Archive for May 4, 2019

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homeless

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21 September 2012

Rain started Thursday afternoon and is expected to continue through the weekend. I had my umbrella and leather jacket, so I decided to venture to the park. As I was crossing Elgin Street, I met Chester coming the other way. We greeted each other and shook hands.

“Joy’s up there,” he said.

“Great, thanks Chester.”

Standing in a covered doorway to the underground parking lot were five of my friends and Shaggy, who is sometimes a friend, sometimes not.

I shook hands with Jacques who seemed about to leave. He said to the group, “I’m supposed to meet Shark under the Laurier Bridge.”

Joy said, “I just walked past the bridge. Magdelene and Alphonse are there, but nobody else.”

“I’m going there to wait for him, ” said Jacques.

I went to shake Wolf’s hand; he waved me away, “Fuck off, Dennis. I’ll say hello to you later. Right now I’ve got Jacques leaving. I didn’t even shake hands with him. Joy  just stepped on Shaggy, I’ve got to get her settled and out of the rain. I’ve got to find some way of keeping her dry on the way home, all I have is this small umbrella.”

“It’s okay, Wolf, I can see you’re busy.”

Joy said to Andre, “He’s got no right to talk to Dennis that way.”

Andre said, “Joy, just take it easy. Take a few deep breaths and count to ten.”

“Everything’s fine, Joy,” I said, “Don’t worry about me.”

I asked her, “Any news about your apartment?”

“My worker phoned Chester earlier. She said nothing is definite. It could be good news, it could be bad. I have Chester’s phone now. I tried to call them, but they must be at lunch. I’m just waiting for her call now.

“At two o’clock I’m going to meet a friend I haven’t seen for over twenty years.”

“Jake,” I asked, “how is your new apartment?”

“The apartment is great. I’ve got lots of space, now I need furniture. All I have is an air conditioner, still in its box. That’s what I use to sit on, sometimes to eat at. I just slide it around wherever I need it.”

“Andre,” I asked, “How is it going with your apartment application. Have you had any news?”

“I phoned my worker this morning. She wanted me to come in, but I said to her, ‘We’re talking now, just let me know what’s going on. There’s no point me coming in if there’s no need.’ The only really positive thing is that, on September 27, I get to see a doctor. I’ll have a family doctor of my own. The one I had was from Cornwall, but he died.

“The doctor can verify that I need medical attention and that I need appointments at least six times a month. That way I qualify for a yearly bus pass. He can also sign the papers for O.D.S.P. (Ontario Disability Support Program) and all the other stuff, so I’ll be able to get started on that. Right now, I got nothing.”

“Okay, Dennis,” said Wolf, “Now, I can say hello and shake hands with you. Shaggy is out of the rain and taken care of. This morning I got a new book and three new dvd’s. After I get home I have enough to keep myself entertained all weekend.”

“What book did you get, Wolf?”

“I can’t remember. It’s all wrapped in plastic in the bottom of Shaggy’s cart.

“What do you think of this weather? It’s really coming down now. This is the worst it’s been and it’s going to keep up like this for three days, so we better get used to it. I brought my umbrella, I’m wearing a raincoat, I’ve got proper shoes on, but I’m still soaked from the crotch down.

“Did they tell you that Bear bit me today? It’s not nearly as bad as the bites I’ve gotten from Shaggy, but it still hurts. I had a proper cover for Shaggy’s cart, but I lent it to Weasel for Bear — anything to get rid of him.”

Joy answered Chester’s phone. I couldn’t hear the conversation. I saw the tears running down her cheeks. She dabbed at them with paper towel from her pocket.

“Was it bad news, Joy?” I asked, redundantly.

“It’s a no go. Even with that fuckin’ twenty page contract, they’ve decided they don’t want to work with our program.”

“The father seemed in favor of it, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, it was just the daughter who didn’t want anything to do with us. I don’t know why my worker didn’t have anything else lined up, in case this fell through.”

“She’ll have other places to show you, won’t she?”

“Yeah, it’s no problem.”

“Everything will work out, Joy.”

“Yeah, I know.” She put on a brave face, but another hope was dashed. “For now, it’s back to Chester’s place and bedbugs.”

I’m presently reading , “The Art of Happiness at Work,” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler M.D. When asked about self-understanding he said:

“Humility is a good quality, but there can be too much humility. This kind of low self-esteem will have the negative effect of shutting out any possibility for self-improvement, almost by default, because the tendency of such a person would be to automatically react to the event with the thought, No, I cannot do this.

“In addition, I would also list an agitated state of mind as another obstacle for greater self-understanding. Since self-understanding demands a certain ability to focus on one’s own abilities and personal character, a constantly agitated mind simply will not have the space to enter into any serious self-reflection.

“…when you have low self-esteem, then you underestimate your actual qualities and abilities. You belittle yourself, you put yourself down. This leads to a complete loss of faith in yourself.”

In the same book, Dr. Cutler states, “Low self-esteem and underestimating of one’s abilities can be paralyzing, stifling personal initiative and inhibiting the individual from exploring new opportunities. Ultimately, it can obstruct the realization of one’s full potential, preventing the achievement of one’s goals.”

What I have observed, over the past two years is that what may seem no more than an inconvenience to myself, or other employed people — such as obtaining a birth certificate, a health card, applying for available government assistance programs — may be an insurmountable obstacle to those with mental conditions, alcoholism or other substance dependencies.

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