Happy New Year! Time seems to go by so fast. I realized it had been an embarrassingly long time since I have updated the blog – not because Anthony & Me are not still meeting and working on things, but I just have been busy with other projects.
It is hypothermic here today, starting out at a painful 8 degrees this morning. I gave Anthony a call to make sure he was ok. “I ain’t going out in all that today,” he assured me. That’s probably wise. He ventured out yesterday though which wasn’t much better.
2015 is starting off pretty good for Anthony – check out this beautiful news story that was done about him and his journey to get housing. It ran today on the ABC Family Channel. Thanks to reporter John Jessup and videographer Denis Pacuraru of CBN News who did a terrific job with the story!
Looking back, 2014 was a decent year – a great year for Anthony. He celebrated one year of housing which is tremendous. I on the other hand have made some progress on my book, but not near where I had hoped.
As we look forward, Anthony and I are sitting down next Tuesday to talk about what we want to accomplish for 2015. I will post our goals after we meet – but I am pretty sure one of Anthony’s new goals is to try to visit his sister in Seattle this year! Not sure how we’ll do that financially at this point, but we’ll find a way. Oh, and he told me today that he has quit smoking?!!? Wow….that is HUGE! He hasn’t had a cigarette he said since Jan 2nd. “I’ve been chewing lots of nicotine gum – it helps.” I hope he can keep that up.
There’s been an autumn chill in the air recently in DC. Normally that brings with it mixed emotions. While I enjoy the fall very much, it serves as a reminder that colder weather is coming and that my friends who sleep on the streets will begin preparing themselves to endure the elements.
Thanks to his new apartment, I will not worry so much about Anthony when it drops below freezing. Sure, he still spends exponentially more time outdoors than I do since he sells the newspaper on the street corner Continue reading →
Fungus, bacterial infection and gangrene – all problems that can affect those who do not properly care for their feet. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to these health problems due to a lack of showers, access to proper shoes and socks and the inability to dry feet properly after they become wet.
As you remember, Anthony was admitted to the hospital last week because his feet became so damaged his socks were soaked with blood. After that episode, I thought I would talk to my podiatrist to see if he could treat Anthony. It would be really convenient for Anthony as his office is about 30 yards from where Anthony sells the Street Sense at 19th and M.
Although the doctor explained he did not take Medicaid, he didn’t hesitate to see Anthony. “Not a problem, I’d be happy to see him for free,” he told me. Wow…what a great guy.
So met up with Anthony this morning to take him to his appointment. As we sat in the waiting room I noticed that Anthony was not wearing socks! “You didn’t wear socks today?” I asked him.
“I ran out. I’m sorry,” he said pulling his pant leg up to reveal his bloated ankles.
So, Anthony gets out of the hospital, we go get him checked out by his physician later that week and then we meet with Elizabeth, the rockstar social outreach worker we have been working with to help get him housing.
Elizabeth had great news. Anthony has passed the basic qualification requirements for housing. And not just any housing. Now I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity for my friend. It’s a single room – so he doesn’t have to share it with others – which is important to Anthony. Next, it’s in Columbia Heights! For those of you who are not familiar with DC this is a great neighborhood with excellent access to public transportation.
A few days after my last post about how Anthony’s health seemed to be doing better I called him only to find him admitted at George Washington University Hospital. His blood pressure was dangerously high and he was not feeling well. A customer of his saw him sitting near the spot where he sells the paper and, after seeing that he didn’t look normal, asked if he was feeling alright. He wasn’t…and they called an ambulance.
I learned about this the following day. My office is only a few blocks from the hospital so I walked over on my lunch break to check on him. I was his only visitor he told me. While I was there with him he opened Continue reading →
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!!!
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!
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.
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.