Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RElaxing while things are penetrating inside of me

I am still clearing out the place. I am taking my time.

I remember when my family moved into the family house in 1959 or so. The first thing that my mother did was put in the books. "Start with the books, Walter."

I did just that. My uncle made this book class in junior high school. It was in the house from which we were moving. That was put into the car and moved to the house. I took it out and put it in my bedroom where it has been ever since. It is still there. the book case was an excellent piece of craftsmanship by my uncle. It does not surprise me as I think he is the best at everything he does.

I have remembered that all of my life. "Start with the books". I never start ed with the books when I moved from apartment to apartment back east but it is time for a change. So, this morning, I decided to start with the bookshelves. Of course that happens to be the most crowded section of my little room. Things are burried in there.

As I told you, I am enjoying this phase. Charlotte told me to enjoy this phase and actually did not know how to go about doing it at first. However, I am finding the answers.

I started early this morning and tossed some things around and threw out some more papers. Great way to get started. Just throw out one little thing to get the victories started. Just get one victory. I did the same thing when I cleaned out my mother's house. Whenever I hit a stagnating period of time I found something that I could do quickly to make a difference. Anything. It could be putting the little pile of stuff I swept up in the dustpan and empty it in the trash can. It could be picking up a sock and putting it in the dirty clothes bag. Anything that meant progress.

So after the papers in the trash, I started to clear out some of the corner. I found some space to move some stuff and clear out the top of the pile. Finally I got all the way to the bottom where I found a book that I have been trying to find as well as a bunch of pens, pens and assored things that spilled out of its container. they had been there for a long time and I knew it. However, because I could not see them, it did not bother me. However, it began to bother me recently. As I told you, I wanted things to be structually sound, not just temporarily functional.

So I took my time and picked up the things. I saw the wall that had something spilled on it. I have seen the spill for months but just the top of it. Now I saw it all. Looked like I spilled coffee. Don't forget, I had to get to all of this in order to get to the bookshelf.

I had to clean the wall. I finally had to put that behind me. So I marched off to the nearest 99cent store and purchased two more containerts as well as a bucket and made my way back to the room. I purhased another container yesterday at the Office Depot but not again. I paid the same price for one of their containers but it is much smaller. Now I have 4 containers waiting to be filled up. The empty milk crates and card board boxes are now stacked up next to the door.

Finally, I filled the bucket with soap and water and cleaned off the wall. Then I organized my bookshelves putting the food on one shelf and the supplies like toiletries and things on another shelf. Ah yes the things I learned from the past.

In High School, I worked at Gelson's in Century City as a box boy. Dont put the soap next to the food. That was the first thing they told me.

After all of that, I got rid of some more clothes, taking a batch to the
Transition House.

I ran into a friend and we talked and then I walked through Skid Row. I bypassed the STRive computer lab and made my way down here to the Little Tokyo Library. Something told me I was going to learn something.

I was not let down. I went into some of the shops in the toy district and browsed around. I went into several shops and did not realized that there are alleys with a labyringth of streets that contain shops like in the Casbah in Morocco or in the Tapas bar district in Madrid.

Ah, yes, just what I thought and wanted to happen. I am more relaxed so things are penetrating into me. I am seeing more and discovering more.

I am seeing more on the net. I have read things on the net for months. SEen things.

But now, I stopped to put things together. I know have a little ad box for google ads. I now have a couple of links added to my blog.

I was just not ready to take the time to do certain things or even when I did, the how to part to do something would not sink in.

Ideas are forming. I stopped thinking too hard about them when I got to the real estate part of the ingredient to integrate everything. Although the ideas about them are fresh as well. I think it is because I am beginning to be fresh.

I am looking at Skid Row differently. I am partitioning the elements better. Understanding things better. Seeing more or having the patience to articulate them in my mind more. I will comment on these things later.

I think all of this is because I am digging deeper. I am spending time with myself and enjoying the process of self development. Yes, I am turning my environment slowly into a study. Feels good.

Must go. must get to work. Must look at my new plastic containers and envision where they should go.

Talk later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

STill House Cleaning.

As you can see, things are scattered everywhere in my room. However, before I wrote this blog, I threw out three thrash cans full of paper and donated some more clothes.

Even though stuff is scattered everywhere, I feel great. I am getting rid of so much stuff that reminds me of a time that I would rather forget. I got through it. I want to put all of those painful memories behind me. the papers and the clothes remind of those times.

You see the single sheet of paper with my name at the bottom of it. That is called a
"MEETING Sign-up Sheet". That is a very common sheet on Skid Row. It is as common as a California Driver license. They come in all sizes an shapes, in paper or card stock. The courts want to see them or a residential program. They want to make certain that you are maintaining your recovery treatment program.

I will comment on the effectiveness of that philosophy in a subsequent blog.

I took a close up of one of my sheets that I found. As you can see, it is dated exactly one year ago today. I was probably not in the meeting. More than likely, I was in the guard shack. It was the custom of the Transition House that if you volunteered for the guard shack, you could get credit for the meeting.

As you can imagine, I volunteered every single day from 8am to 8pm, for seven months.
It was my sanctuary. I could get away from all of the confusion and chaos, the rap music and the anger that many people had in the facility. I could also write all day. I saved all of my writings.

I had to save all of my meeting sheets. And of course I had many of them when I went to court. The judge did not care about them, however. He wanted me to go to the classes that I am attending now. I did not know that. So I am doing them now.
I have accepted that and have adjusted to it.

Actually, I am learning how to recognize anger in other people, to recognize signs of toxicity in individuals. IT is very interesting.

So I am throwingt stuff like that away. I am glad I am getting rid of the past. It takes a load off of me. IT is a lot of work but it is worth it. I can finally move forward, completely.

By the way, this "spring cleaning" is good for another reason. It is keeping me busy. As you know, I have been waiting for my license. I have done well not thinking about it and the outcome.

Until this morning. I ran across some papers I copied from the internet concerning expungement of cases. Of course, I had to run into a section where a man commented on how expungement enabled him to get a real estate license that had been denied him previously. Of course each case is different but that got to me.

So now what do I do. I must use the skills I learned while piling up those meeting slips. I had to learn how to be patient. This time last year, I thought I would never see my mother again. I cried every night.

I had to learn how to put it out of my mind. People told me to do that every day. They had much experience with that kind of thing. Some people that taught me that lesson were in prison at times when their mothers' died and they could not attend the funeral. Imagine dealing with that kind of pain.

Yes, they taught me alot.

So now, as I am typing, I have put it in its proper place for now so I can concentrate on what I have to do. I have to get things done regardless of the outcome. I remember in college and after that, whenever I broke up with a girlfriend, I did not want to study or do business. I wallowed in misery.

This experience taught me how to keep living and surviving and not let things fall apart.

Well, back to the room. Must keep clearing stuff out.

Monday, April 28, 2008

STephen Carter and LA Woman 3

At the top you see all of the clutter. At the bottom are pictures of my recent purchases. Let me start at the bottom to explain the top.

What you see in the bottom pictures are some of my recent purchases. I have mentioned them to you on previous posts. The clear container with the blue cover on top of it was purchased yesterday. My push up bars and jump rope are on top of the container. Those were purchased within the last 6 weeks. I have thought about all of these things for months. Needing them, wanting them and utilizing them. Ah but benefiting from them to the maximum utility is vital. I was not ready to do that. My internal structure has not been built or organized strong enough to sustain and maintain a peaceful and orderly use of these tools.

That is what I mean by clearing the decks. You have heard me talk about cleaning my room. I recall a painstaking process when I was attempting to put together a resume. I needed clarity of environment before I could tackle with myself successfully enough to create clarity of self and my create clarity of the timeline of my life. I had to battle the temptation of saying, "Oh, the hell with this."
I knew I had to do it it was so important.

And yes. I cleaned it and won the war to achieve temporary clarity. Temporary clarity to accomplish a short term goal. However it was seasonal clarity, not structural. I accomplished the task of dressing properly to withstand the current needs to weather a climatic requirement. However, I knew it would not be sustainable. I was not ready. Even when I cleared out space, there were corners of clutter. There was clutter on top of a closet. I could not see what was there. I did not need what was there. However what I did not know was that just because I could not see what was up there did not remove the weight of it all from affecting me. What was up there prevented a "clear span" of feeling that is necessary and vital at this stage.

I have been monologuing about this stage for some time. I remember talking about getting to the point of having my license or at least finishing the task of fulfilling the requirements for getting it. I also said that I may not ever use that license. I do not know. What I was saying was, in some ways, that license was a security blanket of accomplishment from the past. It can help me in the future. Or I may think it can help me in the future or it can be an inhibiting factor in my new life, it can be a form of hand cuffs that prevent the attainment of freedom if I do not look at it from a clear and appropriate perspective.

All of this has been a struggle for me to understand and appreciate. It is important that I digest and understand this process to the finest detail so as I can separate it all out and integrate it and understand how accentuation of a detail can have an impact on another area of life. its manifestation or lack there of. Moreover, it will enable me to share with those, in the physical area known as Skid Row, or with those who are in a spiritual area of Skid Row-those who exist in the physical aestheticness of an environment that makes it easy, unfortunately so, to conceal the Skid Row that exists inside of themselves. I know a little about this. I saw alot of the previous example at Harvard School for Boys. However, that example was shared in many ways not only by some families that lived in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. It was also shared by their counter parts that lived in Baldwin Hills and Windsor Hills. The former area is comprised by mostly successful whites and the latter area is comprised mostly by successful blacks.

Before today, I was in a rush to get out of my room. I felt closed in. I felt the weight of the clutter. Even when I cleared the decks to a certain point to function at a necessary level, I was never at peace. Of course I had to clear the physical decks to achieve artificial serenity. Whether that is necessary, to do first, or if that is just a necessary step because one is incapable of leap frogging that step because one is not emotionally or psychologically prepared and able to bypass it is a subject of potential debate. However, the fact of the matter it is the process of physical clarity that has brought me to the point of appreciating my internal clarity.

It has brought me to the point where I can be at peace, regardless of my environment. "I will feel alot better when I get to another building." "I would feel better if I did not have to deal with the things that I have to deal with in this room". "This room is so gloomy". "I got to get out of here".

These are the words and attitude of someone who is comfortable imprisoning himself. It is not the words of a man or the attitude of a man who will not let physical enviroment affect his attitude or focus or serenity. I was told by someone in jail, that even though one is in jail or prison, one does not have to be imprisoned spiritually. I am beginning to achieve that distinction. I have worked hard enough, I have endured long enough to see and feel the difference. Certainly, I was intellectually capable of understanding the concept. However, I was not developed to the point of being able to feel and actualize it in my every day being and accomplishment. Therefore I had my own drag coefficient that was internally and intensely self perpetuating. It is something that I believe is not exclusive to Walter Melton. I believe that that the potential is in everyone and,indeed, thrives in most people to some degree or another. And thus, with that being true, it exists and thrives in society as a collective.

Now, on Skid Row you have those that are free and equal and opposite amount of those who are not. It is a very interesting composition that you do not see elsewhere. And I must say that as screwed up as things are on Skid row, as I said before, you have people who are fortunate enough not to have the burden of masks weigh them down. So in that respect, in a place where mental illness thrives, many people are not hampered by the collective societal anomalies that effect many in society at large.

When I was at Harvard University, the weekend at met Robert F. Kennedy Jr., I walked on that campus a great deal. I wanted so much to go there. However, I knew I was not ready. I was not ready emotionally. I needed distraction. And in the courtyards at Harvard I saw none. It was in the late spring but I saw no one on walk ways. I did not hear music blairing from the windows. And the windows were not closed to battle against the weather.

I would go to one corner room to another--Rooms hidden within the quiet and when the doors of those rooms opened up, there was a world unto itself. There was a self containment and strength of confidence of that self containment that was in those rooms. And that self containment where people did not need people every second enabled thoughts and concepts to penetrate deeper levels. It enabled those to pursue greater scholarship.

This morning, as I said, I was not in a rush to get out. I was not in a rush to get out of the room. I have noticed changes in me over a period of time. Of course, some of those changes have been brought about because of the success of experiencing changes in my sitiuation. Of course I learned alot from being patient. Of course I had to be patient because the courts and the transitional house etc controlled my fate. They replaced drugs. However, I could learn something and become stronger and there were lessons to learn from learning how to be patient. And one learns how to become patient, I imagine, in most cases, grugingly.

This morning, I took my time in cleaning the decks. I am not in a rush. I am not pushing things to the side. I am removing things. I am getting rid of the invisible weight that was upon me. I was not ready in the past to remove it. Why because i was comfortable with the prison that I knew. NOw I am more comfortable with the freedom that I am pursuing and feeling more of it with each morsel of it that increasingly flows through my being--with each morsel of it navigating itself to the appropriate parts as is necessary so I can earn the right of Passage to the next level in an enduring mode that is ever lasting and eternal.

There was a time when I would discard some clothes expeditiously. I wanted to get rid of the old. It reminded me of too many things. I did not take the time to wash and clean them. I did not take the time to give them to someone else. "Ah, no one will miss these things. No one will need them." "Get rid of them, NOW, Walter. The faster you can get rid of them, the faster, I can move on."


For the past couple of weeks, I have been working to let go of my maroon sweats. I did not need them. I kept them. In some way they were a hedge against not having clothes in case I lost my job. However, that was a commitment to the past. It wasnt a movement to the "New", and to the future. I held on to them.

I could not get rid of them. I could not just throw them in the trash. Yesterday I washed them. I shared that with you. I did that and even then, I started to throw them in the trash. This morning, I folded them up. Then I found some other clothes that were hidden on top of the closet and grabbed them. Immediately, weight was lifted and a thoroughness achieved.

I walked those items to the Transition House where I first got them. I handed them to the program director who eyed me up and down after he realized I was making a contribution. The same program director told me many times how proud of me he was.
The same program director promised to help me pay for my continuing education classes. I did not get the money from him. I never asked him. I did it myself.
Each day, I asked him if we still had a deal. Each day he said yes.

He also said he would help me with my real estate license fees. I never got the money from him. I never asked. I did it myself. From the process, there came upon me a sense of fulfillment of doing it myself. I appreciated what my privileged classmates told me from Harvard School when they refused the help of their parents.
They wanted to do things themselves.

I have felt the same way. I wanted help but I didnt. I wanted to endure it all. If I call someone I wanted it to be mutually beneficial.

From that process of doing it myself, I maximized the utility of the experience. I feel I learned lessons that would have been left on the table had I allowed him to help me. I kept asking him even when I had the money. Doing it myself allowed me to experience the thoroughness of an undertaking, the peripherals, the external economies of an experience.

When I walked out of his office, I turned and said" Do we still have a deal? I was referring to him helping me pay for my license. Of course I have already paid for it. I did not need to tell him that I already did it. I did not need that reassurance or approval. I did not need that external trophy of acceptance and applause. "Yes, Walter, you got that."

Hmmm, I was pleased with myself. I kept my secret. Yes, I have learned a great deal about patience as the judge has said and I was grudgingly forced to learn and accept.

When I took the time to wash and fold the clothes that, at one time, were given to me, I learned alot. I learned some more about patience. I learned alot more about not being selfish and about exercising the notion of compassion and human fellowship to another level. Maturity. And not rushing change but evolving into it, the marination of the process, brought about that extra wide angle of understanding and
I growth.

I have mentioned to you that I have not been pleased at having to cut short my writing, and thus, my thoroughness of thought, because of time constraints. Well, I just made a decision. I was going to cut short my writing to get to the bike shop. My bike chain is off. I needed to get it fixed as it is too tangled for me to
address. I also needed a light so as not to get a ticket. All of this would take a good 45 minutes to complete.

I had a choice to make complete this to whatever fine details that the writing reveals that this post needs, or leave and get something else done so I can have convenience later. Of course, it only takes me a few minutes to walk home. I really do not have to worry about being robbed. In fact, I might learn something from the experience and may cheat myself from more growth if I choose convenience over thoroughness now.

So I am going to complete this post. And by not rushing to the bike shop, I can throw out a few things to achieve my structural integrity. I do not have to push things aside to provide the illusion of orderliness. It just hides the structural weakness of my foundation.

I have shared all of this with you because, I believe the more I understand all of the processes and applications at work, individually, the more I can integrate them successfully. In short, the more I understand, to its finest detail, what is going on inside of me and the lateral categories that need to be included in order to move successful, verically, the better I can observe and understand what I experience in the area known as Skid Row. So indeed, Skid Row is Like an Oxford Scholarship. You are on your own in your independent study and I want to squeeze the maximum out of this experience.

I am on a list to move to another building. It is a building that has carpet instead of linoleum. It is peaceful instead of loud. Where as I needed loudness when I was 18 for distraction from self, and when I first arrived here out of fear of not being able to handle the solitude, I am embracing it. Just like at Harvard or in the Hotel Chateau Marmont, each nook and cranny that had a door that opened into a world of intense research by those living in it, I am slowly turning my Marshall house room, into my place nook and cranny "research lab".

I will get there and then I will be able to use the items that are in the picture. I do not want to use them until I can use them consistently and without strain.

Yesterday, I was looking at a website. I was reading the website of the man that stopped me in the street. I felt anxiety. I felt anxiety because I knew I was not ready to apprediate it, at that moment.

I saw a poet, a poet that I met in November. Her name is Wendy. I started to read her work. I could not absorb it. I was impatient. I was not at peace and I wanted to be. I believe she has great talent and insight. In fact I have wanted to meet her again for quite some time.

This morning, when I walked here after I delivered the clothes, I turned to her page again. I read her writings. This time it was effortless. I was able to read it without strain or anxiety. Hmmm. Perhaps there has been some growth.
It feels good. The process feels good. The roots of change are digging deeper into the soil of eternity.

I must go. I have to walk to work because I did not sacrifice thoroughness for expediency. I did not incur the opportunity cost of not experiencing thorougohness or entirety. At least entirety as I am able to discover at this level of my development. I pushed the progress envelope some more. As a result I experienced
"Opportunity Gain" a concept that I will research daily.

I trust that all of this will allow me to understand and comment on the forces that comprise Skid Row better as my experience in it and downtown increases. I will not have to wait until I move. I will maximize my environment to work for me. Marshall House is my lab now. The better I maximize it, the better I will be able to absorb the lessons and benefits at my new location. I will better be able to harness the forces of creation.

I have stumbled on all of this and this was my goal. My goal was to be able to summarize to some degree the causes and effects for development and the forces that impede it and retard it. Those two names above are the umbrella for many names and the processes that have taken place in this trilogy of effort.

Good Afternoon world. I love you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

stephen carter and la woman 2

Yesterday, when my time was up, I thought the day was going to wind down. I was a bit disappointed in the fact that my time had run out. I am thankful that I can use the public facilities that are available downtown for my computer needs. However, I am at the point where I need to really dig into myself in order to dig into my writing. Whether I blog about civic events or issues or my personal journey, I am at the point where extreme concentration and focus is necessary to get master the level where I find myself and to catapult to the next

The day did not wind down. Frustrated because I had to abruptly end my blog and force an end to my train of thought, I grabbed my bag of purchased books and walked to the Central market. I am determined to get in the habit of purchasing fruits and vegetables and mixing drinks. I was doing that before things changed. I loved it. There was nothing like swimming , cycling and running and then drinking a nice blended fruit drink. It was fulfilling and healthy. I felt light all of the time as well as clear headed.

I bought my fruits and vegetables. afterwards I walked down Main St. I was proud to have my books in my little bag and my groceries. I was thinking of Stephen Carter as I walked by the Metropolis book store. I was thinking about LA Woman because I read a passage in Walter Mosley's book about how to write a novel. I bought that "how to " book at the same time I purchased three novels.

Walter Mosley said a person needs to write every day. It puts you in touch with what is lurking in the subconscious. Well, I thought that made sense because every so often, when I hit a plateau and feel that everything is jumbled and makes no sense, much like life, suddenly, insights from out of nowhere come. Some times they come in clusters. Each time it seems like some of the excess from a previous level is removed and I am getting closeer to the meat, and not so much fat.

"Hmmm, I thought. Maybe that is what LA woman has been pushing me to get to. To the meat of clarity and remove the clutter and excess from my thoughts and being.
She is like a professor that says. Ok. I read what you wrote, go back and write some more. Or like a tennis coach that says "Ok you hit 200 serves, go hit 200 more. Certainly, it is what my father would say. Interesting that after all of the practice serves I hit in junior high, high school, college, post college minor league
pro circuit and the senior circuit, I did not understand what I was doing until I was in my late 30's. That means you can make adjustments without thanking and can explain, in detail, each micro move and micro change in your production of the stroke and know what it will produce in change of output. If you can not do that, you know nothing.

And I find that the more I write, the more things open up. Sometimes in my early blogs, when I was just rambling I knew that sooner or later I would hit a stride on something and lock into it. I am trying to lock into some things, not now at this moment, but during this phase.

I was walking and thinking about the two people who are the title of these posts and suddenly a door opened. I recognized the gallery as I was going to interview the owner of it one day for my blog. There was this sudden burst of energy when the door flew open. Refreshing, if one let the energy absorb into one's system but unknown. "Come write for me" was his statement. I just knew the man was not talking to me. I looked around to see to whom he was speaking.

No one was there. He said it again. "Come write for me". The man was talking to me like he knew me inside and out. "I know who you are.". Oh he must be mistaking me for someone else. Then he handed me his card. Immediately, I knew who he was.

He sent me my very first comment, a comment that said so many things and one that I remember every day. He had this pure caring energy about him that was teaching me at warp speed.

He said so many gracious things to me. You must understand. I have been recruited to play sports at colleges. I have been recruited to jump ship at one corporation and go to another. But this is was different. For one, I do not know anything about writing. I just know that I am learning as each day goes on. I know that I love it as a vehicile to achieve. Achieve what? Whatever you want because it brings about clarity and is a source for discovery and understanding.

I know from listening to this gentleman that he could answer many questions and that he would be glad to do so. Something on his card caught my attention and when I read his bio, what was on his card, and in the substance of his delivery confirmed his background and nature.

I was so stunned I left but I knew I would speak to him soon. Just the other day, I received an email from an online writing website that hires free lance writers. I applied to them for a job. I did not know the nature of the writing that they wanted. I just stumbled across them and applied. two months later, I received an approval. It was momentarily exciting but the speculative feeling of fulfillment
dissipated as I realized it was not writing that would inspire thinking or action.

I talked to two women who believe in my skills. In fact, I talk to them because I can not believe that they like my writing. It just tickles me. It has tickled me when some city officials have said the same thing. IT tickled me when Kevin said he liked my writing and that his wife Debbie reads it every night. I wonder if she still does, by the way. I was thinking about them alot today. I was cleaning out my room, doing what everyone said to do to get accustomed to my new phase.

As I type, some maroon sweats are drying. I wore them every day. I remember when I grabbed them off of a table in the courtyard at the Transition house. I need some close and they were donated. Nobody wanted them. I cherished them. However. They do have, within them, memories that stay with me each time I look at them. Those memories , in effect, increase drag coefficients in my progress. I waste energy feeling the past and how hard it was. I have been thinking about getting rid of the past and now I am doing so. I wanted to wash them and give them to someone else.

Those sweats have some good energy in them. No doubt. I think someone can use them.

I talked to my lady friends about the freelance writing earlier in the week. They saw it as an opportunity but something was not there. This is different. Again, I called them. My excitement was more far reaching. PLus, I know this man can teach me. I know it. He can answer many things. Provide direction. I can improve my skills and contribute to the vision that he has for his publishing entity.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This man came right out of nowhere. I must say that there is another teacher that has played a part in all of this. greatly. Joe Cornish. He shared with me some things and encouraged me to write and joe is an english teacher. So, in wonderment I sit back and say,"I wonder what they see." My two lady friends explained to me how I touched them.

LA Woman wants me to touch myself some more so I can communicate some more. That is clear. It is clear now. That is one of those epiphanies that just sprang up.

So I am clearing the decks and becoming more efficient so I can become more effective in understanding this phase and to make the best of it.

I want to give away some things when I return to my room. I want to feel a new energy. I want to be able to feel a new clarity. Achieving clarity is an ongoing process and at each level the process renews itself. more things to consider. more things to separate. more things to integrate. Understand deeper the causes and effects of life.

I am clearing the decks of my emotions. I am preparing. But I will have time to study tonight. I will read some more of WAlter MOsley's book on how to write a novel.

I will look at the people of Skid Row. I will feel them. I will feel many things as I aske my lady friends for their insights about life.

Then tomorrow I will email this gracious gentleman that surprised me yesterday and learn some more and hopefully begin a process to contribute for him.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

STephen Carter and the LA Woman

On Thursday, April 3, 2008, I posted a blog. I just re read it. I JUST noticed that it has no title. I did not change it. I title posts based on the theme and the moment. I have lost the moment. Yet I have gained perspective.

I reread it because someone said "you have the right idea. Keep writing." I pay attention to every thing that this woman says. Everything. I study every thing that she says. Her words and phrases, severally and jointly have a plethora of meanings.

I have read that comment many times. Today was the first time I reread the post. I needed to know what my state of mind was when I wrote it. I needed to understand what she sees or the direction she sees me going.

I knew today I was going to write about the subject matter that I will start shortly however I did not realize it was an extension of that post on April 3.

Last week I finished my real estate requirements and also was granted a further modification that will allow me to visit my mother. I am no longer concerned that the court know, RIGHT NOW, that I had done nothing. It will happen. When it happens it will mean more than it would have at any other time.

"Are you satisfied, at this moment, with the arrangementsto see your mom?" "Yes", I said. And that yes, said alot. IT said alot about a great deal of growth that has taken place and the long process and different levels of the process of which I have experienced. I commented to the judge later, "I have learned a bit about waiting and patience". "Yes", he said. "I have noticed".

And this growth process is continuing.

This morning I read more of the novel,"emperor of Ocean Park", by Stephen L. Carter.

Stephen Carter and I have never met.Yet, I saw his picture in the Yale University website and knew, immediately, that I have seen him before. He does not know my name. Yet, we know so many people in common. We share so many experiences. We share the same insights and he is helping me articulate those insights with honesty. Some times that honesty is about honesty itself.

Ah, honesty. I remember the first time my photo critic and mentor, of sorts, mentioned the subject of honesty to me. it was in one of her comments after I mentioned to a prospective employer about my past. She wrote a statement about in response to my comment about feeling stupid about being so honest. Though I never would have been dishonest, her level of morality clearly is that omission of facts is dishonest or at the very least warrants caution from others in trusting the person that does the omission.

If you recall, I said in the early days of my blog that I would become more honest as I became more comfortable with the actual behavior. I believe most people thought I was referring to the events that brought me to Skid Row. If that were the case, that is far from the truth. To what I was referring was the honesty with self about things so private and/or embarrassing to admit to oneself that may not be politically correct but are very true-the things we like but shouldnt.

For most people, these battles with self have been life long wars within their own private sanctums of hell. Stephen Carter has been pondering certain truths for a long time. He is obviously comfortable with them and it shows that he has struggled with understanding them for a long time because he is able to partition them and integrate them in their collective relevance and germaneness as certain phenomenon impact our thoughts, selections, behaviors and self freedoms.

I was not able to harness these issues to any kind of proficiency. That is why he is a professor and I ended up abusing substances.

I started winning my battles and life long wars and, eventually, ended my war with drugs, and self successfully.

Last week marked the end of a couple of struggles, and the birth of new freedoms. It marks the beginning of being honest about things to self on a wider basis. The things that I want to be honest about are the very things with which people struggle on a daily basis. Societal issue and expectations. Peer pressure that is so insidious that it affects us in our sleep.

I always felt that my experience from going to going to certain schools also had certain realities that few experience in some ways but we all experience in more generic ways. I believe that my experience of transcending socioeconomic and cultural boundaries all of my life had a body of knowledge and insights that came with it that were valuable. However, the most important thing about sharing and imparting insights is honesty. And the only way to get people to be honest with themselves is to be honest about the same issues with oneself and be fearless in sharing that honesty. Though, I will admit that there is much fear in getting to certain plateaus of being......

I believe Stephen L. Carter has taken me to the next step. He is the only man or woman who is discussing the unmentionables that people do not want to admit that exist within them. Particularly the black middle and upper middle classes.

For instance, I can now say that I loved going to a very exclusive private school and ivy league university. I loved being around the power brokers and successful people. I loved the benefits. And yet I hated that elitistpart of me. It does have an imprisoning effect on one. I think the freedom comes from admitting that it is inside of me. I think it is in everyone, these kinds of conflicts. These kinds of conflicts are in those that have the most education and autonomy. Black and white. Prejudices. And yet we do everything and believe in the RIGHT way to think as well.

We live the right things as well. We treat people as equals. equals in all kinds of areas. and we believe what we think. that is the good part. The imprisoning part is the part, where in the privacy of our souls and thoughts, we say, to ourselves " I am glad I am not like that". Or we become judgemental and myopic and less understanding because we truly DO NOT KNOW what it is to be truly understanding and we seek to know and feel. That is why you have people on Skid Row who stand in the soup lines and serve those that are less fortunate. And yet, in ways that it is hard for some to understand, with all of their struggles, they are more fortunate than we because they have no masks. They have a true lens in their life.

That is what I meant by the University of Skid Row. It is indeed a place where you learn more about yourself than anything else.

I am reading his book and it is an affirmation of all of my life.

I am beginning to believe that my being honest with drugs in my blog was a prelude to being honest about so many other things that need to be brought out.

I think Skid Row has taught me so much. I believe it is healing me in so many ways. IT has made me stronger.

I will write Stephen Carter. He has drawn me in and we were already on the same boat that has sailed around in our perspectives all of my life.

I am his friend already. I want him to choose me to be his friend. There is no doubt that we know so many of the same people. The fact is that may not be a ticket of acceptance. Knowing the same people does not mean that they may share the same degree of honesty and self honesty. These things are hard to come by in self.

I will write Professor Carter soon. It is funny that I will take days to draft a letter that comes from the heart. It will be something. It is funny that his work drew me in from the very beginning. Then he talked of a character that went to Penn and was on the tennis team. And I was the first black that played on Penn's tennis team. I must share information of understanding without it sounding like I am trying to impress. He knows that so many will say things for that purpose of climbing on the status ladder.

Yes, LA woman. Maybe I am on the right path. I do know that my life is changing and perhaps I am free and healthy enough to finally become a scholar of sorts.

With you and others as well as Stephen Carter teaching me, I have committed to learning more about the discipline of writing. I bought a book by walter mosley on how to write a novel. Thanks stephen carter.

I will keep writing. I am going now back to my dorm. I like being alone to study. Of course I mean my dorm room at the University of Skid Row. I have some learning to do.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Skid Row Senior Citizens visit Exposition Afro American Museum

ON the same day that I was told I could start visiting my mother, Skid Row had the Skid Row Senior Citizens Day at the California Afro American Museum at Expostion Park. Transportation was provided by SRO Housing Corporation.

The person who coordinated the event was Jeff Page of the Skid Row Street Basketball League.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Can See My Mom

I took this picture a couple of months ago. It is a photo of the nation flags that surround the Ketchum YMCA courts at the World Trade Center.

I thought the flags were colorful and uplifting.

Today is a good time to post an uplifting photo. I just found out that I will be able to start seeing my mother immediately. In fact I am on my way to court to find out what the situation is.

I find this all to be pretty amazing. Two weeks ago my sister called me up and called me all types of foul names after talking to my attorney. Yesterday my attorney emailed me to tell me that her attorney worked out a visitation schedule.

I am grateful for everyone's support. Quite honestly, I never thought this day would come.

I have not blogged in the last couple of days because so much change has taken place.
I finished all of my continuing education classes for my real estate license and
formerly applied to renew it yesterday. I can not believe that I did it. I really can't. Of course I have to await their decision but, at least, I gave myself a chance.

I have been reading a novel, Emperor of Ocean Park. It has, along with everything that has been going on, me in a reflective mood.

I feel very different at this moment. Each day, since I found out I had a job, I have felt differently. So much change is taking place in my life and WITHIN ME that it leaves me with alot to ponder. I am sure I will express those feelings soon.

As soon as I heard the news, I ran into one of the guys who lived in the same aisle with me at the Transition House. I told him the news. He was one that always told me to keep the faith. He relapsed after many months and then subsequently was arrested on a drug charge. He just got out of jail.

I wish he and others that have given me so much strength and who have taught me so much while I have been on Skid Row could experience the joys that I am experiencing.
I see them running on a treadmill, at best. I wonder if they will find it within themselves to believe that there is another type of nomal existence, an existence that brings happiness and inner peace. And yet, with all of the turmoil they experience and feel within themselves, they have always pushed me. They always encouraged me to believe. It is difficult for me to express the degree of gratitude that I feel because I am not capable of putting what I have experienced into adequate words.

I must go to court to make this agreement final.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Stopping the Syndrome

AT the Central Library on this Sunday afternoon. I was a bit down this morning but I worked my way through it. IT is an interesting phase for me down here.

I finally finished some things that have been on my mind for almost two years. You know all about it. We are talking about the real estate license and other administrative matters.

Indeed that is a good thing. I do not have to worry about if I can get those things done. They are done. If the Department of Real Estate renews my license, then other doors can open up for me.

Ah, there in lies the challenge. I want doors to open for me. Things are changing as I do have a job. I do not have to worry about eating and sleeping. I now have the luxury of planning. I trade one anxiety for another.

I was concerned about sinking in quicksand. Now I am concerned about climbing the ladder.

My relationship with myself has changed. I am learning new things. I am considering new things. I guess that is what this phase is about. Some people applaud my work, others hold me in disdain.

I called a lady in Philadelphia and apologized to her for lying to her years ago. She sent me money to do some things and instead I used it for cocaine. I have wanted to talk to her for years and it is now done.

I am talking on a regular basis with people that I did not talk to on the phone a month ago. It feels good. My circle is widening.

I went to my 19th class on Friday--the court ordered class that I must attend. I have 33 more to go. At first I thought I would never leave Skid Row until those classes were finished. Now I realize that I can pay for them and if I get an opportunity, I can leave and return on Friday.

AFter the 33 classes are finished, I can leave. I am networking. I am exploring things.

A few months ago, I did not feel I could do anything. I am glad I do not feel that way any longer.

I just realize that this process is slow. It took some work to get where I am. I have more work to do.

I wonder how many people on Skid Row are in this position. I wonder how many people just found a job and now are planning to make a major move in their lives.

I wonder how many people desire to get back with their families. I wonder if they are closer now than they were last year.

I wonder if I will progress more this week. There are so many areas that need to be
examined. So many things to resolve. So many doors to open. So many doors that cant be opened until certain doors are closed. I also have to make sure that I identify all of the appropriate doors that need attention.
It is Monday now. I am sitting at Chrysalis. I wrote some old class mates with whom I was close. I want to connect. I need that feeling. I am not so sure it is a result of this experience as much as it is a natural progression in finding what I need as a result of neglecting certain things when I was using drugs.

Of course one used drugs to fill a void. The more that void deepened the more one used drugs. ONe uses drugs because the void deepens.
A vicious cycle. Now that I am not on that cycle I have to figure out how to fill the void. I am not home. I do not swim any more. I have to find the things
and do them that bring pleasure.

I do intend to start swimming. When I do not know. I have some things to do before
I can start that program.

Yesterday and this morning I was approached by some counselors from one of the programs that I have come in contact with since I have been down here on Skid Row.
If you recall I stated that I am changing and my role on Skid Row as well. This one is a new one.

A man has disappeared. It is not uncommon. Happens all of the time. This man has been working at a restaurant for some time and he missed his first day of work. He did not call. He is not living were they thought he would be.

The counselor this morning pulled me aside and asked me to track him down. He feels that he can share some conifdential information with me. He also has confidence in my ability to find out information.

He looked nervous. Worried. You could see that he did not want to hear any bad news. This man is at that point where he could relapse. I talked about the phenomenon the other day. The concept of Normal. It is normal for this man not to experience successs. The more he experiences it, the more he is distancing himself from what he knows as normal. he may not even recognize it.

He may sabotage himself. One of the colleagues of this counselor and I talked for a long time on Saturday and Sunday about this concept. They have noticed a pattern-a pattern that I have talked about. It is like being a crab and climbing to the top and then you fall backware. You can fall by your own doing or fall from the assistance from another crab that does not want you to succeed.

This staff of the program is sharp enough to recognize that syndrome and they are searching for ways to fix it. It will take work because some of the problems are outside of the scope of their program. However ffor people to succeed who are in their program, they must find a way for people to get past certain benchmarks.

We all have benchmarks to get through. I am trying to get through some and Identify others to anticipate what is ahead of me.

I think many things are ahead for the people who are in these programs in Skid Row. I am finding out more as I go along. Skid Row, itself is facing alot of things.

Someone said to me that I am no longer interested in what happens to the community now that I have a job. Non sense. The fact is, I must figure out where I am and find my equilibrium before I can be of any assistance. Time to gather little stories or take pictures is limited. I must make my adjustments.

In my freshman year in college, I would stop what I was doing to do something else to please people. I would get distacted and that started a string of incompletes in my academic career. Indeed, I was one step away from graduating and then walked away. I did not think I was walking away but the final result was that I did.

Now that I have a job. Now that I am no longer on drugs, I am thinking about where I can go. what I can do. I also want to finish school. I think that is the one thing that has caused me pain. I never finished what I started. It started hole inside of me. It was caused by drugs and exascerbated by drug use.

I stopped using drugs. I never started even when all of this happened to me. I survived the syndrome that so many experience and revert back to. I must find my way to accomplish goals.

As you can see, my conversation is different. I did not feel I could even set goals let alone accomplish them a six months ago.

But I am communicating and reaching out. As each goes on, I am not going further away from what I know is normal. I am getting closer to what I know is normal.

I must admit that I went through that syndrome when I was decreasing my drug use. I was uncomfortable with it. It took time to get used to it. I lengthened the time between puffs os cocaine. I monitored every feeling.

HOpefully I can find this man that is missing on Skid Row and impart to him some of the things that I learned. You ask why the concern on the part of the counselors?

It is because recently one of their clients was murdered having reverted to an old way of life. They do not want that to occur again. I am glad they are that devoted to their clients from Skid Row.


I remember when I took this picture. I was with Jeff, the director of Marketing of the Skid Row League.

I was just thinking how he has helped me look at things in a positive way. He knew that I was trying to find a sense of normalcy. He was patient.

Indeed, I have been trying to return to "normal" ever since I triathlon trained and stopped doing drugs.

Returning to a "normal" state of mind is the precusor to normal everything else.
A normal way of doing things.

I guess that is what I was thinking about when I wrote the post yesterday.

For the most part, Skid Row is not a normal environment. It is normal for Skid Row but society at large tends to do things differently.

Many people, on Skid Row, do not know what it is like to have a checking account. Many people do not know what it is like to pay a lessor price for something because they have the tools that are available to society at large.

I was just thinking that perhaps people relapse because they have never seen enough of a normal situation. Many people that I met when I first got down here told me that they started smoking crack cocaine at 12 or 13 years old. How do they know what it is like to be in any type of environment where drugs is not a way of life.

These are my thoughts today. I walk on San Julian and I look at the commotion.

Many people on San Julian only know commotion. How can they aspire to be above it if they do not know anything different than what they are experiencing every day.

Interesting. Must go will talk later

20% More

About 10 days ago I paid for my continuing education classes. I was walking through my neighorhood when my cell phone rang. It was Sharon who has been working with the real estate school ever since I started my relationship with them in the mid 1980's.

I took my very first class with them and stuck with them.

I had just activated my debit card. I never had one before I opened this checking account. They make things so easy. I gave her my number as I was walking down the street and it was finished. I did not have to right a check or mail it. Easy as one, two, three.

two days ago I had to pay for my phone bill. I have what 90% of the residents in Skid Row have, an account with Boost Mobile. 55 dollars and you have unlimited calls. If you are late by one day the phone is cut off. Every month I walk to Broadway where I purchased the phone and pay my bill. I have been doing this for 8 months now. Shortly after I purchased the phone, the 55 dollars climbed to 62 dollars as merchants began tacking on service surcharge fees. Boost Mobile reduced the fee to 51 dollars. Therefore I had to pay 59 dollars to the Broadway merchant.

I was in the computer lab of the STRIVE program when I stood up and exited to building. I cussed everything as I headed west towards Spring St to find an ATM machine to withdraw the money needed to make my payment. Dam, another 2 dam dollars.

Somewhere along the way I remembered seeing a Boost Mobile website. They allowed you to make payments online. I stopped in my tracks, made an about face and headed back to the computer lab.

I sat in front of my favorite computer screen, terminal 5, and put Boost Mobile on the screen. I accessed my account. 51 dollars. I went through the protocals of payment and finally I was finished. I printed out the confirmation of payment sheet and continued what I was doing before I exited the building to pay for my bill.

I was delighted. Had I paid the way I have been paying my bills for the last 8 months I would have had to pay another 10 dollars. All kinds of service fees.
I saved 10 dollars and 45 minutes of time plus was able to get work done because I had a debit card with a Visa Logo on it.

If you collect general relief, you are not allowed to have a bank account. If you do not have a bank account you can not have a debit card. If you do not have a
debit card you can not pay your phone bill on line. If you can not pay for it on line, you must pay up tao 10 dollars extrra in service fees just because merchants
know that you have no where else to go to pay your bills. You pay 20% more because you do not have a debit card.

You must have a telephone to have any credibility in Skid Row. I do not mean from drug dealers. I do not mean the prestige one receives from people in the street because you have the latest gadget with all of the latest bells and whistles.
I mean one earns credibility with those who can help them in life. The lawyers, the employers. the social workers. Those professionals are more inclined to spend energy on you if they feel they can get in touch with you. They must feel that you will not disappear.

Hundreds of people have these phones. Hundreds.
Lets say that 1,000 people have these phones and do not have bank accounts. That means that each month these people pay up to a total of 10,000 dollars more for phone service, 20% more than is necessary, because they are not allowed to have bank accounts.

I understand that EBT cards are used to cut down on fraud. but cant they make it possible for EBT cards to have within them a debit application so people on Skid Row and across the county can use their money more efficiently and effectively. Cant the authorities make it so that the people who need their money the most can keep more of it in their pockets than give it away because they do not possess the electronic means to pay for goods.

10,000 dollars more because they do not have a debit application on their card. It would not take much to put that application in the EBT cards. for those who are homeless or who have limited incomes, that 20% more for the same service that everyone else gets takes away from 10,000 dollars of groceries that could be purchased for themselves or for their children. Prices are higher in ghettos than anywhere else. Service costs are higher as well because those who use them can not pay for them like everyone else.

There are Skid Row service providers that give classes to people and teach them how to manage their money. They teach them how to balance a checking account and to shop for bargains. They teach them how to save money.

You cant expect people to operate in a society like everyone else unless you allow them to participate in society like everyone else. That includes having access to the same tools that allow them to pay the same price as everyone else and to save time like every one else.20% more for anything means they are 20% less than everyone else and probably need the 20% savings more than those that do not have to pay the service fees.

The government should not have policies that enable those in the private sectors to charge the extreme poor 20% more for services because they have no where else to go to pay for them.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Course is finished.

For a year and nine months, I could not see beyond a few things. One of them was getting the money and making sure I took the continuing education classes in time to renew my license. I never thought I was going to be able to do it.

Well, I did it. It is done. Finished. I finished the last examination and the only thing left to do is wait for them to issue my certificate of completion.

After that, send the completion and the renewal fees to the Department of Real Estate and wait for their answer. Regardless of what they do, I have a strong sense of accomplishment. From doom, doubt and despair to successful completion.

I wonder what it is going to feel like to not think about if I am going to finish in time. I have not had the luxury to enjoy the fact that I earned and saved the money to register for the course. I have been too busy trying to get the work done.
Now, after almost two years, I do not have to think about any of that. I can think about other things. I can afford to risk thinking about deal making. I assume, of course, that I will have my license back.

I learned a great deal from Gilbert when he had to wait six months to find out if he had to leave the country or if he was going to be able to stay.

He gave himself a chance. I gave myself a chance. I can start planning. I can now use all of that energy that was used to agonize all of those months to creative thinking. I could use it to create money making ventures. I can use it to develop clients and find them properties that suit their needs. I can use it to create new ways to improve on the blog or to develop a website. Anything except thinking about a mountain that I never thought I would be able to climb and something, my license that I thought I lost for ever. I still have a hurdle to get over but I did my part. unbelievable.

Wow, I do not know what to say. I will enjoy the next few days. I did it.

I will be damned. I did it. I could not have done it without the help from so many. Thank you.

I just can't believe it. You have no idea how much pressure has been lifted.

good night.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Steve Lopez

It is 9:30PM.

I hope that people see this blog before 10 PM. I saw the Tavis Smiley show tonight. It is being aired again at 10. Steve Lopez was on the show. Tavis interviewed him about Nathaniel Ayers, the musician about whom the movie, The Soloist, is based.

Since I came down to Skid Row I have heard a great deal about Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers. I lived next door to one of the Lamp Locations.

When I first arrived at the Transition House, a man showed me an article that was written about drug addiction on Skid Row. He slept three beds away from me. He showed me a very long article with his picture on it. Steve Lopez wrote the article.

Steve Lopez explained, in short, the story of how he met Ayers and how their friendship developed. He explained how he took a cello to Nathaniel as a gift. That explained alot because I was on the movie set and in one of the scenes, a cello is taken to Nathaniel. Before tonight, no one talked about the cello. They talked about Nathaniel and the Violin.

On Skid Row, many film makers, photographers and writers come and want to capture it on film. I receive emails all of the time from people who want me to give them tours of the area. The want to capture something but feel they need an escort. What they want to capture can not be done if you have to have an escort around to do it. That would kill the energy and it also means that you do not know the area. You do not know the people.

Many people have an opinion on Steve Lopez. Some believe he is an opportunist. Some believe he exploited Nathaniel Ayers.

I listened to this man very intensely. I believe Steve Lopez is a very compassionate man. He appreciates stories from which he can learn alot. He marvels at how life can throw you tremendous curves and details how one's path can change abruptly as a result of that curve. He studies the attitudes and spirits of those who experience life altering events. They are his heroes.

It is clear that Nathaniel Ayers is one of Steve Lopez's heroes.

The word passion has a special meaning to me. I will not go into that subject now but Steve Lopez brought that word up. He remarked at how he wished he had a passion. He talked at how Nathaniel had such passion for music. He mentioned that he was in awe of Nathaniel because he had no regrets. He questioned the definition of success.

I recently had conversations with different people about those very same topics: success, passion and greatness. What are they? Are most definitions of success miguided concepts?

I look forward to hearing more from Steve Lopez. He is a very humble man, in my opinion, who seeks out the truth, a truth that he feels is the thread that runs so true in the human fabric but is never worn on the communication waves and print vehicles that we use to search for relevant meaning.

I learned alot from Steve Lopez and Nathaniel. It is funny. I mentioned something about a scene in the movie that was shot. I saw one scene that was shot. It was a gripping scene. The camera work at the end of it will leave you with an image that will rivet you in thought for days. That is what it did to me. It just so happens that I came to work today and my co worker talked about a scene where bulldozers knocked down all of the tents on San Julian. That real life scene was similar to the scene that had me in deep thought for days.

However, it was the creativity of Joe Roberts and the cinematographer that showed me how dramatic lessons of human fragility are presented on the screen by the way the shot the scene. Meaning and relativity of those scenes are being presented to me by my independent study and search for my truth as I experience life, in various forms and phases, on Skid Row.

The University of Skid Row is a marvelous place at times. Fascinating in what it can teach you. They say growth comes from pain. Well, I have experienced pain. Furthermore I have seen and studied a plethora of different types of pain on the expressions of people whose paths I have crossed while being here.

Tonight taught me alot. It may take me a few more months to understand what Steve Lopez was talking about today. It may take a few more years to appreciate what he was talking about today.

Thank you Mr. Lopez. You and Nathaniel Ayers have moved from umbrella figures of my experience on Skid Row to becoming Professors of LIfe's concepts and meaning.

Do not get me wrong. The men and woman that I meet and observe and with whom I interact are professors as well. Each teach in their own way. Some explain what others have been attempting to convey and vice versa. Mr. Lopez helped me understand and appreciate what my daily instructors have been trying to get me to apprecciate. LIfe. Live it. Have no regrets, only understanding. Appreciate the beauty of my experience that came from my pain. Grow .

"The Soloist" by Steve Lopez will be on the shelves tomorrow. IT says on the cover "the healing powers of music." or something like that. Compassionate people who live to tell the stories and meanings of the lives of others, and the beauty of their spirits have healing powers also.

Good Night

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Real Estate Continuing Education Exam Time

Congratulations to for their new blog site. The pictures look great and the Skid Row Basketball logo definitely makes a strong impact.
Yes, it does feel good to have pictures on my blog again.


I am finished with the practice exams of the "continuing education" course for my real estate brokers license. I now have the actual final examination. I will start that today. I am thrilled.

The day I was arrested in August of 2006, I was getting ready to register for the continuing education course. My license expired the previous May. After quitting drugs I wanted to hurry up and get back into the real estate business in some form or fashion. I had whipped myself in to shape by training at USC.

Every other time my license expired, I would procrastinate the renewal of it.

In 2006, I was ready to get right on it. However the bottome fell out. I remember the public defender at the time telling me to forget about my real estate career. She was only concerned about clearing the docket and not my case. "Plead guilty or do 8 years" she said. She is what is described as a "Public Pretender" on Skid Row.

There are some great public servants that work for the public defenders office. She was not one of them. Later I met some one who really saved me from even more disaster. Natasha Brown sat in front of me and said "I am taking your case seriously." If it were not for her, I would not be here today. I know it. I would be behind prison bars some place. I have no doubt about it.

I worried about my license the whole time in jail. Would I get out in time. Would I be in prison? Will the renew it? When I got out of jail, within 3 days, I went to the Ronald Reagan building. I looked a mess but I had to find out what was going to happen to my license when I renew it. I remember the deputy commissioner telling me that I should have no problem at all. It really did not do any good in relieving me of anxiety because I learned that it does not matter what any one says. It depends on what they do and who is doing it on that day when it comes to interpreting rules. Every one has their own opinion on the law or how it will be enforced. One decision maker will rule one way. Another will rule another way.

It may also matter what mood a person is in when they handle your matter. On most days maybe things would have been ruled in your favor but if the person in charge is in a bad mood then he could rule differently. You do not know until you know.

I was telling Charlotte how I felt about the uncertainty of it all. It was like being in jail for months for the misdeamenor and not knowing if I was going to go to prison or be released. I was released because of the diligent and professional efforts of Natasha Brown. A few months later, in my first progress report, she said I was a success story. That was in July of last year. Since then things have changed alot. I remember when we stood up together to face the judge on January 18,2007. She had already cut the deal. I knew I was leaving. She said she believed in me.

Other public defenders told me to plead that I needed mental treatments--that it would help me. Jail house inmate lawyers kept saying the same thing. "If you want to get out quickly, Walter, say that you are mentally ill. Play crazy. Get 'CRAZY PAY'. There was no way I was going to do that. Others said they would do anything to get 'crazy pay'. I was already labeled a felon from being scared to death by the first public defender. One day I will write about that in detail. In fact there were three of them They need to be disbarred.

After the judge sentenced me to a program, I waited for another 3 weeks for them to get me. They had forgotten me. No one knew where I was. They thought I was out. I called up Natasha Brown and she responded. It still took a chaplain to get me out. It was in the nick of time. They started rioting the morning I left.

After talking to the Deputy Commissioner, I grabbed some license renewal forms and walked out of the office. I walked out of the building and rushed back to the Transition House. The program director let me out to find out about my license. For some reason he never put restrictions on me. He gave me latitude from the start. The very first thing I told him was that I was going to be his success story. Rory Cornwell always remembered that. I never let him down. I have told every one that since being on skid row. I will not let you down. I have not. To have let any one down would mean I have let myself down alot.

I rushed back to the Transition House that day with those papers in my hand. I kept them in my locker. I looked at them from time to time and they seemed so far away from me. I never thought I would have the money to take the continuing education course. I never thought I would have the money to pay the fee for the license.

You have heard all of this from me, maybe time and time again. It is hard for me to believe the state of mind I was in and the hopelessness I felt. I felt I was doomed forever.

Well, as you know, I collected many cans and saved some other money and paid for the classes and I struggled to keep focused to finish the material. I did. I have the exam.

I do not spend as much time worrying about whether or not the deputy commissioner was correct. I keep thinking about Gilbert, the man who collected 800 dollars in cans and paid the fee at the very last moment to get his green card back. After that he had to wait for 6 months without knowing if he were going to be deported or stay here. "Do what you have to do first, walter", he said.

I have. Now I am at this point. I will be doing this exam tonight. Again, as I always do, I want to thank everyone for their support. I said I had to see it through. I have. I did what I had to do. Not finished yet but I expect that by Thursday I will be sending off for my license.

At night now, when I have a few moments of doubt, when I get weary for a minute or two, I actually talk to myself. Or pray. or both. I tell myself to remember how I felt last year and how I do not feel that way now. I tell myself to remember how far I have come. I tell myself that if I came this far, then it will get better. I find a way to remember all of the words that people say to me and I feel comforted.

To take a phrase from Og, the commissioner of the Skid Row Basketball league, "it is more than just a license." It is a statement about a lot of things.
I remember the first time Kevin Royce told me to keep focused on my goals. I remembered all of the time I had to fight to believe I could even get close to them. "Stay focused on your goals". I saw the quote recently. I immediately changed my focus. It is amazing how, with much work and practice, something can happen quickly where, in the past, it would take so much time and labor.

got to go to work.

I wil

Loyola Law School Tax Assistance Program

On April 5, 2008, Loyola Law School held its next to last tax assistance session.

Every saturday for a few weeks, the law students do state and federal tax filings, free, for anyone that shows up. I reported on this before.

It is called the Vita program and it will be held again next year for anyone that needs assistance. So Please remember it.

Every one of the computers you see had a dedicated Loyola Student in front of it doing the taxes for citizens that needed help. They were quite capable.

STRIVE graduates another class

On April 4, 2008, STRIVE program graduated another class. I was not able to get the kind of photos that I wanted. they were not very clear. However I need to say that the program started with only a few students an has continued to grow. Many students are progressing to employment and/or continuing their education at Los Angeles City College.

Little Tokyo Festival

Before I temporarily lost access to a computer where I can upload photos, I walked upon this street festival in Little Tokyo. It was a couple of weekends ago, on a Saturday, the same day I got my taxes done.

Here are a few pictures of the festival,including a martial arts demonstration.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Charlotte comes to Skid Row

It is Monday and the day was eventful for me. My friend Charlotte and I had lunch and it was the seccond time that anyone from my life before Skid Row has come to visit me and the first woman. She is born and raised in Los Angeles but lives in New York now. She was visiting for a wedding.

What is interesting about this visit is that I had not seen Charlotte for over 25 years. She found out that I was living on Skid Row and that I had a blog. She read it and reached out to me. It was during the holiday season. She kept me going.

She was another person in a group of very good people who have helped me since I have been down here.

Charlotte has read every single one of my blogs. She does lots of charity work in New York.

She wanted to see certain places that I talked about in my blog. That was the "first" that I was telling every one about. She knows about Chrsysalis. She wanted to see where the Transition House is located. She wanted to see San Julian Park. She wanted to see Gladys Park where the 3on 3 Basketball league played there games.

It was interesting to speak to someone that has read everyone one of my blogs from across the country and she knew all of the characters. When she drove up in her rented car at the STRIVE PROGRAM, the computer teacher went downstairs to meet her as he knew about her because I talked about her all of the time. She knew who he was as well.

It was an example of how small the world can become because of the internet. Here is a woman who was interested in reaching out to me and helping me through a rough period of my life and from doing so she has been able to learn alot about Skid Row.

It goes to show you how powerful the medium is. I have received lots of emails from people around the country. Each time the experience reminds me how unique and powerful the internet is. It is a place to access information. It is a place where I have been able to develop relationships from my experience on Skid Row. My experience and insights, are interesting to people. Not that I am an expert. It is just that I provide another bit of information along with other sources of information about an area that is of interest to people around the world.

It was interesting to speak to an old friend. I have not seen Charlotte in over 25 years and the internet not only taught her about Skid Row, it brought her back into my life and enabled her to keep my spirits up. Pretty powerful mechanism.

She told me that her daughter read my blog and the social studies teacher in her high school assigned my blog for them to read. It amazes me how powerful the internet can be. People can learn about a community just from reading about it from an ordinary citizen, one who is living in the community. It is unedited and unfiltered. I am not a journalist passing through. I am a person who is living in a neighborhood and I am sharing my emotions that everyone can feel in whatever way they feel it.

For Charlotte to come here and talk to me about the neighborhood like she talked to me everyday at lunch about it and the people after flying cross country was a pretty new experience. Perhaps it is hard for anyone to grasp how special it is for me and how it reinforces so many different positive capabilities about the internet and how it can bring people closer together.

Her observation on Skid Row was that basically the difference between the homeless in Skid Row and what she sees in New York is that she had never seen such a large amount of homeless people in a concentrated area.

That is how my day was on Skid Row. Another day and another new experience. It continues to fascinate me that I am havinhg many positive new experiences and learning many things and they are happening while I am living in an area that supposedly would not bestow positive experiences for someone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

making adjustments

Sunday. It is hot. The weather is changing. People must make adjustments.

I have not been able to post a blog all week because hours of computer availability have changed. I also do not have as much time as I have had in the past. I must make adjustments.

Last year at this time I was sitting in a guard shack. I sat in the guard shack on most days but today I seem to be zeroing in on exactly one year ago. It was exactly one year ago that I had not done drugs for 6 months. I remember that I was happy getting to that point. It was one year ago that I last saw my mother.

I remember siting in the guard shack writing as I am now. Only know I am blogging. Someone asked me how much did I sawe from the time I wrote at the Tranisition HOuse. I told her I have all of it. The papers are about 4 feet high. That is how much I wrote. I wrote to stay sane. I wrote to get things out of my system. I wrote to understand what I did not understand.

I used to sit down and wonder where every one went on Sundays. Few people were in the Transition House compound. Lots of people had family and they would come by and pick up their family member for a day away from the program. Many family members would ask me if they could park in the lot. I was not suppose to let them but I would. They were so happy that their family members were doing well.

Others were not so happy. They would come by and ask to park in the lot. They would ask me to help them unload huge bags filled with supplies and new clothes.
They were going to surprise their family member. They wanted to encourage their relative to keep doing well. They walked into the facility with bright smiles and left with sad faces, tears in their eyes.

"Why now? Why when we finally believed she was going to go the distance, and we wanted to trust her, did she have to disappear again and do drugs?"
I helped them put the bags in the car. I had no answer.

I did not have any visitors. My sister came once or twice but only to give me some papers to sign. Of course I was not suppose to know to what they belonged but that is ok. I remember the sunday when It was my 6th month weekend. It felt great.
It was the only thing I had to hold on to.

People came by the guard shack and told me to hang in there. "Walter your sister said you can live in the building in 4 to 6 weeks. That is a blessing. Just keep working on yourself. " Four to Six weeks never came. In February of last year, I was told "I am on your side". A year and a half later, I am told "You are a piece of shit."

Safer Cities Initiative is doing a great job. Skid Row Basketball League is doing a great job. Yet the County did not award the City Attorney's office the funding to continue one of the programs. It is a program that would provide an alternative for anyone that is arrested for drugs or drug equipment. They could go to a program and receive treatment instead of going to jail.

Maybe I am missing something here. I thought that one should be rewarded for doing the right thing, not kicked in the teeth. People on Skid Row are organizing and exploring ways to improve their lives. Some are going to school. Some are finding employment. They should be encouraged or at least left alone to find their own ways.

Everyone is trying to find something wrong when things are right.

I never knew what was going on during those spring Sundays on Skid Row when it was hot in the guard shack.

I found out something new today. Some would say that I was here last year so I should know. I tell people that I was sequestered on Skid Row. I learn something new as I revisit a date in a new way. I am no longer at the guard shack.

I walked on San Julian this morning. Last night I talked to Jeff Page, the director of Marketing for the Skid Row basketball league. He is hard at work continuing to improve the league and Skid Row. Crews of men are roaming the streets picking up the trash.

While people like Jeff and Og are building, others are doing their best to thwart that kind of progress. People were throwing so much trash in the street today it was amazing. People were openly urinating in the street. I have never seen that kind of behavior on Skid Row. I have seen the actions but not the attitude. Their was an open attitude of open defiance of progress that has been taking place.

"YOU ARE DOING WELL. WELL WE ARE GOING TO SHOW YOU WHAT WE FEEL ABOUT THAT. WE WANT SKID ROW TO STAY THE WAY IT IS." That type of attitude. It was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

I have seen crack smoked on Skid Row many times. Usually have have seen smoke blown out of mouths after ingesting the chemical. Maybe I have seen a rock or two in someone's hand.

The last few days have been different. The police have been enforcing the law. Others would think they are picking on the homeless. However, they arrested a man for cocaine dealing. He tried to hide and blend in among the homeless. He had over a pound in his apartment and $135,000 of money from the homeless. The police arrested him again this week, a few days after he made bail.

But even with him gone, others were ready to take his place. I saw men walking around with bags of cocaine rocks. I have never seen that.

There is a battle for the soul of Skid Row. Some want it to change and want people to stop destroying themselves. Others want it to stay the same. The county will not help the City attorney's office continue the program of providing alternatives for people instead of an automatic jail sentence, a sentence that will be experienced time and time again if the person does not receive treatment. If the person is sentenced time and time again because of drug arrests to a jail term, each citizen will be sentenced again because each citizen of the county will pay to house and feed the drug offender.

The Skid Row basketball league is teaching men values that can sustain them in a positive way in this thing we call life. It started with basketball but the concepts of teamwork to win a basketball game are being used to rid the streets of trash. That progress is recognized and applauded in City Council Chambers. On the streets of Skid Row there is a faction that is fighting that movement. They are trying to continue to poison the people. They want to continue to dump trash in the streets. The want to continue to urinate and defecate in the streets. The want to continue to see people live like animals. Why? because they PROFIT from it.

At least they think they are profiting. They do not realize they will have to pay with their souls one way or the other. The quality of their life will not improve as others die because of their products.

Will the County improve if the City must keep putting men and women in jail. Is it cheaper not to give them the money they need now? Of course not.

The same thing that happens to indivduals on Skid Row happen to the community. Some people are not happy seeing indivduals improve their lives. It is amazing but they prefer to see them continue on a life of self destruction. They can not feel better than the other person any longer. They can not pass judgement any longer. Of course, no one made them the arbitor any way.

The same thing with Skid Row as a collective. While forces are working to improve the lives of the community, there will be forces that are determined to keep it the same way. I see it more and more every day. Skid Row is undergoing a tug of war.

I see it. I feel it. I am experiencing it.

It took a long time for me to believe that I had a future. It took a long time for me to believe that life will get better. I am beginning to believe it now. More and more of my friends are believing in me. While that happens others prefer to have me remain in the past. Why, I do not know. It is not important.

Skid Row has a future. Just as I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it, so can this community. It must continue to do things and empower itself. Momentum is gathering and that momentum must not be stalled by those that want Skid Row to be a place where misery abounds, where those are happy because others are sad.

Keep fighting.
I have not been able to cover the events of this community because the events of my life have required my attention. I would have loved to have been at the Council Chambers. I would have loved to have taken new pictures and posted them.

I am searching for better, more effective and efficient ways for me to cover Skid Row as well as document my emotions as I live in this community and continue on in my new life.

IT is taking time for me to understand where I am. IT is taking time for me to understrand the distance from which I have come. IT is taking time for me to build up confidence that I can pursue my dreams.

Some one said "Walter, now that you are a piece of shit, will you hold out the dream of rebuilding houses with your sister?" I was surprised that he remembered I told him that. No, I no longer am deluding myself with that dream. I am not closing myself from it but it is clear that is not possible. I must accept that. That is one of the things you learn while being down here.

You can only change yourself. YOu can't change others. You can not change what they WANT TO BELIEVE. Just learn to like and love yourself. I had to learn how to like myself and love myself and forgive myself for doing cocaine for years and harming myself and hurting people that loved me.

I had to learn every day that it is ok for me to be happy. I am learning what adjustments I have to make to continue in that path. I have to learn that I must accept that some people will not want me to be happy because they are not happy. Because they DO NOT LIKE THEMSELVES.

These next few months are important for Skid Row. STep up the pace of progress. Do not slack off. I am doing the same. MOre and more people will come to your aid. The ones that harbor resentments for your progress, let them go. Do not give them the power that they feel they have over you. Learn these things and live by what you learn.

As you can see, I am processing a great deal of things. I have to go. Time is running out. Sunday is good. Tomorrow I must go to work.

Tomorrow I must learn some new things about blogging and put them to work. Tomorrow I must continue my real estate class.

I will be on a new plateau soon. I am still trying to understand this one. Adjustments are being made every day.