Saturday, September 17, 2011

New site is live! Change bookmarks to HomelessLife.com

The new site is up and running. I'll be tinkering over the next few days, but for the most part it's ready, and all new posts will be found at
HomelessLife.com


Thank you to everyone who's helped make this site a fun, yet powerful tool and therapeutic outlet for me!!!
I look forward to you all following along with me as I continue my journey out of homelessness, and into a career helping others obtain the tools to move on with their lives.


See you over at the new spot!


Humbly Yours,
Gary

Friday, September 16, 2011

Higher Ground

Setting personal standards for yourself can be very tricky. Now factor in that I'm still in a process in my life where I'm still, for lack of better term, getting to know my new self
By this I mean that decisions I've made up to this point have led me down a path towards a future in human services. There's still several different angles I could see my carreer in HS going, but the one common factor is that I want to help people better themselves. By this there means a commitment to helping someone grow internally as well as socially, financially and so on.
My one rule is that I want to help people do this the right way, and legit. I want to help the system and the people, so I have to walk a moral high ground here.
Now this is where I'm still adjusting. Not that I was a bad guy, but as I've stated in the past I certainly was no angle, and growing up alone on the streets of Brooklyn, I hustled So fact is, I could play this system effortlessly, if it was not for the new ethic code that I find myself adhering to.

I did something drastic today. It was not a hasty decision, it's something I've been leading up to for a couple of weeks now, but I've officially denounced all things disability based I've pulled my claim for SSI.
This means now that I'm now no longer entitled to welfare either, so now my income stands at $0, while still actually dealing with my TEMPORARY disabilities
Fact is there is no assistance for someone who needs a bit of time to get themselves back in working order. I'm encouraged to sit back, not work, and wait for the big retro active check, and a lifetime of payments. payments Same with housing. I've just pulled myself off the lists for disabled housing. This is a biggie.
I've essentially just sentenced myself to a longer wait on housing, and lesser quality housing. The fact is at this point, on a personal level I refuse to be attached to papers stating that I'm disabled. I'm more "able" then I've ever been in my life.
I will use this empowerment to do this on my own before I will spend ANY more time and effort even just discussing these issues with my team of doctors and case managers. Some of my team is applauding this decision, and others not so pleased, but regardless, this is MY life, not theirs, and not the systems. I will not let ANYONE look at me as disabled.

Now the impact here, is where the frustration comes in. I'm fucking penniless, and any little bit of cash that I come across goes to bare basics, as well as helping others who need little things here and there.
This is not the problem, I choose to help, this is the path I've found myself on, but once in a while I need little things too, that seem to take on a higher sense of importance.
Since moving into this new shelter I haven't been able to receive mail. Just about everything I own comes from MitzvahCircle.org Fran's had a brand new pair of white leather sneakers waiting weeks for me to be ready to receive them. Apparently the UPS guy addressed to "Greg" instead of Gary, and the shelter refused the package. Now I understand them refusing it, they simply can't accept a package for someone not here, and Greg doesn't live here :)

The stupid fact is... and yes it's petty, but next week I'm attending the Social Media Summit in Boston, as well as throwing a public event for homeless people, human service workers, and social media experts. I had been given some really nice shirts, and I was excited that I was going to have fresh, clean, white leather, sneakers to round out the outfits. I know right now my ex is laughing about that part, simply because she knows it's purely a Brooklyn thing!
When you see me in a new pair of white leather sneakers, you know I'm in my zone and feeling good..... what can I say, everyone has their thing, and sneakers are mine.

Going back to my point... if I didn't have to stick to this new ethic code, I'd have a few bucks to get shit like sneakers without having to wait on help of others.
Many of the people I'm helping are walking around with nice shit because they get big fat checks, and their doctors write them endless prescriptions that they immediately turn around and sell on the street.
However good ol' new morally just Gary is making it through on next to nothing, giving away the little I have, and hosting a public event somehow with $150 and every penny of my food stamps for the month
Sad part is, the majority of people that I'm going to help in my future career, as well as now, would look at me as a fool for doing things this way, just so I can feel appropriate in the foundation of my guidance

Ehh..... I'm not changing my mind, and saying I regret any of this, guess I just needed to vent! LOL Still getting use to being this new pierson

Gary J

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Invisible Picnic! Sat 9/24 1pm University Park, Central Sq

The Invisible Picnic

Saturday Sept 24th 1pm

MIT Park, corner of Mass Ave and Sydney St, Cambridge MA

by HomelessLife.com & InvisiblePeople.tv

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  Please come down and share a day with friends enjoying some food, a few laughs, and networking to help strengthen the community. Everyone is welcome!! We will be feeding homeless, human service reps, and social media experts alike as we come together for a common cause. Please feel free to bring something to contribute if you can, or just come and grab something to eat and have some fun!!  

Featured Guests

Mark Horvath

Founder of InvisiblePeople.tv, on US and Canada tour of speaking engagements and homeless outreach

Gary aka John Doe

Homeless, writer for Spare Change News & HomelessLife.com (Blog: Homeless in Boston), Homeless Advocate, and Community Outreach.

Project 50/50

Nationwide Outreach. Helping the homeless, and others in need everyday, while living among them.

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  We will accept all food donations, clothing, toiletries, anything you can give to help those in need. We also need cash donations to get the event underway. Please feel free to donate via the link below.
    For any info regarding event, donations, or resources; please email BostonHomeless@gmail.com   Thank You, Gary aka John Doe  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Ones For You, B

Ok this is for everyone to read, but I'll be speaking directly to one person

An alternate take on the conversation we had the night I left. However instead of all the bad that I allowed, I now see all the good you did for me more crystal clear than ever. All of the encouraging words that frustrated me, and accusing you of not understanding. I see that it was me who understood nothing.
When you share them now, I want you to know I hang on every word, because I now see the sense in them, and I benefit from your advice and perspective. You're still the only one who gives it 100% straight, and able to see from my perspective.

Even your theories on luck, and how I made my own bad luck by letting the negativity take over. That one most of all really pissed me off! ;)
Yet here I am now preaching it to others as I benefit from this mindset, and from the good luck and fortune I now have by making that change within myself.
Even when things don't go just right, it don't distract anymore.
Like yesterday, even though I had set backs, I never let it take hold, and my day turned out perfect... morning bird shit and all ;)
Fact is you've probably saved my life. You got me ready for this even when I didn't see it.

I watch what you've accomplished, and how you carry yourself, and besides being beautiful, and my closest friend, you truly are inspirational, and I simply couldn't be prouder of you!!

A while back you asked me if I ever figured out what I thought "the dream" meant, and why.
The answer is simple..... everything that I am now, and all the accomplishments ahead of me for myself and others.

I will always love you and treasure the incredibly important role you play in my life!!

Have a great week Boo, and enjoy the lunches!! ;)

Gary

The Monster at the End of This Book


Over the last decade I found myself slipping further away with each passing day, feeling helpless as each day was seeming moving towards an inevitable disastrous ending. Growing further from my former self, feeling more empty inside every day.
While everyday went by like this, I also had to deal with the yearly pain of acknowledging a particular day, September 11th. A day that I would have liked to see simply removed from the calendar and never spoken of again. Now this in itself was an important statement, because it's that wall you build around yourself when trying to avoid the realities around you, that finally closes up around you till you are left in a cold dark place all alone in your mind.
Life moved on around me, and I was left in a state where I not only didn't want to join in, but I couldn't even understand how everyone else managed to move on with their day to day life. How was it that they seemed almost immune to life's problems? How were they able to simply get out of bed and proceed with a normal day? More importantly why couldn't I do that anymore?
Whatever small or big task ahead of became an overwhelming force in my life. The idea of a day that didn't involve tears, or crippling waves of anxiety became an idealistic notion, that I was no longer able to achieve.

Needless to say September 11th, the date itself, became a day that wasn't just a normal emotional struggle, but a reminder of  the "monster" that had been able to effortlessly take my life away from me as if I had no right to any longer. Worst part is..... I let it go without a fight.

So here we are, 10 years later. I can't say this day feels good, because I'm filled with sadness for the loss of of many people close to me, as well as all the others I didn't know, but cried for on a daily basis as the event replays in my head.
However this year something has changed. I'm no longer afraid of the day; and by this I mean everyday. Somehow in the midst of what was , in my mind, to be the final chapter of my life, something happened that I no longer thought possible. I've taken my life back. Small tasks are nothing to me, and big tasks, and obstacles, have become the fuel that drives me. My fear has become wide eyed curiosity, my anxiety turned to ambition, and I no longer fear for how I'll continue living another year. I now think about my future and become filled with excitement knowing that my life can be anything that I make of it, and my helplessness has become power. Not just power to help myself, but the power, and determination to help others.

It's certainly not a day to celebrate, but somehow 9/11 became a day that started me on a journey. A very slow starting journey, but now ten years later, I've become almost unstoppable, and stronger than ever.
For the first time in ten years, I can honestly say that I no longer feel I died that day as well, for I am now freshly back to life, stronger than ever.

Turns out there was no monster at the end of the book....... it was just ME ;-)


Thank you to all who have helped me see this, helped me turn things around, and stuck by me. I have love for you all that most could never ever understand.

Gary J.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ladies Night

Sometimes I still find myself absolutely amazed at how many things can be new, and fresh to me during each passing week. You have to understand, I've pretty much done and seen it all, but yet somehow, at the age of 44 I find myself almost with a youthful feeling of self discovery with each passing day. Going wide eyed into new experiences and connecting on such deeper levels than I ever would have in the past.

Today I attended a lecture led by an amazing woman, discussing the use of art to deal with trauma.
The presentation was set up with the womens day drop in shelter, which is what my shelter doubles as during the day when we are not here. Today the men were invited to attend, yet sadly I was the only male in attendance. Although that was fine by be, I've been surrounded by way too many men for way too long, so a room full of women is a very comforting and refreshing change of pace.
Anyway, back to this incredible woman leading the event. This woman have managed to take such pain and suffering, and reach within herself to find positive way to transform her pain. While also extending herself to help others find ways to express and deal. I believe they half expected me to be there for the free coffee and snacks, but as I not only opened the womans eyes to different artistic messages being portrayed through her students work, that even she did not see; I made a very personal observation of behavioral patterns that were apparent in her own work, that as she realized I knew what she was doing emotionally, she actually looked as if to tear up for a moment. With almost a sense of relief, that someone else had figured out her secret and seen the truth.

Needless to say I enjoyed the event, and I can't wait to meet this woman again and pick her brain some more. This woman is an amazing source of pure inspiration and human spirit.

After ward, something else, that I thought was kind of cool, was I got to be the first male to ever be invited into the womens shelter afterward to join them for lunch. And what homeless guy will pass up free lunch at the womens shelter? LOL
So I was quite honored by this, and had a lovely lunch with the gals, and they've invited me along for a field trip later in the month to her gallery

Since moving to Cambridge, I've been much more embedded into the street community here, and getting to know everyone quickly. Because of this my advocating and outreach is becoming more abundant, and more effective! More differences are being made, and that’s a great thing on any day!!

I've made great new friends, and I'm glad some of them are women, because when only surrounded by the same sex you start to loose perspective. So here's to you, ladies. Thanks for being there and putting a little softer touch back into my enviroment :)

Gary J.
:)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Listen Up Children

Lately there's been some issues, aka drama, within our social networking community, and I simply have to chime in; being the long winded loudmouth that I am. People who help those in need bickering among each other regarding tactics, or scale of help. People in need of help being critical of forms of help that others receive, because it's not what they would want.
This BS has got to stop. You're taking time and effort, and frankly positivity, that is needed for others who need it.
Can't we come together as ADULTS to the understanding that the same thing doesn't work for everyone, so we can't all be held to one set of standards.
People claiming exploitation, of other people they don't know. I'm sorry, but if you're in front of camera telling your story, you are exactly where you want to be, and to pretend anything less is rediculous. If it don't give you the results that you wanted, oh well, suck it up. That doesn't mean others haven't benefitted.
An oportunity is what YOU make of it, not what someone else makes of it for you. What works for others, certainly won't work for me, and visa versa, but to think it's my point of view or nothing, is F'n stupidity.
I've been told that I have blood of those on the streets, on my hands, from supporting the shelter system. Now some of these people have roofs over their heads and moved on to a new time consuming form of airing their grievances. Is this the type of help people need? Does this now mean blood is on your hands by no longer sleeping under the stars in a misdirected sense of solidarity?

I've been accused of not being homeless enough to understand or help. Actually there has been a lot of time put into making this point. Yet while today is an average day I've personally fed 3 people, helped one get into a shelter and off the street, helped a friend deal with some very emotional issues related to this date, and scouted a location to hold an event to feed as many homeless as I can in a fun setting a few weeks from now. And the day is young ;)

So what did YOU do today??
And do I expect everyone to do all this all the time? Of course not, just simply never loose site that when trying to help people, MANY of which don't want it, or incapable of accepting it... just stay doing something positive, however big or small, and in the end the people, at least SOME, win

Basically what I'm saying is cut the crap! LOL There's bigger problems out there

Gary

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

About this BBQ thing

Ok, I'm really stuck into a position where I simply have to beg!! I need help here, we need cash, sponsorship, venue, or even just a few more bucks to at least be able to say I can start with X amount of people.
Maybe I haven't made it exactly clear what this BBQ is about.
When I did the first one, it was simple, I was determined to get Pop's a damn pork chop. The second became about getting people to someplace that is generally not accessible to them, and enjoy the day out on the Harbor Islands. It showed that we were able to be heard and help was extended by the Harbor Island Alliance, with a very generous donation of Ferry Rides to the island for everyone I was bringing.

What you need to understand about this next BBQ is that I'm really trying to go way above and beyond here. I want to put together an event that makes the city of Boston stand up and take notice. I want to show that we deserve a fun day out eating and laughing, sharing stories, effectively networking, and generally coming together.
This BBQ is being based and timed around a social networking conference, from which some heavy hitters in the social media game will be attending.
There are A LOT of eyes on this thing already, and I am absolutely NOWHERE with this.
I'm being aproached by people from organizations and people on the street, that they hearing I'm doing this. Word is getting out, and I really need people to come together now and help.
People who contacted me and said that we should discuss sponsorship, but never called....... Time to call me!
If you run an organization, or outreach program, in Boston: Hit me up and let's talk about how we can come together. Shelters, food banks, anyone!!

It's good karma, it's good exposure, and it IS important!! People on the other side of homelessness forget just how lacking our lives are in the "normalcy" department. These events, in my experience, bring people together for a great day that is almost empowering.

Those reading at home... A dollar..... Man if everyone gave one dollar this would not be an issue. Anything you can spare, and contacts you have, any interest in getting involved, THIS IS THE TIME.
It's close enough where something major has to give, and I'm just one homeless guy with good management skills. I can only do so much, I need your help.
Please, in the next couple of days I need to see donations coming in, phones ringing from people and organizations that want to get involved, and people who want to help find sponsors and promoters!
But seriously, if I'm sitting here looking at a $30 budget and zero help organizing, it's simply not going to happen. In that event the homeless of Boston who will attend loose out. The people from various groups and companies loose out. And I look bad in front of half of Boston and all of my social workers, advocates, and therapists that are all watching, and reading now.
Frankly I'm not about to let myself go down like that, just for wanting to help people have a good healthy, therapeutic, day in the sun.

Please, donate, spread the word via internet, word of mouth, hold signs in front of cameras.... help me get the word out to the right people, because something has to give RIGHT NOW!





Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just a Little Bit of Me

Moving through the system as fast as I have, I guess I grew into a sense of confidence and empowerment. Yet there were certain aspects that I had never counted on.
Everyday I meet people who have deep issues transitioning from one step to the next. I assumed I had been impervious to this, yet recently, it's hit me like a ton of bricks, that I no longer knew who I was.
I've felt this sensation in the recent past when dealing with the fact that since my "re-awakening" I've become much more of the "do-gooder" than previous versions of myself, and still getting used to being this way. However I never really factored that I might actually fall victim to some of the more stereotypical issues.
I had become not only used to a jail house environment, but I'd actually grown grateful for it.

There's a fantastic book I recently read called "Breaking Night", by Liz Murray.
This is her story of going from homelessness to graduating from Harvard.
It's a complete inspiration to me, but the other day I recalled something she said, and it suddenly became so clear... "I was, for that period of time, a witness more than a participant in my life. And even if I try hard, I can only remember certain pieces"

As I find myself moving forward, in a much more humane environment, I no longer know how to deal with certain normalcy.

This past weekend, I found myself back up at 6am again, and going out even in hurricane of depression, it actually frightens me. It felt as if sitting home would be like an alcoholic staring at a drink all day. The anxiety got to me, to where I simply couldn't do it. I still find myself asking permission for things like a second cup of coffee in the morning, because I can't understand how I can just have all the coffee I want.
I panic if I leave the house thinking that maybe I left socks under the bed by mistake, in fear I'll somehow come "home" to my bags packed for me.
Moving about freely, not explaining where I'm going. Able to simply go out to the park to grab wifi at night if I choose.
Women... well lets face it that's always a tricky topic, but even meeting someone and spending some fun innocent flirtatious time together, I can't help but feel the whole world is supposed to blow up if I pursue any further.

It just seems every little thing is so much more complicated this time around, that I don't know which of it is me being focused on the goals, and how much is just shell shock, so to speak, since my feelings of being stripped of myself started occurring. This has me a little high strung this week, and even came unglued once or twice. To those who experienced this, I do apologize, but I am mentally "ill", so cut me some slack. At least it usually turns to good material

Stay thirsty, my friends
Gary, aka John Doe

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Damnit, I SAID HOMELESS BBQ!!!

Ok folks, together we pulled off a great memorial day BBQ. We went above and beyond for 4th of July over at Georges Island, thanks to your help along with the Harbor Island Alliance.
Now this end of summer BBQ that I'm looking to put together is something even bigger and greater. Not only am I trying to open this up to many more homeless people of Boston, but there will be some heavy hitters in the social media industry payiong attention and showing up. This is a big event for me personally, and this is something that can really make a difference in the public treatment and perspective of Bostons homeless, but also give these people that much needed sense of normalcy and camaraderie.

I want this to be good for everyone and really make a difference.
Problem being however... so far we are on a $10 budget! LOL
I've had brief talks with people about sponsorship, but never had calls returned. I'm sure even people coming will kick in something, but things need to start getting moving NOW. It is 4 weeks away, and I need your help to make this the best one yet!

Please, anything that you can give is a huge help. These events are fun and valuable in healing ones sense of humanity. It's not just a BBQ, believe me, it's bigger than that. So please help in any way you can!





Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to the Machine



Sitting in the grass today, seemed to be yet another one of those--what I like to call-- “Lightning in a Bottle” moments. I had gone to my old shelter to grab the last of my belongings. I had asked for a couple of moments to sort through things, and leave some for the donation table.
I was pretty much handed my two garbage bags, & told to take my crap and go. Along with the beginnings of a lecture on how they should have been picked up last week. At which point I cut it short by replying “Ok great, just give me my crap”
I went to the park and sorted everything, packed up my backpacks and headed for a shady spot in the park nearby. As I lay in the grass listening to Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” album—more specifically “Welcome to the Machine”-- there was an incredible breeze blowing across me and swayying the grass, and at that very moment, I felt the chapter close.
That place is behind me now, and I've moved on to better. What a thankless ending on both sides.

So, as I start moving through to the next chapter, I would like to take a moment and say hello to any new visotors from the CBS site. I'm going to give you a very brief run down of who I am, and what it is I'm doing here, just to bring you up to speed.

  • I have PTSD from specific loss related to, and events surrounding 9/11 from when I lived and worked(top of my career) in NY.
  • What followed was a ten year string of major depression, anxiety, semi bipolar, and just a lot of self sabotage and life became unmanageable.
  • Became homeless, and forced to face the day; everyday
  • Started writing here. Picked up by Spare Change News and now write regular columns for them
  • Moving through system a lightning speed, with the help of a top notch team of social workers, therapists, case workers, and advocates.
  • Take everything I learn and use it to advocate for fellow homeless
  • Do community outreach, often with the help of Mitzvah Circle Org, to meet specific and general needs of those that are homeless or in danger of becoming so, as well as entire shelters.
  • I throw great Homeless BBQs that help moral, and add a sense of normalcy and self sufficiency. These BBQs have been acknowledged by CNN, and have received help from the Boston Harbor Alliance
  • I've been invited to train as a Peer Supervisor for Elliot Community Human Services org, but have graciously turned down.
  • Through the help of some amazing case management, and good old fashion contacts, I will be beginning college courses in Jan, at a VERY prestigious university :)
  • Most of my day as you can see is spent in meeting, Dr appointments


So what I need from you Boston... is some good old fashioned, under the table, odd jobs!! LOL
Listen, I'm much better with my brain, then my hands, but you need a basement cleaned up, I'm your man.
You need someone to organize your computer, do simple HTML/CSS, and or graphic design, I'm also your guy. For PTSD reasons I don't really like to cook anymore, although I'm a french trained chef with 15 years experience. I can design menus, special need diet planning.
Can string and tune guitars. ANYTHING
Hell I'll brush your dogs hair...or yours for that matter! LOL
Listen I just need some cash. Not only for my basic needs right now, but I DO help others with everything that I can, so anything sent to me, usually goes to helping me and someone else directly as well. So please feel free to use the donate button as well, but serious, if you're local and need some work done, hit me up bostonhomeless @ gmail. Com
C'mon, lets work together ;)

Gary aka John Doe

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ain't I homeless enough for ya? Part III

I've covered this topic before, however this time I think I need to step back and admit that I've got it almost too good at this point to really call it homelessness. Fact is I'm now living in a house/ shelter, where I'm actually spoiled
Make no mistake though, I make absolutely no apologies for doing everything right. This past week I got something back that I'd been missing for a while now-- Human Dignity I worked very hard everyday, and beet the odds to land myself into this VERY exclusive shelter This is not just the best shelter in Boston, it is potentially the best in the country. For all intent and purpose, I am now in a "home". Granted I share a large bedroom with 2 other guys, and there are rules to follow, but the difference between this and my last shelter is simply night and day.

There are little differences in my day that have given me back a sense of dignity Little things I never really touched on in this blog yet, but for the last 3 and a half months I've had to use toilets that had no door or partition to give you even a little privacy. I've had to use the toilet while 10 other guys are walking around the bathroom getting ready, shaving, showering. It was awful, and very reminiscent of jail. So when I was able this past week to go into the private bathroom and lock the door behind me, it was a moment that I can barely explain. I felt human again.
I no longer have to leave at 7am, rain or shine, on the weekend. I can come and go as I please Sat and Sun, as well as sleep as late as I like. No more angry men banging on the metal rails at 6am yelling that it's time to get up.
No more bumping into 45 other guys as I make my way into the kitchen hoping on the slight possibility that there's coffee to help wake me up before I'm tossed into the street.
This weekend I was able to sleep till noon on Sat, have breakfast, head out to meet up with my ex for a great day, come back around 8pm to grab some dinner, and then go back out for a walk. Smoke break is no longer a timed event on the hour where 25 guys are standing around a smelly dumpster. In the morning we can go out on the front porch, and evenings we are free to use the yard at our leisure.
My last posting was written while sitting out in the yard, by myself, just listening to the birds. The peace of mind is wildly refreshing

Other little things that people take for granted. Imagine a life with no cushioning. I mean every chair, in every place that you go, is a metal fold out chair, park bench, or ground. The house/ shelter I'm in now has all cushioned chairs in the dining room. Big fat fluffy soft couches in the TV room, and for the first time in months I'm sleeping on real mattress with real pillows.
These seemingly small issues, when combined over time, genuinely harden a person. To the point where I'm still noticeably adjusting. The other guests can see that for the first three days I didn't sleep at all because I could no longer sleep in silence. I had gotten used to the sound of 45 guys snoring, flatulence, and 2 jet engine sized fans fans going all night. The silence here was absolutely deafening, but as my first week comes to an end, I can happily report that I'm adjusting to it ;)

Peace
Gary aka John Doe

Friday, August 19, 2011

Charly and Margaux

These ladies are nothing short of amazing! This past week they are down at the Harvard Sq station. Definately check them out if you're in the area. Beautiful, talented, and creative! The best of everything
Please check them out on their Facebook page!

Bitter Blueberry


When I started this blog I vowed to move through this system as fast as possible and share the experience as well as the methods used to do so. This mindset at the time was partially blowing hot air, trying to reach deep down to find that “can do” attitude within myself. Yet oddly enough, somehow, I managed to do exactly that. Three and a half months later I'm still homeless, but I have shot through a solid years worth of legwork and paperwork in that time and I have assembled a very powerful team of advocates, social workers, therapists, and case managers, all working in unison to get me every opportunity possible.

What I did not take into consideration is that by moving fast, I'm starting to leave people behind, and it's starting to grate on me. I advocate for others and share everything that I learn, but in the end a person makes their own path, and decides how they will prepare & execute. I can only help so much.
One of my closest friends is someone that I met at my last Shelter, as we both arrived there on the same day. He's a great guy, and an amazingly hard working guy, but he's also someone who has trouble doing for himself. I would regularly force him to take care of issues, but he just never really put together an exit strategy.
So when Aug 11th rolled around and we had both been there for 90 days, I was able to secure my bed for another 30 days, by fighting months for it, but he didn't. Instead he went out into the street, on a streak of bad rainy days, and he is now sitting in a hospital room. The saddest part being that I'm thrilled he's in the hospital, because there I know his stubbornness won't actually kill him.

Another extremely close friend, who did have an extension, and is next on list at another prestigeous shelter, had to leave after I was gone for 48hrs. He is an amazing guy, but he's also very eccentric, and he's simply the love or hate type of guy, there's nothing in the middle. However I think I kept him centered, as well “protected” to an extent, because many kept their feelings to themselves out of respect to me and my friendship with him.
I leave, and he turned the place upside down! LOL
It was apparently a very large commotion, involving a lot of people, Shelter management at the highest level, and even the police.
He's now someplace a couple of blocks from me, and for the most part safe.

I just can't help but feel a sense of guilt. While one friend is in the hospital, and another “on the run”, I'm sitting here right now in the back yard, all to myself, belly full from a great meal, able to write this in peace and quiet. We laughed this morning when I seen him that if it were a movie this morning we would cut from scene to scene, showing him escaping out the back way with his belongings, while cut to me and I woke up this morning to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, and the “house manager” making fresh blueberry pancakes for us. We laughed, and I commend him, because he has a resilience that I could never imagine, but it just wasn't that funny.

All I can say to people in this situation, or any similar; Learn when to advocate for yourself to speed things up, and know when something is important enough, and lacking room for error, that you need to use an advocate.
Even the “advocating” that I do. I am sitting people down and telling them where to go, when to go, and who to see, and most look at me with a blank stare.
Only really one person, is really paying attention, and that's this girl from the woman’s shelter. I've been running into her all week at all the places I told her to go, and she asks me question after question, and takes physical notes. SHE will get this right, and I applaud her for it. She's watching what is working, and learning to think outside the box, or as my guru puts it, playing this game on two different levels at once.
My team is fantastic, my new team assigned to me from the house, is already working in unison with my existing team, so everyone is same page and up to speed, working at making every opportunity available happen for me.
When I started this blog I was told Boston was the best place to be homeless, they were absolutely right, but please don't expect anything to just come to you. Fight for it, and if you've already fallen and at rock bottom.... well, you've survived, so don't be afraid to keep standing back up and climing.

I wish you all the tranquility and hope that I feel right now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Onto the next episode

One thing I'm learning for sure is to not let the stress of the situation get the best of me. It seems every time I feel things are looking their most grim, something amazing happens and turns it all around.

My plan this morning was to come to the library and write complaining how I'm going to be out on the street ON 9/11. Along with feeling hopeless as I'm trying to get help for others, planning an event for next month, and preparing to start my first classes at Harvard Extension Program in Jan.... all with the black cloud over my head of having to worry about where I'll be in just over 3 weeks.
Well that black cloud is lifted, and the worry is gone!!
Over the last couple of months it's been a waiting game. There are two very small, exclusive, long term shelters in Boston, one by Harvard and one by Central Sq.
The one by Harvard I've been 3rd on the list for months, and there is just no turnaround right now.
The other shelter I had to call every morning, while having a referral -- someone in human services that works with me -- standing at my side.
People wait months just to get someone to stand with them for the call at the multi center, that calls at 10am, on the dot, every morning to check for bed availability.
So every morning, if I was in the city I went to Cambridge to meet my "guru" (psycho therapist / social worker) for him to call, or if town here by my shelter I'd go back to have the director or case worker there call with me. Doing this every morning, was exhausting and very difficult to coordinate. Howver I made this call every day, at... and this is imortant... 9:58am every day.
Too many people loose sight that there are thousands of people looking for same opportunities, so you need to be aggressive and assertive. As long as people lined up for the 10am call at the multi center, they would NEVER beet me to the bed, and this morning I proved that! ;)
I move into my new shelter tonight, which is a private house with around 12 people, where I will remain UNTIL HOUSED.

Honestly I'm too excited, and have too much to do today now, that I have to cut this short and put other topics on the back burner till later in the week, but I had to drop in and share!!
And now that I don't have to worry about where I'll live... this latest Homeless BBQ next month, WILL be bigger and better than ever!! So hit that donate button and help me get this going!!
I worked 4 hours the other day just to make $10, in order to give $7 of that to someone who needed it more than I did. So if I can... so can you! ;)

And to those who said they'd call regarding sponsorship.... my phones been on 24/7. Just Sayin' ;)

Moving on up,
Gary aka John Doe

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beating the Heat (New article for Spare Change News)

Note: Below is my latest article being published for Spare Change News in Boston

Beating the Heat

Gary aka John Doe


The one thing we all have in common, regardless of our social status, is our vulnerability to the elements. However obviously, that’s only when we’re out there exposed. If you have a home, and air conditioning, then you only have to manage for so long before you are comfortable again, and impervious to your climate.

However when you’re homeless, or low income, and don’t have  air conditioning at home, or a comfortable office to go to during the day, beating the heat becomes a very important, at times critical, part of your routine.
 
So how does one go about cooling down on limited to no budget?

Well first let me explain that the names, locations, and details have been withheld for my own safety! You wouldn’t think that writing an article of this nature would be a scandalous affair, but these guys are afraid I’m going to say too much and ruin their favorite spots. So word is on the street already, and once this is in print, I need to watch my back J

 Obviously some of the tactics are the same as my “Boston on $3 a Day” article. Things like the refillable $1 fountain drinks, especially their Sweet Tea, is a key factor in beating the heat.
I personally go there, chug down a large iced tea, sit in the AC for a while, while recharging phone and enjoying wifi. I then use the facilities, have a refill, and then refill one more time and leave, then taking that last cup and pouring it into my water bottle and keeping in my back pack for later in the day.

Other guys, go to certain movie theatres that offer early admission discounts, and then go from theatre to theatre and see as many movies as they can, just to stay in the AC.

Of course the larger book stores that offer comfy chairs to peruse the books is a great place to be, seeing as you just relax and keep cool while reading a book.

The biggest obstacle in this scenario being struggling to stay awake while engulfed in this lap of luxury.

An unlimited T pass is also a must have in the summer time, because the fact is on any given day in this blazing heat, I have no problem jumping on any non crowded bus, going in any direction, and just going along for the ride to enjoy a seat and cool air. The upside of this being that in my 3 months homeless I have virtually become a qualified tour guide of Boston.

Part of the intimate knowledge of the area that comes with homelessness, is knowing where all the spots are to lay in the shade, or where to get a cold refill on your water bottle, and where to sit.

Another trick I often do, is to go to a train station, look at the board and pretend to be waiting for one of the later arriving trains.

 And my personal best, and most guarded secret that I’m going to share, is my “membership” to a local club, obtained through a friend who manages the pool, where I go to swim all the time. It’s usually me, and several delightful elderly ladies, sharing an Olympic size pool. They usually remain in the shallow end, while I have the entire deep end to myself. From there my body’s core temperature is down, and I’m ready for a shady spot under a tree, for the remainder of the day before I head back to the shelter.

Sadly, inside the shelter all bets are off. There are no secret spots, or refillable ice cold beverages, or air conditioning to found. There are no tricks, you are simply at the mercy of the hot stagnant air in the overcrowded environment. At that point nyou just try to sleep, and get ready for another day of trying to beat the heat.

Stay cool, my friends,

Gary aka John Doe


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wrench in the system

Once again I find myself at wits end. My day was supposed to be a productive one, starting with new psychiatrist, and ending with housing advocate.
Arrived at my new clinic only to find out we're only doing intake today. Plus i'll only see therapist first couple of weeks before seeing actuall psychiatrist. Well and good, but I need paperwork from Dr, and I only got one pill (prozac) left.

Then it's off to the Dept of Transitional Assistance, to get a letter for my housing advocate verifying that I receive $92 a month in cash assistance.
However I find out that because I have chosen to not apeal my SSI claim, because I would rather try working (finding work), they have discontinued my welfare.
So the $92 a month that I live on, and counting on for Wed(10th), is not coming.
I'm being punished for wanting to look for work rather than try and collect a $700 monthly check.

The saving grace today is that my housing advocate said it don't affect my housing status, although he too would rather see me apeal the SSI.

NOTE: It's now the following morning. It's official, my welfare balance is at zero :(
I'm on my way to meet my case manager, and i'm going to tell him to re-open the case and apeal the SSI. By doing this i'll have an open claim and they will give me back the $92 a month. I'll look for work, and when I start they will simply cancel the claim.

I hate that I have to manipulate the system like this, but I need that tiny but of cash while I find work and shouldn't be punished for wanting to move forward in a healthy fashion.

Fuck em'
Gary

Friday, August 5, 2011

A HardlyNormal Homeless BBQ

Well as you all know, besides being homeless, I also advocate for other fellow homeless, write here and for the paper, do alot of community outreach type work, do counceling, volunteer work, starting school....
But all that aside, I'm known for throwing a damn good homeless BBQ!
I'm honored to announce that next month Mark Horav (@hardlynormal on twitter), of www.invisiblepeople.tv will be visiting bean town, and has requested a proper homeless BBQ!
So i'm starting fund raising now, because memorial day in the park was great. July 4th at the Boston Harbor Islands was a huge success! However now it's time to take it to the next level folks.
It's time to put together a real event here, with as many hungry people as we can feed, in as big a place as we can get!

Mark works hard speaking for homeless empowerment! Help me roll out the red carpet for him, and lets give lots of people a belly full of good food, and a fun civilized day out from the daily grind!

Please use the donate button on this site, or paypal direct to bostonhomeless@gmail.com

Thank you for all your support,
Gary aka John Doe

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Deepness, Brotha BlueStocking: On the Good Foot

Your Deepness, Brotha BlueStocking: On the Good Foot: "Hi, I'm John Doe, and I'm going to be behind the scenes here working on getting Brotha Bluestockings videos together, and keeping the techni..."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Humble Pie

Just want to first of thank everyone for their support on everything. Thanks to a couple of very kind people I have a used laptop coming so I can when I need to, as well as someone sending me a Flip HD cam, so I can take my blogging, helping, and reporting, to a new media ;)

Now what I truly need your help with still is a few bucks to get my transit disability pass refilled for the month, and keep my phone turned on.
There are also 2 other people at the shelter that need some transit passes even if just for the day, to get to appointments. And Brotha BlueStocking himself just got a disability pass approval, but can't get to Back Bay station to get the photo taken and card issued, let alone money to put on the card.
We're in need of some assistance :)
I never ask big things for myself, and most of what I get is used on helping others as well, right now we are bone dry, and there's not even food donations to shelter coming in.

Thank you in advance,
Gary aka John Doe, Brotha BlueStockings, Columbia, The RedbNeck Twins, and others :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stay in the Sho Nuff

This week moves were being made, hands being played, and deals were being made.
They tried to make a move on my partner in crime, Brotha BlueStocking.  Trying to pull out on a deal, but we tripped them up with a paper trail.

It's time they realise who they're dealing with, and we can't be played ;)
Brotha BlueStocking will join in on the writing around here starting very soon, to break it down for us.
Get ready, cause this Brotha is HEAVY

x

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Step Ahead of the Hustlers and Thieves

There's been a lot of change over the past few weeks, as you've been able to tell from my mood swings ;)
I've been finding myself both feeling more "homeless", and yet feeling more empowered.
After spending some time with a friend last weekend I was reminded that as great as my "team" of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, housing advocates, and case managers are, they work for ME, not the other way around.
So I've taken a more aggressive approach on delegating their duties. I'm shopping for new psychiatrists, so when I've given a number to call, I have my psychologist do the calls and set the appointments.
I've been notified for my first screening for housing in three particular buildings, so instead of calling to make an appointment, I jumped on the train, walked in Home Start without an appointment, and demanded I be advised on how to proceed. At that point my advocate smiled, took the paper, and HE made the call for my appointment, and HE will be escorting me to the screening.
I got aproved for a one month extension yesterday at my current shelter because I got in my my social workers face and made him call my shelter now while we were still two weeks out., so I'm secured till at least Spet 11th -- Yeah that's a whole other story itself, but I can probably use to my advantage if need be, seeing as putting me out on the streets when my PTSD stems from loss from Sept 11th, it would be clinically negligent on their parts.
Point is, the more aggressive I'm getting, the harder they are working, and the faster I'm seeing results, or even a lack of results... but far less WAITING to find out either way, and that is what makes me crazy.
There's a guy that whoever you speak to in this town, sooner or later his name comes up, so I decided it was time he met ME. So I went to the multi center and asked to see him, was told the hours of walk in, and imediately did a little name dropping. Talking to him for the first minute is like a comedian finishing and waiting to see if Johny Carson was going to invite them to the desk or not. Soon the door was closed, we were both sitting and laughing, and this man confirmed to me that I'm doing everything right, and have all the right people

At least I have this, because it's getting harder financially, psychically, and more and more time involved in difficult scheduling. Trying to keep up, while knowing that when I make an appointment and cant make the soup kitchen, I most likely won't eat because the food donations to shelter are getting few and far between. Come the first of the month I won't be able to get into Boston from Waltham because my transit pass expires on the 31st. Or that my communication is off on the 2nd when I can't pay the phone bill.
I need that security that if I'm out of commission a few days or a week, my people are at least mostly on the case.
Make no mistake there is also a greater sinse of freedom the more I slip into the homeless role. I laid on a bench today, just because it was comfortable :)
No more worrying about what anyone thinks, I'm much more aware, and interactive with the environment around me!

Down and out, but looking up ;)
Gary aka John Doe

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Supporting the arts

Ok here's the thing. My writing is my best therapeutic outlet right now. Things are changing daily regarding plans, and I need to tell it.
The editor of Spare Change News is asking me for new articles. I'm trying to put together a book, of which is 25 essay topics scratched out in pen, recorded interviews, and so on.
I seriously cannot rely on hour long stretches of computer use at whatever library i'm closest to when I have a free hour between appointments, or when the library is even open for that matter.
I desperately need to get myself a netbook. Something that is small and light because it's one more thing into my backpack that is carried all day, everyday.
I can't keep writing on my outdated droid.
I can only tell so much of the story, and can't write when the inspiration hits me.
Surely you artistic types understand what i'm saying.

Plus at this point my transit pass is only good for a few more days then i'm stranded from making appointments. That don't help me, and that don't help any of the people i'm trying to help.
I need to be mobile and writing.
So what I really need is some financial assistance. I'm not able/allowed to work yet, disability hasn't paid yet, and i'm about to start college and various volunteer programs.
Can you help a starving artist? LoL

Can paypal direct to bostonhomeless@gmail.com or use the donate link on this site.

Thank you for all your past and future help in all my projects.

Paying forward for life,
Gary

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Well ain't this a bitch

Granted there's several angles being played at once, but there stands a good chance that i'll be out of my shelter, with noplace to go for 30 days, on....... Ready for this...............

...... Wait fot it........

On September 11th

Ahhhhh you can't write this kind of shit

Apparently,
Still John Doe

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ode to Lil' Johnny Dough

When I first met Johnny he was the soup kitchen.
Down on his luck, and almost certain to be devoured by the circumstances, I tried to reach out to help Johnny






At first Johnny was hesitant, feeling that it was too late for him, but after a bit of convincing I got him to come with me.
He met some of the guys, and we got to know each other a bit hanging out at the park.



Finally it was time for Johnny to come back to the shelter, where he could have a safe bed at night, clean shower, laundry, and all the bologna sandwiches he could eat (providing they're not molded).
Johnny had to do his intake, and had just taken a urine test. They ask him to wait and watch a little TV






Fortunately Johnny passes his urine test, and he is allowed into the shelter!! You see, Johnny didn't have a drinking problem, or a drug problem. Johnny was a clean, friendly, artistic type, who unfortunately experienced things that make his life difficult to manage.
So Johnny is shown his bed, and allowed to finally rest his weary body. It's the first time Johnny's slept indoors in 10 days. He relects on life as he quietly looks at the street below him



Johnny seemed comfortable enough. He was showered, had a load of laundry in the dryer almost ready to go. He made small talk with people around him, who seemed like descent enough people just going through a bad time in their lives.
He stepped outside with everyone else for the official hourly smoke break, and attempted to find it within himself to adapt to the new environment.


Everything seemed great as I checked on Johnny throughout the night. He seemed relaxed and grateful for helping him get into the shelter and settled in.

.......... But something happened.
I don't know why, but it was all too much for Johnny. Despite seemingly happy and comfortable, the shelter environment proved too much. Apparently Johnny was broken beyond repair that he could receive here.
Johnny didn't make it back again, Johnny was last seen living on the streets, wherever he could be far away from people as possible.
It's been some time now since anyone's seen Johnny


****** This story is nonfictional Any resemblance to actual people is fully intended ********

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Today I was homeless

More than usual it sank in today. Sundays are always the worst because the library doesn't open till 1pm, and none of the day/drop in shelters are open.
If you have a few bucks you can always make due, simply refer to my article "Boston on $3 a Day". However I didn't have the 3 dollars today.
So I started at the park. It started ok, was raining but it we started dry and a bunch of us just hung out discussing a wide variety of topics.
At one point I got very inspired to write, but I had to wait another 5 hours for the library to open to use a pc. So the morning just dragged and dragged, and the heat finally caught up to me. Before I knew I was lite headed and sick to my stomach, to where I had to lay down.
I laid out in a shaded spot and fell asleep. Soon I woke to find that it was raining again, but I was too weak to get up, so I laid in the rain, on the grass, and slept more.
Soon it was 3pm and I woke in a puddle of cold sweat, in the blaring sun, all shade was gone.
Any hope of writing was gone, and it was then late enough for me to get to a local soup kitchen to get some food in me and something to drink.

Rest of the day turned out ok, and i'm just resting at the shelter, and posting from my phone.
Not the positive tale I wanted to write today, but hey, that's just where today went.

Gary aka John Doe

Your Zen Moment of the Day

Hmmm

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just when you loose faith

Well if you've read my last post, you know I've been having a rough time recently.
As you've probably learned by now as well, is that I can have some serious mood swings. Never when I start building up the tension, something wil trigger and i'll just come unglued.
Well last night my trigger was the issue of being able to stay out late on my birthday tomorrow.
The thing I asked one of the guys on staff last night, and he said him and this woman were working tomorrow night, and it wouldn't be a problem. However when she heard she shut the idea down.
Having been told no right away it probably wouldn't have stung so much, but with one saying lets let him go relax, the other shutting it down just triggered a meltdown.

However something happened today.
I left the shelter around 6:30 this morning because I just had to get out of there and sit quietly, and alone, in the park. Seeing as I was very angry and hostile last night.
So about 8am I see someone from the house and they tell me the director of the shelter is looking for me.
Now he's only there in the day when we're out, and we've never said more than good morning to each other.
So now I'm thinking on top of everything else, now I got some other bullshit about to jump off, so I call the shelter.
It turns out when he came in this morning he had a bunch of guys waiting for him.
They proceeded to tell him that for everything I do for them and the shelter, that I need a break, and that he needs to let me stay out tomorrow evening!

You have to understand, these are not the kind of guys who this kind of thing, and would much rather not speak to the director at all.
These idiots almost had me in tears when the director told me this.

Just when you least expect it, you get a lesson in humanity.
What a great bunch of guys, and a great gesture from the big boss!
Thank you!

Gary

Monday, July 18, 2011

Screw this!

I'm at the breaking point. It seems no matter what I do for others, for this stupid fucking shelter, nothing matters.
When I need even the slightest thing, I'm treated like a piece of shit. The fact that I follow every rule to the letter counts for nothing. The fact that I'm right there in the middle of just about every altercation to defuse the issue, counts for nothing. I go out of my to try and make people see a more positive aproach to being here. I act as fucking camp councelor for everyone on a broad range of topics I treat every staff member in here with nothing but respect, and when I simply ask to stay out a little late on my birthday so a friend can take me to dinner, the answer is NO.
Now mind you, while I'm in here, there will be NO LESS than 10 people signed out for AA or NA meeting, or even fucking bible study, and of those 10 MAYBE 2 of them will actually go to the meetings The rest will do whatever the fuck they feel like, just because they can.
I'm fucking punished for not having a substance abuse problem, or wanting to "study" 2000 year old fairy tales!!!

I just need a fucking break!! I'm being pulled in 18 god damn directions at once trying to follow a path to helping others on a grand scale, but when I need a little something, like a little time, to HELP ME, I get nothing!
This morning I was barely holding it together, but I had an apointment with my psycho therapist, so I figured that'll be good and help calm me...... MY PSYCHO THERAPIST STOOD ME UP!!! What the fuck!!

Really, I've had it, I could give a shit any more about anyone's rules, I could give a shit about helping anyone........ that's another thing, everyone always with the "Oh thank God there's good people like you to help"..... you people don't know a god damn thing about me! Trust me, I'm not that good! I've done a lot of vile shit in my day. This whole do gooder thing is brand new to me, and for all I know will pass. So please don't expect too much from me, I'm just another asshole from the streets of Brooklyn who did whatever the fuck I had to do to survive.

Fuck this place..... fuck my team and their "big plans" for MY future.... I'm tired, I'm broke, and I'm done giving a shit. I'd rather just go hit the streets, and hustle my way back up the financial ladder and house myself. I'm smarter than most of the people telling me how to live right now, and frankly can't figure out why I'm listening.
Wed is my birthday, and Wed night I will be out doing whatever the fuck I want to do. If I loose my bed, I loose my bed. I've certainly been thrown out of better places than this.

Hey staff, if you read this..... FUCK YOU

Sincerely,
Bed #10

Sick and tired

Well I just wrote a long post on this topic, pouring my heart out on many issues. An exhausting process when using the phone. I saved as a draft, because I post via email when writing on phone, and now it's gone!

So there ya go, one more poetic moment that further makes me fucking "sick and tired".
Somethings gotta give

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Air Is Thin Up Here

This new heightened sense of self is making it hard to breathe.
Meaning with all these new challenges being thrown at me, and all these new directions my life is taking for the better, I feel a sense of rebirth. Not religiously, I mean it in the literal sense.
It's like coming out of a ten year coma, and i'm relearning life.
However for someone still wobbling on their new legs, i'm taking very big steps, and trying to make some very big decisions. Sometimes seemingly too big.

Then you look at the obstacles surrounding it... How the hell am I in a position to make major life choices, when i'm constantly tired.
I can't prioritize right now, i'm distracted by billboards with hamburgers because I eat bologna 6 days a week.
I need to sit on a cushion for longer than it takes for the doctor to come get me.
Pardon my bluntness, but I need the touch of a woman...... Good god I need the touch of a woman!
My brain is a scrambled mess, and it seems every decision I have to make is over the top important... and I just want a moment to breathe, catch up, and look at all this with a clear head.
Yet I know this won't happen. Shelter living is not designed to meld with multiple positive aspects of life. It just don't balance.

A very tired,
Gary aka John Doe

Monday, July 11, 2011

A birthday nap

Here's the deal, my birthday is on the 20th, and i seriously need one night in a real bed, with ac, & tv.
I'm begging.... I'm tired and it don't go away! Lol
Read my blog and look at everything done in under 9 weeks. Trust me on this, it's exhausting.
I simply need one night in a cheap hotel. I believe motel six in Braintree is like $80.
I'm desperate for one real nights sleep to recharge.

Anything you can afford towards this goal is appreciated. Big things coming up and I need a 12hr nap and mindless tv. Lol

Also if anyone would like to donate an old laptop or digital camera, i'm desperate for something for writing and photography.
Someone offered me an old camera, but it takes batteries and I can't afford to keep replacing. So ANYTHING digital with a usb connect.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Foot in the door

Today was a very interesting morning. I met with, as I like to refer to him, "My Guru" to do our weekly sit down and figure out just what I am doing with my life. However today he had a surprise for me! He had apparently had a long discussion with his supervisor regarding my case, and they came up with an opportunity for me!
Seeing as for the most part I can't do too much in human services right now due to the fact that I'm not trained, and I'm still active in the system, there hasn't been much I could do. However they offered me the "position"(unpaid) to be a "Peer Supervisor"! Still even a little unclear on just what the topics will be, but I'm going to basically be holding group meetings/workshops for fellow homeless, to inspire, motivate, talk, educate, whatever.
They will provide me a place to hold them, they will advertise it, and all that, and I'll do.... well.... whatever that is! LOL
For something I'm still unclear about, I'm very excited! :) It means I got a foot in the door for human services, it means I get to help people on a pseudo professional level, it means I get experience in human services, and it never hurts or looks bad to organizations that I'm looking for assistance from regarding housing and furthering my education!

I'm quite damn excited!!
Not bad for 2 months homeless ;)

Gary aka John Doe

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Getting our own "house" in order

This may be an unpopular post, but it really needs to be said.
More and more there are those of us who are homeless and speaking out for others, trying to sway public opinion, but we really need to do some "in house" work to make ourselves presentable to be taken serious.
There is a picture floating around twitter tonight from a Mcdonalds stating along the lines that "This is not a hang out, or a shelter"
Granted they could, and should, have used more tact, but lets be honest with ourselves. We, meaning the homeless, abuse the shit out of Mcdonalds across the country on a daily basis.
How about "we" learn to flush a god damn toilet once in a while. Maybe they won't dislike us as much if they're not spending the day cleaning up your piss and shit.
Maybe "we" can learn not to curse, abnormally loud no less, in front of every woman and child. Maybe 5 of us, don't need 4 tables!
We have to start being responsible for ourselves, and teaching others to do the same.

When you're getting a free meal somewhere, how about we just stick to "thank you", and not bitch about the selection, or even in cases I've witnessed, even complain about the presentation! The fucking presentation!!! Seriously? Shut your ungrateful mouth and be thankful someone is willing to look past that and feed your stupid ass.

I know it's a sickness, but maybe even cut back on excessive alcohol and drug use before noon! Especially when you are holding a sign about how you're sober and just going through a tough time, while hunched over nodding.

Jesus even projects like home first.. Yes, the numbers make sense to house someone rather than keep in shelter, but how about we also acknowledge the cost of the damage "we" do to some of these apartments, or the fact that the furniture from a voucher is turned around and sold right away for drugs or booze. The numbers start to change!

I don't know the answer, or how to "police our own" so to speak, but we're speaking for a group, and alot of us are fucked up, so we better have some good stuff to say, because we have alot of slack to pick up.

Just sayin'

Gary aka John Doe

Added a photos page

Nothing fancy, just wanted to get some photos onto the site in one spot.

VISIT PHOTO PAGE

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Documents to go

Ok I need something for myself this time, so I'm asking.
I need to purchase an app called Documents to Go, so I can edit and save actuall word documents on the phone after they've been typed on a pc.
The app is $15, but thats 14 more than I have.
If anyone could help I'd be eternally grateful. I HATE having to wait to upload some of my bigger articles. I was just also get my recap of the 4th up this morning, but had it ready last night.

Please donate if you can, thanks. I'll keep writing and entertaining :)

Gary

Good Morning America, how are you?

10pm July 4th, 2011: The grass underneath me is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Growing up I was never into sports, so I never found myself on a professionally manicured lawn until this moment, and quite frankly it was worth the wait. Maybe due to my recent willingness to connect with the ground? It is after all a natural progression in homelessness. Sooner or later, no matter how hard you fight the urge, you are going to lay down on some grass somewhere and fall asleep.
However this isn't about the grass. It's partially about America. This night I experienced something completely new to me.... a big ol' slice of American Pie.
There's still smoke in the air from the fireworks show that just took place above me as I lay in this carpet like plant life. The thing with this fireworks show was that for me it was my first small town 4th of July! Growing up it was always the big show from the East River in NYC, and last few years it's been the big show at the Esplanade along the Charles River here in Boston. This year however, I found myself in Waltham, MA, gathered in a high school football field, along with most of the town, and sharing the experience of bad live 70's music, cotton candy, and an overall "cuteness" that until tonight only existed in movies as far as I was concerned.
There was a point I felt like I was in the cast of Grease, the entire scene was absolutely ADORABLE!
However this isn't really about the fireworks. I think more than anything, what was really bringing me overwhelming joy, was the fact that it was 10pm, and I was walking about freely in the night air! Sounds simple enough, but the fact is until that sun set completely at 9;21, it was the first time in 2 months that I have been able to be outside of the designated smoking area of the shelter at night!! The joy that this gave me was beyond words.
However this isn't really about moving free in the night air. The joy I'm feeling on this night came a feeling of success. You see, earlier this day was my "Boston Harbor Island 4th of July Homeless BBQ Bash", and somehow, I actually managed to pull this thing off!!
Just when I thought this had no hope of happening properly, I was once again amazed by the kindness of others. People who donated to help me get this going, people at the Island Alliance that took a chance on a group of homeless people on their busiest family day of the year. Fellow homeless friends that pitched in anything they could via food stamps, and took the initiative when we got there to assemble the new grill, and position tables in what was nothing less than a perfect spot for the day, and then spent hours taking turns doing the cooking so I didn't have to!! A week before I had an anxiety attack because I was taking on too much, and my doctors, while supporting the idea, weren't crazy about me taking on the pressure. Yet here I am, that part of the day over, and now laying in this grass basking in the glow of a day executed perfectly!!

However this isn't really about success, this is about HUMANITY. Everything about this day was about taking these guys out of the day to day environment that we endure. Endless hours at the library killing time. Endless Dr appointments. Endless AA or NA Meetings. Endless nights of staring at the same four hot sweaty walls, looking at dozens of lost faces every night.
This was the day where we got to remind ourselves that just like everyone else, we are entitled to simply go out and have fun like everyone else, and by stimulating this mindset one achieves a greater sense of self empowerment, a greater self of independence, along with a greater feeling of comradery among the group. And my friends, these are the tools that lead to change, not only in one persons life, but the kind of change that can't help but spread itself to others.

Today however I also was reminded of this, and not just the one trying to pass the message. Today we were also joined by my ex!
Now first let me say, you've heard me use the term "my ex" before, yet I'm not a fan of it. I use it because it's easier to get my point across in a story where the focus lies somewhere else, but today I do in fact want to take a moment and let you all know, that the term "my ex", doesn't do her justice. She is the one person in my life who has stood by me, and still continues to do so through all of this. She is still my closest and dearest friend, and the one person that I couldn't ever picture not having in my life at all.
And she's pretty god damn sexy too! ;)
The point is, whether she realizes it or not, her willingness to come join us, without batting an eye about it, says a lot about her character, and whether she realizes it or not, that made me feel fantastic and gave me the little push I needed to remind MYSELF of some of the same things that I'm trying to make others feel.
And it wasn't just me, everyone that came yesterday pointed out that at no time did she ever make anyone feel at all "lower on the social ladder". Also keep in mind that some of these guys are a little bitter and generally think that everyone is looking down on them even when they're not, but she made them all feel just like any other group, and knowing her she does this without thinking about it. It's one the things that made me fall in love with her in the first place, she NEVER judged me for anything from my past, and there is plenty that she could, and it's the reason that in one way or another I will always love her! THANK YOU for coming, meant a lot to the guys, and it meant even more to me.
We also got a kick out the fact that we were feeding some people that were close to our area. So in a sense the "homeless" were feeding the community, and no one ever would've known ;)

However this isn't really about humanity, or freedom, or any of the other things discussed, when you break through everything it came down to one simple formula.... FUN!
We had fun right from the get go! Watching Pops at 6:30am meeting us in the park, and maneuvering his way through a complex maze of sprinklers across a field. Almost ninja like, in a slow shuffle, without ever feeling a drop, or dropping the ash from his cigarette.
It was moments of pure fun and laughter that made this 4th of July a success from the moment we got up, to the moment we went to sleep.
I thank you all for making it happen, but even more I thank ourselves for still having the laughter in us through all that we are going through. Spirits like this, you'll never keep us down long!
Happy Summer everyone!
Gary aka John Doe

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Harbor Island Homeless BBQ is On!

Ok, we're well on our way, thanks to the Harbor Island Alliance, who gave us 10 free ferry vouchers!
I'm now up to 12 ppl, so I've got ferry, bus and train fare for everyone who needs it, and a few bucks left to spend on food, but it's getting tight, and word is getting out, so theres a couple more ppl who would like go, but at this point I can't cover them.

Please any help you can give will be a great help! This thing getting bigger than I hoped! Lol
However thats a good thing!
Please hit that donate button

Gary

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THANK YOU to the Harbor Island Alliance!!

I have been going crazy these past couple of weeks trying to pull this 4th of July BBQ together at the Boston Harbor Islands for some of the homeless at my shelter and the womens shelter.
It was really starting to look hopeless and only had enough to get a few people there, and didnt even know how I was going to get food on the table yet. However thanks to the Boston Harbor Alliance I have the ferry covered for 10 of us, thanks to them donating the Ferry vouchers!!
I can't thank you enough! Now I'm able to cover the train and bus fare for 10 people and get some food to get us started!!
Many take something like this for granted, but a day out to get away from the hardships of our day to day routine is so incredibly important for moral, self esteem, and just to remind you what it is you're working towards regaining in your life!
Thank you so much, I am now able to bring all the right people who deserve this day because they work so hard at repairing their lives!

I am still collecting donations for additional food, since I now have the WONDERFUL problem of having more mouths to feed!! :) These are the kind of problems I like!

For great updates on activities at the islands, please follow them on Twitter at @34islandsboston




CNN Story on Homelessness and Social Networking

I'm flattered to get a brief mention in this story, however it's a great piece on the true power of social networking sites, and the great work that's being done by some people that I'm very honored to call friends!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW CNN STORY

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not homeless enough, Part 2

This is a responce to my friend @Joseph2Dogs on Twitter. He wrote an article on his blog, called "To All you homeless Traitors There I said It!!!"

First let me respond to where he says he won't be popular for this. Joseph I am probably your main demographic here, and I have nothing but respect for you, and nothing pleases more than unpolished, even brutal honest emotion. So we're good, and I'm going to return just as straight and unpolished ;)

First in regards to different levels of homelessness, or what some might not consider "homeless" enough.
I have said from day one, that in regards to my bout with homelessness, I've had it pretty damn good, and frankly it's going to get even smoother for me. Do I feel guilt about that? Absolutely not. I came into a situation, did some homework, got into a clean safe environment, and then from there started making opportunities for myself.
Do I ever claim to speak as the voice of homelessness? Absolutely not. I speak as what I am, one guy, with some personal shit that got me here, and trying to make some good out of my time here.


Yes, I go to a bed at night. Actually before night, I haven't walked freely in the night air in 2 months.
Do I get a meal at night? Some nights yes, some nights no. I have food stamps, so I'm covered on off nights. Do I feel guilt about that? Not a fucking chance buddy. I was a workaholic for DECADES, till some bad shit happened, then I basically unraveled, and could never really catch up or get a solid handle on my life. So I've paid a lot of money to Uncle Sam, so I feel no guilt in taking a little back.
Will I take more? Well frankly I qualify for SSI or SSDI, but at this point working with my doctors to see if I can just get back to work and tell Social Security "Thanks but no thanks".
That being said, I will be getting disabled housing because of my PTSD. Do I feel guilt about that? Not a fucking chance. That is what it's there for. I haven't operated properly in years, through no fault of my own.

I'll also be utilizing the system to fund a college degree. While doctors were poking around in my head, they found something, a 147 IQ, that I never did much with due to ADHD. Thats not bragging, I'm ashamed I was smart as my parents always told me and did nothing solid with it! LOL.
They want to help me get an advanced degree and help me find a career path in human services where hopefully I can make an actual difference one day.
So should I take all of this, and throw it away, and go grab a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars in solidarity? Once again.... not a fucking chance buddy! ;)
So once again I don't claim to speak for the homeless. I don't claim to have it as bad as others, and I certainly don't claim to be trying to save the world.
However I am here in this situation, I am trying to help people where and when I can as I see fit and able, and I will use, or even abuse, any resource given to me to make the best of this situation. The difference is most like myself, get in and out, and never speak of it again. I'm at least here telling my story, and will continue to work towards something positive when this is done.
This has changed my life in every single way, but if it hasn't made the changes that you would like it to, then my only response can be... "Oh well"

Without a home,
Gary

Homelessness does keep you humble

Certain things you should be able to be exited about, yet can't.
I remember when my first article was published in the paper, but I didn't have the dollar to buy a copy.
Now today I had a mention on CNN, but did I get to see it? Of course not! Lol

Forever humble,
Gary

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boston Legal

So as I'm at this cross road in life, it's become very clear to me, and to anyone who reads this blog, that I've taken strongly to helping those less equipped to help themselves.
So the question becomes how do I make this into a career and make enough to live while helping worthy causes?
While i'm getting great personal satisfaction helping others from within while living in a shelter, I certainly dont want to remain in homeless shelters helping those within it's walls forever.
So how do I continue to help?
More importantly, how do I make real change and real difference. Social work is great, but the more I learn from helping others is that most social workers hands are tied by the system they work under.
So the real question becomes how do I untie their hands?......... LAW

Not etched in stone yet, but with more and more serious thought I'm thinking pursuing a law degree might be the most effective answer for me.

My "dream team"(psych/case mngr/life coach), as I call them, are dying to hear me say that I'm ready to start working on advanced degrees, so I have a feeling this will please them as well :) Not that this is about them, I just know they'll be excited.

So watch out world. I'm from the mean streets of Brooklyn, i'm highly intelligent, and I have first hand knowledge of problems in the system for the homeless, and one day i'll have my law degree.
I am a triple threat!!

That being said, will you guys PLEASE help me get this 4th of July BBQ going properly? Donate!
These are all sober, clean, good people working at repairing their lives, they... and myself.... need a good fun day to remember what we're working for!

Thanks for listening,
Gary aka John Doe