Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Staying the course.

These are just a few of the people that make up Skid Row.

The two women are Ms.Armstead, on the left, and Captain Veenstra on the right.
Ms. Armstead is an attorney with the City Attorney's office. She is the neighborhood prosecutor. I do not exactly know what that means but I will find out for you asap. Captain Veenstra is in charge of Patrols at the Central Division of the Los Angeles Police Department which is in Skid Row.

Yesterday they they were at "Ask the Captain". That is a once a Quarter event that takes place at the LA Mission where people from the community can address their concerns with the neighborhood brass. The event was held in the chapel of the mission and was cut short because of scheduling conflicts.

About 50 to 75 people attended the event and basicly they were given a synopsis of the Safer Cities Initiative status. I asked Sergeant Royce about the categories of homelessness. He said he had some figures as to what percentage were homeless because of drug use or other reasons. When I get those figures, I will publish them.

The smiling gentleman is Michael Johnson. He is happy because he moved from the Transition House to the Panama House. It sounds like something that should be simple but nothing is simple on the Nickel. Michael had been the Skid Row community sense 1992. He has been in approximately 10 programs.

I met him while I was at the Transition House. He lived there for a couple of months and suffered another relapse. He returned to the Transition House and has been clean ever since.

Michael was one of the first Skid Row community members that spoke to me concerning the police a couple of months ago. He insisted that they know that people support their activities on Skid Row.

I put these pictures of people on the blog instead of people to show the difference one feels when one talks about the people of Skid Row. I have mostly shown pictures of buildings. I did that for a reason. I wanted to wait for the right time to show pictures of smiling people in the community.

There is a growing segment of people that view the police as an integral part of the Skid Row community.


Here is another tidbit of information. I found out from Sergeant Royce that most of the officers that come to Skid Row would rather stay there than be transferred to another division. Here, on Skid Row, they have the opportunity to see the difference their work makes on a day to day basis. I must admit that that surprised me as I would have thought they would have wanted to leave as soon as possible.

Over the last few days my postings have not been as consistent as they have been. Compter labs at libraries have been packed. The computers at the Transition House have all been in use by others as well. People on Skid Row are learning more and more how to use the technology of today to further their goals and to reach out and touch people.


Marting Luther King day was smooth. I thought I would feel more twinges of emotional aches than I previously thought I would feel. The parade goes down Martin Luther King Blvd. in the Leimert Park District of Los Angeles. That street is at the end of the block from my mother's street. Therefore, when I turn on the tv I see my neighborhood during the parade.

I did something that I needed to do instead of watching the parade. I straightened up the room and started a novel, Gideon's Torch. It was written by Charles Colson of the Watergate era. IT is funny how people are connected to eachother by the strangest circumstances. When Colson was in the Nixon Administration, he interfaced everyday with Haldeman, the Nixon Chief of Staff. As you know Haldeman graduated from my alma mater as well as his son who was a year ahead of me. At the same time, Derek Bok, whose students at Harvard Universtity, while he was the president there, protested vigorously against the Vietnam War. Derek Bok graduated from my alma mater around the same time that Haldeman. Then in 1972 during the Watergate hearings, I was playing my first year of tennis at the University of Pennsylvania.
At that time, The Colson Brothers, as we called them at Penn, were playing for Princeton University. They are the sons of Charles Colson.

I thought of all of that on Monday while reading that book. I had not read a novel in months as I began to feel that I was using novels as a way to escape instead of concentrating on getting my life together. Now, I believe the are a healthy respit
from the days events and keep me in touch with a world, in which, I would like to once again, be a productive member.

With that in mind, I woke up and started the day early. I washed the clothes and swept out theroom. I found that the soapy water for the community mop was clean and fresh so I mopped the floor and made up the bed. Ah yes, the feeling of being organized like I was as a teenager feels great.

I made sure I kept my finger to the pulse on my current events. I emailed my sister to let her know that I am still working on a court date. I take nothing for granted. I do not assume anymore that she, or anyone else, knows what I am thinking.

I emailed Paul, the bro bono attorney, to see if he had been successful with obtaining a court date. I talked to Kevin Royce and Jose.

Now what, I thought, I have to get a job. I have to replace the EBT card I use to get food stamps. I decided to weight for the card. I decided if I did not have the card that I could have a storage of wealth. I looked at all of the postings at Chrysalis and turned up a few things. However, Something kept ringing in my ear. It was what Randall and Don Garza said.

Randall said I was selling myself short. I was too concerned about things and that I should utilize my vast network of friends to help me. I have always used my connections to help others. Now that I need it them for me, I have been overly self conscious about what has happened to me.

Don Garza said basicly the same thing:that Downtown people are getting to know me and that sooner or later someone would ask me to work for them.

I just keep moving forward but I must admit there is a growing confidence of sorts that something will happen. I just keep doing the right things.

I went to the Transition House and used the computer for a while to tweak my resume some more.

Later I went home and called Randy. He called me back. There was a problem with my impresssions that he took for my teeth. He needed to see me the next day on Wednesday. Paul, emailed me and there was still no date for a court appearance.
There have been alot of things that are going on. One foot in front of the other.
That is all there is to do. Keep moving forward.


Wednesday morning. I woke up and grabbed some cans in a garbage pale. I have a collection that is building up. I had the can franchise in the Transition House. Saved up a pretty penny.

Jose called me. He is back from the Bay Area. He enjoyed time up there with his new nephew. He also shared with me how he, his brother and another friend were wrestling on the ground. This friend was talking trash to Jose that he could take him in wrestling. Jose was a defensive back for Yale and that challenge kicked in.
Jose picked the guy up and slammed him to the ground, whereupon the guy made one of those excruciatingly painful sounds that let you know something was wrong.
Jose found out that he broke the guys ribs.

Jose and Kevin picked me up and took me to breakfast. I asked Jose if he has talked to Tom Gilmore. I told Jose on the phone that I feel more confident of being able to be a productive member of his team. When Tom sees me again I want him to see a different man. He first met me when I had on sweats. He later saw me at a party where I had on gray slacks and blue shirt and blazer. That picture is in my profile at It was taken at a party. I sent it to Gilmore when I sent him my first resume. I wanted him to know it was I and also to let him see me in a different light. Though the picture was good, it was inappropriate. It was a casual picture. Again, I have reason to be glad that Tom did not see the resume or the picture. I sent them when I was not as strong as I am today:not as confident as I am today. I am feeling things again that I have not felt in many years.

As I said before, I want Tom to see a different man. The next time it will be a man in a suit with teeth in his mouth. What will it reflect? It will show Tom and everyone else that I have worked hard to take care of myself and to do what it takes to be a part of something.

---After breaksfast we dropped Jose off to get his car and Kevin started to take me to the bus stop. I called and almost did not go to Randy's office but I called again and finally jumped on the bus. I had to push myself. Randy wanted to see me and was willing to drive me in the rain to the lab. Keep moving forward.

Before going to the bus stop, I stopped at the room. I had to get my bus tokens. It was funny because Kevin stopped right in front of the Marshall House with his black and white patrol car. I used to be concerned about what people think of that car on San julian. Now I dont give a dam. I jumped out of it and laughed to myself as faces turned and wondered what was going on.

I told the case manager about the appointment with Randy for my teeth and he said no problem. He then asked me to piss in a bottle. He said we were all notified. I said I was notified and that I had an officer waiting to take me to the bus stop.

His eyes lit up when I said police officer. Don, the case manager, is used to residents bringing police officers to the Marshall House because of some kind of trouble instead of being helped to do something.

There was no point in telling him I was in a hurry. I forgot, momentarily, that it is important to fulfill all compliance requirements so the organizations can get their funding. It is not important that they keep their word. For the last few days, I have gone to retrieve my breakfast, and there is no juice. There is no milk. There is no dinner. That is their responsibility to have these things.
No problem. I keep going.

I rush into the bathroom and piss. It was a pain in the ass to stand there and wait until all 5 sections of the test came through. They started testing in the last few days. The reason is because they fired the resident manager. He was reported that he was not turning in overnight guess fees and that he was shielding drug dealers that were in the building. As a result, they tested everyone. I do not know who was thrown out if any but that is not my concern. I knew I was clean. I just wanted to go.

Don told me as I was leaving that he wanted to see me this morning with teeth. I told him that I was just getting refitted. "In that case, bring a note." No problem, I was thinking. I knew he would forget. Besides, that was his attitude before I took the test. This morning, he looked at me and gave me the thumbs up. He was glad I did not test dirty.

I jumped into Kevins car and he ended up dropping me back at the Marshall House. Eventually, I walked back to the bus stop and made it to my friend's office. We took the impressions and jumped in his car, and in the rain, drove to Westwood, from Westchester, to the lab that is going to do my teeth. Randy's office overlooks the Los Angeles International Airport. I could not help but wonder what Lydia was doing. Lydia was my ex girl friend that was the executive director for LA world airports which included LAX. She stepped down recently.

I sat in that lab chair while the people their gave me immediate attention. It felt like the ole days where I was helping my friends with their questions and they would help me with what I needed. Service is what I was getting and it was being done by someone who loved me and believed in me. Priceless.

Sitting there, I thought about everything I had gone through over the last year. EVerything I worried about during the last year. Everything I needed to get done, internally and externally, in order to accomplish my goals. I was in that chair. They were very precise in what they were trying to accomplish with respect to my teeth. It would help me get a job. IT would help me restart a career path that I put on hold for years until I did not straddle two worlds: the drug world and the corporate world. The drug world was gone.

I sat in that chair and things INSIDE OF ME were coming together. I recognized that I endured. Randy recognized that I have endured and Randy has known me longer than anyone on this planet. In the car back, after lunch, in the thundering rain, he had time to give me the encouragement, the nutrition I needed to climb some more of this mountain. He rememebered how my father assigned to me the task of carrying
two extra sleeping bags when we were hiking up a mountain when we were ten years old. The mountains were no small mountains. They were the highest mountains in the Sierra Nevada. My father was counselor for the YMCA during the summers.
He went on every camping trip to earn money until he resumed teaching in the fall.
The camps were designed for age groups. This one was for the 18 year olds. Randy and I could co because my father was the counselor. The 18 year olds could not make it. I carried mine and two of the backpacks of those who could not make it.

Tradition. History. Strength of that history and tradition. Remember those words that I talked so much about. There, in the mountains, was another category of history and tradition that was engrained into my being that has played apart in this long climb for years. By the way, my father, walked up that mountain with a full cast, from toe to hip.
Randy dropped me off in the thrundering rain and immediately I went to the Transition house where I uploaded these pictures and started on this blog. It was storming but I had to keep moving. I had to keep going. I have things to do.

My teeth will be ready soon. I did what I had to do. Moving forward. Slow but steady.

It is Thursday morning. I finished a chapter of the novel and came here to Chrysalis. I had to finish the blog. I looked on the board for any postings but nothing new was on the board.

I forgot to tell you that I was invited by email to join the Harvard-Westlake Real Estate Network. I did that earlier this week. Slow but steady. I even think I may get lucky and get my license back. I may be able to find the money. I believe I will have the money in a couple of days to take the required continued education course that must be completed before I renew the license. Slow and steady. Nerve racking but so what. As Monday said to me one day. Rebuilding your life is not easy Walter. If it were easy, every one would be doing it instead of going backwards.

While reading my email, I received another notice from my alma mater. Two things came to my attention. They are having multicultural awards at Harvard-Westlake.
That place has come a long way.

The second thing I read was that one of the graduates of '95 has been nominated for an Oscar. I will post about that in a separate posting. people may not want to spend the time to read all of it and then I can not be effective in promoting my fellow alumnus. I have mentioned a few today so it is fitting that I can give my support for his oscar nomination.

I must go. It is time to get back to the toil of finding a job. talk later.

1 comment:

enhager said...

I stumbled over your blog a couple of times now and each time I spend too long reading your posts. Keep it up. Since you grew up in my neighborhood, you should check out