For those of y'all who don't know, I am a writer. Which is why I have a blog I suppose.
Some people see me as a Math Teacher, but I see myself as an artist and writer who teaches Math to
make ends meet. My mother was numerical and literary. My father was literary. Both of them read
prolifically, but it was my mom who was good with numbers and she passed this onto me.
However, my passion is to create. I love to create songs and music. I also love to write poems,
short stories, and work on novels. Currently I already have 2 novels finished. The first one is a
mess. The second one is finished, but I am insecure about it, and have been editing it for 2 years
The third one has just started. And let me say that I am so excited about this one that I am
fortunate the ceiling is 12 feet high in my apartment because I jump for joy and reach 10.5 feet.
He found himself waking up concomitantly with the Eastern sun rising over the East Bay mountains,
shining bright and brilliant, bouncing blinding scintillating rays of sunshine onto the windows of
tall San Francisco buildings that faced eastward. In the cove off of Townsend Street where Jack
Sweeney slept for the night, the sun's rays glanced off the window by his feet and bounced directly
to his eyes. Bundled in a 3 year old haggard sleeping bag he bought at the Goodwill store on Haight
and Cole, Jack Sweeney begrudgingly reconsidered his two options : continuing his slumber, or
becoming functionally conscious. A scruffy large knapsack wedged between his back and the glass
door of a Nail Salon that had not yet called the cops on him for regularly sleeping there overnight.
It also helped to avoid the brisk cold night air which sweep over San Francisco on a regular basis.
Jack had become homeless 3 years ago for some really fucked up bullshit — although honestly, Jack
currently drank alcohol everyday and was making no effort to change or evolve his current
circumstances. He also gladly smoked marijuana whenever he got the chance. Thus it was really easy
to condemn him for being an absolute fuck up just because he sleeps outside and has no official
address attached to a building or home. People often judge others based upon their own moral
rectitudes because they secretly fear they themselves are not living up to their own standards.
Hence it is easier to condemn someone else or those who are obviously derelict, rather than correct
oneself according to one’s own virtues.
The first thing Jack does every day — after waking up with the sun in his eyes and the concrete on
his back — the very first thing Jack Archibald Sweeney does, is breathe. Then he reaches over,
grabs the nearby pack of cigarettes and sparks up the first of what will probably be 28 to 35
cigarettes a day. He used to roll his own, but nowadays the pre-rolled cheap cigarettes were so
much more affordable, even for a 62 year old cagey Vietnam Vet living off of both a small government
pension and a large inheritance fund from his wealthy grand-father who was one of the original
automakers in Detroit that sold out to General Motors when the consolidation phase of the industry
occurred before 1970. Investing the proceeds in various stock and bond portfolio’s, Jack Sweeney
found himself with 1.2 something million dollars worth of interest-bearing investments at the age of
51. How he became homeless 11 years later was a mystery to everyone else but Jack, who would gladly
tell anyone his story, except no one ever asked, and most people he encountered were loath to say
anything to what they perceived as a rotting human carcass wearing filthy garments and reeking of
Born to a middle class family of two hospital workers, Jack grew up in a modest home near 23rd
Street and Capp in the Mission district of San Francisco with his sister Susanne, who was 3 years
younger. His father was a radiation specialist. His mother was a nurse for a cardiology team. Due
to the nature of hospital schedules, they were rarely home at the same time. As a result Jack spent
more time with his sister than he ever did with both his mom and dad. This was during the sixties
in San Francisco, which was one of the places out in the Western United States where the restive
youth of the United States decided to go after uprooting from stale rigid local social environments,
those states East of the Rocky Mountains, most going to California — but also to places in Oregon
and Washington State — in order to achieve and attain what they felt was freedom.
At age of 51 Jack was suddenly a millionaire. He decided to retire after 25 years working with the
Coast Guard. This was right before the first dot-com crash in 1999. Jack had diversified his funds
wisely, but a size-able portion was also in future valuations of tech stocks that all were bust
after 2001. His wife divorced him in 2002. It was a childless marriage, but not any less emotionally
destructive. They had met during an event the Coast Guard would hold on July 4th near Crissy Fields.
She was a secretary in the office at Fort Mason at the time. They started dating and were married
within 11 months. 11 years later the contract was broken and he had to yield half of his estate.
Was it jealousy because he was no longer working 35 plus hours a week like his wife? Did the
romance die and the willingness to co-exist wither on the aged vines of what was once a sweet
nectar? Jacqueline did seem to grow more aggravated and distanced over the last few months before
she asked for a divorce and left the apartment they both shared in the Mission district.
“Look Jackie, I wouldn’t consider being a curator of that lovely posh gallery on Jackson the same
thing as jumping into the water and swimming out to rescue someone,” which he knew would be stirring
up the beehive, but he couldn't help himself
“You could come visit me more often,” was all Jacqueline responded.
That was the pivot point, the one most people never understand in the moment, the beginning of the
downward slide to where he was now, the moment before his out of state corporate landlord priced him
out of his apartment on Valencia and 18th by deciding to increase his rent by 350 percent.
The inaugural moment of conversation with his ex-wife Jackie he now remembered as he leaned against
the cold window with the Eastern sun becoming brighter and more confident. After that moment there
would be no chance that their marriage would last. The bickering became incessant. They both
projected their wounded sense of failed expectations upon the other person. Within 6 months they
mutually dissolved the contract, with thankfully no rancor and minimal drama. At times, when Jack
was briefly honest with himself, he would acknowledge his own inability to have relationships that
were not condescending or held at arms length, but this wasn’t one of those moments. Instead, his
emotions blundered across the miasmic consciousness of his roused existence, sloshing with the
unrelenting bi-products of the alcohol from a plastic container that he had imbibed before passing
out not long after midnight.
He would have to move in a few minutes. The air of the city was cold and moist, swirling around the
caverns and valleys made by the skyscrapers and tall building on the North-east side of the city by
the bay. Since it was Tuesday, early risers began to walk on their way to work, one of the many
different offices or building from where Montgomery Street meets Columbus Avenue in North Beach,
South across Market Street to Harrison and 6th Street in an area that is called the SOMA (SOuth of
MArket) -- just like SOHO means SOuth of HOuston in Manhattan, New York City. Cars barreled down
streets towards daily destinations where they would park and coexist within work relationships
analyzing numbers or managing cyber-based internet products for 9 or more hours. Stops and pauses
in the routine would necessitate coffee, bagels, salads, soups, sandwiches, and/or pastries;
otherwise the routines were very firm and deterministic, going from the same place to the same
place, while never looking at the differences or being in the moment because the destination was
never in the moment.
Sometimes Jack liked to set up over by the ferry building with a can beside his feet while he
scribed poetry. “Poetry for a dollar” was the sign he would use, made by a black marker on a
rectangular piece of cardboard that he leaned up against a bench, a wall, or a pole. Most people
just dropped a few coins or a dollar in the can, never really caring about the poetry that might be
experienced for their payment. Jack didn't really need the money, but it was cool sometimes to be
able to pay for his coffee and a sandwich at the nearby Subway without having to tap into his own funds.
After the vultures jacked his rent up, Jack moved his precious possessions to a 10 by 8 foot storage
area in South San Francisco. It cost him $225 a month. He could take a bus from Market that would
drop him off two blocks from the building. For a period of time, sometimes he could stay overnight,
especially on nights when a female black manager named Esther worked, sleeping on the sofa he kept
in the storage area unit. Esther would ignore the fact that he was sleeping on the sofa during her
11pm rounds of the establishment before she left at midnight. Jack would usually leave right after
or before the storage unit opened at 7 am. There was a back door that was not hooked up to the
alarm system, so when Jack would leave at 5:30 am, no one ever saw or knew that he had spent the
night in the storage unit. Except Esther.
When Esther changed jobs after a few months, Jack had no idea that the new employee,Cedric Myers,
would call the cops when he found a man sleeping on the sofa in a storage unit. He discovered this
ruefully when two police roused him from his slumber, handcuffing a 60 something year old man,
putting him in the back of a police car, and processing him at the South San Francisco police
station. Fortunately the charge of trespassing was dropped down to a misdemeanor, which did not
require a court case or a lawyer. He was let go on his own recognizance after 6 hours, having to
pay a $345 fine.
No longer able to sleep in the storage unit, Jack just let it all go to smithereens.
Fuck it, I don't need that shit anyway.
He stopped paying the monthly fee. The storage company eventually sold the contents at an auction,
after the third month of non-payment and three letters to a P.O. Box that Jack made up when he
initially wrote out the storage unit contract. The business never checked the veracity of the
address. As long as the monthly check arrived, the relevance of the contractual information never