2. Daily money manifested at around that time, and this time I was able to hold off on coffee till I got to the Courtyard (where the coffee is free).
3. Nice breakfast at Courtyard. First time in weeks I’ve been able to finish the whole breakfast.
4. Weight was up two pounds at the doctor, which is okay, as I had been losing rapidly. Heart still 56, blood pressure 108/60, temp 97.2. Finally, after three years, all vital signs are down to what they usually were in Berkeley.
5. Doc prescribed Trazodone for insomnia and (hopefully) sleep paralysis. My daughter says it’s effective, and it appears it may be the lesser of evils. I was honest with the doctor about use of benzos and cannabis, past and present, respectively. Well — I’m not convinced how much of the solution can possibly lie in the medical realm, but I’m grateful I made it to the appointment anyway, like a responsible human being.
6. Worked the door again last night, great young band from Vancouver, fresh out of high school, advanced garage band style. Brandy gave me a $40 gift card.
7. Nice weather this morning 69F degrees, breezy, conducive to brisk exercise.
8. Nice talk with my friend Kent this morning.
9. Made another speech, again spontaneously, though this one has some undeveloped themes and must be re-done. I’m calling it “The Perception of Inequality.” I posted it here before deciding it falls too far short of my artistic standards on too many levels for it to be live in its current state. So I have pulled it until it has been rightly adjusted. I took eight lengthy notes for an expanded revision, and am hoping to post the updated version on Wednesday morning.
10. Though still hung up on “Oracle,” the vocal score revisions are proceeding aright. I feel on track with all my homework, actually, if for no other reason than that I no longer shun or shirk the task. It helps to enjoy what you’re doing. God is Good.
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Below the illustration is an excerpt from my personal diary.
I’ve thought about almost nothing but homelessness in Berkeley throughout the past five days. It’s a disease; it’s a disorder; it’s PTSD; it’s been triggered. So I thought I’d take the opposite tact as oft-advised. Rather than distract myself from the triggers, I would embrace the experience completely.
In that spirit, I created this talk, called It Can’t Be Forgotten. Later I judged this effort harshly. Not the fact that I did it — that I don’t mind at all. I was happy, thrilled, and thankful that I completed the spontaneously conceived task, exciting as it was to undertake it.
What I judged was its quality. Two glaring errors stood out. For one thing, while I spoke often of the “inequality” factor, I did very little, if anything, to back up how that sense experience was valid for those of us enduring the Homeless Experience. It could just as easily have been a reflection of my own individual inferiority complex as it was an alleged manifestation of a social injustice.
Secondly, when this issue of inequality arises in the speech, I adopt a tone of voice that seems excessively strident. This could make the listener uncomfortable. The stridency could be alternately interpreted as either anger or sarcasm, something of an almost bitter outrage enters into the vibration from time to time, and the whole thing can make one very uneasy. This is especially the case if one can only tune into the upset tone of voice, and figure this guy’s got some kind of ax to grind, and then never tune in to the actual content of the dissertation, due to the fact that the ostentatious style has stood in the way.
I just now listened to the whole thing for the first time this morning. I don’t find it nearly as objectionable as I did during yesterday’s listen, but that may be because as a listener, I’m simply getting addicted to the repetitive playing of an interesting piece, and I’m getting into the groove of it. But it also may mean that my original objections are not so objectionable, because to remove that element of anger as well as the component of vagueness as to what exactly made us all feel so unequal and so dehumanized when we were all together back then on the streets, would be in essence to assault the very concept of the piece. It is what it is. If it makes you uncomfortable, good. What does this say about you?
That question asked, the speech, on that level, succeeds. What might be a distraction from that success, however, is if a certain kind of listener jumps to the conclusion, based on early, as yet undeveloped information, that the piece is “about” Internet trolling, trolls, etc. But it’s not. It’s about homelessness, inequality, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The troll is only used as a device, to serve as a trigger.
8:06 a.m. – 2019-08-10
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1. Slept again about six hours from around 10 till 4:15.
2. Perfect running weather 61F and foggy.
3. Spent a while at LRC yesterday – I enjoyed talking with Cindy, Scott, Shaun & Amber. They’re doing some good expansion of the place, creating a Crisis Center next door where the barber shop used to be, of which Shaun is in charge.
4. Farmer’s Market this morning.
5. Working the door tomorrow night, will get a $30 gift card.
6. I spontaneously gave a sixteen-minute talk yesterday called It Can’t Be Forgotten. Did it in a single take and two quick edits, hope you enjoy it.
7. Got a chance to talk with Alex last night, good long talk.
8. It’s beginning to look like my daughter will be here soon.
9. Finished past No. 6 in the revised vocal score. Should have Act One done very soon.
10. Sky’s getting light, love this time of the morning. God is Good.
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I’m finally going to try to adhere to my earlier stated concept. I’m going to try to make sure that six posts of six different natures are each posted here at 7:30am PST, Monday thru Friday, with Saturday off.
Why am I going to try and do this? It’s not necessarily for the sake of creating a decent, appealing blog here. That’s part of it. But it’s a bit deeper than that.
People who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions are often regarded as unstable, incompetent, or insane. It is generally held that we are flaky, unpredictable, and unreliable. We can’t hold down jobs, and people can’t tell which way we’re going next, or where we are going to land — if we are going to land. So, naturally, I would like to do my best to dispel that stigma.
So far, however, I can’t help but feel that all I am doing is proving them right. My Tuesday Tuneup often shows up on Wednesday — if not Thursday, or even Monday. There is no consistency whatsoever as to the times that any of the posts show up. I don’t always take Saturdays off, and in fact the Friday piano video often gets postponed till Saturday or later. Frequently, I disappear for a few days (while probably in a depressed funk), and then try to “make up for lost time” by, for example, posting the Wednesday speech, the Thursday “blog of substance,” and maybe even the Friday piano video all on the same day, which might even be Sunday.
The point is, no consistency.
How can I possibly dispel the notion that those of us who have diagnosed mental health conditions are unstable, inconsistent flakes if I don’t get it together and bring some order to the table?
Well, obviously, I can’t. But that doesn’t mean I might not be — er – biting off more than I can chew. Still, I’m going to give it the ol’ college try, one more time. You will see this post tomorrow at 7:30am PST, rain or shine. The mail must go through, and the show must go on.
There’s even more to it than this.
People with mental health conditions are often very talented, vibrant people when given their chance to shine. To meet me in real life, I might not be the most charismatic fellow on the face of the planet, but I do have some specific talents in certain key areas. My writing isn’t all that bad, for one thing. It’s good enough to have been published this past year, anyway, for the first time in my life. You can’t say I’m a bad piano player, and I’m told I’m a pretty good speaker — although admittedly, it’s a lot easier to make a speech in my dining room using the voice recorder app on my lady friend’s smartphone than it would be to stand behind a podium and boldly address the multitudes.
However, somebody whom I respected once told me this:
“You act as though all these talents of yours make up for all your bad qualities.”
While that’s certainly debatable (if not hurtful), I can see where she was coming from. The particular skills of expertise do not make up for bad qualities in other areas. I’ve even said it myself, in so many words. We live in a society that values competence, and devalues moral integrity. And I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure the person who said that to me felt that I was morally lax.
But there’s another facet to all of this. While skillful expertise cannot compensate for moral turpitude, it can compensate for the lack of expertise in other areas. I am horribly incompetent when it comes to most jobs, because my mind is largely incapable of panoramic focus. I can only focus myopically. If there is more than one thing I need to keep my mind on for any significant period of time, my mind will fail me. I will screw up. It will be noticeable and frustrating to my coworkers, and I like-as-not will be fired.
They call this Severe ADHD and Dyslexia. Other aspects of my personality have been dubbed Bipolar One and Hypomanic. Throw in a little PTSD, and the O.G.’s pretty much a mess.
Given all that, to cut to the quick, why should I not be focusing on the things that I can do? I’ve spent most of my life trying to excel at things at which I suck, just because they happen to be the things that make money in this world. But now I’m an Old Guy, and I’m on Social Security, and why not just take some time to show the world what I’m really made of?
In fact, if I don’t do so, I would feel like I’m shirking a calling of mine. Yes, a calling – of which this post is a part.
My disability landed me in a gutter for damn near twelve years, where none of these special gifts I have to offer were given the chance to shine. While my ascent from that gutter to a decent apartment in another part of the world was rapid, sudden, unanticipated, and miraculous, that ascent would be meaningless if I didn’t do something with it. For I am no less disabled, no less “incompetent,” than I was when I was sleeping under a bridge.
The difference is not in my personality. The difference is that I have been granted favorable circumstances in life, in such a form that the gifts with which I hope to bless you actually are given a chance to shine.
And that alone is the essence of my Statement to the World. Not every homeless person is a worthless, low-life scum bag. In fact, none of them are — because no person on Earth needs to be saddled with that tag. Every person is redeemable and salvageable, for our Father in Heaven desires that none will be consigned to perdition, but that all will be preserved and saved. So, if I don’t hide my light under a bushel, and I don’t let it shine before humanity, then people will not glorify the Maker of All Things — and yet, that’s what life’s all about. (It’s also 2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 5:16, and Ecclesiastes 12:13 in a nutshell — and the reason I know this is because I just looked ’em up.)
So I’ll give it a go. If you’re reading these words, it means it’s 7:30am PST or after. If you’re not, you’re not. Wish me luck.
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This morning please find the third in our Talks 2018 series of talks on the Homeless Experience. This talk is intended to demonstrate how, even if a person has made a conscious choice to be homeless, that person is likely to soon find themselves entrenched in a condition from which it is almost impossible to escape.
(1) I was able to finish the remake of my new speech last night, even though it kept me up till 4:30 in the morning. Grateful for the space and privacy to do such things without disturbing others, or being disturbed.
(2) Jan loves me.
(3) A great way to overcome the bitterness of a troubled past is to indulge the blessings of a promising present.
(4) Somebody made a nice, detailed comment on my piano playing over the weekend. Grateful to have been trusted enough to be given a key to a church building with a Baldwin grand piano. There was a time where any effort to play a church piano was met only with concern over “insurance issues” — implying, of course, that I was the type of guy that would do damage to the property.
(5) Nice strong coffee. Grateful to have my own place of residence and my own coffee-maker. There was a time when the only reason I went to a 7am A.A. meeting was because it was the only way I could figure out how to get a cup of coffee in the morning.
(6) It was suggested last night that every morning when I wake up, I can “dedicate the day to God.” It took a while, but I’m thankful to have done so.
(7) Glad to hear that the heat wave will be over on Thursday, which is great timing, since I get paid on Friday. Thankful for the promise of double blessings, back to back.
(8) Happy to have heard from Alistair Boone, the new Editor-in-Chief of Street Spirit, with the news that I’ll be kept on as a regular montly contributor, in the wake of Terry Messman’s retirement.
(9) Extremely grateful to no longer be homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area. I honestly thought I would never be able to live indoors again.
(10) Extremely thankful for the State of Idaho, where my experience has been that people treat each other decently and respectfully — like equals. Thankful no longer to have to be lectured, ridiculed, dimissed, ostracized, vilified, and looked down upon as though I were not even fully human. It is incredible to no longer be regarded as a piece of worthless homeless scum. Thank God for my new and remarkably better life. I never dreamed it possible — He loves me, after all.
Please donateto Eden in Babylon. Anything Helps – God Bless!