Self Discovery

I have spent a lot of precious time in the therapist chair hashing up old memories and old hurts that still burn today. Because my life was and still is full of instability and turmoil, I skipped stages of growth essential to maturity. I so busy being scared of being discovered as an incest survivor and being reviled and rejected even more than I already was.I never had enough trust to have close friends.

I think what sucks about being a kid is that adults make decisions for you and about you with the best intentions, but fuck you up majorly. I don’t even need to give examples, we’ve all experienced it. We can relate and can write our own lists of how our parents or teachers fucked us over. I remember trying so many different things as a kid (ballet, gymnastics, the clarinet), and I remember it was the adults who let me down. They didn’t see someone with potential, they just saw a scrawny little kid that need a little more attention than they were willing to give. I was a Junior before anyone saw that artistic side of me and fostered it. Mr Strom saw my skill in photography when people still used 35mm cameras, and another teacher for a creative writing class saw my strengths in my writings.

My mom was my greatest fan, and was always telling me I should pursue a career in photo-journalism or the such. I had to be practical and work to pay the bills and get what I needed and wanted in life. But being practical has brought me where I am now, 36 years old with no job and technically homeless.

I mean I’ve made attempts at making hemp jewellery and that has gone ok. I’m still working on it. So the other day when I was in Downtown Boston I stopped in Windmill Fabrics, I was pondering whether sewing could be a skill I could master. I went in and was leafing through a pattern book and patterns on hand, when an euphoria came over me. I knew then that it was something I could do. It’s more of a matter of access to supplies and discipline.

So I guess what I am saying is, is that so many things can distract us and have us spinning in circles before we find out who we are and what purpose we serve when we are at our worst. My mom is gone. My family practically non-existent, I’ve been homeless and still scared to death to look for work. But I have a support system, a new family though not blood related, and I am grateful for them being in my life everyday. My new family have helped me to discover myself, and give me so much room to be a better person not just to others but to myself as well.

Who Am I?

The Leo in me is always right šŸ˜‰

my transformation out of invisible to an individualĀ  I want these.

What does my future hold for me when I am down and out feeling lost and alone I seek a place within for peace or a place with a quiet serenity.

I am literally scared to death trying to look for work, anything really. I am afraid of screwing up and failing everyone. I took work in the past that was a band-aid, a just for now job, those never lasted long.

I want to explore my artistic side, always have wanted to work with clay and make Goddess figurines like these….Ā  I want this necklace for sure, .

I want to see if I can sew and make dresses like these…

I hope my dreads will look like this or this

 

 

Boston July 13, 2011 1:30am

… My brother and I arrived in Boston in the early AM of 1:30. No one was there to greet us and take us home, nor was there a room reserved for us to rest in the hotel adjacent the airport.

My brother and I collected our luggage and hunkered down in some seats to rest until transit started in a few hours. It was uncomfortable to say the least, I didn’t have proper tools to carry my large ass duffel bag, and what I had fell apart within hours. But I am getting ahead of myself…. One of the first things I tried was to get a 7-Link Pass to get around Boston, but the damn machine didn’t give me my pass, but it gave me a receipt! (hours later I’d end up at City Place to the MBTA Main Offices getting a replacement pass).

I wandered getting lost trying to find what I needed. I got a shopping cart to carry my heavy luggage and went to The Women’s Lunch Place to get a referral to a shelter. I was sent to The Pine Street Inn…. nightmare! It wasn’t so much the people, but lack of respect. I had too much stuff and some would be left out unsecured but not with me, so that anyone could steal it…. I blew up and argued and told them how disrespectful to individual(s) that was and to my mother whose remains I carried. I was glad to have some money left, and I ended up at the youth hostel for $48 dollars.

The next day I contacted someone who was subletting space… I got a spot to sleep and within a week a job.

The job was with Telefund, Inc. who works with various progressive non-profits such as PBS out of NY, DNCC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Campaign, etc… Telemarketing has never been my strength, so within 3 weeks I lost that job as well as my place to live.

The living situation wasn’t ideal for many reason, the guy wanted $600/mo for sleeping in a chair in his living-room, while his rent was only $900/mo, he was overdue on bills but had enough money to feed his Mary Jane habit. Nothing against the stuff, I don’t smoke it, but when it rules your life then we have a problem. I went to the police for help as I had left my sweat jacket in the house and couldn’t deal with his shit. The desk sergeant even threatened him with inspection if his mood was still foul in the am, to investigate illegal subletting. The police took me to a city run shelter Woods Mullen.

It was after 9pm, first you go through a medal detector, I had to toss out unopened canned goods, I was half-assed processed as you usually get a laminated card with your name and number on it, I got a piece of paper with name and number. I was given permission to use the elevator since my luggage was in a cart and heavy. I entered a dork dorm as it was lights out. I was given a top bunk since I wasn’t handicapped, I carefully tried to quietly put my stuff up on my bed, I was nervous and scared, I afraid to leave my stuff or sleep fully, for fear someone my steal something. I finally went to bathroom, some stalls were missing door, one looked like someone ate bad food and left a mess on the toilet (learned later the seat had melted spots from all the ladies putting cigarettes out who couldn’t wait for a smoke break). It was maybe 130am before I fell asleep. 530am was wake up time and we had to showered and out of the dorm before 7am…. WTH can you you do at 7am!!! Breakfast was a cinnamon roll thingy that I would never see again.

During this whole time I had some contact with my brother, but he was busy trying to get his shit together. He would have bumps in his road that is not for me to share quite yet.

This was August 13, 2011.

 

My last Year in AZ

How did I become homeless and why me?

I came to Boston after living in Arizona for 7 years and being fed up with the politics there, I also lost my mom who I took care of for a year. My mother should be alive today, but the fates were conspiring against us when she got sick last year and it morphed into pneumonia. She would spend a better part of a year in ICU, and maybe be home for 6 weeks between each bout of illness. It was during her third stay that it became apparent she would not recover, and any recovery would be painfully slow and less than a life she would have wanted. I saw things that have scarred my psyche. It wasn’t just that I had seen my mom have a bowel movement that fucked me up, it was seeing her act crazy and like someone I didn’t know and to have no one to turn to help me. She could talk all crazy like in her alternate reality. One time she tried to even give me her medications, that the people told her she had too. But because she knew her name, where she was, the date and who our President was, the EMT’s couldn’t take her. If they had, they could have gotten a handle on the raging infection that altered her personality so drastically and maybe, just maybe, she would be alive today.

My mom received a double lung transplant October 1, 2008 and had a nice recovery up until late Spring 2010.

In July 2010 I took her into my apartment after she fell and fractured her pelvis in 4 places, when I was unable to pay rent for as my family has always used “tough love” on my mom and her kids, my landlord let me out of my lease without penalty, he saw no need to punish me for what was beyond my control.

At that time my mom didn’t need 24/7 care, but as fall closed in it became glaringly obvious my mom couldn’t nor should she have been living alone. She woke me up one night at around 330am, saying she had to pack for the airport, she didn’t know why, just that she had too. She would be sleepy a lot and forget to take medications or over take them. In October she was throwing up a lot and losing weight fast, likely not absorbing medications vital to her survival. Her doctor was refusing to see her because she owed money as she didn’t qualify for Medicaid to pick up the 20% Medicare didn’t cover, I fired him and got her a new doctor who could work with us on payments. On the second visit to the new doctor my mom was rushed to the hospital with hypoxia and in need of a blood transfusion as her hemoglobin levels were low. Having low hemoglobin levels for my mom meant she had poor oxygen exchange and was why she was tired and out of breath. After a week in the hospital she came home in time for the holiday.

Things really went down quick during Thanksgiving weekend 2010, mom could hardly stand up straight and I asked for help to get her dressed for dinner. My aunt who didn’t see what was going one said she’d be there in 15 minutes as she was busy. (My aunt that last summer had practically threw my mom at me after taking her to the doctor’s, mom was half asleep with spilled coffee all over, I figured the spilled coffee pissed my aunt off). I called her doctor and she suggested the ER, but mom ever feeling the weight of the burden people made her feel like she was refused. But by Saturday her breathing was so bad she relented.Ā I had to convince mom to be intubated for treatment. Two days later I headed to Tucson with my mom, to the hospital and team of doctors who performed her double lung transplant.

There were so many things I witnessed in ICU staying with my mom that are hard to erase. Like when they finally did the tracheotomy there was a space subcutaneously where air leaked and got trapped under her skin blowing her face up and some of her torso like she had an allergic reaction. They had to use a pediatric sized tube for her tracheotomy. Lets not forget that a few days before that they had extubated her as she had appeared to be ready to breath on her own, only to have a panic attack and me having to ban a nurse from her care for not paying attention to my mother’s pain and breathing struggles. (my mom was her only patient and she appeared to be less than caring) My mom was claustrophobic and the Bi-PAP/CPAP masks made it worse.

In ICU a lot of patients are unable to talk so they give you this picture and alphabet chart to communicate, I got good at helping my mom talk to the nurses and doctors, came with knowing her and being there 24/7. Her siblings and mother were an entirely different matter, they lacked the patience and basic knowledge of who my mom was to know her fully and her little nuances. In fact my mom expressed concern of my aunt losing money by staying in Tucson and made the universal motion of that, but my aunt made a motion of playing a violin and said to my mom “Oh, we having a pity party?” I couldn’t believe my ears! I was stunned. The nurse in the room at the time was surprised my aunt taught autistic kids and would behave this way and she just didn’t understand. The family had a plan to make me look incompetent, but sadly they lost on that front. On December 22nd we had a Family meeting with the transplant coordinator, who explained that YMC is taking their time to make sure mom fulling recovers whatever has made her ill and prevent rejection. This information seemed to go in one ear and out the other, they asked if pain medications were the problem and when will she be able to go home and will she be able to go home…. The coordinator explained again about the C02 O2 exchange and that without the doctor’s being in my mother’s presents when these bouts of loopiness occur it would be hard to diagnose or come up with an answer. As soon as we were alone they went on the attack, if only I had had more power and sway they’d been kicked out, they heard nothing that was told, just accused of withholding information. While my mother was in an induced coma there was nothing to say or update. They were given plenty of information, their guilt made them want to hurt me. Because of this a rift was widen between me and them. They had already alienated my brother long ago with intolerance.

I spent 40 days in ICU with my mom until I knew she would be ok to speak on her own behalf.

I tried to work but It was hard to work for 100% commission when your mother needed you and that when she came home it would be 24/7.

She came home February 15, 2011, we bickered, we had fun, we tried.Ā  I was left mostly alone in caring for my mom. Mom at that time had qualified for Arizona Long Term Care and I needed some extra training to become her paid caregiver.

I kept asking for a hospital bed so that mom could safely sleep without injuring herself, other members of the family saw it as a way to be “lazy”. Mom fell asleep one night in a sitting position and ended up with edema in both legs, which her transplant team had her going back into the hospital for because it could indicate heart troubles. She stayed forĀ  a week and the edema never came back.

March 24 just 13 days after her week stay she again was struggling to breath, It was again an infection that had her intubated and in ICU for a while and in rehab before coming home May 3, 2011. By that time my brother had joined me to care for mom. He was able to do what I couldn’t physically. We of course fought a lot too, like cats and dogs, i.e. teenagers again. We had some good times too.

There are so many little details to talk about and I am not even close to being in Boston at this telling.

I took a picture that may forever be lost since my laptop was stolen of my brother brushing moms hair in a pony tail, not that she had a lot of hair, but the effort was cute. My brother has a 6 year old daughter and frequently did her hair for her.

June 13, 2011 mom awoke again to struggling to breath and coughing up pink. I was put in a tough spot by the state for renewing my own benefits, my being my mother’s caregiver didn’t mean much. You better believe I wrote a complaint up that day when mom was brought to ICU. And someone called with an apology some time later.

After the doctor’s and nurses cajoling and threats basically that on the way to ICU she could die, she relented again, and she said that this was the last time. Within days he Doctors put mom on a Osulator (sp) type of vent that fills the lungs with air to reduce scarring of lung tissue, they had to then do dialysis (two different types). But it was to no avail, mom had plateaued out,Ā  not getting worse, not getting better. She was no longer my mom.

We decided to let mom go on June 26, 2011….. We all had our time alone with her. I cut a chunk of hair from her and split it for myself and my brother. After the paralytic they used to put her on the Osulator wore off it was time for a final goodbye. I read the lyrics to Little Wing from Jimi Hendrix (an old boyfriend called her Little Wing) and a Sioux Prayer. The Pastor read The Lords Prayer. And then they withdrew the ventilator…. The minutes and the sounds stay forever in my mind. Of her gasping for breath and moaning. Most of us were crying. I leaned down, and whispered “it’s ok, you can go now. it’s ok, you can go now. it’s ok, you can go now” and seconds later the doctor called the time of death. Crying became more vocal and some screams from other’s. Some people embraced others avoided it. I could have peed my pants from crying so hard I wouldn’t have cared. Her body became cold so quick, skin was yellow, I didn’t want to leave….

When it came to my brother and I, the family didn’t want much to do with us. We had a service for mom the next day or that Tuesday. It was rough and lonely. So many hurts never to be confessed or forgotten.We sold almost everything we could and gave the rest away before we left July 12th for Boston. The family paid for cremation and over paid for our plane tickets with no money for either of us to stay in a hotel, even for a day or so…

I have my mother’s remains and hope to have a service for her at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Get a proper urn, there is a website where you can get jewellery urns too. And I will do a more accurate obituary in Battle Creek, MI and in North Conway, N.H….You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban

Thank you….

 

P.S I will get what happened after my brother and I arrived back east in another blog.

Am I?

I am horrible at blogging… I don’t always know what to talk about, whether people will read it and care. The question to my mind is this, am I still homeless?

Since Dewey Square is no longer home to Occupy Boston I have been staying with friends, first in Somerville, MA now in the Roxbury Crossing area with other friends. So does that mean I am not homeless? In some ways, yes, other ways, no. I don’t have income to pay fair market rent for the very nice room I was given, so that could still mean yes, I am “homeless”. Not that I think it would happen, but tomorrow the friend helping me could just decided I have to go, that its too expensive for another person to live here without paying. That’s where I still can qualify as homeless, my current housing is not permanent and likely to never be.

Sadly I feel myself slipping away… I did attend a march against MBTA fare hikes and service cuts on Monday February 13, 2012 and belted out the need to help those invisible who already face tough decisions; the homeless.

I am still on my mission to provide T Passes to the homeless in Boston. These are the 3 organisations I think I’d like to help: www.womeslunchplace.org, www.stfrancishouse.org, www.nechv.org (New England Center for Homeless Veterans).

… That said I am still going to do a documentary on the homeless in Boston. Time to breakdown the stereotypes. Its something I am sure would make my Mom proud.

Now Is the Time

The MBTA is proposing fare hikes and cuts, which disproportionately effects the poor and disabledĀ MC12149 Fare Increase Booklet_v7. Boston even has T Riders Union, www.ace-ej.org/trum, and the Occupy Movement has taken up this cause as well wiki.occupyboston.org/wiki/OccupyMBTA.

As a homeless woman its scary enough to have limited to no income to try and find enough money to get where I need to go, but how much scarier is it for someone who have a very fixed income to lose the ability to be mobile over pocket change they no longer have. I remember when we had a fare increase in Phoenix and the Police were on almost every route, sometimes they always were on routes with a history of violence. Boston would have to do that as well, they have transit police but considering how the powers that be have been reacting to a mostly peaceful protest all across the US, I shutter to think how Boston will react.

I need help and others need help.

$20/monthly TAP pass, $15 7 day link pass, $4 round trip. every little bit helps. Donate today!

This how I can do it

The T Passes I want to help the homeless or fixed income with will be weekly $15 ones and $20 Monthly TAP/Senior Passes.
I would purchase the passes in bulk as a Stored Value pass which expires in about 1.5 years after purchase and find 3 non-profits to disburse them. There would be enough on the pass for the individual to take a train or bus to Back Bay or Downtown Crossing to convert passes to Weekly/Monthly whichever they need.