Dec 01 2005

Gimme Shelter

Posted by J. Craig Canada in church groups, laptop, motels, shelter, Smoking & Public Use

I’ve been sitting in a hotel room for a week now.

Me and my new laptop.

Getting it was an ordeal.

I tried ordering online at the library, but an hour just wasn’t enough to do it right. I’d been thinking about it for months…

But before I digress into a long tale of woe about the laptop, I just realized it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to sit with a computer and smoke a cigarette.

At the same time.

It’s Thanksgiving. Or it was Thanksgiving.

I moved in with Snickers on Halloween a year ago and was living there Thanksgiving a year ago when Jane went to the hospital. I had been living with Jane a couple of months, and before that with the Victors. The Unlawful Detainer trial ended July 7th of 2004, and I left Bonita’s apartment a few days after. Was chased out, actually.

So it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to smoke a cigarette while sitting at my computer. Or a joint. And sip a cup of coffee, or a soda. And not have to hold the coffee or soda in one hand and the cigarette in the other, and not do anything but hold the cigarette and drink the soda or coffee until I’ve finished the cigarette…

The last several weeks have been particularly rough at the Concentration Camp.

The only option for me to sleep indoors is the Church Groups and the head of homeless services here seems to be Hell bent on killing that program. They’ve cancelled on churches at the last minute while turning people away at the sign-up, including the ones that prepared food. Particularly the ones that prepared food.

I can’t go to the armory. I simply can’t spend 12 hours without medicating. Particularly in that environment. Besides, Bud (the head monitor at the armory) has been sleeping with the church groups for a couple of months now, and made it clear he’s just waiting for a chance to screw me over. He kicked me awake twice one night at First Presbyterian, just before the armory opened…

I gave up on ordering a computer from Dell and got an Acer from Circuit City Saturday a week ago, on the 19th. It was the next day I was told I couldn’t leave the lot after I signed on with the church group, that 3 people had complained. Now, I’ve been leaving after I signed up for some 6 months to smoke and/or roll a joint…

The routine is, you show up at 2:30 pm. Between then and 3:00 pm a line forms. At 3:00 pm you sign up. And then you sit on the lot till 4, or 5, or 6, when you load onto a bus and are driven to a church. Sometimes you have to wait outside the church an hour or so, like First Presbyterian recently started having basketball practice in their gym, so we get there and then have to wait an hour outside, until they leave. And they told us if we wanted to smoke a cigarette to go out to the sidewalk off the church property until they left…

…and then maybe we eat and maybe we don’t. And then we put down our mats and sleeping bags and sleep on a (usually) cold tile floor. And get up at 5:00 in the morning. Well, that’s when the lights come on. But I usually am woken up at 3:30 or 4:00 by the pre-dawn coffee klatch and consider myself fortunate indeed if I can sleep till the lights are turned on at 5.

Then we pack up, clean the place up, have coffee, load the bus and head back to the shelter, usually getting there by 6:15. And wait outside for an hour or so, after just drinking coffee and with no toilet, until someone comes and opens the ‘health bay’ and ‘locker bay’. They serve breakfast at 8 but I’m usually out of there by then. The food isn’t worth eating – powdered milk and cold cereal or oatmeal, usually. But the fact is nothing opens in town until 10. And that hour before sunrise is the coldest hour of the day.

They throw you out off the lot at 10, forcefully if necessary. And you’re not supposed to be back till 2:30.

So one of my little treats to myself is to SIT in one place, indoors, as long as I want.

But I digress.

The point is that after being told I couldn’t leave the lot after signing on with the church groups I got there at 2 o’clock and then left to sit on the tracks and roll my joints BEFORE signing up for the church group, and Marcus announces that there is something wrong with the bus and they’re only taking 6 people. Well, I was number 7. So I got a hotel room. The day before Thanksgiving they were still only taking 6 people, so I paid for the room another night (charged it actually) and have been here ever since.

Coincidentally, it was the previous Friday that I called Emily Reily, city council and new vice-mayor about the situation at the homeless shelter and the fact that I wouldn’t be homeless were it not for the marijuana.

She asked me not to call her again over the phone. And promised to respond to me via email.

Good thing I didn’t hold my breath.

It’s been an expensive Thanksgiving for me.

I thought I was going to get a $150 rebate on the computer, but I threw away the box because I didn’t have anywhere to put it…not realizing I was throwing away the rebate.

I was pretty upset about that. And then having to get a hotel room, at $55/night.

Well, I could have slept out in the rain with a brand new laptop…

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