I Give Up.

If I am being honest, the last couple months have been pretty rough. The holidays are usually challenging for many patrons of Skid Row, so that part did not come as a huge surprise, although this year was worse than most. Couple that with some personal difficulties going on outside of the Skid Row community, I found myself on the floor- several times- wondering what the heck I’m doing here…or there…or anywhere.

More than once I have thought about giving up, calling it a day and surrendering. These thoughts however, are usually followed by a long diatribe of self-chastising, because when the word surrender gets placed in front of me the first thing I often think of is weakness, loss of self and loss of the competition at hand. Whether in the physical or the metaphysical, waving the white flag is not an act I take pride in.

But what does it really mean to surrender? What does it really mean to lay down my sword and let go? Perhaps it is less and act of giving up and more of an act of will, stating respect in the entity you are giving yourself over to. Continue reading “I Give Up.”

I don’t work with bums.

The worst line that has ever been used to ask me out started with, “You work with homeless people? Awesome. I met this bum the other day…”

“Bum?!” I hastily replied. “That’s reeeeeal nice, I bet you made him feel so special when you called him that…” And then proceeded to use enough colorful words to ensure we no longer had a ride home and would be taking a taxi out of downtown San Diego. (tact has never come easy for me.)

Now, I understand that, that word is often used in a way that is not meant to be offensive and to be honest, I think it’s used by some of the most well-meaning people, but this should not be. Homeless people are not bums. Homeless people are not junkies, crackheads, hobos or hookers. Homeless people are human beings without homes. Continue reading “I don’t work with bums.”

ILLEGAL TO BE HOMELESS

“Why did you go to jail?” I asked Miss Deborah recently when discussing an arrest a few years back.

“I was sleeping on the street in Arizona,” she replied.

“And what happened?”

“That’s it. It’s illegal to be homeless where I was so they arrested me. I had no choice; I very literally had nowhere to go, the shelter was full.” Continue reading “ILLEGAL TO BE HOMELESS”

Thug Life.

Mr. JC: Miss Rachel, I’m going to be honest, when I first met you I thought for sure you couldn’t handle us here, but I was wrong — I think you might be more thug than me.

Me: Ha! Thank you…I think?

Mr. JC: No, no, it’s a good thing. We need to come up with a good nickname for you, like Little Casper.

Mr. AB: Maaaaan no, that’s what every white person gets called, we need to give her a better one than that.

Mr. TF: How about Snowy?

Mr. AB: Nah man, that’s so lame. What about White Magic? Continue reading “Thug Life.”

I’m Listening.

It’s been a little over a week now since we heard the verdict and I’m going to be honest, I have made a fairly diligent effort to avoid most of the internet chatter about the Trayvon Martin case since learning of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. It’s not because I don’t think it’s an incredibly important conversation and it’s not because I’m lacking emotion regarding the issues at hand. Rather, the last few days I have found it more valuable for me to stop and listen than to speak.

I am a white woman, I always have been and I always will be. It’d be false to say as such I have never experienced my own amount of prejudicial oppression, but it’d also be ignorant for me to think it stands out in comparison to many others’ experiences. Continue reading “I’m Listening.”

Finding LIFE.

There is a little spot on the far edge of Skid Row that I always say I’d live if I were to lose my home….what? You mean you guys haven’t mapped out where you’d live if homeless? That’s weird.

For the last several years a man whom could pass for Santa’s brother has been occupying this space underneath the overpass with his rambunctiously sweet dog. I have seen this man take in others, giving them a place to sleep in his home and watched as he has swept and tidied the place. I don’t know this man by name, but each morning on my way to work as I pass in my car, we smile at one another as his dog playfully barks at me. [read: I am a sucker for any and all dogs. I have rescued 5 from the local streets….one of whom now lives with me. Yes, I’ve accepted my fate as the Crazy Dog Lady. Oops?]

This space, this man, brings me peace.

Continue reading “Finding LIFE.”