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08 May 2014

It ain't exactly livin'

Right now: sitting on one of the terraces outside one of the unions here, watching the sky darken partly due to nightfall and partly due to storms moving in from the west. There's plenty of street noise up here, especially from the fire department down the street that just hauled ass with sirens on, and there's a good breeze going, but it's still pretty quiet. There are a few people up here besides me, studying or talking or just enjoying being outside after a winter that was too long and too cold.
I'm trying to convince my brain to shift gears and study for the one final exam I'm actually going to take next week (maybe). It's hard to focus on school right now. I have a rule that says that there are three things that I have to have before anything else is possible: food, clothing, and shelter. Two out of three ain't bad, but it doesn't cut it, either. Not having a fixed place to call home means that I'm in nomad mode 24/7, which is also called "being homeless".

I've been thinking about this entire past year and a half with Porchlight, and I honestly don't see a way it could have turned out differently. I want to say it could have, because that would mean that this PTSD business is something that I can just bust ass and overcome, that working more or harder or faster would fix the problem. I know from experience that that's not how it works.

I definitely didn't have control over the maintenance guy that was in my room that one time; I did have some control over chasing his ass out of my room, and I did have the means to report the incident. That's the point where whatever belief I would ever have that vets house was a safe place would disappear.  Everything else went downhill from there. I'll always believe that after I talked to the patient advocate at the VA about the incident that things got worse for me.

Things didn't turn out perfectly. It was a fucked situation. There's no way they could have.

Here's what a day looks like now:

0100: My academic department's building closes. Security comes in, locks the doors, chases us all out of the common areas. If you have access to an office/lab you can be there all night, or (as I've discovered) if you're in a classroom they leave you alone.

0200: I try to study, but I'm tired. I try to sleep but I can't because I'm afraid that the one time someone poked their head in (other than the cleaning crew) it will be someone who doesn't agree that a classroom makes a good place for a homeless guy to be. There's the internet, of course, but when you can't concentrate on anything and you're exhausted, the internet isn't always that much fun.

0300: Maybe I try to sleep. Maybe I just doze off. Maybe both.

0400: Just like 0300, except that now I'm getting hungry for breakfast. I also need to get rid of the array of caffeinated beverages I've been drinking, so a trip down the hall to piss becomes necessary. Getting to the men's room means walking down two hallways, both of which have motion sensors to turn the lights back on. I'm always afraid that someone outside will see lights coming on inside the building at this time of night, and wonder what's going on enough to investigate.

0430: Half asleep or not, it's time to pack up my shit and get ready to GTFO. The building opens back up at 0500, so that's when security is back in the building. I'd rather not meet them in the hallway, or in whatever classroom I'm hiding in, and have to explain that this right now is home. Students burning midnight oil are largely tolerated. Homeless people spending the night are not.

0450: I slide out one of the building's back doors as quietly as I can, hoping that the door I picked is not the same door that the security guard has picked. My backup plan if this happens is yelling "ELEPHANT!" as loud as possible and running like hell past the stunned guard.

0500: There isn't shit to do around here at 0500. The only place open is McDonalds, which is shitty but after not sleeping all night in an empty classroom, it generally sounds good enough for breakfast.  This is when I'm feeling the most strung out, when the sun comes up and the rest of the world starts to wake up. There are some really fucking weird people in this McDs early in the morning. I'm half asleep, I doze, I wake up when I hear a noise and wonder where the fuck I am.

0700: I've had enough of McDs. Back to campus. The lab isn't open yet, but I can get in to get a clean short. Also, the union is. Upstairs to where I am now, find a chair by myself, wrap my backpack straps around my leg, and try to sleep.

1000 ish: So much for sleep. Hungry again. Still groggy. Take some time to wake up, then downstairs to forage for food. Lunch places open at 1100.  Eat food, drink soda and/or coffee.

1200 ish: back to the academic building, either to the lab or study areas.

1300 ish: afternoons are kinda hazy. Try to get some work done, usually doesn't happen.

I'm losing focus, yawning, getting fidgety. The tremors start, sometimes my entire body shakes. I try to hide it so no one else can see. More yawns. I need to go get some caffeine, maybe some food even though I'm not all that hungry. Work in 45 minutes.

Then it's groundhog day again.




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