Writer’s Group (12.22.2010)

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Street Sense and Miriam’s Kitchen have partnered to offer Street Sense vendors the chance to share their stories and poetry. They meet Monday-Friday at Miriam’s Kitchen from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. at Street Sense Mondays from 10-11 a.m. 

The Homeless and the Holidays / By Robert Warren  

Being homeless but employed is hard. So is being jobless but not homeless. But being homeless and jobless at the same time is the most depressing of all.  

I have been all three, so I know.  

However, we do experience some joy during this difficult season. The kindness of people lifts your spirits and gives one the sense that things are not all bad. Those people bring food, gifts and clothes. Their generosity enables me to give presents to loved ones as well as providing some of the small things that help me out during the winter season.  

But even with this, there are still many down days during the holiday season. I think being unemployed is worse than being homeless. But being either, and certainly being both, adds a lot to my down days during the holiday season.  

I don’t know what people in other cities may go through. But in Washington, D.C., we always have people who do so much to make the holiday season just a little better for the poor and the homeless.  

That’s what it’s all about to me: Being thankful for people and knowing that my day is coming to end my joblessness and homelessness if I work hard and keep the faith. 

Worst Christmas Ever / By Gwen Smith 

My worst Christmas days had nothing to do with being homeless, although I was almost broke as a homeless person. Being divorced and alone, with friends elsewhere with their families, underscored a bad situation.  

I was living off Georgia Avenue on a quiet, dead-end street, in a rooming house occupied by the owner. She and the other roomers had plans, but I didn’t. That was sad.  

To top it off, I thought that the young lady across the street was seeing an older man- I thought it might be the one I’d had a fling with and still had a crush on. And I still hoped something would happen. But the phone did not ring. And I had no Christmas decorations.  

I could have called my folks, out-of-state collect, or called relatives here. But I didn’t want to bother them, or see their hurt for me in their eyes. Didn’t they know that I never really loved my husband? We were just tremendous friends. And he might have never really loved me.  

Even after all that, I am grateful for many things. I am most grateful that I don’t have what Mark Twain called “the worst loneliness:” Not being comfortable with myself. 

Excuse Me, I’m Stupid / By Richard Embden 

Excuse me, I’m stupid.  

I’m an erudite idiot.  

My friend told me I’m stupid.  

You see, he is smarter than me.  

He is an imbecile, the second lowest grade of mental deficiency.  

I’m the lowest grade of mental deficiency.  

I have a degree.  

A B.S. in B.S.  

Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science.  

I studied for the M.A.T. in History, too.  

I used to be homeless.  

People called me lazy and crazy.  

But might be you could learn something from me.  

ain’t got too much sense  

But I got some StreetSense 

Happy to be Clean / By Jeffrey McNeil  

This holiday season has been pretty good.  

Since I stopped doing hard drugs, I have been able to save my money and put it to good use.  

I recently traveled to Ohio, New Jersey and Philadelphia to see relatives I had not seen in two years.  

Traveling is one of my favorite hobbies.  

I love going to different places and to different states. I like seeing the various skylines. My favorite skyline is New York.  

My second favorite is Philadelphia. I like that city because it is historic, like Washington.  

The libraries, the museums and the nightlife are awesome. However, Philadelphia is far removed from the City of Brotherly Love.  

What once was one of the more progressive cities in America is now the poster child of urban blight.  

Like Washington, the first-class folks do really well.  

They dine at the finest restaurants, go to the hottest nightclubs and carry bags from Nieman-Marcus.  

But going up Broad Street toward Temple University is another world.  

Many talk about the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan, but I think that urban decay is much worse.  

Drugs overrun many neighborhoods. One mishap might get you killed, and racial division is widespread. Whites and other ethnic groups have fled to the suburbs.  

Nevertheless, what makes me happy this holiday season is that, rather than judging my past, people see my progression from sleeping in the Philadelphia subway tunnels, looking for crack and not caring about living or dying.  

I no longer have to be sick and resent those who harmed and humiliated me.  

Now I feel sympathy for those who live beneath the subway.  

I am most grateful that I am not an addict and that I can call Washington home. 

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.