Success is an event but also a journey from striving to arriving. This rite of passage is fraught with danger for the uninitiated but you will use these words to prepare for a successful trip that does not go off course into self destruction.
Follow the link for an intellectual account of an experience not normally associated with cognitive analysis. In this post you can see the benefit of an ivy league educated person experiencing something uncommon to those in that elite club. The translation of street life into academic research provides a unique account you can only get here in this corner of the internet.
I unsuccessfully try to remain cold
I am an orphan. No family. Without people to help me learn social skills while I was growing up, I had no lessons in getting along with others. Unfortunately: I was not gifted in the area of social skills. I would have benefited from a “how to” manual. I had no manual. I had no friends. The state of affairs remained the same well into adulthood when I found a way to obtain social interaction. My motives for being a sex worker were complex. I needed the money. I needed a place of refuge from isolation. Amazingly there were people who saw me for years. They were the only people to initiate contact with me. Even more incredibly, there were a few who cared. About me! Bailed me out of jail. Bought me a plane ticket when my wallet was stolen on a solo (what else?) vacation off-island and I had only purchased a one way ticket. Funded my rent when I was short. Paid for the exterminator so there would be no way bugs could set up shop in my apartment. One guy dropped everything and sped from Kamala (a suburb) to downtown Honolulu when I accidentally did nor bring enough money to cover a cab ride and the driver had called the police. That was an important moment because I had to correctly determine who could afford to rescue me and who had transportation fast enough to to beat the police to the scene. This person was able and willing. Yet it is a complicated relationship BC we could never be seen together in public. It is not accurate to say that every action us exploitation. Would you call this person a friend?
I can never keep my heart out if interactions. I come across as sarcastic and cold but I care. I wish I had this relationship as the primary person in a man’s life. But consider this, without sex work I would have no one at all BC how would I lure people in past my difficult personality? All is not what our prejudices think is correct.
My word choice shows my bias
I was going to remove the word “surprisingly” but left it in to show my first, genuine opinion. I never examined my assumptions about the people I see holding signs with words like “will work for food.” When I looked at myself with as much impartiality that can be mustered by pretending I was analyzing the actions of someone else, I saw a lack of curiosity about those I mentally labelled “street people,” or “beggars,” or “homeless,” or “mentally ill.” Curiosity is natural for me, active curiosity involving questions and follow up questions. Without realizing U had been brainwashed, I had adopted society’s attitude that these people did not count. When I started spending a lot of time –as in, my life–on the streets I wanted you to know I was a person with a story that would ine day appear in this blog. Hear me! Now that I am not on the street my attitude of regarding the sign holders as “other” leaks through in my writing. I hope I can continue to spot my own bias and make changes.
They call it work not begging
I heard people discussing a guy’s reluctance to “work” with a certain woman. They have jobs–these unlikely people? Indeed, they put in 8 hours at particular spots There has to be a definite presentation of a person who is just like you, someone you’d want to help. “You have to have no body consciousness at all. Everything you wear is long, nothing attractive. You want people to think you are just like them.
You want to look like a pilgrim without the bonnetOne of the rules of panhandling
Another rule of panhandling is you “have to sparkle with your attitude. You want people to feel like they are doing some good in helping you. They do not want to think they are giving you money for drugs.”
People are mostly giving you money for drug. No one imagines that the panhandlers make an average of $200 a day. Everyone believes no one is giving you money so everyone gives you money. You do not just wander about but go to a thoughtfully chosen spot. You present the image of propriety that got knocked of course but you could get back.
Interestingly, there is enough money collected each day that people could come together and get a place and get off the street. But the activity is so strongly associated with using drugs that it would put a person on automatic pilot so they could never do anything different by employing tactics originally part of drug seeking behavior. It is hard to believe people who look incapable of planning are really quite calculated in all they do. Do not believe what you see. Hey, if people want to give money where is the harm in it? It is better than stealing. Some would say it is better than prostitution, no matter how far out of the public eye the prostitution is. Something to think about. At least prostitution is honest.
Thursday, July 22, 2021, 11:33 p.m., Honolulu, Hawaii
Remember Winona, age 60 something? She might have had a stroke
I say “might” because when she was stricken with whatever made her seriously ill, she only stayed in the hospital a day and a half and left against medical advice. It is not unusual for people with addictions to leave the hospital in search of dope downtown. Queens Hospital is near downtown Honolulu, and they get a lot of street people looking for a place to sleep or presenting with self inflicted (and therefore “unworthy”) medical issues from doing drugs like skin abscesses or inflammation of the valves of the heart from bacteria introduced into the body by the needle pushing it beneath the skin. Most addicts do not swab their arms or wherever they are shooting dope. The staff at Queens is so hostile to addicts that, in my humble opinion, many of them are downright unprofessional and I wonder if they are trying to drive people out to their deaths. After a seizure a woman from downtown was resting in the Queens E.R. when a nurse one would expect to exhibit compassion, woke her by kicking the gurney and saying, “Get up Get out. I am not your mother.” Queens is an easy hospital to leave, especially given it is within walking distance to dope, even for people wheeling i.v. poles. I have seen a patient with i.v. in tow looking for dope, still wearing the hospital gown. Winona was similar to this person in that she needed a wheelchair but did not wait for the social worker to help her so she arrived downtown pushing herself along in a wheeled office chair. Winona won’t go back to the hospital, according to another associate, Antonia, another downtown denizen of a certain age, who is in a wheelchair because she did not follow through with physical therapy after hip replacement surgery and her muscles are too atrophied to allow her to walk again. Or so I have heard.
I told Winona I would take care of her if she went back to the hospital. I’ll bring her dope. But she won’t go. I don’t really think she had a stroke because I had a stroke when I was in the hospital and that does not seem to be what is wrong. She is weak though. I watch out for her at night because she sleeps with our group. But I can’t keep supporting her habit because I have to sell the stuff or get cut off.Antonia, contradicting herself by promising to supply the ailing Winona with dope but complaining that Winona feels entitled to free dope now that she cannot work the track to supplement ineffectual sales. The women are both their own best customers and unless they have plenty of heroin they have always had to supplement their dealing with prostitution to keep themselves well, or avoid withdrawal due to lack of heroin.
Fear of Missing Out is a real psychological phenomena that keeps aging and ailing addicts hunting for dope when they should be seeking medical care
Addicts know that once hospitals have a record of your addiction, they are extremely reluctant to give you even necessary painkillers. There is no such thing as successful drug seeking behavior at Honolulu hospitals. The staff is hip to that game and they seem to get offended that patients would try to con them. The only way to have dope in the hospital is to very respectfully explain that you have a habit and ask for the minimum of methadone to stay out of withdrawal. If you do this, it is likely the hospital will comply, but that is no way to get high and addicts have to sneak in additional dope if they want more than to just not be sick. Addiction causes problems precisely because people are unable to regulate their use, or resist their cravings for drugs. People with addictions are often unable to leave an area where the drugs are located to go to a drug free area. The very thought of such a journey, however short or temporary, can cause full blown panic attacks. The slang term is “getting stuck” and it is one of the main reasons people miss appointments, family gatherings, court dates, anything of tremendous importance is that they do not anticipate getting stuck. They imagine they will leave in plenty of time to arrive at the urgent affair and that simply does not happen, nor is this failure ever anticipated. The mental disease lies to the sufferer and tells her, “this time will be different.” Things are never different. I have seen drug users grow older and more infirm, and although they are not elderly by society’s standards, once they are in their 50’s and 60’s their health is quite bad and does not improve because they make no more effort to support their health than they did in their pre-teens, which is when most addicts raised in Hawaii get their start using drugs.
The Problem is death is not instantaneous
Addicts, even non-addicts, will say they do not fear death. Who cares anyway? It is not like anyone will miss them. Their families, parents, children, siblings, do not speak to them. There are no real friends in the dope game. If it all came to an end would that be so bad? Obviously, I have no idea about death but I do know that people rarely go from perfect health to instantaneous oblivion. A period of disability is not unusual. I have seen people last for several years, confined to bed, unable to rise, or speak, or understand words spoken to them. This period of infirmity is almost universally feared by anyone I have ever spoken to about it. Whenever people refuse to take their blood pressure medication claiming they do not care if their life ends, I remind them of how a stroke can leave them. And I tell them that they vow they would kill themselves before they let that fate befall them, but that fate befalls them before they have the chance to kill themselves. Then what are you going to do when your body is your prison?
Is there an addict community?
Kind of. There are people who will help you get high, or provide you with a place to get high if you share your drugs. You might even come to like these people and seek out their company. But will they be there to care for you since you have no family? I know a woman named Joyce, also in a wheelchair, now that I think about it, whose hip replacements became infected from street life and in a process I do not understand somehow her hips are not securely held within the ball and socket joint. Like the previous two women in chairs, she is not paralyzed but infirm from street life. Yet she has a smile for everyone and she insists that I, and everyone else, band together to take care of each other because we have no one else. It is hard to motivate for the previous two women who have gossiped about me with considerable viciousness and stolen from me. I could help Joyce, although I admit to avoiding her since Winona got sick and she insisted that I find Winona and see if she needed my help or if she wanted to stay with me. I do not want Winona in my space because she would rather see me homeless by sabotaging me than for me to have a place she might be able to visit. This amount of spite is very typical. Like others who escaped the streets, I learned that I had to get rid of my desire to reach out to others or else lose what I have when these others do things like leave syringes around the property in the hope of causing me to lose my apartment. Joyce is kind and she shows me I could be a better person, but my willingness to risk everything for people who would never risk anything for me is not great. Forget risk, these people would not inconvenience themselves for me! Do I believe that I might need someone to take care of me? Realistically, I have learned that it is only the folly of youth that makes people thing themselves invulnerable. Something could happen to me and I might need help and if that happens I do not know what will become of me. But I do know that opening a care home in my place will not win me any favor with women who dislike me but will happily use me.
The good stuff was out of reach
I was incarcerated in Honolulu for possession of a prescription pill. Addiction fuels the state economy in a variety of ways. Most incarcerated women had been on drugs. Ironically there was no sustained supply of illegal drugs. The women were too eager to tell on each other to curry favor with staff, many if whom were friends and relatives in the islands. Inmates were stuck with pharmaceuticals that doctors give people with addictions. The best you can get is something that will make you sleep. Sleeping is the best way to pass your time. The only drugs that will put an inmate to sleep are in the antipsychotic class. I guess psychosis was not really being treated as much as tamped down. The number 1 choice…drumroll, please…Seroquel. That is one drug with ugly side effects. Fifty pound weight gain in under a month. “Sleep eating” similar to actions caused by a drug unavailable to inmates—Ambien. Inability to concentrate on any reading whatsoever. After a couple of months the med turns on you and keeps you up, especially if you miss the “window” or time of feeling drowsy. If you do not get to fall asleep during that 15 minutes, oh well. But in the beginning the drug can get you 18 solid hours of unconsciousness. It was the drug most likely to be carried back from the med line the way a mama bird carries food in her mouth back to the nest. Women who could not convince the psych they were psychotic by saying “I see voices,” traded commissary items to women with more recognized mental illness in exchange for smuggled bits of that drug. Between the rice, bread and generic psych meds, no wonder women left prison overweight!