Tag Archives: reflections

Life & History, Part the First

There’s this website called Making Light (often abbreviated to ML). I’ve been reading it so long I don’t even know when I found it, or even how, although it was probably by way of either Neil Gaiman or John Scalzi (both of whom are terrific writers and both of whom you should check out). At any rate, a few years back on or near the autumnal equinox, one of the moderators there, abi, started what she called the Dysfunctional Families Day thread, based on the idea that not everyone’s family of origin (birth, foster or adoptive family, whatever structure it was that raised them) was the basis for a Norman Rockwell painting or a gooey-sweet greeting card. That some people, in fact, had had it rough, and some had had it horrifically, terrifyingly bad, and many of them were still dealing with the fallout. So she started that thread as a safe haven, where people could talk without judgment about what they’d experienced, share coping mechanisms, ask for advice, or just…talk. Get it out of their systems, because sometimes just being able to do that, to talk to people who weren’t going to immediately say, “Oh, but you have to forgive [parental unit/sibling/other relative] despite the fact they did [horrific thing] — they’re your family!”

Well, no, being family doesn’t actually give you the right to fuck up someone else’s life, even if you didn’t mean to do it.

And every year around the first day of autumn, a new Dysfunctional Families Day thread would go up, and a couple of months later, it would essentially peter to a halt and abi would close it until the next year. Until 2011, when the thread filled up (reached nearly 1,000 comments) in just over two months and abi started another. And then another. And it stopped being an annual thing and is now ongoing because people don’t, it seems, only deal with family fallout during the holidays, although this is a particularly fraught time of year for a lot of people.

What I’m leading up to is that I posted on those threads quite often, those and the various Open Threads, when I was losing the fight to keep my house two years ago. I posted there because it was safe, because if I wanted advice I could ask for it, if I just wanted to vent, I could do that too, and it helped. My life was falling apart in ways I’d never imagined, and it helped to go to ML and write about it.

Things are so much better now. I just passed the one-year mark at my job, had my first annual review (of many, I hope), and they still like me, they appreciate me, they consider me an asset. Oh, I have room for improvement, I always do — and hell, if I ever did get a perfect review, where would I go from there? 😉 — but it’s good.

What follows began life as a post on Making Light, bad poetry and all. It’s been edited to add font differences in an attempt to make it easier to read, and proofed for the most obvious punctuation mistakes, but otherwise, what you see is what I wrote one dark night in 2011.

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Filed under fear, homelessness, inertia, job search, life & history, money


My mother would have been 89 years old today.  Would have been.  I didn’t realize it until later, but the day my car was totaled was the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And all I can think about is how glad I am that she isn’t around to see that I lost the house, that I’m living in a shelter, that my cats are living at the vet’s and that I don’t know how long it will take me to even begin paying him back.  Let alone how long it will take me to pay back all the people who’ve kicked in to help keep me afloat the last couple of years, helped me pay for my bankruptcy — there’s a supreme irony in the fact that if you have reached the point of needing to file, you’re too poor to afford to do it — and all the rest of it.

Let’s face it.  There’s a big part of me that’s ashamed.

There’s another part, of course, that points out my mom loved me and would never be ashamed of me as long as I was doing my best.  And I know it.  Another part that reminds me in no uncertain terms that if I’d had any idea this was waiting for me, I’d have made a whole boatload of different choices.  And I know that, too.  But like that line Julia Roberts’ character says to Richard Gere’s in Pretty Woman, the bad stuff is easier to believe.

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Filed under memories, writing


This entry comes from a prompt given by the facilitator of the writers’ group I attend through the auspices of the women’s “day refuge” I go to often.  The prompt was given on July 31, 2012, and it was:


“I’m from…”

I’m from here, there, everywhere, neverwhere, never there.  I’m from bad luck and lost chances and death and hope gutted and fear attacked and life and second chances, the one we have to make for ourselves.

I’m from a house that isn’t mine anymore — they’ve taken out my roses, my mother’s jade plant, taken off the screen door and replaced my solid, sensible front door, unadorned as a two-by-four, with something geegawed and glassy-lighted.

But the jacaranda I put in is still there, or was a few weeks ago, and the crepe myrtle my mom put in not long after buying the house.  I always loved that tree, with its wine-colored blossoms and a trunk that shed its bark to reveal silver-brown wood as smooth to the touch as satin or new love.

I’m from there, but I’m not there now, and I look forward to…something, somewhere, that fits.


Filed under fear, homelessness, writers' group, writing


Long about 4:30 in the morning, Mom put the beans in the oven.

Two earthenware crocks, a gallon or so each I’d guess.  One tallish, about as big around as a salad plate, the other shorter but big around as a dinner plate.  Which came in handy, since Mom used an old salad plate — white with a green stripe around the rim — as the lid for the tall crock and a cracked blue willow dinner plate as the lid for the other.  A pound of beans apiece, Great Northerns (her preferred bean) or navy beans, picked over for pebbles or broken bits or shriveled specimens and poured into the crocks with water almost to the top of the crock, put to soak about 4:30 the afternoon before.

Soak 12 hours, bake 12 hours in a slow oven.  That was Mom’s rule of thumb. Continue reading


Filed under holidays, homelessness, memories


On weekdays, the shelter staff wakes us up at 6:00 AM.  On weekends and holidays, it’s 7:00 AM, and oh, the luxury of sleeping in!  Assuming, of course, that none of the day clients — folks who come in to take showers and/or eat breakfast/lunch and/or just hang out — show up early and get into loud arguments at 5:30, which happens more often than any of the residents would like.

I get it that the fact I’m a resident makes me more privileged, as a homeless person, than someone who’s sleeping in a vehicle or on a blanket in a park or wherever, and I should be glad for the bed regardless of how long I actually get to sleep.  But getting awakened by loud, nasty voices hurling profanities and insults?  I doubt that’s anyone’s cup of tea.

Speaking of Tea and other morning-type beverages, Continue reading


Filed under homeless shelter, homelessness, library, transportation

Car, Variation the First

I’m in a writers’ group that meets through the auspices of one of the homeless services organizations in the area, and this week, one of the writing prompts was this, from Marjorie Agosin:

All exiles are like deep breaths, imperceptible in uninhabited landscapes.

This is what came from that prompt:

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Filed under car, writers' group, writing

A Beginning

You might be asking why I’m calling this blog “Embracing Homelessness”.  Trust me, it isn’t because I’m enjoying it.  I think it’s because fighting the real world won’t help.  But just rolling over and letting it all happen isn’t the answer either.

Sure, there’s a part of me that wants to put it all behind me, use this as a fresh start and just make sure I avoid making the same mistakes.  It seems to me there’s a certain wisdom to that.  It’s all over and done, after all, nothing I can do now will change what’s happened by a single atom.  Or quark.  Or some other, even smaller particle.

And a blank page has appeal–why else do we try so hard to fill it?

Except, of course, for those times when facing the blank page scares us to death.

Maybe we try to fill it, that expanse of white with no identity of its own, so we don’t have to look back.  Make a mental wall of it so we don’t have to examine the whys and wherefores, the results of choices (made poorly or maybe made well, but backfired somehow) and the effects of happenstance, and the collision between the two.

Or maybe we do it–maybe I do it–to understand.  Not because I think reliving or re-examining my life will bring back the reality of what I had Then, for nothing can; I have lost too much in too many different directions.  And not even because others might be able to learn from my mistakes and thereby avoid them…although that might be a nice side effect.

It’s because if I’m not willing to be the witness of my own life, who will be?  And it’s this that has the stronger voice for me.

So it asks me, “How the bloody hell did I end up here?  Sans house, sans job, sans a bunch of stuff and a lot of money and sans all too many cats–HOW did it happen?”

That’s the voice I’m hoping to put to rest.


Filed under homelessness