Feb 13 2006


Posted by J. Craig Canada in camping, cleanliness, sleep deprivation

I’ve been told we’ve had unseasonably warm and clear weather. But my neighbor up the hill tells me it will rain tonight or tomorrow. I’ve resolved to sit it out in the tent, I guess.

I haven’t had a shower in a week and actually signed up at the Concentration Camp for one this morning, but while I was standing in line to use the toilet this woman came out covered in huge red sores from head to foot…

…so I didn’t even sit down on the toilet, as I’d planned. And after I peed I scratched my name off the shower list. There were at least half a dozen people in line for a shower anyway, and I couldn’t sit in that place and wait that long. Not now and, most probably, not ever.

I trudged two miles (I guess) with my pack loaded with 10-20 pounds of shampoo and soap and toiletries and clean clothes to the Well Within, who told me they didn’t have a room. Valentine’s day, she said. She seemed more relieved than sorry to me.

It’s been a week or longer since I’ve had a shower, and I was so looking forward to cleaning up and putting on clean clothes that don’t stink.

Saturday I did my laundry, and that took most of the afternoon. I started out about 11am I think, and by the time I walked to the end of Pacific (the closest Laundromat) and washed my load in a Laundromat that had signs saying “bathrooms are for customers paying for internet time or purchasing items from the cafe”, by the time I’d finished it was sunset. And the Well-Within was ‘booked’. Saturday night.

I don’t know where else to take a shower. And at this point a 15-minute shower just isn’t going to be enough time to get me clean.

Robert Norse, the local homeless activist was at the Concentration Camp when I was packing up for what I thought would be a shower Saturday and asked me to be on his radio show. I would like to, except it seems he’s thoroughly antagonized city hall and I’m not ready to align myself against them yet.

However, I thought my situation was dire enough that I need to do something, anything, so I did call up about 11 Sunday morning, at which time I received a message. They called me back and I have a message on my voice-mail that I haven’t really listened to yet.

But Robert asked me if I was the one posting a lot on the internet and I replied yes, and he said he liked what I wrote.

While I wake up cold in the wee hours just before sunrise, the tent is so much preferable to the church groups. You don’t really get rested sleeping on the floor. I would nod off in the mornings, or just about anytime, when I was sleeping with the church groups. I remember this summer when I was trying to get around using the bus, before they struck for several months, I would fall asleep every time the bus stopped.

Sleep deprivation is a major problem with the homeless. It will break you and drive you insane quicker than anything else.

We’ll see if I make it through the rain. Sunny tells me I should be dry, that my tent is exactly like his and the water doesn’t drain through my ‘site’. Well, that may be but that isn’t going to do me any good if I can’t get up and down the trail.

I was so looking forward to cleaning up and putting on clean clothes today. And particularly to wearing something besides the orange shirt with the big green marijuana leaf that I’ve been wearing, first because it was the only shirt I had clean and now because I don’t want to put on clean clothes till I’ve had a bath, or at least a shower. Next to sleep deprivation I think being filthy is the worst thing about being homeless. And that they’re aren’t any toilets after 11 o’clock, and even then they’re few and far between.

I keep thinking about what Bud (the ex-armory monitor) said to me the other day (as I was heading for what I hoped would be a shower). He said my problem was that I wasn’t a heroin addict. And there’s a lot of truth in that. He said lot more, which I’m not ready to repeat here. And there was a lot of truth in that too.

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