autobiography, birthday, comic books, disease, economic justice, family-values, food poisoning, fraud, greed, homelessness, politics, poverty, Project Renewal, recession, shelter system, social justice, theft, unemployment
Good Interlaced with Bad
For the past dozen years, I have regularly been attending David Friedman’s Thought Exchange classes. According to his hypothesis, we recreate for ourselves situations that generate the sensations we had in our childhood with which we could not deal at the time. In my childhood, nearly every helpful thing my family did was coupled with hurtful things, to the point that even me as the featured soloist at church was a bad thing for my mother on the grounds I was singing a song she didn’t think was appropriate, even though the minister and music director did.
On Christmas and the Saturday after, we had volunteers at the shelter to serve the meal. My initial response is that they were displacing the shelter residents who get paid a stipend to do the job. Although they were slow getting started, the meals actually occurred more smoothly, and they did not, in fact, displace those who were being paid the stipend.
That doesn’t necessarily mean I think that these guys do a good job. I already have strong suspicions that they are not following safe food handling practices. The lasagna last week gave me a severe bout with diarrhea. On New Year’s Day, the food servers literally stood around for ten minutes doing nothing between the setup and when they started serving the food, even though it was already past 10:40 (weekend/holiday brunch supposedly begins at 10:30, so I had to fend for myself the two weeks the church fellowship cafe was closed for the holidays). This shelter, unlike Eddie Harris, houses mostly junkies and ex-cons, and some of the residents started a big row over the fact that the servers were literally just standing there. They brought out a bin of salad, but they didn’t serve us it or any other vegetable, unless one counts the potato salad and the hash browns they served us. After I sat down, they dumped the salad bin out on the floor, as if to spite us all.
The intermix of good and bad is finally exemplified by the gloves that they gave to us in Christmas gift bags. The tag warns that they are made of carcinogenic substances. I put the gloves on just a few days ago and it was only at this point that I noticed. Between this and the frequent food poisoning, it is almost difficult not to suspect that the shelter has ulterior motives.
When I was around 21 or 22, I had to work on my birthday, bagging and carting groceries. I slipped and fell on ice on my birthday that year. With my limited computer access, I didn’t invite anyone to spend my birthday with me. Last time I invited people for my birthday, only two people showed up. Many told me that they were still out of town for the holidays. January 2 is just not a good date to get people together.
I went to my storage unit and got really ambitious. I pulled out most of my comic book boxes from the back corner and moved them to the front, and the empty bookcases, which were in front because the unit was packed for a move, so the lowest priority items went in last out of space concerns, are now more toward the center. I was able to get everything from Marvel Team-Up, plus a box with Red Tornado to partway through the Doug Moench run on The Spectre. I’ve got a lot of cuts and bruises. The cuts mainly came from my folded bed frame, which was often in the way, but they’re shallow. My sciatica flared up in my right leg for the first time, my discs feel swollen, and my knees feel like they’ve been kicked, and I spent only about three hours at most on this task. The other boxes have to remain buried. They are DrawerBoxes (www.collectiondrawer.com) that I bolted together for stability. There is no way I can lift these out at once, and there is no room to remove the drawers or to remove the bolts without destroying them. I’d been hoping to get at my Swamp Thing collection, as well as Marvel Two-in-One #12 and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #38 (Michael Morbius appearances). I did pull all my Rachel Pollack Doom Patrol issues up to and not including The Children’s Crusade crossover, since I want to read Animal Man and Swamp Thing up to that point where they cross over. Now I have too many comics in my locker (unlike at Eddie Harris, we have tall lockers, and so I no longer have a shelf that can accommodate nothing but books), but I’m managing. In spite of all the pain, it was a good birthday because of my accomplishment.