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.
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.