Learning From Being Effectively Homeless

Since the Motel rooms do not have a coffee maker, I have to go to the Loves Truck Stop each night to get hot water to make a tea essentially for my health. So this night I decided to try on a hat they had for sale. Going to the Truck Stop each night is very humbling.

Recently, I found myself in a strange state of not having a home yet not being on the streets. I was pushed-out of my rental home and given two days notice a new home would not be ready on my move date. I ended up in Motels.  I called it being ‘effectively homeless’ based largely on the financial term ‘the effective interest rate’ which makes things that are unequal, equal for the purpose of familiarity and comparison. I am not on the streets yet I have experienced some psychological and emotional trauma of not having a home. So in effect, I am, in a way, homeless. This was only supposed to be 4-5 days, not going on 4 weeks. 

I am very thankful to those that have funded the motels – without them I would be on the streets for sure with no family here locally and work hours that would make even the kindest couch surfing hosts shudder – but I have learned some things through this experience that I do want to share.

In Part One of “Effectively Homeless” I discussed the condition, the background, and some of the new challenges I faced initially.

First a status report: I should be out of the Motel 6 and in my new home by Thursday August 9th. There are still some logistical and financial challenges ahead between now and then. As of today, Friday July 27 2018, the current financial need is $186.05. If you want to donate towards this need you can visit http://paypal.me/careycat and give to an account that is on file with the Motel 6.  I appreciate and am thankful to those who have donated once, twice and more times than I can count.  I need to hit $186.05 to finish out at the Motel 6 and related needs.

Needs: There is still a pile of debris that needs moved. The first attempt to remove it felt short and all my money was taken in that attempt. If anyone knows anyone who can help remove the debris and take it to the dump or another location please contact me. This has to be removed ASAP. Dump costs are very high for this pile apparently. Most metal / scrap metal has been removed.

I wanted to dedicate this blog to “lessons learned” while “effectively homeless”.  As my degree is in the social science discipline, I tend to observe, collect, and analyze behaviors as well as look for correlations. This includes my own experiences.

Every 7 days I had to pack up my office / belongings and move to a new room. I had no idea the emotional and mental toll of even doing just that. Even seeing my stuff in these rolly-carts was hard.
  • I know nothing. That’s the biggest lesson. I thought I understood what it must be like to be homeless. I have been pursuing a social science degree for a very long time. I’ve worked with the homeless in Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York City. For over a decade I’ve spent time, served, and interviewed people who are in various states of homelessness from those who just saw a rent increase in an ‘it city’ like Nashville and couldn’t make the new rent to those who were on the streets for nearly 20 years. I thought I knew how to help them and I thought I knew what the answers were.Being in this state for several weeks with the promise of housing every few days being dangled in front of me continually to being on my third week in a motel room, I have learned that I knew nothing about what it does to one’s mental state. I can’t imagine what chronic homelessness does. There isn’t even a solid definition by the US government for what chronic homelessness IS. I ponder this question: we know that mental illness is a key component of mental illness but I then ask how much of mental illness is aggravated by being homeless vs how much it’s a cause of being homeless.
  • The value of working. I set up my office inside my Motel room, a piece at a time until most of it was set up in a section of the motel room. I do internet marketing, websites, and computer repair. Even though it was hard to focus at first, being able to continue working helped me to focus and stay productive. Many clients pitched in to help keep me working and help keep me in the Motel 6. I had to re-purchase a great many things that were in storage but in the end, every effort to reconstruct my home office was worth it.  Some clients paid for rooms, some offered substantial discounts on needs, while others advanced payments allowing me to creatively cash-flow some things and continue to meet business needs and ever increasing costs of running my business away from a home. Extra business has helped countered the rising costs after taxes, licensing fees and overhead is deducted. Creative cashflowing of an advanced payments got my rescues moved in one run.

    My office – two computers, two monitors and my printer / scanner. It’s one monitor short from my home arrangement but still fairly effective for getting work done.
  • The anchor of faith. I found my greatest comfort in faith. Even though my mental state went up-and-down and I went bonkers quite a few times, I did think I would find pockets of time I’d enjoy myself. I brought over my NES Classic, SNES Classic, Sega Genesis Flashback and Atari Flashback all in an attempt to find things to do to help calm myself down and bring enjoyment. Those things failed. I found three things that were important to me and helped bring me some comfort and relief. All 3 were part of my faith journey. The first was “Faith and Family Nights” at Plaza Mariachi Music City on Nolensville Road in Nashville, TN. Serving there still brings peace to me in a way I cannot explain quite yet. Attending is quite the experience in and of itself. If you have not come, you should. It’s monthly. The second was a production my church did based on “The Greatest Showman” movie. The production and lessons the pastor spoke of helped me re-orient myself at a critical moment of being ‘effectively homeless’. The presentation and teaching helped remind me of what I believe my purpose to be and have since 2005, my mission in life to be and how I have been momentarily disoriented and focused on the wrong things during this time period of being ‘effectively homeless’. It also helped remind me who is there for me during this time. I had the opportunity to view it a second time standing behind my Sr. Pastor and it continued to remind me how I lost sight of who I am and what I believe my purpose in life to be.  I posted this as I began to wake up:ISAIAH 1:17
    Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  – For me it is who I am, and who I will always be. It is by the principles of this scripture that I live. And by them, I will most       certainly die.
  • Not having an address has it’s complications. I have had to have critical medical supplies shipped to an Amazon locker. I had parts shipped to a client for their business that I normally would have had shipped to myself and installed on site – and those parts got misplaced for a few days in the process of receiving delivery. The Amazon locker is an hour from the Motel 6 in a high traffic zone. To get critical supplies that can’t be obtained in person gets complicated when you don’t have an address and conducting business can get very tricky too. I almost had to ‘eat’ those parts.

    One night I totally burned out, my body shut down, I guess 20 hour days can’t be sustained. But I woke up in time for the $100,000 Pyramid. Check it out on ABC’s Summer of Fun on Sunday nights. Check your local listings.
  • The biggest misunderstanding. A staff member at my church approached me asking essentially what my issue was since I was in a motel with a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in. It was a well intentioned question.  What I’ve learned over these last few weeks is that I would have asked the same question a month ago. In fact the entire Motel 6 plan was based on the fact that it should have been enough to have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in. But I believe I have learned it’s not. It wasn’t. And it won’t be.  And I don’t know if you have to experience it in order to fully understand it. From what I’ve gathered by speaking to others who have been through the same ordeal, it generally may be.Something changes. Something happens mentally and emotionally. Whether it’s the lack of privacy compared to one’s own home, whether it’s being separated from one’s loved ones, or the in-between state you find yourself in: you’re not on the streets but you’ve got nowhere to call home, I am really unsure. But what I do know is it’s a great misunderstanding and presumption that the knowledge that it’s temporary or the mere existence of a bed and a roof makes everything okay. It’s been far from okay.

For the longest time I questioned ‘why this happened’. A friend reminded me I should be asking ‘what is it I am trying to be taught or should be learning’ from this experience. There will be a third post coming soon. Stay tuned. God is good and he is sovereign.

Continue to Part 3

Other Chapters: 

Part 1: How This Happened | Part 2: Lessons Learned | Part 3: Changed by Being Effectively Homeless | Part 4: Adrift | Part 5: Shadows and Echoes