruff.

Janice, your post made me think how disgustingly successful Reagan & Crew, and the whole fucking Right has been in making homelessness an accepted part of our everyday world which individuals are pitted against one another (homeless vs. home"ful") in this sicko dance of guilt and shame and pain and care. It's exactly what the Right wants -- us little guys all pent up taking our despair and rage out on one another or ourselves. I'm not trying to be critical of you by noting this, because of course you describe my experience too walking down Mission Street. But it helps me to remember we're all caught up in a fucked up socio-economic system that's against all of our survival as real, full, beating-hearted human beings. We're just meant to be consumers, and when we can't fulfill that obligation the corporations who own our government say, well we have no use for you. I just like to remind myself it's not like I begged Dubya to take my tax dollars and fund an illegal and obscenely expensive war. I demanded of him -- and I bet you did too -- to fund women's health care, and fix the schools, and shelter EVERYone, and quit giving tax breaks to corporations, etc. And so really it's a matter of taxation without representation, as far as I can see it, our hearts and dreams have been drowned out.

Meg has a good point -- it was a lot of the social service alterations from up on high, post-Nixon, that made homelessness an ingrained part of urban life.

it also doesn't help that begging on streetcorners can be lucrative. A coworker of mine played a beat-up ukulele on the streets of Maui (his home state) when he was a teenager, making easily 200 dollars a day. He was caught by his mom, who beat him around the ears pretty fiercely, and his defense was, "What? What other job can I get as a 15 year old kid that's going to pay more? Huh?"

He was making $200 a day probably doing something he genuinely enjoyed doing.

And if he only did that 5 times a week, which is how often I drag myself into this office every day, he would be bringing home more than I do a week. Truth is, he could work three days a week and . . .

and now I am depressed.

Someone shoot me now, please.

Janice, sometimes when we immerse ourselves so much in a situation it is hard to remain detached. I don't know how you manage. Truly. I don't. I only know that sometimes I have to shut down and lock myself up for a little while or I feel like I will fall apart because I am already losing fragments of myself everywhere I go.

I'm glad to come here and read the supportive words of others. You deserve nothing less and so very much more.

Brilliant as always. "They just didn't have parents with money to run home to." I had nice middle-class parents to run home to, too, when I dabbled in the unstable lifestyles of my blue-collar friends as a teenager. Still, there was enough instability in my life growing up (moving to a different country and then from state to state) that I can still think "there but for the grace of God..." when I see someone who has fallen through the cracks.

Sometimes that translates to supporting whatever lifestyle that person has landed in (because if I were living on the street I'd probably want somebody to buy me a drink, too) and sometimes it doesn't (because, God, it's just a black hole, it could go on forever, and I give copiously to different homeless organizations, not that this person would probably go to those organizations anyway).

The antidote to all this overthinking is the approach of one of my favorite bloggers, who puts a dollar in her pocket at the beginning of the day and gives it to the first person who asks, whether it's a mom with a child or a filthy, grizzled old guy who looks like he's just a shot away from the morgue. And that's it, for the day.

Well, the last thing I want to do is to promote the notion that "homeless people choose to live that way." Some do, I'm sure (Jeannette Walls' mom comes to mind), but, as I said, nobody chooses mental illness and chronic addiction and poverty. I feel like homelessness is the symptom of those diseases, and the way we treat them is pretty shabby. Answers beyond that? Still none.

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