Homeless :( I got back from Oregon at 6 AM, six days ago, and went to the local veteran's resource center as soon as I stepped off of the train. I'm impressed with these vet services; they had me in a shelter that same afternoon. I had to head over to the VA hospital to get checked for TB before I could be admitted to a shelter (why do shelters always require TB clearance? does anyone in the developed world still get TB??), and the vet resource person sent a cab for me to make sure that I got to the shelter in time for intake.
So I'm in a shelter in a big city and being catcalled by men on a daily basis while I'm looking for an apartment. I just got a 120-day extension on my housing voucher today. The shelter requires this horrible 3-hour kitchen duty for the first three days (and now and then thereafter) that, along with dorm meetings, vet meetings, and two intake processes, prevented me from accomplishing much of anything my first half-week back in California. I couldn't even leave the shelter my first day there because they didn't have a badge for me to use to get back in. It's almost like prison. There is a family of cats in the womyn's lounge area: 3 kittens the first day, then 4, now I see 7 of them (plus mom). They've multiplied or something! The deadbeat dad cat finally showed up several days later.
Oregon was cold and rainy for at least half the time I was there. And when the sun came and went—my goodness, I've never seen weather change so fast. I was putting my ski cap on and then taking it back off in a matter of seconds. The sky went from slate grey to blinding, sunlit orange in the same amount of time. I didn't sleep much, and when I did sleep, I didn't sleep deeply (the same is happening in the shelter). I finally biked in the town four or five days after my arrival. The road has no shoulder, and the last mile or so was scary and dangerous: a two-lane affair sandwiched between a hill too steep to climb and a little gulch or something too steep to descend, with cars zooming by right next to me.
Everything was ok in town. I didn't notice anyone looking at me weird. No one said anything to me except the cashier at the grocery store I stopped at.
Getting back up the hill was a pain: too steep to ride. I walked up the narrow dirt way between the road and the valley. I got caught in the rain. More than once. I waited it out under some trees. Lots of big, gorgeous trees up that way. I started out again, shivering, when the rain was just a drizzle, but it started out heavy again and there was no place else to hide so I just had to keep going.
No phone reception up there, but there was a giant fabric vulva one of the residents had put together for the festival that had just ended before I arrived.
I think the highlight of the whole two weeks was when the caretaker called me "sister" in gratitude for my helping her with her truck :) A few womyn came and went while I was there: a crazy lady who showed us the scar from her hip replacement, friends of the caretaker, a new resident who was preparing to move in. There are a bunch of cabins on the land. Cabins in the loose sense of the term. Just a bunch of diverse individual dwellings.
I helped move fire wood. I ate greens from the garden. I ate them kind of raw and had gas for a while. I helped one of the residents clean her chimney. It was great. All except the cold and talking. I felt pressured to talk :( But of course I had to talk; half the point of being there was for them to get to know me. But two of the residents were not there at the time! They decided that I could stay until those womyn returned, but I was afraid that my housing voucher would expire. Stupidly, I hadn't looked into the details of porting the voucher to Oregon or the housing authority in charge of the area or anything, so I wasn't prepared to many any decisions. I said that maybe I'd come back in the winter to see if I could hack the cold.
I rediscovered my ability to concentrate on the written word! I read and read and read. They had wonderful books on feminism from the seventies, old lesbian romance novels (I jotted down the names to look them up someday), a lesbian magazine that I didn't even know existed. I read a book about feminism from bell hooks. She wrote that separatism was bourgeois white feminist stuff. Here I am bell, poor non-white separatist! More about books later.
I was uncomfortable with leaving because I didn't want to be around men again. I sure did miss the California warmth, though!
I don't think I can make it there. The cold is one thing, trying to get into town in a rainy area with nothing but a bike on a dangerous road is another. If I have it in me, I'm thinking of trying a place in Arizona, possibly one in New Mexico (it gets cold there too). The social aspect is a bit much for me. It was easier to deal with than I feared, but it was still difficult.
The bus arrives soon, so I'm out.