21st Century Box

I come in a 20th century box. This blog for example. I’m my only follower, I think. I was starting this wordpress blog and following prompt after prompt, uploading photos here and there, and accidentally became my one and only subscriber. Cool!

This must be what you call self-respect. I wish more politicians had it. It means you believe what you say and do what you believe is right. And it isn’t easy because there aren’t many examples of self-respect. Certainly a person with 100% self-respect is rare. If you have 100% self-respect, the wisdom goes, you’re missing significant humility.

But this world respects the middle-dweller; the person who accepts his or her own flaws, forgives him or herself, and asks forgiveness of others, and asks to continue on his or her path, with thanks.

What to do or say when one has found respite? Tonight is such a night. I delivered a nice salad to Rose, and she was tucked into bed watching Netflix, comfy. Why should I be satisfied when my kid is watching the boob-tube? Because it means she can relax. If The Best Years of Our Lives was on Netflix I’d be curled up in bed watching it tonight, but since it isn’t a book will suffice.

I have a home, fortunately. Some people, a lot of people, don’t. Yesterday I stood on the grass in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse and held up a little sign that said, “Today is Homeless Eviction Day.” It referred to the policy the City of Eureka came up with to get rid of the encampment that formed after they evicted the encampment in the Palco Marsh. Now these houseless folks have nowhere safe to go, and they face arrest for existing. I learned yesterday, while demonstrating, that Attorney Peter Martin has taken the City of Eureka to Federal Court over this, and expects to win, because the City of Eureka is in the habit of robbing its citizens of their constitutional rights, and has done so in the case of the Palco Marsh eviction.

I went to the Eureka City Council meeting the evening of the Palco Marsh eviction, on May 2. May was Mental Health Awareness Month. If we didn’t know it beforehand, one of the council members reminded us, smartly placing an apple-green thermos next to her name plate, declaring that her thermos conformed to the color of Mental Health Awareness Month, which was lime green. When a government employee tells me apple green is lime green I know other misperceptions are likely. Indeed, this same council member, a moment later, assured us there was no stigma attached to mental illness.

Now I know this isn’t true. Any mental patient will tell you that. In fact, the minute you admit to being mentally ill (that includes being mentally injured), you know you’re going to be treated differently, as if you are weaker, stupider, less deserving of respectful treatment, less deserving of housing. Mental illness and homelessness go together like poverty and criminality, and they all wind up ostracized, scapegoated, branded.

The ones who don’t admit to being mentally ill are running for president, staffing the Board of Supervisors, Congress, the Armed Forces, the Eureka City Council, most non-profits, most corporations, hospitals, universities, newspapers, and so on.

The message: Don’t admit you have mental health problems or you will wind up like the miserable people on the street tonight, sleeping in a cardboard box.


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