Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Holy Crap!

I just got another long screed telling me that I must accept jesus or spend eternity in hell. Do you hear yourselves? Okay, look, save it for someone who wants saving, because I will never, under any circumstances, publish those comments. Here's a lovely film called Stairs to no end. Let it be my response to every comment of this type.

This does bring up an important point about homelessness. If you seek help for your physical problems (shelter, food, clothing) religious exploitation is never far away. If you legitimately want to believe, far be it from me to tell you not to, but you should not have to sell your conscience for a cot. If you are young and unformed in your philosophy, avoid indoctrination in exchange for comfort. The comfort is cold, and the mental game is hard to shake. The religious have been preying on the weak for a very long time, and they are very sophisticated.

When you are cold and alone the allure of an all loving, all forgiving, forever completely attentive caregiver is hard to beat. In the end, though, for most of the faiths that target the homeless and the young, you just become their tool, and get everything taken away from you. Stand on your own, and the rewards are your own.


At 9:04 AM, Blogger Gypsy Boho said...

So True!

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Midori said...

Thank you for a bunch of compassionate, thoughtful advice that applies to life in general. Especially this one which I encountered on the heels of another social shunning in public due to my lack of religion.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Venus said...

I am facing homelessness for a second time and the only place that will take me in as a childless, drug free, alcohol free, overall good person is a religious shelter. In order to stay there I have to attend church three times a week and fill out a worksheet based upon the words of a new hour long sermon every night, telling me things I will not believe and to do things that are not for me. Thanks for understanding why I hit the streets after three days of this.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Kelly Jameson said...

Evil hides behind religion and calls itself righteous

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm kinda floored by the amount of hate that is poured out by this post and I am ashamed to say that I didn't know this was an issue. As a Christian, I apologize for what you perceive to be exploitation of the homeless from the church. I knew there were many care shelters that were Christian but I wasn't aware that there was so much pressure from within as I've only visited religious shelters a few times. I came to your site hoping to find some tips in what to provide for the homeless so I could build packages for them. Of course, being Christian, my religion is important and I believe it gives hope to the struggling but I would never withhold help if someone chose not to believe. I hope you know that not all Christians target homeless just to "save" them - my heart genuinely breaks for the homeless. I wish you the best.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous tgj said...

As a formerly committed and relatively philosophically informed atheist who found the all loving, almost all-forgiving, forever completely attentive God of high standards and judge of all who sacrifice their conscience and their eternal souls in the name of temporary comfort, I heartily agree with almost everything in this post. I don't think standing on your own ultimately yields any rewards worth having, but listening to your own conscience is the only thing that will save you.

Your conscience is the best thing you have, even if you're not homeless. Especially if you're not homeless. Preserve the ability to be deeply creeped out by all sorts of religious and spiritual manipulation as if your life depended on it, because it does. It'll even save you from non-religious (or apparently non-religious) traps and dangers. It's your eyes and your ears and your radar. Keep it clean and unobstructed, and whatever you do, don't go jabbing and poking and cutting at it with stuff. Run, run, run away from the people who hide their knives and their hungry eyes behind a sickly sweet fog of manipulative false compassion and "love" that is anything but.

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...
Christopher Hitchens in debate vs Pastor Douglas Wilson

"If you want to be awe inspired, ladies and gentlemen, and let me say, let me just tell you that those of us who do not believe we are divinely created, let alone divinely supervised, are not immune to the idea of awe and beauty and the transcendent. Let me invite you to look for a moment at the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Some of you may have done it. If you haven’t done it now, or yet, do it soon.

The extraordinary revelations of swirling yet somehow beautiful, new galaxies in color and depth and majesty, like nothing, I think, the human eye has ever seen. Turn away from that if you wish, and gaze at a burning bush, in an illiterate desert part of the middle east, and say that that’s where revelation comes from. I don’t believe you’d be able to do it.

Or read a page of Stephen Hawking on the absolute magnificence and consistency and underlying beauty, as Einstein says the great miracle of physics is there are no miracles, it all carries on holding together all the time. There are no interruptions in its order. There are no suspensions of it just to please Joshua, or just to please some sect or tribal group. No. It’s much, much, much more impressive than that.

Hawking has a colleague who looked at the event horizon of the black hole. If you could travel towards a black hole, not yet possible to do, if you could, in theory, the event horizon is the point at which the black hole is pulling everything into itself. So, over into the black hole goes light, itself. It’s so strong it can pull light back into itself. It’s really awe inspiring. A lot more, say, than a crowd of pigs, infested by devils, running down a hill, into the sea, which is a piece of sorcery, and cheap magic of the sort that shouldn’t impress any thinking person. Think about a black hole instead, pulling the light into itself, the event horizon just reorganizing nature, so that if you could get to that lip, the lip of the event horizon and fall in, and go in, you could in theory see the past and the future stretching before and in front of you. You would see time, except you wouldn’t have the time to do it, of course, if you were a mere primate as we are, but Hawking has a colleague who says if he knew he was dying of a terminal illness, that’s how he’d want to go out, is over the lip of the event horizon. That would be majesty, that would be magnificence, that would be awe inspiring, that would be apocalyptic.

So it’s in the natural world, it’s in the world of science and the world of innovation, and discovery, and doubt. We wouldn’t have discovered any of these things if we’d taken the religious story for granted to begin with. We would have said we already know enough. We know. God made this. God wants it this way. What’s the need for inquiry? We already have all the information we need. The big difference between this side of the house, mine, and the other, is this, I am absolutely certain that I do not know, but that it might be possible to find out and that doubt and skepticism and innovation and inquiry are the only means by which wonder and beauty and awe and symmetry will be discovered, and beyond those peaks we can yet see new, more wonderful peaks will arise. Whereas, on the Wilson side of the house it is said we already have the certainty, we know that God created us, and we even claim to know his mind and what he wants of us. And I just invite you to open your minds to the possibility that the skeptical and the inquiring and the doubtful will be better than anything that calls itself faith, because anything that calls itself faith calls itself certainty and for certainty I think there is no place in an institute of intellectual mentation and higher education, and I’m very grateful to you all for giving me the chance to say so."

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read every post of your blog in today, and you're more true to the ideal "American" than any southern good ole' boy I've ever met. I've met plenty of them.

Honestly, you're gifted. As in you yourself are mentally gifted with an extraordinary ability to survive in a jungle even more restrictive than the natural; the synthetic human jungle called "civilization".

I think you've seen things about the so called greatest country on earth that have turned you to be skeptical of everything and everyone, because you understand even the best intentions can have tragic results. That often dogmatic idealism carries the veil of good intention's to fulfill it's own ego of well doing. That charity is often based on a selfish desire to receive on one end whether it be a transaction of faith or of self.

Overall, I just want to say thank you. Your guide has shown me the spirit of survival and the true ideal of American individualism still exists and can be accomplished.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Bunny said...

I was kicked out of my house by my mother the night before my college classes started. I have been staying with my boyfriend and his family. As much as I would like to go home and have everything paid for me, I don't want to deal with the emotional abuse anymore. My mother is threatening to stop payments, which is no issue. One can always go back to school. I'm planning on staying with my stepmother and getting a job. I hope to save enough money to someday move into an apartment with roommates. I have been gone from home 3 days, the first night I was detained and released, but otherwise everything has gone well. I'm just not sure what to handle first, education or shelter. I also need to go back and get my stuff, but I'm not sure how to handle that. I hope to pay back my mother for certain things, like my pet and art supplies, but I don't know how that would bode.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I've been where you are," the minister shouted from the pulpit. He then went on to talk about cocaine usage, and how we could only be saved by accepting Jesus as our savior.

Those sermons were the price of a meal. I sat there thinking: no, you have never been where I was ~ for starters you never gave birth to 3 children. Plus I never used cocaine, or the other things the man used as examples of how "we" were like him.

The sermon(s) did nothing except irritate me; treated as a small, naughty child being lectured. Few and far between were pastors whose words were meant to uplift and give hope.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Radiopob said...

I don't care if you believe in Jesus Christ, Buddha, Fraggle Rock, the Mayan Calendar or string theory. I'll choke down anything you want me to as long as you just give me a damn job. I'm 61 years old with a resume that would choke a roomful of grad students. After leaving a 22-year career due to being treated horribly, I tried to open my own business. Didn't work out. Spent every dime I had saved on it. So, I looked for work in the my hometown of the past 20 years. Over 300 applications filled out and resumes emailed and I was only called in for two interviews. And those didn't go very well, obviously. I couldn't even get hired as a dishwasher. I've recently declared bankruptcy and faced foreclosure. Sold everything I owned and threw a digital dart at a Google map to find a place where I could start all over. Landed on Friday Harbor, Washington. Since arriving a month ago, I've been lied to about two jobs, treated with scorn by a hiring manager, and basically ignored. Now I'm down to my last $10. I have one month left in this apartment, having pre-paid for two months rent when I arrived. I have a half a tank of gas. I don't qualify for unemployment benefits. And I've basically run dry of where to hand out another resume. All I can do is sit and watch the job postings online. And wait. And wait. And wonder why this society thinks that people who are 61 are not worth hiring. I'd like to know if anyone reading this has faced homelessness/joblessness with no income source at all. Fortunately, I have no wife or kids. Just an aging mother in an assisted living facility 2,000 miles from here. And she's broke, too, because she had to pay my mortgage and bills while I looked for work prior to bankruptcy. I'm willing to sleep in my car wherever I end up when the gas tank goes dry. But it's finding food, getting haircuts and having clean clothes to wear so that I can continue the job search that has me befuddled. Someone give me some pointers, please ...

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

I have no idea what to tell you, Radiopob. I have no job to offer. I've put all my advice on the blog.

At 12:28 AM, Blogger hippie said...

Radiopod, It is hard. Employers don't want older workers, and they don't have to in this economy. You are 61, you can get Social Security within a year. Try apply for food stamps in the mean time.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger michael dumont millhollin said...

Well said!

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Xtine said...

Hi Radiopob,

This country is unbelievably cruel to it's most vulnerable citizens. That being said, there are things you can do. Try not giving your age or lying about your age when you go for jobs- put yourself more around 52 or something. Claim you lost your ID. Later on when you have more resources, try to get a fake ID with a younger age. If you are not being hired due to being "overqualified", just drop some of your qualifications. There's no law that says you MUST state ALL your qualifications, right? It seems crazy to have to do that but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Find out about all the soup kitchens, food pantries, etc that you can. Use them to the fullest. Stockpile food in your apt as much as you can. Learn where the discount section is at the grocery store for dented cans, etc and buy stuff for under a dollar, etc. I still use that section today.

Also, try working online. I was able to make about $1500/month working on an advice website called Keen as a Tarot reader for about 6 months until I found a better gig - I put up an ad and people would call it. Granted I love reading Tarot, do it well and started doing it as a young child. But it's just an example of something you can do online. Nobody can see you online so they have no idea how old, young, etc you are. Check out Keen and see where you might be able to place an ad, or another advice website. Hell, get on ALL of them that you can find, simultaneously. There are a bunch.

Don't be scared to panhandle. I did it as a teen and it really works. It might earn your food money for that day in as little as a couple of hours. Find a busy corner and sit there, act humble and nice, and you'll get something. Just stay alert and be ready to move on RIGHT AWAY if there's trouble.

Be relentless about asking people about possible work. And be FLEXIBLE. Maybe someone needs flyers to be passed out. Maybe someone needs a ticket taker. Maybe someone needs a person to clean and sweep floors. Or a barback at a bar. Go where there are a lot of people like nightclubs, malls, etc and just start talking to people. Don't sit inside, go out and talk to as many people as possible. Be friendly, congenial, humble and sweet. You WILL grab someone's heartstrings. Waiting for them to respond to a resume is probably a recipie for not getting any work these days - there is a wise old saying I learned when I was young from some street girls - "The Clostest Get The Mostest". The CLOSER you are to someone, the MORE you receive. Make sure you are RIGHT THERE when someone says "well I could use someone to do this". You will be right there to say "hey, I can start right now!"

This sounds crazy, but keep your eyes open and look at the ground a lot when you're just walking around. I've found money dropped on the ground at just the right times. Even today I will pick up change when I see it, out of habit- I take it to Coinstar once a year. I've found as much as $100 dropped on the ground. I consider it a gift from my higher power during a hard time.

It might even work to create a website for yourself with a "donate" button from PayPal, describe your situation and put links to your page all over Facebook, Twitter, etc. That way people could just donate you $1, $5, $10....put a picture of yourself, your resume, etc. There are free websites like Weebly that let you design your own site, I figured one out in less than a day. It couldn't hurt, right? You should try to get your story featured in the news, one lady blogged about her situation and got on the news and she got donations from all over. Make yourself into an issue and get the word out to AS MANY people as possible.

I hope this helped and I hope you are ok. My heart goes out to you. Make that donation page today!

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have yet to stand in the food line and hear a former mentally disabled pastor talk about how he used to be mentally handicapped and unable to find work that could sustain him, but then he found Jesus and was cured of his affliction and was able to find a job that would provide a living wage. But to be fair I only stood in that food line twice- so maybe they had that kind of testimony since then.

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Jessie Lynn said...

Please be 1 of 15,000 to support of homeless students at my college:

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great post. It's true.

I am in voluntary homelessness and you wouldn't believe the kinds of offers I get from people who 'feel bad for me'- even though I explain it's voluntary. Some people's kids.

Thanks again for the post :) 'keep strong and homeless on!'

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Josh said...

I am also voluntarily homeless. When my ex-wife and I were going through our separation and divorce, I moved into an extended-stay "apartment" (they're set-up like motels; with refrigerators, microwaves and a 2 burner stove, but no oven and it's all one a studio). After 7 months, I've decided I need a bigger place with a full kitchen, separate rooms, etc...

Since I cannot afford to save up for another apartment while living in my current one, I decided to move into my car temporarily and save the money I would have spent on my old apartment to move into my new one.

It's not an ideal situation, but hey, sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get were you want to go.


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