The Sheltered Existence, Pt 12 – On Resentment & Gratitude

Last night, an event was held at the Park Avenue Armory on one of the “forbidden” floors. Forbidden due to the fact that we shelter residents must use the Basement for entry and exit and cannot walk on the first, second or fourth floors. There is actually good reason for this: there are a few of my sheltermates who have crashed events have stolen from them. I remember one evening when they, the Armory staff, was setting up for an event on the first floor, and they were quite nervous about us residents crashing it. That’s when I learned of the party crasher who took with her upon exit, several bottles of alcohol. A few of us who reside there know quite well that the only reason the Armory puts up with all of us and the 911 calls to break up arguments is the money that is paid to them to lease two floors. There is not a night where there isn’t some bullshit drama, whether it be over the remote, or just from boredom. Staff will let the yell-fest continue with not very convincing attempts to shut it down.

Staffer 1


ladies, please stop…. really stop…

Staffer 2

(sitting at the desk next to staffer 1)

I think I’ll call 911

Am I resentful? a bit. I shouldn’t be there. I should have been sent to transitional housing last July.I won’t start seeing place til January – shelter gets another $9K for those three months. But someone at the Williams Street Assessment shelter decided to send me to a shelter for mentally ill women. So, here I am.

Am I grateful? Yes. I have a roof over my head, shower, meals. I am not sleeping at copy shops or on the subway. I am not sleep deprived, I function. I don’t have carry my life on my back like a turtle.

Do I feel safe? not completely.

Activism, Reprints & Crossposts

The Sheltered Existence, Pt 9 One Paycheck Away

Yesterday, Sunday Sept 25, I was down occupying Wall Street. I saw a wide range of Americans – young, old, middle-aged, Veterans, New Yorkers, out-of-towners, and we all were there for one reason: To bring attention to the rising inequity that is occurring while the Foxers try to mock with outdated insults like “hippie” and “get a job”. Yeah, I am homeless, and I work. Just not earning enough to pay the rent.

When a group of NYFD walked through the plaza, a cheer and applause rang out.

Until the night fell, the NYPD were cool. Yes, there was an attempt to intimidate, but it didn’t quite work they way the Commanding officers hoped.

No arguement

I met people who were respectful, well-spoken, and quite concerned for all Americans. Why should we be mocked for exercisng our First Amendment right to gather, express and petition? I mean, isn’t that why we’re “fighting ‘them’ over there”?

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, WHY were members of the media arrested? Why is the NYPD arresting citizens for taking photographs and videos?


The Sheltered Existence Part 8: About Last Night…

So, last night. R comes back in rip-roaring drunk and singing rather loudly. She nearly falls backward but is caught, by another resident, who suggests she lay down, which of course, the drunk one does not agree to, and starts to complain that no one likes her. About 10 minutes later, a couple of other women come up and say that she has bitten someone and it’s crazy downstairs. So, for lack of anything else to do, I wander down to the third floor to watch. Get down there, and there she is, sitting in a chair with two cops around her, being loud, and as I walked past her, I noticed she was cuffed.  She kept getting up and the cops would have to move her back to the chair, where she would start complaining about her arm. The N.P. was treating the victim, some of the ladies were peeved at the N.P. because she called the cops and the EMT’s on the drunk. Well, what else was she supposed to do?

The EMT’s arrive, they ask her her name, which she responded to with the correct answer, and they all began to walk out, with the biter admitting to the violence as she was steered toward the elevator.

Woke up this morning, and she was back. So much for the rules. She’s violent when she’s drunk, and they won’t do a damn thing about her.  I guess, it’s about money and that she’s got mental deficits.

G, who finally is getting an apartment, started in another, who she has been tormenting. Listening to G and what she plans to do, I fear for anyone who ends up with her as a home health aide.


The Sheltered Existence; 7 Live blogging the “fair” or, Shelter Standard Time

It’s 9:56 am. There’s supposed to be a “Housing Fair” starting st 10:00 am. No one is here but us chickens. I guess they don’t see keeping to schedules as important. But then, I guess they see this as doing us a “favor”.

10:05  no sign of any DHS people.
10:07  2 women have appeared, and are ignoring us.
Did I mention this is a two hour affair?


10:21 Wait! More people have arrived and are huddling. Now, they have walked away.

10:30 and it’s still only one person from an assisted living place. No kitchen, shared bath and bedroom

10:45 if I get asked one more time if I want to talk to the nice lady from the Briarwood, I will consider it harassment.

10:50 Three thuggish men and a woman who looked like she belonged here have arrived. Got s muffin and walked away.
Dude in a suit looking like he had a rough night.

Was just informed this circus ends at 12:30, so, we will be zoo-like entertainment when lunch rolls around.

11:15 I left. It’s all SRO and Assisted Living. What this means is that I have to do it myself, as this shelter is not capable of dealing with my situation.


Sheltered Existence: Part 6 – WHAT? There’s a suspension for that?

When you enter the shelter, you’re given a “contract” that spells out  one’s responsibilities while there. Basic rules of civilized behavior, such as no smoking in the building, no repeated verbal abuse/violence nom booze/drugs/weapons. One is can get suspended for violating the rules, and I have yet to see it happen. The woman who threatened me, comes. goes. The rules are not enforced, and the residents know nothing will happen.

Sure you’ll get arrested for calling in one too many false alarms, but hey…..


The Sheltered Existence, Pt 5, Bully Edition

Won’t be nice about this entry,

G has been taken away, and staff is complicit. I came back from the ER to find cops in the dorm at G’s bed, with one of the staffers standing apparently telling them she’s crazy. So, they took her.

G was bullied into her breakdown. G is maybe 60ish.  Sobriety is an unknown quality to the wom en who bullied her. Mean? Only to those who were mean. Get respect? She’s been bullied, called “drunk”, bullies are always the victims, and always howling about how she deserved it. never the victimizer. Take AY-vah,  comes and goes as she will, and last monday, as I was doing my wash, started in on me. Yapping that I was here because I had diddled some kid, or fucked someone’s man. Threatened to knock my “nice dentures” out. Staffer was standing by the door listening, and instead of stopping it, let it go on until he realized I wasn’t taking the troll-bait and put a stop to it.

“Is anything wrong, “ladies”?

“Oh, no.” says the troll with a fake innocence.

They will find another. Won’t be me, as none here exist to me any longer.


Oh, W. yer going to get your comeuppance.

Lashon Hara. comes back to bite.

W is now going through the containers and locker with her clothes that she will never wear and is shaking out a dress. She was going on about G and her “alcoholism” as why she ended up here. Critter, YOU are here with a picture of the man who kicked your sorry ass to the curb, because you fucking slept all day, smoked and generally sat on your ass while demanding to be deferred to.

Even the 2 inch cockroaches run from you. Or was that the bug up your ass?


The Sheltered Existence Pt. 4 A New Place

I’ve been in the “new” shelter for about a month now, and things here work very slowly here. Like they’re in no rush to get you into housing (Week 3 of Social Worker will be to photocopy my passport and SS#, last week, my PyschoSocial, week before, GETTING TO KNOW YOU, GETTING TO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YOU…). To add to the insult, I was actually punished for I don’t know what, by being transferred here instead of to the transitional housing. Even the evening case manger was shocked I was being “sent down” She asked if I had ‘broken curfew’ (I had not.) So here I am, I have a lovely Park Avenue address, starting the whole fucking process over again, and 64 roommates with varying degrees of mental illness from none to “holy shit! take your meds”.

There is a down side to being in a shelter: You get comfortable. No rent, no board, no worries about money for laundry, the beds are comfortable. No pressure to get even a part-time job if you aren’t already working, like a few of us there. It’s a trap for truly lazy people. I realized the “trap” when I first referred to the shelter as “home”.

So, here it is, August 22, 2011 and in the intervening weeks, there have been several verbal altercations and one actual physical confrontation between two women, one who was baiting the other who is a belligerent drunk. fist flew, they hit the ground, and the caseworker just stood there observing as we pulled the women apart and held them back. The woman who was attacked, first grabbed a can of hairspray to use as a weapon, then a cane, and finally a set of keys. They removed the victim, and left the belligerent drunk in the dorm to threaten to kill all of us. Cops came, listened to what occurred, and left. No one was arrested, No one was removed from the shelter. So much for rules. Did I mention one of the combatants is banging of the male staffers?

So, here we are today, sitting in the 5th floor common room, watching getting dusted (inspection is coming!!!)  the ladies piss and moan and draw their faces on. One is pissed that her purse and meds were taken yesterday and was complaining to the “indigenous” bigot. Wish I could snap her putting her lips on: outlines in a dark shade, and fills it with an obscene shade of pink. There’s a 2:00 pm “Light-Love-Laugh” meeting for a self-help/image program run by a Mission. I have yet to see a single outside program that did not involve a Cross. Isn’t this a SECULAR shelter?

The “indigenous” bigot was going off again. This time, after saying that more first nations served than Jews in WWII (did a bit of research, and lo! 500,00 American  Jews served, 11,000 died, as opposed to 25,000 first nation people), was paying for people there, and when I confronted her about my paying taxes, she said she is paying taxes too (yeah right).  A voice from the ironing board told her to get a job, wherein she said she  doesn’t have to work, or take any form of aid, she then went on to claim she makes $700,000/year, and was swindled out of millions by a “Jew investment advisor”, is waiting to collect an inheritance because she doesn’t want to “share it with her soon to be ex-husband”, and  Oh, she also has multiple advanced degrees. While we were watching Rachel Ray, she was going an about how superior her upbringing was including diet, and no tv. Body language shows she’s holding a lot of shit in.

Another woman, who came in two weeks ago, was initially all passive and “scared” and said she had no money for a lock, so I bought her one. She said her daughter would pay me for it, and what do you know?  She’s now highly aggressive and somewhat belligerent,  when she was told someone else was in line to do laundry, she more or less said “fuck them, I’M DOING MY LAUNDRY!!!!!!” and started cursing in Spanish, which I ignored til the word “ñetas” was uttered. The “Netas” are a drug gang. A rather violent gang out of Puerto Rico.

Makes me wonder if she’s hiding out in the shelter, like the bank robber, Rose Perez did.

15 Minutes, Prose & Poetry

The Sheltered Existence Part 3

June 16

This morning, a “personfight” occurred at breakfast where one resident accused another of stealing(?) her juice. Took a DHS (Dept of Homeless Services) cop to calm things down. It’s not like it’s the highest quality 100% juice…

I’m here because it is what it is. Better than lockup, no worse than the street – at least here you can sleep, bathe and have a “place to be”. For me, it’s a place to sleep and bathe. Otherwise, it’s a soul-crushing drain on your sanity and patience. the wait. Jeebus, they make you wait. and wait. uhm, a few of us have jobs… Every few minutes, you’re asked why you’re sitting in the chairs, like you’re an inconvenience. You respond:

  • “Waiting to see the caseworker”
  • “Need a renewed Meal Ticket”
  • “Intake”

and, you really want to answer:  “I’m bored shitless, and I just want to annoy you.”

June 17

Walked into the “wreck” room as another argument was ending. The “babysitter” had his radio out as two women walked and got the third and they left. This was followed immediately after by another whinging about a cigarette. Can’t wait to get the hell out of here.


Prose & Poetry

The Sheltered Existence Part 2

June 9

“Residing” in an Industrial Area makes for interesting “living”. You feel warehoused, stored away. Confined without bars. You have to have your bag(s) pass through an x-ray search, no outside food, or open bottles, no sharp “stabby”  things, and you must pass through a metal detector. Smoke? There’s “the yard” a fenced in area with no place to sit, except for the uneven blacktop.

After the dorms are locked, you can retreat to the “recreation” room, where you can sit, watch a movie, and generally be demotivated to change your existence. The computers are in dire need of updating the OS and browser, and, you have to ask permission to use them, as you are not allowed to know the password. Job skills/prep isn’t happening there, baby. To be fair, it is the Assessment Shelter, but still.

June 10

Did my health/psych screen a couple of days ago, and the PPD (TB) test came back negative. NOW I can be sent on to Transitional Housing. The question going through my head is the one of where I will end up. Shelter? or Transitional Housing?

June 11

Monday morning I go see the people regarding housing. Saw pics of the building and apartment I hope to be sharing. Nice.

June 13

Got the directions to the apartment building where the interview will take place tomorrow, excited.

Last night, last fucking night, I walked into the restroom, and some nasty excuse for a human left her bloody panties and napkin on the bathroom floor. WHAT. THE. FUCK?  ran into a “Sink-bather” this a.m. Ladies, there are showers. With curtains.

How do I feel after starting the mood stabilizers? GREAT!!!! Energized.

June 15

Breakfast consisted of three hard boiled eggs, fried turkey baloney, y una hot dog bun. Since every maintenance person in this place is here, it must be “feeding time at the zoo”. “Breakfast” is a mashed egg/baloney sandwich.  ugh.

Interviewed at  1070, and will know in a couple of weeks. Saw the room. SWEET!  PLUS, I will be able to cook again!!!!

As non-stimulating as it is, I’m heading back before it starts raining.