09 April 2013

How I became homeless

Lest ye think I’m just another hoopy frood (you’ve read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, right?), let me give you the short version of my last couple of years’ existence.

I just read it again, by the way, as if you can’t tell, and since the public library doesn’t have the sequel where Arthur & Co. travel across space-time to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the book entitled Restaurant at the End of the Universe, I am now reading Fifty Shades of Grey to see what all the fuss is about.

I have been homeless since 5 June 2012, and here's the short version of how that happened.

I started studying clinical lab technology fall 2007 and was happily sleep-walking into what would have been a sure-fire safe, steady, secure career when my friends in Iran had to get all pissy in the summer of 2009 just because their government pissed all over them and laughed about it, which was a very pissy thing to do.  So, that’s the short version of how I got into cyber activism on Iran and why I often spent entire days (sometimes two or more in a row) on it, especially around special days like Ashura (December 27 that year) 2009.

I still managed to maintain a B+ average at the college (I already had a prior B.S. in poli sci with minors in history, religion, and psychology, an A.A. in Vietnamese Basic, and part of an M.S. in Asian Studies) where I was studying to be a CLT.  I started an online, over-Skype relationship with a French Iranian woman in the summer of 2010 and ended up going to Paris after I almost washed out of clinicals in the spring of 2011.

Yes, I was…well, if not directly involved in at least keeping up with the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011.

I made an initial touristy visit to see if I would like living in Paris and did, so I went back that summer.  During that initial trip, we encountered a couple of guys in town for a peace conference, one Palestinian and another Israeli, and that’s where the cover photo for my newsgroup comes from.  I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I am that so many of my friends and other people love a photo which says Peace to them and inspires them which includes, unfortunately for my personal comfort, my ex.  But it’s the only photo I know of that shows a Palestinian, an American, a French Iranian, and an Israeli together on a boat riding on the River Seine through Paris, and she does deserve to be there in her own right.

So, I came back to France in the summer, all registered for French classes at the Sorbonne after being told when we called that sure, they’d take care of the student visa once I got to Paris, no problem…only the French government doesn’t do things that way.  So, I had to return to America and start working on the paper work for the visa, but not until I’d been there in Paris a couple of months already.

My plans, by the way, were to get fluent in French (I eat languages for breakfast) and then get a master’s equivalent from the Sorbonne and go to work for a political think thank working on peace and nonviolence issues there.  Unfortunately, even though I probably have the creds for that here in the US, this intellectual sinkhole of a Bible Belt town I’m in doesn’t have those kind of opportunities. 

What I really want to do anyway is write.

Shortly before Farzi and I and her daughters had left for Malaga, Spain, we discovered her uncle, whom her father had made trustee for the account he set up for her on her 18th birthday (she was 45 by this time) based in Paris (where her uncle was and is), had his hand in the till, not only of her trust account but those of her brother and sister too.  She and her sister made plans to force the uncle to take his name off their accounts and release full control to them.  His response was to empty the brother’s and the sister’s account and freeze Farzi out of hers.

By then, I was back in Chattanooga, staying what I thought was going to be temporarily with my mom until Farzi could send money and I could move to a hotel and rent a car since I had given everything away when I moved out.  I ended up being there for nine months.  Not a happy time for anyone involved.

Farzi and her sibs took the uncle to court, lost, appealed, and lost again.  Meanwhile, I’m with thinking there’s no way in hell any sane jurist could rule in the slimeball of an uncle’s favor.  I didn’t get the final word until early December and had been planning to return, even almost completing the student visa process.

Sidenote:  Farzi had been having headaches since mid-spring 2011, accompanied by swelling in her face that started mid-summer.  By November, she’d been to a neurologist and discovered that she had a tumor on her optic nerve and was blind in one eye with severely blurry vision in the other.  Which really sucks because she’s an artist, and a very good one.

Ironically, had it not been for the sanctions against I had campaigned so strongly for, the court’s idiotic decision would have been little more than a minor glitch.  However, with the restrictions on moving money, it was impossible for Farzi to stay and she had to return to Iran to live with her parents. Fortunately, she was able to make provision for her daughters to remain. 

Needless to say, in the midst of all this our relationship fell apart completely.

With no car, getting a job was nearly impossible as far out in the ‘burbs as my mom lives, and after a while of the two of us getting on each other’s nerves severely, I had to leave. 

Since June (2012), I’ve been at the “rescue mission” at night and on the streets during the day.  It’s not as bad as it seems.  I do have plenty to eat and a place to eat, I just have to suffer through an hour or so of attempted brainwashing and recruiting-into-the-cult speeches every night.  All the other “guests” know I’m an atheist and for some reason keep that from the staff.  The city has abundant public wifi, and that at the public library uses EPB's* fiber optic internet which is the fastest in the western hemisphere.

(* EPB = Electric Power Board)

I thought very carefully about the question of sanctions on Iran and communicated with numerous friends in-country and in the diaspora before going all out to support it.  I don’t support sanctions because of the bullshit nuclear crap (no one’s saying much about all the nukes Israel has) but to help weaken the regime the same way sanctions helped weaken apartheid South Africa in the ‘80’sand ‘90’s.  I still support sanctions even though without them in place chances are I would not be on the streets.  Even if I were at serious risk health or otherwise, including of death, I would still support anything to further secularism and democracy and freedom for the Iranian people.

Farzi made it back to Paris, by the way, she needed to go there for surgery and I guess worked out something so that she could stay.  She’s still in contact with my goddaughters (twins in Rasht, Iran, I have Muslim goddaughters to go with my Jewish godparents) and the surgery was successful but it will take 2-3 years to recover completely.  She and I aren’t communicating and probably never will again.

So, don’t feel sorry for me.  I realized months ago that even if my mother offered to let me move back in, I would choose not to do that, and since I realized that, I have been homeless by choice, not by circumstance. I also enjoy being downtown too much to go back to the 'burbs.

Postscript:  On 16 August 2013, I became homeful again.  During the time I spent at the mission, I was inflicted with 60 hours of mind-numbing fundamentalist preaching at the mission's main church sponsor and 437 hours of ranting and raving by amateur preachers who often had not even graduated high school, much less done any real in-depth study of the religion they were purporting to be spreading.


Anonymous said...

I think it is great that you wrote about this, and put a face on an element of society that most people choose to ignore. You shared a huge chunk of your soul here, and that's admirable.

Chuck Hamilton said...

Thank you, Anonymous, that is a very meaningful comment.