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.
In the little more than two months that Anthony and I have been working to help one another – I have gotten to know him much better. I’ve seen his ups and downs, I’ve sat in doctor’s offices with him as he is told devastating news about his health and I have heard some of the pain from his past. But nothing has affected me more than my encounter with him last night.
Like many Americans, I spent Sunday evening watching the 47th contest of the Superbowl. It delivered an exciting game and although I didn’t really have a dog in the fight, I was happy to see Baltimore win. I’m more of a Continue reading →
Greetings from sunny Miami! I’m here for work for a few days. After the frigid week we had in DC last week this is a welcomed change. You’d be surprised how just the sight of sunglasses, flip flops and swaying palm trees can unfreeze you from winter’s grasp.
I was struck by how many people there were begging around my hotel last night. I tend to think that DC has a large population of panhandlers, but this was at San Francisco or New Orleans levels. I’m not sure if they were homeless, but if they were I can understand that as surviving outdoors in South Florida does seem like a brighter option than Washington and places north.
Yesterday was a good day for me. Despite a sluggish start, I managed to get three pages written. Although I feel I’m allowed to give myself some credit when I have good days like today, I’m also a realist and recognize that perhaps the nonstop drizzle that coated us yesterday might have contributed to my discipline. Nobody wants to sit at your computer and write when it’s beautiful and sunny outside!
There is something about the rain and the cold that seems to just fuel your pen. Perhaps that is why Ireland has produced so many damn good writers – or then again maybe it’s just the Jameson. Who knows…but it gets me in my writing mode – the Jameson that is.
Now for the depressing part. As I sit here in front of my fireplace with a blanket over my legs and a warm cup of English Breakfast tea soothing my throat I’m jolted by the thought of Anthony. Not only is he probably cold and wet, he’s certainly not selling many papers in this drizzle. It’s actually worse than a full on shower. At least then you have an umbrella and you can go on your merry way. No, yesterday was that miserable cold spitting that is just enough to allow you to run out without an umbrella but not enough to get your head out from dry sanctuary of your coat collar so that you can see more than just the sidewalk in front of you. If Anthony was out there – we’d probably have walked right by him.
I had to run some errands on Friday so I decided to take the car and go by Anthony’s corner to see if he was there. As I drove on M Street I spotted his familiar bright yellow vest from a few hundred feet away.
I pulled the car over, probably in some illegal spot, and called over to him. His eyes darted in every direction looking for where the calls were coming from and then he saw my extended hand out the window, beckoning to him.
“Merry Christmas my friend,” he said with the jovial spirit of a true santa clause. He handed me the latest edition of Street Sense and I gave him a five dollar bill. I explained that I was worried about him because I couldn’t reach him on his phone. He told me that his minutes were all used up for the month on the phone that he receives through a government subsidy. “You gotta have a phone,” he says referring to the world we live in today.
He gave me the number to prepaid phone that he uses when the other one is out of minutes. “This one is working now and at the end of the month I will switch it back to the number you’ve been trying to reach me at.”
I was relieved I had found him and that he was ok. He told me he was going to find an inexpensive motel or something in Virginia and spend a night or two indoors to celebrate the holidays. I want to get him something…still thinking about ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
I met Anthony at his corner on Tuesday morning. His bright yellow Street Sense vest makes him easy to spot. His face was tired and almost melancholy. He spotted me and the edges of his mouth perked up as we shook hands.I asked him how he had been feeling and he said he felt OK. In spite of this, I felt he was a little down though. I probed a little deeper and he shrugged it off and changed the subject. “How is the writing coming? You meet your goals?” he asked.
We decided to go get some lunch first and then discuss our progress. I’d promised Anthony that I would take him to Ray’s Hell Burger over in Rosslyn – a place that I normally would say has the best burger I’ve ever had. But this time was a disappointment. It fell short – the quality seems to have slipped there. On top of that I was feeling guilty taking him to a burger place when I know that he needs to eat healthier given his recent visit to the hospital.
Anthony ordered the Soul Burger – a six ounce all beef patty topped with bacon, swiss Continue reading →
The Anthony & Me project is off to a good start. I checked in on Anthony on Thursday morning – he was bundled up at his corner selling the paper. He’s working on his to do list for our next check-in.
I bought his latest edition of Street Sense, pushed some singles into Anthony’s glove covered hand and tucked the paper into my book bag. It was only today that I cracked the paper open to read through it.
I thumbed it open to the first page where I saw an article by Editor-in-Chief Mary Otto. “DC Housing Authority to Freeze Waiting List” was printed at the top of the article. Fearing that this could hurt Anthony’s dream of housing, I read on.
The article talks about the 66,000 families in the DC area who are on the waiting list for affordable housing. Although that number sounds staggering for a city that only has about 260,000 Continue reading →