But still not mainstream

I signed the lease on 04/25 and picked up the keys 04/26.  With all my stuff, I had figured to take 2-3 days to move; but the shelter’s rule is, once you have keys, you must move out of the shelter the same day.

Settling in …

… has been a process, with many adjustments.

The house itself is identical to the parsonage of the former Martin Luther Church, which I attended 1979-1995, half a mile west and half a mile south of here.  I have the whole first floor.  The cat, if I get one, will have all kinds of room to play.

There are a jillion one-time purchases that aren’t part of one’s normal monthly budget:  broom, dustpan, plunger, toilet bowl brush, wastebaskets, bucket — the list goes on and on. The first essential purchase was a can opener. Also have to buy things they wouldn’t let us have at the shelter, like scissors. We were not allowed to have glass or metal at the shelter.

While homeless, I was paying Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts in excess of $20/day for coffee. They let me stay all day, drinking frozen coffee and using the wi-fi. Now I pay rent. So I bought a French press. From now on, until I get a job, I never need pay anyone cash for coffee, ever again.

I will use the spent grounds for potting soil.

I want mocha in my coffee.  At Dunkin’, it costs $0.10.  At Starbucks, it costs $0.80.  So I started taking these little Swiss Miss-type packets with me to Starbucks; but they cost $0.20 each.  Wound up mixing up my own Swiss Miss-like stuff at home.  Don’t know how much it costs, but it’s got to be a lot cheaper.

I am selecting foods mainly for the sake of containers I can re-use to store food, or as flower pots.

The perfect container

Between pots indoors and outdoors, my finished garden will include ginger, garlic, cardamom(*), raspberries, blueberries, strawberries(**), an orange tree, a cherry tree, a coconut, a pineapple, fennel, and grapes.

I’ve mixed up sourdough starter, so I can resume one of my favorite hobbies, breadmaking, without having to buy yeast.  An advantage of sourdough:  a botched batch simply becomes additional starter.

For the first time in my life, I have to pay utilities.  I am taking steps to minimize my carbon footprint:

(1) The heat will be set to 65º and the A.C. to 76º.

(2) I unplug the night light as soon as I get up, and plug it back in at bedtime.

(3) Except for rice and pasta, I will not cook when the A.C. is likely to come on.  That would be paying someone to burn coal to put heat into the house, only to have to pay someone to burn more coal for the A.C. to remove it.

I’ve done basically all my cooking for the summer already, during mild weather.  I baked and froze 20 lbs. of potatoes, and 8 cups each of chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, split peas and lentils.  The freezer is full.

Not yet mainstream …

… personally …

I am not yet a net taxpayer.  If I find the work I want in radio, full-time, that’s likely to pay $30-$60K.  That will land me straight in the 27% tax bracket, and I will gladly lose these subsidies:

  • A program pays 2/3 of my rent.(***)
  • Another program is likely to pay up to 80% of my utilities.
  • Food stamps
  • Medicaid (based on age, not income)
… or in the ‘hood …

MY block is NICE.  It’s clean.  The cars are late-model, with no unrepaired damage and with Maryland plates.  (Virginia plates mean it’s uninsured.)  Unlike the next block north or the next block south, it’s tree-lined, meaning that stable people, mainly, have lived here — for decades.

Related:  Where trees thrive, people thrive

Near enough, it’s not like that.  Trash in this alley, trash in that alley, trash in my alley.  If I am adequately centered, this won’t disturb me.

There are the houses with the red, reflectorized, 12-inch-by-12-inch signs that indicate the building’s uninhabitable.  In most cases, I suppose, there was a fire, and the property was uninsured.  I must pass a dozen of those each way, on my walk to and from the supermarket.

There is the Three Brothers market, at the southeast corner of Glover and McElderry.  The owners are Arabs who don’t care.  There are always these young men, dressed all in black, standing in the doorway or out front, who look like they’re up to no good.  (“Shady” people have dark auras.)  A police car stays parked at that intersection.  Another police car stays parked at Rose and Monument Streets, right by the supermarket.

In my daily prayers for the neighborhood, I pray specifically for those young men.

Related:  Move into a better neighborhood

… or downtown.

Until I get wi-fi at home, I’ve been going downtown every day to use the wi-fi at Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central Branch.

Until I bought the French press, I started each morning at the Starbucks at 100 E. Pratt St.

Downtown has and has not changed.  Every block, every corner has memories of places I used to work, and so forth.  I have a thousand stories.

I’ve been going to Enoch Pratt like this, from time to time, for decades.  In the past, my foot route to Enoch Pratt always passed through the intersection of Charles and Saratoga Streets.  Whether I was coming or going to or from Dunkin’ Donuts, or McDonald’s, or the mission; I passed through that intersection every time, each way.

Now the crowd I see or meet there consists of people I don’t want to see or meet.

One individual in particular.

From my diary for 05/17:

I may as well give him the name “Manny.”  This individual hangs outside Streets, and I really, really don’t like him.  I’ve dealt with him for more than 20 years.  He’s been calling himself homeless at least that long.  I remember being on a bus stop on Baltimore Street downtown at 17:00 — in the winter, that means after dark — and the street lights were on, and I was going from my real job downtown to my real home in Patterson Park; and having troubled contacts with him.

Last man on earth I’d ever want to love.

But that’s my job.

I can either find a different route from the library to my favorite bus stop, to avoid him; or I can take the “brightening the sparks” approach, as I did with Earl and Rodney.

God bless Manny.

Actually, I’ve decided to change my routes so as to avoid that intersection completely, not just because of him, but because of that whole crowd.  I’ve included the above passage only because it makes me sound noble.

(*)Good to grow.  This stuff is hideously costly.
(**)Inside, not outside, lest the rats get ’em.
(***)This is the only way most currently homeless people will ever find stable housing.  Current market conditions are such that, in the private sector, truly affordable housing just cannot be built.

2 thoughts on “HOMELESS NO MORE !!!

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