I have been so derelict in my blog writing. Sometimes I wonder how I wrote every single day back in 2010 when I did the Year of Giving.
So there are several items to update you on. First, Anthony is doing well. We got some amazing news recently. He was approved to receive a small amount of government assistance to help him as we prepare to move him into housing. What? Housing for Anthony?!?! Well, while I have been away there have been some people who have been very busy trying to find housing for Anthony. And with this small supplemental income, I think it will put him in a great position to get into some low-income housing. Special thanks and a shout out to Elizabeth for all of her help with Anthony!!!
A couple of other important shout-outs…to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA, Jim and Nicole from Alexandria and Walter of Stuart, VA – all of whom have recently made very generous contributions to help Anthony.
Anthony’s health seems to be fair these days. While my use of the word “fair” may make you think he is not doing all that well, he’s actually doing pretty good. It’s just his overall health is so poor at this moment it’s hard to call it anything else but fair even when he is doing well. I’m going with him on Friday to see his doctor.
And as for me? Well, I’ve been traveling like mad for work. I’ve been on the road every week for the past 12 weeks to places like Richmond, Miami, New York, Boston, Pescadero, Santa Monica and Cuba. Yes, you read correctly, Cuba. I went legally with the US Government’s permission I’ll have you know! It’s an amazing place….so much of it frozen in 1959.
While the globetrotting has slowed me down some, I’ve still been making some good progress on the book. That being said, I regret to share with you that I didn’t meet my April 24th milestone which means I will be sleeping on the streets one night next week with Anthony. That was his choice for my punishment of not reaching my goal. Hopefully the natural elements will be kind to me. Wish me luck!
Oh…one last thing. I did meet with my agent last week in New York City. It was a good meeting and I delivered some writing to him to review and we agreed to touch base next week.
Today things got a little bit clearer…in more than one way!
Not only did I wake up after my Lasik eye surgery that I had yesterday and could see better than 20/20, I also met up with Anthony and an outreach worker named Elizabeth who has been kind enough to provide Anthony with some assistance. Before I get on to Anthony, if you ever consider Lasik eye surgery or have keratoconus (a rare but treatable eye disease) you should definitely consider seeing Dr. Roy Rubinfeld in Chevy Chase, MD. He’s amazing!
So believe it or not, less than 24 hours after my surgery I was downtown sitting outside having a meeting – ok to be fair I did wear sunglasses, but still! Elizabeth is wonderful. She helped us navigate the complex labyrinth of social services available to Anthony. And while a few other organizations have been open to helping us, the system is so complex and turnover is so high that just when you start working with someone some other piece of the puzzle changes and you fall all the way back to the end of the line again. It’s so agonizing.
With Elizabeth’s help, we mapped out the next five steps for Anthony. He seemed really positive about it and we all have a little work to do. I’m hoping that some day we will look back at this morning and realize how pivotal it was in getting Anthony his set of keys to his very own apartment.
As for progress on the book – I’m working hard to not be sleeping on the streets come April 24th!
The eye drops that Dr. Rubinfeld put in my eyes were starting to take affect when my phone rang. I moved the screen a bit further away than normal and read Anthony’s name on the caller ID. He was calling to say that he might be a little late for our 11:45 meeting – his pants ripped earlier in the day and he needed to get a new pair across town at a thrift store.
My eye exam wrapped up and I was cleared for Lasik eye surgery next Wednesday. I wandered out of the doctor’s office, my eyes fighting off the unwelcome sun that was bathing the sidewalks of Friendship Heights, MD. Although it’s only about a block to the Metro, it took me a few extra minutes to arrive as I kept my head tucked deep into the top of my coat looking straight down as I walked, using my hand to shield my eyes from the sun’s rays. I stepped into the underworld of the Metro and finally found my eyes relaxed in the cool dimly lit concrete world. A few minutes later I was downtown DC near Anthony’s corner. I grabbed a coffee and plopped down in a comfy chair at Caribou Coffee to burn some time until he arrived.
We met; he was upbeat and very chipper. A side of him that I hand’t seen in a while. In fact, I hadn’t really seen any side of Anthony in a weeks as he’d cancelled a few of our meetings.
He slipped me a folded up piece of legal paper – you know the yellow colored type. “We’ll talk about that over lunch,” he said with a smile. Before heading off to lunch, Anthony asked me to take a photo of him to send to a very generous woman named Joyce who has been following the blog and sent a donation to cover a night in hotel for him.
Over quesadillas and tacos we talked about the piece of paper he slipped me earlier. I unfolded it carefully – it seems that it had gotten wet at some point and could potentially tear so I wanted to be gentle with it. Inside I found a business card for an outreach worker that Anthony likes very much. He hopes that she will be able to help him navigate the housing assistance jungle. We’ve got several irons in the fire, but I believe that we really need to stick with one group and work more closely with them if we want to get keys to an apartment in Anthony’s hands.
After lunch we walked back to his corner. He grilled me on my book writing. I’m behind again, but still very committed. But Anthony suggested we up the stakes some. “You need consequences,” he said grinning about as wide as one can. “If you don’t get your draft proposal done in the next 3 weeks, then I think you need to come sleep on the streets with me.”
Not a bad motivator. I don’t have any interest in spending a night on the streets of DC. I nodded my head slowly knowing that Anthony’s suggestion was a good one, despite the fact that I wasn’t wild about the idea. But that is just the kind of consequence that we need to have – something to motivate me to meet my deadlines. So there you go. The clock is ticking and I need to get writing…so I will be back in touch next week.
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
For me the pitter patter sound of falling rain soothes the soul. I often stay inside by the fireplace where I find my eyes wandering toward the windowsill. The only difference today was that when I looked out at the marbles of rain bouncing on the street surface below I knew that Anthony was not snuggled up in a home next to a fireplace drinking freshly brewed coffee.
It was a little after 7am. I was up writing but having trouble focusing. I was supposed to meet him at 11:30am for our bi-weekly meeting. Last week he flaked on it – well maybe that is too harsh. I found him in an exhausted state after being up most the night monitoring a group of college kids that he was supervising as they went through a 48 “urban plunge” where they experience life on the streets. It’s understandable he didn’t feel much like meeting. Hell, he didn’t want to eat. I know he’s not feeling well when he passes up a free meal!
It was shortly after 11am when I got the call. Anthony cancelled again. “Maybe next week,” he said sounding sluggish and melancholy “It’s nasty out there this morning and I’m just going to stay here at the Au Bon Pain and wait it out and maybe try to get some sleep.” I offered to meet him there at the french bakery, but he insisted that today was not a good day.
I let it go. We talked for a minute about a few other items, he checked on my writing progress. “Well, I tried to do some this morning but that didn’t work out. I’ve got some time set aside later this afternoon,” I told him still hopeful that I would get some productive time in on the book after lunch.
This is the first time since we have been working together that he has cancelled twice in a row. I offered to change my schedule and meet with him on Thursday but he preferred to wait until next week.
Something doesn’t seem right.
Sadly I didn’t get any work done on my book. I got a lot of other crap done…but no writing.
Today was supposed to be my regular meeting with Anthony. I called him this morning to make sure we were still on – but he didn’t pick up. Nonetheless, I headed down to his corner to meet up with him around noon.
The southeast corner of 19th and M was full of people but I didn’t see my friend. My feet paced in the same space that Anthony usually occupies as I scanned the area to see if he possibly had wandered away for a moment. While fumbling for my phone to give him a call I spotted his bright yellow vest across 19th street.
His body propped up against one of those newspaper boxes that take quarters, Anthony looked terrible. “I haven’t slept at all,” he said to me explaining that he had chaperoned a group of college students from Richmond doing an urban plunge – a 48 hour experience developed by the National Coalition for the Homeless where young people get matched with a homeless individual and experience life on the streets. “This group had a couple of girls and I don’t like to sleep when girls are part of it…you never know, but nothing is gonna happen on my watch.”
I offered to buy him lunch but he just shook his head and said he was going to head over to the the Au Bon Pain and take a snooze in the back. The son was warming his unshaven face which peaked out from under his new hat that I gave him two weeks earlier.
Before we split I asked him how his meeting with the housing/employment group that I had helped him get the previous week went. He just kind of shrugged and said, “We’ve got to talk about that…but not today.”
So who knows if he went or not. I told him I would circle back with him later this week and wished him lots of rest.
I’ve had a good week working on my book. Taking time off from my main job has helped create space for me to concentrate on writing.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel as confident about the progress that we are making with Anthony. There were some really good signs this week. I got an outreach center which helps homeless secure living wage jobs and get into housing agree to meet with Anthony to see if they could help him. Good right? Well, Anthony didn’t seem t0o excited about it. In fact, when I spoke to him today two hours before his scheduled meeting with the center he said he wasn’t sure if he was going to go. I encouraged him to go and told him that if he decided to bail that he needed to contact them beforehand.
On top of this, he told me that he no longer wanted to go to the job fair tomorrow at the Mead Center. “I think I will have better luck finding jobs through Christine,” he told me. This is a new person that he has brought up that he knew from a past position she held with an outreach center here in Washington. We’ll see where that goes.
Hopefully I am wrong about this. But I am feeling a reluctance on his part to take crucial steps that might just lead him to housing. He told me when we started on our journey together that this was something that he really wanted. He told me that he was tired of living on the streets and was ready to trade that life in for the chance to hold the keys to his very own place. Let’s hope I’m just reading too much into this and that that Anthony and I, and the many others who have offered their help, are not all wasting our time.
This quote was one of the only things I took away from the Oscars on Sunday evening. It was attributed to the late Nora Ephron who died last June after losing her battle with leukemia. Although I can’t find any source attributing this to the great author and director, I did find it attributed to the author Gabe Rotter. Regardless of who said it, I agree!
That being said, maybe the secret is just making time for it. So far today is off to a good start. I’ve taken some time off of my job to focus on writing this week. I got five pages written this morning and have more time planned this afternoon.
I’m taking the rest of the day to work on my book proposal. My brother Ryan recently shared with me an interesting video of the English actor John Cleese talking about how to unlock your creative juices. It’s about 5 minutes too long in my opinion but the core content is quite good. In a nutshell he claims that creativity is not a talent, rather it’s a way of operating. He focuses on five factors to help us be creative.
Space – You have to create some space for yourself away from your everyday demands. That means sealing yourself off. You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed.
Time – It’s not enough to create space. You have to create your space for yourself for a specific period of time. Keep in mind that it’s much easier to do
rivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent – like thinking. And, it’s also easier to do little things that we know we can do rather than starting big things that we are not so sure about. Your mind will start thinking about all of the other things that you could be doing instead of working on your project. He says to just sit there for a little bit recognizing the potential interruptions but just letting them come and go. Your mind will eventually calm Continue reading →
Before I get started today, just a note to let you know that I have added some ad banners on the blog. Yep, there’s one just above where you’re reading now and another one over on the menu to the right. All proceeds go to help support the Anthony&Me project. If you see an ad that interests you, I encourage you to click on it as each click results in micro-revenue for the project. Thank you for your support!!
Anthony and I met up this morning for our bi-weekly meeting. First we went over to a doctor’s visit that he had. It seems that his blood pressure is getting more stable although it is still considerably higher than what the doctor would like.
We then headed across the street to the Whole Foods for lunch. We circled the hot and cold food bars surveying the various offerings until we both honed in on our prey. I made Continue reading →
So yesterday I stopped by to see Anthony at his corner of 19th and M. There was something different about him this time though. He was wearing a sharp looking black three-quarter length wool coat. “A friend was nice enough to buy this for me,” he told me. Handing me the receipt that was still in the pocket he looked me in the eye. “You’re not going to believe how much they paid for it…I’d be happy with something from the thrift shop.” I explained to Anthony that giving is often times just as much about the giver as it is the recipient. He nodded and said how thankful he was for the generous gift.
While we were talking, Anthony said he wanted to introduce me to somebody. You got to understand that talking with Anthony at his corner is not usually a simple bi-directional conversation – nope, not with Anthony. You see that’s Continue reading →