Monday, November 28, 2011

The Devil's Advocate has been posted!

My short story, 'The Devil's Advocate' has been posted on the Yahoo Contributor's Network. here's the link!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Real Problem with Homeless Shelters: The Homeless Yawn

The longer I stay in the shelter, the more and more this fact has dawned on me. I've written posts and books that complain about the food in a shelter, about how the 'guests' are treated by staff, about the living conditions in various shelters, but the number one reason why it is so difficult to live in a shelter is:

(Drum Roll Please)

The other homeless men.

The complete and utter lack of respect for others is what drives me the most insane while living here. And most of what bothers me is deliberate, done by the offending party to be the most annoying.

Case in point: What I like to call 'The Homeless Yawn.' Normally, when we yawn, it might happen once in a while, when we're tired or just want to wake up, and it's pretty quiet, at most a little bit of an audible grunt. In the shelter, yawns take on a whole new meaning. It's done by a small percentage of the population, but it is so pervasive, that you'd think most of the population is doing it. It's a cross between a lion's roar and a Wookie's roar, and it's loud, long, and obnoxious. I've recorded some of this on audio, I may make it available later. Every time I hear this (20 times or more in a 2 hour period in the morning alone), one thought comes to my mind (other than shutupshutupshutup) is what they are really saying to me is: "I'm bored, I don't want to be here, and I want EVERYONE to know that, over and over again."

In the last few months most of those yawns were perpetrated by one man, whose street name is 'B-More', short for Baltimore, where he came from (and where I hope he goes back to). B-More was the most obnoxious person in the entire building and his bunk was just a couple from where mine is. The man is loud, and never stops talking until he falls asleep. I asked him one night if he has a volume other than yelling. He told me not to talk to him no more. I don't like talking to him in the first place.

Anyway, I think this trend for loud yawns started with him, and has spread throughout the shelter. At the moment he's no longer in the shelter, and, frankly, I hope it's a permanent thing, because despite the yawns that proliferate the place at all hours, it's still quieter now than when B-More was here.

There was another man in the shelter, in the bunk across the aisle from me, who was the second most obnoxious person in the building. He not only yawned, but he snored. He snored loud enough to wake the dead. And he sang. Loud enough and bad enough to make the dead wish they could run away. And he was always throwing snippets of rap songs out there, just one line, over and over again. That seems to be a trend in the shelter too, and it's annoying. He's gone too, caught with food outside of the dining hall and a cell phone that rang at the worst time for him.

And that's a growing trend too, flagrant disregard for the rules of the shelter: Foul language where every other word is four letters, and if you took it all out the conversation would make no sense. Hell, it doesn't make sense to me even with the language. Using their cell phones in the dorms, having their ringers on loud, trying to wash their bodies in the sinks and their clothes in the showers. Breaking into line, trying to change the channel on the TV or complaining because they can't. The worst trend of all is the total lack of respect for others in the shelter. Intimidation, asking for the food on my plate while I'm still eating it ("You gonna eat that?") Treating women badly, as sex objects or as sex slaves and frequent use of the word 'bitch' or 'nigger.' And these are black men who should know better than to use that word, but they do it anyway, because this is how they've grown up.

And worse to my mind is the blatant  homosexuality there. I have a friend who's gay, and I respect his right to be that way, but I'm not gay, and I don't want some guy, black or white, to sidle up to me and try to subtly get a rise out of me. I want my personal space, and dammit you will respect that! I've been told that guys who wear their pants down so far that certain body parts are showing are trying to pick other guys up. I've heard that in prison, that's justification to get yourself reamed. Nice to know, if I ever go to prison.

And let's leave the worst piece of lack of respect for last: Stealing. We have homeless men, some of whom are working and buying a few extra things that they need, like sheets and clothes (underwear,and socks even!), for instance, and other homeless men are stealing these goods from them. Homeless men stealing from homeless men. How much sense does that make? In a world where there is no respect, I suppose it makes perfect sense.

The point I'm trying to make is that these people need guidance to get them out of their bad habits. They need to be told by someone in authority that what they're doing is wrong, and if they don't straighten up, they won't hold a job very long. This is one thing I hope to accomplish with Project Five-Star, as at least one of the sessions will be dedicated to how to act on the job, and language, verbal as well as body, will be a key point to that. Do they really need to be told not to yawn loudly in a training session? Yes, yes they do. Do they really need to be told not to steal from the very agency that's trying to help them? Yes, yes they do. And some will continue doing what I ask them not to do, and then I will be forced to ask them to leave. but I hope that those that are left will learn to change those habits for good!

Because despite the fact that some are not salvageable, I feel the better part of them are, and that will make all the difference.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yahoo Contributor Network

A few days ago, I responded to an email asking me to submit something for the Yahoo Contributor network, something I had never heard about before (See link on sidebar). On the site you can choose from a variety of assignments, or you can simply submit an article, a video, an audio clip and anything else you've put together, and hopefully get some money out of it. The first assignment I took was a short story with a Western theme. I took a few days to write it and submitted it just yesterday. It does take a few days for the editors to post if, if appropriate, and then they post the story on their web site. I'm still waiting on confirmation for my story, but the idea for this blog is to share the possibilities of making money from writing and other sources of media with my readers here. I also saw an assignment asking for Occupy videos that would pay $15. I did submit one of my unused Occupy Raleigh videos, but I don't known if they can use it or not, and I'm not worried if they decline it.

But what I wanted to share, from my point of view, is that I need to get back into writing fiction, and this may be the perfect outlet for it. And being part of the Yahoo network, it may get me more notice than putting something on my blog, for instance. not that there's anything wrong with posting your writing on a blog, but Google AdSense just doesn't pay much!

So here's my good deed for the day. If you're a writer, looking for venues in which to make some money for your writing, check out the Yahoo Contributor Network! And I'll let you know if I make any money on it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

No More Excuses: Read the Damn Book!

Okay, I'm fed up with the lack of caring about Project Five-Star. To the point where I'm making the book available for free! So there. Read it. Care.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Can I Haz A Handout?

My attempts at making Project Five-Star into a real company, able to ask for donations on its own for the benefit of others (including myself) has run into a bit of flack. Seems someone on my Facebook page thinks I'm asking for a handout. Seems someone thinks I'm too lazy to find work on my own so that I can fund my project by myself. Seems that the little bit of work I've done for Occupy Raleigh and other Occupy sites is trying to come back and bite me on the ass.

I don't like asking for money. Some people might say that's all I ever do, but really, I haven't asked for money for myself in several years, since my family seems to think I'm a lost cause. But I believe strongly that Project Five-Star will work on so many levels, if I can just get the damned thing off the ground.

But let's talk a little about what a handout is. The term handout suggests someone is asking for something for nothing. If I've ever asked for a handout, that means I've exhausted every source I can think of (yes, even searching for a job) for money and have not been successful. I used to hate having to ask my mother for money, because I could hear the disappointment in her voice, to the point of making me cringe. And I knew it was coming. So I tried my best to make things work on my own, and Mom was the source of last resort. After she died, and I wound up homeless, I asked my family for help. My stepfather put it in no uncertain terms that the gravy train had stopped. His stepson was in a homeless shelter and he would not lift a finger.

Later that year, I received a Christmas card from him with a check for $300. It tortured me, because that $300 would have come in very handy immediately after my bout with homelessness began. At that point I had a job and was working my way out of the shelter system. Though the effort pained me, I sent the check back, along with a note that if he couldn't help me when I needed it most, I didn't want anything else from him. I told him to put whatever he would have sent me in the future to what he thought I owed him. That was 2005. I haven't received a check from him since. He has sent cards. I haven't sent anything back to him. That was my choice.

So I do not ask for handouts for myself. I live in the shelter, eat at the shelter and with the aid of Food Stamps, and I continue to both look for a job and to do work for Project Five-Star. Which will pay off, I wonder?

If you want a copy of the book, send me your e-mail address and I'll send you a pdf of the book, no charge. If, once reading the book, you think it's a waste of time, then don't send any money, but don't try to discourage me. Odds are you haven't lived in a shelter and can't imagine how rough it is. I'm working on getting a collection of videos that might change your mind. And if not, well keep your thoughts to yourself. I'm working on improving myself and the lives of others. Can you honestly say the same thing?