Author: Gregory Patrick

A mad man who writes books, knits, and deals with the daily dilemmas of living 20 miles from nothing...I'm not kidding.

“We need $80 Million Dollars, and Here’s Why….”

I overheard two politicians in a debate this morning. I was over in my corner knitting, Phillip had just woke and had turned on the television. He scans the morning news while sipping his coffee. I have long since given up on local news. It really is nothing more than a long police blotter. “Police are searching,” “Investigators are looking into,” “Authorities believe a suspect….” You catch my drift.

He happened to stop on a channel that was broadcasting a debate between two local politicians discussing the homeless problem in Orlando. And yes, Orlando’s homeless problem has accelerated in the last few years.. (The reason may surprise you: weather).

But, my ears perked up when I heard the question being posed. “What do we do to help the homeless population in Orlando?” And I could do nothing but roll my eyes and decry “FOWL!” when I heard one politician say, “Well, we need $80 million dollars, and here’s why….We need to build more affordable housing, we need more places for them to live.”

Are you for real? No, of course he isn’t, because like many people he doesn’t understand the homeless problem, no more than anyone of you might. I can’t speak on expertise on this field, but I can speak from experience, which carries a helluva lot more weight than philosophical theory.

The first mistake people make is thinking that homelessness is a situation. That is incorrect. Homelessness is the RESULT of a situation, and many can be categorized into three distinct groups Mentally ill, substance abusers, and just plain broke.

You will never EVER solve this problem. EVER. And you certainly won’t put a dent into the homeless problem as long as you take a “one size fits all” approach. We need $80 million dollars to build places for them to live. Two of those groups won’t even show up. You know there will be rules. No drinking. Boom. Substance abusers will not come. Most of the mentally are unaware they are even homeless. You’re asking people who do not have a handle on reality to find a moment of clarity and make sound decisions that will better their lives. If they could do that, then their issues of mental illness wouldn’t be such a problem. And I guarantee that these $80 million dollar places to live wouldn’t be equipped with mental health professionals. They may just be filled with social workers moving the “just plain broke” into more programs to help justify the reasoning behind such a ridiculous amount of money.

In truth, the only people that would show up WOULD be the “just plain broke,” granted they were given some respect. They just want work. And I do so love people that scream, “GET A JOB!” out of their windows as they drive by. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a job in the 21st century when you don’t have a valid license, a working phone, a permanent address, or even access to the internet? Do you know how many people apply for work these days to a potential job, in person, only to be told, “We only accept applications online???”

Yes, some of the more ambitious ones will head to a place like the library, will themselves to work through a computer, and make it work. They will survive, if only in the meantime, they have a place to get clean, to rest up, and cook some food before heading back to the library to hope someone has sent them an email requesting an interview. The rest? The ones who show up in person with a pen asking to fill out an application? God only knows how deeper and darker their lives will end up…or even worse, how much longer they will be alive. Desperation can kill a man quicker than hunger.

When I was homeless I never went to the shelter. Never. Because everyone I ever came into contact with said the same thing, “You’re safer going to jail.”

The sad thing is, I don’t have a solution. Better minds will come up with one. However, I will take an adamant stance and say we cannot, will never, come to a reasonable solution to the homeless situation as long as we group them as “the homeless population,” for each of those people, each of us, has a different story; until we realize that each person has a different situation. We have got to stop, STOP categorizing them as a “group” and start treating them as people, with names, with lives. These are people who, for usually one of those three reasons, is out there hungry, collectively shamed, and nameless.

So, let’s start there. Let us really, truly, start by understanding that each of them has a unique problem that needs to be addressed and assessed before they can get help. How they get help? I don’t know. But, I am quite certain that if we start recognizing the homeless as individuals rather than a group, then maybe we can find a definite, compassionate, reasonable solution that does not violate their humanity. Ask churches and missions that run shelters the truth, they’ll tell you it is exceptionally hard, and rules are put in place because each of them requires an individual approach to what hurts them.

I dismiss your need for $80 million dollars and here’s why: you obviously haven’t been homeless, nor have you met someone who is, or ever was. You might have the right intentions. Your heart may in the right place…..but, you made the same mistake so many people do. You saw the person in the problem, rather than the problem in the person. And until the homeless are thought of as individuals and not a “population,” we’ll never fix this.

 

 

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Don’t Fear Having Fun

And so it seems the internet loves, JUST LOVES to take your fun away from you sometimes. Doesn’t it? Well, after having battled an illness that nearly took me as it’s bride, Phillip and I love being flippant right now. We can’t take everything too seriously. We find better pleasure in the laughable, giggling rapport that we have come to adore.

You’ll find a lot more laughter around this house. You’ll find a lot more squashing of burdensome negativity within these walls, and most definitely find love in who we are, as we are, when we are.

It really is so strange to me that you have to apologize for having fun these days. No one has a sense of humor. No one just sits back, cracks a laugh and takes it on the chin. Everything you say is monitored for offense, to someone, somehow, somewhere, waiting at their keyboards to be a warrior in defense of whomever you might have demolished with your poison pen. One single fart can ruin everyone’s good time at a party.

But, never fear having fun. When you have a public presence, you are constantly on edge, because your career can be shredded to pieces at a moment’s notice for something you might have said. And living on that hypertensive, anxiety filled, fake smiled edge will hurt you more than anything some keyboard warrior might ever want to destroy you for. They come into the argument with a need to silence, a reason to boycott you, a desire to rid the world of your….fun.

Who cares, right? Who truly cares what total strangers think about you. Focus on your fun, and your loved ones. Some random comments from faraway fools shouldn’t ruin your frolicking through the sun. And it won’t ruin ours, either.

Like I said, I was in pain for so long, and was nearly gone, and I TRULY am enjoying  myself with vibrant smiles and ridiculous endeavors. Who can blame me?

Phillip and I started up our show again because it was fun. We had shut it down for some reasons, and you can hear why if you watch it. Click here if you’d like to take a look. Couldn’t hurt. And you do get to see me live, in the flesh, so happy to be alive that I smile far too much, behave overly anxious, and get giddy.

Now, go have fun today. Screw what the internet thinks….

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Suffering Under Singhaus

Marcy Singhaus was viciously cruel to me. She was vile and unapologetic. She didn’t care about my feelings. She didn’t care about my “story.” I felt she was evil and cruel….until I realized she was protecting me.

Let’s get retrospective. Come back with me to the early 90’s. I had just arrived in Orlando from having lived many years in Berlin, a gorgeous little boy toy, bright red hair, full of myself and ready to take on the world. I was vivacious, bisexual, potty mouthed and arrogant. And though these qualities may have enamored many in Europe, they did not translate well in Orlando.

I bopped around this new American scene making a name for myself being witty and “delicious.” Worked my way through the social stratosphere with a cunning need to be Madonna. I was provocative, in your face, dirty and raw. And the first time I met Marcy Singhaus she said to me quickly, sharply, “You’re a fake. A fraud. Nothing about you is real. Give it up, princess.”

I think we were at Southern Knights (or Nights, can’t quite remember), one of the most popular gay bars at that time. The worst part about the episode was that it was one of those moments where I had gathered a gaggle of gays to be my entourage, whisked them up to the damned drink hole, whispering all the while, “They  know me here. I’m famous here,” only to be told that in front of what I thought were aspiring little Gregory Patricks, that I was a fraud.

I sulked in the corner, adamantly proclaiming that she was nothing more than a poor man’s Shirley Maclaine. And how did she get so famous anyway? I mean, who even knew why people bowed to her when she walked in the room?

I got no sympathy from alleged entourage. They quietly walked away from me….

She was more important, more powerful than this wistful twit who thought he was something special…with nothing to really show for it.

But it didn’t end there. No matter where I went, if she was there, she chided me, scolded me, berated me. She needled me to the point of truth.

She was the first person to ever go, “You’re a piece of shit because you’re lying about who you are. And I won’t tolerate it.”

Let me tell you a little something about being gay in my generation. This current flock? These kids now? Ridiculous. Each and everyone a victim of the “social injustices” placed on them. That’s a crock pot of crap if I ever saw it.

See, back then, if you were a young gay man just coming into himself (ok, that sounds dirty the way its written, but….clear your minds), if you had just come on the scene, the one thing you really needed was someone to tear you down. You were lucky if you had a giant drag queen, or a Marcy, to give you a shaking up, a quick thump to the ego, a smack upside the head. You were torn down for a reason: to give you thicker skin, so you could handle the slings and arrows of what the “straight” world threw at you.

That berating was done to toughen you up so that once the “straight” world caught hold of you, you could handle yourself. Consider it “gay boot camp.” And Marcy was my drill sergeant.

And things did change in me. I became less presenting, more aware. No matter where I went, she was there. I’d like to think its because she cared. Maybe she liked me, really. I don’t know. We were never friends. She never invited me to a cocktail. But, she was so right. At that time in my life I had no idea who I was. She whipped that arrogant shit out of me quicker than a beat egg for all my little followers to see. “You…ARE A FRAUD.”

But, 20 years later, just recently, I saw her in Target. I coyly walked up to her and said quite naively, and a touch nervously, “Marcy? Hi! I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Gregory. Gregory Patrick.”

She did that “up and down” look that divas do. From my head to my shoes, then back up again. “Oh, yes. I remember. THAT one.” She said it with such displeasure, such disdain….”So, how ARE you?”

I did the quick recap. Knitting. Knitting. Knitting. “As a matter of fact, I knit this jacket I’m wearing.” Oh, you should see it sometime. A Cambridge cardigan. Zipper up the front. High ribbed collar. HOT.

She batted her lashes, took a closer look at my work and pulled back. Her face softened. Her eyes became less perilous. “You knit this?”

“Yeah.”

She became to feel the fabric, tugged on the collar…and then the most miraculous thing happened. She smiled. It was the first time she had ever smiled at me. “That’s……wow, really good work.”

“I just wanted to say thank you….for being so hard on me. You snapped me out of stupidity.”

Still smiling she said, “Somebody had to do it.” Then looking at my sweater for a moment or two more, she leaned in and said, “You did good, kid. I know who you are. You did good.”

You just never know of the impact you have on someone else’s life. She really did help thicken my skin, make me more reflective. “YOU ARE A FRAUD,” she said. And she was right. Can you imagine what my life had been had I not met her? Instead of enjoying the beauty of who I am, I would probably still be trying to be someone else…..

Thank you, Marcy. You did good, too 🙂

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The Hounds of Weird and Unusual

“That chick is nuttier than squirrel poop,” he said. Say what??? WHAT? Whenever I put on some Kate Bush while I’m working Phillip seems to suddenly find the need for his headphones. He listens to all kinds of music, varying sorts of music, eccentric sorts of music. But, for some reason he just cannot come to terms with my fascination with Kate Bush.

I love her. I find her as weird as I am. Another crazy to wave at in the endless pool of people drowning in a sea of normal. I was knitting a hound dog while knitting to Kate Bush.

Ok, wait. Let’s back up. I was in the mood to listen to Kate Bush, didn’t say a word, put some of her work on and suddenly Phillip was like, “REALLY????? REALLY????? No! NO NO NO!” He grabbed his headphones so he could avoid it. Ah, well. I imagine I do the same thing when he plays his “whiny guy with an acoustic guitar” music. (I really hate those guys. So sensitive, so full of shit, really). I mean, that might be rude, but I like musicians, artists, crafters, makers who are on the edge, who are over there, who aren’t two-a-penny. I like them weird, unusual.

So, in homage to Kate Bush, I knit up a hound. I called him, “Hounds of Love,” and not just in homage to Kate Bush, but to anyone who is weird and unusual. If you’d like to adopt him, click here. There is only one, as I think the weird and unusual should be.

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We’ll Go For Battery But Not For Broke

You all know one of the great ways to handle life: reaction. Like great minds have always mentioned, there are some things in life you cannot control, but you can control how you react to those situations. Much like the idea of the Serenity prayer; know what you can and CANNOT control, and knowing that if you can’t do something about it, then why get into such a tizzy? Why stress yourself out over things that are beyond your control?

Even the Buddhists have something of an axiom (and I’m paraphrasing here), but if worrying accomplishes nothing…..then why worry?

We took the battery from the yarn truck up to Advanced Auto, where they charge them for free. “Come back in an hour,” they said. Do you have any idea how grateful we are that we live pretty much 2 blocks from anything we need? That was, after all, the biggest reason we chose this apartment three years ago when we didn’t have transportation to begin with.

An hour later we headed back to retrieve the battery only to be told that this sad, antique thing, that had given its last year of it’s life to our service was just dead. The mechanic showed us a printout how it had been slowly, hopefully trying to bring itself back to life, alas, only to finally taken off life support. Slow curtain, the end, as they say. He gave us back the battery and said we could use it towards the purchase of a new one.

Well, hell…..Who knew batteries were so expensive? I mean, REALLY expensive. More than I thought was necessary for a galloping old bucket of bolts that is almost as old as we are. Seriously, I’m thinking of throwing the yarn truck a party for its 40th birthday.

We came home with the carcass, discussed and made the right decision I think anyone should in these situations. I’ll knit something to come up with the difference of what we have towards the cost of the battery. Done. I knit up this delicious elephant in “chocolate.” Hints of teal and creme accent his tusk, hooves, and tail. While I knit him up, Phillip was diligently looking around on the web for comparative prices for batteries for the yarn truck. They’re all pretty much the same. Then we came up with the smartest resolution to this situation. We’ll sell the elephant for the remainder of what is needed for the battery. If the battery isn’t the problem with the yarn truck, and it still won’t turn over and run, then we’ll let it sit quietly in front of our apartment and focus on other things. We won’t spend too much time and money worrying about it, if we can still function.

In other words, we’re not going to stress it right now. It would be an unnecessary stress, when there are so many other things we can focus our time and limited cash flow on. But, we should at least try getting the battery to see if this the problem. If the battery isn’t the problem, then oh well? Right? I mean, we have really weathered some nasty stuff this last year, we’re not going to let (of all things) the death of the yarn truck keep us from being happy. That really is a little thing in comparison.

So, we’ll go for battery….but, we won’t go for broke. Chin up. Optimism may prevail. The battery may be just what we need to get the truck up and going again. And if the battery isn’t the problem? Then chin up! We at least gave it a try.

If you’d like to adopt the elephant, click here. I was up all night working him up. Adorable, I tell you. And there is only one. He’ll help us get our battery.

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Hold Tight, Little Elephant

There is a great Kate Bush song that I absolutely love. “Cloudbusting.” One of the best parts of the song is when she sings, “Oh, I just know that something good is gonna happen. I don’t know when, but just sayin’ it could even make it happen…..”

Phillip and I sat here tonight, giddy with excitement. Good things are just around the corner, like the dawn creeping slowly to show itself. So slowly, but so close and apparent. And we couldn’t resist saying to ourselves, “Something good is gonna happen.” You can’t help but think, it is so true. If you just SAY it, it can happen. And it really is about to. After a long and dismal time, everything is so close to being back to right.

The dark days are just about over. One more dawn before the dark days are gone. Light will fill our lives again, and we just couldn’t help but sit here this evening and be excited about the possibilities. I finished this elephant, held him tight and said, “You’re helping me get that last ray of light over the trees, you’re going to help push that last shadow out of our way. Hold tight, little elephant. We’re almost there.”

I can’t wait to tell you what happens at dawn. I can’t wait to write my next post. And this little elephant is the final piece of what we’ve been working on for so long….

You can click here to adopt the elephant. Only one is available.

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A Beautiful, Wonderful “Normal”

The whole ordeal just devastated Phillip, just wiped him out. Oh, he was a trooper through it, but after some time, he hit the wall and went “SPLAT!”

Granted, he and the fellas did start on getting the yarn truck working much later than they wanted, they still toiled through the heat, covered in grease, covered in good times, and some disappointments. They worked for an hour….that didn’t work. They tried something else for another hour. That didn’t work very well either. And finally I came out to check on them, see if they needed water or anything, and there was the yarn truck, jacked as high as you could get it, my husband under the shaky thing helping to pull out the entire gas tank. Oh, lord.

Nearly 8 hours later the yarn truck still wasn’t working, and there they were, the three of them giving up as darkness fell in. They couldn’t work any more without light so they handed in the towel for the day. After a little bit of resting, everyone went their ways, and I was left with my very tired husband sitting on the concrete beaming from ear to ear. You would think that not getting the truck working would have him somewhat sad, a little worried, but oh, no. Not my Phillip. No, that beautiful man said that he had the best time working on the truck, getting greasy, hanging out with the guys. Apparently, with not that much mechanical experience, Phillip’s job was “brute strength.” He had a great time. And for that I am so grateful. We had a long shower, had the last of the chili for dinner then went to watch one of his “superhero” movies…..before too long, he was a wiped out mess, a sleeping savior of some sort, content with his world, resting peacefully, accomplishing enjoyment.

So now its 5am, he’s still fast asleep, of course, and he’ll probably sleep until noon and he deserves it. Now, its my turn to work. We need some more parts for the truck, so we need to sell the afghan or the bear and blanket set. They’re going to try and get back to it today, so I’d like to sell them as quick as possible. Rent paid, loan paid off, food in the fridge, bills paid, everything we need for now. My health is getting back to normal, I’m gaining weight (painfully) slowly, and a simple pound at a time. Life is getting back to a beautiful and wonderful normal. With the yarn truck working, we will finally be back at springboard stage, right back at a good place to start afresh, standing side by side and finally have our lives back to normal and steady.

I look forward to that, I really do. You can find the “bear and blanket” set here or the retro afghan in our shop here.

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