Friday, March 18, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part II

Hello all my lovely friends and well-wishers!

There is so much to say and only 40 minutes left of library computer time!  Yikes!

The good news is that I have a room in an emergency shelter!  Thank you Freda Walker of Sacramento Self-Help Housing!  If ever there was an angel walking on this earth, it's her.

I have learned so much in the past two weeks.  The most important thing I've learned is, truly, you cannot judge a book by it's cover.  I've spent almost every day at the welfare office.  There are so many steps and so many different sets of paperwork you have to fill out and in-take interviews to go to and group meetings to attend.  It's truly daunting.  Anyone who is willing to go through all that, especially when they have a chronic illness or two or three is deeply committed to their future.  Every day is a lesson in NOT losing hope.  I have met so many nice people at the welfare office, both recipients and workers.  People that I would have judged harshly in the past after a quick glance are now friendly people down on their luck willing to help others in similar situations, giving newly disadvantaged people little bits of information that will same them hours of frustration.  A simple thing like which line to stand in for what type of benefits can save a person big disappointments and tears.

One of the people I met on my second trip for General Assistance was an older woman named Maria.   We'd been sitting next to each other, waiting, for a half hour when we heard the name Willie Brown called out.  We glanced at each other and started laughing.  "Do you think they mean the former mayor of San Francisco!?"  That broke the ice and we started chatting about our situations.  She confessed that she had lived in her car for a long period of time and that she had gotten to like it.  She spent everyday going to rest stops and parks where she would have a barbeque or picnic, meet lots of interesting people, relax and enjoy nature, and then run through the sprinklers at night to get clean.  She seemed to enjoy the sprinklers the best because it made her feel like a kid again.  She felt a little guilty about how much she enjoyed the whole experience, about how free it made her feel.  She is now living with a daughter and helping out with the grandchildren.  She had become homeless by unexpected circumstances.  She had been an apartment manager for 15 years in a stable, well-kept complex.  Her employer passed away and the heirs sold the property.  The new owners let her go in order to bring in their own people.  She had been making just enough to get by and had no savings.

Waiting in line to have my picture taken and my fingerprints digitally recorded into the county welfare computer system, I met two very nice couples who had all lost their jobs and had been unable to find new work no matter how hard they tried.  Both couples were in the age group not yet ready to retire but not as desirable to employers as younger people in the labor pool who cost less in wages and health premiums.

Another couple I met in line for food stamps looked shell-shocked and repeatedly complained about potential employers telling them that they were no longer current in the latest developments in the field they worked in for 15 years and had only recently lost their jobs.  This couple was also in the over 50 crowd.

Despite the dreariness of this process, most of the people I meet who are in the same boat do everything they can to try to stay positive and to treat everyone they meet with warmth and compassion.  We're all in this together and it feels better to hold each other in esteem than to give up.

I only have 8 minutes of library computer time left, so will sign off now.  Stay tuned for interesting developments. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Omnihomeful Chronicles Part 1

I have been officially homeless for the last three days.  I've been staying at a temporary address with some relatives for 13 months.  And now I am on my own and living in my car for three days.

A wonderful friend was able to provide a soft comfy bed for me the last few days and tonight will be my first night sleeping in the car.  Last night, I was laying in that soft comfy bed completely freaked out about my plight.  I kept thinking to myself that tomorrow would be the scariest day of my life.  Boy did that make me completely hopelessly depressed.  And then I asked myself a question.  Is it true that tomorrow will be the scariest day of my life.  Have I ever done anything scarier than sleep in my car?  Doh!  Of course!  I've done a few vision quests for which I stayed on a desert mountaintop by myself for three days.  That was a lot scarier (on the first night only) than sleeping in a relatively comfy relatively warm locked car in a secure location.  Then I thought of all the times I've been camping.  This is even safer than that.  There are several gas stations and fast food places nearby, so I have a place to deposit my daily excretions.  There's a Wellness and Recovery Center not too terribly far away where I can shower and do my laundry for free.  I have food stamps.  I have several free support groups I can go too.  I think I'll be OK!  I'm not homeless, I'm omnihomeful!

I will be posting frequently from the library computer in between appointments at the welfare office and the Social Security Office.  I'll keep you updated on this labyrinthine process and pass on resources as I find them.  I have more time for arting, so I will be making things from supplies I have left over from my salary days and from things I find.  I'll take pictures with my cell phone and e-mail them to myself and then post them here.  Fun!!!!!