Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blogging Til Homeless, Day 32: I'll be Home for Christmas

This is a reprint of a story that I wrote in 2008, and it's a true story, a story of what I used to do, and a story of hope and renewal. I need a little of that right now.

I'll Be Home For Christmas

I was lost, dirty and hungry, wandering the streets of Richmond in August of 2008. In my travels, I happened upon a convenient store and thought I'd hit the dumpster to see if there was anything worth scavenging. Jackpot! A half-eaten burger, wrapped back up and still slightly warm. As I gently unwrapped the burger, I noticed a group of people staring at me, so I wolfed the burger down. I wasn't gonna let anyone take my find, no way, no how. It's been hard enough fighting off the stray dogs that try to take any food I come across. Well, I sneaked a look back at the folks that had stared, and one man was slowly coming toward me with his hand held out. In his hand was another burger. I could smell it-oh, man. As he neared, I realized that he was offering the burger to me.

Now, I can take care of myself. Don't get any ideas that I can't. Yeah, I hadn't had a chance at bath in a while. Yeah, my hair was greasy and snarled. Yeah, I was a little…well, honestly MORE than a little rank, but I didn't need any handouts. I could take care of myself.

I took the hamburger.

While I was eating, the man spoke to me in a gentle voice, like I was afraid of him-HA. I fear no one. I've lived on the streets and taken care of myself for a couple of months now. I can handle myself in any situation.

Well, this guy, he started describing a place where I could go where, if I wanted, I could maybe get a bath, three squares and a place to sleep. Like I said, I can handle myself, but lately it's been getting harder to eat because I have a few rotten teeth, and some big dogs have chased me away from the best dumpsters. I thought I'd give it a chance. If I didn't like it, I could always leave. No fences or doors were going to stop me if I wanted out.

I ended up at the City shelter, where I got cleaned up and fed. Not too bad a deal, actually. Better yet, I met somebody. No, no, not like that-she's a friend, get it? She took me home and put me up in her own house-how many people would do that for somebody they don't know anything about? I coulda run off with the silverware or something. But I wouldn't do that, 'cause I can take care of myself just fine. My friend made sure that I had enough to eat, a place to sleep and all the hot water for baths that I could dream of. It's pretty good to feel clean and fed after being dirty and hungry for awhile.

My friend also helped me get to the doctor to get my teeth (and everything else) looked at. When she found out the getting my bad teeth pulled was expensive, well, something unusual happened.

It seems that there are LOTS of people like my friend out there. Y'know, people who help out. Now, I haven't had much experience with the Internet, but she went and typed up my doctor's recommendation to a bunch of her online friends, and they chipped in to take care of my doctor bill-imagine that! People that didn't even know me!

After awhile, my friend began to talk to me about getting on with my life, and having a home of my own. Y'know, she can't help but one at a time, so she couldn't help anyone else while she was helping me. Well, I thought that was it-she was gonna throw me out, but that's all right. I can take care of myself just fine.

Well, that's not what she meant. She told me that I wasn't gonna have to live on the street anymore, and that those Internet friends of hers were looking for a place that I could live. Like, live there forever and not have to eat out of dumpsters anymore. Well I reckon those dumpster burgers weren't so bad, but I was getting kinda used to being in a home, y'know? With regular meals and being clean and all, I was feeling like a regular girl, and I was starting to want more for myself, too.

Christmas was coming, and that's when my friend said her Internet buddies had found a home for me. In Connecticut, with a couple that saw my picture and asked for me. Asked for ME! Imagine that…

Tomorrow I get to take a road trip, and I will be leaving my friend forever. She's packed up my favorite things to take with me, and she tells me that I will be making lots of new friends at the end of my journey. I'll be in my new home for Christmas. I never thought much of Christmas before, but now I am getting a precious gift-new friends, a new home and a new life. I'm never gonna have to take care of myself or be all alone again. And maybe, just maybe…I can take care of my new friends, too.

Stray German Shepherd Dog
Last Hope Safe Haven Rescue
Christmas 2008

Friday, December 30, 2011

Blogging 'Til Homeless, Day 33: Bittersweet

“Stuff is replaceable.”

I've heard and said this many a time over the last few years of slowly getting rid of a lifetime's accumulation of personal possessions. I've been pretty ruthless in purging, throwing out, selling, just plain getting rid of “stuff”.

Today was HARD.

Today has been about a week in preparation, mostly mental. The physical wasn't bad. I had a prelude yesterday when I sold over a thousand dollars worth of furniture for $270. But today, my Mom came and took away some of my precious things, things with memories attached, things that are really, REALLY hard to give up.

A gargoyle, made of cement and heavy as stone; I bought him when I first started the huge project that was the English garden at my cottage. He surveyed the entire 5-year process from his place under the azalea bush next to the steps, and kept me company through the long, pleasant hours of digging, planting, weeding and relaxing. He also watched as the whole house was transformed from ugly duckling to jewel-box cottage, and surveyed the annual installation (and agonizing take-down) of the 40,000 Christmas lights.

A rough chunk of black glass as big as my head, given to me by a dear friend that I haven't seen in years, as a congratulatory present for the success of my business. This piece has adorned every professional office I've ever inhabited.

Two simple wooden handmade bowls, turned from the wood of the pecan tree that used to stand in my backyard. Hurricane Isabel destroyed the tree, which predated my 1937 cottage, and in return for the wood I gave him, the bowls were given to me as a thank you gift from the hands of that same craftsman.

My aunt June paints. She has the lovliest style, and her paintings glow with an inner light, quite similar to that of Kincaid, but she actually stopped painting before he started. I'm proud to own two of her paintings: one, a little fluffy dog, was actually painted for my birth; the other, a beagle that was my uncle Bud's favourite painting, given to me for Christmas just last year.

It was hard to see Mom, and Billy, and to see them taking my memories away. It made it harder still that Jackie hovered, but at least she withdrew when asked so I could have private time with my family. They may not be able to house me, but they love me, and will protect and care for some of my precious memories.

As they drove away with small pieces of my heart, needless to say, there were tears.


As usual, that you for all the support. Sorry that I haven't been updating daily - sometimes I just cannot with the chaos of sorting out the house coupled with the pain of my disability. Thanks to everyone who asked how I was doing, those with words of encouragement, and those who donated. I am so proud to have you as friends.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Good News! Blogging Til Homeless: Day 36

Hope you all had the merriest of Christmases and are still enjoying a wonderful holiday season!

I had a few pieces of really great news come my way over the last couple of days, so I thought I'd share.

First, my Mom and her husband Billy have taken my dog, Clapton, and have promised never to sell him, so I won't have to say goodbye to him forever. Billy came to pick him up on Christmas Eve, and yes, I cried a LOT. But he loves the farm, and I'll be able to see him whenever I can visit. I don't have to let my boy go permanently. I know I'd already told you he was going with Jodi (and he would have had a fabulous home with her), and I wrote Jodi apologizing for the sudden change. Haven't heard back yet, I hope she understands.

Secondly, I have a couple of places to go. No, not shelters, but places where I can park my van and sleep in it safely. I'll still be homeless, but I WILL be relatively safe. Hooray!

I will be moving into the van on January 31st, and the van still needs a new tie rod and two new tires, so I'll be trying to raise that somehow.

Things seem to have calmed down around here, so thanks for all of the support. I couldn't have made it through the last week without all of the encouragement and well wishes from all of you.

Sorry for the brevity of this one, as I'm still extremely ill and chugging Nyquil like a BAWSSS.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It Just gets Stranger and Stranger

I have just been verbally ordered by my roommate, Jackie, to remove the previous blog post under the threat that it will be turned over to her lawyer for harassment.

The definition of harassment, from the Free Online Law Dictionary:

harassment (either harris-meant or huh-rass-meant) n. the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, including racial prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job or grant sexual favors, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious. Such activities may be the basis for a lawsuit if due to discrimination based on race or sex, a violation on the statutory limitations on collection agencies, involve revenge by an ex-spouse, or be shown to be a form of blackmail ("I'll stop bothering you, if you'll go to bed with me"). The victim may file a petition for a "stay away" (restraining) order, intended to prevent contact by the offensive party. A systematic pattern of harassment by an employee against another worker may subject the employer to a lawsuit for failure to protect the worker. (See: harasssexual harassment)
Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

Nope, the definition doesn't fit.

All I did was post her own words, that she herself had actually previously posted to the blog. I called her no names, did not attack her, just spoke of her actions, and actually agreed with her right to evict me.

Update: Well, I've just been screamed at and called a manipulative bitch, and now the police are supposedly being called to remove me.

I can't find that I care about the "stuff" any more. I just need a safe place to stay.

We'll have to see how this plays out.

Methinks someone has trouble with the truth. 

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"And the Truth Will Set You Free..." BTH: Day 38

Blogging Til Homeless: Day 38

“And the Truth Will Set You Free”...on the Street

I really debated telling you all this, because I hate airing dirty laundry in public, but as it has bearing on what is going on with all this, I probably should. If you dislike drama, stop right here.

When my roommate Jackie told me that her unemployment has run out, and that we would both have to leave, SHE WAS LYING. Her unemployment had NOT run out. And she was not leaving.

I found out tonight that SHE is evicting me. Oh, well. She has the right. No matter that we've been best of friends for years, and that I supported her for seven of them, paid for her divorce, bought her two cars, etc...

Yeah, I'm bringing up the money. Because apparently, that is what the whole thing is all about.

See, when Jackie told me that “we” were going to have to leave, she expected my mother to cough up some kind of cash to keep us here. The fact that Mom is broke and can do no such thing never crossed her mind. My family (as it is) cannot take me in, either, as there is no room.

See, this explains why Jackie went absolutely nuts last night and screamed at me that I was a “fucking bitch” because I sold my dog (who is worth more than a thousand dollars) for only $250 (Well, technically $500, but I won't have an address where they can mail the final check).

Jackie only wanted the money.

She also posted a comment to this very blog, that I removed because it didn't ring true. I decided to post it here, as it shows her hypocrisy. As you will see, in the end, she's asking for money...for herself, and this ambiguous “new roommate”. Highlights, bold and underline are mine. Poor formatting, misspelling and bad grammar remain original.

HecticOne has left a new comment on your post "But I Don't Understand, How Can This Happen?”": 

Unfortunately all this had to go down at Xmas time.I of course feel worse because I have kidney stones and I have a virus that has run rampid like a wild fire and I am in constant pain. I have been at the hospital back and forth having tests run for three days and they say they have found things wrong with me and it is frightening.I just happen to be Kristal's room mate.What I want to say here, is that it is not that I don't care at all about any of this.In fact,I have been making calls and trying to get help as I can't physically handle all of the stress and the toll this madness has taken on my body.Not to mention that there is no help financially as I am waiting to win a major lawsuit settlement and my attorney just happens to be the same attorney as Kristal's and also the land lady.The sad thing is this land lady has some bad history.You would think that if your client (Kristal) lands in the hospital for an emergency,the attorney would be caring enough to return your text message or your phone calls or an email.Unfortunately this attorney does not give a crap about her clients and it showed when I finally got the woman on the phone to inquire to get some answers for Kristal, she could not answer me and she just hung the phone up on me.I told Kristal it is time to move on and find someone who is going to help her.I wish I could help kristal but everything I have tried to do has just been a failure.People do not care anymore.If only someone could donate some funds to keep the lights and the water running instead of seeing the cut off notices.At least so we can stay under one roof for about 4 more months to get thru this,then maybe we should see the light at the end of the tunnel. We just need some financial help and the gov't is not going to extend my un -employment benefits.Therefore I have to find a job and perhaps get a room mate to move in here to help cover the bills so I can stay here for awhile.If there is anything anyone can do,please by all means give a shout,shoot an email call us on the phone.Any help is truly appreciated.Thank You.Jackie 

Posted by HecticOne to The Crow and the Pitcher at December 21, 2011 2:41 PM

The truth comes out in the end. Jackie's asking for money for herself, since I'm the one being evicted. By her. Nice. At least now I know the truth.

Funnily, she's also trashing my attorney/landlady, who is supposed to be Jackie's best friend. I hope Jean sees this, I really do. Jackie says “all her friends” read the blog, so hi, Laura! Make sure Jackie tells you the truth! You should know, I had money, and contributed to everything here up until the winter of 2010, so Jackie hasn't “paid for everything for three years”. We haven't lived here for three years, as we moved in October of 2009. Get your facts straight - remember, you're only getting one side of the story.

For those of you that don't know, I once counted Laura as my best friend, but she was one of the ones that dropped me like a hot rock when I became further disabled and moved to the wrong side of town. C'est la vie. I can't put the time into RL friendships as I used to, the pain I'm in doesn't allow it. Jackie's told me that Laura made her a spreadsheet that showed I owe Jackie $19,000 (wow, for a year's time?), which Jackie upped to $21,000 when she spoke to me tonight. Wow, that's more than Jackie's ever taken home in a year! (/sarcasm...well, is it entirely sarcastic if it's true?)

Jackie is also saying that I must immediately go get an inpatient mental evaluation, which would leave me unable to protect my interests at the house, including the arrangements for my dog, Clapton. Of course, Jackie says she will be more than happy to handle that...suppose she wants the money? She also told me that my attorney is insisting this as well, which would be a HUGE breach of client confidentiality on my attorney's part. Jackie has a history of trying this, as she actually had her ex-husband committed, and has mentioned this to me several times before (my analyst said that it was ridiculous idea). The timing seems kind of strange, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be better to do this AFTER I'm homeless, when I need somewhere to stay, rather than squander the time when I could be winding up my affairs? Or does she just want access to my assets, meager as they are?

Some of you have donated, but as you know, there is NO donation information on this blog, because money will not help my particular problem, which is finding a free place to live until I go to court. It would take a HUGE amount of money to find me a place where there would be someone to help take care of me, which is what I need. I can literally not survive on my own due to my disability. (Edit: This has changed due to the amount of people ASKING that a donation button be placed on the site. Donators, thank you very much!)

Jackie does have the right to evict me, I'm not arguing that. The problem I have is the way it's been done, with the threats, abuse, the statements of how much I owe her when we've never had a formal agreement after I stopped renting to her when we lived at my house, the screaming, the smirking, and the statements that she will have her friends here, ARMED, to prevent me from removing furniture that she is using that belongs to me. The latter effectively prevents me from getting any help whatsoever to remove my belongings, since I can't ask anyone to come into a situation like that just to move furniture for me. I cannot move anything myself, so my hands are tied. I have been told, however, to expect a formal 30-day eviction notice. This is fine, as it is required by Virginia Landlord Tenant Residential Act, 55-248.37.

Yeah, I do sound bitter, but I believe I have the right. After a eight-year relationship, I would have hoped for a considerate discussion along the lines of “I can't take care of you anymore, and I really need you to move out so I can get a roommate to help with the bills.”, instead of a pack of lies, threats and manipulation.

I find myself completely sickened by someone for whom I used to care about very much.

Edit: (Later) To add to the insult of the lies, now Jackie is claiming that she owns all of my personal property, and can confiscate everything in order to pay "back rent", where we never had a rental agreement. So there goes anything I might have been able to get for my furniture and appliances.

To the folks that donated: No worries, Jackie isn't getting any of that money. It's nowhere near enough to satisfy her anyway, but it might get me a room for a couple nights!

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Blogging 'Til Homeless: Countdown Day 39

How to Leave the House And Actually Accomplish Something When You're A Cripplei

One of the main drawbacks to being a cripple and being in pain most of the time, is that it wears you right the hell out. You have days where the pain will keep you up forever, and you have the days where your body just won't cope with it, and shuts down.

If you actually get ill on top if it, you're down for the count.

So of course right now is when the seasonal cold/flu/virus/lurgi/yuck decides to strike. The weird “my brain is infested with parasites and has been stuck by lightning” headaches that I've been hospitalized for are now accompanied by the sinus version. I've had sweats & chills that only let me sleep for an hour at most...that is, if the sinus drainage doesn't wake me by cutting off my breathing every ten damned minutes.

The worst thing is, I HAVE STUFF I NEED TO DO. Stuff which involves leaving the house. Leaving the house to accomplish stuff is one of the most painful, wearying and actually dangerous things that I have to do. Let's start with the basics, shall we?

  1. Take a shower.

This is easy, right? Not necessarily, if you're disabled. Ideally, I need to shower when there is someone actually home, in case I fall. Sometimes, the pain is so bad, I need someone in the bathroom with me while I shower, to make sure I can continue to stand. Showering is so painful, and leaves me so exhausted, that I need to lie down for at least an hour afterward, just to...

  1. Recuperate.

'Nuff said.

  1. Make it out of the house safely

I live in a rental, which, according to city code, should have handrails off the front porch, If this place did, it would prevent me from dangling from the support beams, trying to manage my cane while attempting to descend the stairs. Luckily, I don't have to leave through the front door very often. There is a railing in the back...but it isn't in reach of the actual door. And there isn't a real stair. I have fallen out the back door so many times that it isn't funny, and leaving this way is always painful, if not dangerous.

  1. Make it out of the back yard safely.

Well, now that I've gotten out the back door, I'm now in the back yard where my van is parked. You'd think, just get in and drive away, right? Not so simple. We have a privacy fence with two huge doors that need to be opened, and a sea of mud to walk through to get to them. This property does not drain properly, so, especially at this time of year, the mud soup is pretty awful. Right. So. Slog through the mud, drag the gates open, go back to the van, get it out of the yard, slog back through the mud, close the gates, get back in the van and rest for a few minutes.

You may ask, “Why not park on the street?” The answer there is simple, and in two parts. Since losing my jewel-box-restored-by-me cottage on the other side of town, I had to move to a neighborhood that borders the projects. Crime is high, here, and an unattended vehicle that does not move for long periods of time is a target for vandals. The second point, is that I live on a corner where several cars have been hit by speeding vehicles and buses. I can't afford to lose my vehicle, so in the back yard it stays, and I continue to struggle with moving it.

  1. Get to where I'm going and pray they have handicapped parking and/or those goofy carts I need to ride around in if shopping.

I can't walk, stand or sit without pain, Of the three, sitting is the most manageable, especially if I can lean forward to take the pressure off my lower back. If there is no handicapped parking present (yes, I have a hang tag), then I cannot go there, as it is impossible for me to walk very far. This also limits me to shopping at places that have those carts, because I simply cannot stand in line for more than a few minutes, as I will literally collapse from the pain. This is why I can go shopping very rarely, and am limited to the “box stores” that have these carts. If all carts are in use (which happens frequently), I must turn around and leave.

  1. Accomplish actual tasks.

Self explanatory.

  1. Go back home

By this time, I am fairly exhausted, and in a great deal of pain. Add to this, the headaches I get that come without warning and feel like taking a lightning strike directly to the brain, makes me have to drive home VERY carefully. And honestly, sometimes I am in far too much pain to be careful. I fully expect to lose my driver's license if the neurologist cannot figure out how to stop these headaches. The pain and the double vision are insane. When things get bad, I pull over (luckily, I'm sensible) and wait for things to pass, then continue slowly on. THIS is the main reason I rarely leave the house anymore.

  1. Get into the back yard safely.

This is just #4, in reverse, though much more slowly. At this point, I'm usually in a great deal of pain, and pretty well exhausted.

  1. Make it back into the house safely.

This is a reverse of #3, except the railing IS accessible from the exterior...but it doesn't really do much good, since it's too far away from the door and there isn't a proper stair here.

  1. Collapse for 24-48 hours.

I have to go to the bank and get bank statements for the state-supported medical care, for which I may get refused, since all the donations for Mark's fundraiser went from PayPal into my bank account (since he didn't have one), and I sent him money orders (saving $$ on Western Union) that he could cash right at the Post Office for FREE. (Yay, save more money!) Unfortunately, all these program people see is the two grand in my account, even after the withdrawals where it goes back to the same $28 that was in there solely to keep the account open. That $28 is about all I've had in there for a year, so I have to supply back statements as well. Plus, I'm going to print out the blog to see if it helps, since of course, the money matches! Hope these folks can actually comprehend that it wasn't my money...sigh. So, I have to go to the bank.

I also need copies of my tax return for last year, which actually had income in it. The previous year, I had withdrawn the remains of my 457 retirement account, (only about $800, if I remember correctly, and If I don't remember correctly, oh, well.) so I had to declare that. This year, I will be filing with a zero income, oh, joy. For some reason, I cannot find last year's return. Every other year of my existence back to the first tax return I ever filed, yes, right where they are supposed to be. Last year's? Nowhere to be found. This necessitates a trip to H&R Block, then to the copy shop, where I'll get to make lovely copies of all this stuff for the THREE agencies that are requesting them.

But I'm not going anywhere today. I'm sick and I hurt too damned much.

i Anyone that is offended by the word “cripple” please adjust your attitude. I'm a cripple, I've gotten used to it. The word is entirely appropriate to my situation, so let's move on.

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blogging 'til Homeless: Countdown, 40 Days Left

Good news!

My German Shepherd love of my life, Clapton, is going to have a safe place to go. (Living with me being homeless is NOT a safe place.) A lovely woman named Jodi is going to take him to live with her (and her husband and other dogs) in Kentucky. He will be loved.

My family has bred German Shepherds since the1970's. I've been involved in obedience and conformation, and have done breed rescue with Last Hope Safe Haven for German Shepherd Dogs. I've had horses, cats, and particularly dogs for all of my life, but Clapton is special.

For so long, I wanted a solid black male puppy. I have never had a puppy of my own. Whelped and raised plenty while growing up, but I was never actually allowed to have a dog of my own when I lived at home. But we did have plenty of dogs (and cats and horses) to love, and I loved every single one.

When Mom brought me the little black ball of fuzz that was Clapton, I was already disabled, but the doctors were telling me at the time that there was a test that would determine what I had, and that whatever it was was definitely fixable. I chose to be optimistic and believe them, but they were proved to be wrong a short month later. But I still had my sweet puppy to keep me company, and as he grew and my health worsened, he learned to do little things for me. He would gently pick up whatever I dropped, (bending is painful) and hand it to me; lie flat next to me to keep me warm when I was cold and the pain was bad; stand “steady' so I could pull myself upright after falling; give me kisses and warm, loving looks when I needed them most...

I'm so happy that you're going to a good place, my love pup.

I'm just going to miss you so.

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“But I Don't Understand, How Can This Happen?”

Many of you know what's going on. For those who don't, rather than repeat it, I'll send you here or you can check my main Twitter stream!/thecrystalcrow Thanks to everyone with suggestions, ideas, and donations!

Since I've been explaining what I have been going through over and over to people who respond with “How can this happen in America?”, I thought I'd take you along on this odyssey with me and tell you all about how yes, this can, and frequently does, happen in America.

The first thing you have to know is about SSI/Disability. According to my attorney, hardly anyone receives it on the first try, and that going to court is when it will be decided, especially with ambiguous cases like mine. If you lose in court the first time, it can still take years for another appeal. I have already lost an extra year in this process, due to the fact that the person handling my case in my attorney's office did not send the required medical release forms.

Secondly, I have been jobless due to medical reasons, backed up by my doctor, since July 27th, 2009. So basically, for 2.5 years, I have had no income. This required me to declare bankruptcy, lose my home, and lose my retirement fund. I haven't been able to buy a cup of coffee or a spare pair of underwear on my own since I ran out of money over a year ago. Thankfully, my roommate has been kind enough to let me stay with her through this time, but as she has lost her job, and has just lost her unemployment benefits, this is no longer an option. We're both out of here at the end of January when she can no longer pay the rent. And no, staying and being evicted for non-payment is not an option, as my Disability attorney is ALSO my landlady.

Thirdly, when you are in the application process for SSI/Disability, there are no social programs that will help you. Anything federally funded requires you to already be receiving disability, have a specific disease or injury (such as AIDS or head injuries), or be a veteran. I qualify for none of these. I have spent literally months (since roomie lost her job in July) searching the net and making calls (being crippled prevents me from going to the offices of such programs, as I cannot sit, stand or walk without great pain) to no avail. I qualify for nothing besides $200 per month in Food Stamps. No HUD, no assistance with utilities, no assistance with medication, no assisted living, NOTHING.

What do people do? How are the disabled supposed to bridge the gap between the start of the Disability application process and actually obtaining Disability? According to my attorney, the Federal Government hopes that applicants will give up, which weeds out the people who are not truly disabled and are looking for a handout.

Excuse me, but WTF?

In my personal experience, doctors are UNWILLING to advocate that you apply for Disability. So where are these people that are looking for a handout? And where are the doctors that are going to court to support them?

I haven't the faintest idea.

But I know where many of those disabled people are – the ones that fall through the cracks. I've talked to many of them. They sit on street corners, holding cardboard signs from morning 'til night, to disappear into tarp and tent shelters after sunset. They'll willingly tell you their stories, especially if you give them a bite to eat, or a blanket. Most are visibly crippled, some mentally affected. The familiar refrain from about 60% of the homeless that I have interacted with in the last 8 years is, “I couldn't get disability.”

About those social programs: if you do happen to see someone, for example, at the Social Services Office....oh, exactly like the one on Hull Street in Richmond, you will be told that there is no assistance, but will be given a long list if charities to call. (What if you have no phone? What then?) Upon calling each of these approximately two dozen charities, you will be told by EACH ONE that the programs no longer exist, are no longer funded, or can not help you since YOU DON'T QUALIFY because you don't receive Disability...sigh.

Any questions? Let me know. I'm going to be blogging about my last month with a roof over my head, so if you have questions, I'll certainly do my best to answer.

And if you have any ideas about places I can get help, please make sure the programs are funded, first!

PS: Thank you so much for the donations! Any little bit keeps the wolf from the door a little longer. If anyone out there has a long term solution, please let me know! It's unrealistic, but what I need is a free-to-really-cheap place to stay until I go to court (Ideally, free. Remember, I have no income). I have to stay in the Richmond, VA area due to doctor continuity for Disability. The bad part is, there is no court date yet, and this has gone on for 2.5 years so far.

I also need people help! I'm bedridden, and need to move my furniture out to consignment stores, as it hasn't sold on Craigslist, so if you live in the RVA area, have a truck and/or can pick stuff up, please let me know! I also need help selling everything else that isn't tied down, which is a bunch of arts & crafts stuff, and jewelry-making supplies left over from my business.

Also, if you live in the area and like Art Deco furniture, come see me and let's make a deal!

Thanks so much for all of your support!

I'll let you know here what happens next...

Due to requests, I'm adding a donation button to these particular posts for folks that wish to donate. Thank you for all your help!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Minecraft Community: One of our Own Needs Help!

Achievement Get!

We have reached our goal!

Thanks to all of you in the Minecraft Community, we have surpassed our goal of $1375.00 by reaching $1386.00!

I've been asked to leave the donation button up for people who still want to participate. All monies collected will go directly to Mark Cooper to assist in his housing needs, but we have reached our current goal.

Reading Connecticut tenant law, he may still be forced to move, but will be able to pay the arrears, so it should give him 3 months if the rental company decides to still pursue eviction.

I would like to thank every single one of you who Tweeted, Retweeted, posted video, auctioned items, and donated. This community showed its true nature today - a community full of caring individuals.

This is the true meaning of Thanksgiving, and this community has given one of its own a reason to celebrate this year.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

=Update #2=

SamCube of WonderCraft is auctioning two prints, one signed by Notch and one signed by Jens, to raise money to donate to Mark's living situation. Check them out here:

=Update #3=

Thanks to SamCube and the folks that we kept the donation button open for, the Minecraft community has raised a total of $2288.68 for Mark's Eviction Fund! Mark has already received the first $1800 (which is enough to pay the back amount, and perhaps the legal fees), and I'll be sending the rest later in the week (waiting to clear eChecks and handle possible reversals, of which we have had a couple).

Thank you all for opening your hearts (and wallets!) this holiday season for one of our own!

See Mark's response here:

-Original Blog Post-

It's Thanksgiving Day in the USA, and most of us will be sitting down to a meal with family today. While we do this, and give thanks for what we have received in the past year, one of our community members is facing eviction.

Mark Cooper, known as Astragali, The Minecraft Scribe has provided a source of information and humor to the Minecraft community on his blog since February 2011. He is the English language translator for SamCube's Wondercraft, responsible for vetting contributions to The Shaft Podcast (where he has appeared as a guest as well), is a player in The Unholy Triumvirate's Minecraft a Trois LP/gameplay series; has appeared as a guest/done voice work on the Pretzelcast, The Half-Bakes, Chick with a Pick, and much more.

Unbeknownst to most of us (because who likes talking about the bad stuff?) Astra lost his job late in the summer, after having his hours cut to so few that it was unsustainable. After a couple weeks, he was able to obtain another job, but the damage was done - between the cut hours and weeks with no pay, he was in the hole to the rental company. Of course, he went to the landlord and arranged to pay the back rent - since he was now working again, this was no problem, right? At the time, the rental company was absolutely fine with this.

Apparently, not any more. When he came home last night, the rental company had posted an eviction notice. The only way Mark can keep his housing is to come up with $1375.00 by the court date, which, at this time, we don't know when it is (but we can speculate between 10-30 days.). Unfortunately, this amount is impossible for him.

After finding out, friends burned up the Twitter main (and DM's) last night, looking for solutions. This is what we came up with:

So this is what I'm asking: please donate to keep a roof over Mark's head.

Please help if you can. I know some of you have been to Minecon, and are strapped. I know that it's the holiday season and you have to do things for your family. I know the economy is bad.

But please, if you only have a dollar or two, please, please donate. Use the Paypal donation button below.

Donate to help someone who has provided the community with information, humor, friendship, and joy.

Everything donated will go directly to dealing with Mark Cooper's housing needs.

Thank you, Minecraft Community!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tales of a Minecraft Server Noob, Part 3: Claiming Sanctuary

So there I was on the Pretz, working away for my first Ninja Decorators client, when I began to hear whispers across the Twitterverse about something called “Sanctuary”. Reportedly a server where you could build some awesome stuff, where you were actually asked if you wanted either vanilla or builder/creative status right at the start-amazing! I was led by Astragali to the MinecraftGeek, who linked me to his whitelist application, where all I had to do was tell him who I was, along with my favourite type of cheese, and voila! I was in.

Spawn was set on the top of a gorgeous tower from which you had to take a “leap of faith” to reach the bottom. Stepping outside, you found a beautifully manicured small city, outside of which rested the 'Geeks jail and (gasp) Execution Chamber. Traveling further outwards, you'll cross a rail line that seems to extend from horizon to horizon, and just a bit past THAT, a creepy, ruined house. If you venture inside, you will find a very interesting tomb that leads to a VERY interesting, five level dungeon. That dungeon, in turn, leads to a Nether portal, and all this dungeon-y goodness was created by the Geek himself.

Further out from this was Astra's house, where I took a little breather to get oriented before moving on to find a home of my own. On our way out the door, we were jumped by spiders, and learned by Astra's swift demise at my hands that PVP was enabled (I would make much use of this later-Astra got used to being arrowed in the butt.). I trekked on, ever outwards, and found a cozy little cave to call home, where I started to build a huge crow in the sky...but I ended up struggling with the location in terms of building my home. It just didn't seem to fit, no matter how I worked at it. Seeing my frustration, Astra suggested wolf hunting as a bit of a break, so off we went.

You brought them home, YOU clean up after them!

We found very few wolves, but we found HAVEN.

You know those places in Minecraft that are simply gorgeous, that are breathtakingly beautiful, that make you stop and gape at the landscape for minutes? Haven was all this AND a bag of chips: pools of water, stunning outcrops, thick trees, secret grottoes, an amazing aerial archway, and potholed with caverns as far as the eye could see. THIS was a site that dreams were made of.

Haven, Pre-Construction

So I turned to Astra and said, “Wanna build a house?”

That “house” ended up being the complex that is Haven. The main house of sandstone and glass, capturing the sunrise, complete with a balcony covering most of the first floor, embedded into the rock wall of one side of the enormous archway. It connects to the main entrance by a suspended walkway, which hovers over the twin pools at the heart of the site (pools which are perfect for plunging into, if you have fly mod...which never gets old, btw!). Flanking the main house to the left is the Administration building, which sports a staircase leading to The Minecraft Scribe's office as well as leading to the meandering path down to the tiny town made entirely of tree-houses. The Ninja Decorators office is located in an outcrop at the back of the site, and my crow, moved from his previous home (yes, I built it TWICE) spreads his wings in flight above the site.

The Main Complex at Haven, Sunset

Main Floor, Dining Area-Cake for everyone!

The Crow spreads its wings over Haven.

Haven is home, and I love it dearly.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. By the time you read this, Sanctuary will be gone forever, existing only as a single-player map. The server will go down on October 20th, never to return. Once again, I am bereft of a home, and though I can visit any time I wish in single-player, it just isn't the same.

Thank you, my dear MinecraftGeek, for allowing me the pleasure of unleashing my creativity in your playground. It was a glorious experience while it lasted.

The MinecraftGeek unleashes the Endermen to dismantle Sanctuary. *sniffle*

Sanctuary is dead. Long Live Sanctuary!

Requiem by The Eagles: The Last Resort

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Being Broken

I'm a broken girl. Most of you know that. Pain is life, and life is pain. I've basically got a broken back. I'm pretty much bedridden. Those who didn't know, well, there it is. Every once in a great while, I get to remember what I was, and it's a great dichotomy: what I was, and what I am.

I got some shots today.

These shots always make me feel invincible, they make me remember how I was, and forget how I am. How I'm broken, how much I've lost-that's reality.

I get to escape, if only for a few hours. I get to remember, if only for awhile, how I used to be.

If only for a few hours, I get to return to myself:

Intelligent, attractive, in control, logical, alluring, ready and able for anything. Able to follow any whim, no matter how outrageous; able to sing, discourse, create, react, play. Able to be NORMAL.

Able to actually leave my house, to get up out of bed, to DO.

Just to be ABLE.

After those few hours, coming down is a huge crash. The pain comes back, always. The limitations come back, always.

I realize how much I miss myself. And I realize how much I've had to change, to accept, to adjust over these last few years.

How much I HATE it.

Such is life.

And it sucks.

I wouldn't give up those hours of ability for anything. No matter how many mental gymnastics I have to do afterward.

Not. For. Anything.


Thanks for bearing with me-this shit doesn't last for long, thank goodness. Mental equilibrium will be restored with liberal application of common sense and meditation.