Homeless 366, Overview:
I do not plan on driving much. I will use my bicycle and public transit for most of my travels. I debated using the car or truck at all, but opted to use them, since many unhoused people have cars. There will also may be times where I have to sleep in my vehicles in the cold winter.
I will sleep in the street, in the woods, in shelters, at other people’s homes, in homeless encampments… I will access as many resources as possible and document everything in the resource spreadsheet. I will also give reviews of the people and services.
I will be interviewing many people. Some of these people will be living in the street. I will interview people that work in addiction and homelessness and mental health service. I will interview officials and politicians. And I will interview many other people from different walks of life.
I will help people in any way I can. I will help people get addiction treatment. I will also help people locate missing family members. If I come across stray animals I will help them as well. I will be showing kindness and love to humanity, while at the same time being honest and doing the best to defend and protect myself. I will explain how it feels to be homeless and destitute. Although, my circumstances will never be as bad as some of the people I encounter, because I am choosing to be homeless.
Content plays a huge role in this undertaking. I will record as much as I can within legal boundaries. Information will be disseminated across multiple social media platforms, and I will work towards displaying information in a chronological fashion.
My goal is to educate, and expose truths. There’s good and bad in all walks of life. It is not my intention to exploit or degrade anybody. I’ll be looking for what is broken and I will also be looking for the good. In actually showing what life is like in the streets, and seeing where the problems lie, you can all learn or take an active stance (if you so choose) and help find solutions. All platforms will be open to commentary and participation.
I have a feeling this project will be emotionally and physically taxing. I plan on outlining what homelessness feels like for me in my videos and writing. I’m sure I will garnish much support as well as hateration. I welcome it all, and do not plan on sensoring, as long as people use their real profiles and reveal their identity. All bots, trolls, and fake profiles can and will be restricted.
Here are lists of things, places, resources, activities, and platforms of this project 👇
- Hiking Pack
- Sleeping bag
- Swiss army knife
- Walking stick
- Bike bag
- 2 phones
- Recording stands
- Vitamin C 1000 milligrams
- Parachute cord
- Rain poncho
- Racquet balls
- Note book
- Grappling Hook
12 topics to be covered over my time homeless:
- Mental Illness
- Healthcare/Social Services
- Harm Reduction
- Sex Trade
- Crime and Punishment
- Street Culture
- What’s Next….
Shelters and Resources
- Community Centers
- Town Hall/Civic centers
- Active and Fit Gyms
- Rivers fronts
- Churches/Religious Places
- Friends and supporters
- Soup kitchens
- Homeless encampments
Cities of Interest:
- New Bedford
- Fall River
- Live shows
- Street Art
- Help people get treatment
- Investigative reporting
- Share Kindness and Love
- Help find missing people in the street
- Describe how it feels to be homeless
- Access social services and homeless resources
- Play Handball
- Play Ultimate Frisbee
- Explore new activities and experiences
- Adopt a stray dog and cat as companions
- Help stray animals find homes
8/2/23 THE PROJECT
This project idea came to me about a year ago while working on Tiffany’s Recovery Inc. the Nonprofit I started with some friends and a pro bono Lawyer about 3 years ago. Tiffany’s Recovery Inc., aka TRI Recovery, was created to improve service and resource sharing for Recovery Resources, which was mainly meetings, activities, and events for people in recovery. Given how difficult it is for people to recover from substance use disorders I figured the more options, and access to options, the better.
When Tiffany’s Recovery Inc. officially got incorporated, I was working as a Lead Recovery Coach for the In Home Addiction Treatment Company Aware Recovery Care. Resource brokering was a big part of my job.
It is very difficult for people to break deeply ingrained behaviors. Addiction is a behavior that causes serious problems to people’s mental and physical health, to the lives of the people that care about them, and to society in general. Addictive behavior will most often develop when a strong psychological reward is attached to an act. Rewards come in the form of: euphoria, escaping problems or responsibility, neutralizing negative emotions, increasing social confidence or social connectedness.
I’ve heard it mentioned that Substance Use Disorders can be traced to trauma in people’s lives. I do not believe Trauma is always the root cause for addiction, although it is a major factor, and plays a major role in most cases. The fact is SUD can develop without significant trauma being present. I have encountered many cases where people developed SUD from experimental or recreational use, SUD develops from boredom, SUD also mimics a relationship in our mind (the old friend, the toxic love). It’s also important to take into consideration that every human being experiences life differently, so the trauma origin theory is very hard to gauge and verify in all cases. The repercussions of having Substance Use Disorder in itself can create trauma, which can cause someone to continue using, creating a self feeding cycle.
I think it’s important to have an open mind when dealing with SUD, along with other Mental Illnesses, and avoid Confirmation bias as much as possible. The way we do this is to ask probing questions into people’s behavioral reasoning, and also ask questions about a person’s history in an effort to discover possible subconscious causes for accumulated behavioral patterns.
THE AHA MOMENT
The Aha moment came after constantly being reminded about how socially misunderstood SUD is, and also how shortsighted our policies are at finding long-term solutions for this problem. What I also saw was a large portion of the homelessness and housing insecurity in Massachusetts is fueled or exasperated by some form of addiction.
Recovery from addiction is an internal process. A person must come to a conclusion that they no longer want to suffer from the addiction, make a conscious effort to change, and work towards maintaining freedom from the addiction. With the many services in Massachusetts, including the justice system, we noticed each service’s solution fell somewhere on a spectrum.
The problem was that for care to be effective in helping people overcome addiction it should fall in the center of this metric, and care should be consistent enough to account for the amount of time it takes for a person to change behavior. Many services are short-lived. People are tossed from one person or place to another causing a broken continuum of care. This type of system leaves people dejected and demoralized causing them to just accept the condition of their life.
Effective Care needs to take into account the importance of the influence needed to affect internal transformation in people. You can’t just give people whatever they want and hope their behavior changes, that actually prolongs behavior. It’s also unproductive to hurt people so badly that they are hateful and untrusting of other human beings and society so that they act out destructively on themselves and/or others.
What we saw was that many of the addiction, justice, and social service providers would fall on either end of the spectrum above. Enablers give people the means to continue in their current situation. Punishers aggravate people causing them to dig-in and continue their behaviors out of spite and/or helplessness. The most effective solution, placed in the middle and labeled Healing, consists of making a problematic behavior uncomfortable enough to not be worth engaging in, while offering the support and resources that fulfill human needs, provide support, promote inner growth, and foster psychological development.
Society is up against a wall now that fentanyl is on the scene. A cheap, powerful and extremely addictive form of synthetic opioid, this new heroin, has flooded our market and completely taken over. It’s said that all street opioid products are fentanyl, and fentanyl comes in many forms: pill, powder, pressed into other drugs, in cocaine, etc… and can be consumed through any route: smoked, sniffed, ingested, and injected.
We have seen unprecedented overdoses and addiction treatment spending over the last 13 years. Homelessness is rampant, and new policies allow for intravenous drug use in our streets. As a nonprofit I networked around asking questions and trying to figure out how a united front of charities could work together to combat this growing epidemic, and was stonewalled time and time again. What I found is many charities segregate in bubbles, and compete for funding. This isn’t a unified fight, it is a playing field with many different ideologies, services, providers, civilians, and professionals trying to fill a need of the suffering.
The charity market is heavy on the material needs offerings: food, clothes, shelters (although with so many shelters they are often full), hygiene products…
The state provides free healthcare, which includes many medicines for addiction, many of those medicines being just as addictive as the street version they’re meant to cure (more on this later). There are also state, private, and nonprofit places where people can gain access to Homelessness services or addiction recovery services such as recovery centers, drug treatment centers, drop in centers, and I’ll group AA and NA in as nonprofit Addiction/Recovery providers, there’s more options than I can list now……. And therein lies the conundrum, I realized I would never be able to understand it all, what’s working, what’s not working??? I had to live it!!! Who the funk am I to connect with and help others who are suffering from the comfort of my home? So much spaghetti is getting thrown at the wall to find solutions for these problems, there’s no way I could possibly take a side. I forgot to mention the rampant corruption and waste 🤯.
I decided funk that, the only way to effect change is to live it, write it, record it, document it, and share what I find with the public!!!
The only way to get to the bottom of Addiction, Mental Illnesses, and homelessness in Massachusetts is to be homeless for a year.
8/3/23 ON A PERSONAL NOTE
Helping others is a wonderful feeling, but knowing that the systems I operate within are broken, and that the disorders I treat are heavily influenced by the society we live in, has left me feeling defeated. It’s like pushing shit to stem the incoming tide. There is an overwhelming underlying feeling of dissatisfaction that permeates my being.
I have no children, I have very little fiscal burden, and yet I choose to be told what to do by people that would throw me out of the life raft for more space to spread their arms. I opt for personal and creative freedom. Freedom is not having to do what others tell you to do because you fear losing your money, possessions, security, comfort, or place in society. Freedom is also fearlessly and ethically doing what I feel is right, and being able to use my skills and abilities without being restricted in any way, this is my opinion.
Our ancestors had to survive in the wilderness long before we became civilized. Our brains are hardwired for that kind of life. We’ve been told the best way to live is a safe monotonous life. I challenge this.
I’m sure I will find many in my travels who also challenge authority and the status quo. Don’t confuse what I say, I love civilized society, and I am a huge proponent of scientific and technological advancement. It is science and technology that will allow me to document and share this primal experience. Bridging all facets of human experience, by using modern means of expression is the ultimate artistic form to me. Laying bare the truths we’d rather not look at is the most important work. Truth is the cornerstone of all human development. At times we sacrifice our comfort for a calling. This is one of those situations for me.
On the surface my life is successful. I work 2 remote jobs, make close to $100,000 a year. The work is easy, and I can just coast, save money, while helping a few people along the way. This is what I thought I wanted.
What I find is I over eat, I’m bored, I’m disillusioned, it feels like I’m sitting in Death’s waiting room.
One important personal goal of this project is to figure out what I truly want to do with my mind and life. Who are we? How much of us is what we believe we should be to fit in, opposed to what we could be if we chose to challenge ourselves and the “norms” that confine us.
This project is called “Homeless 366,” Since it is a leap year. I will remain completely abstinent from mind alternating substances during this project. A sober mind can excel. An intoxicated mind will wither, either slowly or rapidly. I take no prescription medication. I don’t drink. The only intoxicating substances I use, seldomly, are psychedelics and marijuana, which I will not use during this project.
I will not try to escape the hardships of being homeless. I will embrace the challenges. I will refuse any offers of long-term housing. This year destitute is meant to be felt naturally. I’m also hoping to inspire those who are homeless or impoverished who turn to substance use for relief, to think about turning away from substances and see if abstaining from alcohol or drugs may improve their mental state or situation.
8/10/23 PRE HOMELESS
I slept outside the night before last for the first time to begin preparing for this project. I slept under an old railroad bridge, I set up my survival hammock and was confronted with an oncoming storm front in the process. I put all of my survival gear into the hammock and jumped inside while a quick rain passed over. I was happy to see the hammock remained water tight.
I noticed, while setting up, I moved more intentionally than I normally do. I definitely felt a connection to the outdoors. I took some time to practice using my grappling hook which was fun. I’m sure there will be times where I have to hide my gear in trees or perhaps climb trees to sleep in safety. I also used my grappling hook to cross a few beams on the bottom of the damaged bridge. It was a bit nerve-wracking and I was afraid I might slip and fall into the water. I kept thinking to myself, “it is just me, it is only me,” as if to say I am the only one here. If I fall in the water then I would have to swim to safety, but I would be the sole witness of my failure.
I learned that when I sleep in the hammock I have to be real careful that the hammock is level, the Hammock dipped a little and I was scrunched at the bottom of the slanting side of the hammock. Since I was on the water the wind kept blowing the hammock cover around. It was really difficult to fall asleep. I was often assailed with fears of animals like coyotes coming and biting me in the hammock. or even a random creepy person stumbling upon me and possibly doing me harm. There were noises that kept me on edge. I was accompanied for a short while by some beautiful white cranes that nested in a tree across the river. The hammock’s rain covering only afforded me a little bit of visibility. There is definitely a feeling of vulnerability being alone in a hammock or a tent. I eventually was able to overcome this fear and did the best I could to rest in an uncomfortable position as the wind caused the hammock to flap around.
Below are pictures of some of my equipment. I will continue to add more pictures of equipment I obtain in the comment section of this post. I have winter gear not pictured here, and will have a few more items to add before I embark. If you have any suggestions please add them in the comments or message me.
8/11/23 PRE Homeless (I was going to leave you a Brownie)( Interview with Eric Eveleth)
I was surprised today to be blessed with a powerful interview! It was totally serendipitous.
Around noon I set out to find a nice spot to camp for the night. I headed to an old graveyard in the woods near my residence. I have walked there many times before. This spot has been a popular homeless encampment over the years.
I at first thought I would set up camp behind the graveyard. It was a bit gloomy back there. I was happy to find a couple milk crates and an old tarp. I decided to look around some more, I made sure to collect my treasures for future use.
I ended up choosing a nice flat place to set up camp on the sunnier side of the graveyard. I brought the milk crates and tarp over. I hung the tarp on a branch to dry. I then realized I forgot my cell phone stands for filming. I stashed my gear haphazardly under an old busted up metal trash can, and headed back to my place to get my phone stands so I could film myself setting up camp.
When I returned to my camp, I was confronted by a smiling man sitting on one of the milk crates I salvaged and using the other milk crate as a table. My first thought was my gear. I looked and it was still there. I thanked the man for not stealing my gear. The man said he would not do that, and planned on leaving me a Brownie. The man introduced himself as Eric Eveleth or aka Eric the Red, which I’d learn in the interview.
I told Eric about my upcoming project, and Eric told me he had been homeless at the spot we were sitting for 15 years, even through the winters. Although, Eric was no longer Homeless today. Fascinated, I asked Eric if her would do an interview, and he happily agreed.
8/16/23 Camping Out For The Night.
This is my second night practicing camping outside. I feel safer being hidden in the woods. There’s definitely fear about sleeping in the city. I’m afraid of cops arresting me or assaulting me. I’m also afraid of being assaulted by other people in the street or having my things stolen.
Fear is natural and fuels me, I remind myself that fear is of no concern. I will be completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol, and I know how to behave myself. I will have to be resourceful and creative to remain stable in the street. It is a lot of work filming and then uploading videos. It will be a lot of work to master that skill. Luckily I have time to work on this.
This project will be work, but it is super meaningful to me to learn how people survive in the street in Massachusetts. And perhaps I can help improve the quality of life for some people. My learning is your learning.
I shot a video tonight of a basic camp setup. There will be many videos of me setting up camp in the future. I will try not to bore you all with too much of me. One thing I did realize is I should keep my face towards the camera while filming.
8/17/23 WAKING UP IN THE WOODS
I slept relatively well last night. I took a 10mg melatonin. I could hear all the sounds of the forest, especially the buzzing of the mosquitoes around my hammock.
8/22/23 A RUN TO BOSTON
I rode my bike to the Beverly train station and rode the train into Boston today to get an Interview from Chris DiRusso. Chris was incarcerated for 9 years for drugs at Norfolk Prison and then homeless for a few years while he finished his college education after returning to the streets from prison.
I was happy to hear such a success story from someone who beat the odds and seemed to have a positive outlook on life, despite being faced with many hardships.
After talking with Chris I took a ride to Atkinson st. This is the place known as methadone mile nowadays. There were people all in the street getting high, with police officers to make sure things didn’t get out of hand, there were tents packed right next to each other, and trash all in the streets. I’ve noticed this before doing outreach on Atkinson st., there’s no trash receptacles. I figured it’s because they just have workers come clean up the street with leaf blowers and shovels sometimes, but as a psych major I think of the implications of conditioning people to throw their trash in the street.
I took a short video and at the end there’s a man hitting soda cans with a golf club.
From Methadone mile I began traving back to North Station. I recognized the Federal Public Defender’s office on 51 sleeper st. on my way and stopped to visit.
Some of the amazing Public Defender’s in that office had helped me terminate my federal probation for my 15 year old drug dealing charge, and I love to stop by and thank them when I can. I also asked one of my favorite public defenders about the Karen Read case out of Canton Mass, my latest true crime rabbit hole, and was surprised to learn this astute Lawyer knew about it!
When I got to the train station I wanted for the 3:30 to Beverly and went to board when it arrived. The train worker stopped me and said I couldn’t take my bike on the train. You could only take a folding bike. I was like, WHAT!!!, the train worker showed me the paper train schedule with little bikes on certain times. I said that I used Google to find the times. The guy refused to let me on the train. I tried my hardest to convince him, but I only had 5 dollars in cash, barely enough to bribe the man, and he wouldn’t budge. My only choice was to ride my bike and hour and forty five minutes home to Danvers from Boston, since I wasn’t waiting till 7:30pm when I could bring my bike on the train again.
On my long trek home, I met an interesting man who went by the name Bobo the Clown, he was riding his bike on rt. 99 near Encore pulling a shopping cart fill of bottles, cans, and two old rusty bikes that Bobo tried to sell me for $30. I didn’t by the bikes but I got a picture of Bobo and he showed me his info on Google, where he was listed as Bozo the Clown from Cambridge.
The long bike ride caused me pain in the buttocks. My ass was chapped, not assless chaps, after riding my bike for 3 hours today with a heavy backpack on. I got so hungry I stopped at a burger king in Malden, and ate a Texas double cheeseburger and fries, super sized. I’m thinking if I get too skinny by the end of the winter I might buy a gas powered scooter if I have the money.
I really enjoyed riding the walking and biking path that goes from Malden, through Revere, then ends in Lynn. My left pedal began to loosen in Peabody and I got nervous I’d have to walk the bike home to double the time I had left to travel from 20 minutes to 40 or 50 minutes! I didn’t have the right alen wrench to fix it. Luckily there was an angelic mechanic still working at New Star Motors on Washington St. In Peabody, who tightened my pedal.
The last stretch was rewarding, and today was an education in living in the street!
8/23/23 FREE STYLE
One of the problems I saw in addiction treatment was the unprecedented amount of bullshit and unprofessionalism. Too many people whose job it is to effectively treat addiction are not effective at their jobs. Healing from addiction is two fold. First addiction must cause a person enough problems for themselves or others to have a reason to stop. Then either themselves or those close to them will seek out some form of help.
Addictions are habitual behaviors that cause problems. A repeated behavior isn’t an addiction if it only has good results. Take a person who wins every time they gamble, that person doesn’t have a problem, they have a special gift. When they lose the car, house, wife, kids, and are homeless from gambling, they have a problem. In that sense addiction treatment is self directed, events directly related to a person’s behavior causes them to think about stopping. Sometimes people are forced to stop an addictive behavior like when they go to jail and their drug of choice isn’t available. Inability to engage in an addictive behavior may stop the behavior but it may not stop a person from craving the behavior. Therefore addiction recovery is an internal process. As Addiction professionals we do not remove addiction like a brain surgeon removes brain cancer, we are just a catalyst for a self directed process.
With people in active addiction, especially when they are dependent on substances like Alcohol, benzos, or opiates that causes severe withdrawal sickness, it is not so easy just to stop. The nervous system revolts and a person is left in terrible sickness that can cause seizures in some cases and possibly death.
My point is, for the most damaging addictions on the planet, there almost always has to be some form of intervention. People who work in addiction treatment on all levels intervene in a person’s destructive behavior pattern to get them into detox or rehab, educate them on addiction, coach them, inspire them to do better, help them find other ways to cope with stress, direct them to recovery resources, diagnose underlying conditions, prescribe medicines that help people avoid addictive behavior, etc…..
Sadly it’s a hit or miss in the addiction treatment world. Either you get people to help you that are good and inspire you to do better and overcome your addiction, or they are just terrible at their job and are not likable enough to listen to or talk to, causing a client to further dislike treatment and recovery.
The performance indicators in addiction treatment are poor and highly questionable, and anyone can work on a peer level. This is what really began to bother me working in inhome treatment. Each client’s success in treatment was subject to a roll of the dice. Would they get a good team who would rally around them and encourage them to stay the course, or would they get a subpar team that would piss them off, and have them saying, “Fuck this, these people are stupid, I’ll just go back to using.”
At my core I deeply care about people, this doesn’t mean I am a pushover, and I also understand that I must be healthy to help others. Caring for other people is a mixture of understanding their problem, listening to them, using selfless and honest communication, and setting healthy boundaries. The last one, healthy boundary setting, is one of the most important, because by setting boundaries, we teach others to do the same. Many people suffer because they become victims of their inability to set healthy boundaries.
Sad to say care today is being doled out by a lot of careless people. So many actually gain benefit from addiction, and provide service that can prolong addiction and spread it (More on this down the road). After I run this Homeless project, there’s a good chance I will not work in addiction treatment, but it’s been interesting to see the goods and bads of this industry. What I call the American Industrialized addiction/recovery complex. What are your thoughts on this?
8/23/23 HOMELESS SCHEDULE
People have suggested that I create a travel schedule for my homelessness. I’ve put a lot of thought and deliberation into this. What I’ve come up with is that I will be homeless, and I have no idea how I’m going to live from day to day.
What I can do is I can break down areas I will travel to by region mostly within the first 6 months depending on winter conditions. I plan on starting my homelessness in Boston for 2 weeks minimum, then I plan on traveling out to Central Massachusetts and spending time in the major cities there before too much snow comes.
Around late December I plan on coming back to the Northshore and Boston area and wintering there because the closer to the ocean I am, the less snow there will be: This isn’t always true. The towns on the Northshore are all pretty close to each other so it will be fairly easy for me to move around. I rode my bike from Boston to Danvers yesterday and it only took me 2 hours.
Once winter is over I will regroup and make plans to visit more of the South shore Cities and by then I should have a better idea of the places that I need to go or revisit.
I plan on traveling on certain days during the week to do activities, visit family and friends, go to events, do special interviews, and play the sports that I enjoy. So I will be traveling throughout Massachusetts regularly.
October – December:
(besides Boston order may vary)
January – March:
(Order may vary)
- New Bedford
- Fall River
Good advice from my friend Jeff Timberlake on taking notes for Ethnography:
- Date, time, and place of observation
- Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site
- Sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste
Personal responses to the fact of recording fieldnotes
- Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language
- Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation
- Page numbers to help keep observations in order
4 Major Parts of Field Notes
- Description of everything that can be remembered
8/24/23 Getting Philosophiggy With It
People have asked me where I will sleep in the Winter.
I will avoid sleeping in the cold as much as possible, although I do have a subzero sleeping bag and camping gear. I am tough, but I hate the cold so I will seek out warm places to sleep like warming centers, shelters, friends homes in a pinch, my car, or any warm places I can find.
Trust me, I am going to do my best to protect myself from bodily harm or death. Are there chances harm or death could come to me? Yes!
But if we live our lives afraid of suffering or death, are we really living?
The truth is most of us will never be rich or famous. All of us model the behavior of others, even if we want to think we are original. We lie to ourselves and what we try to portray to others, most do not believe. Who are we at our core but other people.
Sleeping outside tonight to start getting used to setting up camp in the dark. I used the survival hammock under a bridge. It was difficult to set up, and I didn’t have my bike bag with my rope, so I had to improvise and use the parachute cord from the tent kit to reach around the pillars. It took me about an hour to set the hammock up in the dark, and I am kinda high up, and worry about falling. The cars make noise as they pass over me. I took a 10mg melatonin, so I’m going to get some sleep. Pictures to come in the morning.
8/25/23 A Night Under A Bridge
I was happy to be under the bridge because it rained last night. Being wet and cold are my biggest fears, or should I say unwanted conditions.
I didn’t have my rope so I couldn’t set the hammock up the way I wanted to. The hammock dipped onto the concrete so part of my legs or back was always being pressed against the concrete. It was difficult sleeping, but it wasn’t that bad and it’s something I can get used to.
I wanted to take a picture of the hammock but it kept flipping over, cuz I didn’t have the stay lines on it. I was tired when I woke up so I just packed everything up and took a couple pictures of my surroundings. I think I will sleep under that bridge again another day.
8/26/23 If your Struggling Seek Help!
My Birthday interview with Jason Grant in Lynn Mass.
8/28/23 Bridges to Health
Sean is a co-founder of a non-judgmental recovery group called Substance Use Disorder Anonymous SUDA for people struggling with addiction. In this Video Sean shares his experiences with addiction, recovery, and mental health. Sean tells us about what motivated him to create a new recovery group allowing more people access to community and recovery. I really enjoyed this discourse, and understand how important it is, now more than ever, to have more options for people that struggle with severe addiction.
9/5/23 We Can Only Do What We Can Do
Today I had to go to Lynn to do some work, and wanted to camp out for the night in Lynn. While I was driving I got a video of a man helping an injured seagull in the road. You can see the compassion, but also the realization that there wasn’t much that this man could do for the seagull. This is a harsh reality we are constantly confronted with. In many situations, we can only do what we can do. We may want to do more but with all the suffering in the world there is only so much each individual can do for others.
I stopped by the Recovery Exchange recovery center located at 35 exchange Street in Lynn. I attended the community meeting there, and signed up to speak for 15 minutes at an open mic on the 23rd of September. It was really good to see all my friends at the recovery center.
I left the recovery center to attend an appointment with a client for the company I work for. When that was done I went to Tacos Lupitas for a burrito, actually a chicken burrito with extra chicken and extra cilantro. Tacos Lupitas is one of my favorite Mexican places. I always order their burritos. And as always the burrito did not disappoint.
I had thought to either sleep in the large graveyard on Boston Street, or in the Lynn woods. When I left tacos lupita’s at around 3pm, I decided to stay in The Lynn woods. I had seen on Google maps a peninsula and then an island. It seemed as if there was a small rock crossing to the island. I took my bike and my gear and I headed out to find a place to camp for the night. My heart was set on the island hoping that I’d be able to cross with my equipment and spend the night on my own little island paradise.
The trek was treacherous. The trails were made for mountain biking, and there were a lot of steep gradients with a lot of rocks. I was weighed down with my gear. My backpack weighs about 50 lb, and my bike bag weighs about 40 to 50 lbs. I had to walk the mountain bike most of the way. I was sweating profusely. It was really difficult making my way to my small island paradise.
When I had reached the end of the trail on Google maps I found myself on a very high steep rock outcropping. I decided to leave my bike and take my gear down to the waterfront and investigate the small island I had worked so hard to get to. I was drenched in sweat and it felt good to be putting my gear to work. The bike performed well, my boots performed very well, the pants did an excellent job, and the pack along with everything else seems to be working fine.
When I got to the island there was no way to walk across. The only way to get to the island was to swim. It had been such a struggle to get there that I refused to travel on without first exploring the island. I only had the clothes on my back, so I had to strip down to the buff, and swim to the island. While I was swimming across the short channel, I heard voices. I swam back to the shore where I left all my clothes and gear and put my pants back on. A crew of about six to eight men riding mountain bikes with professional helmets passed on the trail right above me. I do not think they saw me, and I was impressed with their ability and the ability of their mountain bikes to traverse the extremely narrow, rocky, and hilly mountain bike trails.
Once they passed I stripped back down and swam over to the island, and found beer bottles and cans, there were also a few fire pits. I would have loved to stay on that island. I realized another piece of equipment I might want is a little inflatable raft to put my stuff in and float over waterways.
I decided to travel along the shore to the peninsula I saw on the Map. It was a 15 minute trip and once again I had to travel off the trail to get to the spot. I found a nice place to set up camp, and got a video and some nice pictures.
My clothes were soaked with sweat. I nestled in my hammock with my phone, sleeping bag, and my little camping blanket. I didn’t want to sleep in wet clothes so I had only socks on. I listened to the night noises, crickets, bugs, I could even hear cars from across the lake. I fell asleep around 11pm. I was awakened just after midnight by a growling and rustling of the underbrush near my camp. I was frightened. I couldn’t make out the animal. Perhaps a Fisher cat, maybe a coyote. I waited for some time, and heard some more rustling and noises. I kept thinking about all the wild animals that were a threat to me: bobcats, Coyotes, and Bears. I didn’t want to get mauled to death in nothin but socks. There was an old small stone fire pit from a previous resident at this camp site. I decided to light a small fire to deter any invaders! Although I had made sure to mark my territory more than a few times, I wanted to make sure none of mother nature’s beautiful creatures, besides bugs, would be bothering me. Once the fire went out I climbed into the hammock with my cargo pants on, even though they were still a bit wet. I was able to get a few more hours of sleep.
I woke up just before dawn, packed my stuff, and sweated it all the way back to my car. I weighed 235lbs yesterday. I came in at 231lbs today. 4 lbs lost in one day. I wonder how much of that was water opposed to fat. I know we expel most of our fat weight through our breath. I was breathing very heavily while hiking.
Here’s the fact:
fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat. If you lose 10 pounds of fat, precisely 8.4 pounds comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6 pounds turns into water.
All in all it was great practice for the upcoming journey. 🙏
9/8/23 Psychological Macgyver
I was thinking about what constitutes a professional the other day. Addiction treatment and social service offer broad services, and have mixed outcomes on many levels. In my opinion a professional is someone who gets the best desired result for a client or patient. I’ve talked to many people who suffer with addiction that have said they have no desire to stop using. For that person the best that can be done is provide for material needs, provide health care, along with whatever shelter and protection is needed for that person to survive if they are unable to care for themselves. This wil be a common theme I see of those caught in a cycle of homelessness.
More than that, a professional should be educated in modern science and evidence based practice for treating mental illness. Science is objective and relates to what can be tested, to show a consistency of correlating results. Genetics, chemistry and biology are sciences, which are used to make medicine. Psychology is not exact enough to be a science. The human experience and condition varies from one person to another, and the best that can be done to treat psychological disorders with therapies is to show the highest number of successful outcomes in a population of participants; this constitutes evidence based practice. Therein lies the message, healing of the mind in humans is largely self directed. Therapeutic agents act only to stir a person’s own ability in healing their own mind. Medicines affect the brain’s chemistry by changing emotions, like with antidepressants, or regulating erratic brain functioning, like in schizophrenics. The goal is by using science and evidence based practice individually or in concert so that a person’s condition will gradually improve.
If we have all this science and evidence based psychology, why are so many people sick? Is it possible that people are becoming dependent on the cure for their disease? Is the cure making them progressively sicker? For many the answer is yes. Opioid addicts are given opioids like Methadone and Suboxone, so they won’t use illicit opioids off the street. People are often prescribed Methadone and Suboxone for life, and oftentimes are prescribed other highly addictive drugs like benzos and gabapentin. I could delve into other areas of this vicious scandal perpetrated by big pharma, but I will keep it to opioid addiction, since it is probably the top driving force of homelessness in Massachusetts.
What about all the 12 step groups, can’t people just go there and learn to stop their addiction? The answer is yes for some but no for many. The 12 step groups only cater to those with a desire to stop using. They ask that people give their will over to a higher power, which isn’t something a lot of addicted people want to do, they also push people towards abstinence, which is unrealistic for a lot of people who are on certain medications, or who continue to use substances that are not destructive to their lives like marijuana. May I add, this is my opinion, it can be boring sitting in a room for an hour listening to people’s story of self destruction over and over again, many of whom can’t even tell a good story! Although, I will say I have enjoyed many good speakers in the halls, to those who are good speakers Thank you 🙏.
Addiction will never go away, it is a natural human process built into our survival hardware. Chase what makes us feel good, run away from that which makes us hurt. Drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors help do both. The key to addiction treatment is education and connection, sadly those who suffer are getting duped and left feeling uncared for and abandoned.
We are all pretty much the same, there is about .1% or less difference from ourselves and anyone else. People like to think that they’re all that and a bag of cool ranch Doritos. That is not true. For anyone who thinks they are better than anyone I am telling you now you are not, you are a meat bag just like everyone else! I will be pulling a lot of my learning of evolution, psychology, genetics, and philosophy into this project.
I can safely say I am a professional in my field. I heard people have been criticizing me. Please bring it on! I am a social chameleon and a psychological Macgyver (If you’re a millennial google who Macgyver is). These are traits necessary to learn about people so you can help them identify what it is that is causing the problems. Love y’all ❤️
9/9/23 A Place To Live
I went to play Handball at the Dudley Center off L Street in South Boston today. The place is free and it’s definitely going to be one of the valued resources added to my resource document. I played handball, took a dip in the ocean right next to the court, went into the steam room, then the sauna, and took a shower. The Dudley Center has pickleball, they have weight rooms, they have a pool table, and a ping pong table. A man told me the Dudley Center was closed for 3 years while the city did renovations, and he said that it was a 33 million dollar renovation.
Around 1:00 p.m. after handball I went to Atkinson Street right off of Mass & Cass. There were many people in the street and there were tents lining Atkinson Street.
I handed out my business cards for Homeless 366 and let the people know that I would be staying down there with them come October 1st and doing interviews if they were interested. I asked people for pictures but they refused, people wanted me to pay them money. I realized how important cash will be.
I spoke with one woman sitting at a table selling street various items for the people in the street, she said that there would be many people who would be willing to talk to me and tell me their stories. Also sitting at this table was another man who was smoking crack out of a glass tube, underneath his chair there was another man passed out. This woman gave me advice on what type of items I should bring and donate through my non-profit: hats, baby wipes, gloves, nice socks, etc…..
I walked around the encampment. There were police officers on the other side of the street and police officers at the end of the encampment on Atkinson Street. I spoke with some of the people and gave out my business cards. I noticed some people were drug dealers and some were drug users. I spoke to one man who had a small fenced in area with white plastic picket fence. I told him about my project. He told me that it would be fine if I set my tent up as long as I don’t bother anybody and mind my own business.
From Atkinson Street I walked back to the Phoenix recovery gym where I had parked my car. I was hungry so I decided to walk over to stop and shop at the Southie plaza. As I walked I saw a couple of women on a blanket and another man standing over by a tree near the train station. I walked over to them to give them my cards. One of the women asked if I had money or if I wanted drugs. I said no, and told her I’m going to be doing a project out here, and wanted to give them my card in case they wanted to do an interview with me. The woman became uncomfortable and then asked me to leave and as I walked away, the man approached me. In his hand he had a knife, a bundle of some paper that looked like money, and a crack pipe. He asked me if I wanted drugs and I said no, I said I’m going to be doing a project and if you’re interested in doing an interview with me… I went to hand him my card and then he told me to step on, so I did, and while I walked away he yelled to me again to keep it moving. I listened intently to make sure he wasn’t behind me and I said I’m leaving.
I understand that many people are not going to want to be filmed or photographed. I will ask for permission as much as possible, but I will also film if I want since it is my first amendment right to be able to film in the street. We’re constantly under the scrutiny of cameras nowadays. As this project develops I’ll get more creative finding ways to bring the situation, people’s stories, and ideas for solutions to the forefront. Some people might not like what I do, some people might like it. I think it is important and I’m going to do my best to be as considerate as I can.
9/14/2023 Raw Experience
I’ve thought extensively on how I will focus my energy on this project. I am now officially unemployed. I have left my two jobs and will lose out on a considerable sum of money for this year.
I would like to build financial security out of this work. I will spend countless hours every day filming, documenting, and uploading information.
I have come up with some ideas to make money like writing a book, making a documentary, building a following, taking on sponsors, speaking, and building up Tiffany’s Recovery Inc Nonprofit.
Although those ideas are on the table, I am going to interact with the street through raw experience. I will experience life, work to regulate my fear and worry, trust in the beneficence of the universe, and myself. I will not put the emphasis on making money.
I encourage any of you to ask me questions. I will answer honestly. I plan to practice for the greatest good of all, even in the face of becoming bankrupt and destitute while living destitute in the street.
I refuse to compromise my integrity to get views. This project matters and it is an effort to find what works and what’s broken in a convoluted system the public pays for, but knows very little about.
I will make money where I can, and I will do it in an honorable and ethical manner. I will show all people dignity and respect, even if it is not reciprocated.
This is an ultimate test of tolerance and endurance. Some have suggested taking bets on when I will quit! I won’t say no names (Mom). I do not plan on quitting.
I have added a couple verses from the book of Matthew and the Pali Canon (Theravadan Buddhism). The first verse spoken by Jesus assures the disciples not to worry when they are in front of powerful people, because God will guide their words. I thought of this, because it suggests a power deeper than our surface-survival-frontal-cortex decision machinery that causes us to act out of fear and greed.
Jesus was called Rabbi or teacher and taught his disciples the word and way of the Lord. I would think this spiritual learning along with higher levels of consciousness protected the disciples in spreading Christ’s teaching. This came to mind, I think, because it reminded me to trust in the higher levels of my being, instead of nervously worrying about things day to day.
In the second Verse the Buddha and his Entourage of Monks are surrounded by a forest fire. The Monks who have not attained any level of deeper understanding begin to burn the earth around them in hopes it will stop the fire from burning them to death. The Monks who have reached deeper understanding and do not fear death implored the other monks to look to the Buddha who seemed to extinguish the fire before it could cause damage to the Buddha and the other monks.
The Monks celebrated the Buddha for his power, but the Buddha said the fire was not extinguished by his power, but by a past act of Truth. I remembered this and thought it important to me, because Truth and the Karma thereof is the ultimate gift. If we practice to tell the truth, and live by truth we are truly free. There are no regerts.
Here, Jesus says that when you are brought before VIPs, governors and kings for His sake, do not worry about how or what you should speak because God will give you the words to speak, “for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you”.
Vattaka Jataka: The Baby Quail (Jat 35)
One day, the Buddha went on his morning round for alms through a hamlet in Magadha. After finishing his meal, he went out again accompanied by a large group of bhikkhus. Some monks walked ahead of Buddha, and some walked behind him. While they were on their way, a great forest fire broke out, raging fiercely and spreading rapidly, until the jungle was a roaring wall of flames and smoke.
Those monks who had not yet made attainments were terrified with the fear of death. “Let us set a counter fire so the jungle fire cannot reach us over the ground we have burned,” they cried, and immediately started to kindle a fire.
“What are you doing?” asked the other monks. “You are blind to the sun rising in front of your eyes. Here you are, journeying along with Buddha who is without equal, but still you cry, ‘Let us make a counter fire!’ You do not know the might of a Buddha! Come with us to the Teacher.”
All the monks gathered around Buddha who had halted as soon as he had seen the flames. The blaze whirled and roared as if to devour them. Suddenly, however, when the fire was exactly sixteen lengths from the spot where Buddha stood, the flames went out like a torch plunged into water, extinguished and completely harmless.
The monks burst into praises of Buddha, “Oh, how great are the virtues of the Teacher! Even fire can not singe the spot where Buddha stands!”
“It is no present power of mine,” Buddha told them, “that makes the fire go out as soon as it reaches this spot. It is the power of a former Act of Truth of mine. No fire will ever burn this spot during the whole of this world age. This is one of the miracles which will last until the end of this era.”
9/25/2023 The Seed of an Adventure
The seed of an adventure.
About a year ago my nonprofit team and myself began looking for statistics to understand what was happening with addiction, addiction treatment, addiction prevention, and overdose death.
What we found was appalling. In state modalities in the US treatment spending doubled from 2008-2020. Prevention spending only increased by about 15%.
Overdose deaths began to double every 10 years from 1995 to present day. Where they remained relatively static for 45 years between 1950 and 1995.
Private Insurance covered opioid addiction treatment has multiplied by 10 reaching billions of dollars from 2004 to 2016.
For me that was the aha moment, and spurred mental rumblings I could not ignore. These big companies are using the stigma and ignorance of addiction in society to rob us blind. Rob us of our money and Rob us of our family members.
The old model of addiction treatment was long-term up to a couple years, which is often needed for habit change. Now we’re saturated with drive through addiction recovery like IOP, short treatment stays, and we’re sold the idea that all kinds of medication will fix emotional and behavioral dysregulation.
I keep telling myself, “don’t be a dick!” Sorry not sorry, numbers don’t lie. It may not be nice, but it’s true.
Everything we’ve been doing for over 15 years to curb the socioeconomic scorge of addiction on our country has done nothing but enhance the problem exponentially.
Knowing this I began to question my efforts, question the system I work for. Are all these people corrupt? Do the institutions that are tasked with treating addiction and mental illness actually purposely enhance the problem for better quarterly finance #s?
I can’t be free unless I am doing what I know is right. Overdose death in America is neck in neck with the 10th leading cause of death Diabetes, another disease that can be caused by environmental or behavioral factors.
Fuck the comfort, fuck the money, fuck the lying, blinded, and fake people. This is me breaking free! This is me being my own fucking boss! I rather die doing what’s true and right, than die perpetuating lies and corruption.
9/29/2023 The Answer
You’ve heard me spew about what’s wrong, and what works. I am obviously pretty passionate about it.
I’m going to sum it simply and have it be the slogan for my project. When I realized that all the stuff society was doing to curb behavioral issues assailing our country wasn’t working, and that the numbers were climbing I saw the problem and solution clearly. Society was offering external solutions for an internal problem.
When we struggle with addiction, mental illness, and the repercussions thereof it is because internally we are damaged. If we are convinced that a pill, a meeting, a diet, a treatment program, a guru, or anything else outside us will fix what’s wrong inside us, we are seriously deluded. Infact, if we become dependent on seeking out external solutions for internal problems we will become dependent on the solution.
Only by actively acknowledging that something inside of us is causing us harm, and choosing to work on ourselves can we progressively cure ourselves. Most people have conscious will, and make decisions every day. This whole disease model and the idea that people don’t have a choice is deceptive, and I believe it can lead to prolonging the problem.
Most of the people I will encounter are not developmentally disabled. The potential for growth and healing is at their disposal. If only their attitude and resources will allow it.
It is my main goal to help people rely on their own logic and ability to work towards healing themselves.
I understand the complexity of the problem and process. The simple goal is to inspire people to take responsibility for their life and make active decisions on what they want their life to look like, whatever that may be.
So to sum it up: Using external methods to solve peoples behavioral issues, without influencing internal change, is at best a bandaid at worst just enhancing the problem. “It’s an Inside Job” Tommy Ward
9/30/2023 The Day Before
Forget everything I said before. I haven’t written much or documented because the meat and potatoes is the project.
I can’t express the anxiety I’ve felt up to this point. Our perception does not match reality.
I’m locked in. I hope to find maybe a stray dog and cat to be my travel pets. It would be good to huddle for warmth in the cold winter.
I can only be myself, and describe my experience from my limited human perspective. It will have to be honest to the point of child-like expression.
I am grateful, for the first time in my life, to be overweight. I weigh 235lbs. Hopefully I can hold on to this weight through the cold winter. I also have all my recent health reports from the doctor in a folder, so I can compare them next year at my next doctor’s appointment. Anyone is welcome to this information.
Blog starts tomorrow…