Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shake It Off

I quit drinking coffee/caffeine on a regular basis about ten years ago. I found what used to be a regular afternoon need for a siesta (the crash) stopped as well. But, in the last couple of weeks I've been drinking some coffee because it has been readily available and it has been a little chilly, and I made the mistake of drinking coffee in the afternoon.

This caused my mind to race into the night making for a restless night of tossing and turning, Not only that, I had a song stuck in my head... which is not altogether uncommon, but I don't listen to radio; I'm media deprived, and I had not idea who Taylor Swift is, or this song called Shake It Off that sounded like a young Michael Jackson record, but NEW!

You never know what it's going to be. Usually, without apparent reason, they just pop up. Like, the other morning when I woke up with the theme song from the Broadway musical "Annie" stuck in my head. Why??? I dunno.

Last night, as my mind raced after leaving the bar, a song played right before I was leaving. Thanks to my "sister" who runs the place and introduced me to this tune several weeks ago. I found myself dancing to what I would never have thought I would be dancing to... only tonight I was walking out the door. Yet, lately, over the past several weeks, it seems like every time I walk in the door (or out) this song comes on. As I walked away and to my evening destination (a homeless shelter) I couldn't get it out of my head. It just kept playing like it was on a loop...

There was no escaping it. Once this tune sets in, you're stuck with it, kinda like faith... something you don't resent, but you do not choose either. They call that Grace, and they call this... Tay-Tay!!! Just try to Shake It Off!!! This is what happens when I drink caffeine. Maybe I should stick to the booze?!?

The craziest part is, I was staying with some "friends" (at the shelter)... I finally got up after four hours of hearing this song play in my head as the caffeine surged through my veins and kept me awake when I decided I'd look for something to read, because reading always puts me to sleep. What did I find, right on top of a stack of magazines, but a 2014 copy of Time magazine with none other than Taylor Swift on the cover!

She's haunting me!

And, that's why I dressed up as Taylor Swift for Halloween!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Shake It Off!!! It's just the caffeine...

I need more booze.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Get A Job!

In Athens, GA, there are an inordinate number of homeless people compared to probably any other town of its' size in the state of Georgia.

Why?

After speaking to one community leader involved with the homeless, he informed me that Athens has more resources available per capita than other towns.  Outside of permanent housing- food, clothing and facilities for bathing and laundry are readily available somewhere at least four days a week.  The winter shelter opens in mid-October, and remains open through mid-April each year.  As a result, the homeless either find their ways here, or are brought here, as it is common knowledge in other communities that Athens is a sort of Homeless Haven.

The plight of the homeless is a lifestyle primarily concerned and consumed with these things in mind, but for the homeless to shower and to do laundry, one must dedicate four to five hours on any given day to do the same thing someone with a homestead can accomplish in under an hour.  Even if someone with these resources doesn't finish drying their clothes, he can always leave them in the dryer to finish and be on his way to more productive things like work, or even seeking out work... and then a good Republican walks by a panhandler and says, "Get a job!"

As a homeless person myself, I can honestly say I am not a fan of panhandlers.  With all the resources that are available, I cannot justify begging in my own mind, but neither can I justify the ignorant advice of someone who has probably never lived on the streets, or investigated what it is really like to live on the streets.

Once one enters the world of poverty, as a college educated person who has lived on the streets since 2008 I firmly attest it is nearly, if not just impossible to get off the streets without help.  It truly takes a village.  On this much, I agree with Hillary Clinton, and the African proverb that inspired her book bearing this idea as its' name.

To enlighten you to the world of homelessness, I share with you a typical day in the life of a homeless person, in this case, of my own.

1. 5 am to 5:30 am- Wake-up

Wake-up time is not by external alarm, but by internal alarm, unless you count the sound of the 5:30 am train rolling by, depending on where you sleep.

2. 6 am to 6:30 am- Bathroom

This is the most important time of day.  One learns to eat certain things and to eat at certain times in order to maintain this schedule.  Why between 6 am and 6:30 am?  Because, that's when the nearest location to my spot with a public restroom opens.  If you can't find a public restroom, then you better be prepared to act like a bear in the woods.  In case of an emergency, it is advisable to carry paper, even if it's a Flagpole magazine, or the Athens Banner Herald, which make for easily clean-up.

In all of these years, I am proud to report, I have never had a mishap like that and shat myself unlike the "pretty" young co-ed I saw walking down the street at 6:30 am the other morning.  The poor girl came wandering out of a recessed area nicely dressed, with a Summer top and the typical cut off shorts they be wearing these days, appropriate for a warm night on the street where she had apparently passed out the night before.  With her hands clasped in front of her as if she were praying, she walked in front of me for half a block before I turned right, and she kept straight.

As I continued on my way, she had somehow gotten behind me.  As I entered a particular establishment, I opened the door for her asking if she was alright.  With her hands still clasped in front of her, she answered with a shaken voice, "I'm fine".  As she proceeded inside, in front of me, I was surprised (to say the least) to see that she had dried sh* t coming out of the tops and bottoms of her cut off blue jean shorts.  At least, they weren't short enough to reveal her butt cheeks too, as that is trashy enough without dried poop for an accentuation.  Bowel management is a top priority for any homeless person, as it should be for the non-homeless too.  But, she didn't seem too worried about that as she made her way straight to a booth where her head practically hit the table as she must have passed out again.

The people who worked there thought we were together as we entered and told us to sit wherever we wanted.  I waved them off assuring them we weren't together.  After all, I'm homeless.  What would a young college girl with sh*t in her pants be be doing with me?

I felt a little bit guilty after the fact.  It just so happened I had some wet wipes in my bag I could have offered her, but I didn't.  Of course, the bathroom was right there.  She just made the choice to go back to sleep in her own sh*t.

3.  7:30 am- Morning computer session

The university library opens at 7:30 am Monday thru Friday.  This is where I start my day, most days.  I either write, or keep up with the news, up to, but not necessarily including the Kardashians.  I also use this time to apply for any jobs I probably won't get hired for since I'm old and compete with a student workforce.  Plus, now that I've broken my arm, I find it difficult to type with efficiency, or compete for jobs.  I also find it difficult to count money with one hand, but that's a whole 'nuther story, I'm saving for later.  I actually found about a hundred and fifty bucks the other day, but I returned to its' rightful owner.

4.  8:15- Breakfast at Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen

This is short and sweet, but important since if you don't have money, or income, and you don't beg, one must still eat.  Our Daily Bread allows the homeless to maintain their dignity.

5.  9 am- Showers & Laundry-

The most time consuming of tasks, on a typical Monday when bathing, grooming, and laundry are all to be done, one must budget several hours to accomplish these things. I typically do not finish until around 1:30 pm, which means missing lunch at Our Daily Bread, served at noon.  Thankfully, the Sparrows Nest & Bigger Vision usually serve food.  If not, I am also thankful to have qualified for food stamps which also preserve dignity, and freedom of choice; though some consider them undignified.  Those who consider them undignified are also usually Republicans, who believe everyone should be able to buy their own elephant, even though there aren't enough elephants to go around.  On the other hand, though the Democrats would like to give everyone their own donkey and their aren't enough donkeys to go around either, at least we know everyone doesn't need a donkey anyway.  In fairness, not everyone needs an elephant either, but Republicans still want you to buy one anyway, like cars.

6. 1:30 pm - 8 pm- Discretionary Time

This is the time you can use as you see fit, as in searching for a job, or sitting on the corner flying a sign, or a second computer session.  You're allowed two sessions per day, so use them wisely.  If you've already applied to every company in town, you can always re-apply.  The gift shop down the street won't hire me, and neither will the other one... or the other one... or the other one.

The several bars in town won't hire me, but there is one where I can at least earn a few beers for my efforts.  Every now and then, there is some cash, like the hundred and fifty bucks I found on the sofa at this bar the other day.

Three days prior, someone had posted a picture of several twenty dollar bills lying on the ground with instructions to re-post the photo typing only the word "AMEN".  By doing so you were assured you would find money.  I don't usually abide in such non-sense, but for some strange reason I decided to do it.  Then, three days later, I found this money on the sofa with only a full glass of beer on the table in front of the sofa.

Tempted to take the money and run, I chose to resist and wait and see if someone returned for the beer.  It wasn't thirty seconds later a guy emerged from the restroom and returned to the table.  I asked him if that was his beer.  He confirmed it was.  I then told him I thought I had something else that belonged to him.  He asked what it was.  I then extended my hand holding the wad of cash, to which he exclaimed, " Oh man!  You just saved my weekend!  I just came in from Boston for a reunion with my college buddies and that was my spending money for the weekend.  He then proceeded to buy me several beers.  The next morning I woke up early and was walking downtown passed one of the parking meters to set up to receive donations for the homeless.  On the ground, next to the meter, what did I find? An $25 American Express gift card that still had the full balance of twenty-five bucks on it!

Today, I have chosen to write down this story for you during this discretionary period.  Forgive me for not re-applying for those jobs at the gift shops, bars, and restaurants.  I really need to hit the poultry plant.

4 pm- Shelter Call

During the winter, or cooler months, in order to reserve a bunk for the night, you must call in to Bigger Vision to make a reservation.  This is an exceptional challenge since each phone call costs you at least a minute on your Obama phone.  It usually takes ten to fifteen calls to get through meaning each week you spend at least 50 minutes obtaining winter shelter.

Until recently, you only got 225 minutes per month on your Obama phone, leaving you 25 minutes a month for job searches, and phone interviews, or appointment setting.  This is not the case during the Summer, but hardly anybody hires during the Summer because school is out and business slows down.  Thankfully, the provider I have, Life Wireless, just raised the number of minutes you receive to 500, which makes for a much more productive experience.

In fact, last year, after first receiving my Life Wireless phone, I found a job after being fired from a job that had afforded me the ability to pay my bills.  It paid half as much as the previous job, but it was a job, which are hard to come by in this town.

I was summoned to court for a failure to pay my bills, and even though I did find another job, the judge decided to lock me up for six months anyway.  I guess he thought my earnings potential would be enhanced with imprisonment.  Six months later, I was released and thrown out on the streets again with nothing but the clothes on my back, being told to make things right.  This after trying to get help from the Public Defender who after answering the phone as "Jan", and my asking if this was indeed the Public Defender's office, told me that it was indeed, "Unfortunately".

I had also requested help from a social worker, but nobody would ever respond.  Incarceration is purely punitive, and without regard to rehabilitation.

While the shelter is a heck of a lot better than a jail cell, it still restricts your time.  You must report in between 6 pm and 8 pm, putting a night job out of the question unless you want to work and still sleep outside.  Yes, the working poor are a harsh economic reality.  But, if you're homeless and unemployed, the trade off for work is cleanliness and food.  Perhaps, you begin to see why I stopped believing in the GOP.  They say get a job.  I say, get a grip on reality.

8 pm - 7am- The Night

As already mentioned, this depends on the time of year.  If it's Winter, and you use the shelter, you're kind of on lock down.  If it's the warmer months, then you can roam all night, if you stll haven't found work.  According to the beggars, this is prime begging time, after 10 pm until after the bars close at 2 am.  I haven't tried this yet, but maybe I should.  Nothing else seems to be working.

All in all, life on the streets for many might have come from an original decision, whether consciously, or not.  However, once you're on the streets it takes more than a decision to get off.  It truly takes a village!

...

The girl who crapped her pants... later woke up as I'm told.  She then went into a fit of anger accusing the employees there of stealing her phone and her wallet.  All they did was offer to call her a cab, and try to get her to clean herself up.  So, sometimes, even when the villagers try to offer assistance it is not received.  The village can only do so much.  All she had to do was wipe her ass, and go to class... and then, get a job!

...











Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Playboy

So, why no more nudes...
"The magazine is profitable if money from licensed editions around the world is taken into account, Mr. Flanders said, but the United States edition loses about $3 million a year. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he said"
So, why no more nudes... I can really only speculate, besides it just being passe, it will probably allow them to expand their reach.  Having once circulated around 5 million copies, now circulating fewer than a million copies, dropping the nudity will make it more acceptable, perhaps building the print audience rather than letting it continue to dwindle.  This is really more of a possibility, than it is a reason why, but it was not cited in this article.

Furthermore, locally, the Atlanta Journal Constitution experienced the same thing in terms of a loss in print readership, as did every newspaper in the country. They just don't print as many papers as they once did. What Playboy has explicitly recognized is that the print publication is a driver mechanism that drives traffic online. I'm not sure the papers recognized that after developing their websites, but it is still more, or less true for them.
There may come a day when there aren't any printed pubs, or brick and mortar stores as the fatalists projected in the beginning. I said they were wrong suggesting there is a union between the physical and virtual worlds, and this supports that thinking. It's a marriage, not a divorce.
So, for all the tech gods out there that predicted the end of the world, the physical world, so to speak... they're still wrong. There is balance.
Small businesses should take heed to this, and so should our government. It is not an either, or situation. If you want to apply for government benefits, you should be able to do it online, or on paper in the office. If you want to apply for a job, you should be able to do that in person, at the very location your applying for a position. Don't send people away to go use a computer when they're standing right in front of you. Hand them a paper application right there, and get a scanner if you want to digitize it.
Bottom line... stop the madness of bi-polar disorder that seems to plague the land. It's really just that simple, The magazine simply revealed, it is nothing more than a tease.