The degree of difficulty


“What’s that smell?”

Living on the streets can be difficult in the best of times. So I often think about the concept of the “degree of difficulty” when it keeps getting progressively more difficult.

I’ll give you an example. Last night I was sick as a dog. Don’t know what it was. The flu? A cold? I got a temperature (the chills and the sweats), my muscles ache, I’m dog-tired. The usual. So that adds a degree of difficulty to my situation.

Then around midnight I’m trying to walk up the trail to my campsite up in the hills. Which can be difficult to traverse in the best of times — the “trail” is actually more like an “obstacle course,” I purposely make it difficult to navigate to discourage people from sneaking up on me while I’m sleeping. But on top of that, tonight the trail is covered with mud from the recent rain, which is slippery as ice. So I keep falling down the hill and right into the mud as I struggle upwards. Thats another degree of difficulty.

On top of that, some nights the trail is fairly visible. But tonight is a moon-less, star-less night. So I’m thrashing around in near pitch darkness.  Adding yet another degree of difficulty.

And on top of that, one of my feral cats (Moo Cat, of course) is so happy to see me, she keeps darting in between my legs, rubbing against me as I’m trying to walk.  So, as much as I try to shoo her away, I practically have to tip-toe up the hills to avoid trampling on her with my clod-hopping shoes.

So I’m thinking: “How many more degrees of difficulty can this get??”

So anyways, after several more mishaps (like taking a wrong turn and getting lost in the woods) I FINALLY make it up to my campsite. Now all I gotta do is set up my cardboard and blankets and sleep happily ever after (I’m almost home!!).

But no. Four of my feral cats are waiting for me at my campsite. And they’re gonna keep pestering me until I feed them. So now I gotta dig through my backpack, find the cat food and set up their dinner (I don’t know how all you housewives and mothers deal with your brats).

And then, right on cue, a pack of raccoons descends on the food. So now I gotta referee all the food fights between the cats and the raccoons

But finally, I, Ace Backwords, prevail (it’s a triumph of the human spirit I tell you). I lay out my blankets, tuck myself in, rest my head against my pillow, and I’m finally ready to blistfully go to sleep, when . . .

It seems like a fart at first BUT OH NO!!!

So now, I’m lying there in the pitch-darkness, in the middle of nowhere, sick as a dog, dead tired, and feeling this wet gruel dribbling down my leg. And knowing I’m gonna just have to deal with it. Somehow.

That’s life, ain’t it? “Degree of difficulty.”




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