Throughout the past year, I have been compiling an anthology based on my personal experiences with living in outdoor settings — some of them rural, some of them almost grotesquely urban. This working title for this book is Anthology for Anathema: An Inside View of the Homeless Phenomenon in America.
A friend of a friend who owns a small publishing company has agreed to work with me on this project. At the time, however, I am so engrossed in trying to get my musical off the ground, I don’t think we will be discussing publishing for probably another year or so. But he and I have both agreed that the amount of writing I have already compiled is “enormous,” since much of it is drawn from numerous diary entries and blog posts that I wrote when I was actually experiencing the phenomenon for myself. So it may largely be a matter of editing.
My vision for the anthology consists of five parts. Of the five parts, Part Four -is complete as we speak. It consists of 42 pages of narrative, 1 1/2 spaced, divided into smaller sections. The other four parts have not yet been completely compiled, but will probably be about the same length.
Five excerpts from the huge bulk of writing I was able to dredge out of my homeless experience had already been published in Street Spirit, a Berkeley-based newspaper dedicated to ensuring that the voices of the homeless will be heard. For information on their amazing publication, contact the publisher Terry Messman at email@example.com.
PART ONE: Liberation – This part consists of writings I produced following an experience I had on August 8, 2006, in which I believed at the time that I had liberated myself from the Mainstream of Modern American Life. Incidentally, no one else I knew agreed with this grandiose assessment of my sudden recognition of total abject poverty. No one, that is, other than a number of other people who, like myself, had made the conscious decision to craft an outdoor lifestyle as an alternative to facing the rising cost of living and increased stress of mainstream American life.
PART TWO: Community – This part consists of writings I created during a subsequent 19-month period when I believed myself to have found healthy community support among others who were in this position, some by conscious choice, some by inescapable condition, and others somewhere in between. It ends after I made the decision that I could no longer find supportive community in such an environment. I then moved into the cottage where I recorded the nine talks on this page.
PART THREE: Catharsis – These writings are considerably more introspective in tone and content. During this period of approximately three years, I more-or-less mistakenly returned to the remnants of the “community” I had abandoned. This I did largely because after six months in the cottage, I found myself having difficulty readjusting to indoor living — on a purely physiological level. I thought I was getting soft from the over-pampering of my body, and I began to long to sleep outdoors again, in fresh air. This sentiment is described very vividly in this talk. The results, however, proved to be disastrous.
PART FOUR: Desperation – This compilation of writings was mostly taken from Facebook timeline posts, as I realized that, after being kicked out of a homeless shelter for having contracted viral bronchitis there, I found that no hospital would let me in because it was assumed I could take care of it at “home.” When I told them I had no home, they essentially told me they had no sympathy. I began posting requests for people to let me into their own homes so I could recover, even offering money in exchange. But nobody would do so, and I feared dying on the streets.
PART FIVE: Resolution – The writings in this section mostly come from personal diary entries I’ve composed in the period of time when I have successfully returned myself to an affordable and sustainable living situation, with the monetary help of a good friend who knew me before my alleged “liberation” and was willing to front the deposit money and one-way ticket to such a situation. In Scripture, the restoration of something lost is always greater than what it was before the loss. The Book of Job attests to that fact. My own book will attest to it as well.
Eden in Babylon
Updated: 10/27/ 2017
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