Damage is fast. Healing is slow.

I had two hip surgeries during peak Covid.  (I don’t recommend it). I followed all of the surgeon’s instructions: I did physical therapy.  I stretched daily (and still do).  I stopped running and playing Pickleball (giving up running wasn’t as hard as I expected, but I’m still bitter about Pickleball because I was pretty dang […]

A dog taught me about homelessness.

I had dinner with my aunt last week. She explained that she had called a dog rescue program and asked them to contact her when they had a dog that absolutely no one would ever adopt. Three weeks later they called her to say that they had a Maltipoo (Maltese Poodle mix…  Google them, they’re […]

It was legal to own another human being.

I find comfort in looking at American history through the lens of my family: When my great-great grandparents were born: It was legal to own another human being. When my grandparents were born: Women could not vote. When my parents were born: It was legal to racially segregate schools. When I was born: Individuals with […]

Homelessness is War

Jeremy was one of my best friends in high school.  For nearly four years, we saw each other almost daily. We ran cross country together. We drove to dances together with our dates. After graduation, he was a groomsman in my wedding. And then the United States invaded Iraq. Jeremy was a sniper platoon leader […]

Harold was a “little” inebriated.

I was 21 years old. I had only worked at the shelter for a month and still had no idea what the heck I was doing. The rest of the staff had gone home for the night, leaving me to run the shelter by myself. Harold stumbled in at 10:30 pm. He smelled like someone […]

Gerry was high on crack.

Gerry caught me in the hallway of the shelter. He wanted to talk. He was obviously high on crack. The conversation went something like this (read Gerry’s lines as fast as you can to simulate how he talked): Gerry: My boss won’t pay me the money he owes me. I don’t even like the job. […]

The hardest day of my life was December 20, 1998.

Even though I was twenty years old, I crawled into my parent’s bed and sobbed. I felt like a frightened five-year-old, but this time the monsters lurking in the shadows were real. Everything had changed. All food had the same bland taste. Sleep was sporadic and unfulfilling. I always felt claustrophobic—even when I was in […]

“An addict will do anything to not be dope sick.”

“I am scared sh*tless of being dope sick. I will do anything, anything I have to do to make sure I’m not dope sick… An addict will do anything to not be dope sick. It is our biggest fear.” Sherri If you work with the public, there are two things you need to know about […]

Can withdrawal from heroin kill you?

The intern’s face was pale white, and her eyes were panicky. “Ryan, I need help.” She led me into her office. Harold was lying on the concrete floor of her office. “He says he is withdrawing from heroin,” the intern said. I tried to talk to Harold but didn’t get very far. He was far […]

That time I forgot a crack pipe on my ear.

It was about 8:00am. I had just arrived at the homeless shelter I worked at. The details of the day have faded with time, but my memory tells me that it was summer. I think it was one of the 15 days per year when the Chicago area is not too hot, too cold, too […]