This will be a short(er) post. I know I’ve been writing a lot, lot lately, a lot that only I can probably keep up with. I enjoy myself. I do.
I forgot to mention that 6 of my poems are up in the Spring issue of Analog Press: http://analogpress.net/
Apparently I am now also a contributing editor to Analog Press. I’m not sure quite what that entails yet, but will know soon! It’s a volunteer position.
I was sharing a picture with one of my coworkers yesterday. Previous to the picture sharing, she had been talking about how she was grumpy. She was doing art the night previous and had to stop creating before she wanted to stop, because it was time to go to bed and then go to work. “It’s like when you have a special someone in your bed and they don’t do you the favor…”
I told her I was totally going to steal that analogy for my blog, how interrupting your creative flow is like not being pleasured in bed.
She asked me if I was going to share the picture I showed her (unrelated to this side conversation) on my blog. I figured I might as well, because I was talking a lot about homelessness this week.
After I went to the training on homelessness on Tuesday, I felt more in tune with the scope of the homeless issue again. That night, I went to Safeway, in El Cerrito, and ran into a very thin old man with few teeth (he kind of looked like a very old Snoop Dogg) panhandling on the garbage can outside. I know from my own experience that the worst thing is to be ignored. I said, “I don’t have anything extra to give.” He said, “Neither do I.”
He told me that the door I was about to enter to go into the store was closed. I thanked him, grateful he had told me before I tried to walk through it.
“Have a good night,” he said. “You too,” I said.
The following day I was in San Francisco. I saw a gentleman who had set up a sign for panhandling, rife with spelling mistakes, but the setup was artistic enough to give me pause and want to capture it somehow. I asked him if he would mind me taking his picture. “If you give me a dollar…” he bargained. I said sure, then, without thinking, went and sat down by him, put my arm around his shoulder and posed for the picture my husband took as if I were posing with a friend.
The smile on his face…I was probably much more happy than him, but that made my day. I am not sure why. I guess he reminded me of me in some strange way. A creative person, but down on his luck by choice or circumstance, who knows.
I’m not sure why I look like a giant person in this picture, but that’s OK. I’ve accepted the fact that I am not very photogenic in 80% of the pictures other people take of me. Life goes on. I asked the guy his name and he told me it was Papa Smurf. I told him it was a pleasure to meet him, and when my husband and I were done eating lunch around the corner I gave him my leftover food, but only after asking if he wanted it. “I never turn down food,” he said.
I was walking through San Francisco a month or so ago with a friend, and we passed a bearded, dirty old man standing in a doorway with a shopping cart loaded with tarps and cans and other paraphernalia. The only thing you could see shine through the dirt of his face were his white and blue eyeballs. I made eye contact with him and he looked scared for a second, furtive. I smiled. In return, he gave me the warmest, most genuine smile I’ve ever seen. It was like he knew I didn’t have any change, that I wasn’t a stranger to his reality.
We’re all human beings. It’s easy to forget, especially when I’m walking down the Haight and I get accosted on every single block for spare change (is there such a thing?), and I realize that those dirty, foul-mouthed kids sitting on the curb, the ones I don’t want to make eye contact with or give change to because I know they’re going to buy alcohol, are me over 15 years ago. And they can’t see that I was them. When I was sitting on those curbs, the people who walked by weren’t people. Often, they were cash machines. The ones who stood out were the ones who took the time to ask me about myself–sometimes it was the street photographers who took my picture and came back to give me a copy. I would keep that photograph in my worn Alice pack and pull it out every night to look at it, thinking, “There’s me. I’m real. I exist. Someone else has seen me.” I didn’t feel invisible.