Lonely, angry, tired, sad, frustrated, scared


The past month has been an extremely intense time for me. I have a room now; something I haven’t had or wanted for years. It’s been nice, being able to stay warm and dry, and of course I am grateful, but at the same time, it is new stress.
I’m not really working right now. I’m starting out on a path of self employment, and it’s been not enough to even pay for simple things, let alone rent. An honorarium for a report I’m helping to write paid this month’s rent and helped me pay back people I borrowed from to pay last months rent. I don’t think I’m going to be able to make February rent, unless I get a real job. I share an apartment with other people who also wonder from time to time if they are going to pay the rent. If I screw up, they suffer too. And that’s extra stress.
I haven’t had a full time job for four years. That was when I worked at the Calgary Drop-In Centre for two years. That job ended with me drinking heavily and almost losing my mind completely. After several weeks where the administration had decided to stop taking in 200 people over capacity every night (meaning I had to turn those 200 away at the door every night.), I snapped, quit, gave up my apartment and took to the road, hitchhiking and camping for almost four years. Eventually I ended up at the Bear Mountain Treesit, where I met dozens of new friends and found myself in a position where being homeless and not having a job was an advantage.
I don’t consider myself mentally ill, not as long as I’m not working. If I try to slave away at some mind numbing, exploitive earth-raping job, I suffer horrible stress and eventually break down in spectacular fashion. So I avoid work, and I avoid the breakdowns. And besides, I consider myself a warrior for the earth and for human rights. There’s not enough time to work for the capitalist system when I spend so much time struggling against it.
I am blessed to call David Arthur Johnston a friend and ally. Look at how he lives. Often I wonder why I continue to compromise my values when people like David are so inspiring. Often I consider giving up my room to go back to the streets. Why? Because I can’t shake this notion of solidarity that tells me I will never be free as long as my brothers and sisters are still without their basic human rights. I know what it’s like. I understand how misunderstood we are. I have seen the apathy. Felt the apathy. Essentially we have to help ourselves, each other, because no one else we do it for us. Middle and upper class people with good hearts have done much to support us, but few understand the severity of what is facing us, few are equipped to do anything at all. That power is ours. We just have to exercise it more.
I try to make the best of my new situation, using phone and internet access to further my activism, but I feel guilty that in this city with such a low vacancy rate, I am the one with a room, when so many people much more in need than me sleep rough. And the stress of having to scrounge for money to pay landlords and phone companies. Look at David, who uses no money. In my heart I know he is right. In my heart I know I am complicit in all that our government does to violate the earth and it’s lifeforms by my very participation in the capitalist system. I miss my friends out at the treesit (I still visit all the time, but never enough). I miss how we live out there. I miss the community and culture we’ve created. I thought I could be of more valuable to that (and other campaigns) by organizing here in the city. Now I’m not so sure.
It angers me terribly that our culture can tolerate the denial of basic human rights to so many people. Last night I damn near yelled at a group of well-meaning citizens at the Committee to End Homelessness because I was so frustrated that there has not been enough action; that as we sip our coffee and debate meeting logistics, people are dying on the streets. It frustrates me terribly that I am so powerless to effect change. It hurts me deeply to go to bed every night knowing I didn’t do enough.
Where am I most useful, here in my warm room forwarding emails, on the street helping distribute food, in the woods fighting urban sprawl, on the steps of the legislature rallying for justice, locked down to the front doors of city hall to protest the city’s depolorable lack of action, out on the streets with Rose and David helping organize tent city, working a job so I can donate money to affordable housing projects, what what what?
truly we need radical direct action. I have been afraid to say what I truly think about all this because I have been a radical activist long enough to know the history of my movement, long enough to know that the louder we are in our support of resistance, the louder we are in our dissent, the more successful we are in organizing against this system, the more we become targets. Look at Tre Arrow, look at Harriet Nahanni, look at Bill Rodgers and the Green Scare defendants. Dissent is becoming criminalized in North America, and those of us who continue to stand up and speak our minds face repression and bogus jail time. Regardless, I have to take on that danger, and try to be as successful as possible. What we need is action, now. The government is not going to give us what we need, so we need to take it. There are empty buildings in this town, and there are families without homes. How do we do this? How do we stand up without being crushed, because we need to stand up taller than we ever have.
I feel very lonely in all this, because so few people understand the crisis we are in. Everyone just goes about their day, not understanding that their house is on fire and their family is burning inside. I feel lonely because the people who want to help me want me to get a job so that I can pay rent. I feel lonely because I am so sad and angry and not very fun to be around most of the time. I feel lonely because I can’t fully explain the pain I feel every day, and I see that most people don’t feel this pain, or choose to numb it with TV and sugar and white bread and coffee and cigs, etc. I feel lonely because I have been unable to express myself, and I’ve been unable to express myself because my involvement in the eco-defence and anti-poverty movement these past years means I am likely under surveilance, or will one day soon be. I feel lonely because the more people hide in their houses, numbing themselves and denying our connection to one another and the earth, the more I feel that connection, the more I am driven outside this culture and away from the people I love.
Ok, so I am rambling now and have given you a lot to read. I just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings and questions. I am at another crossroads in my life, and maybe i am being too hard on myself, but i wonder if i value comfort more than justice. if that is the case, it needs to change, and there may be a room available to rent her for February.

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