Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Animal Farm

...had a profound effect on me as a high school freshman.

My parents purposely took me out of the country in '67, after Malcolm X was shot. The intent was to go to Africa, but after spending time in France to learn French we ended up in Jamaica the winter of 68-69. There were many reasons to go to Jamaica rather than Africa, but a major reason we went to a tropical location was because I developed severe asthma. Where other people outgrow their asthma, I never outgrew mine.

I went to school there until I was 7, where I learned how to read, do basic math and some Jamaican history. After awhile, my father figured that the headmaster of the English-styled school was stressing me and it contributed to my attacks.

Without medication, an asthma attack can last a few days, and mine often did. It takes all your energy to breathe when you have asthma, and you can't really eat and breathe at the same time. Your body freaks out at the thought of yet another thing obstructing your airways and shuts down your appetite. I was a really skinny kid as a result.

After awhile,  my dad just took me out of school altogether, and he and my mom began a loose attempt at educating my sister and me. We learned American and European history. We learned to speak "RP", Received Pronunciation, how to read and write phonetic symbols, and how to write a short story.

We read a lot. We had no TV after awhile, and at the time there were only two radio stations in Jamaica... RJR and JBC, so when we weren't digging up nannybugs, making mudpies, playing the "Eric and Johnny Game" or taking care of the cats, we read. We looked forward to Poppy's trips to town... he'd stop by the library and bring us books to read, or he'd buy us some. My favorites were Enid Blyton's "Malory Towers" series, about English girls at boarding school. I tried to make a game out of it, but the idea of being without your family in a boarding school was a really foreign concept to me, so we stuck to "Eric and Johnny"... were the Professor was married to "Eric" and I to "Johnny", and we had children and nursed babies and ran a household and ran an organization that saved widows and orphans and helped peasants. Except for the saving of widows and orphans and the helping of peasants, the "Eric and Johnny Game" was fueled by real life. However, the widows and orphans and peasants aspect was fueled by our weekly readings of the Old Testament during Sabbath Service, and the communist books my Poppy often brought home.

When I had asthma I read a lot, because that was about all I could do. I couldn't sleep... it was uncomfortable laying down and the sound of wheezing in my head made me dream of screaming ladies. I couldn't play with my sister or the cats. Laughing made me cough which sent my lungs into spasm, and talking was too much work. I couldn't eat. So when I wasn't sitting quietly somewhere waiting for breathing to come easier, I read because it took my mind off my thoughts...and my mind raced during asthma because without reading there was nothing else to do.

Aside from Malory Towers, which was just mindcandy, two books I remember best are Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, and Yenan Seeds and Other Stories, "a collection of short stories... (that reflects... ) the Chinese people's new life of struggle since the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from several angles."

Just for a moment, imagine being twelve years old, trapped in your own mind and reading things like:

The ruthless economic exploitation and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class forced them into numerous uprisings against its rule.... It was the class struggles of the peasants, the peasant uprisings and peasant wars that constituted the real motive force of historical development in Chinese feudal society. 
 And...

Our enemies are all those in league with imperialism - the warlords, the bureaucrats, the comprador class, the big Landlord class and the reactionary section of the intelligentsia attached to them. The leading force in our revolution is the industrial proletariat. Our closest friends are the entire semi-proletariat and petty bourgeoisie. As for the vacillating middle bourgeoisie, their right-wing may become our enemy and their left-wing may become our friend - but we must be constantly on our guard and not let them create confusion within our ranks.

Stuff like that has a profound effect on a twelve year old.

So then, because we were strangers in a strange land and we owed money to the landlord and he called immigration, we got deported from Jamaica, and I no longer had the luxury of endless reading, playing with cats and digging up nannybugs. I decided I wanted to go to school. Poppy was willing to keep us home and hidden, but I insisted.

I did well in 7th and 8th grade. Academically, I mean. Socially not so much... I was skinny and didn't wear flare legs or colored overalls and Pro-Keds,  my unpressed hair didn't stay in curls for more than an hour and I knew too much. Teachers loved me, kids teased me. Especially light-skinned wavy-haired Kay, who I realized later had a host of problems that had nothing to do with me. She lived in the rundown tenement across the street from I.S. 201 with her mother and several brothers and sisters. Her mother was a large, surprisingly dark woman. One day I got a glimpse of her dad... a white man who wore black rimmed glasses and came to visit sometime but didn't live there. She picked on me to deflect attention from her poverty and her bi-racialness. Back then, "white in Harlem" was DECIDEDLY uncool.

In 8th grade I had band, and started to play the saxophone. The breathing exercises I practiced to calm my asthma made my lungs pretty strong when they weren't spasming, and I was pretty good at sax. But then I discovered, by accident, that I could sing, and with that talent and very good grades (way better than most... I was the 8th grade Salutatory) I got into Music and Art for voice.

And that freshman year, we read George Orwell's Animal Farm.

It messed me up... because this was, apparently, the dark side of communism. At least that's how the teacher presented it. And it was the first time I was really forced to question things I had learned.

In January when I got evicted, in attempt to secure a "one-shot" deal, I applied for public assistance. I got PA briefly, but then I started to work, and after my first paycheck, welfare cut me off. I sent in the paperwork required to extend my Medicaid... I even made a note of the date: July 5th. The cut-off date was the 11th. And I'm guessing Medicaid didn't get my paperwork in time, so they cut me off on August 1.

It's a simple thing, going down there with my proof (I'm well under the income limit, living under my roommate's lease and on payroll for $250 gross a week) but God knows the thought of dealing with them just sends me into knots. And I'm afraid to do it online, because I know it won't get processed. I need to get over my dread and just do it, because I've now been without asthma medication since September. And for the first time in YEARS, I had a real attack last night. Asthma sucks. It forces me to double-think everything I'd like to do... like go get my hair done (cuz I made some extra money working with BigMan selling pictures the other night), or going down to an Occupy Wall Street meeting.

I've been paying attention to OWS. There are still things that disturb me about it... mostly to do with the lack of brown faces I see associated with it. And based on my own life and in talking to other brown faces, the lack of brown faces has mostly to do with a lack of time. Most brown faces feel that their daily struggle--which existed long before the struggle began lapping at toes of lighter-hued folk--takes up a lot of time. In particular, brown mothers of sons would rather spend their time administering to football leagues and school involvement, cooking, laundry and work than go down to OWS because the former collection of efforts is a tangible way to keep theirs sons from the hazards of poverty and racial profiling by the police. Whereas, OWS is more longterm and sort of not in the realm of immediate results. But mothers that I've talked to are interested and hopeful, but wish to hear more solid, tangible things they can do from home. Like close bank accounts. Or boycott Black Friday.

On a day like today, when I'm sitting here writing, waiting to see if my lungs will clear up so I can selfishly go get my hair done, I contemplate OWS and how it relates to brown faces, and my fear is that these brown faces will be late to the party.  And the party has everything to do with them. Without them, without actively acknowledging how this country came to to be, how brown faces and red faces were systematically brutalized and marginalized in the name of capitalism, I worry that this party is going to be just another "Animal Farm".

Yup, I know that's a leap... but my mind races when I have asthma.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Not The Truth Till The White Man Says It's So*...

...and other incoherent musings on what pisses me off about Occupy Wall Street...

*I'm paraphrasing my grandfather here, who's actual quote was "The Black Man won't believe it till the white man says it's so".

I've been wrestling with what to say for about a year now, long before this Occupation. And, for the most part, I'm happy that the REAL issues facing the everyday Joe and Jane are finally coming to light. My basic problem with it though, is that Lashonda, Raekwon, Javier and Milagros have been saying this same shit for a good couple of years now:
  • we were laid off/fired
  • unemployment ran out
  • Medicaid doesn't cover us/won't cover what we need
  • the rent is too damn high
  • how come I can't afford shit even though I work HARD, and #NameThatBillionaire is actually MAKING money????
It was always expected in this country that there would be a lower class. It was always expected that this lower class consisted mostly of brown-skinned people, some the descendants of slaves but more recently random brownskinned folk from a multitude of third world countries. When shit FIRST started getting tight, it was very easy to blame it on the influx of immigrants "taking our jobs". The brownskinned people already living here were mostly dismissed, since {begin sarcasm} they are mostly to blame for their own poverty.  They don't have an interest in education, pop out babies so they can live high off the welfare hog, don't like to work, and are born criminals.{/endSarcasm} Let's call those people, for the purpose of this post, "the riffraff".

Putting aside all the factors that LED to the creation of the riffraff, the riffraff themselves have always known that the only hope out of this cycle was education, or sports. Oh, and maybe rap music. And most of them, despite popular stereotypes, work hard--harder than you can imagine--to get out. But when the economy first started to turn, they were the ones to get cut out first... the maintenance people, the blue collar worker, the union worker. And whatever little gains their families had made to escape the riffraff pool were lost. But their complaints were met with deaf ears. And what's worse... other brownskinned people slightly above the riffraff pool had all kinds of comments like:
  • "You just need to get over yourself and get any piece of job. So what you have to work for minimum wage! Work in McDonalds! Clean floors!"
  • "You're just lazy! You don't want to read, don't want to learn. You LIKE standing on street corners! Work harder!"
The problem with the former statement is that it's not really as simple as taking any old piece of job. It comes down to math, so let me illustrate in numbers:

On paper, you're a single mother of two living in a 2 bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Off-paper, you do have a partner/most likely the father of both your kids but probably the father of one of your kids. He probably has a kid someplace else for which he's paying child support. Your rent is about $1200 but only because you've been living there a few years.

For the year, your...
Combined income before taxes is $78,000
After Taxes/deductions/child support it's more like $62,000.

Monthly, that's $5,166

These things are essential to daily living:
Rent:  -$14,400
You don't drive, need monthly metrocards to get to work ($104 per month per person): -  $2496
Con Ed (about $160 a month for light/gas, more in the summer if you have a few air conditioners)   -$1560
Cable/Internet/House phone (he watches sports/it  keeps the kids quiet. Note: Cablevision is significantly cheaper than TimeWarner in Manhattan) -$2160
Laundry (assuming you do it yourself in laundromat) - $600
Food (not eating out/cooking most meals/snacks for the kids) - $6,000
Your once-yearly clothes shopping for kids (even if they wear uniforms, they still need regular clothes. I'm estimating an average of $100 per month per family member... that's a lot but I'm being generous and bear in mind that kids shoes are expensive)   - $4,800
Your pet, 1 cat... litter, food, etc.  -$430
Household items (dish /laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, toothpaste - you spend an average of $160 a month at Target or Walmart) - $1,800
Medical co-pays/prescriptions (you live in the Bronx. They say your kids have asthma) -$600

That brings you to $34, 846 going out, and on paper, you're left with $27,154 for the year. And that looks good on paper, but in reality this is about $522 a week which is easily hemorrhaged by buying lunch, a few take out dinners, a trip to the beach or God forbid, a Yankee game. You take a vacation as a family once, go to the movies a few times, throw two birthday parties year, probably save a good amount for the kid's college tuition which is automatically deducted from your net income. It's also not taking into account ANY student loans you or your partner probably have, credit card debt (even if at this point it's manageable), the cellphone plan. And, you're a good parent so your kids have lessons of some sort... karate, basketball camp, football, music lessons. If your kids are under a certain age you pay a baby sitter. If you ARE lucky and do have a piece of a car, add insurance, gas, maintenance, car payments. If you live like this, you are by no means rich and probably wonder just where your money goes, but at least you have jobs.

Then one of you loses their job. Or maybe one of you was only part time to begin with because of the kids. Or you both lose your jobs. The absolute worst case is if one or both of you are a Creative/Artist.

The maximum amount of Unemployment you can get in NYC is $405 a week. If you're smart, you take taxes out of that unemployment unless you're sure at the end of  the year it won't cost you on your tax return. This would leave you with about $365 per check. If both of you collect unemployment, that's WAY less than what you're used to working with, but you can manage for a while. On paper it's $3240 a month. But remember... you no longer have health insurance. And you're not sure how long you will be unemployed. You go for foodstamps.

The maximum GROSS income a family of four can receive a month in order to qualify for foodstamps in New York City is $2238 (less than half of what you were bringing in when you both worked), so no foodstamps for you. You can probably get Medicaid, once your COBRA plan expires.

You cut all the extra stuff, maybe even pare down your cable bill. It's hard to renegotiate phone contracts despite what they tell you. You may get some relief from your student loans. Maybe ONE month from the credit card companies.

But your unemployment is prolonged, and the hundreds of applications you've applied for are met with silence. Not even a "I'm sorry but you don't qualify". You start to consider those minimum wage jobs, but get this... $7 an hour for 35 hours equals $245.... HALF of what you'll make on unemployment. So you ride it out. Because if you start to work at $7 an hour, and say you can't hack it or get fed up or something else happens and you leave that job, you can't re-instate your unemployment if you've been at the job less than a few weeks or made less than a certain amount of money. I know this, because I made that mistake...

More likely you'll find something part time at about $13 an hour. This could bring in about  $206 a week, after taxes. It's still less than unemployment, but if unemployment has run out you're damn grateful for $206. But certain expenses will remain the same... carfare for one. The cost of food. Rent. Cell phones... if you work and have kids in the city that need to travel by themselves you get to rely on having a cell.

Either unemployment runs out or you take a job paying less than what you're worth OR, you just have no income. You fall behind in the rent. Screw the credit card, eventually you just stop paying. Hey, now you can apply for Welfare. But the MINUTE you apply you get sucked into the Back-to-work program, better known as F.E.G.S. Welfare now requires you work 35 hours a week doing SOMETHING in order to get benefits. But you can't make over a certain amount of money... which is less than the Food Stamp guidelines. If you only work part time, say 20 hours a week, the other 30 hours you MUST spend at F.E.G.S unless you can document a reason you can't. F.E.G.S says there are jobs out there, they will find one for you... and sometimes they do. But again, the minute that job pays over a certain amount... byebye welfare. If F.E.G.S is unable to find you employment in your field... (and really... if YOU couldn't find a job in your field, how in the hell is F.E.G.S going to??) they put you to work in the welfare job center itself.  And if you happen to be a creative/artist/writer/musician and you think you can make money freelancing while looking for a job, guess what? F.E.G.S won't let you: in order to release you they need documented proof you're working, usually in the form of a paystub. But if you're freelance, you don't get paystubs. Think you can supply proof of payment? Sure! but you don't' get paid till you do the work, right? Right. And F.E.G.S won't release you to be home working without a paystub. Fuck it, you fume. I'll just stay home and work and supply the proof later. But if you don't come in with documented proof (in the form of a paystub) by the Friday of the week you were out, F.E.G.S tells welfare you are "FTC'd. "Failure To Comply". You get bumped off welfare INSTANTLY. Think you can just explain and be reinstated? Guess again. You have to apply for welfare ALL OVER AGAIN.

So fuck welfare. You'll do without it.

If you fall far enough behind in your rent, the landlord starts sending you notices. If you fall far enough behind in your credit card, they may sue you. Force you into a payment plan by threatening you with a judgement and ruining your credit. I have been sued both by Capitol One and by Chase... in the neighborhood of $5,000 combined. No, really.

Back to the landlord. He progresses from 30-day notices to 7-day notices to eviction notices. You try to get a "one-shot" deal from Human Resources (same office, by the way, as Food Stamps and Welfare, officially called TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). If your rent arrears are too high... they won't pay. If they feel your rent is too high (stick a pin in that thought), they won't pay. If they think you don't have the income to pay back the "one shot" (turns out this is a LOAN, not a GRANT), they won't pay. And, even if they offer you some money for you rent arrears, the landlord can always say "no--I want it all". Mine did.

That rent thing... remember Welfare has an idea of what rent SHOULD be, and how much they will pay. And that amount is $900 for a family of two (not sure what it is for the imaginary family of four, but it's not much more than $900). So if you find an apartment, the lease needs to say $900. If it says more, then you have to explain to them how you intend to pay the rest of it. And this is where that partner thing gets dangerous... if you list that you  have a partner, then HIS income needs to be included. And if his income combined with yours is more than the guidelines, byebye welfare, byebye one-shot. Instant case closed. Average rent in Harlem these days--still the cheapest average rent in Manhattan--is $1460. For a studio. That forces you to look in really scary neighborhoods for a rent you can afford/welfare will pay for.

And by the way... between the lapsed student loans, the defaulted credit card debt, the eviction or utility shut off, your credit is WRECKED.

Bye-bye job opportunities.

Many employers now run a credit check as part of their decision to hire you. If you worked in payroll or accounting you are FUCKED. And if you're in your thirties or forties, employers bet you can't really work for peanuts because you have kids and a household to maintain... so they give that job to the younger person who presumably has no ties. Yes, that's illegal. But look around you... who amongst you is mostly employed, and who isn't?

OK, so back to the Occupy Wall Street. I did say this was incoherent, right? While Ray, Shawnie, Millie and Javi have been pressed through the spin cycle the last few years, Joe and Jane have suddenly realized they are in the same spin as the riffraff. They are scared for their future. They decide to sit in Zuccotti park, which by the way, is a public space but is privately owned. They are mostly white, mostly young. The police are used to doing what they do... getting these people off this public but privately owned land because the person who owns that land called the police and asked for these people to be removed. But the Occupiers are young and white, and that dumb-ass Bologna got caught pepperspraying white girls, and it makes the news.

I have friends who are police officers. One or two of them I love as people, and I understand that they are used to seeing the worst of human beings on a daily basis, and this makes them jaded. I also understand that people are assholes and like to fuck with cops. Actually let me correct myself: white people like to fuck with cops because any brown-skinned person knows that fucking with the cops is like playing Russian Roulette. It could end badly.

My high regard for the individual officer aside, as a whole, I am no fan of the police force in general. I have seen them jack up fare jumpers on the subway. They arrest black men for bullshit like walking between subway cars. And I'm sorry the Occupiers have a taste of what it's like to be black, but I am now extremely annoyed that four white girls getting pepper-sprayed causes a major stir but the police who arrested "Skyyvokka" for handing money to a crackhead who was panhandling outside a club one night, after chasing down the cab he jumped into, hauling the kid out, arresting him, taking him downtown, cavity-searching him and then releasing him because no drugs were found and he is neither a drug abuser or a dealer... THOSE cops will never be corrected. That shit never makes the news.

The second thing that annoys me is the focus of the protest. "Wall Street" isn't the problem. Yes, companies like Chase and Capitol One and the infamous Goldman Sachs are running roughshod and barebacked over us. (To sue unemployed me in Bronx Supreme Court for a total of $5K... really???? And yet you got bailed out?) But they are only partially to blame. There will always be a small percentage of the world having most of the money. It's the object of the game to be part of that 1%. And they are so far up the food chain, that 1%, it really doesn't affect us. But it's the fukkers just below that who have fukked us over. In my opinion, the corporations choking the life out of  Ray and Shawnie, Millie and Javi and now Jane and John are non-publicly traded, privately owned corporations like these,

--or the giant real estate conglomerates that have jacked up rent in New York so badly that you normal people really cannot afford to live here.

--or the giant drug companies that have so fucked up the health care system that our sickest people go without medicine. I have a theory that there is a deal going on between Medicaid and the asthma medication makers. Whole tracts of the Bronx are asthma zones. Medicaid will pay for a $300 a month prescription for Advair. But it won't approve or pay for a monthly prescription of Nasonex ($130) which controls the allergies that trigger some asthma.

--or the hedge fund industry who bet against the American economy (that's how it was explained to me when I worked at one, anyhow). Reading the linked article, please note that many of these companies are supposedly "Headquartered" in Europe. But their owners actually live in Connecticut. Or Long Island. Those companies exist legally outside the U.S. for the benefit of the SEC, but trust me... those bastards live and work here.

--or those small, unnoticed companies that masquerade as arms of the government, like F.E.G.S. which has somehow have hooked up the NYC Human Resources Administration but is intermittently listed as "not for profit" or "privately owned."

So I get that people are frustrated and want to shake the system up. Maybe sitting in the park or blocking off the Brooklyn Bridge might do that, but I seriously doubt it. And the various unions signing on doesn't impress me. Because unions only protect their own as long as their own are employed and paying dues. The signing of songs and dancing of dances and sharing of food doesn't impress me... nobody is singing and dancing on the Food Stamp application line up in the Bronx... you can't even eat in those offices while you wait all damn day, let alone share some food. And no, the people standing in line won't risk losing their benefits to come down and sit in the park with you. That line to apply/ask a question/get a damn application is so long that it takes you all day--the line is literally halfway down the block, and snaked through various corridors once you get inside the building just to check in to "reception"--and if that day you took to stand on line has already cost you a day of work and you're doing this on your day off... naaah...they're not coming down.

Screaming that Wall Street needs to be regulated probably won't get the government to regulate Wall Street. First of all, the government is owned by the drug companies and the oil companies, and is being influenced by the hedge fund people. Scream enough and they may throw you a bone, like a Black president for example, but we all know how that worked out...

America needs a "movement". We need something to inspire us, since our Black President, the poor bastard, let us down (the one thing I will take away from watching them beat down Obama is that it doesn't pay to be ethical in America. To play "nice" is to be "weak". Ironic, isn't it?).

And just as a last irony... as I finally finish this random and incoherent vent, I learn that Steve Jobs has died. Certainly a brilliant man. Changed computing forever. A man with a vision...

... who almost single-handedly destroyed the music industry with iTunes which in turn decimated the graphic designer's dream job of designing memorable CD covers...
...who created a system of computers that are mostly incompatible with anything but Apple/putting a serious dent in the creation of other technology...
...who has addicted an ENTIRE generation of people to instant gratification in the palms of their hands...

...so it's kind of ironic to see these kids protesting corporate giants while Tweeting and Facebooking and uploading videos of every minute of this demonstration on their iPhones...

Again... Required reading
The Manhattan Rental Market Report, Sept. 2011
The Largest Private Companies - Forbes 2006 
Hedge Funds' Bets Pay Off - WSJ

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember September...

I'd said I wasn't going to do this, and here I am adding to the rehash.

But I realized, looking over this blog, I don't think I ever really wrote about 9/11. Not in depth. And I also realized that as many pictures as I have taken in my life... easily in the 50,000 range, I took no pictures that day. Not one. And I could see the smoke across the bay from City Island... I even went down to Ground Zero that October, and I never took a picture.

Part of it, I think, is because I used to work there. I had only left my job at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (as it was known then) about a year before because a former co-worker and friend called me to work for him at one of the last "dot.coms." He said the new gig was "family friendly." My Sun was just about a year old, and my relationship with his dad was--and always had been--tumultuous so there was a lot I was doing on my own.  I joined my friend's company because commuting to midtown would be easier and because I could work 10a-6p, which made it easier to pack my young baby up, get him to my mom's and still get to work on time. Turns out, not only was the company NOT family-friendly, it was about to take a nosedive and they canned me in less than a year, my friend shortly thereafter. After 9/11 he called me to say how horrible he had felt about convincing me to leave a great job at a great company, but I told him, he probably saved my life. It's highly likely I wouldn't have left Morgan Stanley otherwise.

I ended up at a company that did the back-office work for independent hedge fund investors, making a shitload of cash for someone with no college degree. But I couldn't hack that place... I got myself into all kinds of shit and walked out on the job on August 8, 2001.

I got a good severance package. They wanted to keep me quiet. I had been having an affair with my married boss and when I ended it, trying to work shit out--yet again--with the Sun's dad, my boss made my life a living hell. I really had no intention of suing him or the job for sexual harassment, though I surely could have. It was textbook harassment. But at the time I was really scared of the Sun's dad. I was more afraid of what he would do to me than I was mad about the job situation--and plus I'd brought it on myself. When I fuck up, I fuck up good, but I own my fuck-ups. I think my boss didn't want me to make a stink cuz it turned out he'd had some trouble someplace else, and gave me full pay for the next few months, plus my health care plan for 6 months. It was a sweet deal. And for the first time, at age 39 I decided that I was finally going to follow the family business, my inescapable destiny... and my heart's calling, to be a creative. I applied to Pratt Institute and to SVA for graphic design, but in order to support my application I enrolled myself in a drawing class at SVA.

By this time, my beautiful little boy was two and a half. We had just weaned. The day I quit the hedge fund I'd gone to my mom's to pick him up. I wore a long, yellow poloshirt dress. I normally only nursed him at night now, but because I was in a state that day and he was surprised to see me, he insisted on "boobie, please." I hiked up my dress up and nursed him, talking to my mom about why I'd quit. It turned out that was the last time I nursed him. I was still on my "mom's list"... an email list of about 100-150 women who had supported me through nursing, pumping milk at work, weaning and various other issues.

The morning of September 11, I had planned to go downtown with Bigbear and my Sun to Pearl Paint and buy stuff for the drawing class. But I woke up a little later than I had intended. I looked out my kitchen window. Ten years later I can still remember the legendary crisp blue sky. Nary a cloud. I began to have second thoughts about going downtown, because it was too nice a day. Sipping on my giant mug of Bustelo, I picked up the phone to call Bigbear and tell her I'd changed my mind. I flipped on the "Today" show to see what the weather would be like for the next few days so I could make a plan, and saw the World Trade Center on the screen.

One of the towers was on fire.

When I first started at MSDW, my department was located on the 70th floor. The company occupied twenty-three floors in 2WTC, starting on 59 through 74. I'm pretty sure the cafeteria was on 44, one flight below the 45th floor "sky lobby". There was one floor that wasn't really a floor. One of our engineers explained to me how it was really a large air vent system, designed to bring fresh air up into the higher floors. Each floor was constructed as a square within a square... all the elevators and staircases were in the center square, and usually whatever secretaries or assistants there were tended to have their cubes around the outside of the square. The offices were along the outside square, so that pretty much every office had a window. Every floor had it's own server room.

Every morning I would ride the huge elevators up to the 45th floor skylobby, and then take another elevator up to 70. I was single, I wasn't really dating yet after a bad break up, and I had nothing to do but work. I would get there about 8:30, make my rounds to the floors I serviced to switch out back up tapes and about 9:30, right before the cafeteria closed, my co-worker and I (the only two girls in the department) would sneak down and have breakfast. We'd do more rounds, then go to lunch. Sometimes we'd go hide out and chat in the server rooms, or take turns running down to the concourse level and go shopping.

I often worked late. In the winter when it got dark early, I would sometimes stand in the floor-to-ceiling windows, press myself against the glass and look straight down. It would feel like floating. I met my Sun's dad and got pregnant, and my Sun was born in March of '99. I took Family Medical Leave so I could be with my baby for three months, but when I came back that June, my department welcomed me back. My boss would let me bring my little boy with me to work on Fridays that summer, and SD would wait for us on West Street and drive us home.

Every three months we had fire drills. When I first got there, my co-worker was the female searcher. It was her job to search all the women's bathrooms in case of a fire. When she got married and left, I gladly took her place. We took those fire drills seriously at MSDW, and we all knew Rick Rescorla because he usually led the drills himself, and there was usually a fireman with him.

One day during a drill, we had a new-ish employee. Rick was explaining how fire and smoke travel upward, so if a fire broke out on our floor, 70, or above, we should immediately get to our designated staircase and travel downward. If the fire was below us, we should try to travel down, but if that were not possible, go up two floors. "If we're on a really high floor, would we be able to get to the roof" the new guy asked? I remember Rick saying that the roof was usually locked, so it was better to travel downward since the smoke and fire would still try to go upwards. "But what if we can't get past the fire?" the new guy insisted.

The fireman with Rick said "Don't worry, we'll get you out".

That morning, watching the burning tower on TV, I wondered if Rick and the fireman would be able to get those people out. It looked really high up. I called my mom. I told her that given the fire, we DEFINITELY shouldn't go downtown. It was too nice a day anyhow, and I still wasn't dressed. I hung up, still watching the Today show, Katy and Matt discussing the terrible accident of a plane and a building.

The woman they were talking to screamed that the other building exploded and the cameras panned away from the top of the first building to the second one, where a fireball was mushrooming. And I think everyone in NY realized at that moment that this was no accident. That we were at war.

At 9:20, I posted to my mom's group:

OH MY GOD
The Word Trade Center.... A year and a half ago, I was in one of
those buildings.... on the 59th floor. 2 years ago I was on the 70th
Floor.

They got both of them. I was watching TV and SAW the second one
explode.

I still know people there!

Oh, I pray for them....


Our usual mommy chatter about new pregnancies, night-weaning and Sesame Street software dwindled and was replaced with the various reports coming in, checking on each other and husbands who may have worked in the city.

At 9:57a I posted:

We're in some deep shit. 'Scuse the french. Somebody also just
bombed the pentagon.

Oh my God.


After that, the day became a blur. The towers fell. Son's Dad, who worked at Verizon came over to check on us. He was crying. And I realized that day that our relationship was pretty much doomed, because his tears didn't move me. I spent the day trying to shield my boy from the images on the TV, checking reports, trying to fathom what my world was becoming. I worried about my ex-coworkers. I wondered if all those drills had done us good... and it turns out they had. I tried to tune out the recurring mental image of seeing a plane come through those windows, skidding through the center core and exploding out the other side.

The world outside became eerily quiet, as the airplane traffic I normally heard coming in to land at nearby LaGuardia was grounded. And then the crazy roar of fighter jets. In the afternoon, I walked down to the beach with a friend, my crazy-haired baby walking beside us, still bright, still happy. I looked down at him, wondering what his world would be like, if war would touch him. There were two Mexican day-laborers sitting on the tiny pier; they had been there all morning. In Spanish, they told my friend they had seen the towers collapse, had felt the ground rumble all the way across the water.

My sister drove down to get her children; the Diva from High School in Times Square, MoodMagic Barbie from her elementary in East Harlem. Poppy was working at the college in Westchester. And all the bridges back into the city were closed, all the trains stopped. So SD and I drove up to get him. No one was on the road. Everyone's car was parked, everyone was home. No one but us was on the road...

The smoke billowed for weeks, every day just as grey and puffy as the day before. It became clear that there were no injured, no bodies. People just didn't come home; my mom's neighbor Chantal Vincelli, another friend of a friend. I combed the lists of the missing to see if any of my former co-workers were on it, but I didn't see any. I heard they all got out. Except for Rick.

A few weeks later, I started my class at SVA. I hadn't been downtown since the towers fell, and I took the F train to 23rd street. When I came out of the subway, there were fliers papering the station: MISSING. HAVE YOU SEEN HER? LAST SEEN.... when I came out of the station, there were more fliers, littering the streets, riding the gutters, papering the walls. Hundreds of them.

In October, I took the train to Chambers, my old stop. As soon as the doors opened I smelled that smell... of death and fire and sadness. I walked my old route, the empty sky overpowering me. Everything was blocked off, so I cut down a side street and from afar I could see the jagged remains, like some huge skeleton, and mountains of rubble.

So that's my 9/11 story. Every year, even though I don't normally write much about it, I think of my old co workers and wonder if they ever recovered. I think of my friend's friend Joyce, of Meggie's brother, of Chantal. I try not to succumb to the media hype and the replays, I try not to search out the pictures anymore. One day, maybe I'll post the pictures I took of my cube and my view out the 70th floor windows, and the lobby.

And the image above...  I may "retire" it after this year, but I'm not sure. I've never trashed a file before. There aren't many physical copies around. I created this image a few years after 9/11, when I was a student at Pratt Institute. The first print I matted and framed, and took it to the 49th precinct in the Bronx and gave it to them. The officer at the desk looked at me a little blankly. I often wonder what happened to that print, if they still have it, if they know that it meant something to me to give it to them.
I sold another print to a good friend and fabulous supporter, and one year I made magnets out of the image and sold them at a craft fair, donating half the proceeds to AmeriCares.

I thought to revamp the image this year, but it didn't work out. I guess it wasn't meant to.

I still have four that I printed and signed last year, but I think that's it. I think I won't print them anymore.

It's not that I think we shouldn't commemorate 9/11... I think we should always pause to remember. But I think that for those of us who didn't suffer a direct loss, we should step back and allow those that did to live... to grieve, to recover.

And I think that for the rest of us, we should use this day to remind ourselves that America is SUPPOSED to be tolerant of other religions and beliefs. We say we are, but we're not. In the years that followed that terrible day, the persecution and profiling of our Muslim Americans disgust me. Our treatment of immigrants, legal or no, has gotten worse. If we give in to the hate that was visited on us that day, we are no better than those that wish our annihilation.

Except for Bin Laden. For the record... Obama gets big props from me, for getting Bin Laden. He got his just desserts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Miss Writing

...lately I miss it a lot. I poke around blogworld and it's interesting to see who writes, still. Most people, including me, like the interaction of FB or the shortness of Twitter. I haven't gotten into Twitter..... I think the people worth following are witty and I'm not that witty. I can be funny, but I'm not witty. I do have a "Tumblr". It took me a long while to get to Tumblr. But what I like about it is it's much easier to upload photos t it. And that's what I've been doing a lot of lately... cellphone snaps that I post to Tumblr.

But I miss organizing my thoughts and writing them out. It's just that by the time I get around to writing now, I'm exhausted.  And the mornings have not settled "in" yet, now that school is back in session. But I need to get back.

Have I got stories...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dangit...

...I wanted to start writing every day again, but that has proved unwieldy. We're still settling. Worse, my roommate still isn't in the place, a fact that was really upsetting me until I decided to look at it like this: I'm being paid $2250 a month to help someone sort through 15 years of boxes, and relocate to a smaller place. When I look at it like that, I don't feel so bad, cuz really, sorting through 15 years of somebody else's boxes is no easy feat. It involves TONS of patience, some therapy, a lot of dust and some heavy lifting. Oh, and logistics coordinating. Plus, I make sure she eats properly.

I LOVE where I am now. The apartment is cosmetically beautiful, though what lies beneath can be some very old yuckiness... bad bad wiring, silverfish, giant roaches in the basement. But our place is clean and bright and filled with varnished wood. And the location... wow. I couldn't have landed in a better place... a few blocks from my family, 10 blocks away from my old High School, a few minutes from work. What used to take me an hour and a half on a good day, takes me maybe 15 minutes. ANYWHERE. My Sun goes to school by himself. We can walk to more than one friends house.

And while the Rock was beautiful and peaceful and the entire length of it could be walked in a half hour and I do miss the sea... it was a mile-and-a-half of pretty much the same neighborhood, the same people. Where as, walk a mile and a half in any direction from my new Zero... and the landscape and architecture changes drastically.

So... I still have no money. I have a part time job, though. Framing rich people's artwork and odd collections and the occasional family photo. But mostly rich people's artwork. Yesterday a signed Ralph Steadman came through to be reattatched. WOW. Serious coolness. And last week we had a Shepard Fairey. And some kick-ass Pearl Jam posters, limited silkscreens. But I have no money. By the time I pay for my storage unit, various small bills, the phone, maybe a cheap shirt, I'm dumb broke again. I have been battling with public assistance and they won. Though at one point they did throw my some money which I bought a TV with. And between working for roommate and my framing job, there is little to no time for my own shit. I'm starting to feel it. Taking cellphone snaps helps a little... but I look at some of the art and photos that come through to be framed and think shit... I'm at LEAST as talented as this... and MORE talented than THAT and shit if I had the time I could be as talented as THAT.

But....

All things in due time, I guess. I can't complain. I spent so long fighting so hard to hold on to the Rock and my place there, that I am continually amazed that letting go turned out to be infinitely better.

Well... gotta dig up $5 from who knows where to put on the laundry card so I can dry my clothes...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Red Hook, BK


...is way too trendy for my taste but it sure looks cool...
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Upper West Side

...is about as strange and "small town" as the Rock I am leaving...

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Monday, April 18, 2011

I Will Miss This

...when I go...



...the Rock has been good living the last 15 years, but it's time to go. It was a great place for a small boy but it's not such a great place for older boys. Boredom and isolation tends to breed random acts of stupidity, and I hope that the Sun will have better access to things by being closer to them.

I will miss small town living, sea breezes and beaches within walking distance...

I'm a little verklempt.

But I can't wait to be gone.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seeing

...ordinary things in a different way.



...the ceiling of the subway station at 96th street...

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Male/Female

...sitting on a subway train. Notice how much room the man takes up...

An every day thing, and a most annoying fact of subway life.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Sitting In A Park

...waiting for the world to start up...

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring

...finally...

Although it damn sure doesn't feel like it.


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Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Wonder...




...how long these water towers will continue to be part of the New York skyline...

...sad...
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The Downside

... of that cool fuzzy feeling is I don't like the fuzzy after effects of drugs. That little bit of codeine had me fuzzed over the entire next day. But I guess that's why once you take drugs you keep taking drugs... to get rid of the fuzzy after feeling.

My back still hurts. But it's sort of localized in one place so either I have some kind of kidney pain or a pinched nerve. Cuz it's not muscular pain. The ManChild (right now he's worrying me... a dark cloud of testosterone is clouding his sunny face) said I should just go to the doctor.

I should. But I don't think I have medicaid anymore, and God knows I don't have the time to sit in an ER.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Totally Get It Now

...the drug thing. Sometimes you just want it to stop. Just want to stop being annoyed, or stressed, don't want to feel any pain, don't want to be mad. Don't want to feel the world pressing against you, don't want to feel the weight of people's issues pushing into your mind. Don't want to hear the voices chattering.... just for a little while.

Sometimes you crave being comfortably numb... crave the warm tingly feeling that starts in your toes and fingers, pain melting away on a soft warm cloud, silence rolling in on a fog, edges dulled... noises muted...

My back started hurting yesterday. I went to reach for something last night and it grabbed so bad it took my breath away. On top of all the other stuff going on, hurting like that just made me want to cry. I found myself craving drugs... and I've never had anything stronger than codeine or pot.

UN has some South African OTC stuff that has a low dose of codeine in it... which i just took. I can feel it dissolving the pain in my back, the stress in my head... and so, the drug thing? I totally get it....
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Limbo

...of sorts.

Not quite sure how this is all going to work out, and a little concerned because nothing is moving even though we now have a key.

BigMan met the super last Thursday and picked up the key for us. When I went to meet him in the spot, his face told me he wasn't too happy with the place, a fact which freaked me out for a few hours.

Till I remembered that day about two weeks ago when I traveled from Broadway to Lexington, up north to Inwood and and as far down as 116th. I saw seedy building lobbies, ratty lobbies, so-so apartments, ok apartments, nice supers, mouse droppings... and not one apartment I thought UN would be comfortable in. Or a neighborhood she would be OK in. She's the one who's credit is being run, the lease is in her name... I have nothing. Am nothing, anymore.

A few weeks prior we'd seen a really beautiful apartment we all loved on Cabrini Boulevard. It was listed by Adina Equities, and I'd found the listing on Craig's List. By the way... I hate Craig's List. For little things I suppose it's a good useful tool, but for things like apartments or jobs it's filled with scammers. Including Adina Equities, which purports to be a high-end realty company, but is really pretty snooty. In any event, UN passed the credit check with flying colors and they scheduled her for an interview. I went with her to the company that apparently managed the building, Cooper Square Realty. Listed at $2195, the place was beautiful... a true 3 bedroom with a living room AND a dining room. The master bedroom had a small bathroom in it, and there was another bathroom between the last two bedrooms. It would have been perfect for us. Room to spare. But during the interview the realtor briefly let it drop that the rent may be raised... and we didn't pay attention.

And right at the end, expecting a happy ending, the fuckers told us they denied UN's application at that rent. But we could make an offer. I was pissed. Disappointed. And that's an understatement.

So we had to search all over again, and after that place, nothing looked good. Except for the one I walked into at the end of a very long day. At dusk, with college students heading home, the place seemed warm. And it had a great kitchen. But during the day, the view isn't that great, two of the bedrooms are dark, the bathroom is tiny and the rooms aren't that big. But it's clean, secure, all the wood has been restored... and the kitchen is fabulous.

I had to give up my dream of a zen bedroom devoid of shit. Hopefully UN will be OK with giving me the bright one after 11 years of sleeping in a pitch dark room. But I'll have to take Bigbear's old loftbed, and set up a work space underneath. And I still don't know where I'll put my clothes. Because I never had dressers... my old place had two closets in my room.

So I'll have to make do. I filed my taxes and was delighted to find I may actually get some money back, because I'm poor. And I wanted to buy a flat screen TV and leave the big ginourmous one that the BabyDaddy had left us when he moved to California. But BigMan nixed it... and then nixed it again in front of UN. Which the more I think about it, pisses me off.  For a 100 different reasons.

On top of this, my kid is giving me a hard time. He's giving his father a hard time, too.. and BD is not resilient or negotiable and is not handling this well or rationally at ALL, resulting in my literally having to step between them last week.

And  I'm getting the feeling that people around me are starting to doubt my ways and my reasoning... which is kind of funny because despite the fact my life looks like a train wreck, in my gut I feel like I'm following a path. A path that's taking dangerous curves, but will be OK in the end.

But then I worry... because psychopaths and people with social dysfunctions seem to think they're right. You know -- people with narcissistic tendencies. Which I do have, admittedly.

But I do think that the apartment I found is going to work for us, even if only as a way to pry UN out of this one, I DO know I want to leave BDs fucking TV behind, and I do feel strongly that I can't fight every stupid battle the kid throws my way. I have to leave my fights for the big ones... and I do know I'm capable of kicking his ass when I need to...

But I am in limbo.

On the other hand, part of two of my "Taste of Judaism" class was last week. Once I'm in the new spot, I think I may join. And I'm putting my kid in Hebrew School.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coming online again...

...slowly. Quite a few "false starts" and unexpected reboots. Uninstalling unnecessary "programs" and apps... updating or deleting drivers.... another system hang.... a dump...

Turn the thing off and turn it back on again, try again.

Amusing to me that I still remember the steps of troubleshooting a faulty machine but have NO desire to do so. I turn it over to BigMan when the machines act stupid. I've no patience. I read somewhere or talked to someone once who said the optimal time in our lives to understand computer programming is late teens to early twenties, and getting younger every day. Every major computing breakthrough in the last few decades has come from someone with barely any chest hair; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg.

I had a whole career in my twenties centered around machines... machines I had taught myself to fix. Now the thought of that makes me want to run.

But anyhow...

In my startingover I'm trying to get back to writing. Writing everyday.

But since I'm not at my regular machine every day, maybe I'll do a photo every day. My cell phone takes ridiculously cool pictures. (Shout out to the dying art of photography... every fukker with a cellphone or worse, a digital slr and Photoshop now thinks they're a photographer. My cell phone pics got rave reviews on Facebook. Broke my heart. Guess I have to come up with something new...)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hold On To Your Hat....

...it's gonna be a bumpy ride through the teenage years. My cute pleasant little boy is smelling his balls. The hair on his lip is unmistakable, and the hair on his face is coming in. His voice is deeper still. He likes being a bigboy but he's having trouble with the thought of a beard.

And he's not getting along with his father.

At all.

And his father doesn't help.

Now, granted, BD was never one to control his temper. It's really hard to have any sort of nuanced conversation with him. I always felt talking to him was like speaking to someone who doesn't speak English. But he is a good dad, dedicated to his kid.

But he doesn't get that Sun is having issues with privacy. He doesn't respect that. And BD is quick to throw accusations my way which doesn't help me want to deal with him.

And my kid's fast mouth is not helping his ass. And his 12 year old cockiness makes him think he can take on his dad and win. And he won't win.

Every parent goes through this. But not every parent is BD.

God help me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Some Time Later...

and I am still in transition, still rebooting. I have been out of my home almost 3 months. I'm not any more comfortable... but I'm not any less comfortable.

I wish that I had had the mindsight to write every day, to tell bit by bit what is happening... but there has been so much. And I wonder, if and when this is all settled, if I'll ever be able to reconstruct it all.

I'm about to move into a new home that I will share mostly with Upstairs Neighbor. I'm a little apprehensive. I've never lived with another female since I lived with my sister. I moved out when I was 22, when I got married. I have only ever lived with men a total of maybe 5 years out of my entire adult life. But I know that my apprehension is about the same as hers... she who had been married 38 years and is now without husband or mother.

But we get along... I'm pretty sure that will continue in the new place. Any friendship works when you can talk and we talk a lot, UN and I... about the things that scare us, what we need.

The apartment search was brutal. Whatever could have gone wrong went wrong. I looked at a bunch of places. In the beginning we looked together but then she had to work and we were running out of time so I continued the search without her. The broker was great... he earned his fee.

The places I found were either ratty or small or in too big a building. One place was perfect but at the last minute the landlord wanted a hell of a lot more money than what the place was advertised for, another place we missed out on because someone applied online for it before we could get our paper app in. Then the place I finally walked into and loved instantly gave us a hard time because we couldn't get cashier's checks within 24 hours. But finally... finally I think we have a new home... the broker says the key will be released to us next Wednesday. I am cautiously optimistic that things will go OK... I'd be more optimistic if things had gone smoother.

My job is cool; the people are strange and funny and artistic like me. A perk is seeing the art that comes in. Another perk is the occasional free frame. And yet a third perk is the thought that I may perhaps, have the honor of hanging some of my framed work in the store front gallery.

And the other night, I attended the first of three classes, "A Taste of Judaism". It had been a small ad I saw in one of the free New York newspapers. I'd torn the ad out and wondered if I should attend. But then I lost the ad and didn't see it in the next week's paper. And then the ad ran again, and I registered. And I tried to chicken out but the odds conspired to work in my favor and there I was, with the BigMan, listening to a rabbi from a Reformed temple talk about what it meant to be a Jew.

After years and years of wondering, in spite of years of keeping Holy Days on a Roman calendar, sitting there listening I realized with a giggle that I really am a Jew...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

...rebooting...

Sometimes in life you do get a "do-over". The thing is, you think it's going to be a cool, useful thing and that you get to go back and fix all the wrongs.

But actually what happens is first a "blue screen of death".... (hell)things freeze over, shit does a memory dump and the screen goes black. And then you have to reboot... restart. And really it kinda sucks. You may come back up first in "protected mode" where the screen looks all weird, or the network doesn't connect... or you have momentary freak-out moments when you can't access your hard drive. Or your bank account. Or something.

So, on January 13 my screen went black. The Marshall came. Luckily, most of my stuff was out of the apartment except for a ton of stuff I really wanted to donate to Salvation Army including my really big pine TV cabinet.

And I'm only now sort of coming out of a fog. I'm with my neighbor upstairs, camped out in her second bedroom. Raccoons live in the ceiling. I don't see them, but I hear them pattering around, occasionally fighting with each other. It skeeves me and it's annoying. But it's not the worst thing.

The worst part is missing BigMan. And my own bed. And him in it. And neighbor smokes... I've been congested for 3 weeks and my eyes don't stop running.

The Sun has pretty much taken it in stride... at least I thought so until I went through his book bag tonight and realized it's in complete disarray. And he's kind of short tempered and has an attitude... but he's in the same building and has most of his stuff, and a 12 year old girlfriend. He also doesn't want to leave me, claiming it's because he hates his dad (they DID have an issue a couple weeks back) but I think he just wants to stick close.

It's not all bad though, my life. It could be worse. It could easily get worse. But there are people worse off than me... who would love to be in my shoes. Like the woman I spoke to the other day... a parent of one of the violin kids, who told me rather calmly the horror story of her 63-year-old mother getting bashed over the head two months ago with a lawnchair by a man she didn't know and who's proposition she had rebuffed. He beat her so bad over the head and face that she lost both her eyes and most of her teeth.

She told me this on the evening of the day I had sat in FEGS all day because I'd been "FTC"'d - Failure To Comply. According to their records, I didn't show up to sit on my ass all day. Oh yeah, I started my new job at the framing store that day. A fact I'd told FEGS about beforehand. And called to report the day I started. But they marked me absent, and I got FTCd. I'd let it go, but I need to keep my Public Assistance status so that I can get this rent help. After that, FEGS can kiss my ass.

But I digress. I sat there all day on some bullshit, thinking at least it would be worth it for the weekly metrocard I've been getting... but instead I got a blank stare and 4.50 card. And I had been barely containing my frustration all day but when I didn't ge the bullshit metrocard I almost lost it. I tell you... when I'm in my own life again, have I got a rant about Welfare. What bullshit.

But again, I'm off track. The point of my story is that I was feeling thoroughly broken and discouraged. I went to BigBear's old apartment where my computer is and where BigMan will be using it as workspace... and I cried. But then I went to Opus to get my Sun, and ViolinMom told me her horror story and I remembered this song...



So... I'm grateful I have a caring neighbor who smokes but who has let me into her home, even though the landlord had a cow about and turned the heat way down low, then threatened HER with eviction.

And I'm grateful BigMan loves me and helped me pack and store all my shit.

And I'm grateful that ParentingPartner has curbed his darker tendencies and let me be, for the most part. And I'm grateful for my Sun...

But I really can't wait for my life systems to come online again. Cuz this shit is draining. This shit is for the birds....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Never say never...

...never say "I'll never do that" or "that will never happen to me..." cuz experience has taught me--continually teaches me that the one thing you say you'll never do is the thing that ends up happening. And then you are faced with a decision about how to handle it.

This of course brings up all sorts of moral debates in oneself, if you are any kind of humane person... take the high road? Go for self? Stay the course?

So my "never" was that I was not going to be evicted. And consequently, here I am in a mostly empty apartment. The cable had been cut off and I have a few hours of internet left... my phone is cut off one way. I called Con Ed this morning and asked them to keep the lights on until Monday, since Tuesday the marshalls could be at my door.

Though I plan on being vacated from here by then... half of my stuff is already in storage, and after this post I will shut down my computer and pack up my desk.

For the while, my Sun and I will be in an attic room in Upstairs Neighbor's apartment. It's a pleasant room, and my kid and I get along pretty well and we'll be OK.

The hardest parts for me are not being in my own space (I've been in my own space since I was 18 years old... and have lived mostly alone but with one person since then) and... not sleeping next to BigMan. He's pretty much been here since last year when I had my foot surgery and I've gotten used to him here.

The good parts that have come from this experience are... reminding myself of how resilient I actually am, my Sun is an awesome kid, and BigMan is my ride-or-die.

There's so much to tell, so much to write about, but the time since my last little post has been consumed with either saving my apartment and then packing once I realized it couldn't be saved.

I've gotten help and encouragement from unexpected but amazing places, and NO fucking help whatsoever from the Human Resource Administration. None. So by the way, all you white conservative fuckers who think "blacks" and other minorities are happily living off your tax dollar, have I got some shit to say to you...

but that will have to come later when the dust has settled.