Respite and Reflections

So that was Christmas, and what have I done? Good question. Well, most of Christmas Eve morning, I spent preparing Cocoon Kits, before finally loading up my bag and heading out onto the streets and subways. While traveling the latter, I was reminded of the difficulties of being homeless for the holidays. Most of the places people normally frequent during the day are closed, so much of the time will be spent riding trains and sitting on station platforms.

I recall from my own limited experience, that one of the most important things for me was having a routine. Most days that meant getting to Astor Place by 6 am to claim my usual corner table at Starbucks; checking the Village Voice for new articles or events, and maybe doing a few sketches in my notebook while sipping on a small cup of Tazo tea with honey. (Yeah, yeah. I know, but it was cheaper than coffee and I could always add some more water if I wanted to make it last longer.)

Anyway, it was only for a couple of hours, because the Union Square Barnes & Noble wouldn’t be open until 9, which gave me a little time to stop by my post office box on 4th to check for any mail. (By the way, there are more restrictions now than there were then, but it is sometimes still possible for homeless individuals to receive mail at a post office.) The great thing about the Union Square Barnes & Noble was the café on the third floor and their (at the time) laissez-faire policies on reading without buying. Of course, not wanting to overly take advantage of their generosity, I would generally only read a book for an hour or two before heading down to their location in Brooklyn Heights, where I would find the same book and pick up where I left off.

Occasionally, I would buy I book that I liked and would pass it on to a person looking for change. (Okay, so likely not the sort of change they’d been expecting, but I’ve always been all about “a different kind of change.” Still, that was a long time ago, however, I continue to consider books that I might like to share. This year the book that interested me was Neil Gaiman’s What You Need to Be Warm, which is a picture book poem dedicated to people displaced by war and poverty. It is a collaboration between Gaiman, the UN Refugee Agency, and a collection of illustrative artists. I think it is a wonderful work, but feel free to check it out for yourself…

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