Day 2–Libraries, Homeless, and Work

August 7th was another day in my freelancing venture, and I worked hard.  I wrote some pitches, applied for some freelancing jobs at Elance, and worked with my client.  She’s an awesome photojournalist in London.  I will post some of the work I’m doing with her later.  But the one thing that sucks about freelancing, so far, is that you can work your butt off and never know if you’re seeing results.  At least, right away.  Once again, patience, I must learn patience.

Right now, I’m at a coffee shop in Long Beach called, “The Library.”  It’s right by my house, and I used to come here to look for jobs when I first moved to Los Angeles.  I’ll never forget this one guy who was always in here.  He had long hair and talked on his phone ad nauseam.  Plus, he looked like he just quit being a roadie with Motley Crue.

I remember this wicked awkward conversation he had with a guy on the phone: “How you doing, Frank?” he asked into his cell.  I watched him listen.  “It has been a long time.  Listen,” he said, “I need a place to take a shower.”  Then he waited.  “Yeah a shower.  I’ve been working really hard.”

When you don’t work traditional hours, you’re around a lot of interesting people during the day.  And quickly, you learn where people hang out to escape their house.  I mean, haven’t coffee shops become the place where we go to look for jobs?  When we buy a cup of coffee, aren’t we paying for the free internet access?

Well, what about the library?  Don’t people go there to look for jobs?

The library, man, have you been to a library lately?

When I was in South Florida, I would head down to the library in Miami Beach by my house.  Homeless men would checkout the computers, find a corner, and watch porn.  That was a shock to see.  Then they would run off to the bathroom.  No judgements on them.  Just saying.

And when I was living in Detroit, I used to head to the Royal Oak Library every day to look for work, and it was just, well, me and all the other homeless people in the 313.  Plus, I was there in the beginning of 2008, right when the jimmy-rigged economy imploded.

You might want to know how I knew the people were homeless.  Well, you could tell they were homeless, because they came in with a change of clothes in a plastic bag and would dress in the bathroom.  Later, when I got a job at a YMCA working the front desk, I would see some of these same people from the Royal Oak Library.  They came from a homeless shelter.  And I would sign them in so they could shower.

Yeah, check out that pic of me when I was 21 and working at the YMCA.

It seems almost serendipitous, now, as I write.  I started this post without seeing the connections, basically freewriting, but I’m writing  about moments where I felt lost and without a home.  What the hell was I doing in Detroit?  I was there with Heron.  She was working, but I picked the place, because I wanted writing experience.  In reality, I was just lost.  This is the struggle at the heart of most of my creative work — the quest to find a place to belong.

So it’s strange, being back at a coffee shop named The Library, because I spent days here looking for work on my computer, scavenging through Craigslist and its optic eyes.  But I’m just trying to document this experience.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I’m just going to stay positive, work every day, and believe in something bigger.  Tomorrow I’m heading to Skid Row with some of the Sober College people for some volunteer work, hoping to find a story.  Stay tuned.

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