Gratitude List 1192

1. Went to bed early (seven or so) and slept well — possibly too well — till about 4:45am. Was definitely up & about after that. Grateful to have gotten up early, and felt early morning wakefulness and light spirits.

2. Strongly sensing that a lengthy period of isolation and extremely low self-regard has come to an end.

3. Courtyard Cafe, nice Starbucks coffee. Had a large “tastes like morning” from the Sunset, too, which discouraged going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head again, like a slacker.

4. Phone is working again, though dimly. Thinking of the need for a new phone, I also can’t help but think how I actually have held on to this Samsung, ever since it was awkwardly gifted to me, and have not hurled it to the ground in order to stomp it to bits. So a new phone is not out of the question, as it once would have been.

5. Nice of the pastor Jodie to think of me for a 10am Sunday piano playing engagement of some sort; however, I also told her to give me a day to think about it, as I am unaccustomed to people asking me to play piano during the period of a church service. Still, nice of her to think of me; and I noticed I got on with her very well at Theology on Tap.

6. Grateful for the positive spirit of acceptance and belonging that pervades the community wherein I dwell.  The strong sense of community here is a big deterrent to my tendency to want to isolate myself more deeply.

7. Grateful for some of the things I learned on the streets, though others must be shed. Thankful for developing discernment, to absorb what’s of value and discard the rest.

8. Though I’ve not been feeling entirely good about the communication to Dave that prompted the recent suspension of operations, I’ve not until this morning known exactly what it is about it that wasn’t exactly right. Now I see it, and I see that healing is possible.

9. Great that Kathy printed a new vocal score (sans opening & closing numbers) consisting of the most recent pdf files of all the individual numbers, pagination removed, per my request. This can’t help but be useful. Probably there will still be typos on certain pages, but those individual pages can be readily replaced and rebound. And then, the full body of the score will inform my opening and closing enhancements. Also great that she did new covers for the Pinnacle remakes, for I have brought five of them with me, plus two Exiles.

10. Got the interview down to shortly over one hour and posted it here. Information as to actual dates for the reading is no longer factual, but I just posted a disclaimer along with it. The thing is, I know to take the time to do all my particular homework before we reconvene.

And for that, the Howard piano is very strong for the kind of unique syncopation that characterizes the “Sirens” number I am trying to squeeze into Eden in Babylon in place of both versions of “Intervention.” The Baldwin grand can’t even accommodate any of those subtle accents and other distinct articulations. Finale software can pretty much replicate them, but the light action on the grand opposes them. Another good case for hanging on to the Howard.

It was good to get some of J’s things transferred as well. Maybe by now the Harvard Classics have been sent down. But still, my place of residence is dark and dingy and destitute. I’ve had to defer to the excellence of the Howard piano not to wish to succumb to a lingering urge to chop it into firewood. I sometimes wish I were just sleeping outdoors somewhere, and that I just didn’t have to mess with any of this burdensome household garbage. But I guess that’s just my stuff. God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Interview

Earlier I mentioned having been interviewed on a local radio show.   The full three hour show (with all kinds of music clips), is available on the Radio Free America website on this link.   However, one is fairly well mandated to hear out the entire affair, as there is neither a fast-forward nor a rewind control on the player.

Here below on the other hand is a condensed version I’ve prepared for your listening scrutiny.  This one I’ve managed to trim down to shortly over an hour.  The only music clips are the two songs I did at the Open Mike, where I met Fiddlin’ Big Al, the radio interviewer.  The rest of it is my being interviewed about this & that & the other thing:

TalkAndy Pope Interview
06-29-2019

Of course I put in a plug for the musical.  The only thing that’s a downer is that the stated dates are no longer slated, and so the information as to those slots is out of date.    That’s because we’ve postponed the concert reading, which as I earlier suggested I feel is the right choice.

I also feel that a bigger and better production of this show is in the works, involving members of the same team, as well as some new players.  What’s nice in this town is that the ordinary procedures for producing a show within the Theatre Arts realm or that of the School of Music are adjusted in my favor in the unique case of an original musical.  There is a strong sense that a certain community of a Performing Artists is so enamored with the idea that they won’t allow it not to happen.   And this is a great relief.  It’s not just me anymore.  It’s us.  

But aside from all things thespian, there is a lot of material on the recorded interview that may appeal to you in an entirely different light.   I was able both to tell the story about how I got out of homelessness, and how I became homeless in the first place.  And other worthwhile stories have been shared.  I hope you enjoy them.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Good Cop Bad Cop

Here’s a little slice of my present-day life — a far cry from where I was three years ago, flying a sign on sidewalk in Berkeley figuring I’d be dead in a gutter any day now.

As most of you know, we are producing a concert reading of my musical about youth homelessness in America.   People in the cast have gotten a little lax about showing up, and some of their reasons remind me of things the Street Kids used to try to tell me when they were trying to convince me I owed them money.   

Police Man Thumbs Up - Down Saying Like And Dislike Stock ...

So yesterday the director and I decided to play Good Cop Bad Cop.  Below you will find my email to the cast, followed by Dave’s email about three hours later.   I told him this was great teamwork.   Hopefully, the cast will get the picture, after this:

To the Cast of Eden in Babylon:

ALL means ALL.

I expect to see ALL who have been called tomorrow at 3pm for an “Awake the Dawn” rehearsal, with the exception of Seth and Matt.

On Friday, only four people showed up. Kathy will be making 12 copies of the “Awake the Dawn” score, so that each of you will have his/her own hard copy part.

Come on. No more sudden excuses, no more last minute bail-outs. Michael* has been fired; his behavior and attitude have been completely unprofessional and unacceptable. If you want to be in Eden in Babylon, please prioritize this important project from here on in. If you need to miss a rehearsal, please give me notice. I have received too many texts either immediately before the rehearsal or, in some cases, during the rehearsal, for my comfort. Not to mention, some of the “reasons” why people need to miss rehearsal have been, frankly, implausible.

All that said, I would like to extend a very special thank you to Zach, Alexi, Liz and Vincent for your excellent work on Friday.

I will see you ALL — except for the two exceptions cited, tomorrow at three.

Andy

*The person who has been dismissed is not actually named Michael.  All right — so here’s Dave’s version:

 

Team,

First, thanks for your work on this so far. Every rehearsal I’ve been able to make has shown heart and musicianship and forward momentum. Let’s keep it going.

We’ve got a lot of time until our performance, but we also have some work to do. Andy is working hard to get all of you comfortable with the music so we can put the best possible product on stage in a couple of months. To do this, we all need to work together. Please help us – particularly Andy at this point – by respecting everyone’s time and effort. If you’re having trouble accessing or understanding the calendar, let us know. Everyone should have access. Please look at it a week in advance and plan your schedule accordingly. Let Andy know – well ahead of time – if you can’t make a rehearsal. It may seem like a small thing to miss a rehearsal right now, but it all adds up. It’s also very hard to have a productive rehearsal when we don’t know who is going to be there. Please respect your collaborators and the process.

With all that said, we’ll continue to try to improve the communication process as well. We’re trying to find a stage manager to help with this. We’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again for your work. See you soon.

Dave Harlan
Director – Eden in Babylon
Artistic Director, Moscow Art Theatre (Too)

Obviously, I’m lucky to have a guy like Dave.  I’m lucky to be alive – let alone working on a project like this.   And who knows?   Maybe next time I’ll get to be the “good cop.”

 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Gratitude List 1180

1. Awoke refreshed at 4:40 am, my median wake-up time.   Grateful for my sleeping spot in my place of residence, and for the early morning hours.  It’s pleasant to see the sky grow light, and to hear the birds chirping outside my open window.

2. Grateful for this close-knit, creative community.   I read recently where this town was rated the best place to live in the entire State.

3. 48F degrees and perfect running weather.   Jeremiah said he would leave a pair of whole shoes for me at the church.   Grateful for the runners I’ve met recently – Jeremiah, Cody, Brandy — and the motivation I’ve received talking with them.  I remember if I wanted to run when I lived in Berkeley I had to always ask another homeless guy whom I trusted to watch my back pack and all my stuff while I ran.   It’s nice becoming a runner among runners again.

4. Nice cup of Instant that I made here at  home.

5. Heard from Lynne Fisher just now.  Grateful for our ongoing correspondence and friendship.

6. The cafe here in town where I get most of my work done.  It’s not only not problematical, like most cafes where I’ve attempted to hang out in the past, but the people who own and run the place, and the regular customers whom I’ve gotten to know, are genuinely very supportive of me and of each other.  I’m really grateful for that cafe, and for the round table where I sit.

7.  It’s great to have a new computer that is not interfering with my process or slowing down to a huge degree, like the old one was.  It’s also great to have a single computer with everything on it, and not to have to go back home to (say) burn a CD, for example. Thankful for there finally having been a solution to an aggravating computer issue that had hindered me for so long.

8. Everybody is on board my project, and rehearsals are going well.  It’s nice to be a worker among workers.

9.My church. Thankful for their letting us use the facilities for rehearsals, before we all move into the Kenworthy Theatre at the end of the summer.

10. God is Good. :)

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Gratitude List 1178

(1) Slept well and got up at the preferred time of around 4:40 in the morning, wide awake and ready to go.  I really prefer the waking hours to the sleeping ones — especially considering that throughout a large part of my life, I was in much more danger when I was sleeping than when I was awake.   

(2) Remembered to have a carefully measured cup of coffee ready to drink at home this morning, rather than have to hustle in order to obtain a cup of coffee.   Now that I have the privilege of making my own coffee in the morning, I better be keen to exercise that privilege.   Some of the maneuvers I’ve had to go through in my day to secure a morning cup of Joe have not been pleasant.   

(3) Nice talk with my friend Danielle early this morning.  I really enjoy the conversations we have when she’s driving to work in the morning on the East Coast, three hours different from me.   It’s one of the nicer perks of being an early riser.

(4) Ran two miles this morning, my first run for ten days.  Ran right past the old guy walking his dog who made fun of me last time.  Ran past him quickly without looking, and he didn’t say anything.  Eager to get in shape so that none of those scoffers will find a reason to poke fun at me.  Thankful I have two strong legs, a good set of lungs, and I can still run after all these years.   Let’s put it this way — these two miles had a much better effect on me than the first time I tried running a couple miles — back on April 9, 1976.

(5) Took a shower — and once again, that’s a privilege I ought not to neglect.   This here apartment is the first time since 2010 when taking a shower has actually been a private, personal practice not to be observed or interrupted by others.  Grateful for my own shower, and for early morning solitude.

(6) My first story for my new column Homeless No More has been published in this month’s Street Spirit.   Also my editor attended the INSP Summit for the first time, involving over 300 street papers.   

(7) Rehearsals for the concert reading of my musical about Youth Homelessness, entitled Eden in Babylon, have been going remarkably well.   Although it dismayed me that when I was homeless in Berkeley, there was nobody in the whole town who wanted to see my musical produced; it is wonderful to be noticing that there is nobody in the present town — where I am not homeless — who does not want to see my musical produced.

(8) Randomly did eight quick push-ups getting out of the shower.   Waited a while, then did 10 push-ups in the second set.  So I did 18 push-ups.   (Thought you should know.)

(9) Vital signs were surprisingly good at the doctor’s office the other day: blood pressure 110/70, heart rate 58.   Probably all the bicycling has helped recently.   Thankful for all the help in getting me a new bicycle seat, soon to replace the broken one.

(10) It’s 7:20 in the morning.  Soon I’ll be at the Courtyard, eating a full traditional breakfast for $3, plus free unlimited Starbucks coffee refills.   I somehow prefer this to the community breakfast where I was banned permanently for barking back at the security guard who kept barking orders at me before I could get a morning cup of coffee into my system.  (Guess it all boils down to how hard one has to work to obtain a cup of coffee in the morning.)  God is Good.    

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

How I Got Inside

Attached is a verbatim transcript of the first story I had published in my new column in the new Street Spirit.  My column is called “Homeless No More,” and my story is entitled “How I Got Inside.”  This is based on a blog post called Bigger and Better than the Streets, also written on request of Alastair Boone, the new editor-in-chief of Street Spirit.    However, this version involves signature edits and additions.  As such, it stands on its own.

Note also the illustration provided.  The caption reads: “A drawing of Andy getting on a bus and leaving the Bay Area, soon to be housed elsewhere.”  Outside of being an outstanding illustration in its own rite, the work of one Inti Gonzalez, portions of it are charmingly telling.  Note how the homeless Andy is haggard, with a more unkempt beard, wearing a helmet, carrying a sack on a stick, eagerly boarding the bus for greener pastures.

And then, on his arrival!  Suddenly his beard is trim, his hair short and styled – he’s even wearing a Hawaiian shirt – as he bounds into his pristine new place of residence with a shit-eating grin on his face.  I see “white male privilege” reflected all over, which makes  sense in the context of my having moved to a largely all-White State.  But the white male couldn’t have felt too privileged a few weeks back, flying a sign on a Berkeley city sidewalk all those years.

In any event, here’s the text.  You can see for yourself what I wrote on the subject.

When I was homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area, I relied to a large degree on the moral support of lifelong friends and family who were not. For one reason or another, it was not feasible for any of them to let me stay in their homes for any substantial length of time. Still, they frequently provided me with encouragement, and on occasion sent me money. While I was often upset that nobody was “letting me in,” I nonetheless was dependent on their emotional and financial support in order to endure the ongoing conditions of homelessness.

One of the reasons why I delayed the decision to leave the Bay Area for so long was because I was attached to my support group. I felt that my old friends and family members were just about the only people who knew that I was a competent guy who had landed on the streets as the result of a costly medical misdiagnosis. They were the ones who knew that a mistreated health condition had led to a mental breakdown, as my inability to properly manage a health condition threw me into first-time homelessness at the age of 51. They were the ones who watched in horror, as one by one I lost all my accounts, and could no longer keep up with the high cost of living on the S.F. Bay Area Peninsula. But still, they believed in me, and they did what they could to help me get back on my feet. Of course I needed their support!

The only thing they didn’t do was to let me stay with them. Ironically, to have offered me housing, even temporarily, would have been the only thing that could possibly have helped me to get back on my feet.

But they could not do this. They had their own concerns. Meanwhile, I watched while the sordid conditions of homelessness gradually transformed me from a naïve, overweight singing teacher to a scrawny fraction of my former self. Gradually, I got to be half-crazed from protracted sleep deprivation. Often, I became fully crazed from feeling that I was treated like a sub-human mutant, rather than an equal. Passersby sneered at me in disgust.

In order to cope with this massive sense of ever-increasing dehumanization, I turned at first to marijuana, though I’d smoked no more than twice since the 80’s. Then, during the last three years of my homeless sojourn, I turned to a harder drug. I used speed to desensitize me from the cold—both the physical coldness of temperature, and the spiritual coldness of the condescending mockers in my midst. One by one, my old friends and family members, with rare exception, abandoned me. One of them recently told me: “We were all just waiting to read your obituary.”

Finally, in June of 2016, I picked up my social security check and walked out of the city of Berkeley without saying a word. “If the drugs won’t kill me,” I told myself, “the thugs who dispense them will.”

For a month I wandered the other side of the Bay in search of a permanent answer. But nothing seemed to work. In a shelter, I caught a flu, and was kicked out for that reason. The hospital wouldn’t let me in, because if they let me in, they’d have to let all of us in. I got kicked off of the all-night bus for fear of contaminating the other homeless people, who relied on the all-night bus as a shelter.

In desperation, I got down on my knees. I told the Universe that all I wanted was “a lock on a door, a window, and a power outlet.”

Then I took action. I began googling keywords until I found a place in the Pacific Northwest that rented for only $275/month—something that would easily have gone for $900/month in the Bay Area. It was a tiny room in a converted hotel—but it would do the job. I called an old associate, someone whom I’d worked with long ago when he was a music teacher at a middle school. Hearing my story, he agreed to front me $200 for a one-way Greyhound ticket to a new life. After that, I told my story to the prospective landlord, whom I called while still in San Francisco. To my amazement, he agreed to hold the place for me until I got there.

Forty-eight hours later, I was sleeping in my new room. It had a window, two power outlets, and three locks on the door. Four days after that, I signed a one-year lease. Three weeks later, after years of being considered unemployable in the San Francisco Bay Area, I landed a part-time job as a piano player at a small-town church.

A part of me wishes I had made the decision earlier. It would have spared me the last three years of psychic hell. But had I made the decision earlier, I would have abandoned the bulk of my support group. For me, leaving my support system and moving out of town was what it took to lead me to housing. However, it is a common misconception that the homeless crisis would be solved if homeless people just picked themselves up and moved out of town. This is not always the case, nor is it always readily possible.

I was lucky to have found a sympathetic person who would front me the money for a one-way-ticket to another state and help me with an apartment deposit and a few other odds and ends. Not everybody can find such a benefactor. Also, we cannot deny the obvious fact that I am a white male brimming with the semblance of “white privilege”even while living on the street—if only for the ability to decide to move to a state largely composed of other white people. While I obviously did not possess a whole lot of privilege per se, I looked as though I could conceivably be, or become, a privileged person. Let’s face it: Had I been Black or Hispanic, to show up in a largely white neighborhood would not have worked to my advantage.

So in a way, I had it easy. At the same time, however, I believe that there is a way out for everyone. Though the sheltered world does not know it, homelessness is not the same thing as alcoholism, drug addiction, or incompetence. It’s not the kind of thing where one needs to “change their ways” in order to overcome it. In order to overcome homelessness, what one needs is dignity. We are all created equal; we are all endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are all bigger and better than the streets.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.