Writing a daily blog about being homeless is about as easy as catching moving fish in water by hand. Since becoming homeless on September 1st, I find there are no road rules for moving forward. Between seeking shelter at facilities with one-night stays or at a friend’s apartment, the unexpected contours of time are ever present.
Luckily, since Friday, I am enjoying a 28-day stay at Hotel Kinney on Eddy at Leavenworth. The building is old but the facility as temporary housing is new. The room is equipped with a bed, dresser, metal coat rack, small refrigerator and microwave, and a sink with mirrored cabinet overhead. Bathrooms and a shower are common spaces. There is also a first-floor kitchen/dining area across from the check-in desk. One must be buzzed in at the iron gate facing the street. Then signing in on a sheet attached to a clipboard is required: date, name, unit number, time in, “Intention.” I haven’t filled out my intentions yet; the clerk told me not to worry about it. Intention is lost anyway to the confusion that confronts me day to day.
Pippa, the social worker at St. Mary’s Medical Center HIV Clinic helped me apply for the room through Department of Health. Within a week I was placed. The call came on Friday afternoon while I was working for cash at a small business bookstore. I met the on-site program facilitator at his office around 4:30, signed forms, and was handed a key. I had a valise with a small amount of clothing and a backpack with resume, notebook, and other assorted office needs. I had been notified the day before about working at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley on Saturday; the person who was hired over me to assist with installing their newest show dropped out. I needed a wake up knock. The desk clerk, a young, handsome Indian American, advised me to ask the person relieving him at 10:00 PM. By 9, I was out for the night. But a knock came at my door. Waking up I thought the clerk must have passed on my request to his co-worker. I showered, shit, and dressed for the work day. Once downstairs I greeted the overnight clerk, also a young, good-looking Indian American, to thank him for waking me up. To my astonishment and amusement I was informed that the knock was for “room check.” In fact, it was 2 in the morning by the clock in his work station. I returned to bed and the clerk woke me at 6 with another knock on the door.
Today I am moving the last of my possessions from my former residence to storage. I borrow the bookstore owner’s car once again and arrange pick up by an agreed time with the former landlord. The landlord sublet his walk-in closet to me from the time I moved in on January 9, 2009 until the time he told me to go. Having been underemployed and, at times, unemployed since arriving in San Francisco from New York on February 2, 2008, it was inevitable that I would lose housing. The landlord is a friend of a friend in New York. Our mutual friend was a member of my Reiki circle under Dr. Marsha Woolf, a holistic, Tibetan and Chinese medicinal doctor. Susan, my Reiki mate, spoke to Joe, the landlord, about my arrival in the city. Joe and I met over his home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner in 2008. Incredibly, Joe shares with my first San Francisco roommate, Donald, similar work practice and one significant characteristic: massage and clinical depression.