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The Depravity of Project Renewal

June 25, 2013

This morning, I thought I lay in bed for maybe ten minutes after the staff turned on the lights. I got up to go to the bathroom not long beforehand, but got back in bed. Perhaps I then fell asleep for a time, because when I got up and turned on my phone, I saw that it was 7:03 AM. Since I know form experience that if one attempts to go to the dining room, where breakfast ends at 7:30, while wearing pajamas, one will be sent back up, I just went straight to the shower and resolved that I would have to buy my breakfast in spite of a paucity of funds. While I was in the shower, they decided to have a fire drill. Normally they tell us at wake up time that there is a fire drill at 7:30, but I don’t believe that was done today. In fact, the fire drills are normally monthly, but they had one on a weekend day earlier this month, while last month’s was on the Memorial Day Monday, when people are encouraged to sleep in, and people were leaving the building in pajamas and bathrobes. I refused to leave the building in only robe and shower shoes. There is no justification for me to do so when it is not the case of an actual emergency. They won’t allow me into the dining room in pajamas but are going to force me to go out in public like that? That is absolutely unconscionable, and no rational person could find the two policies compatible. One of the staff members wrote my name down on a form, although I don’t know if I will be written up. I contacted my caseworker via e-mail, and at that time, he had not been alerted that I had been written up.

This past Saturday, I slept in late enough that I decided to stay for brunch. They had the lasagna rolls that back in December gave me diarrhea. The crew is all different now, since people who are there because of drug problems and felonies get moved into housing much more quickly that people who are there because of physical challenges. However, I was lucky that I didn’t have diarrhea in my friend’s car when he drove me back from the Wikipedia picnic at Prospect Park. That was followed by a day of constipation on Sunday. There’s no way and of the picnic food caused that, because it came too early. My caseworker can badger me all he wants, but the right to shelter is law in New York City, as much as King Mike and Queen Quinn detest it, and with my food stamps cut from $200 to $78 as HRA refusing to continue to pay for my storage on account of my $112 per week in unemployment, I will not be forced into the savings plan at the expense of voluminous cases of food poisoning or the loss of my personal belongings, including my manuscripts. There are handwritten manuscripts buried in there. Tip of Oz from yesterday’s post was just one of the longer examples.

John Sheehan, a social worker at All Souls Unitarian Church’s soup kitchen asked me to mention him in my blog when I went to see him last night. Someone in the line said that he had lots of connections to jobs and could probably get me a job in the film industry, which really is all over New York. He was quick to demur that claims about what he could do are quite exaggerated. He has multiple sclerosis and understands my medical conditions entirely, in particular the difficulties caused by plantar fasciitis, which many people regard as a transient disorder even though I have clearly had it without stop since 1994. Even when I worked at Kroger at the video counter, I was taking advantage of a stool that I later learned should not have been there and was eventually taken away. It took a while before I knew that standing for a long time doesn’t cause intense pain in most people, since it stood to reason that it made sense that it would hurt, and I assumed people were just bearing it. Learning that most people are not makes me rather angry. He also could see that what I really want is to get a good job and not be shackled by social security even if I could get it, and that I really do want to leave the shelter system. Neither he nor the people I met at Ken Daigle’s workshop at Unity on Sunday thought that I had fallen into the despondency that one might expect after a year in a homeless shelter. He suggested that I come in early next Monday and he would try to come up with something in the interim.

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