February 25, 2011

Toys in the attic...

Fun things to do at the, Burkhardt Library.

Libraries are one of the most important resources in the homeless community. Unlike many restaurants and places of public commerce one can sit at the public library for hours upon end without having to spend money or risk being forced to leave the premises by management staff or security officers. Within the confines of the local library one can surf the internet looking for work, communicate with friends on social networking websites such as, Facebook, or simply check email accounts or play games. Books, newspapers and magazines provide a much needed respite from the tedium of hours spent out on the streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Libraries provide a sanctuary against the weather and a place of safety where homeless women with children can go and watch their children play in a wholesome and secure environment.

In, Dayton, Ohio, the downtown branch of the library, located at 215 East Third Street, is a major gathering for the city's homeless community. Computers fill up quickly, comfortable chairs are quickly gobbled up and it can sometimes prove problematic if the daily newspapers will still contain the employment section before you get the chance to read the paper. In my experience it has proven a wise decision to look for quieter and less crowded libraries in the suburbs surrounding the city of, Dayton, where the crowds are thinner and the competition for available resources is less fierce. One of the little gems I've found in my own personal search for a bit of suburban relief from the hustle and bustle of the downtown library is, the Burkhardt Library, located at, 4680 Burkhardt Rd.

One of my favorite features of the library.

The Burkhardt Library, is one of those quiet little neighborhood libraries that offer a variety of services to people of all ages. One of my favorite things about this library is that they have a wireless computer network that offers people with laptop computers the option of using their personal machines instead of having to go through the process of signing up and waiting for library computers to become available. Speaking as a person owning a laptop computer it's nice to able to walk in to this warm and cozy environment, set up my laptop and instantly begin surfing the net and work on my blog without having to wait for a library machine to become available.

Another one of my favorite features at the, Burkhardt Library, is the bird cage containing a pair of Cockatiel birds. sometimes they fill the library with the soft sounds of birdsong and it's just impossible not to feel better about an afternoon and yourself as you sit in an environment filled with books, plants and birds. I love this quaint facility and even after I'm not homeless I plan on remaining a regular visitor and spending time in a place that has earned a special place in my heart.

Last, but certainly not least, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the quality staff that keep the library running like a well oiled machine. I love listening to the sounds of, Story Time, on, Wednesday afternoons. They draw a big crowd and the sound of happy children giggling and laughing is always a joy to the heart. The staff are so nice to everyone, including the obviously homeless visitors and the atmosphere they maintain is friendly, warm and welcoming. They are the heart and soul of this library and they work very hard to keep the environment warm, friendly and respectful. Good people are always the key to success in any endeavor and and from what I've experienced in the time I've spent here, good things will continue to pour forth into the community surrounding this little gem for a long time to come.

February 22, 2011

If you'll just, gimme shelter.....

Why do homeless women with kids
always get the best spots?

As stated in my previous post, the good-hearted soul who has so generously allowed me to couch-surf at his abode since my release from, Miami Valley Hospital, last, Tuesday afternoon had custody of his two children over the past two days. (Sunday, February, 20th and Monday, February 21st.) Again, since he's currently in the midst of attempting to gain permanent custody of the kids and image being everything right now to, Children's Services, it was decided that a rapscallion such as myself might not properly embellish the desired familial image he's trying to maintain as the loving and devoted father and perhaps it would be best if I vacated the sofa during their visit.

Again, as previously posted, Sunday, at ten-o-clock in the morning, I first prepared and then saddled up my homeless-survival-gear and then headed out the front door of the apartment building and into the harsh and cruel elements of, Dayton, Ohio in true homeless fashion.

As stated in my last post the day began as a good day to be homeless and I spent the best part of the afternoon and early evening in the friendly confines of, Bethel Christian Church. Alas, as we all know, all good things must come to an end and as night began to fall it was time to find shelter for the evening and settle in for a long night out on the mean streets of, Dayton, Ohio. Having visited the local K-Mart earlier in the afternoon I couldn't help, but notice they had a nice awning above the front of the facility with a convenient little bench located in a shadowy little spot near the place where they stored their shopping carts. Thinking this would provide a nice bit of shelter from the rain we were expecting later on in the evening hours I marked it as a possible lodging spot in the afternoon and decided to return later and stake my claim to the bench and the shelter of the awning for a good night's sleep.

One more time I began the arduous journey from, Bethel Christian Church, on, Smithville Road, down the long hill towards the, K-Mart, on, Woodman Drive. Let me tell you dear readers that the brush along the sides of the asphalt path I walked was filled with the feral glow of beastly eyes peering hungrily from dark and hidden holes, waiting for a single misstep on my part before pouncing and assailing me with sharp tooth and razor claw. (They know full well that the homeless make for tasty meals and usually travel alone and not in packs.) Still I continued the trek towards the, K-Mart, on Woodman Drive, ready to stake out my small spot for the night and defend it against any and all potential predators.

Using my finely honed homeless skills I chose a, Speedway, gas station across the street from the, K-Mart, from which I might discreetly reconnoiter my chosen spot and wait for the store to close and all of the employees to leave for the night before strolling over and settling down upon my bench for the night. (How I do love a good plan.) Everything went as expected and soon the store lights dimmed, all of the shoppers were sent packing and the front doors locked. Now it came down to waiting for the employees to go home. It wasn't long before the lights of the store were turned out, workers began filing to their cars and leaving and I knew it wouldn't be long before the parking lot was empty and I could make my move.

Soon I was settled in upon my bench and ready for whatever the night would bring. My first course of action was to text my good friend in, Seattle, Kirk. Now, Kirk, is perhaps one of the fastest texting people that I know. Once he gets going it's hard to get a text in edgewise. I'm telling you, the man is fast. well, by the time, Kirk and I got to texting back and forth my phone was beeping like an alien space ship looking for cattle to mutilate. We were having such fun I didn't notice the police cars entering the, K-Mart, parking lot until they were right up on me. Turns out the cleaning staff heard the beeping sounds and unsure what was going on they called the police and asked them to investigate.

After a thorough frisking the officers ran my drivers license for wants and warrants. Once it was determined that I wasn't a wanted criminal they asked what I was doing sitting on the, K-Mart, bench and I told them that I was only waiting for the rain showers to let up before continuing on my way home. Mollified, they sent me on my way into the rainy night and the spot I'd so carefully scouted out during the day was gone and I was forced to formulate a, "Plan B." Regrettably, I once more began the arduous journey back up the hill towards, Smithville Road.

By now it was getting late and indeed the rain we'd been promised was coming down pretty steady. Sleeping out of doors in the elements is one thing. Sleeping out of doors in the elements soaking wet is quite another. I knew I had to find shelter and find it fast. As I walked down, Smithville Road, I noticed a church with a little playground attached to it's lot. There was a slide with a small wooden cabin on top enclosed on three sides and most importantly, it had a roof. Giving both praise and thanks to the gods I climbed up the rope ladder and into the dry shelter of the cabin. At last I thought to myself, I'm safe and secure against prying eyes, animal and human predators and the weather. I laid my head down upon my backpack and prepared to go to sleep.

I don't know how long I'd been sleeping before the harsh white glare of the spotlights woke me up and of course as soon as I looked out the little window of the cabin I was confronted by a small contingent of police cars. (The Dayton Police Department, this time.) After another thorough frisking this group of officers ran my drivers License for wants and warrants and after determining that I still wasn't a dangerous criminal they asked me what I was doing on top of the slide in the middle of night. At this point I opted for the truth and told them the story of being out in elements for the evening because of the children visiting their father. They sympathized with my plight, but like the, Sugarcreek Policemen, they told me I couldn't sleep in the slide because a neighbor had complained and once again I was rousted from my shelter and sent wandering into the rainy night once more.

As I walked down, Smithville Road, yet one more time a small mini-van pulled up alongside of me and when the passenger side window rolled down I walked up to the car and peered inside at the driver.

"You look pretty wet and cold," he said.

"You aren't kidding," I replied.

"Tell you what I can do," he said. "If you're willing to give me a blow job, I can pull into one of the parking lots and you you can at least get a little warmth inside my car for a while."

I just stared at the man for a moment. "Really, that's your best offer," I said. I just couldn't believe I was being propositioned by someone for oral sex in exchange for the temporary shelter of a warm car. As, God, is my witness he looked at me and said, "You don't expect me to take a homeless man into my house do you?" Yeah, I got angry and told him off. He rolled up the window and off into the night he drove leaving me once again cold, wet and now angry as well. It was just the cherry on top of what was turning out to be a wonderful evening...

Okay, I'll make this quick so you can get back to your life and the important things like Facebooking your friends and watching, American Idol, or Fox News. I wound up sitting on a bench in front of a, Kroger's, watching the rain fall until nine-thirty in the morning when I made my way to the, Burkhardt Library, where I dried out, used the Internet and waited for, Robert, to get a hold of me and let me know it was time to return to the couch and get some well needed rest. Let me assure you, once I hit the sofa I just about cried with relief.

I'm just too darn old and weary for this crap. I've got a terrible cold now and am sick as a dog, my legs still hurt from walking so much and the best part of all this, the kids are visiting again this weekend and the weather forecast is for even worse weather, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! And you folks wonder why I'm feeling suicidal these days...

February 21, 2011

And in my hour of darkness...

Bethel Christian Church, Smithville Road, Dayton, Ohio

The kind-hearted soul who has so generously allowed me to couch-surf at his abode since my release from, Miami Valley Hospital, last, Tuesday, afternoon has had custody of his two children the past two days. (Sunday and Monday.) Since he is in the midst of attempting to gain permanent custody of the kids and image being everything right now to, Children's Services, it was decided that such a rapscallion as myself might not properly embellish the desired familial image he's trying to maintain as the loving and devoted father and perhaps it would be best if I vacated the sofa during their visit.

Sunday, at ten-o-clock in the morning, I first prepared and then saddled up my gear and headed out the front door of the apartment building and into the harsh and cruel elements of, Dayton, Ohio in true homeless fashion. Hey, it's not my first ride on this pony, I was ready for whatever awaited me. Or so I thought...

As it turns out, the home church of my good friends, Phil and Elaine Cheesebrough, is a mere two blocks (As the homeless crow flies.) down the street from the couch I'm currently surfing. Phil, had recently encouraged me to visit the church and see what I thought of the place. I figured, "What the heck, the library is closed today, why not check it out." So off to the stone-block bastion of, Bethel Christian Church, I trekked, braving the elements and unknown perils of the three block journey.

From the very moment I entered the building and made my way to the sanctuary I felt as if I'd at long last found my spiritual home. The facility was elegantly simplistic with white walls and graceful arches that reached for the heavens. The stained-glass windows running along the two outside walls bespoke a quiet grace that added an almost tangible air of serenity to the chapel. The oaken pews were the perfect accessory to a beautifully designed structure and from the moment I sat down I felt that blissful feeling I get whenever I'm in the presence of, High Church. It felt right and good, I liked it right off the bat. This was starting out to be a good homeless day.

The service began with the obligatory hymns, nicely performed by a small group of adequate male and female singers and much to my surprise was followed shortly thereafter by members of the congregation speaking in tongues and prophesying. It was if they knew I was coming and had prepared a fatted-calf just for me. These people were speaking my language. Have you ever heard a prophesy that just lit you up inside with the resonance of the, Holy Spirit, confirming the truth of what you've just heard? There ain't nothing like it, folks. And before you go to thinking I was in the presence of snake-charming, writhing-in-the aisles-poison eaters let me reassure you that in that sacred space, people spoke in tongues and prophesied in a manner of quietness and deep respect. It was beautiful and quite profound.

Okay, here comes the fast montage to move this post along. After the morning service I made my way to the, K-Mart, on, Woodman Drive, ate the fried chicken and doughnuts they'd blessed me with at, Bethel Church, in the morning, drank coffee, did a drawing and then made my way back up the hill to, Bethel Church (A trek of unimaginable hardship.) for the six-o-clock lecture on the twenty-three sure fire signs that the end times are indeed a coming. Uh, it rocked! The speaker and I agreed on many points and talking with him afterward was a real pleasure.

Let me make a long story short by simply stating that by the end of my first day of activities within the cozy confines of, Bethel Church, I wanted a whole lot more of what they have to offer a soul within this cozy, warm and friendly house-of-God. I don't care if I am currently little more than a penniless, homeless, hippie-rapscallion, I'm planning on going back to, Bethel Christian Church , and getting me some more of what they're serving up to folks who drop by their humble abode. You'll find yourself properly nourished, both physically and spiritually.

You folks can count on seeing me, Wednesday night! See ya then...

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