Categories
fitness gratitude Musical Theatre Playwriting running

Gratitude List 809

1. Ran the 5-K Charity Trot on Saturday morning, and it was not a big deal.

2. Terry wrote to say he will be publishing Rat Race or Human Race? and A Sacrifice of the Heart in the May issue of Street Spirit.  

3. Just awoke from out a two hour nap.   Feeling rested and motivated.

4. Ramifications of the Thursday night reading of Eden in Babylon are only today crystallizing in my consciousness.   To strike while the iron’s hot seems prudent.

5. During the reading, I noticed things about my script I’d never quite fully noticed before.  Good things – things that hold promise.

6. Running the race tuned me back in to the whole running realm, how much I love it.  Also learned of the Thursday night social run, the hours when the Kibbie Dome track is open freely to the public, and other aspects of the Palouse Running Club that will help me to stay on the roads.

7. Friday morning at the Center, Tim & Darrell both told me I seem more at peace with myself these days.

8. Jan and I are getting along remarkably well; and getting reacquainted is a marvelous adventure.

9. I feel that here in Moscow, I have managed to sync into a groove that seems very productive, pleasant, and fulfilling.   I just really feel like I am in the right place for myself and others, at this time.

10. Also, life is much less stressful now that there is no more interference from Facebook.  God is indeed Good.   

 

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Categories
Activism Composer Composing Homelessness

The Homeless Monologue

This is in response to a Quora question, to the effect of one’s wondering why so many homeless people seem to be talking to themselves quite a bit.  I didn’t contest this perception.  I did my best to explain the phenomenon, and also referenced another writer who had done the same.  

I appreciated the answer of Adora Myers because this is a side not often seen in the homeless equation.

It is true that a person suffering from paranoid schizophrenia will often believe that s(he) is talking with those who are not actually there. It is also true that many schizophrenics, as well as people suffering from severe PTSD and other mental illnesses, are too ill to effectively access treatment, or else they lack privilege which would render treatment more accessible to them. So they wind up on the streets, more-or-less by default. This is a very sad state of affairs.

invisibleHowever, it is also true that people who have become homeless in large urban areas, especially where there is a sizable concentration of other homeless people, will feign or play-act the known symptoms of these mental disorders in order to protect themselves by making themselves more frightening to would-be assailants and thieves.

I know this to be true, because I did it myself. When I was homeless, I walked around a city that contained over a thousand visible homeless people. As I did so, I composed music in my head. This meant playing drums on my pants legs, guitars and keyboards in the air, and singing tell-tale syllabic sounds such as “Bop Bop Bop” in a manner that conceivably could be construed to be obnoxious.  

People frequently told me to “shut the f—k up” but they also had a way of keeping a distance from me. So this “act” worked in my favor.

Incidentally, I would guess that only about 30% of onlookers realized that I was actually a serious musician in the process of composing music. The other 70% shrugged and said, if they knew me by name: “That’s just Andy. He’s one of the local wingnuts.” If they did not know me by name that was reduced to: “Wingnut.”

Of the 30% who perceived I was writing music, I would say that probably 20% of them appreciated what I was doing. The other 10% frequently showed up with smartphones facing me and grim expressions on their faces, giving me the distinct idea they were out to steal my stuff.

So much for life in the Big City. Glad to be indoors — and far away from all that particular noise.

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Categories
Activism addiction Classism Homelessness mental health

Homeless in the USA

On the site Quora, where I am considered to be a “Most Viewed Writer” on the subject of Homelessness, somebody recently posed the question: “How do people become homeless in the USA?”  I answered it quickly according to my experience, and later noticed that it had received over 3,500 views and 73 “upvotes.”  So I figured I’d share it here.  I hope you gain from it.

Having lived in a community of over 1,000 homeless people for five years, and having been homeless and borderline-homeless in other areas for seven additional years, I think I might be qualified to answer this question.

There are many ways that a person can become homeless in America. Let me list four that seem most prevalent:

(1) A sudden medical problem or family crisis that costs a person an unexpected amount of money, making it impossible for them to continue paying rent or mortgage.

(2) Socio-economic factors beyond the scope of individual control; e.g., a persistent rent increase over a period of time that far exceeds any increase in the renter’s income.

(3) A drug or alcohol problem resulting in job loss, eviction, and/or general inability to make rational decisions over the long haul.

(4) A mental health condition that goes untreated or is (as in my own case) misdiagnosed, resulting in one’s taking medications that work to one’s detriment rather than one’s benefit.

My experience is that, in larger urban areas, there is a greater percentage of people who became homeless as a result of socio-economic factors or circumstances beyond their control.

evictionIn smaller, more rural areas, such as the small college town where I now live in Northern Idaho, it is much more difficult to become homeless without sort of “asking for it” by displaying a serious drug or alcohol problem.

I do know that in the two years that I have now successfully rented apartments in my present city – first, a studio, then a one-bedroom, I have done every thing that would have “made me homeless” in situations that arose in the San Francisco Bay Area, where rents are on the average four times as high, but where my fixed income from Social Security has not varied.

Had I not moved to this small college town in the middle of the country, I would have died a meaningless death on the Berkeley city streets. I simply would never have been able to pay the rent. And because I was largely regarded as unemployable due to my mental health condition, I found it difficult to cut through that stigma in order to find a job.

After almost two years of successfully paying my rent every month, I am living a very meaningful and happy life.

All it took was a $200 Greyhound bus ticket to a distant State, and a loan on an apartment deposit, to end twelve years of seemingly inescapable homelessness in the Bay Area. I applied for a part-time job three weeks after I arrived in Idaho, and was hired. I even managed to keep the job for ten months before aspects of my condition caused them to ask me to resign. But by that time, I was established in the community with a church and a solid support group, and I knew how to make ends meet.

I hope this information has been helpful, and of particular use to someone who may be in need.

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Categories
Christianity gratitude Hinduism Spirituality

Gratitude List 806

1. It amazes me how well Jan and I are getting along.   It’s as though my best friend has come back into my life, and vice-versa, she claims, according to her.  It’s uncanny, in a good way.  And it feels so right.

2. It was an incredibly warm family feeling for me when we all three were here together throughout the day yesterday after church, and Echo and I were both working on our music, in different rooms, and getting things done.

3. Not to mention I really like the rug, the dining room table, the clean bathroom and kitchen, and the decent wholesale organic coffee every morning.

4. Slept well and long last night for the third night in a row, not arising till 7:30 am.

5. Nice of Norman to bring by that flat panel.  Resolution and clarity while working on Finale is amazing.

6. Wiped clean Polaris and downloaded Finale on it, registered Finale on the new / old computer.   I can carry this one forth, considering the Asus needs to stay at home now.   Also, there is a printer now.

7. Just about done with the “Hunted” score, so all scores are done for the demo session, except for my need to rewrite six lines of Molly’s lyrics in keeping with her character and her relationship to Winston.

8. Echo so precious.

9. Weird that I wrote to Erika in the morning yesterday with those bizarre reservations toward Midnight Screams and related matters.  Anyway, everything is done as soon as I do the formatting and divvy the parts accordingly via email.  Then at least my colleagues will note my attempt at professionalism, even if the modern-day Internet-related standards for academic excellence never cease to intimidate me.
 
10. God is Love, and Love is God.

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Categories
Activism Christ Christianity Classism

The Eye of a Needle

A man came up to Jesus and asked:
“Teacher, what good thing must I do
to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me
about what is good?”
 Jesus replied. 

“There is only One who is good.
If you want to enter life,
keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder,
you shall not commit adultery,
you shall not steal,
you shall not give false testimony,
 

honor your father and mother,’
and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

All these I have kept,”
the young man said.
“What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered: 
“If you want to be perfect,
go, sell your possessions
and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this,
he went away sad,
because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 
“Truly I tell you,
it is hard for someone who is rich
to enter the kingdom of heaven.
 

Again I tell you,
it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle
than for someone who is rich
to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:16-23

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Categories
Creative process Music Performing Arts Piano

Midnight Screams

“Midnight Screams” from Eden in Babylon.  Copyright © 2018 by Andrew Michael Pope. 

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Categories
Classism Homelessness Sociology stigma

White Without Privilege

I like to post a youtube of my piano playing here each Friday.  Although I prepared something yesterday, by the time I got around to uploading it, I noticed that my screen was cracked.  I am now on my older, spare computer — but unfortunately have not yet determined an avenue to get the video onto this computer, and thus onto youtube, from here.  My apologies.  Here’s a Quora answer explaining my theory why there are more White homeless people per capita in the homeless populace in America than there are per capita in large urban areas where homelessness is prevalent.

Briefly, I am not certain (as someone suggested) that the question is “racist.” I believe that statistically, the homeless populace actually is over-saturated with the evidence of White people than those of other races, proportionately speaking.

My general feeling is that it relates to privilege and class distinction. In America, people of privilege are predominantly White, especially as we get into the upper middle and wealthy classes. I have found that among those of privilege, poverty (especially sudden and inexplicable poverty; i.e., such as may have resulted from an unrecognized or misdiagnosed mental health crisis) is often viewed as a sign of moral or practical failing on the part of the person who has fallen into straits.

homeless white man will work for foodIn such instances, there is a widespread feeling that the person can “pull himself up by his own bootstraps” and that this will “teach him” to manage money better, become more responsible, and so forth. This translates to less sympathy for the homeless on the part of the privileged classes, which are predominantly White.

In less privileged classes there is a greater saturation of people of color. Also, the “class gap” separating people in the middle and lower middle classes from those who land on the streets is not so wide. People in the lower classes are more likely to identify with the types of struggles that can lead to homelessness. Combining these factors, one will find that there is not nearly the degree of “blaming the victim” placed upon sudden victims of financial crises as there is among those who view the person in crisis as having “blown his privilege.” Therefore, there will be more compassion toward those who are struggling in the classes that are more multiracial.

I state this perception at the risk of coming across as a racist or a classist. However, I take that risk because I think it is a valid perception. It might explain in part why in a large urban area with a highly visible homeless populace, there really *does* appear to be a disproportionate number of Whites, with respect to the actual proportion of White people per capita, in that same area.

I’ll try to have the piano youtube of my song “Midnight Screams” posted later on today for your pleasure.  In the meantime, if anybody wants to kick down some filthy lucre to help me get a new computer screen, you know what to do. 

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Categories
Activism Classism Homelessness stigma

The Missing Homeless Person

A few days ago, this question was posed on the site Quora: “If a homeless person I see on a regular basis suddenly disappears (and no dead body is found), what would police do if I reported him missing?”  I could not speak on the behalf of law enforcement.  But since I was twice the subject of a Missing Persons Report, I did my best to speak on my own behalf.

Twice, during the 12 year period when I was homeless, a person concerned about my whereabouts filed a Missing Persons Report.

The first time, I received a mysterious message from “Joe” on my Facebook that read: “Welfare Check.” The person named Joe identified himself as a Marin County detective.

I did not understand what a “welfare check” was. I told him, quite naively, that I was not on General Assistance (i.e., “welfare”) and that I received no such check.

He explained that a young woman whom I had been working with had been concerned about my whereabouts after having received an alarming email stating I was alone in Golden Gate Park in inclement weather. (This is true, because I sent the email to her and others from a cafe that was near G.G.Park.)

Once I put the twos and twos together, I was able to tell him I was fine and staying temporarily in a motel, and that I was sorry I had caused anyone any consternation.

flying empty signThe second time was a bit different, and actually was more of an inconvenience than anything else. I had been in a halfway house, and I left before the two week term was up. I left because I couldn’t stand being around all the strangers, and I wanted to be alone, and sleep alone outside. (This was always my preference, during the years when I was homeless.)

Again, it came back to me — through Facebook, of all places — that an MPR had been filed and that police were looking for me.

Because I felt I had left the halfway house responsibly, informing the case workers there that I was leaving, I was incensed. I called them up and said:

“How on earth can anyone file a Missing Persons Report on a homeless person? Missing from where?”

Everybody at the North Berkeley Senior Center who had surrounded me at the moment thought this was very amusing, but of course the social worker on the other end of the line failed to see the humor.

So – again this is only my experience. It does show that the police did care, and that part’s good. But it also shows part of the reason why I no longer use Facebook. I value my privacy. If you ever become homeless — if you haven’t been already — I suggest you value yours as well.

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Activism Christ Christianity Classism Homelessness

Tuesday Tuneup Six

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I really wish you would stop asking me that.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because today’s the Big Day.

Q. You mean, Tuesday?

A. Well – that, too.  But it’s not just any Tuesday.   Barring the catastrophic, I will finally be with my daughter for the first time in two years, and with my ex-wife for the first time in 16 years.   And my ex and I will be sleeping under the same roof for the first time in 28 years.

Q. How did all this come about?

A. I believe you asked me that already, two or three Tuesdays ago.

Q. Can you run it by me again, please?

A. Whew – I barely know where to start.   And I disdain to unveil personal information about my family here.  Let’s just say that I’m a person who was on the streets for about twelve years in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I learned a lot about people during those twelve years, and a lot about life.  Of course times were hard, and moments were miserable.  But I was given valuable information during that period of time that I have since been compelled to share.

sacrificesI have noticed, however, that not everyone wants to hear this information.  They would rather cling to old stereotypes that make them feel comfortable, because the truth would cause them to look inward, into places within themselves of which they are afraid.

Of course this has been disturbing to me.  When I was homeless, I watched as old friends of mine, people with whom I had thought I would be friends forever, began to reject me one by one.  They didn’t return emails or phone calls.  They got all bent out of shape over relatively little things that gave me the feeling that, if any of these people had landed on the streets, they wouldn’t have lasted more than a week or two.

Before too long, I realized that most of these people were never my friends at all.  In fact, there were times when I thought I had never made a friend in my life — until I had become homeless.

While people of privilege were blowing me off left and right with half-truths and transparent forms of Mainstream Doublespeak, homeless people were telling it like it is.  Sure, there were scoundrels among us.  Of course there were those it is best off to avoid, and yet the streets made it next-to-impossible to do so.

I was hit on the head with guns.  I was pistol-whipped.  I was raped.  I watched all my possessions being burnt to bits before my eyes.  Not one person in my former life who professed to believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins lifted a finger to help me.  The only Christian who continued to believe in me, who treated me as a Christian, is a woman who knew me from the Internet, in a distant State, who never ceased to treat me as an equal, as a friend.  And she is among my best friends to this day.   But as far as people from the church I used to attend when I still was making money in this world?

They told me to go to counseling, to see a psychiatrist, to go into some kind of live-in program of some sort, or to merely “check in” to a shelter – as if they had any clue what bureaucracy would be involved, or what atrocities I would be subjected to in that so-called “shelter.”  The shelters in my world were little more than glorified jailhouses, and I far preferred to sleep in seclusion, absolutely alone.

Did any of those Pontius Pilates actually help me?  If you want to call an occasional lunch date at the price of a lecture “help,” I suppose they did.  Believe me, I was grateful enough for the lunch to put up with the lecture, however irrelevant that lecture may have been.

The continual experience of condescension, dismissal, and disrespect that I received from so-called Christians was such a far cry from the acceptance, dignity, and love that I was receiving from my homeless friends, I would become infuriated at the thought that these “Christians” actually thought they were doing the will of God, when they continually treated a man who was suffering like a bag of dirt.

Even to this day, I have difficulty getting my own eyes to see the naked truth.  Even in the last week, I appealed to former friends of mine, thinking surely they would express some happiness or joy over this reconciliation — when all they did was continue to raise their eyebrows and write me off as “crazy.”

But when the mother of my only daughter reappeared in my life, and I had learned that she had been through trials very similar to that which I and others endure on the streets, she didn’t write me off as crazy.

And the Lord Himself seeks such to worship Him.

Q. John?  Chapter Four?

A. John.  Chapter Four.  The day will come when those who worship God will worship Him neither in Jerusalem nor on the mountain – but the true worshipers will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

The Questioner is silent.

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Categories
Activism Christianity gratitude Homelessness running

Gratitude List 803

1. Just awoke from what must have been a three hour nap.
 
2. Melissa offered to help me clean the kitchen and bathroom.   Also grateful even to have a kitchen and a bathroom.   (This most certainly has not always been the case.)
 
3. Interesting detailed new email reply from my brother Steve on the theme of California-bashing.   Evidently this is something he’s researched a lot.   I’ll have to delve into it more deeply when more awake.
 
4. Kent called this morning.   It always seems that whenever I’m feeling pressed to make a blanket decision to remove all Californians from my life — for the sake of my health and sanity, basically — I mean, considering where I’ve come from, and my particularly traumatic experiences in that State – I start getting calls and emails from the Californians whom I particularly love.
 
5. The New Story is the one to live in, however, not the Old — no matter what role geographical location places in the settings of those stories.   I’d rather live in the New Testament than the Old Testament, and I would venture to guess it would be the same for any other Story.
 
6. I think this morning was the best time I have ever had at my church.   Kathy did a great job teaching the Wired Word class, and it was a lively discussion with an eye toward truth.  The combined worship forces of the Praise Team and the Choir blew me away.   I felt focused – on the Right Thing –and I was never distracted by logistic difficulties.   Although I was the only bass, in a way that wasn’t a bad thing.   I put myself on ‘double bass’ and boomed it out, when applicable.   “Assurance” rocked.   Megan is as close to indispensable as any accompanist I’ve ever worked with.
 
7. Finished Midnight Screams and sent it to Erika.  Finished Rat Race or Human Race? and submitted it to Street Spirit.   Denise said she will be publishing Treasures in Heaven in the upcoming edition of Class ActionEden in Babylon workshop is on the 26th, and if this sounds like boasting, please try to frame it vis a vis the fact that two years ago I was sleeping in a Berkeley gutter getting the crap knocked out of me by gang bangers while juggaloes were burning down all my possessions — and Berkeley police could have cared less.
 
8. Last two posts on WordPress doing well.  WordPress in general.   Interesting that Mark Landry and Lynne Fisher both submitted posts on how to deal with “assholes” and with “arrogant people” (respectively) yesterday; and that both posts showed up in my WordPress folder right at the moment when I was trying to deal with an arrogant asshole.   The WordPress karma seems very useful and positive, especially as a constructive alternative to the whole social media phenomenon in general.  
 
9. Jeremiah preached today and said he would buy my race registration for the Paradise Path 10-K on Mom’s birthday, and that we can have lunch afterwards on him.  It’s his birthday that day too.  He’s an interesting bright guy, really liked his discussion of Plato’s Theory of Forms and Gnosticism, and how that fit in to the whole mind-body thing in Christianity.
 
10. Won’t be long now.  My daughter and my ex-wife should arrive on Tuesday, possibly – hopefully – never to depart. The “Tuesday Tuneup” should be pretty interesting, and the Lord God Did It All.

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