Today’s lesson: Play Stupid Games Win Stupid Prizes.




My name is Robert Sparks and I’m homeless. Those are words that I never thought would follow my name in any way, shape or form, but life sometimes has a way of taking your wants and bitch-slapping you with its own when you least expect it. It’s like the old saying goes. If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans.

I lived the better part of 39 years in Orange County after my family moved there from Long Beach in 1977 to a suburb of Seal Beach called College Park East. I attended Weaver Elementary, Pine Middle School, Los Alamitos High School and graduated from Laurel High after getting kicked out of Los Al during my senior orientation – quite the achievement to say the least. I would soon go on to live in Orange – right on the border of Santa Ana and a stone’s throw away from the Main Place Mall.

Followed by a brief stint in the Los Alamitos neighborhood known as Rossmoor, which to this day remains my favorite neighborhood in Orange County.

I’ve always been what you’d call a free spirit or soul trapped in the body of a stationary vagabond. You know the type. Someone who longs for the romanticism and adventure of the open road but possesses enough common sense to know that such a life ain’t exactly what it’s cracked up to be. I guess you could file that under be careful what you wish for.

At the moment I am typing this on my phone in a shelter in Riverside where I’ve been living, if you want to call it that, since the 19th of November. Prior to that I was living – or should I say sleeping – behind the now closed Coco’s on Valley View near Lampson in Garden Grove since my arrival back home on October 5th after a one-month stay in Girard, Ohio.

Seeing how this is my first entry here, I don’t exactly want to divulge too much in regards to how I got into the situation I currently find myself in, but just know that it has nothing whatsoever to do with drugs, alcohol or my mental health – it’s far worse than any of that. That of course being family and all the bullshit that comes from a history of having tic-tac-toe played on your back with knives. I don’t believe in changing names to protect the innocent. They’re all fucking guilty – including myself.

I will share more about myself as I become more comfortable and when and if I feel the time is right. But until then I would like to thank Vern for giving me the opportunity to share my ongoing experience with being homeless by introducing you to a world that, unless you’re an advocate, you would never want to inhabit.

Welcome to my world. One of the older inhabitants at the shelter is a burned-out flower child who wears her alcohol like fermented perfume named Christine. She’s approximately 65-70 years old with black braided hair under a black and yellow ski cap. Like most of the veterans around here, she can be seen dressed in an abundance of layers, regardless of temperature, and eyeing the ground for cigarette butts like seaguls eyeing your lunch at the beach. We get along fine, but really her only saving grace is that she saw The Doors in ’68 and I’m a sucker for anyone that was lucky enough to have been in the same room as Jim Morrison regardless of whatever state of mind he may have been in.

For the past couple of weeks she’d been in an on again off again verbal feud with one of the residents that live(d) in one of tents across the the street. A real winner who could just as easily break a bottle of dimestore hooch over your head as say hello to you. I don’t like her. And I couldn’t give a damn about her lot in life or how she got there. There are those around here who can be pricks that I have no problem with, even respect, but that broad ain’t one of them.

Yesterday I came back around 2 and noticed three squad cars and two black & white SUVs along with an ambulance outside The Place – a “safe zone” hangout behind the shelter used by the more ‘colorful’ cast of characters, like Issac (whom I’ve mentioned in a previous Facebook post), where they can chill, get coffee and/or a Cup o’ Noodles, and I guess forget where they are at this juncture of their lives. A police/ambulance presence on Massachusetts is nothing new. It’s really only when you don’t see one when you start to think something’s wrong.

Seeing as I still had an hour and a half until cattle call – when we can start lining up at the door – I parked my ass on the sidewalk to watch the depressing parade of lost souls – everyone needs a hobby. And I guess getting depressed is mine. Plus it’s always best to stay put when uncle LEO is out and about since it lowers suspicion.

I later came to find out from Jersey – a fifty-something fellow shelter dweller who doesn’t quite realize a mohawk really doesn’t suit him and looks almost as ridiculous as that thing on the top of tRump’s head – informed me that Christine and that wretched hag of a bovine finally had it out. What was once an alcoholic fueled war of words turned into a beatdown which resulted in Christine getting knocked out with a possible broken hip and a cuffed and arrested wildebeest in the back of a patrol car.

Like the Force with a Skywalker, the idiocy is strong around here and everyday it is on full display. Do I feel bad for Christine? Of course I do. But She should’ve known better than anyone that age, race, gender or handicap, doesn’t matter around here. If you mouth off or just blink one too many times around someone who ain’t having it, you’re probably gonna get into it and possibly dropped. It’s all on her. She took her tickets from this Chuck-E-Cheese freak show and got the prize.