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THE HOME(less) SHOWS -- a.k.a., Remember that day....? And why we were there?

jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
edited October 20 in The Porch
Hey, y'all. Thanks for stopping by.

August 8th, 2018....... I woke up early in the morning to watch the sunrise, anticipating the best day ever. When in Rome, do as Romans do. That was my mantra from the moment my eyes peeled open, until the final note of Yellow Ledbetter. I kissed my draksha and tossed it around my neck. Grabbed only what I needed for the day, which included an empty water bottle just in case nature called (because no business establishment in Seattle will let you use their restroom), and then, bolted up toward University Bridge and chased the 42 bus about 400 feet down Eastlake Avenue. She stopped to let me on because she recognized my face and knew that I was not a trouble-maker despite my troubles. She never asked me for fare, and she gave me a full day transfer pass so I could make it to Georgetown Brewery on the light rail. The remainder of this fantastic day was to be DUI-free, not to be ruined by the police or any other authority figure. Simply living life to the fullest in the great Emerald City. Rubber tramping the greatest city trails in America. So the day began with a salute to a warehouse full of kegs.


With beer and brain partially assembled, I headed back to the light rail while sipping on a fresh batch of some supposedly "darn tasty pale." With hints of citrus and grapefruit, I wasn't eagerly impressed with the taste. I prefer a dark stout Guinness over pale ale any day of the week. I could only taste grapefruit mixed with bitter watered-down ale, but I didn't give two shits about how it tasted. I only cared about the awesome vibe I was carrying in my hands....... HEY, y'all!! Anyone wanna try one?! So I stashed one more, squirreled it away underneath my armpit, and gave the rest to some folks at the train station.


 
So y'all might be wondering why nobody is with me. Why are there no other characters in this story yet? It's because I was one of the lucky homeless persons that actually managed to score a ticket to the show. Ironic, huh? A homeless person attending a benefit show for non-profit homeless charities. That's America, y'all. The land of dreams and satirical opportunity. I try not to remind myself of how the merchandise tent resembled a three-ring circus of capitalist fanaticism. The goal was to raise money for charity, not to make sure everybody got a shirt or whatever. So merch was flying off the shelf like Verruca Salt ransacking boxes of Willie Wonka bars in search of The Golden Ticket. It's just that there was no golden ticket to be found. Anyway-- more than 30 million dollars was raised. Mission accomplished. 



I tried not to perceive the growing mob scene through the eyes of eBay resellers and "flippers" because everything they bought was all for charity. Just a few of the out-of-towners didn't seem to understand that locals felt pushed out of their own hometown venue, like bulls on parade. People were trying to round up others to help them MAX out their purchase limit on posters, tee shirts, etc., as locals applauded with shame as each hoarder completed their ten minute shopping spree. So by the time locals showed up for merchandise, most of the posters were already sold out and people were listing them on eBay for $150 or more. Locals rightfully grumbled.

Again, remember I'm just the undercover homeless guy observing the social scene...... no judgements..... no bias..... no interference...... just let humans do what humans do when materials are the object of their affection. The rest of the story writes itself. Trust me.



When it was my turn to step-up to the alter of memorabilia, I kind of kept my head down, knowing that I was not about to purchase thousands of dollars worth of stuff as the fellow and his friend before me had done. No. I was only there to donate what I could, and be grateful for simply doing that much. And so, as I stepped forward, I recited the Buddhist mantra in my head, "Desire leads to suffering. He who foregoes desire will not suffer."

With that in mind, she asked, "How can I help you?" I replied, "I want to donate. But I don't want to be greedy, you know?. Just three stickers, please. One for me, and two for my social services team whom could not be here today because they're too busy being superheroes in other peoples' lives right now." I handed her nine dollars, and she returned the biggest smile after the smallest transaction of the day. My one and only piece of memorabilia from that show.......



Then there was the spooky religious guy parading around the venue shouting thru a megaphone at everybody, demanding they convert. So I pulled him aside and said, "Hey. Look. This isn't a Marilyn Manson show. This is a benefit show for homelessness. What are you doing? You're at the wrong event. This band is more like Jesus than The Xtian Church itself, so stop harassing these good people." He looked at me, dumbfounded, and tried to hand me a pamphlet. So I pulled this out of my pocket....... "I'm about to go to choir practice," I said.



And I tried to invite him to join our experience...... do you have your ticket to heaven? Were you selected to be saved? As I pointed toward the gates-- you must have one of these tickets to pass thru that sacred threshold and enter into Safeco Field. You must RELEASE your ego for ONCE, as your FOOTSTEPS walk the LONG ROAD of life, ALONE, but seemingly ALIVE with purpose and DEEP in thought. So come stroll thru our GARDEN of love, swim in our cosmic OCEAN of karma, come sit on our PORCH, and, as nightfall covers us in BLACK, stay for a while longer. WHY GO home?



As the roof of the stadium retracted and the alpenglow of dusk illuminated the city skyline under a shimmering golden hue, the moment of anticipation was peaking. Soon, after eight months of conscious projections that I would somehow be seated inside of Safeco Field, on what I considered to be "the most pivotal night in the band's history," Pearl Jam would gently introduce themselves to their hometown audience with Long Road and Release. And, as the crowd took over the final chorus of Elderly Woman..... my skin began to shiver with goosebumps and a feeling of oneness with the crowd consumed me. No longer were folks competing for posters and stuff. We were now locked into our true intention and purpose, connected by a common thread of humanity, savoring the moment as it unfolded in front of us, like a lotus flower at sunrise.



And so we settled in, and a chorus of 40K voices overtook the city that night as Eddie led us in unison. A performance so magical that it gives me chills till this very day when I relive the memory of it all through the bootleg. Three hours seemed like three minutes as time faded into relative obscurity. The moment took over. The lights flickered and danced throughout the night sky. And, about every ten minutes or so, Mike would blast-off into another sonic universe, unleashing manic psychedelic guitar solos, while Matt, Jeff, Boom, and Stone anchored the groove with relentless precision. Eddie even made a remark on the second night about how pensive the band was during the first show. But, wow, they were on fire that night.



I don't think anybody at the show detected that I was working through homelessness even though my clothes were ragged. Nobody knew I was living on King County social services and food banks. Nobody understood the irony of my presence in the audience, or how badly I wanted to scream it out loud. How would I confess to 40K people that my life-plan to one day be a biochemistry researcher was failing and the economics were not adding up anymore? All I felt was shame and failure. How would I explain that my soul was compromised from stress and trauma, and it was affecting my ability to function within the normal boundaries of society?



My unwavering pride wouldn't allow the words to come forward. So I kept it a secret until now..... this moment that you're now reading is my confession regarding desperation and homelessness, the experience of it all, as well as, the empathy and compassion one can only find when they hit rock bottom. But, rather than allow the world to stone me to death and lay buried underneath the scars and rubble of the past, I'm here to tell you the truth about homelessness. It can happen to anyone, at anytime. There is no cure for homelessness because it's not a disease. It's a societal disorder, a by-product of a broken capitalist system and a blind-eye society that refers to itself as "first-world and civilized."

Does this look civilized to you? Does this look like first-world to you? No. It doesn't. I looks like third-world in America, "the richest country in the world."

This is a humanitarian crisis and a failure on behalf of our elected officials, leaders, politicians, corporate infrastructure, heartless and unregulated real estate moguls, as well as, those wasteful rocket-launching billionaires who should be locked away for intentionally inflicting poverty upon their less fortunate neighbors. Pay your damn fair share of taxes so people don't have live underneath the highway!! This is f**ked up economics, y'all.



When they showed the montage of the girl who was homeless under the I-5 bridge on Eastlake Ave., I darted my eyes around to see if anyone else in the crowd recognized her face because I certainly did. She was like me, burned out and crashing, plummeting toward the Earth at terminal velocity. I distinctly remember the day when I was walking up the sidewalk while she was sitting under the bridge asking for assistance. People just kept passing and passing, ignoring her pleas for help. And then it happened, she broke down right in front of me and screamed at the top of her lungs, "Please. Will somebody please acknowledge me?! I'm a human-being too!!"

When those words of anguish and desperation reverberated within my own echo-chamber, I stopped dead in my tracks, and turned around not knowing what to do or what to say. I had nothing to give her, no place to shelter her, no food to offer. My words would not be enough to soothe her. It was one of those days when I was not prepared to meet someone else's struggle head-on. So when I turned around, tears started streaming from my eyes as I tried to reconcile this moment in my head. She felt helpless...... so did I. And I could feel her despair from twenty-five feet away. That's how I met her, starring through a cloud of tears because I felt saddened and frustrated on her behalf.



I was buried, she was buried.... and still is likely buried under student debt and crooked capitalism. Railroaded by those who were supposed to be our family, friends, our mentors, our cable tow. I was lost and not wanting to be found anymore. So was she. I was anonymous in Seattle, homogenized within a sea of people who wanted the same thing I wanted....... to end this insanity of homelessness, politically polarized pipe-dreams, and poverty wages. But end it the right way, with more robust humanitarian outreach and less authoritarian displacement.

As the band played on, I didn't scream at the top of my lungs, HELP! HELP!, and cast a light on my own plight and struggle. I air-drummed with Matt, and sang with everybody around me. Forgot about myself for three hours. Forgot about suicide. Forgot about goals. Forgot about seeing myself through the eyes and expectations of others. Forgot about depression. Forgot about a LIFE WASTED. The only words I screamed that night were, "Hey! Eddie! We love you!"



From that day forward-- I always carry a buy-one get-one free coupon for Subway in my wallet. And just like Eddie shared his story about his homeless friend that lived underneath the viaduct, and, how he used to buy him the same sandwich that he would purchase at the sandwich shop in Pioneer Square. His monologue made me reflect on all those cold rainy nights, in Seattle, when people around me couldn't find anything to eat. But I had access to an EBT card that would allow me to make cash transactions. So I'd take my coupon and EBT card to Subway, and feed three people a six-inch meatball sub for the price of feeding myself. I'd give my loose change to the street musicians, hoping others would too. Or buy pet food for homeless people who were taking care of their furry companions. That's how I stumbled across scenes like this one in a little abandoned lot located at 6th Ave. and Denny Way.

A high-rise condo will eventually displace him...... and the piano? Well. It was no longer there in August 2021.



When you see people wandering aimlessly through the alleyways, sifting through dumpsters for their next meal, strung out on heroin or disabled from war, suffering from PTSD, being displaced or worse, and, you're seeing this every single day in one of the most prosperous cities in America......and now you're one of them..... the wretched..... it definitely starts to wear on your mental health and your soul. And, despite being homeless, I still had more resources than most on the street. They didn't have access because of prior criminal records or other  nonsensical red-tape that disqualifies them from assistance. So my heart had to act accordingly, because these people are seriously abandoned. Seriously fucked. No hope. No help.



It wasn't about me anymore. I wasn't alone in this struggle. There are millions of us who are struggling to afford health care, food, shelter, and the basic necessities of technocratic Western life. Some of us will never see the halls of an academic institution or a 401K retirement plan, because we're the stepping stones and social scaffold for those who can afford to turn a blind eye, for those who have political power and bias, and, for those who shame disabled civilians, vets, and elderly folk as worthless tax burdens. 



But even a blind man knows-- you can still search for truth and compassion with your good eye closed. And I don't mind stealing bread from the mouth of decadence..... yeah. But I can't feed on the powerless when my cup is already overfilled. We're (not) going hungry.



Thank you for reading and participating in this pictographic essay about how I woke up one day, and experienced a major paradigm shift in my consciousness. It was the day mindfulness and compassion began to whitewash my ego and selfish desires, and then fate and humility faintly whispered into my ear, "Checkmate, sir. Capitalism is no longer your toxic ambition." 


THE END.
Temple_Of_Belltown
Post edited by jgmoch on

Comments

  • JH6056JH6056 Posts: 2,004
    Wow. I'd just fallen asleep putting my daughter to sleep and came in and thought "No, don't get online, just go to bed now." But something just made me get on anyway, and refresh the Porch, and here you are. My reason for being pulled back to my computer.

    Thank you for telling your story and shining light on SO MANY TRUTHS. Homelessness really can happen to anyone, just like domestic violence and so many other traumas.  It really is essential to pause in the midst of events and situations we THINK we're not taking for granted, and remember just how much we do take for granted or at least how much we don't realize is also going on.

    Thank you for this incredible testimony, poetically & artfully told.

    What is your situation now? How are you?
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    edited October 12
    Hello. Good morning!

    Thank you for those kind words. Thank you for acknowledging me, for validating my existence. Honestly, I was riddled with anxiety about posting this. But after I posted it; a sense of resolve began to manifest inside of my mind. Like, I finally said what's been crushing my chest for years now, causing me hypertension and..... yes.... I eventually had two strokes following a hiking/climbing accident that left me with a bad concussion.

    My homelessness issue was resolved for several months, as I lay bedridden in a hospital under observation and unable to move, speak, or communicate with the outside world. I'd slip in and out of consciousness, waxing and waning between comatose and minimally conscious states. After four rounds of electro convulsive therapy, I was basically a slobbering and lifeless carcass for another ten months, struggling to breath on my own and constantly battling non-epileptic seizures. Then my lungs started filling up with fluid because I couldn't move for so many months. Took about six months to clear out my lungs once nurses got me up-right again.

    Two years later, I still battle ongoing idiopathic seizure disorder, functional neural syndrome, severe anxiety and PTSD, and post-concussion syndrome. But I'm also learning how to walk again (about a half mile is my max distance right now). I've mostly regained my speech and English vocabulary (but foreign languages are still difficult because my voice box dropped from nerve damage). Although I do sometimes brain-freeze, slur words, or stutter. I've relearned how to type just recently, but I still cannot hold a pencil correctly. I can no longer play drums, guitar, or drive a car. Science and research are not yet doable. I'm still relearning how to be patient and organize complex tasks that were once simple and natural, like cooking for myself, teaching biochemistry, and maintaining excellent hygiene. At one point, I had to be hand-bathed everyday by a caretaker. So I've come a long way since August 15th, 2019...... but I'm no where near fully recovered (about 35% recovered thus far). Long, slow and torturous process toward recovery. So I qualified for SSI disability until I'm able to resume a normal life. That's the honest to God truth about my current state of affairs.

    So I'm in out-patient assisted living now, living in North Carolina where I'm able to be with my mom and dad. Despite their age, they go out of their way to help me through this ordeal. I cannot image what the consequences of this injury would be like if they had not come and medically evacuated me out of Seattle. I would have likely died on the sidewalk.

    It's not what I ever dreamed or imagined my life would become. But it's the cards I've been dealt, and, like so many others sitting at the table with a bad hand, I've still got to ante-up and play on.

    If you want to know more, you can reference my previous post, Temple_of_Belltown, where I finally reveal this ordeal to my PJ Ten Club family. Sorry for being gone for so long. I missed all of you.
    Post edited by jgmoch on
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • YAKIMATSUYAKIMATSU ABQPosts: 404
    Wow, just wow.  I was moved emotionally by your story.  Congratulations on letting yourself out there for all to see.  That is very difficult yet very therapeutic. Life is a fucking trip.  I really hope that you continue to get better.  
    I had a brain bleed from multiple concussions 2 years ago and had to have the emergency craniotomy too.  I only had the mini strokes so my after effects weren't nearly as bad as what you experienced.
    The best thing about it was a new found appreciation for life.  Any and all life experiences are truly better than the alternative.  Hey, maybe you have found a new career as a writer.
  • LoujoeLoujoe Posts: 3,299
    Lots of love your way. Thanks for sharing your soul so perfectly with us.
  • mfc2006mfc2006 PDX--->KCPosts: 34,442
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you nothing but the best in your recovery and can't wait for you to enjoy another PJ concert!! 
    I LOVE MUSIC.
    www.cluthelee.com
    www.cluthe.com
  • mfc2006 said:
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you nothing but the best in your recovery and can't wait for you to enjoy another PJ concert!! 
    Absolutely. Hoping for a ton of views on this one too. 
    www.cluthelee.com
  • VikkivaleVikkivale Los Angeles, CAPosts: 196
    Wow, that was very powerful and moving. Thanks so much for sharing @jgmoch. Wishing you better future days! 
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    edited October 14
    YAKIMATSU said:
    Wow, just wow.  I was moved emotionally by your story.  Congratulations on letting yourself out there for all to see.  That is very difficult yet very therapeutic. Life is a fucking trip.  I really hope that you continue to get better.  
    I had a brain bleed from multiple concussions 2 years ago and had to have the emergency craniotomy too.  I only had the mini strokes so my after effects weren't nearly as bad as what you experienced.
    The best thing about it was a new found appreciation for life.  Any and all life experiences are truly better than the alternative.  Hey, maybe you have found a new career as a writer.
    Thank you for your words of encouragement and for reaching out. Yeah-- past 27 months has been a crazy experience. I'm sure your recovery was no picnic either. Sometimes don't know how to put it into words, and then, all of a sudden, a post like that comes out like a flash flood. I've compared this stage of my life to this --- it's like trying to fly a kite through the eye-wall of a hurricane. You keep holding on for dear life, hoping it won't drag you out to sea..... but, what you're really wanting, hoping and waiting for, is for a compassionate person to cut loose the line before you drown.
    Post edited by jgmoch on
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    Loujoe said:
    Lots of love your way. Thanks for sharing your soul so perfectly with us.
    Lots of love your way. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. 
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • LoujoeLoujoe Posts: 3,299
     B) 
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    mfc2006 said:
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you nothing but the best in your recovery and can't wait for you to enjoy another PJ concert!! 
    Thank you for taking time to read and respond. I wish you and your loved ones nothing but the best, as well. Can't wait to see y'all at a show some time in the (hopefully) near future. 
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    mfc2006 said:
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you nothing but the best in your recovery and can't wait for you to enjoy another PJ concert!! 
    Absolutely. Hoping for a ton of views on this one too. 
    Thank you for stopping by to read both posts, this one and the previous one. I appreciate your words of encouragement. Confidence is contagious. 
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    Vikkivale said:
    Wow, that was very powerful and moving. Thanks so much for sharing @jgmoch. Wishing you better future days! 
    Thank you for stopping by and for reading, Vikkivale. I often don't know what I'm saying in these moments..... speaking truth often times feels like walking through life in a drunken haze. These are wtf moments. Moments of confusion and psychological disorientation. Once an essay pops out, I feel hungover with emotional scars for about two or three days. So every reader counts. Every reader makes the effort worthwhile.
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    As of today, whatever today's date is.... my God, I'm losing it.

    Anyway-- because of OCD and other forms of mental interference-- it took me a couple of days to actually finish this essay, including all edits and proof-reading, etc. I typically write and edit in real time. So if you feel like you may have enjoyed the essay, but felt like some of the transitions between scenes were missing (or incomplete), then I invite you to reread the latest and most complete version, "The Author's Edition," including bonus, previously unreleased pictographs and original commentary.
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    edited October 14
    Gonna save you fucker, not gonna lose you
    Feeling cocky and strong, can't let you go,
    Too important to me
    Too important to us, we'd be lost without you
    Baby, let yourself fall, I'm right below you now

    And fuck me if I say something you don't want to hear
    And fuck if you only hear what you want to hear
    Fuck me if I care, but I'm not leaving here

    You helped me when I was down, I'll help when you're down
    Why are you hitting yourself, c'mon hit me instead
    Let's pick up your will, it's grown fat and lazy
    I'm sympathetic as well, don't go on me now

    And I'm not living this life without you, I'm selfish and clear
    And you're not leaving here without me, I don't want to be without
    My best friend, wake up to see you could have it all

    Cause there is but you, and something within you
    It's taken control, let's beat it, get up let's go
    Oh you're in your own world, let's see the whole world
    Let's pick up your soul

    And fuck me if I say something you don't want to hear
    And fuck me if you only hear the treble in your head

    Please help, me, to help you, help yourself

    Help me help yourself, please want me to, please let me to

    Help you
    Post edited by jgmoch on
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • Go BeaversGo Beavers Posts: 7,363
    This is the most powerful writing I’ve ever read in here (as well as many other sites). Your honesty and strength is impressive and admirable. Thank you for sharing your story. 
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    This is the most powerful writing I’ve ever read in here (as well as many other sites). Your honesty and strength is impressive and admirable. Thank you for sharing your story. 
    Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read and interact. Again, everyone of you makes the effort worthwhile, makes the life-experience seem less personally tragic and more socially relevant, and, makes light penetrate within the dark crevices of a candidly broken soul. Much love.
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • LoujoeLoujoe Posts: 3,299
    Bump to the top. Maybe sticky this for a few weeks @Sea @Kat
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    Loujoe said:
    Bump to the top. Maybe sticky this for a few weeks @Sea @Kat
    Thank you for the bump, Loujoe. Much love.
    Temple_Of_Belltown
  • jgmochjgmoch Fayetteville, NCPosts: 37
    Be well, y'all.

    I appreciate all of you, but I don't want to keep bumping this post if folks are spent on it. The more I read what I wrote, the more it bums me out. So I understand if people don't want to mess with this topic anymore. No matter how inspirational or informative, or not; homelessness is simply a difficult topic to stomach if you've never experienced it. This post wasn't written to candy-coat or mince words with regard to growing economic disparity and poverty in America. It was written to make sheltered and well-off people stop and think for one second about something besides themselves.

    And, what I've recognized in the TC family; there are two types of PJ fans....... those who share similar philanthropic and charitable values, and those who couldn't careless about anything but scoring tickets to the next show, buying the next poster, and leaving behind a global carbon footprint. Real social issues take a backseat to those who can afford VIP packages and pray to digital distractions.

    Sincerely,

    John
    Temple_Of_Belltown
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