The Dream

I am lying in a comfortable double bed; obviously not mine since I sleep on a mattress on the floor in my current dwelling. Someone is curled up beside me. Our bodies do not touch, but I immediately sense a naked backside and catch a glimpse of pale pudgy skin and well-worn boxer shorts. I myself might be naked, not sure, but I am carpeted and warm in a white duvet and there is a soft pillow under my head. Laid still, with dawns light breezing through an open window and fluttering sheer curtains, I survey the environment.

Not my subsidized one room unit, located in a bedbug, cockroach, and crack infested Toronto Community Housing Corporation high-rise. Still, there is something familiar here, yet I know I have never stepped foot in this particular spot before this hazy moment of awakening. Feels like a haven of sorts! Good, because when the large middle-aged man beside me stirs, rises, opens the bedroom door and walks out pulling it partially shut behind him, I am not afraid. I pretend to sleep, assuming he has gone to pee and will crawl back in beside me soon enough, but he doesn’t and the minutes pass. I don’t feel high. No hangover either. Seemingly sober and sane I now realize who he is. A friend and not a lover. But what has brought us to wake up in a bed that belongs to neither one of us.

No time to ponder. Dreams do not stay put for long. The pace quickens. I am up and out of the apartment in a blur of movement. Down the hall I see an EXIT sign and run towards it. No longer safe. I feel the danger. Fear is the factor and the fright pushes me into flight mode.

So, I awaken. Sensory overload! However, my eyes will not stay open and I cannot raise my head. I succumb and fall back to sleep right where I left off. I will tell you something, scary or not, I do love to dream and this one is going to be a doozy.

The back of the building now. Flashback to the mid-80’s. Late night prowling through the downtown core. A recollection of Regent Park in its seedy past. But this is no longer my stomping grounds, so I stand for a moment, holding the heavy door open behind me, observing the maze of buildings and twists and turns ahead. A light here and there, evidence of life shining through small windows shut with dingy blinds. I let it slam and run from the brightness of the building, the warmth of that bed, and my one companion. I realize I am going to get lost, quickly too with each footstep I take. Regardless, I dive into the darkness of the alleys ahead.

Big mistake girlfriend! Talking to myself now! Panic is setting in. Paranoia could come next.

I am aware that I am clothed and groping my garments as I move along. Empty pockets! No money or cellphone! If I recollect correctly there was a knapsack beside that bed I awoke in. That was a stupid move; leaving things behind. Should have stayed there, searched for my associate, gone into that other room and found out what’s up. I think I did see people; others in that place where I was, down the hall, just past the front door, out of the corner of my eye. They must have known me and might have helped me. I turn to look back but the building is gone. Deep fog clouds my sight and I know I will not be able to find my way inside again.

Up ahead…is that an old Bell Canada telephone booth? Virtually obsolete nowadays! I step inside and lift the receiver. A dial tone greets me and I observe that it takes only twenty-five cents to make a call. I push zero but nothing happens, no operator answers. Loud buzzing piercing my eardrum. I check my pockets again. Just in case. No point staying. I cannot call anyone for assistance. I have no quarters and there is no one about to bum change from, besides, thanks to modern technology my contact numbers are not stored in my memory. Even if I was to reach someone on the other end of the line the connection would be futile. I do not know where I am. Only that I’m lost in a freaky dream; a frequent occurrence for me.

All the while as I flee there is not another soul in sight, neither foe nor friend. Am I alone? This cannot be. There must be someone somewhere? Seeking refuge I run past time-stained and gang-tagged concrete walls, through long dismal walkways between eerily silent high-rises. Finally, an entrance and I rush to open it!

THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS

I enter a shelter of sorts, like a dorm for adolescents. Am I one of them? Do I fit in? The mean looking matron directs me to a room at the top of the stairs and round a bend. A whole lot of girls, just mingling about, and no space on the littered beds; similar to a scene from an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist only the main characters are opposite in gender. One or two acknowledge me. Another moves over, lets me sit on the edge of her sacred spot, whilst assuring me it is okay.

It is not! More stairs, more girls, and mean ones too.  No sanctuary for me and they make it known, “Get the Fuck out. You don’t belong here little Bitch!”

I discover I am carrying something after all. Holding tight to an old and tattered phone-book, bound in brown leather, from years gone by. Numbers no longer available; addresses of people I no longer know. Stuffed inside are a handful of loose papers and one childhood photograph. Reaching the top floor I head into an alcove of unopened doors to enter an empty room, closing and locking that door behind me with a key I have never seen, before placing the relic onto a polished rosewood dresser. Immediately I pick it up again. Is it all I have? Could be scripts from the book I am writing, handwritten and so few of them. Did I lose the rest? Please God, I hope not! I hold tight to what is mine and retreat from the silent spot back into another chaotic scene. I see an open window, out and up onto the rooftop I climb and no one chases me.

Stirring again, with tee-shirt soaked in sweat and shivering on my mattress. Cold terror grips me as I slip back into the nightmare. With the girls cursing and shoving for a split second and then I am somewhere else.

Whoa, wait now, there is an obscure figure approaching, a man hovers before passing without acknowledging my presence. What the Devil is going on? Where the Heck am I? Still unobstructed I race forward, speeding past blurred bodies behind bars, females encased in tiny cells. Crying and reaching out to me, I am compelled to stop abruptly to stare at a beautiful face just inches from mine. The second last woman in the line on the left. An image of blue eyes and blond hair, so clear and familiar it freaks me out. Who is she? Does she know me? My heart bleeds for her, but I am in no position to stay and help. Moving on…

More guards just letting me pass. No doubt, this is one delusion that I have not dealt with before. This time while sleeping I have stepped straight into the loony bin, right out of an 19th century author’s facetious appellation of a lunatic asylum. Pale skeletal arms stretching and hands flapping, babbling visages, more pleas for help. Encountering a patient, then two, inmates they are, sad and shattered individuals wandering aimlessly in the halls, fingers tugging on open robes and flimsy dresses. I skirt to avoid collisions. Eyes vacant and no-one seem to see me.

Nurses too, sturdy hard-hitting ones with permanent scowls dressed in severe outfits. Blue aprons and matching caps carrying handcuffs and black batons. Not hostile, but not friendly either. Frozen smiles, hair pulled back tight under a badge of authority, similar to one of the female police officers who frequently ticketed me for panhandling on the Ramp when I was homeless.

“I want to get back to where the juveniles are,” I implore over and over, “I was innocent.” One by one they glare and label me a “Bad Girl”, “Liar”, and a “Deviant” too, before disappearing. No one cares about my concerns! Must be impossible to go backwards; it is too late and I’m too old for that escape.

The workers are busy and few and I am sure there are cameras too, watching my every move. I am shuffling now like a convict with nowhere to go, creeping like a C.S.I. agent without a gun or a partner. Doors slamming around me, clamoring and bolting shut. It seems that I have tripped over the edge, dropped off that thin marginal line once again. Been there before. If you do not experience nightmares I feel sorry for you. It’s a riot don’t you know?

I enter into a wide ward filled with makeshift rooms; hospital beds behind privacy screens. In my haste I stumble and crash up against a cot where a frail greasy haired old woman is bound and immobile. Stepping back before I tumble upon her, reaching to stabilize myself as she peers deep into my soul. Something is stuck to my shoe and then I accidentally pull down the track and drapery drags behind me as I recoil. Wait, no, it is not a curtain, it is a hospital gown and I shake it off violently while a passing nurse regards me with sudden interest. Do not want anyone to mistake me for a resident and house me here indefinitely.

I see something on the wall above my head. A chute of sorts. Climb up and shimmy down easily. Suspicious. Don’t you think it should have been more of a struggle? Must be a trap!

Down a short ladder and land in the middle of an enormous empty warehouse.

Wait! Looks like the way out is straight ahead….But the sign says ‘ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK – Advance & Proceed WITH caution!’ (Fun Fact: that is the message written graffiti style with purple paint upon my hallway wall at home.)

Real time now… There is an industrial garage door right in front of my eyes, wide-open, leading from inside out. I can see the street, the straggles of early morning traffic and the brightness of a blossoming day. Suddenly it starts to close. I am so exhausted and it really is a long way and has been a torturous journey. Futile to try to make it. No way, no how, but this is a dream and by George I do give it that last attempt before the metal rolls down and shuts out all signs of freedom with an unexpectedly soft clang. Lost and alone, sobbing and broken, slumping to the cold floor with my back up against the wall I am imprisoned and once again under control of an institution. Utter anguish takes over my mind and body and I force myself to wake and stay awake too.

The End!

I am lying in a comfortable double bed; obviously not mine since I sleep on a mattress on the floor in my current dwelling. Someone is curled up beside me. Our bodies do not touch, but I immediately sense a naked backside and catch a glimpse of pale pudgy skin and well-worn boxer shorts. I myself might be naked, not sure, but I am carpeted and warm in a white duvet and there is a soft pillow under my head. Laid still, with dawns light breezing through an open window and fluttering sheer curtains, I survey the environment.

Not my subsidized one room unit, located in a bedbug, cockroach, and crack infested Toronto Community Housing Corporation high-rise. Still, there is something familiar here, yet I know I have never stepped foot in this particular spot before this hazy moment of awakening. Feels like a haven of sorts! Good, because when the large middle-aged man beside me stirs, rises, opens the bedroom door and walks out pulling it partially shut behind him, I am not afraid. I pretend to sleep, assuming he has gone to pee and will crawl back in beside me soon enough, but he doesn’t and the minutes pass. I don’t feel high. No hangover either. Seemingly sober and sane I now realize who he is. A friend and not a lover. But what has brought us to wake up in a bed that belongs to neither one of us.

No time to ponder. Dreams do not stay put for long. The pace quickens. I am up and out of the apartment in a blur of movement. Down the hall I see an EXIT sign and run towards it. No longer safe. I feel the danger. Fear is the factor and the fright pushes me into flight mode.

So, I awaken. Sensory overload! However, my eyes will not stay open and I cannot raise my head. I succumb and fall back to sleep right where I left off. I will tell you something, scary or not, I do love to dream and this one is going to be a doozy.

The back of the building now. Flashback to the mid-80’s. Late night prowling through the downtown core. A recollection of Regent Park in its seedy past. But this is no longer my stomping grounds, so I stand for a moment, holding the heavy door open behind me, observing the maze of buildings and twists and turns ahead. A light here and there, evidence of life shining through small windows shut with dingy blinds. I let it slam and run from the brightness of the building, the warmth of that bed, and my one companion. I realize I am going to get lost, quickly too with each footstep I take. Regardless, I dive into the darkness of the alleys ahead.

Big mistake girlfriend! Talking to myself now! Panic is setting in. Paranoia could come next.

I am aware that I am clothed and groping my garments as I move along. Empty pockets! No money or cellphone! If I recollect correctly there was a knapsack beside that bed I awoke in. That was a stupid move; leaving things behind. Should have stayed there, searched for my associate, gone into that other room and found out what’s up. I think I did see people; others in that place where I was, down the hall, just past the front door, out of the corner of my eye. They must have known me and might have helped me. I turn to look back but the building is gone. Deep fog clouds my sight and I know I will not be able to find my way inside again.

Up ahead…is that an old Bell Canada telephone booth? Virtually obsolete nowadays! I step inside and lift the receiver. A dial tone greets me and I observe that it takes only twenty-five cents to make a call. I push zero but nothing happens, no operator answers. Loud buzzing piercing my eardrum. I check my pockets again. Just in case. No point staying. I cannot call anyone for assistance. I have no quarters and there is no one about to bum change from, besides, thanks to modern technology my contact numbers are not stored in my memory. Even if I was to reach someone on the other end of the line the connection would be futile. I do not know where I am. Only that I’m lost in a freaky dream; a frequent occurrence for me.

All the while as I flee there is not another soul in sight, neither foe nor friend. Am I alone? This cannot be. There must be someone somewhere? Seeking refuge I run past time-stained and gang-tagged concrete walls, through long dismal walkways between eerily silent high-rises. Finally, an entrance and I rush to open it!

THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS

I enter a shelter of sorts, like a dorm for adolescents. Am I one of them? Do I fit in? The mean looking matron directs me to a room at the top of the stairs and round a bend. A whole lot of girls, just mingling about, and no space on the littered beds; similar to a scene from an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist only the main characters are opposite in gender. One or two acknowledge me. Another moves over, lets me sit on the edge of her sacred spot, whilst assuring me it is okay.

It is not! More stairs, more girls, and mean ones too.  No sanctuary for me and they make it known, “Get the Fuck out. You don’t belong here little Bitch!”

I discover I am carrying something after all. Holding tight to an old and tattered phone-book, bound in brown leather, from years gone by. Numbers no longer available; addresses of people I no longer know. Stuffed inside are a handful of loose papers and one childhood photograph. Reaching the top floor I head into an alcove of unopened doors to enter an empty room, closing and locking that door behind me with a key I have never seen, before placing the relic onto a polished rosewood dresser. Immediately I pick it up again. Is it all I have? Could be scripts from the book I am writing, handwritten and so few of them. Did I lose the rest? Please God, I hope not! I hold tight to what is mine and retreat from the silent spot back into another chaotic scene. I see an open window, out and up onto the rooftop I climb and no one chases me.

Stirring again, with tee-shirt soaked in sweat and shivering on my mattress. Cold terror grips me as I slip back into the nightmare. With the girls cursing and shoving for a split second and then I am somewhere else.

Whoa, wait now, there is an obscure figure approaching, a man hovers before passing without acknowledging my presence. What the Devil is going on? Where the Heck am I? Still unobstructed I race forward, speeding past blurred bodies behind bars, females encased in tiny cells. Crying and reaching out to me, I am compelled to stop abruptly to stare at a beautiful face just inches from mine. The second last woman in the line on the left. An image of blue eyes and blond hair, so clear and familiar it freaks me out. Who is she? Does she know me? My heart bleeds for her, but I am in no position to stay and help. Moving on…

More guards just letting me pass. No doubt, this is one delusion that I have not dealt with before. This time while sleeping I have stepped straight into the loony bin, right out of an 19th century author’s facetious appellation of a lunatic asylum. Pale skeletal arms stretching and hands flapping, babbling visages, more pleas for help. Encountering a patient, then two, inmates they are, sad and shattered individuals wandering aimlessly in the halls, fingers tugging on open robes and flimsy dresses. I skirt to avoid collisions. Eyes vacant and no-one seem to see me.

Nurses too, sturdy hard-hitting ones with permanent scowls dressed in severe outfits. Blue aprons and matching caps carrying handcuffs and black batons. Not hostile, but not friendly either. Frozen smiles, hair pulled back tight under a badge of authority, similar to one of the female police officers who frequently ticketed me for panhandling on the Ramp when I was homeless.

“I want to get back to where the juveniles are,” I implore over and over, “I was innocent.” One by one they glare and label me a “Bad Girl”, “Liar”, and a “Deviant” too, before disappearing. No one cares about my concerns! Must be impossible to go backwards; it is too late and I’m too old for that escape.

The workers are busy and few and I am sure there are cameras too, watching my every move. I am shuffling now like a convict with nowhere to go, creeping like a C.S.I. agent without a gun or a partner. Doors slamming around me, clamoring and bolting shut. It seems that I have tripped over the edge, dropped off that thin marginal line once again. Been there before. If you do not experience nightmares I feel sorry for you. It’s a riot don’t you know?

I enter into a wide ward filled with makeshift rooms; hospital beds behind privacy screens. In my haste I stumble and crash up against a cot where a frail greasy haired old woman is bound and immobile. Stepping back before I tumble upon her, reaching to stabilize myself as she peers deep into my soul. Something is stuck to my shoe and then I accidentally pull down the track and drapery drags behind me as I recoil. Wait, no, it is not a curtain, it is a hospital gown and I shake it off violently while a passing nurse regards me with sudden interest. Do not want anyone to mistake me for a resident and house me here indefinitely.

I see something on the wall above my head. A chute of sorts. Climb up and shimmy down easily. Suspicious. Don’t you think it should have been more of a struggle? Must be a trap!

Down a short ladder and land in the middle of an enormous empty warehouse.

Wait! Looks like the way out is straight ahead….But the sign says ‘ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK – Advance & Proceed WITH caution!’ (Fun Fact: that is the message written graffiti style with purple paint upon my hallway wall at home.)

Real time now… There is an industrial garage door right in front of my eyes, wide-open, leading from inside out. I can see the street, the straggles of early morning traffic and the brightness of a blossoming day. Suddenly it starts to close. I am so exhausted and it really is a long way and has been a torturous journey. Futile to try to make it. No way, no how, but this is a dream and by George I do give it that last attempt before the metal rolls down and shuts out all signs of freedom with an unexpectedly soft clang. Lost and alone, sobbing and broken, slumping to the cold floor with my back up against the wall I am imprisoned and once again under control of an institution. Utter anguish takes over my mind and body and I force myself to wake and stay awake too.

The End!

February 25th, 2022

From my balcony in the west end I can see the sparkling lights of Toronto. It is breathtaking and I feel blessed to be free to live in this magnificent city. Yesterday, the CN Tower was lite with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow, and this evening it is purple and red, in honor of the essential healthcare workers, I think. Standing in the cold air on my balcony, looking out into the night sky,  I shudder at the thought and the media images now stuck in my mind, of another city, so far away, being bombarded, innocent civilians running for refuge and forced to take up arms against their own neighbors with horrendous odds. On a side note, my father’s family was originally from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Apparently, I myself come from a long line of gypsies!

It’s Canada Day 2021

This morning I awoke with a troubled heart. My Dog Keeba has reached a grand 18 years old, but these last few days her health has been going downhill quickly and I realize the inevitable lies ahead. And, aside from my personal woes, when I turned on the news I saw that Lytton, a small town of 250 people in BC, which less than 48 hours ago made national headlines after hitting the country’s highest heat ever recorded at 47 degrees, it burned to the ground in a matter of minutes last night when a wildfire raged through. No doubt a sure sign of Global Warming in my mind!

Then there is the shameful subject of our country’s role in the compliance, ignorance, and what amounts to genocide of over 1000 and counting Indigenous children, decades ago tore from their tribal lands and family members to die under the hands of representatives of the Catholic Church. On reflection, I was a child myself living in Canada’s capital in a safe white privileged middle-class home and school environment when these atrocities were taking place. I grew up oblivious because history failed to teach the truth in our classrooms! It was not until I took a class on Aboriginal Studies at UWO and befriended survivors, students in my study group who had defied the odds, and then later on the streets of Toronto in my associations with the homeless and some troubled individuals told me bits and pieces of their personal experiences that I began to get a glimpse of understanding. However, nothing would prepare me for the truths that are just now being exposed.

So, whilst today is a day of sadness, and with respect all of us have our own additional tribulations and the world is riddled with injustices, it is Canada Day and I am Canadian! So, I do hope you enjoy because Covid appears to be losing its battle here in Toronto and that in itself is worth celebrating.

Parallel Truths

Recently, I viewed a U-Tube video depicting two police officers brutally arresting a senior, shoving and plummeting the struggling man to the ground before dragging him up a set of concrete steps. Within thirty seconds of watching I told the person who was showing me these disturbing images to turn them off; angry and convinced that this was an atrocity which I  couldn’t continue watching. It was then that I was told the other side to the story. Apparently, the cowering suspect was a convicted pedophile who had committed heinous acts, skipped his court appearance, ran from the police, and was to be brought in to face charges.

That same day I watched a video of a ‘porch pirate’ boldly stealing a package from someone’s front door. He was caught when an eagle-eyed neighbor took down the man’s license plate and called the police. As far as I could tell he was guilty of theft, but it brought to mind an incident closer to home. I’d been waiting for a delivery from Amazon a while back and since I wasn’t going to be home had asked my buddy to watch out for it; as I live in housing where opportunist criminals are a part of the social network and the contents were quite valuable. That afternoon he saw a box outside the door across from me and so walked over to bend down and glance at the address in case it was my order delivered to the wrong unit. It wasn’t, but given that my friend is a young black man I imagine had someone witnessed and perhaps videotaped his actions you and I might be viewing and perceiving the situation differently.

Point being, be skeptical and aware of the possible parallel truths behind the content of what you watch and what you believe on social media.

Saturday!

Things didn’t go as planned on Saturday November 14th, the day after my father’s birthday. I miss him so and the candle was bright that night!

I could hear the young man shouting, “HELP, HELP, HELP,” from inside his apartment at the end of the hall despite the fact that there are numerous paramedics and police officers at his door and other’s standing under the resident’s balcony in case he attempts suicide. Wouldn’t be a nice thing to see if he dares. Brought back memories of 2 years ago when a distraught woman who I knew personally and living above me decided to block her apartment entrance with a heavy dresser and jump from her balcony ending her life in plain view on the bloodied concrete below. Never will I forget that sight and I can only hope she is in more peace than those who bore witness to the incident!

Back to Saturday afternoon in TCHC. Apparently he was taunting, screaming and throwing knifes out the window. Threatening to shoot if anyone tried to enter, which is why the cops knocked upon Cathy’s door (she lives across from this man) and told her to take the dog and get out of her apartment for her “own safety”. I peeked my head out and was instructed to stay inside! When I heard the swat team arrive it was the last straw and decided to cancel an impending visit with my amazing 7 year old granddaughter. My anxiety was at a high level and since the last incident involving this person and the police lasted hours and hours I felt it was for the best.


All resources were at hand and eventually after barricading inside for 3 hours the situation was diffused and the patient carried off in a stretcher, calm as could be with cigarette in hand. I recall meeting his parents when they helped to move him in 5 months ago and they seemed so thrilled he’d found a sanctuary. My heart goes out to all involved. After the fact, in need of fresh air and better vibes, out the side door I went running into 3 more cops who were rather sarcastic when I told them in passing that this whole thing had screwed up my family visit.

Afterthought – When it was mentioned to me later that this kid was white and therefore privileged and deserved more than a free ride to the hospital after all the trouble caused, I agreed. In hand cuffs at the very least! Had he been black the outcome may have been different. Very possible! It is what it is!

Quotes from Streets: Cold Turkey!

Streetgirl was out looking for Jeff today, since she hadn’t seen him for weeks and was starting to worry. Whilst walking she took fall photos with her new camera. A gift from a friend and much appreciated! Such a beautiful day, but once again her homeless buddy was not on his spot at The Ramp. Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to set off towards his humble abode, a tent tucked deep in The Hills. She feared to find him dead inside. One more of her crew biting the dust in 2020. Hoping not!

Instead she took out her sign, unused for months now, and tried her panhandling skills once again. Money is difficult to come by these days as are blessings from strangers with everyone isolating themselves. Half an hour later and all she’d garnered in her cup was a toonie and a chocolate bar. Then she spotted Kid walking across traffic towards her, hand stretched out for a shake despite the hazardous times.

“No hands man. Just give me a hug,” she says in advance and he did!

“I missed you so much. I gotta tell you something,” Kid says with a smile, “I got Me and Frankie off the heroin. Cold turkey!”

The young man’s bright blue eyes are clear and his skin is clean, no runny nose, deep scratches, or pimples. She is so proud of him. It must have been a hard feat considering the demons he has battled from childhood. Just shows what the spirit can do when the mind puts it to the test.

A Dog’s Eye View – MINKS & COVID (updated)

Since posting about the current relationship between Minks and COVID on Oct 11th the story has grown and I felt compelled to update! At this very moment the culling of millions of minks is creating a financial catastrophe for the citizens of Denmark and causing Global concerns! Media photos of thousands of dead animal bodies are disturbing to say the least! However, according to the country’s health minister while the COVID originally transmitted to the weasel-like mammals from Human beings, it has now mutated and People are catching it back. Effecting hundreds already and escalating the response!