Monthly Archives: June 2010

asprin and smelling salts?

tough night at work tonight.. an hour and a half after work has ended, im still trying to wrap my head around things.

shift started well. waking everyone up and out by five was pretty easy. almost too easy, in retrospect.. see, around 430 we start waking up everyone thats sleeping in the main room, the sanctuary, which is the only one still open. the chapel and gallery get closed earlier for cleaning. we close the doors to the community for one hour starting at five.

only one fight to break up in the elderly and disabled line up. very nice bonus. dinner went smooth. no fights or yelling. the wheel of a wheelchair came off and i had to fix it. the name of the occupant? wheels. funny native fella but grouchy as all hell. drinks too much, swears too much and swears that he can knock my block off. he will do so without leaving the confines of his chair.  impressive.  thats confidence. hes so convinced that i can see it in his eyes. he really believes it.  i let him and enjoy messing with him when hes grouchy. not in a bad way (uh..) in a really funny good way 😉

next few hours drift by pretty quick. nothing really happens. one of the working ladies sits with me in the back room of the church known as the womens section. she tells me about one of her recent ‘dates’. if you dont know what ‘dates’ are, just send me a private message and ill tell you. now girls dont usually do this. this is the first date story ive heard first hand. shes telling me because the old retiree that courted her didnt do so for the usual reasons. he just wanted company. aw, cute right? not quite… ok, he wanted company while getting really high. when all is said and done, he gives her a bunch of money, over and above anything she would even think to ask for.  and free dope. she is still glowing about it a day later.  im just happy to see her every time i do.  the east van streets are not safe by any stretch of the imagination. pickton may be locked up but there are still other predators out there.. scary but true.

she finishes her story abruptly and switches gear, confessing that she wants to get out this life she leads. twelve years on the streets has worn on her considerably. she wants a normal life but with a 300 dollar a day habit, shes got quite a hole to get out of. to say its steep would be redundant at best. but i pray with my whole heart and soul that she makes it out and stays out. i pray that she finds the resolve and strength to conquer her addictions.  i see hope in her eyes.  real hope.  ill argue with anyone til im blue in the face: hope makes all the difference. “most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – dale carnegie

so everything up to this point in the night has led me directly to my final encounter of the night. everything culminates here.

i can still smell the rankness that hit me like a piano as i walked into the mens bathroom. i dont wish this smell on my enemies.. its THAT bad. 

walking into the bathroom, i can see that a gentleman in the first stall had fallen. he was bleeding a bit and he couldnt get himself up. what gave me pause to help him up is what the putrid smell was all about. the gentleman had a bad mishap in the bathroom. ill leave it at that.

telling the gentleman id be right back to help him, i went to our office to procure myself some blue gloves at the same time explaining the situation to my superiors.  i return and helped him up, ran him a shower and got him into some new clothes. its a feat of patience i didnt know i was capable of.  surprised myself today.

ill call him ted, but only because he looks like a ted. his real name will stay unsaid. so ted and i are talking during the process of getting him into the shower and i bluntly ask him if hes high or drunk. hes neither. hes two years into the beginnings of muscular dystrophy. he loses his balance and falls because his muscles are slowly losing strength. functions in his body have been compromised by a hereditary disease that there exists no cure for. hes trapped in a body thats wasting away on him..

ted and i had quite a bit time to talk during the whole encounter. super polite and thankful guy. kept thanking me over and over again. told me about his family and his disease. told me about his past life a bit. interesting guy. makes me hate the disease that much more. 

after getting ted into a new wardrobe and some fancy new kicks, i shake hands with my new friend and  my night ends shortly after at the stroke of midnight. 

eat. blog. sleep.


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Filed under first united mission


basketball is back!

no, the nba season is over (nobody remind me who won!) but summer street ball is just starting. and yes, that means i can finally play ball again! hallelujah!

for those that dont know, i injured my back quite badly in august playing basketball in ireland. trying to play through it my senior year proved to be too much and, although i was able to play a bit, i had to shut it down half way through the season. my last season of varsity basketball. not quite the way i envisioned my senior year when i was growing up. life goes on.

i prolonged the inevitable for quite some time, often to chuckles from my friends and teammates. where most guys finish their careers around 22-23 yrs of age, i made it to 28. not bad, i know.

so after ten months of rehab and rest from the sport i love, im finally able to play again!

my body aches today like it hasnt in a very long time. the past 3 days have been spent playing basketball at the local park. from cut fingertips to sore feet and calves (playing on cement is tough on old men like me) my body groans in unison.

but i can FINALLY play and im going to take full advantage.

just so happens that ‘sunshine + basketball = awesome’ is far too compelling an equation for me.

happy summer.

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mona’s gone..

i chose not to believe it when i heard it. my mind decided to override reason in order to spare me emotionally. at least for the moment..

that moment has left and gone.

when i first started working at the shelter, there was this little round native lady who kept demanding hugs and grabbing my butt inbetween stealthly stealing my name tag several times a day. no, my name tag isnt a pin-on, its a clip on. how much more amazing would her stealth ability have been had my tag been fastened on by a pin? anyways..

i knew this little troublemaker by the name of mona.

mona lived in surrey with her boyfriend but, when things got bad, she would escape her life out there to come and stay with her friends down at first united church.

at the shelter mona was usually found in one of two states – really or kinda drunk. her and i would sit and talk for bits and pieces here and there. shed tell me about her familiy and where she was from. as i got to know mona more i began asking her about her drinking problem. she confided in me that her boyfriend physically abused her. she told me she drank to escape the pain of her reality. my heart sank within me.

we collaborated about getting her into a treatment program and she agreed that that would be the best idea. she wanted so badly to be free of the abuse and free of her addiction. but soon after that, she just left.

lots of people just get up and leave, not to be seen around the shelter again. sometimes its because they found housing, other times treatment programs. i believed that this was the case with mona. i figured she had arranged everything without telling me. but tragically for me and her friends and family, neither was the case.

mona was found dead last week in her apartment.

she had been murdered..

ive never had a friends life stolen from them before. im unsure how to process the pain. my mind doesnt want to accept the truth, choosing to live in a state of disbelief.

its a numb feeling.

im not sure if its numb because this is new to me or because i believe she was so close to getting the help she needed. she was so close to getting alternative housing. she was so close to a better life.

but now nothing.

ill miss that troublemaker more than any other troublemaker before her.

may you finally rest in peace, mona.

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i moved

its been a busy past while for me, thus why my writing has been a bit scarce.  recently i decided to move to the city. now, i have always told myself id never live in the city.  i swore that id never live in a world of concrete and right angles.  yet here i am. im living in an area called strathcona, the oldest residential neighbourhood in vancouver.  the neighbourhood occupies most of the dtes and is inhabited with quite a diverse combination of musicians, artists, hippies, hipsters and homeless people. my new roommate is a pop band manager and has an old dog named chemo. im not sure he likes me yet, but he will.  i didnt move that far (distance-wise, about 50 km’s) yet the difference is unmistakable.  the difference i speak of is that between the separate communities.  i moved from the suburbs of the fraser valley, with its cookie-cutter homes, golf-course green lawns and tidy-white picket fences, to the darker streets of the downtown eastside, with its rundown store fronts, persistent and plaguing drug trade and streets the homeless from all over canada call home.  its going to take some time and a few adjustments to adapt to my new surroundings but im confident i can handle it.  it doesnt hurt that im only a five-minute jaunt to the shelter. boo yah! eat your heart out, commuters!

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