Progress Report #68

I’m back up and running with my new book Street Song. I’m working on the final structure of the outline before launching into the final draft. I’d been hoping to have it finished by the end of the year, but after having been sidelined in bed for so long, that may be optimistic. The outline is divided into 12 periods and I’ve finished the basic outline work for the first five. (I still have to fine-tune that work, but the essentials are laid out.) After period 5, there is a big change, and that’s the period I’m getting into now. I may have said this before, but as I go through the periods I see that the book is not simply the story of my life on the street, but also very much about the chain of events and beliefs that led me from a typical middle-class, suburban youth to a life on the streets. I think of myself as having lived on the streets for 14 years. I’ve been off them longer than I was on them. Yet those years are still vivid and immediate to me. It doesn’t feel like it happened all that long ago.

Judy and I  own a home together that’s completely paid for. We have a little joke between us about one of my reactions to that. I’ve never known anything about home ownership, and one day I told her about my sense (not quite my belief) that the men in the business suits are able to buy your home out from under you whether you want to sell or not. I don’t know where I got that feeling. Judy assumes it comes from a vulnerability that I picked up during my long period of homelessness. Maybe. But I see the powerful as having the system so rigged in their favor that I’ve never been sure where it stops or if it stops. Whenever I see businessmen in my neighborhood (it doesn’t happen often) I always become very suspicious. I stop and watch them. It’s the exact same reaction that most people have when they see homeless people.

So, on to period 6 where I valiantly struggle to actualize a dream that was completely wrong for me. A recipe for disaster. And it was…a disaster.

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8 Responses to “Progress Report #68”

  1. Linda Fairchild Says:

    I was a bit startled to hear that you live in a home that is completed.paid for. I feel homeless and completely disconnected from Canada, my homeland that is now perceived as being so secure, and am wondering if I could ever have a home again. I used to own a home w a bank, gave it up. Every check I write to my artists is the only home I have, that feeling of digging in deeply to support my life, my artists, my vision of what I want to keep flowing. Maybe the “owning” is something beyond the physical plane.

    • markbittner Says:

      It sounds funny to my ear. In a certain sense, I can’t take it seriously. I’ve never quite been able to see how you can own anything. It’s all just reality…and all that. But we have that piece of paper saying its ours and the authorities take it seriously. I don’t think about it very much. My mind is on my book and this strange, strange time we live in. Getting stranger all the time. And thank you for your recent letter…

  2. Chandani Diaz Says:

    That fear is not as strange as you may think. In Florida expansion was so rampant at a point that the State decided to put in another exit/entrance on the Interstate – but 4 houses would have to be “sacrificed”. I knew one of the homeowners and the State offered her $60,000 to buy a new house (and $60,000 didn’t buy much then) or “stay and watch her home demolished and receive nothing”. She was heart-broken because she had been an avid gardener and poured 12 years of love into her garden. In the end the State had more attorneys and greater power. She moved.

  3. Margaret Benbow Says:

    I think Judy might be on to something. Maybe you do distrust businessmen because there was a time when you felt powerless against them. But maybe it’s also just intelligent observation of the world, to know some of them would take advantage by hook or by crook. A life story keeps recurring in my mind. Many years ago my mother was a Census Taker, and visited farms in the township to record residents. She visited the farm of an old lady living alone on a little farm far up in the hills, a beautiful location in an area just becoming interesting to developers. She found the lady crying. The woman showed my mother a letter, with an official state letterhead, from a politician who wanted to buy her farm. The woman took this official stationery to mean (as he’d intended) that he had the authority to turn her out, and she would have to move from her beloved home. My mother explained that the politician was acting as a private person, and he had no power over her or her property. The old lady had the right to live there forever.

    So, thanks to my mother and her once-every-ten-year visit, one woman was saved from being thrown out of her lifelong home by one greedy and ruthless rich man. But I’d bet that, outrageously often, their schemes succeed.

  4. Shelley Says:

    Eminent domain is under attack. Kelo v New London was very much in the news, but it wasn’t a unique experience.

    The Nature Conservency was caught selling prime property to the government for large profit and threatening eniment domain. Allegedly, it has also sold property to wealthy people associated with it. That organization is not what it appears to be.

    Entitlement seems to be a prevailing characteristic of the rich, despite the fact they throw it at the middle class and poor.

    Your property is only yours until some rich developer or the government wants it.

  5. linda Says:

    I know how you feel too, Mark. I have owned my old, rather shabby home for years, and yet I don’t really feel I own it. I look at property and personal possessions this way, I can’t take it to the grave, so, no matter what I own, it really isn’t mine, it’s only rented.
    Just before the bottom fell out of things, I received constant invitations to refinance, on the phone and in the mail, when I would tell them it was paid for, they would still try to get me to mortgage it. I am glad now I always said, “No!” If I had done anything, I would now be homeless.

  6. Margaret Benbow Says:

    Linda, I understand what you mean. It’s healthy to be able to walk away from property or possessions when they’re no longer important to you. But–and I’m speaking to every homeowner including myself–until that day comes there should be no doubt in your mind that you DO own your home, that it is yours alone and nobody else’s, and you will keep it and enjoy it as long as you please. Your home is your shelter. If anyone tried to take it away from you, they should be in for the fight of their lives.

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