Down & Out in San Franshitsco

I sometimes need to poop in the trash bag, if someone else is hogging up the restroom down the hallway. I am not anal retentive, which behavior leads to constipation and all other sorts of hideous bowel syndromes. So I squat over the small trash bin beneath my sink (after scooting it out to the room’s center), which is lined in a heavy duty garbage liner (for the sake of my own dignity). Usually when I need to dump a number two and someone else is in there…he just got in there, and will probably crap in the toilet followed by a robust shower of ten or more minutes! I thought over all sorts of Mother-Earth-Magazine types of solutions (such as a Mulbank toilet, or those eco-friendly portable potties used in campers or tents for visiting national and state parks on the cheap). But none of them promised a dignified existence in an urban SRO. Then it finally occurred to me to just dump my load in a lined wastebasket, tie it up pronto and toss it into the garbage disposal chute in the back porch. The stink doesn’t even have a chance to permeate.

Yet when I first tried that, the manager, Serge (2nd mgr. since Marcus E….the one in between, Rose, was a real new-age, pyramid-scheme doozie, who suddenly died of virulent cancer after participating in anti-Zeke schemes along with certain residents who had nothing better to do with their lives than torment This Faggot-Weary, Old-But-Gentle Soul), posted a note up in the lobby a few days later, stating:

“Human feces was discovered two days ago in one of the trash bins. Please be careful not to let anyone through the front gate, unless he or she has come to visit you.”

Naturally, I quickly figured the real situation, unbeknownst to manager and residents alike (who presumed it was a homeless person who sneaked in, or a friend of an illegal Mexican immigrant that worked in the teensy taqueria that shared a back door with our building’s basement): the cheap dollar-store trash liners were not sufficient to prevent the bursting of a bag under the weight of additional tenants’ trash disposal. Thus, my discarded sack had popped open, squishing my own excrement through the broken seams. Lesson learned: since then I now purchase the “hefty” type trash liners you get at Walgreens (fuk the dollah stores) to avoid such an embarrassment ever again…but also take the offending bag outside with me at the first opportunity, and deposit in an outdoor receptacle. Fortunately, there’s one situated right outside the gate and almost in front of the Wells Fargo trio of ATM’s just beside my building.

I’m 63 now, and I know full well the hazards of holding back a good dump…hemorrhoids being the least of the bad stuff that curses you unto death if you become a slave to Puritanical modesty. I had obsessed for more than two years, over how I could relieve myself in such a situation. But even worse: what if everyone came down with the stomach flu at the same time, and the WC would never be accessible at the critical moment, nine times out of ten? Most who live here rent a studio, or 1-or-2 bedroom, thus enjoy their own personal toilet and stove/oven/ fridge. But three or four residents on each of three levels (ground 1 is for the shops) such as yours truly, occupy a single room: no kitchen, no bathroom, communal restroom down the hallway. This was not a fecal hazard back when all three restrooms were accessible to anyone living in an SRO on any floor. A dozen or so steps upward to reach an unoccupied latrine did not threaten to force one’s personal Playdoh extruder into pants-stinking overtime.

But when the next manager, Marcus E., took over, his Los Angelenes high-crime paranoia overwhelmed this apartment building I call “Hotel California North.” Not only did he change the overhead hallway light bulbs from 20 watts to a hundred (thus transforming the ghostly-dull corridors into hospital-type passages of uber-sane sterility); but he imposed cheap door-closers to all apartment and room doors as well as the bathroom and back porch doorways, which at unexpected moments would pop a spring with such force that had they hit one’s eye you’d go blind (or at least have a bloody face). He also installed an uber-bright light in the backway passage that exits onto 16th Street, and lit up whenever a motion was detected. (As if that area needed any protection from scurrilous night dwellers, but it does not, it’s just a back passage with a locked gate.)

But most horrendous of all, he created a separate lock for each of the three shared commodes. So now, if one has to go really bad, he or she can not simply skip up or down one or two flights to access another relief station that was unoccupied at the moment. One must therefore concede to likely intestinal cramps awaiting one’s turn, or find a viable solution as I have. Would have been much more considerate for Marcus to provide SRO residents with one key for all three bathrooms. This would not only resolve his overhyped fears of the homeless sneaking in and skanking up the shared bathrooms (for which I am frequently scapegoated, only because I am seen in public talking with a street vagrant from time to time. As if I had offered him cart blanche to our hallway toilets in exchange for a decent BJ. If only things were that
simple!)

So once every other month or so, I find myself resorting to a healthy morning poop in my waste basket. Which plastic lining I twist up and tie ASAP after administering a quick wipe of water-dampened toilet paper followed by a dry version. While cussing the other two residents that share the commode, as my poop explodes into a satisfying relief of pent-up angst from a severe lack of privacy. Other difficulties that are born of poverty and living in an SRO are as follows:

Cooking. How does one purchase raw groceries and convert them into a satisfying meal, because eating out is just too cost prohibitive? Well, with some excess cash I was able to obtain a magnetic induction hotplate that cooks almost a third faster than a regular, coiled stove. (And is a lot safer, as you could place a paper towel between fry pan and hotplate, and nothing would burn or even singe.) I also owned an infrared, jumbo-size Black & Decker toaster oven that not only made great toast, but allowed me to whip up cakes, casseroles, sauteed veggies, and many other dishes that one would expect mandates a real kitchen! Sadly, the on/off chip short-circuited about three years after purchase, which forced me to discard an otherwise perfectly good piece of technology which planned obsolescence tossed me into a dark hell of makeshift cuisine.

For that remarkable toaster oven was no longer available on amazon.com (’cause discontinued), nor could I afford at the time, to purchase the item once more, even if it were still on the cyber-shelves. Since I live on a gov’t stipend I must confine my “sundry shopping” to 2nd-hand or free-box finds, else I’d perish. That includes stumbling upon a complete, hot meal left atop a trash bin by some generous resident. As well as clothing, books, decorative bric-a-brac, and so forth. Everything except underpants and socks (which I purchase at bargain stores that proliferate in the Mission and Chinatown).

There is also the matter of my teeth, of which but two-thirds
remain, and in rotting condition. Medi-Cal’s dental services for male adults were eliminated more then 10 years ago. Obamacare has not stepped up to rectify this, but has left it up to each state, via Medicaid. But even the blue states (such as my own California) have done little to provide free dental care for the poor, except to remove an aching tooth or resulting infection by a visit to the Emergency Clinic. I am most fortunate to have no serious infection or debilitation from my dental neglect, but to find alternative ways to eat healthy in spite of deteriorating ability to tear, crush and macerate my meals so they’ll provide maximal nutrition before being expelled via the intestines. For one, I use a freebie coffee grinder to pulverize walnuts, almonds, sesame and sunflower seeds into a dust that I can mix into my oatmeal, salads or casseroles. For two, I overcook my veggies beyond al dente, to make up for my lack of chewing mastery, that I may nonetheless provide my stomach with maximal absorption of the nutrients thus imparted.

As you must realize by now, one’s dental deterioration eliminates
many enjoyable dishes that most denizens of San Francisco take for
granted…since most of them are deliriously affluent, and do not
believe their own pleasures in life have anything to do with
requiring a significant percentage of the downtrodden in order to
maintain their high level of superiority. Such is the nature of Das
Kapitalism which at first presents itself as an innocent babe, then
ravages the nest of compassionate, liberal parents who wind up being
hornswoggled into complacent doddering. While their very essence of
life-exuberance becomes a struggle to survive, even if on the most
basic level of primitive fag-bashing and female-raping.

There is the issue of trying to eat healthy while one’s teeth deteriorate at an alarming rate. Since I do maintain a roof over my head (thank goddess), I keep certain equipment handy to facilitate the proper digestion of what food I can afford. Such as a coffee grinder employed to pulverize nuts and seeds that can be sprinkled over oatmeal, steamed veggies, soup and the like. What vittles I consume that require serious chewing, I take extra time to thoroughly grind the comestibles and wash it down with diet soda, milk or other beverage. Though (most remarkably) I rarely suffer any toothaches or gum infections. Which I attribute to my blessed destiny that gives me a certain amount of leeway to abuse my health so long as I keep it within a sane limit. For one, I don’t mess with hard drugs…only occasional alcohol and marijuana. Tobacco, too (I had stopped smoking for 32 Years, but resumed almost three years ago, probably has to do with imprinting my psyche onto Larkin’s). I utilize other equipment to aid my crumbling pearls, such as an Osterizer (high quality, found in a free box), a juicer (low-end but works great, just $10 at Goodwill), and a ceramic knife (purchased in Walgreens’ “As Seen on TV” section for half price).

I have been a vegetarian for years now, ever since I left my family way back in 1968. Though I aspire to become a vegan, I’ve since learned that such a lofty goal (to not enslave or murder innocent creatures for one’s own survival) demands a hefty sum of buckazoids beyond my present capabilities…living as I do on a humble gov’t stipend in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. True veganism requires special equipment for dehydrating fruit and vegetables, expensive processors, and a real kitchen to execute the necessary preparation. This also requires tons of free time that most folks just don’t have. I have the time, but not the money: talk about your catch 22!

My diet of late consists of oatmeal or granola (soaked in soy milk for at least 10 minutes) for breakfast…or down the street for a whole wheat sesame bagel with cream cheese and a small coffee, more java or iced tea (and usually an almond croissant or other pastry) at Bean There coffeehouse on Waller Street, and for dinner sauteed veggies on a bed of brown rice and small cubes of firm tofu, topped off with grated sharp cheddar cheese and a splash or two of soy sauce. For beverages I drink cheap, Safeway diet soda on sale for 99 cents per two-liter bottle, Silken soy milk (unsweetened), and a variety of five or six types of tea I keep stashed in the pantry. Sometimes a delicious meal, snack or sandwich is left for me on a trash bin, newsstand, doorstep or free box. Amazing what gourmet treats I discover on my lonesome hikes across The Seven Hills… often vegetarian or even vegan. Quality that’s certainly beyond the reach of my own thin wallet! May Queen Boudicca abundantly gift these kind denizens who think of the poor and homeless among us.

Speaking of free box, that is where I acquire most of my wardrobe, including footwear. But I only pick freshly laundered clothing in order to avoid bedbugs and other no-see-ums. Books, magazines, dishes and cups, cookware, utensils, toys, board games, charming bric-a-brac, paper, art supplies and storage boxes number among the free-box pickin’s one can stumble upon anywhere in Our Fair City. Without such generosity from the well-to-do, my simple life would be filled with so much more hardship than it is already. For I am but one baby step away from the gutters. Companionship is rare since all my friends from the past have long since moved on to more affordable climes. I take whatever camaraderie and brotherly intimacy I can get…and that’s way too infrequent for this poor faggot’s happiness. The street crowd (mostly homeless) seems to be my only source of this fundamental need for friendship and love. There are some truly sweet men out there, but I can only have their bodacious company for a night or two before they must skip along once more on their vagrant way. But they remain secure in my heart with loving memories I wouldn’t trade for a megazllion smackeroonies.

[ Salubrious Reader: do not lose heart over my unhappy situation. For there is one man– one glorious dragon of a man– who has been my savior, my teacher, my guardian and my BFF of all time, for these past eight otherwise-lonesome years. And you already know his name if you’ve been following my blog for just a mere week; or read my novel, “Free Me From This Bond” (even if only the first ten pages). He is, of course, Larkin Kelsey. And we two are about to embark upon the next chapter of a great spiritual odyssey that shall never end. It will commence on my birthday, July 1st, as far as I can tell. ]

Pissing in the sink is another aspect of living in an SRO. Who in his right mind wants to walk down a brightly lit corridor late at night just to relieve the bladder? (I did use a plastic quart container for a couple of years, but the possible embarassment of being seen walking down the hallways with a urine-filled container was more than I could handle.)

[ In fact, Tardigradian Reader, I was cornered by next-door-neighbor Barry four years ago, with urine bottle in hand. It was transparent, thus the liquid’s amber color shone like a lantern. He held a scissors in his hand, asked me to clip off a gnarly thick hair that protruded from a perfectly square scar by his left shoulder blade. Sign of the Gay Warrior! I set my plastic receptacle on the hallway floor, complimented him on the noble scar, and clipped the unwelcome intruder. Then Barry chuckled when he spotted my bottle, and I whisked myself off to unload it in the communal bathroom, embarrassed as hell. ]

As a light sleeper such an interruption would curse me with insomnia for the remainder of my nocturnal respite. So I piss in the sink. Which affords me unbroken darkness and just a few steps required before urinating and hopping back into my nest. Guests (some of them quite handsome) pose another problem entirely. Which is that it’s much better they pee in the sink than expose themselves to jealous queens or nasty priks or kunts they are more likely to encounter in their hallway romp to the bathroom. (FYI, I wash my dishes in a plastic tub, so that urine does not permeate my digestive system.) But of course this presents the matter of bowel expulsion which, as we all know, is a regular function of daily human existence. So there is no way to totally hide my visitors from neighbors. But usually this does not interfere with my overnight debauchery (if such it comes to), so long as my usually-heavy-hung guest (though not always so if he can give really good head) does not impart a lascivious greeting (or any other sort of “howdy,” just say nothing and go to the restroom w/o occupying it for more than ten minutes). But these are gregarious and fun-loving men upon whom I would not dream of imposing upon more than a bit of My Instructions On How To Spend A Night With Zeke And Get Away With It In One Piece.

[ BTW, Vestibular Reader, I’m presently typing this account via my brand new android tablet’s swype keyboard. Certainly a fantastic boon to those of us who suffer carpal tunnel and other forms of repetitive stress injury (RSI) from decades of finger-clacking. But it doesn’t always get what letters you specifically chose. For example: every time I swype the word “app,” it gives me “asp.” Shades of Cleopatra’s ghost! But there are also other, more common, words that somehow elude this newfangled swype feature. Try typing “cock” and you’ll get “chock.” Or “vagina” and you’ll get “basins” (which confuses me as to whether this glitch arises from prudishness or a Freudian slip by its programmers). Don’t believe for a microsecond, however, that Swype’s shortcomings are confined to hi-tech slang that may or may not one day find their presence in the American Heritage Dictionary, or to words viewed as unsavory to the ignorant, horse-hockey masses. Another example: when I swype “begun” I get instead “begin.” Rather than bore you with further evidence, just be warned that The Swype Gremlins are working overtime.

I must admit though, that Swype is already intelligent enough to bring succor to millions of hardworking folks, from this debilitating malady of RSI. So much so that I’ve begun to use my tablet (with a 10.1 inch screen for ample finger room) at home, instead of the conventional keyboard that’s rested upon my desk for nigh unto thirty years, ever since I purchased my first computer, a “Compaq Luggable.” (Ha! Try swyping “luggable” and you’ll get “pluggable.”) So, My Sweetest Readers Of All Time, permit me to end this elucidation of living on the “down and out” here in “San Franshitsco” (as my friend of many years–but who had to return to his home city of Philadelphia more than a decade ago, that he tend loving care to his mother dying from Alzheimer’s–Sean, describes it). Though I leave out a majority of descriptions about the oppression and downright evil that is dumped upon the poor and homeless by our wealthy, who now compose the larger part of This Harlotrous Burg, which I cynically call “The City of Saint Francis.” (Another joke: swype “harlotrous” and you get “halitosis!”)

In spite of what good people remain in this town, or who moved here recently. It’s simply a matter of too few and far between. But I have Larkin, thus my own world is perfect. ]

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