Feb 10 2006

Nightmare on Elm Street

Posted by J. Craig Canada in camping, church groups, hoge, laptop, missions, motels, Santa Cruz

I pitched a tent last night. An hour’s walk to the nearest toilet.

I had been up two days, and was so very tired. I bought a tent some six months ago and this is the first time I’ve used it, except to put it up in the Homeless Services parking lot, just as a test run. But I’ve seen the kind of people who sleep in the woods, and the idea of being out there alone at night scares me. And you can’t particularly trust your neighbors…if you have any.

We’ll see if my tent and sleeping bag are still there when I get back.

It was cold last night. But I felt like I was out of prison. Even being in the motel room was like being in prison – as it was just a ‘respit’ from the Concentration Camp, and it was costing me $60/night.

But living in a tent presents its own challenges. It’s an hour to the toilet, and I can only hope the tent and sleeping bag are there when I get back, and that I haven’t been ‘red-tagged’ by the ranger.

I’m filthy and need a shower, but had rather stink than shower at the shelter. Those showers are so filthy, and having to wait in that environment hours for a 15-minute shower…I’ll probably pay $10 to use the spa for an hour. And then there’s laundry. All my clothes are dirty, and it’s an hour walk to the laundry-mat, and an hour’s walk back.

Randy spoke to me as he went by my locker. He asked how I was and I told him I’d pitched a tent, and I acutually prefereed it except it was an hour to the nearest toilet, and it was cold, and I was worried about being attacked and/or robbed, and/or ticketed for illegal camping. He told me the need to be near a toilet was the reason he wasn’t in a tent himself.

I truly needed to be near a toilet when I was taking Metformin for my ‘pre-diabetes’, but since I stopped that several months ago because MediCal decided I could pay the first $387/month of my medical care because I got a ‘cost of living’ increase of $3/month…since I stopped the Metformin several months ago the diarhhea isn’t as severe, though I do have bouts of it still. And my vision seems to be deteriorating rapidly.

I told Randy I was truly hated someone; Vicki, Marcus, or Ken Cole. I don’t know who, but I really hated someone. He replied that he could understand why. Everyone pretty much feels that way. All the ‘clients’, anyway. I think they all respect me, whether they like me or not. And, believe me, I earned that respect the old-fashioned way.

One good measure of that respect is that I was able to keep up to an ounce or more of prime bud in my locker, and carry it with me, since April and not have it stolen. Though I did get just about every other play in the book. But they didn’t steal from me and they held their envy and jealousy – for which I admire them. They held it, truly, better than ‘better’ people.

That’s one thing about the church group, the men. The women’s are different. But the men are primarily old, and disabled, and …sedate. And while they could be annoying, and stressful, and trying, they were intelligent, compassionate human beings. And more tolerant and understanding.

As I was leaving The Concentration Camp tonight Bud was behind me, the monitor I lambasted in the newspaper’s thread, I believe. And in his own hearing. (My moma taught me if you had something bad to say about someone say it to there face first.) But I told him they’d cast me out of the snake pit and I when he asked what I meant I said they told me I couldn’t go on the church group anymore. And his response was…well, he made some accusations against the management and didn’t seem at all pissed at me. Well, we’ll see if my camping gear is still there when I get back. I heard the train signal tonight and I wonder if this is one of their full-moon runs where everyone carries flashlights.

My arm hurts from carrying the laptop in a shoulderbag. And my back hurts from carrying the laptop and a pack all the time, everywhere. I need to do laundry but I just couldn’t face the walk with a load of laundry on my back and a laptop slung over my shoulder. I guess the nearest laundrymat is an hour’s walk from my tent as well…

…that’s one thing that’s truly special about Santa Cruz – the Planning Commission. This city has obviously been designed for years to be unfriendly and inhospitable to the homeless. They remove park benches in the middle of the night. There were no stores or services of any kind anywhere near the Homeless Services Center. It is a half-hour walk from there to just about anything except the little mall, which doesn’t have a grocery or laundramat or anything like that.

One good thing, the Santa Cruz public library has a subscription to HeritageQuest Online for its cardholders, and they have James Hoge Tyler’s The Family of Hoge scanned in. So I’ve been transcribing the information into my database.

When I first read the excerpts from this book on the internet, and the comments about what an illustrious family it was, I thought he was exaggerating. But since I’ve actually had a chance to look at the genealogy therein, I believe he was being humble.

The weather is supposed to be clear for the next week or so, so maybe I can have a respite. Whatever happens, I can’t afford a motel anymore. And it’s cold. But it was so nice to lie down when I wanted as long as I wanted. And not be forced to get out at five and get on a bus at six and stand in the cold for an hour waiting for the locker-bay to be opened…and then have to be back at 2 pm or earlier – spending 16 or more hours a day soley and exclusively competing to sleep on a floor of a church at night.

I’ve been smoking much less just in this one day away from that Hell. Both cigarettes and cannabis. And I’ve been smoking my pipe instead of rolling joints. Trying to smoke a pipe outdoors here just didn’t work, I was burning my thumbs with the wind. But joints consume about twice as much bud. It goes further in a pipe. So, being homeless cost me more because I had to roll joints (for all sorts of reasons), which consumed my supply at about twice the rate smoking a pipe would.

And I also had to smoke more because the place was so stressful. I defy the city council or anyone to go through that routine for a month and not become a crusader for reform.

I saw Prince Tien (my name for him) back today. He went through the program for a cocaine problem I believe, and is back now – going round and round the recovery merry-go-round. Said the place he was living turned suddenly very hostile.

It seems to happen a lot, to good people. They preach at Elm Street (which is why I won’t go there anymore, even if I was starving I wouldn’t go there anymore) that if you’re homeless it’s because you’re a fuck-up and deserve to be. Actually, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I was in there and the guy started preaching a sermon for 30 minutes about how god saved him from medical marijuana – especially for my benefit, I presume. Now, if you think I’m gonna sit there and listen to that for one minute, much less half an hour, you got another think coming. I will starve first.

But it is NOT true that if you are homeless you deserve to be. It’s a nice philosophy for slumlords who abuse their tenants, who have virtually no recourse under law but to move, and move, and move until their money’s gone and they’re in the streets.

I have been a victim of slumlords just such as this and worse for years because of my limited income and because I can’t get into subsidized housing because of the marijuana felonies and because, now, of Bonita’s unlawful detainer (see: Morongo Valley Timeline).

And now, because I’m a medical marijuana patient and refuse to take their pharmaceutical poisons, I’m homeless and have lost everything. And being asked to ‘give up’ medical marijuana for a roof over my head.

I truly never asked myself before if I’d died and gone to Hell. Not before I was homeless in Santa Cruz.

It’s a nice little town. This afternoon there was a blue-grass band across the street. The kind of music I grew up with. Though I never met them, my grand-mother knew all the old moutain people, buck dancers and dowsers and such. Shoot, neither she nor any other of my family would dream of digging a well without getting a dowser to go over it…

…the fiddler is an Asian girl, and her poise and appearance are ‘better suited’ to classical cello. But when she lets it rip on that fiddle…my oh my she is good.

Nine months I’ve been in that prison, forced to lie and hide for a place to sleep, and spending 16 hours (or more) a day competing to sleep on the floor of a church.

I am tired. It’s a system evidently designed to drive you out of town and/or out of your mind – and while their permanent housing solution may be more ‘benevolent’, it leaves me and many many many others out in the cold.


Go to Elm Street and encounter the nightmare.

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