Month: July 2015

Trouble Sleeping

A homeless person sleeps on the front porch of the Two Goblets Restaurant at the corner of Weber and Water Sts.
A homeless person sleeps on the front porch of the Two Goblets Restaurant at the corner of Weber and Water Sts.

When you are a homeless person there is no such thing as personal space or private moments. You’re outdoors so everyone sees you. If you need to brush your teeth, at least wash the smelly parts of your body, or go to the washroom, you do it in a public washroom. If you need to sleep, you — well, that’s a tough problem.

The amount of sleep needed in order to be able to normally function varies. It depends on various factors such as age, physical fitness, personal motivation and so on, but it’s probably safe to say everyone needs a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sleep. When you’re homeless like I am, there is no bed and because you have no privacy, you just can’t sleep outside for that amount of time without something happening to you, like being mugged, being hit by the elements of the weather, or rudely awakened by someone you pissed off because of your need to sleep (see example embedded in this post. I’m sure the owners of Two Goblets love to see this sight every morning when they open up).

So far I’ve managed to mostly dodge the bullet by sleeping in the parks and on transit routes in short naps that add up to the needed rest, but I say mostly because I know I’m not getting enough REM sleep (REM means Rapid Eye Movement, and is the part of sleeping where your brain does mental housecleaning in the forms of dreams. This results in not only hallucinations but also moments where I suddenly go to sleep without warning and people like bus drivers and cafe staff have made more than a polite point that I’m not supposed to do that here. On Saturday July 25th, 2015, a female Waterloo Region police officer woke me up rather roughly at a local McDonald’s and sternly told me not to go back to sleep again. Nothing beats fear and the adrenalin rush that comes from waking up to see a very unhappy police officer (wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a service pistol) looking down at you to keep you up for hours. I would not recommend using the police involved as your personal wakeup service, though.

It’s amazing how much people take getting a good night sleep for granted until you end up in the situation I’m in right now. I am working on ways to use my smartphone set on vibrate to go off every 20 minutes so if I suddenly do get a nap attack, it won’t be for long. It may drain my phone battery often but it will reduce the awkward situations I find myself in when someone stumbles on a napping David.

For as long as the temporary jobs and gigs can pay for the phone. When I lose that, I will invest in an egg-timer.

Thanks for reading!

David.

State Of David

Homeless In KitchenerSince I put my blog on hiatus last winter, I’ve received a number of inquiries from my readers asking if I am all right, if not dead. It became necessary, though with great difficulty (to be explained later), to write this post. I’ll try to keep writing regular status reports like this but it is going to be difficult due to my situation.

As of right now, I experience bouts of homeless, and on occasion these bouts can be three weeks long before I get a few days respite, a shower, and a bed to lie down in. I am currently located in the region of Waterloo, Ontario and haunt Kitchener and Waterloo. You’ll find me on the buses or at Charles Street Terminal keeping out of the elements.

My sleeping habits consist of many naps on the buses and in the park and malls. I average a total of 3 to 4 hours of sleep per day (not at night, since everything is shut down — the tri city area is not 24-7 like Toronto is), though not deep enough to induce a REM cycle. As a result, I do hallucinate a bit — nothing serious, I just hear someone call my name that’s not really there or knock on a window behind me when there is no window behind me. I also have a great deal of trouble writing and performing mathematical calculations (it galls me that I can’t remember my tables as well as I used to). This blog post, a task normally done in an hour, consisted of three days of notetaking in a LibreOffice document.

As for my health? Because I no longer sleep on my back, my legs have started to swell up and my shins break out in blisters from the water that breaks the skin surface. I have a YouTube video chronicling this (note, it’s a little gross so please put your dinner aside before you view). My lower back muscles have started to atrophy so lying down and getting up is a painful exercise. Vision and teeth are fine, but I’m not sure how well my eyes and teeth really are because I cannot afford to go to a dentist or an eye doctor. These two things are not covered by OHIP, our government health plan here in Ontario. I can say I see clearly like I usually do and I can chew food properly and brush without bleeding.

I do the odd temp job to pay for food and laundry and transit, but when you are homeless the cost of food goes up. You no longer can buy in bulk — you have no house and no fridge, so you buy per portion. A litre of milk for example is wasteful when you can buy the three bag deal. I have no microwave, no stove, so it’s either McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, Subways, 7-11 (they do have delicious and affordable meatballs and chicken on a stick), or some other fast food place.

Relationships with friends and family are understandably strained and without blame towards anyone because of my situation. Some people worry, some people wonder if I’ve just become lazy and a loafer, and most fear for my future. I know I certainly do, as I once said I may not make it to my retirement years. On the subject of retirement, using those funds to extend my finances is becoming closer and closer to a reality, against the wishes of those who feel I should not use the fund, which causes the stresses I noted earlier.

That’s my update and it was very tiring to write. As I stated many times, if you are in the Waterloo Region area and can lend a hand, you know how to reach me.

As always, thanks for reading.

David.