Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A matter of Choice

Thanks LA woman for the comment about the pictures in 'sister cities'. I was thinking of my sister when I took those. I wanted them to come out right. I am not a photographer but I try to at least take good shots.

My sister is an artist and she made this sketch of me for a school class. It was gorgeous. the sketch was, I was not. She made me look handsome. On the back of it
the professor said she did it with love. I took that picture with me every where. It meant so much to me.

I tried to put extra care into the photos because the one thing I do know that my sister and I share is traveling and people from different cities.

I am doing an interview today with a reporter from the LA Times. I am not anxious about it but I am anxious about what I am about to say right now.

IT has come to my attention in a gossipy sort of way that I am not liked in downtown Los Angeles. It is because I talk too much or because I used drugs.

Funny. I chose to talk about drugs to help myself understand some things and to help some people. Most of the people who read my blog are not from the streets of skid row. They are people who live in homes, middle to upper middle class, and go to work everyday. No doubt they have people in their lives that do drugs, whether they know it or not.

I have two friends. They are brothers. Both of them are surgeons and each of them do alot of cocaine. Neither brother knows the other does cocaine.

What do I say about downtown los angeles to this reporter. skid row is a part of los angeles. Talk about skid row, you say. skid row is no different than any other part of los angeles. there is mental illness. there is drug use. there are grabs for power and economic success. there are jealousies. there is gossip, and some of it is malicious.

The person who does malicious gossip about someone is a robber and a thief. they steal from a person the chance to get to know another because of their own prejudices. It is know different than the robber who stole the money from the safe of the Union Rescure Mission. They steal an opportunity away from someone or both people to grow because of their own fears.

Yet these people who do these things are suppose to be so respectable. why? because the have the facade of respectability. They have the things that lend credence to them, a job, car, etc. IT all depends on the value system of a segment of population.

There is no way in the world that people on skid row or those of that economic bracket could afford to smoke as much cocaine that comes into this city. tons of cocaine come into this city. it is done in the suburbs. it is done in the neighborhoods in the palisades, beverly hills, hancock park baldwin hills, ladera and everywhere else where high 5 and 6 digit incomes are common.

I had a friend with whom I went to school for 6 years. One day I happened be sitting in the car of a drug dealer. He received a call and told me he was going to a house in a certain hi-end neighborhood. when we got to the house. I knew it.
I had been to the house on numerous occasions. It was my friends parents house. I did not know if they still owned it. when the door opened my friend came to the door and the exchange was made. He did not see me. He did not know I was in the car. The drug dealer did not know I knew him and I did not tell him I did.

My friend must be lonely. He lives in two worlds-the ones he prsents to the public and the one that is his reality outside of the public. He is not happy.

I was much like he is. Unhappy. I was a facade, a fake. I had the armani suits and the italian loafers. I even played top notch tennis and golf, the social sports.

I am going to let everyone I know know that I am on skid row. As soon as the article is published, people will know. I am putting my pride aside to help others.
I pretty much do not care whether or not I am liked. I love everyone. I will do that whether I am liked or not.

If someone is waiting for me to begin doing drugs again, I hope they are not holding their breathe. IT won't happen. I stand a greater chance of smoking a cigarette but that won't happen.

If I met people downtown while I was wearing my armani suits and italian loafers then I would be ok. I would have the props of respectability to give me acceptability. I do not wear them now. They are at home. They are not accessible.

I disclosed past drug use because I felt I had a job to do. I felt I had to tell people that there is someone out here who understands their loneliness. I speak to the people on the streets about drugs. I write to the people in the lofts and the high rise offices about drugs. those are the places where big time drugs are consumed and if someone says it is not true then they do not know what they are talking about.

I am making another choice to speak to the reporter. I will let those who have known me know where I am. I was surprised when I came out of the closet about my drug use. I am surprised I will tell the city I am down here. I am doing it for myself. I am doing it to make a difference. I will experience some fall out from this like I am beginning to hear about my past drug use and I quit drugs before I came down here.

It does not matter if someone likes me. What matters is if people who do not like me like themselves. What is their drug of choice? I do not mean cocaine, marijuana or heroin. I mean is it power? money? being included in the incrowd of the moment?
Is your drug of choice so invisible that you do not even know what it is that you need that makes you miserable?

I do not have time to dislike people or to label them. A label is just like anything else. It categorizes. I do not have time to say someone is black,white, gay or straight. they are a smoker or a loser. I accept people as they present themselves and I do not have to put some body down or cast doubt about them because of something that I fear but do not know.

I had a friend. He was gay. I am straight. I did not know he was dying of aids. One day I was told he was and my girlfriend and I went to see him. I sat in the car scared to death to see him. I cried. I was terrified. I did not understand aids.
I did not know if I could catch it by hugging him or touching his blanket.
Eventually I went inside to see him but I was very hesitant to even breath.

I met Joe. Joe makes it a point to let everyone know he is HIV positive and he educates the public about that in his blog center city Pos.

I made a point to hug him when I met him and when we said goodbye. It was as much for me as it was for him. I wanted him to know that I accept him fully and that I am not skiddish about shaking his hand or hugging him. Alot of people are. I wanted to feel for myself the growth that was inside to the point that I could express warmth to another human being and not let fear stop me.

I wont let my fear stop me from doing this article. I have a job to do. I wont let
somebodies prejudices hamper my view of myself.

If they do not like me or trust me because I used drugs in my life then there is nothing I can do about that. I hope they like themselves.

I have a friend that no longer wants to see me. It was ok when I did drugs. He would call me and ask me to do real estate pro formas for him or ask me to do complicated financial cash flow analyses for him. He would call me and ask me if I knew someone in this or that area and I would give him a name to call and tell the person that he was a friend of mine. However, now that he has heard something, he has made a judgement without even speaking to me. He know longer wants to speak to me. It does not surprise me. He stopped calling me when he was accepted in a country club, one of those where friends of mine receive memberships passed down to them.

It hurt but there is nothing I could do about that. I worry about one person liking me and that is my sister. This other stuff is minor. IF I was so worried about everybody liking me I would go home and get my armani suits.

Oh yes. If my thanking people over the last few months seems a bit much I understand that. However, when one has experienced an extraodinary amount of cruelty within the last year, it is important for me to say thanks at the smallest bit of kindness. In February, if someone said something nice to me my body would shake. I was shocked at how traumatized I was.

If expressing thanks comes across as insincere, then I am sorry it does. My intent is just the opposite. I will temper my desire to express thanks.

I was told that people on Skid Row can not be trusted. I am living on Skid Row so therefore I can not be trusted. I was sent here by the courts. I did not chose to come here. Be that as it is. I have seen so called respectable people do things or not do things they promise and people trust that they are going to be done.

I found that a great many people around this part of town do not keep their word.
I will always keep mine. I have to keep mine to myself this morning and to my father and mother who wanted me to make a difference in life.
This morning I have a job to do. I must put aside my pride. IT will not be easy but nothing has been within the last year or so.

But I have a job to do. Maybe I can rid some of these stereotypes of skid row. I know this much. I have tried to rid the stereotypes that skid row people have of the people in the lofts.

Good morning world, I love you


dgarzila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dgarzila said...

To hear you say that you are doing it for yourself is awesome. This is what I live by. It is by helping others that we truly help ourselves. It is in our nature to do so. We must remember that even when we help others we are doing it for ourselves.

An old maxim a friend of mine told me years ago is that when we make ourselves stronger, naturally others will draw strength from us .

I have drawn strength from you Walter. I would never have built the website if it wasn't for you. Now I know I can do it. I had it in me. You believed in me.

donsyms said...

You are beginning a crucial journey my brother. Care for others but help yourself first. Only you and "joss" stand in your way. I love you always and unconditionally.

donsyms said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
City Center POZ said...

"I made a point to hug him when I met him and when we said goodbye."

What a great way to meet someone new--with a hug!

Thanks, Walter.

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