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Saturday, May 2, 2020

I stayed in bed until 2:30 p.m. today. Exhausted at the end of an emotional day, I slept fitfully for as long as I could. I also didn't want to face the day so I used my old trick of never opening my eyes until I needed to get up. I'm not used to time off and there's no place to go in the COVID shutdown. Plus, I didn't need any more anxiety I noticed creeping into me Friday night. I realized I was driving even more carefully than I usually do not just because I can't afford a ticket but, I found myself thinking, police know I'm homeless. They will stop and question me. In a few of my waking moments, I chastised myself for thinking that way. Oh, was I wrong. I talked to my amazing kid on the phone. She's studying comedic arts at Emerson College in Boston and can always make her dad laugh. Just after I shared an awful joke with her, after which she said, "I'm begging you not to share that online," someone knocked on my door. That's always frightened me in the past at hotels and in my state now, I worried more than in the past. I asked Clare to stay on the phone in case something was about to happen so she was able to hear it: Paul from the front desk said the owners had read the blog and offered up a free week to help me out. All my daughter and I could do for the next five minutes was say "wow" to each other. I probably also added some choice words which I use in praise of good tidings. Hours later, all I can add is "just wow." Later manager Don came to reiterate and ask if there was anything else I needed. Without prompting, he said he'd hunt down a fridge and microwave for me and soon enough he and Paul returned with their promises. Within minutes of this, the wife of one of the owners called me to offer up anything else she could do in the spirit of the local Kiwanis Club. I had attempted to sit down and work on the blog a dozen times today but was interrupted by many kind offerings. I just texted an old Wisconsin friend that I brim with gratitude. When I sat down once again, I took a call from an unknown number. It was the media reporter for The New York Times. He wanted to talk about the blog which had just two posts. (This is my third. I'm fricking prodigious -- which is also a great band name.) We talked for nearly an hour and he might write something out of it. You have to understand my relationship with The Times. When my amazing kid was younger, she used to refer to The Sunday New York Times as "dad's girlfriend." We couldn't start a Sunday until I had a copy and in the more rural cities in which I lived, that took some doing. She told her mom once that she met dad's girlfriend and she responded kindly that must have meant it was something serious. The kid said it was The Sunday New York Times. Yeah, it's serious. At the end of the day, though, despite being technically homeless, I remain the luckiest under that broad heading. I have connections. I know whom to contact. Or if I don't, I know how to ask questions about getting resources. I have a smart phone and wi-fi access. Hell, I have a fridge and a microwave now. Those who are distressed don't have these blessings. The New York Times guy -- by the way, I asked him if they were hiring -- asked me what I hope to come from the blog. I'm not sure I my answer was as smart as it should have been. I hadn't entirely formulated my goal. I need to keep my writing chops, I told him. I need to tell stories. I must be part of a community conversation. Why did it resonate? he asked. I said something stupid. "Dude, I don't know." Perhaps he will refer to me as the homeless surfer editor. But here's what I think: Homeless and editor are not two words you see together. It's a juxtaposition that goes back to Aristotle's ideas of art. Two clashing ideas. I am a homeless editor and this shall end at some point. But Lou Gehrig can kiss my ass because I'm the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.


  1. You introduced me to your daughter as a communist. You know that I am not. I care acutely for the individual human condition. The world is a zeitgeist starved for critical judgement, informed opinion and creative thought. You embody those traits. We need more individual humans like you out in the world.

    Genius like Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel) and Einstein (General Theory of Relativity) would work years on a theorem, then burn it all down to begin anew the relentless and merciless quest for the absolute.

    I have known you for only a few years, followed your insights and musings. Regarded you as one of the smartest people I know. I have always – and I mean always – thought you were larger than the world you were in. This last being no exception.

    This blog is brilliance, forged in duress. Over 12,000 views in two days? The magic of your words, my friend. The next phase of your life will be based only on the fertile depth and range of your intellect, the elusive absolute. On this journey’s end you will finally be home. And I’ll be able to say I knew that guy when….

  2. So happy to read about the numerous blessings, Rich! I will keep you in my prayers!

  3. I suspect the Homeless Editor will lead somewhere. Maybe somebody will fund a better online paper than the Bloomingtonian or perhaps Tom Tarzian will buy the HT from Gannet or whoever owns Gannett and you will be hired. Keep up the blogging and bringing good exposure to Motel 6...

  4. oh my goodness, so glad for your good fortune in the midst of all this shit. take good care