Monday, March 08, 2004

I was a homeless college graduate

Last week I changed the settings so that the true time reflected on postings was Eastern Standard Time. There may be some confusion when viewing earlier postings, which showed Pacific Time, even though while I've posted this blog I've always lived in the Eastern Time Zone.

A while ago this evening, I was falling asleep as I read to my daughter Annie-Franck. However, I snapped out of it in time to get on here.

Excerpt from my part of an e-mail dialogue:

In the wake of the Peace Corps determining that I
couldn't join because of a supposed inguinal hernia, and my
failing the oral exam for the State Department's Foreign
Service, I was trying to get a political science degree
while supporting myself in sales and tutoring Spanish for
Inlingua on State Street.
I made the move to an insurance company as a salesman on
commission. The training was good, or so I thought.
However the promised base salary never came through for the
first three months. The rent was overdue by two months.
The patience of the fraternity wore thin, and one day I
arrived at the end of a work day to find Zoran, the right
hand man of the fraternity president, throwing my property
out of the house. That night I stayed in my little
copper-colored Ford Maverick, with my possessions packed so
that I could lie on my ironing board, down the middle of the
vehicle, and get a little sleep. I found a place to park by
the curb at a park in Jarvis.
I found temporary lodgings with a friend who worked at a
service station next to Loyola's Sheridan campus. Soon I
found other sales work, and saved enough to get a flat in
Edgewater. However, the time, energy, and stress of
adjusting was too much for me to manage both work and
studies, and the latter fell by the wayside.
[I'm glad that this woman Jennie who writes that she lives in Greater Chicago area, is realizing this and also that one more soul is moving consciously in this way.

Does she know about Slim Coleman and the movement to empower the homeless in the Wilson Avenue area of New Town?

How are the various institutions and organizations which purport to care for the homeless? I wonder as I think about Jennie.

I was homeless and unemployed in Chicago, and more often underemployed, and often still homeless. I am grateful there were compassionate people in the Windy City, the “City that Works.”

I love Chicago. But I was a flea on the Broad Shoulders, and was brushed off without an afterthought.]

I had wanted to help the poor, the homeless, and the
oppressed; at this time I was faced with the choice of
returning to Galesburg to live with my parents, while I
tried to get back into school, or struggling on my own. I
chose the homeless shelters, realizing that there was no
better way for me to understand what the indigent and
working poor had to experience than to live that way myself.
To make a long story short, I lived in shelters, homes
of friends, or camped out in the woods or swamps, for about
eleven years, from 1985 to 1996, while I worked several
restaurant and retail sales jobs, or odd jobs and day labor.
I kept a series of notebooks which finally I am working
into an account of these experiences and reflections on
various topics ranging from the problems of the homeless to
union organizing, to essays on literature, art, and
What comes from all this remains to be seen.