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


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 ;)

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'

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 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

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..."