Posted in activism, bigotry, bugaboos, chronic pain, community, conformity, crowdfunding, depression, disability, emergency, health, life, medical, observations, Personal, politics, society, storage, student life, urgent

3/25: Being Disabled

[Panicking because storage auction is on Thursday and I desperately need the full 1400 to cover it and save it from auction. Please share and spread the word.]

Today, when I arrived at Central City Concern’s EAC (Employment Access Center), my case manager asked for my opinion on something. See, they’ve adapted some access points of the center to accommodate disabled folks like me, but it’s an older building and they haven’t gotten everything. They do have a small single wheelchair elevator to go down to the basement workspace, and the front door has an automated button system, but to access the computer area off the lobby, there are two steps up. And then three steps up to get to another area. I have a walker (while I love my cane, when it comes to back injuries, walkers are better because you aren’t contorting your body to use it).

So he asked me what I would suggest. I told him that small ramps could replace the steps and that they might have to be a little longer than the steps take, but it would be more ADA compliant. He had me write this up on a suggestion form and he turned it in.

Why have I mentioned this? Because hearing the opinions and voices of those who aren’t part of the norm of society is something that doesn’t happen often. Since I first hurt my back at 17, I’ve seen and experienced a disconnect from society. We are either invisible, dismissed, second class citizens… you name it.

And it sucks.

For years, even up until about 6 or 7 years ago, I wouldn’t consider myself disabled. I had my back injury and countless other injuries and health issues, but I rarely classified myself as disabled. In part because of how I was treated at 18 at the first community college I attended. They were horrendous to disabled students. Being kicked out of music classes, dismissed for needing assistance, you name it. Their DSRC was a joke. A tiny office barely big enough to hold two desks. No testing areas, nothing. The frustration was palpable.

I now live in Portland, which has a sizable disable population. I now own the label. With my back getting reinjured (twice) and more and more injuries and such added to the list (along with mental health fuckery), I have come to accept the label as part of who and what I am. But just because I’m in a city with a large disabled population, doesn’t mean everything is wonderfully accessible.

There are many apartment buildings and houses I could never live in. Too many stairs and no accessibility. Granted, if I ever had the money to buy a house, I’d hopefully be able to remodel it for accessibility. I can climb occasional stairs as needed, but I couldn’t live somewhere with lots of them.

My case manager asked me today because I had my walker. Because I have to lift it up to get past those two or three steps. If it isn’t loaded down, which it usually isn’t, then that’s okay. Anything more than what I had today would be too much weight.

One other area, and I may expand on this another time, is how the equipment we use is not treated properly. Service Dogs are the main focus with this issue. SD’s are there to help their handlers function within society’s parameters. My PTSD is easily triggered by a person, usually male, sitting or standing too close to me. Having a trained dog with me would help assure that space around me would be maintained for my mental healthiness. Same for other working dogs. They are working, helping their handlers gain their independence from other people. Freedom to do things others find normal, easy tasks without the need for a person to always be there to help. That’s all anyone asks.

But there are far too many people claiming their untrained pet dogs are SD’s, when they are not. There are a number of reasons these are a bad idea. They can show aggression toward other dogs, even Service Dogs, attacking them or humans. This can potentially ruin an SD and this then restricts the freedom once again of the handler. Again, I may likely expand on this in it’s own post.

Our society has long dismissed those who are disabled (among other groups). We typically aren’t seen as equals who can contribute just as much to society as able-bodied/minded people can. Sure there have been some outliers such as Stephen Hawking, but he was known in his field before he was diagnosed with ALS. But for many of us, we are seen more as a burden on society.

All we want is to be treated as equals and be given the chance to contribute to society like everyone else.

~A

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Posted in activism, anxiety, auction, bigotry, bugaboos, bullying, community, creativity, crowdfunding, depression, family, friends, grief, history, life, observations, poetry, politics, society, storage, urgent

2/15: Dreams

(I’m back. Still need help with storage. But here’s a poem for you… fresh out of the deep dark recesses of my psyche.)

Freedom lost.
We are fired up.
Broken down.
Looking within.
And
Going without.

Where we were
Defines
Where we are.
But we define
Where we will go.

Shattered dreams
Empty shells.
Who we are
Is defined by
Who we have been.

Lost in the mirage
Of once being great.
Stumbling over each other
As we gasp for air.

Welcome all is
Only a dream.
A faint memory.

Fight to move forward.
At war with the machine.

Who are we now
To have valid dreams.

~A

Posted in auction, bigotry, community, conformity, crowdfunding, depression, disability, emergency, faith, family, friends, health, individuality, life, music, observations, Personal, society, storage, urgent

1/2/19: Perceptions (and #crowdfunding #urgent)

In the past, I’ve mentioned the relationship my dad and I had before he passed away in 2014. One of the things that I found interesting while typing up the previous post with Disheveled is how I was and am seen compared to how I was back when I was heavily involved in my music.

I stopped playing piano in 2007 and singing in public in 1998. Piano because I had this fear instilled in me when I was little by my mother about playing where others could hear me. I was about 4 and figured out the melody to the Star Spangled Banner by myself. And I was damn proud of that. So, I played it every chance I got, which was a lot. My mother, who was trained herself, could have come over and taught me how to control my volume by how hard or soft I hit the keys. But she didn’t. I’d get about 4 or 5 notes in and from wherever she was in the house, she’d yell, “STOP PLAYING THAT SONG!!!”

Fear instilled. I had moments where I was specifically performing later on and I was fine, but over the years, I grew increasingly self-conscious about others hearing me play. In 1997, I stopped. A year later, I stepped away from choirs and what little solo singing I did because of a couple of factors: one was that same fear. The other was my health. I kept getting sick and couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, I did. We were dealing with an extensive roof leak at my parent’s house and black mold formed (although my dad and sister denied it was there. I’m hyper-sensitive to it) in the attic crawlspace. Living there while working on my BA down the street (quite literally, as we lived right behind CSUH/CSUEB) was wreaking havoc on my vocal chords. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with VCD (Vocal Chord Dysfunction). It took years and then visiting the house after dad died to get to that diagnosis.

Before he died, I got into a conversation with him about getting back into at least playing piano and wanting to save up for one. He was (quietly) over the moon. He was never one for showing much emotion. Somewhere in my blog posts, I tell the full story, but I ended up asking him why he was so excited that I wanted to get back to it. His words:

You were so positive and happy when you were involved in music. I want to see you that way again.

-My dad in 2014

And then I look at some of my really old poetry from while I was still singing and playing. I’ve always thought I wasn’t one for wearing a mask in society. That I always showed who I am, not what others wanted to see. But in a way, I did wear one. I re-read old poetry and stuff of mine and see some anger and depression, all during a time when I was seen as this happy, upbeat person.

Another recent thing involves a meme I posted recently on FB about the Greek words for different types of love. I was reminded of a nickname a friend of mine gave me when our church group was studying them in some setting. “Agape Amanda.” For Agape Love. Love of everyone.

And then I look at my poetry. Dude, what did people see that I didn’t? While Disheveled is a bit more recent than the early 90’s, I do have similar stuff where I was angry at the world for treating me differently for walking with a cane (and not in a good way). Depressed for similar reasons. I was dealing with a lot of different things back then. I still am. Some of them are different than the ones then, but the emotions are still the same. Maybe now I’m more true to who I am in what I show. I can’t hide behind the mask forever.

~A

Posted in activism, anxiety, auction, bigotry, community, creativity, crowdfunding, depression, emergency, empath life, faith, family, friends, history, life, observations, peace, poetry, politics, society, storage, urgent, writing

1/1/19: Wars Within #poetry #crowdfunding

[Tossing some old poetry at you while I find my voice for current stuff. Also, CROWDFUNDING HELP!! Any ideas for how to spread the word would be AWESOME. I’m running out of time. As in less than 48 hours until auction.]

Wars Within

A brief yet continuing lifetime.
Adventures begun
Some yet to finish.
Close to home, then far off.

People change.
Some lives borne of turmoil while others seek out harm.
Battles internal
Spill external.

War raging in the world surrounding.
Miles away in others’ neighborhoods.
Peace flounders, gasping for air.
Among hearts blackening.

Thousands of miles I’ve walked
Still my heart is grey.
I’ll walk millions more
Until peace finds my heart and soul.

~A (2001)

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, bugaboos, chronic pain, community, depression, eviction, faith, friends, health, homeless, homelessness, housing, life, observations, politics, society, transitions

10/24: Adjustments and Changes

As of Friday the 19th, Portia and I are now in our own apartment again. We still have several hurdles to jump: getting storage caught up for October only (more on that in a bit), getting furniture OUT of storage so I’m not sleeping on the floor (I do have a mattress in there), getting my old electric bill sorted before the end of the month, and getting internet in the apartment.

Oh, and getting my checking account up to zero or higher. Ugh.

So, most of the past two years, I’ve at least had SOMETHING coming in from being a Tasker, but this month? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Seriously. I’ve had no jobs. Well, there was a team one set for yesterday, but I have a feeling the other person stole the whole thing from under me and will try to muddy my name on TR. I’ve already sent an email to a contact there about this. I have proof the guy said the task was postponed and then late last night said it was cancelled. If it was cancelled, I’d have an email from TR saying it was. Nothing. Soooo…. yeah.

I need to cover 200 of the old electric bill plus a deposit… and also storage… and ordering internet. I do NOT want to rely on the hotspot on my poor phone to do everything. But it’ll be nearly $50 to get it set up… if not more. The electric, I may be able to get help from CCC as a one-time thing.

Things are happening slowly. I talked to the person at SE Works last week about the training job. She’ll get back to me soon, I hope. Right now, I’m just holding on.

I had zero intention of this being a pity post or a begging post. If people want to help, great. But it’s okay. I’ll figure this shit out somehow.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be able to reflect more on my experiences of the past two years. Most of that time has been either staying at friends’ houses or in the shelter. Being at the shelter was likely the strongest learning period. Man, I learned a lot. I stood up for myself and for others being bullied. I saw how low people can go while they hold their heads up high acting as if they’re better than the rest of us. I saw, and was the ‘victim’ of food theft, among other things.

I still have a lot of emotional stuff to unpack from that experience. When I do get through it, I fully intend on being an outspoken advocate for resolving homelessness.

No matter where we sleep, what we eat, the clothes we wear, our gender or sexuality, our skin color, our mental and physical health; we are human beings and deserve to be treated equally in society.

 

~A

Posted in anxiety, bigotry, community, crowdfunding, depression, emergency, eviction, friends, homeless, homelessness, housing, life, storage, urgent

9/19: Spoons, PayPal, #crowdfunding, and #homeless frustrations

#spoons, #paypal, #crowdfunding, #emergency

I think the fact I’m mostly using my phone and not the computer to do most stuff online right now is partly contributing to me not blogging as much.

But then I’m also focusing on EVERY OTHER FLIPPING THING CIRCLING MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!! …

Sorry about that. I think I needed to get that out of my system. So… halp? Storage (*sigh* I know… AGAIN…) is once again closing in on auction day and they will NOT take partial payments this time. I need 1400 before the 27th of September. Somehow, some way. The fastest is via PayPal, although I no longer have an active PP debit card, so I’ll need a couple of days to get funds transferred to my bank account.

I’d get a new card, but I’m, yanno, homeless and only have a P.O. Box and THEY WON’T SHIP A CARD TO A P.O. BOX.

I know, as I just got off the phone with them. The guy in the security and fraud office verified my identity, said I can get the card mailed to my box… transferred me over to the card office… where I was told that no, they can’t do that. So, I’m stuck. Not like a card would show up on time anyway. So I have a few days (at best) to raise the funds and have the time to transfer it over. So, Sunday? Then I can do the transfer Monday and hope it’s in my checking account before noon on Thursday the 27th.

In other -not so surprising- news, I hate living in this shelter and need to get out of here before I go on some kind of rampage with a spoon and a pair of tweezers, threatening to do *something* …

Between theft, gossip, backstabbing, more theft, stupid people locking and closing doors that need to stay unlocked, and don’t GET me started on the perfumed Barbie wannabes living here in a FRAGRANCE FREE MOTHERFUCKING SHELTER!!!

Oh, and the outright bigotry toward trans people and stupid shit I hear people say and do. If you can’t get your shit together and use terms that have been around awhile and override the outdated terms you learned 40 years ago, then crawl your ignorant ass back under that rock and stay there. You don’t belong in modern society. Period.


It’s been a shitty week… and it’s only Wednesday. Wait, it is Wednesday, right? Yes? Okay.

I’m not exactly in a great mood, can you tell?

I haven’t killed anyone … yet. The week isn’t over.

But in all moderate seriousness, I don’t want to deal with the mess, so no killing. Not much on violence anyway.

I just want my belongings safe… and no criminal record. So far, I’ve been good on the second one. Trying on the first one.

So, if you can help… awesome. Spread the word.

~A

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, bugaboos, community, crowdfunding, depression, disability, emergency, empath life, family, friends, homeless, homelessness, individuality, life, observations, storage, urgent

6/13/18: Humans All (and #crowdfunding)

Still looking for help for storage. Auction is 6/28, so I do have a bit more of a cushion than I thought. Precedent has been that auction is mid-month, so I was going by that. So far, work this month has been sparse. Any help you can give… whether it’s donating or even just sharing. Everything helps.


I’ve posted in the past about being homeless and being human and all that. The recent story about the jogger (asshole) in Oakland who took a local homeless man’s belongings and tossed them into Lake Merritt. The jogger has been arrested for taking the phone of a guy who spotted him the next day. Hopefully more charges will be filed against him for what he did to the homeless man’s belongings.

This reminded me of recent discussions on our local NextDoor for my old neighborhood. Some people were vehemently complaining about the homeless population while others were doing what they could to calm them down and help them see reason. In one of of these threads, I outed myself as being a former neighbor who is now living in a shelter due to an eviction.

This is the thing: no matter whether we live in a tent, a shelter, a house, apartment, or a high-rise condo, we are ALL human beings who will end up in the proverbial pine box (some will choose burial, others cremation, even others various other methods that have emerged). Where we live and how much we do or don’t have won’t matter in the long run.

If you have all the trappings of success, they could vanish next week. If your belongings fit in a storage unit or a shopping cart, you could have a windfall next month and things could improve.

Or it could all end in an instant without any change.

None of us truly know where our lives will take us. Only where we’ve been. We can have all the grand plans and ideas written down somewhere, but it’s all a matter of chance, with some choice tossed in. I learned long ago to not plan too far ahead. The rug got pulled out from under me and plans changed frequently.

I changed as well. Every instance in my life that made me change direction in some way changed me. I am nowhere near the person I was 25 years ago. Hell, 10 years ago. I’m not the same as I was last week. I learn as I live. Each day holds at least one lesson. Sometimes one I have to keep learning (don’t get me started on foodstuffs).

But back to the topic in general.

No matter where we stand in society, we are all the same. Yes, there are differences. Education, disabilities, income, housed/unhoused, skin color, eye color, career choices, etc… we are each unique in our humanity. But strip away those differences and our human-ness is a common link.

I think some -far too many- tend to forget this. Like the people in my old neighborhood bashing homeless people. The differences are merely on the surface of who we are. They forget that they could easily end up homeless like me in an instant (well, maybe longer, but given a tragic incident and draining of savings and loss of job… you get the idea).

No one is perfect. No one is above another. Money doesn’t make one superior, despite what that person may think of themselves.

I may expand more on this as I go… for now, this is my observation.

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, bugaboos, community, crowdfunding, depression, faith, family, homeless, homelessness, housing, individuality, life, observations, peace, poverty line, society, storage

5/17: Assume Nothing… It Gets You Nowhere (& #crowdfunding)

Dear Bast, my life right now has become Hollaback Girl.

Let me explain. I’m listening to a mix of popular songs on my iTunes. Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani started playing as I opened this page to write. This part especially.

“I heard that you were talking shit
And you didn’t think that I would hear it
People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up
So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
That’s right, put your pom-poms down, getting everybody fired up.”

This part. This is me here at the shelter. We have a bullying problem here and I know some of them are playing me, being nice to me but still talking shit about my friend behind her back. Sometimes including me in the gossip bullshit. Last week, I stepped up. She had left the room and they continued to gang up and acting like the “cheerleaders” or popular kids, picking on the loners. I asked them, politely at first, to chill out, calm down… you name it. Then they got on my ass. Yeah… no. They were reported, warned to stop the behavior. A week later, they’ve returned to talking shit, making up rumors, etc.

I talked to the person at the desk about what they were doing this morning. She basically told me they have to be told while it’s happening (I had something to go to, so I didn’t have the time, but they were talking shit about her again).

The behavior here of women who are technically middle-aged adults is that of childish, cliquish spoiled brats. The Mean Girls.

I have tried to understand this behavior. I was always the outcast kid. The loner. The weirdo. The one who preferred books and music to parties and hanging out with the girls. Hell, I didn’t even have a first date until my senior year and he wasn’t even in high school (odd story, but he was really a perfect gentleman).

I see it also on NextDoor with people from my old neighborhood being angry, childish jerks about the homeless. We don’t have enough resources even for those who want them. But the anger and entitlement puzzles me. When empathy is brought up, they respond with, “well, empathy is all well and good, but they still do …” They give this attitude that it’s the city’s fault when it’s society’s fault.

I’ve been talking to my therapist about some of this. Damn near everything I bring up circles back to two things that oppose each other in some way: Wanting acceptance as an independent, unique person in society AND finding and wanting a stronger community.

Look to what we consider third world countries. Multiple generations living under the same roof; the elder women of the community work together to care for each other and others in the local community.

We don’t do that here. Far from it, in fact. We move away and have our own homes and many raise their kids and enlist strangers to help them. The sense of community is gone. Too many don’t know their own neighbors. Not knowing leads to fear of those who live next door. Who knows what that guy down the street does for a living. There’s a black kid walking down the sidewalk… a Muslim family moving in across the way… and because no one wants to build the community and meet their neighbors, fear stirs up… police are called on the black kid… rumors start stirring that maybe that Muslim family is really a terrorist cell.

And no one steps out of the pack of hungry hyenas to TALK to the black kid… to the Muslim family.

Assumptions are made. With those assumptions, innocent lives are endangered. Even killed.

If we all took the time to listen and learn and build community with -everyone- around us: rich, poor, housed, homeless, men, women, straight, LGBTQIA+, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, black, white, brown… maybe -just maybe- we can stop the fear mongering and hate. Communication is absolute key. Is this simplistic? Maybe. But it’s a basic concept that I think our society has forgotten.

But I’m just over in my little corner in my room in a homeless shelter with my cat. Watching the world set itself on fire.

~A

PS: Yes, I’m still crowdfunding. I’ve been playing catch up on other things and still need help with storage. I want to get it caught up before the end of May.

Posted in activism, anxiety, bigotry, bugaboos, C-PTSD, community, depression, disability, domestic abuse, eviction, health, homeless, homelessness, housing, life, observations, politics, PTSD, society

5/9/18: #Homelessness and #Elitism

This started as an FB post, but I needed to vent and my connection won’t let me post there.

…..

There’s a pompous asshole or three in my old neighborhood on NextDoor bitching about the homeless. And y’all know how I feel about elitist shitholes who get whiny about us homeless folk. Several others are stepping up and chewing them out politely. One even went to say that maybe the ones who whine need to move out of the urban setting to a suburb or countryside area.

Basically, if all you do is whine and stomp your feet about the homeless on the street, then you’re contributing to the PROBLEM and NOT contributing to the SOLUTION. Shut up or put up. Are there mentally ill and drug addicted homeless? Yes. And they are (many times) the most visible and vocal so they end up being seen as the “majority” of homeless. They are one segment of the homeless population. Many are working poor who got pushed out. And others struggling like myself to just get through each day due to one issue or another. There are families. To lump us all together as junkies and “psychos” is a disservice to the population as a whole.

I’ve refrained from posting or commenting over there. I may have to write something regarding the homeless population demographics and post it there and here on my blog.

What people like them forget is that everyone is one or two paychecks, a job loss, a medical catastrophe, or other events, away from being homeless themselves. I want them to just listen. Try to understand who we are that they’re whining about. Because we aren’t all what they think we are. Some, yes, but most are not.

Obviously this is something very personal to me. I am educated and homeless. No drugs or alcohol put me here. No major mental illnesses. Depression and anxiety… PTSD, sure. But I can function to a reasonable degree. Not everyone has that ability. And those are the ones left behind since the days of mass closures of mental hospitals across the country. [More info here on that]

If you refuse to be part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Stop being a pain in the ass and start working on solutions to help end homelessness. And shipping them to other cities and states doesn’t count.

~A

Posted in activism, bigotry, bugaboos, community, faith, homeless, life, society

11/7: Humans aren’t always Humane

Humans are strange critters. Granted, the homeless man probably shouldn’t have been begging ON the MAX, but nevertheless, he was. This woman across from me though… she had this air about her that screamed “I’m a churchgoing conservative” … I know the type all too well. He stopped and asked her. Her response?
“What are you asking ME for?”
Here’s what I take issue with: You can (and should) be polite to all people, no matter where they are in life. Many of us are one or two paychecks away from being where this man is… hell, where -I- am. Homeless. Not enough people realize this is very much their reality as well. We are all made of the same starstuff. Her response could have been much better. Even a simple, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash” is enough. I rarely have cash on me, and when I do, it’s usually for something specific. If I do have ‘spare’ cash, I will give it. Because I know what it feels like to ask for help.
I imagine that woman on the train today has never had to ask for help. I pity her more than the homeless man. If she is a churchgoing “Christian,” I don’t think Jesus would be too pleased with her behavior. His teachings were few, but enough to get the general idea.
Love, not hate. 
Not a difficult concept, really. But it doesn’t seem to get through to enough people. I’m not going to get all preachy or anything right now. I just wonder about people like that woman today. If she were in his shoes, even for a while, maybe… just maybe, she would come out the other end of that experience a better Christian. For those who consider themselves people of faith, especially Christians, how would your God react if they saw you treating someone this way?
~A