Monday, December 31, 2007

Day 10, No Working Toilet

On Day 7, when maint. man saw me using the public restroom in the bldg., he locked it up. So I've been resorting to using public places. I just can't stand to see his face, I can't stand the idea of him being in my apt., and that's putting the fact that I am afraid of him as secondary. I'm just soooooooooooo furious, filled with fury at what I've been thru here, I can't stand to see management's faces.

So, I told the owner in Georgia my problem. She called me today and said I have no choice but to use the people that are already on staff, regardless of what I claim I've been thru. She said, she will have a female present, (the useless on sight manager) while he takes a look at the toilet.

It's been one month and the new owner has not begun any investigations into the thefts, sexual harrassment and death threats. She said to me today, "well, nobody else has turned in a formal complaint"

E-These are sick and elderly people, not activists. It doesn't lessen what I've been thru.

new owner-Well, I would need all the documentation of what has happened there. (that's 2.5 years worth of notes)

E-"The police don't write written reports, despite my requests"

O-Without documentation I can't help u

E-I know one other person who might speak to you, but so many of my files have been stolen, and much has been put in storage.

O-Well, if you can get them to call me, then maybe I can do something.

(So, I'm supposed to waste another year or more of my life, while maybe somebody does something to make me more safe?)

She said that she understands that I'd like to put in for an out of state transfer. This is true, I know which states they own property, but not yet which cities. She said that some of the wait lists are long, but I have no choice to at least get on the lists. In the meantime, I'm going to have to work like hell, to get out of where I am, while waiting for formal public housing to come thru.

So, this maint. man who I dread is coming into my apt. on weds. ( and I insist on not being in there alone with him), to "look" at the toilet. Yet, if I'm not there at all, he will steal something else from me, or vandalize something else.

I doubt that he'll replace it, even though I know I need a new one, as I got 2 opinions.

For those of you who are new readers of my blog, I recommend a famous true essay from the late 80's on life in U.S. public housing called:

"There are No Children Here" by Alex Kotlowitz

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"On David Sedaris and NPR"

I knew of David Sedaris, but I had never heard him speak before. NPR did a special on Christmas Day (07) on "Christmas Tales"

I was expecting something sappy, stories that are very different from my own experiences. Much to my surprise, that wasn't the case at all. I discovered D. Sedaris. He told this wonderful true story of the year he was hired as an Elf for Macy's during the Christmas season. When I heard him read his true essay, I thought, Mmm, "Now that's the way I experience the world." I realize that I am a satirist like him with a style similar to his.

He said that while he was dressed up like an elf, one of the female customers asked: "Where is the bathroom?" (this is much more fun when you hear him read it in his own words and inflection)

D.S.-"It's the line with the women in it!" he shouted.

Customer-"I ought to have you fired. I'm going to have you fired for your attitude!"

D.S. "Go ahead, he thought, life can't get any more hellacious then being an elf for Christmas!"

He went on to say that 2 woman that day threatened to have him fired.

He said one boy got up into Santa's lap, and Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas. "I want Proctin and Gamble to stop animal testing!"

(Mom is coaching him along) "That's Proctor and Gamble, son. Now son, why do you want P and G to stop animal testing. Because it is cruel and unusual punishment!"

Well, you get the idea folks!

(And on this note, I will write about my 12/95 retail job working with very high end merchandise in my next posting.)

and by the way


1/3/96 "so called food stamp appt."/the local community center

I went into the Hampden Family Center for a 2:30 appt. What a waste of time that was. I was told by the volunteer yesterday that I could come in at 2:30 for a woman to interview me for food stamps. When I do come in, there is a different woman working. She asks me if I have certain things with me. I tell her that I only have one pay stub. She says I have to have more documentation than that. She asks me to wait until 3 for the formal appt. So, she then meets with me for about 1/2 hour, telling me I need this, this and this. She finally asks me if I have my utility bill?! I tell her no because my rent includes utilities.

She then says: "Aren't you here for energy assistance?!"


"Then what are you here for?"

E-"Food stamps!"

"We don't do that here!"

"Your volunteer told me that you do!"

"Who told you that?" (I would here this question many, many times over the next dozen years! I now keep impeccable records, so I know "who did tell me that!")

I told her I don't remember the name of the volunteer. So as this doesn't become a wasted trip, I decide to wait around for the director re: the possibility of volunteering for the center. I'm told the director is busy right now. So, I just sit and wait for her to free up.

The director seems really burned out, but asks me if I'd like to sign up for a computer class. The sign up sheet states a date that passed 2 weeks ago!  I asked her about it and she said that it is the wrong sign up sheet. She points me to another sign up sheet, which says:

"Tues, Weds, or Thurs?"

I ask: "What are the corresponding dates?"

"I don't know" she says. "It's doesn't matter anyway. You don't have to sign up. Just pop in anytime tomorrow!"

"You are coming in the a.m., aren't you?" she continued.

E-"Oh, I thought you just said to come in anytime"

"You better come in the a.m."

(I'd never choose a.m., but do it when I have to. Fibromyalgia people and a.m. rarely get along)

Supposedly, at 10 a.m. Frank will be there to train me.




I'm real sick, my cough has worsened. Deana really wants me to come over for Christmas. (A long lived friendship that ended in 96)  Tom gives me a ride.    But after I got there I started sneezing real bad and feeling really cold. Later that night after I got home, I started to develop flu symptoms. I was hot and cold the whole night. Despite my illness, I had a good time playing Therapy with Deana and Laura and the kids.


The last week of 95 was sheer hell because I've been so sick. I started coughing about last Saturday or Sunday after the sinus/bronchial infection (caused in part by my severe allergy to my landlord's 2 dogs) got more severe and this morning I woke up with laryngitis. I was so crippled up with back pain that I couldn't walk. That had alot to do with the fact that this house is so damn cold. My muscles get tightened up and then I end up in pain. (I would get my Fibromyalgia diagnosis in 97)

I got so weak that I couldn't stand for more than 5 minutes.


Migraine with vomiting. The headaches are precipitated by alot of coughing. Today I didn't get out of bed until 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon. Was up vomiting until around 1 a.m. Crushing fatigue, need lots of sleep, but my breathing is so obstructed that it makes sleep impossible.

Tried to find a sliding scale clinic today to help me with my bronchial problems. I called Ask A Nurse and they could only find one. I called it and it was a private doctor. I got an answering machine. The other doctor was in the Rotunda mall. I talked to the woman in billing who was very curt with me. As soon as she quoted the price of $150.00 she hung up on me instead of asking me if I want an appointment! SHE JUST HUNG UP ON ME!

When I reached the Wyman park Clinic by phone, they said they wouldn't see me at all because I have no income. I said that I would be able to pay something but they wouldn't quote me a fee over the phone. I said, o.k. I'll try your East and West Baltimore sites. She said they MIGHT work with me.

Oh yeah, there's a clinic on Reisterstown Road. Maybe if I got out there Mike (my birthmother's husband) will take me back (but that's only if my birthmother isn't home, because she'd never approve of him helping me with a ride)

I called the MTA and the dispatcher started yelling at me. (which is common) She told me that I was cutting her off, when I was simply trying to get her to slow down so I could write down the instructions on how to get to a chiropractor by bus.

I left the house at 3 p.m.  Three buses (all legally required to stop and pick me have passed me by.  I heard that whites don't always get picked up) Finally, at 3:45, I get tired of standing in the cold rain. I decide to go on foot in Hampden to try to find a chiropractor. There was one, but it was closed. So I went into an internist's office and asked about their fees. She said $70 for the first visit. She offered no other info.

After I sat down for a few minutes, and asked her if I could use the phone, she told me about the Union Memorial Clinic.

At 5:20, I find a chiropractor. The entire appt. only took about 20 minutes. None of these chiropractors/doctors want to take the time to get to know you, but other than that he was good. I liked getting hot massage from the electrodes. Adjustments are somewhat painful but I do believe in chiropractic care.

"Everything is broken"

It's a perspective that I feel nobody else is experiencing. In that sense, it's risky for me to write about the way I experience the world.

Everything is broken

The concert itself was phenomenal, but here are the events surrounding the event!


I saw an ad in a local paper for the boyschoir concert. It said: "$12 donation suggested" (All past concerts in this church have been drop money in the basket, so this is what I was expecting, if you don't have the full amount no big deal, and I didn't)

When I arrive I see a cash box on the right. I asked the volunteer about the purpose of the box.  "I thought this concert was a donation thing, what's the box for?"

She looked and me like I was from Mars.

 me-  "Is this cash box where audience members have to put the 12 dollars?"

  "No" she said. "You were supposed to purchase tickets in advance!"

E-"Oh Boy, the ad I saw did not mention that"

Lady 1- "You can talk to the lady at the entrance about it"

E-"I just took a cab here, because of an ad in the paper, that said nothing about buying tix in advance"

Lady 2-"This show is all sold out"

E-"That's not right"

Lady 2-"Here, I have an extra ticket, but tell NO-ONE that I did this!"

E-"Thank You"

I'm an hour early and need a place to sit. I try to go in to the wait lounge. 2 people are blocking it off.

E-"Do you mind if I sit and wait?"

"Well, I guess so............"

I felt like I was breaking a rule, but needing a place to sit.

The concert it self is fabulous. At breaktime, the officiator says:

"It's breaktime,  don't leave your seats because there is a video"

I go try to get water, but I'm the only one who gets out of my seat! I ask an officiator. "Where is the water fountain?"

"This church has no water fountain. But there are cups in the ladies room"

I go to the ladies room. There are no cups. I lean my mouth under the sink, as a well dressed, well heeled white woman looks on, disapprovingly. When I am done, I say: "The church has no water fountain"

"Yes, it does" , said a little girl!"

"Settling in for: "Countdown to Elmo's Christmas" Special!

(I'm a huge sesame street fan)

So, 10 minutes before the special begins on the night of 12/23/07 , my toilet begins overflowing (clean water the whole time thank goodness) I did not realize you can just turn the water off. I just kind of hoped it would stop. I'm in "flood mode" I have to get all electric appliances away from the water, everything off of bedroom and bathroom floor. I've never experienced an honest to goodness flood indoors. For the next 12 hours, I just stayed up all night and worried. I can't call maintenance, because of the stealing and harrassment. I call the chatline the next morning (the 24th) just so happens that my acquaintance (a carpenter) is on the chatline. I tell him of the problem and he instructs me to go turn off the water. The knob won't budge. He drives over and turns off the water! One third of my bedroom is flooded, but the water did not come into contact with any of my wood furniture thank goodness. There was no material loss. I'm in day 5 of no working toilet, as I wait and pray that HUD will find and send someone safe to replace my toilet.

So "Merry Bleepin' Christmas" to you too!

"To buy or not to buy a wallet"

This is the dilemma I faced 3 weeks ago. I've been wanting a wallet for some time. 

When I was mugged in 1/83 my pocketbook and wallet were taken.

 But 3 weeks ago at Wal-Blue , I stood there mentally going through this grueling dilemma

. Because with the streets being so dangerous, there's just too great a chance my wallet will be stolen if I buy one. Vicky's friend (vicky is the Big Bucks clerk) had her wallet stolen in broad daylight in Baltimore.  When V. called the cops, they told her,"if you dont want to get robbed then you have no business carrying a wallet!" (talk about compassion!)

So, I decided to go ahead and buy the wallet, but now I'm afraid to put anything in it!

Right after I posted the photo at the University last week, I popped up to the librarian's desk, and while I was there, my wallet, (i.d., health insurance, and bus pass) were stolen. I didn't realize they were "stolen" until I got home, as I thought initially I had lost it. When I tried to make a report to the University, they told me they couldn't make a report over the phone. I told them I had no transportation to get back to the campus.

Seems pointless to acquire anything!

Thursday, December 20, 2007




In 11/04, I found a barter for rent situation for 3 months in Lafayette, IN. Because I didn't have to pay rent that month, I decided to go get some professional portraits done at Tippecanoe Mall. (no joke, I was living in Tippecanoe County.)

So, I go get these portraits taken. A week later I go and pick them up, driving to the mall in my Mercury "jalopy." On the way back from picking up the photos, which are in the backseat, my car breaks down. I have to get it towed to the mechanic. I forget about the photos. The windows were cracked slightly, I forgot that too. Lafayette gets an unbelievable amount of ice in the next week. By the time I go to rescue the car, I see that the photos are in the flooded backseat! (My photos are survivors just like me) I bring the pics home, and lay them out over the bathtub to dry out, and pray that they aren't ruined.

Remarkably, I guess because of the type of paper used on a professional portrait, other than a few wrinkles, all photos had survived!

As you can see, I will never run out of stories! To see the latest photo, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.


I have seen this woman on television twice now. Once on the Ellen Degeneres show, and once on Jay Leno. She was Miss America in '44 ish. Now she's about 82. Have you heard about this woman? On Leno, she said something to the effect of "Well, I shot the tires instead of shooting the men, or I would have gone to prison."

I love that!

So the story is that Venus lives on a farm. One day, 2 men were stealing supplies out of her shed. She drives over, blocks them in with her truck, and shoots out the tires! (I have a special affinity for strong women!)

So, Jay Leno asks her what skills she used during the Miss America contest. She says: "I sang and danced, you know I shake a mean hip!"

Leno-"So, who taught you how to shoot?!"



I talk to birthmother an average of once every 18 months over the phone. It's always really weird, and stressful beyond belief. I feel drained for weeks after we talk over the phone, for many reasons, some I'll go into here.

When I called her in September, I asked her how her husband is. "HE'S DEAD! HE'S BEEN DEAD FOR 9 MONTHS!"

me-"I would have wanted to attend the funeral, you should have told me."

Mother-"YOu couldn't have gotten there! It was a million miles away in Dundalk!"

(Dundalk is about a 35 minute drive)

His name was Mike. Apparently he was violently ill in the last few months of his life. I met him a week after I did the search for my birthmother, in 6/1989. Mike talked to me like I was 3 years old. But he was such a warm person. One day when I called the house and mother wasn't there, he said "your mother has forbidden me from meeting up with you one on one" "But I want you to know, I consider you my daughter. You see, your mother and I were dating
in high school, and I decided that I was to old for her, so I told her to go date other people. She did, and then you were conceived. She and your "father" broke up and then your mother and I reunited. So, your mother and I were together while she was pregnant with you, and that's why I feel that I am your real father."

Sadly, I never in the last 18 years got a chance to get to know Mike, since he was forbidden to see me one one one. He was very disrespectful of my birthmother, but very warm with me in the rare times that I went to their house in Pikesville, MD. He'd often walk me to my car and secretly slip me a 10 dollar bill. He couldn't let my b-mother know that because she wouldn't have approved.

In the 18 years that I've known her, she has always put alot of energy into trying to convince me that they are "dirt poor." But one time when I called and she wasn't there, Mike said: "Elana, we aren't poor. We're rich. But it's all tied up in my coin collection. And by the way, I feel that you are my "responsibility" (he said this in '03 when i was "homeless" in indiana)

So, my mother waits 9 months to tell me that he has died. A funeral would be the perfect opportunity for me to meet extended blood family. But, I don't think mother is comfortable with that, so she keeps me away from funerals, and keeps information about my relatives as minimal as possible. (I have an Aunt in N.M. who I'd like to meet, but mother says "she's too sick and busy to meet you") There was another aunt there too, who I really wanted to meet, but same thing, mother won't give me any contact info. claiming these women have no time to meet me. The one, Kitty, just died in '05 of cancer. She was a famous artist, and I've tried to do research on her at the library, so far no leads.

So, in Sept. I also ask mother, "and what's the latest with your mother in law?" (she and her husband lived with the mother in law) She replied"GABBY IS DEAD." "I AM SO HAPPY TO FINALLY BE ALONE. FOR 40 YEARS I WAS A SLAVE TO MY HUSBAND. COOK AND CLEAN THAT'S ALL MY LIFE WAS!"

So, last night she calls me. (It's the exception to talk to her again after only 3 months) At the end of the conversation she says: "By the way, your uncle is dead. He died a year ago. (paternal uncle, also michael, was hoping to meet, he lived in balto) I replied: "Why didn't you send me the obituary?"

mother-"What are you going to do with an obit? He didn't even know you existed. Plus, you don't care about ancestry!"

(do you see why these conversations are so stressful?!)

elana-"I wanted to meet him." I replied.

mother-"That's ridiculous! Trying to meet him would only have made your bio. father (V.) very angry!"



which means"oh my god" in yiddish.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Health Challenges

 I've had pneumonia twice since June, 2005.  The air quality in the Baltimore area far supersedes acceptable e.p.a. guidelines for healthy breathable air. I have alot of respiratory challenges. Poverty in and of itself tends to make people sick. With an increase in income, you can choose a healthier environ, therefore likely to improve your health.

My neighbor told me in passing in the hall, that her doctor told her that she has signs of having come into contact with asbestos! She is certain she was exposed to it in our homes. So that has also got me really worried. (about my own health)

And I'm wondering where in the building or in our individual apts. it is. I'll have to do some research on asbestos. I did learn a little bit about it last night, when watching one of my favorite shows......"extreme home makeover" One of the houses they renovated was in part because the family was being exposed to asbestos.

Oyyy. So many reasons to move out of "La Pew." Too many battles both inside and outside my building.

So many sick buildings in our society.

Familiar with "sick building syndrome"?

A Change of Management at La Pew

About a week ago, I got a letter under my door, stating that there has been a change of management/ownership at La Pew. It "welcomed" the team. What it stated by omission is that 3 of the 6 bad apples on the management team are now gone. One of the 2 maintenance men who is burglarizing me is still here.

There isn't a chance in hell of having a good or normal life at La Pew or in Baltimore. However, I will give the new team a chance. Unfortunately, the 2 female managers based in my bldg. are still employed. However, the woman over them, is new. The new owners are in Georgia.

Unlike the old management team in GA, this new owner, returned within a day. She's also in email communication with me. Rather than lay out every single problem, I am just going to share one at a time with her. Right now, safety. That is my top worry.

I'm hoping that she will launch an investigation into the burglaries and that the remaining maint. man will be fired. I also hope that they do a very thorough background check on any new maint. men. (I've expressed these thoughts through email) In the meantime, I will continue my search for a healthier home. This is no small feat as you've heard from me before.

I still have to hide my last remaining valuables around the apt. everytime I leave, even if only for an hour. I doubt that I'd ever feel safe at La Pew, but for today, I am there, and I want to give this new owner a chance and see if they really mean it when they say in their letter that they want us to be happy at "La Pew."

January, 1998 "Getting There" The 1986 Honda Accord

I was initially very excited when Sandra donated her Honda Accord to me in 1/98. But the reality is, these older cars aren't really free at all. Within 2 months of her gift to me, the car needed about 2k in repairs! So for the life of the car, it was on the road, off the road, on the road , off the road, because I wasn't earning enough to keep it on the road and safe. Here is the "poem" I wrote to her shortly after her donation.















"Google Ad Sense" are supposed to be paying me

They're supposed to be paying me for every hit to my website. However, it's been 4 months and not a penny. I've not been able to find a phone # for customer service on any of their websites. I googled on this, and apparently and ironically, google are screwing millions of people out of their money, and none of us payees are getting paid. One woman was even written a bad check! Who da thunk it? That a name like Google would be screwing people out of their money. But this is why I agreed to have ads on my website. The added income would have really helped, but they are making this as difficult as possible. What would you do? If you find a valid customer service phone # for google ad sense, please email it to me. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"The Price of Survival Sex" Balto. Sun 11/4/07

Journalist: "The fact that she is still here at 45 years old is remarkable."

(more excerpts)

"The women are engaged in a relentless, dangerous struggle, not only for drugs but for the necessities of life. It could be for money, food or clothing. It could be for cigarettes, drugs, anything."

Authors Note: (my note)

I never resorted to selling my body to survive. But since I have lived through some extreme poverty, I have no judgements for the women who do.

"Letters reveal voices from the Holocaust" (Balto. Sun 11/2/07 by Michael Hill

If you can pull this up on line, please try. It was a man who found letters written by an ancestor during the holocaust and saved them. Fascinating stuff. The article was by Michael Hill. You can communicate with him at You can also see a video at

I think the article said that the descendant was going to try to make these letters available at a museum. (it's been a month since I read the article)

"Iraqis return home" Baltimore Sun/"Baltimore to Baghdad" 11/4/07

The part of the title "Baltimore to Baghdad" I made up. The rest of the title, "Iraqi's return home" was the title of the article in the balto. sun on 11/4/07.  

Those are the articles that I will papaphrase and then give my own comments. This particular article was about Iraqi's who feel safe enough to return to their communities. I often notice parallels between foreign cities and U.S. cities. In this particular article a woman from Baghdad made a comment that might as well have been made by a Baltimorean! Here goes:

"Six months ago, I wouldn't dare be outside, not even to stand near the garden gate by the street. Killings had become so routine I stopped going to work I was so afraid."

"Young woman nearly beaten to death on bus"

Here is a rough idea of the letter I plan to submit today regarding last weeks bus beating of a white female 26 year old in Hampden on bus #27. (which I have taken in the past and made journal entries for)

Wiedenfield =one of the reps. for MTA (I'm not sure which rep. I ll have to find out so I can write a more informed letter to editor)

Dixon=Baltimore City's mayor

Dear Letter to Editor,

The day Kreager was beaten on the #27 bus, I heard this approxiate report on the news: " Kids were jumping in front of seats telling the young woman, "these seats are reserved!" The first things that went through my head was "Kreager must be white, I'm very accustomed to seeing these acts of intimidation on buses and trains. Most likely this is a hate crime."

But most Baltimoreans don't encounter reverse racism in their day to day activities. I encounter it daily and absolutely do not feel safe on Baltimore's buses and trains, or at most stops because I am a minority white. I'm very glad that this incident on the #27 is being investigated as a hate crime.

Dixon and Wiedenfield's public comments that "Baltimore's buses are safe" is incredibly naieve.

"Baltimore, if you have the financial means to own and operate a private vehicle, I highly recommend you stay there!"

Letter to the Editor/USA Today

I never really understood what people meant when they said that "America is a free country!

I surely don't feel free.  But now I'm beginning to get it. I recently read some literature on life in the Middle East, and whenever possible I try to engage foreigners in conversations about why they chose to move to the U.S.

Hard to believe that there are so many places that don't grant freedom of speech. Now that I realize how precious that freedom is (and I love to write) you will see more letters to the editor from me. Mostly to the Baltimore Sun, and the City Paper, but occasionally to other publications as well. I will do my best to post the letters on my website, so you don't have to go looking for them in the papers. That way, whether they publish my letter or not, you'll get to read what I'm writing. For the most part, my letters will be comments on articles about u.s. transit, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and any other social issues that I feel passionate about.

If you wish, keep your eyes open to USA Today, hopefully they will print my letter re: their article on "Transportation options very limited for America's seniors."

Wish I could post daily

I'm enjoying the gradual increase in readership of my blogsite. Despite my imbalanced life, I want to keep you coming back. As you know, with poverty you will hear the same themes over and over again. Nevertheless, I will do everything I can to be as candid as possible about the bad conditions yet also, inform you when positive things happen in my life , which at this point are few and far between. I love when you respond to what I've written, and when possible if you could sign off using your real name that's even better, I love knowing who I'm talking to.

 I sure am looking forward to living in a place that is safe enough that I can purchase a home computer. At that time, I will post new blogs as daily as possible.


(a familiar saying to those of you who have ever attended a 12 step program of any sort!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Looking back at: 11/16/2001"

Waiting on my lawyer to take me to Dept. of Social Services. I haven't slept in weeks. I have zero strength and no money at all. D.S.S. supposedly awarded me $60.00 in emergency food stamps but when I went to the Giant to buy food there was no money transferred onto the card at all! (so I was unable to buy any food.)  I am at a starvation level as far as calories consumed per day go.

I am completely spent and don't know where I'll find the strength to job hunt. I think Peter (the man who has taken me in temporarily) (from Norway) is trying to understand my situation therefore isn't pushing me to job hunt right away. He is outwardly very difficult and very argumentative but has a heart of gold.

I'm going to try to stick it out here in Hampden until 4/1/02. That's my hope at least. Maybe I can stay here until I win my disability case.

"Getting There" 12/1/07

I'm at my breaking point.  My overall life conditions are intolerable. Here's just one more example of why it's monumental to even get out of bed and go anywhere at all! (besides the health challenges.)

Saturday, when I was done at Towson Public Library it was just after dark. Like I may have mentioned before I found out that the taxi company that I've had the most success with does not accept my Taxi Card!

Everytime I've ever called "Jack's" taxi (the most "logical" one to call in my region) I get dispatchers with the intelligence of a slug. Here is an account of how things went Sat. night. With the extreme cold and the idiocy of the people that work for Jack's , I had to select a place that would be easy to find. Typically when you call dispatch, you have to tell the dispatcher at least 10 times where you are.

I choose to wait directly across the street from the library at cafe spice so I can easily be located.

Here goes:

I call Jack's from my cell phone which costs about .40 a minute. I'm put on hold for 10 minutes. My phone dies. I have to go into Cafe Spice, pay the clerk .50 and ask her if she'll call me a cab. They put her on hold for 20 minutes!   Finally, someone answers.

"Jack's Taxi"

E-"HI, I need a cab, I'm at 321 york, right across the street from the library"

D (dispatch) "Where?"

"321 York, cafe spice, right across the street from the library"

D- "I don't know where that is"

E-For the 5th time, I'm right across the street from the library how hard can that be?"

D-"What's your phone #"

E-"I don't have a phone!"

(With dispatchers like this you're left feeling that there is a pretty slim chance anyone will come and get you at all!)

In a 40 minute period, i watch 4 cabbies just drive right past me! I stop each one and ask them if they are here for me. "No, I'm not."

E-" But it's freezing and I need to get home, can't you take me? You're here already!"

"We're not allowed maam. You'll have to go with which ever specific driver they dispatch."

" "WEll, can't you call dispatch and tell them that you're here and you are going to take me?"

"We're not allowed maam. There is a specific #..............."

By the time the 3rd driver turned me down I called him a few choice words, and he demanded that I apologize. I refused.

By the time the 4th driver came, I had to "pretend" that I had not already called a cab (All four cabs were with Jack's) or he would have never taken me! I told the driver that the first 3 cabs wouldn't take me. He said "you should have CALLED  for a cab!"

After he dropped me off at home, and after I paid him, ONLY THEN, could I tell him that I HAD called dispatch already.

So, to travel 2 miles, it took me one hour, unbelievable stress and about 12 dollars!

So if you just had this one life obstacle in Baltimore, the lack of a private auto, you can see that your quality of life is shit.

Well, 12.5 years of public transit in Indiana and MD, (off and on) and I'm going to try to move to Berkeley. It's a huge risk with so little money. But this is no kind of life!

Blog Photos

WHOOPPEE! Just got the photos added to my blog site! Ironically the girl here at tech support ended up needing alot of coaching from me, but we did it! we did it! And the university didn't even make me prove that I'm a student. If I knew I'd be so successful, I would have brought the 2004 photo too.

 As you can see, the 1997 photo isn't real crisp and clear, but I like that pic. nonetheless. My Baltimore theatre group "Gimme Shelter Productions" took that pic. of me. The 1987 one was when I was a student at Catonsville Community College. There was a man on campus who needed college girls for a modeling shoot. That was fun.

Victory at last!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

"A Special Place in my heart for The Waldorf School of Baltimore"

I didn't expect it to mean as much as it did. But Becky picked me up today to go to the craft fair at The Waldorf School of Baltimore. You know Balto. is a very miserable and mean place. But there are pockets, pockets of community that you step into and it's literally like a different world! (I wasn't aware that I had any more sense of community left until today) I've been loosely affiliated with The Waldorf since about 97 or 98.

In May 98, I was hired to care for some Waldorf students while the parents learned the Lazure (sic) technique of painting/decorating. I admit, I was a little jealous! While I had the children at the community pool, reams of parents and staff  were literally painting the walls of the school. But not just any paint. The school's walls look like the sky at sunset. It's so incredibly beautiful. So the minute Becky and I entered the fair today and I saw the lobby walls, I was reminded of the part I played at Waldorf. But what surprised me even more was, it seemed like I knew everybody and everybody knew me, like a huge reunion.

. Now I can't remain in Baltimore just because I had this experience today, but it's a little reminder that: in select situations I really thrive especially when  I'm" in my element." (you need a car to work at Waldorf) From the moment I set foot in a Waldorf school 10 years ago, I've been encouraging parents to take the tour and consider sending their kids there.

  It's all about "energy" I say. And Balto. in general has a toxic energy which fuels me to feel desperate to get out. Have you every noticed that different communities have different energies? Different schools have different energies. In many public schools the children are seemingly  "whipped" into submission, whereas in other schools the kids are just thriving!

You may remember from an earlier blog post  that I was a substitute teacher in a Waldorf inspired home school in 2002. There is a positivity in some of the private schools that i have found to  be very difficult to find in many public schools and daycare centers. 

As I continue my search for the right town and a healthy place to live, perhaps I'll try to live in the vicinity of a Waldorf School.

Check it out sometime, I think it's:

or you could just google "waldorf school"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Car accident caused by road rage

I get lots of opportunities to use my  psychology, peace and conflict mediation skills on a regular basis. Here is an account of one of my most recent "opportunities."

I had a rental car on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I had only been in the car for 6 blocks when a car was double parked and blocking York Road. Instead of risking fitting into a tiny space I completely stopped my car to make a point to the double parked car of what an idiot he was being. The man behind was furiously honking, furiously honking, he was also at a dead stop. In an act of intimidation the man behind me hits me intentionally to force me to move. I knew it was intentional because he had been at a dead stop. I'm forced at this point to get out of the car to assess the damage since it's a rental car. The man "plays dumb" says nothing to me, doesn't get out of the car to assess the damage, doesn't have a care in the world. I walked up to his driver's side and I quietly and calmly said: (but really upset on the inside)

"Can you please back up a little sir so I can assess the damage? "

He says nothing and refuses to move. " Sir, I'm sorry, but I need you to back up just enough so I can assess the damage as this is a rental car."

 "I had to ask him one more time." He finally backs up, there are just a few scratches on my car, he doesn't seem to be concerned about his older model monte carlo.

The woman behind him is angrily honking because she is inconvenienced, so she gets out of her car and starts yelling at me while I am talking to him.

I ask him for his driver's license. " I'm so sorry to inconvenience you sir, if it were my car I wouldn't care, but Enterprise is going to make me come up with the details."

"Well, we can't just sit here and block traffic, we'll have to drive into the bank park lot" he finally says.

 (I'm scared to be alone with him in a bank lot, but realize he might be right, that we have to move) As I drive to the bank lot I wonder if he'll try to get away.

 He doesn't. I write down his license plate on a sheet of paper then hand it to him and ask him to add his d.l. #. "I'm not giving you this paper back til you give me your d.l." (He wasn't yelling, but he was trying to show me that he wasn't going to let me be in control. The whole time I thinking god I hope he doesn't shoot me or carjack me) I hand him my d.l. He writes everyting down painstakingly slow. I'm terrified he'll write my address down. Since he has absconded my paper, I had to take another piece of paper and re-write his license place # down, I'm "praying" he doesn't back up and run me over!

 So he gets me the information and I keep talking in my "gentle gentle mother mary, I am not upset and I am not going to show him that I am scared" , voice.

We finally exchange all info. he says "I don't believe I hit you." "Well, you bumped me." I reply.

"Thank You for everything sir"

No reply........

Chronic Pain

I've barely breathed a word about my health to anyone in the last 20 years. Really no one but me has any idea of what day to day life is like for me but me. I am 98% bedridden by pain and crushing fatigue. I can no longer sit for more then a few minutes.   The key reasons for my spinal problems are the trauma my spine has incurred as a taxi, private auto and bus passenger. I can't even tell you how many times I've been whiplashed, thrown from my bus seat, fallen on the bus, you name it.

Well, the diagnosis is coccyxademia, low back pain, radiculopathy, neurongenic and claudication. What a mouthful!  Some of these words probably mean the same thing. (written on a form but not explained, I'll google it) He said: "You did fall, didn't you?" It was hard for the Dr. to grasp that the traumas are a result of riding buses. I do remember falling into a metal bar between 2 bus seats in one of the incidents where the bus lunged forward. These kinds of falls are daily, as the drivers are so wreckless. They speed over potholes and slam on brakes at every bus stop. After you put your money in the fare slot, the drivers lunge/jerk forward before people can get to their seats. The taxi drivers have also whiplashed me lots of times.

Anyhow, the doc. recommends physical therapy, a donut (something to sit on) and aleve. If that doesn't work then they offer injections for pain. Something I've never been offered in my life even though I believe most Americans could never have withstood the kind of pain I've been dealing with for so many years without pain meds.

The ironic thing about physical therapy is that I'd have to ride the buses to get there. Over the winter. It's unlikely I'll do it. I'd definitely do it if I could drive there.

Still aggressively seeking a place to live. Still considering Berkeley and N.Y.C. where public transit is so good. Will keep you informed.

"The war zone"

 Arrived at the Spine Center an hour and twenty minutes early. (I'm always an early bird) My apt. was too cold to sleep last night. I'm exhausted. The heater in my apt. does not work. I fear that mice go into it and die. I've seen a mouse run into the lobby heater. The community businesses who clean vents said they don't know that they can clean my kind of heater. And the maintenance staff refuse to replace my heater. Plus with the thefts I don't want the maint. men in my home for any reason at this point. They scare me. (Based on past experience I could call city inspectors but it will get me nowhere. There are only so many hours a day that I can fight battles)

Last night residents got a notice under our door commanding us to come to the office between certain hours to fill out a form. They don't care if we have to work or are out of town, they punish us if we don't do what they say when they say. I start calculating where to hide my belongings and how to make my apt. look occupied while I'm in the community room filling out forms and away for the day at the spine center, etcetera.

Should I wear my ring and risk getting mugged?

Should I hide my ring in my apt. and hope maint. don't steal it?

Should I hid my i.d. in the house and risk it get stolen?

Should I carry my i.d. and risk getting mugged?

I go through these decisions every time I leave the house. All jewelry accumulated in my lifetime has been stolen except for one ring. I call it my lucky ring. I hope it does its job.

I won't put my bus pass around my neck or the maintenance men will know that my apt. is vacant. Hmm. How will I get out of the community room and out of the bldg. without them seeing me. I'll have to leave the c. room, (in basement) go to 3rd floor walk to the far north end of bldg. take stairs to 1st floor. This is the best way to not have them see me leave.

I leave the c. room. I walk to elevator, another woman walks to elevator, we wait for elevator. Maint. man comes up behind us. "Now that wasn't so hard was it?" He demands we pay attention to him. I don't. The woman said: "no, it wasn't" I refused to answer. But he has to be in control so he says "How are you Ms. S." I walk away from him completely ignoring him. I walk to the staircase. Should I walk up to 3rd floor? I'll wait a few minutes then I'll cross over to north bldg. and try to get out without them noticing. I'll have to walk to the drumcastle bus stop   i never wait at this bus stop in front of my bldg. because then maint. will know that I left for the day.

I stand outside my bldg. to put my coat on and the bus gets caught at that red light at the stop that I told you is too dangerous for me to take (because maint. will see me leave.)   Then again,I'd be a fool not to hop this bus, as there was no wait. I have a mile walk from the bus stop to the spine center and that's o.k. because the neighborhoods there are pretty safe.

The stress of having to see the burglars every day , well it's so high that I fear it will kill me. I have no words to describe the anger I feel for the 2 maint. men responsible for the thefts, the vandalism of my furniture and the burning of my photos...............................

The main reason I have not found another place to live yet is because of having no car. I'll keep trying. Staying at La Pew is not an option if I want a healthy and happy life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Are you lesbian!"

I was out on a walk a few weeks ago when I saw a very masculine woman getting out of her "Mrs. Tool" truck. (She runs her own business as a repairwoman) I thought, "I know that woman!" I went over to her and said, "I know you! We met about 10 years ago in Charles Village! Your name is Tracy and your wife is Phyliss."

"Yes! she smiled. " Well, Phyliss and I aren't together anymore, but you have the right person! Who are you?"

"I'm Elana, and we must have met at a party or something but you're very memorable! "

"Hi Elana! Are you a lesbian?"

"No, (I smiled) Why did you think I was a lesbian?

Is it the caribeener key chain hanging from the belt loop of my jeans?! You certainly aren't the first person to guess incorrectly that I am gay!"

"No, it's not the keychain, Tracy*'s........................well (Tracy drew an air outline of my figure) and that you aren't wearing any makeup!"

"Well, I'm straight, but I'm not narrow!" I exclaimed.

"I live right here in this house, and I'd like to be your friend. Won't you please come by any time?"

"Thank you!" I said. "It's a deal!"


Author's Note

Years ago, Katie asked me if I was gay. I told her no. She said, " I was certain that you are because you are never with men. And, you have such a sexual, sensual, flowy way of being! I thought, surely Elana's a lesbian!"

(When someone tells you that you have a sexual, sensual, flowy way of being I can assure you, you will never forget it!"

"Towson University"


Perhaps you heard about the threat of violence made to Towson University yesterday. The threat was announced in the local news on Sunday night and applied to a specific building on the following day. After hearing the news broadcast I wondered why they didn't issue any advice to the students for the day. The 25k university population were left to fend for themselves.

Although the threat was specific to a certain building, I do not trust police officers or FBi or anyone else for that matter to keep me safe and hopefully you don't either.

One student, afraid to miss her classes in that bldg. chose to attend. In the middle of a quiz she broke down crying and had to leave out of fear for her life. I thought about what I deal with daily in my bldg. and in Baltimore. The knowing that I'm not safe in my home or on the streets is enough to make anyone cry.

I don't know about you, but I'm glad I stayed off campus yesterday. I'm pleased to say that the "terrorist" did not follow through on his/her threats and no one was hurt.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


My search for a better and normal life is still 24/7. I had a bit of an epiphany at the end of August regarding the dating chatline. The one that I mentioned in an earlier post.

The Social Security Administration awards anywhere from 200 to 700 a month if you are on disability and then rules:

"Go live on this. Don't break any rules, and don't accept any other jobs."

When I first won disability my friend Dan warned me: "Elana, don't work for at least 2 years or you might lose your benefits. Don't take any chances" I had been working for a Waldorf inspired preschool and my boss wanted me to continue, but it was too risky for me to work. This "no work" rule, did to some degree , contribute to my 2001 through 2005 episodes of homelessness.

Anyhow, you know from a previous post that I talk on a telephone chatline.  Many of the guys know that I'm looking for a barter situation of some sort or another and that I

"Gotta get outta section 8 before I become another statistic."

Backtrack.  In December 2004,  got notification that my name came to the top of the list for an Indiana subsidized apt.  I was due to be out of town for a meeting the authorities wanted me to attend.  I asked them if I should cancel the trip.  They said "No, we will have your apt. for you when you get back"  When I got back they said they gave my apt. away! 

 In May, 2005 I got notification that my name came up on the wait list of a private section 8 complex in Baltimore. I didn't qualify for any subsidized housing in Indiana but one.   I had applied at 10 of them, but was denied at all of them due to bad credit. I had no money to get back to the East Coast to take the apt. and was desperate to accept the apt., convinced that this was my ticket to a better life; up and out of poverty.

What am I going to do? I had been talking to Johnny on the chatline for months. He lives in Baltimore and hates to travel. I told him of my predicament. He's pretty socially progressive and knew I was desperate. He essentially flew 750 miles for a virtual stranger! He was kind enough to help me pay for the drive back to Baltimore. If it wasn't for him, I'd still be in Indiana and without a subsidy.

Hmmm. There are certainly more men willing to help "Damsels in Distress" then there are women. So, why not tell the guys on the chatline of my predicament? I've gotten some very colorful offers indeed. Mostly, men like the fantasy of living with a woman, but don't usually follow through. I'm trying to get enough money together to rent a car for a day so I can go look at a room for barter in PA; one of the guys from the chatline. (who doesn't do computers) I'd have to clean the house and keep this guys mother company (who lives with him. He'll share his car with me so I can job hunt. He's a definite hillbilly with a shotgun and a mother who doesn't believe in electric washing machines. At my request, he says he'll keep the shotgun locked up, so I'll feel safer. Many domestic shootings happen in a way that gun owners never anticipated, in part because of unlocked guns. (see that stands for Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse)

The fact that this guy is willing to share his car is the "carrot on the end of the stick" here. You know the prime reason my circumstances are so dismal is because I have no reliable car.

Wish me luck. Looking for a place to live is costly , especially because I'm looking out of state. By the way, my friend Johnny, the one who transported me from Indiana to Maryland, in 2005; now has his own website:


  It is so draining to leave the house in Baltimore.

  In fact on the news recently, Baltimore was voted as having the most rageful drivers in America. That's been my experience too both when I had a car, as well as observing how drivers treat peds. As I think I've told you before, a ped. is hit every 4 hours in Baltimore. That's one aspect of our rude ass society, and here's another:


I must have  magnets throughout my body that only attract brooms, mops and dustpans in all restaurants and coffee shops! Today, I arrived at Bagel-O @ 5:05 p.m. I put my belongings down @ a good table, walk over to buy my coffee and when I return, there is a broom and dustpan propped up against my table. I stand there for about 4 minutes waiting to see if "broom man" will "sweep under my feet" (Some women wait to be swept off their feet while I get swept UNDER my feet on a daily basis!) Broom man doesn't return but I can't relax so I change tables.

Broom man starts sweeping. Will he come sweep under my feet @ my new table? I wonder. He's scanning me right now...I remain braced to change tables suddenly.

Yesterday, I ate lunch @ Sun Yoo's deli. There are about 20 tables there and only 3 are occupied. The instant I sit down to wait for my salmon burger, the owner squeezes between my table and the empty table next to me. He turns so his ass is in my face. He bends over and starts chalking the day's specials on the portable chalkboard that he has laid on the table next to mine. He doesn't say: "Pardon me or I hope you don't mind if I...." or anything of the sort. He acts as though I'm invisible. Then it gets worse. He moves the chalkboard so it's half on my table and 1/2 on the table next to mine. He's facing me now (still like I'm invisible) bent over chalking and has essentially barricaded me in. His wife calls my number and initially, I can't get out to get my food!

He finally lets me out , I get my food and he goes back to "ass in my face" position! He is like this for 1/2 of my meal.

Sunday, @ Bagelo they start mopping and I had to leave because I can't handle the chemicals. I was talking with a fellow customer when the mopping began and I said: "I have to leave becuase the chemicals make me sick, do you want to go across the street to Marty's Pizza?" "Sure , he said."

We walk across the street to Marty's pizza and I choose a seat far away from the t.v. (T.V.'s in bars and restaurants are a serious pet peeve of mine, largely because they make it hard for me to hear whomever I'm with) I take 3 bites of my slice of pizza and an employee starts mopping. "Oh no" I said to my acquaintance. The owner yelled across the store to a customer in seriously broken English. (he's from Greece) I did not know what he said, or who he was talking to. My acquaintance said: "He wants us to go sit under the t.v. so he can mop!



An MRI of my neck and head had been ordered to rule out any lesions on my spine. My goal is to find out why I have nerve damage, get a diagnosis, and find out what I can expect for my future. There is no lesion, that's good news.

  But the MRI shows arthritis in my neck. Well, that explains the debilitating pain at least. In a week, I have another nerve test. It's so ironic that you have to become "dirt poor" before you qualify for decent health insurance in this country. And it's even more ironic that if you go back to work, you risk losing your Medicare and Medicaid.

I'm taking a multi vitamin daily, as that certainly can't hurt. I have crushing headaches that leave me bedridden sometimes for a week at a time. The MRI of the head shows no abnormalities. I believe chiropractic care would help, but insurance doesn't cover it, and my chiropractor is not on a bus route. I am a huge believer in chiropractic. Hmmm. I should buy some feverfew caplets and see if that helps prevent migraines or not.

"My past"


I sure do wish I could say that it gets better but it doesn't. Unless, you find a private donor/philanthropist who has mercy on you and decides to write you a big fat check. Or, like George Bush said (i doubt i've agreed with him on any other point other than this, in his presidency!) if you want out of poverty, then marry rich!

But as the documentary "PEOPLE LIKE US" shows; it's extremely rare for people to marry outside of their socioeconomic class. "God" knows, I'm in a class of my own! My first boyfriend, Steve (81 to 83) has this amazing memory and was able to reconstruct some things about my adoptive family that I didn't recall.  He told me a few months ago that my parents were" well to do"  I had no concept really of what social class I was in prior to 87.

He said: (this is a paraphrase) "Elana, you're dad always drove expensive cars, your mother's closet was filled with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of furs. But your parents were two of the most selfish people I think I've ever met, as they said there was no money when you told them you desperately wanted to go to college. They fought you tooth and nail, forbade you; told you that you have to keep working so you can give them money!"

I always assumed that when we moved out of the big house in Randallstown (when I was 12) and into an apt., that it was because my parents fell into financial ruin. But Steve said that was not the case, and that my father told Steve (in about '82) that "you 2 will never want for anything, consider yourselves taken care of!" (my father assumed Steve and I would get married) Perhaps had Arnold not married Helen, I never would have had to go through all of this shit. But Helen definitely" wore the pants" in the family and controlled the finances after 1975. (She did not want to adopt me, and only adopted me so that Arnold wouldn't leave her)

Helen,( adoptive mother) drilled into me throughout my time at her house to save everything I get or earn.. Relatives put money into my account, and Helen said: save the birthday money people give you , never spend it. Well, when I turned 18, I probably would have had up to 50k in my account. I told my mother I was ready for my money, and she said: "there is nothing left, remember when you asked me for money so you could eat pizza at the mall?"

So, in 1981, I started out in the world with no savings at all.  Cash poor but never really thought of myself as poor until after 1993. I had enough food and a stable address for the first 24 years of my life.

In '82 I announced my desire to go to college, but Arnold and Helen forbade me.  Steve said I fell into a severe depression. He said I was miserable at my job as a medical transcriptionist, and that if my parents hadn't forbade me from going to college I would have never been mugged by those 2 men during my lunch break at my job across the street from Reisterstown Road Plaza. That's a good point.

I believe that  my academic aspirations are probably genetically based, since Arnold and Helen didn't seem to have any interest in learning or reading.   In 1990, my birthmother sent me a Baltimore Sun newspaper article about my biological uncle on my father's side;  "THE SCRAPPY , CIGAR SMOKING MILLIONAIRE IS BACK IN JAIL!"

Anyhow, against my parents will, IN 1982, I enrolled in night school. It took me 4 years to get an a.a. degree and six more to get a Bachelors. I got through on grants, loans, my own funds, and no parental blessing. (And my father is Jewish! It's the rare American Jewish father who doesn't have high aspirations for his children.)

Bill said: that it's foolish to go into debt for a college degree. But I will never ever regret it. When you face tremendous odds in your pursuit of a goal, then reach it; you find out what you are made of!

So, my adoptive family were well to do, but didn't let me know it, and my biological family on my father's side are very, very well to do, but not in my life. (I met my bio. father 3x, but no other relatives on that side, yet) So, this is why I say I'm in a class of my own. Poor as dirt, with smarts and talent, (Go ahead, toot your own horn when no-one else will!) but needing a lucky break or large donation to live the full life that I want and deserve.........

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Edited version of letter sent to adam while "homeless" in 11/95

(federal govt definition of homeless is "lack of fixed nightime residence")

11/7/95 dark at 4:30 p.m. now!


Dear Adam,

I'm a nervous wreck right now, an aimless leaf in the wind. You would not (or maybe you would) believe the mess I'm in.

The last time I talked to you I was staying @"Sandy's" house and working p/t for Goodwill. I stayed with Sandy until the end of September. The conditions at Goodwill were crazy! I had four supervisors in 2.5 weeks! There were more people working there under "alternative sentencing" than there were paid employees!

The mall that the Goodwill is in is usually deserted. The poor arrangement of Goodwill made us a prime target for hold ups. Many customers seemed shady.

I put an ad up @Village Market health food store seeking a barter for rent situation (due to my poverty) No one answered for 6 weeks. By the third week of September I received some calls. One call was from a man named "Ralph" (a Sufi-Muslim) who was married to a woman named Sarah. They had a baby as well as 2 non-related adult female boarders living in their home. They lived in a very dangerous section of Baltimore called Windsor Hills. (Technically, Windsor Hills itself is an elite, historic enclave surrounded by very high crime neighborhoods) While staying there I heard gunfire on a nightly basis.

Ralph, about 50 y.o. had a shelf full of books on white supremacy. He looked @ me in a weird seductive sort of way when Sarah wasn't around. Sarah, 40, was a stressed out new mother, subjugated by Ralph. Sarah was controlling and disrespectul of me.

I loved her 22 month old, Maya, who was highly intelligent and perceptive. So much so that she screamed when forced to stay with her father! I helped care for Maya and another baby while doing some housework in exchange for rent. Not paying rent really sets one up for exploitation. My room was in the basement. It was not unusual for them to have company. I'd typically retreat to the basement, not feeling welcome.

I kept my p.t job @ Goodwill, coming at the price of a four hour round trip bus commute.

When I got my job offer from "Hell's Bell's" (you don't think a.c. d.c. will sue me for this name change do you?!) an organization serving the developmentally disabled) I left Ralph and Sarah's place accepting a full time live in position out of desperation for an income. I couldn't get any of the other social work positions that I applied for because I didn't have a car.

My new live in job is on the border of Pikesville and Randallstwon, a 10 minute walk from the subway station. I was a house manager for 3 developmentally disabled adults with major behavioral problems. One was mentallly ill with retardation, one had an organic anxiety disorder with obsessive compulsive behavior and the third was severely mentally retarded and yelled alot.

The job was supposed to be 40 hours a week but ended up averaging 70 to 100 hours a week! It was highly stressful and very exploitative. I got no sleep and always felt like I was on the verge of a heart attack, nervous breakdown or both.

Hell's Bell's asked me to sign a contract. It promised me 30 days written notice before dismissing me; yet the idiots put me out on the street on the morning of Weds. Nov. 1 with no notice (making me homeless yet again) Thank goodness I was able to call Sandy and she picked me up again! I'm a genuine bag lady! S. let me stay at her house for one night and then I was forced to call Samson (an Orthodox Jew in Randallstwon who was a history of mental illness) for housing!

I moved in with him on the night of Thursday Nov. 2nd. He's really controlling too. He has no job and sits around telling me bad jokes all day. He has all of these strange rules for the kitchen like keeping his own brand of Kosher and Veganism. I can't bring ANYTHING into his house which even remotely contains animal or dairy products! Needless to say, I AM going hungry.

He is totally overbearing and critical of everyone and everything. Yet, he likes me so much that he is willing to take me around on interviews-etc. etc. I asked him if he could take me to a meeting tonight and he said yes; then he changed his mind! That made me really angry because I'm so socially isolated and I was trying to get to a support group. He brought me to the library tonight, but decided to stay here with me! So, I'm hiding in an aisle writing you this letter!

I feel I've been imprisoned for the past 2 years since the hardest part of the poverty hit. Without a car, I'm like a prisoner.

The library closes in 6 minutes, I'll try to finish in that time but if I can't I'll continue the letter at "home." Adam it doesn't make sense for me stay in slimy Baltimore with no job.

11/8/95 Weds. 2:55 p.m.

I am at Owings Mills Mall. I just had an interview with American Eagle Outfitters. (My interviewer was very sweet, very beautiful, about 25, from West Virginia) I was honest with her about having been fired from Hell's Bells. She appreciated my honesty. I applied for a stocking position because I can't handle the fast pace of customer service. She said she'll call my references and then get back to me. Since I don't want to sit around Samson's house all day and have him constantly demanding my attention, this would get me out of the house.

It's kind of weird that out of one side of Samson's mouth he says that he'd really like to see me move forward in life and wants me to live in his house as long as possible; yet he nitpicks (like obsessive compulsve cleanliness) to no end. He says that he'll be a reference for me as his "live-in social worker" even though I never agreed to be that to him! He claims that I'm one of the most special people he's ever met and that I'm a real mensch who has a therapeutic effect on him, but he makes me a nervous wreck! He tells me that no one in the Jewish community or anywhere else for that matter,likes him.

He's fighting a legal battle over his mother's house and he's trying to get me totally involved. He hates his sister who came to his deceased mother's house and according to him STOLE furniture, a computer and more. He says there is a chance that we could both get evicted with no notice! I can never count on ANY security in my life!

I'd like to move somewhere warm, not hot or cold. I have no strong ties here in Baltimore. Samson is giving me "free" rent. I'd really like to go west. I'd like to spend about 1 week in Lafayette.

I have only made it to church 2 times in 5 months because of having no transportation. I've made practically no new friends.

I'm 32 and and my life is passing me by. I need to find a reason to go on living. There is so much hatred and killing here in Baltimore that it gives me no faith in the human race.



"get out while you're still alive" 11/5/07

I am so terrified of being murdered that I have stopped sleeping. I have been conducting a very aggressive housing search for the last 9 weeks, to no avail.

I had a bit of a nervous breakdown last night and called a friend in Brooklyn, MD. who said I could stay with him in an emergency situation.

Problem is in Brooklyn, MD I could not survive without a car. So even less of a life than the life I already have. But if I drop my section 8 apt. that will give me a better chance of being able to get a car more quickly in that I'll have a few months in Brooklyn where I won't have to pay rent..................

This really, really sucks. I'd feel safe at this friend's house, I just wouldn't have a life.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"The California Wildfires"

It's been really heartbreaking to watch this on t.v., read about it in the newspaper, and listen to the stories on n.p.r. Ironically, about a month ago, I was sitting on the front porch of my favorite bookstore and talking with my acquaintance Jack. I told him that CA is my dream place to live, but with global warming, each region has it's own sets of challenges and we can't really count on a normal climate anywhere, not even San Diego.

The barista,  from Southern CA interrupted and said: "I can assure you it will be many years before CA or anyplace sees the effects of global warming" This girl has a real difficult personality; if you say the sky is blue, she will say no it isn't it's orange.  I said nothing in return as I didn't want to argue with her.   and I thought: "She hasn't seen the documentary: "An Inconvenient Truth."

Perhaps many Americans won't make the connection between the wildfires and global warming, but according to Gore, there is a definite connection. yet two of the fires are being investigated as arson.

Just like with Katrina, I was hoping to get involved with this disaster too, by providing emergency counseling, a listening ear, and help for folks looking to get connected to resources. Hmmmm. Perhaps I'll advertise on Craig's List. I'd love to help. If anyone knows what homelessness is like, it's definitely me!

Do you know anyone affected by the evacuation? Ellen Degeneres has her dad and stepmom staying with her, they are evacuees, however she hasn't said anything about them losing their home, so I hope for the best..........................

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I lived in Lafayette, Indiana on 3 seperate occasions. Altogether I lived there for 6.5 years. For most of those 6.5 years I wondered: what in the world does THAT t-shirt slogan mean? (go ugly early) I found out that it was Harry's pub's way of encouraging college students to come into the pub and start drinking early. I never cared for the slogan, none the less, when i saw a man in the baltimore library today with the t-shirt, i had to speak up!

"I haven't seen that slogan since I lived in Indiana!" I exclaimed.

"I went to Purdue U." the man replied.

"Wow!" "Me too, what class are you?"

"class of 04 he exclaimed" (perhaps we passed each other in that small town since i did live there from 03 to 05)

"What's your degree in, and did it serve you well?"

"This degree, (pointing to the pub logo on his shirt!) served me well!"

"You know what I miss about Indiana?"

"what's that"

"Not having to watch my back constantly,,,,,,,,,,,,soo safe!" I exclaimed.

"You got that right" he said. I asked him how he's adapting to that aspect of things. "I'm adapting, but it's like night and day with the crime thing"

"Yup" I said.

"Well, have a good one" I said.

"Yes, you too and good luck with everything" he replied.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Author Augusten (Augie) Burroughs"

That's got to be one of the most meaningful book reading/tours I've ever been to. I absolutely believe that you can easily love people that you have never met. There are quite a few authors who I feel a strong connection to and even love for. I felt such a strong connection with Augie after reading "Running with Scissors"

He said for example that he is one of the rare authors whose not had to worry about upsetting or offending family, since he doesn't have any and never felt part of a family. (I could and can strongly relate to that) He has always hated Christmas, and I can strongly relate to that too. I think one of the character traits that A. and I share is that we both feel there is no time to feel sorry for our difficult past, so we try to put as much energy as possible into creating a rich now and a rich future for ourselves. (for as cheesy as that might come across!)

A. said that he almost died from  alcoholism and that was o.k. because he was ready to die. Except, that he knew he was supposed to write a book, so that kept him pushing on.

I have a dry sense of humor that people don't always grasp.    Augie was the same way last night. Hilarious, but people didn't always pick up on it immediately. I love how raw and real of a person he is! He talked about how he goes to his job where he's a great success, wears Armani suits, but since he is a bed wetter, lets his bed dry out while he is at work during the day! No one in the audience laughed at him, probably because we love him and respect how open he is!

His literary agent requested him to turn over his adult journals (that was how I always assumed initially that I'd do things, I'd just publish journals) so he turned them over and his agent said you must turn this into a book. So the first book he wrote was "Dry."   When Augie saw how excited his agent was about his adult journals, he excitedly proclaimed:


Augie's agent said: "then write that book after you write "dry!" That was his second book and movie: "Running with Scissors"

Augie said he never felt complete or whole as a person unless he was drunk. He also said, he knew he was in trouble when he realized: "I'm 30, and I've never experienced sex as a sober man!"

One of the other things that made me fall in love even more with Augie was how gracious and kind he was to his audience. He got silly questions, smart questions, not so smart questions and even questions from a mentally ill woman.   The audience , sadly, made fun of her, but Augie treated her and everyone else with the utmost of respect, treating no question as if it were a stupid one. The sick audience member spoke in labored speech, asking if the A.A. program is comprised of a 12 step program as well as asking him if he made amends to people he has hurt in the past.

Another woman, who was pretty charming, said: "Augie, all of the other questions are so intelligent, and I can't think of any intelligent questions, so I want to thank you for "running with scissors," and "Dry" and since I can't think of anything more profound, I was wondering:

"What is your favorite color?!"

Augie replied, "brown....................and blue, he smiled graciously and the audience laughed (not at, but with the woman asking the question)

I said in yesterday's blog...... "no romantic overtones suggested because augie is gay" but on second thought I'd like to revamp my statement!

"Darn it! Augie is gay!"

(Augie is one my biggest literary and human influences!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Serendipity and Augusten Burroughs

You know it's quite an ordeal to run any errands at all on the buses, and I always have a difficult time planning how to get anything done at all. I was really unsure as to whether I wanted to hassle with my bus errands today or put them off until tomorrow. I decided to get them done today, and had I not, I would not have had this amazing night!

At about 3:45 p.m. I was proceeding North on York Road on a #8 bus. What I read on the Towson University marquee made my jaw drop. I turned my head around struggling to read the sign as the bus passed. I considered getting off at the next stop just so I could read the marquee, but decided to run my errands first. Here's what I saw:


And that was all she wrote folks! I wondered if he was on campus today. He's one of my favorite authors, one of my biggest inspirations. After I read "Running with Scissors" a few years ago I thought, wow, I have alot in common with this man; he's my literary soulmate of sorts!

He's been on my mind, and I've been wanting to email him to ask him his opinion on what he thinks the chances are that my story on homelessness could be made into a movie. About a month ago, something possessed my friend Adam, to send me back the 11 page original copy of a letter I wrote to him while homeless in 1995. I read it to my friend John, and said:" you know this letter may be very valuable someday. I can see this turned into a screenplay, can you?" "That's a distinct possibility" he replied.

Well, serendipitously, (and this is the only day I had the letter on my while out and about) I had 2 copies of the letter in my backpack today that I was planning to mail to 2 friends to have them keep it safe for me. And one of those friends is a professional writer, so I was going to ask her whether or not she thinks its good screenplay material or not.

I ran my errands, went to the Towson public library googled Augusten Burroughs to find out if he was on the Towson University campus today and found out that he is!

At 6:15 p.m. I got in a line with about 200 people in front of me, waited an hour, and got 90 seconds to excitedly tell Augusten about what we have in common, give his hand a squeeze, and hand him a copy of the (previously mentioned) letter to hang on to, with a quick explanation of what I had in mind. On it, I wrote my email address and my blogsite.

Wow! I got to meet Augusten face to face! He did a reading from the book "Dry", talked about his life, and took questions. He said that he turned his journals over to his agent and that was the impetus for his first book. I asked him, (during formal q and a time) what the chances are of that happening for me?   He said: (and I paraphrase) "don't worry about statistics and chances, if your heart feels you've really got something special then just do it."

Have you read any of his books? I have not yet seen the movie: "Running with Scissors", have you?

"Alert the Media"

You hear it over and over again from me. How deadly Baltimore streets are.   I'm too scared to stand at light rail stops alone even during daylight hours. Last week a woman was raped at the light rail stop!

  So he wouldn't kill her the victim  jumped into a river. Later she got out nude, flagged down a passing car and had the driver call the police. This man had assaulted before, finished his jail time and was back out raping and threatening women's lives again.

Even though I've lost/had stolen most of my worldly belongings in the last 14 years I know it's a miracle that I am alive, and that's what's getting me through the material loss.

By the way, I have alerted 4 local t.v. stations as to what is going on in my bldg. The death threats, the thefts. I just did this today by email. I'll let you know the results as soon as they come in.

Jumping through hoops/crumbs from the rich man's meal

After  5 years of trying, it appeared I had finally been accepted into the Taxi Access Program. Taxi Access allows one to take taxis affordably and could significantly raise my quality of life. But, like most programs, it is such hard work to get into the program that I only know one person who was accepted into the program!

I received the paperwork telling me that I had been accepted into the program. Or so I thought. It said "welcome to the taxi card program" I re-read the letter about 100 times but it still didn't make sense to me. The taxi access program allows you to go anywhere in Baltimore County or B. City for 3 dollars one way. But this letter stated "you send us your monthly payment of 6 dollars and we will put 18 dollars on your taxi card"

I read and re-read the letter. My interpretation of the letter was that for every 6 dollars I give the taxi driver I get 18 dollars in service. No, it turns out that you ONLY get 18 dollars in service per month! But that's nothing like the taxi access program I had heard about. Why? Because taxi access and taxi card are 2 different animals I would find out.

To get taxi access you have to ride mobility vans for 90 days,  interview face to face with an M.T.A. rep,. then have your doctor fill out medical reports. There is quite a bit of stigma involved in riding the vans, and the tenants as well as the maintenance man would know all of my comings and goings.

Whether the programs for the poor are governmental or not, I liken the results to eating the leftover crumbs from a rich man's meal. You work your ass off for crumbs. You're thankful for any crumb you can get but you wish you really had something to show for all of your hard work and hoop jumping.

I have not made up my mind as to whether I want to put myself through the stigma of riding these mobility vans............

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Flood of Murder"

I'm watching alot of t.v. And I feel all emotions very deeply. I cry for joy, I cry for sadness I cry when the person on t.v. cries. (and mostly I watch non fiction shows) Just call me an HSP; a highly sensitive person!

Last night I watched a show that I laid awake all night thinking about. Did you see it? Called "Flood of Murder" I never got the opportunity to visit New Orleans pre-Katrina. Now, it's very similar to Baltimore.

I laid awake all night thinking about Devon-te (was that his name? he was only 25 when killed) and Helen Hill who was in her 30's. It's so painful to think about their lives being cut short. It's so painful when people who are doing so much good in the world have their lives stolen. Life is so much about luck. Helen had such a happy life. I feel so deeply sad for her husband.

Helen and her husband were friends in college (Harvard) and moved to New Orleans after college. About a year later they lost everything in Katrina. About a year after that despite Helen's mother's objections and H's husband's objections H. desperately wanted to go back to New Orleans to rebuild the city and her prior life. She was murdered in her own home, and the murderer tried to murder her husband but was unsuccessful.

Devon-te was an activist who grew up in New Orleans and was helping put music programs into schools as an alternative to violence. He was murdered just days before the instruments he ordered arrived at the school. He was so beautiful, the pictures of him were so beautiful.

I'm not an idealist any more. I'm not invested in Baltimore city. I want a good comfortable life in a safe rural or suburban area. I've lost enough years here. I'm so "lucky" to be alive, as I consider B-more to be just as dangerous as New Orleans, and I want out while I'm still in one piece.

"Where has Elana been?"

It is still true that I am barely leaving the house.    If I leave the house between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on a weekday I'll be burglarized. Every day I find something else that has been stolen.

  I have just gotten over a debilitating headache that I had for 5 days. It's excruciatingly painful to sit for more than 10 minutes in anything but a very well cushioned sofa (I need some serious chiropractic care but don't have a car to get to the chiropractor)

I can't take the bus after dark (6:30 p.m.) because the streets and the buses are so dangerous. So the ramifications of leaving my house on a weekday are very, very high. In the meantime, I started an aggressive and alternative housing search about 6 weeks ago. I've only interviewed 2 people so far face to face. Both interviews were for the purpose of renting rooms in someone elses house. One person has a house in Middle River (there is nothing I can walk to in his neighborhood) and one person lives in an area so safe he doesn't lock his doors,(Chestertown) but I had strong concerns about the personalities and lifestyles of these people so I didn't accept either situation. For as horrendous as my situation is, I need to remember that it was also horrendous before I got my federal subsidy, so I have to be very very careful. I am still considering intentional community. ( and

I have to find somewhere that is cheap enough that I can buy a car and get back to work. You already know that I have some Baltimore city fines that will seriously delay me being able to get a car while living in Maryland. Ironically, one of the fines is for 800 dollars. It started out as a fine for 32 dollars and I didn't have the 32 dollars. I was parked in a 2 hour parking space near hopkins university (in 2003) and overstayed my 2 hours by about 10 minutes. The other city fine is because while I was homeless in 6/03 my honda was broken down in balto. city and I didn't have any friends that I could tow it to (to store for me while I get the money together for the repair) So, the city towed it, impounded it and sold it. They are charging me about 900 for all of that. They ended up auctioning my honda off for 15 dollars. That's right folks, 15 dollars!

As my Urbanite article suggests, there is no joy in living, but I do still have a glimmer of hope.

The only good news is that I have pretty good health insurance (which I risk losing by going back to work)and have an MRI scheduled. They are checking for lesions on the neck part of my spine, as my neurologist suspects that might be why I have the numbness , pins and needles in my extremities. Miraculously, insurance will cover every penny of my visits to the neurologist and the tests and on a pretty day I can walk there in about 75 minutes.

It's quite the balancing act to try to get ahead financially once you are on disability. When I lived in Indiana, (from 03 to 05) I fell behind in my rent and was evicted (in 04) As a result the social security administration reduced my monthly benefit to 200 dollars a month. I was shocked. They didn't give any warning at all or any letter of explanation. When I asked them about it they said well now that you are homeless you aren't paying any rent so you don't need the extra money, that is why we reduced your check!

Speaking of sick societies, I can't wait to see Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" Have you seen it?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Mostly homebound"

You can probably imagine what it is doing to my psyche to realize that everytime I leave my apt. on a weekday before 6 p.m. I will probably be burglarized. And even though I have most valuables out of the apt., it is still traumatizing to be robbed no matter what they steal. They've taken all but one fork, one knife, and one spoon. I had to buy another cooking spoon to replace the one they stole, and now they have stolen that too. So creepy.

My friend Diane has encouraged me to buy one of the braces that you can use to secure your door when you are in your home. I hope to order that within the next few days. At least that alleviates some of my fear.

In the meantime, I run housing ads daily and conducted two interviews last week. 

Watching Ellen and Oprah are pretty much my only breaks from reality. Went to a Jewish singles event mainly to see Arlene. That was about 2 or 3 weeks ago, and it felt so foreign to laugh and feel so free. We played a board game called "taboo" which was really fun with the exception of one very drunk guy's presence!

Today was payday so I have a little more energy than usual....................

"Just got published!"

And I'm thrilled. My circumstances aren't much better than what you'll read about in my article, but I'm elated to get the word out about poverty and homelessness. I hope to banish myths about the poor and/or homeless by sharing my story. Here goes.




My JOB  is to get out of poverty. The list below illustrates a typical workday for me when I was homeless and didn't have a penny to my name.


Hitchike or walk to businesses with bulletin boards. Post flyers: "Woman needs housing immediately, has references." Find public or university library. Log onto Craigslist and intentional communities website. Read housing ads for Maryland and beyond: perhaps I can barter in exchange for shelter. Post and read classified ads on intentional communities website. Find cafe or restaurant to search for a secondhand newspaper for classified ads. Whole Foods has a free phone for customers; however it is not adequate for making a series of calls.


Hitchike to welfare office to apply for food stamps. They ask me to come back tomorrow. But I'm hungry today! Hitchike or walk to Towson Town Center. Hit the mall for free coffee. Ironically in the self-serve cafe (for free coffee) the clerk eyes me suspiciously. Still hungry, I go to each food stand in the food court and ask for a sample from the vendors who seem willing. It's not enough food. If I have the strength, I can hitchike over to Whole Foods and get some more free samples.


I brainstorm about public places that have a free phone. Oh yes, the bank. I walk the two miles to the bank, sit down at the phone with newspaper in hand, and begin making calls. I immediately become very discouraged. Many ads say "must have car," "must have reliable transportation," or "no bus serves this area." I call the first one I circled but get voicemail. I'm only at the free phone for about four minutes when the bank manager comes over and says, "I'm sorry, but this phone is only to be used for business. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

Physically, psychologically, and emotionally exhausted, I return to my friend Marnie's. She can put me up for one week. Tomorrow, I go back to work:

1. Find shelter.
2. Find food.
3. Find a job.
4. Maintain glimmer of hope.
5. Don't postpone joy.

Elana Snyder currently resides in public housing in Baltimore City. She is working on her first book, a memoir titled: ONLY THE DESTITUTE WALK.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Habitat for Humanity"

I applied for an "Habitat for Humanity". house when I was in Indiana.

  I didn't qualify, because my income was TOO LOW!. In March I made a similar inquiry in Baltimore.

. Leader said that the orientation (for interested prospective tenants) is in Sept. and that I would get an invite in the mail. By 9/7, I still hadn't received the formal invite, so I called h for h to find out when and where the orientation would be.

When she told me the location I was very worried. Very dangerous section of the city, would take 3 buses to get there and I have no $ for a taxi. So I called h for h to see if they could arrange a ride for me. The first woman I spoke to said no , so I asked to speak to her co-worker.

 She said "No one can give you a ride, it wouldn't be safe for us to help you because we dont know you!"

I replied, "Well it's too dangerous of a neighborhood for me to be on buses." She said: "But this is the neighborhood where the h for h houses will be built, on Chester street!."

I thought, this is so complicated and stressful and I know I don't want to buy in the city, so I won't go. On the 11 news that night, I heard the following: "Chester Street fire claims lives!"

"Practice Peace"

Anyone can practice peace no matter where they live. One very small way I practice peace is that I thank my bus drivers when I disembark.  Few riders thank the drivers. Even if the driver was hateful to me, or otherwise abusive, it is the rare, rare driver who can resist being thanked by a passenger. I also feel that this is a tiny way to break down the racial barriers in this city.  I get very very little joy out of life, but , I'm doing my damndest to live an ethical life and make a small difference in the lives of the people around me.

"My prison cell"

                                                                 THE POVERTY TRAP

  When I was applying for social security disability, an 8 year wait, I was told that I am not permitted to earn monies while waiting for the disability decision!   I completed my first disability application in 94 but didn't win until 02.

  The "prohibition" to earn monies; implies that applicants are supposed to live on the street, or have a rich relative care for them. (I know many people who are being cared for by their families financially)  For part of the time I was applying for disability I was collecting unemployment. The unemployment people have a rule that "you must make 2 job contacts a week to keep collecting unemployment"  The unemployment rule is  "you must look for work" and the SSA rule is "you are forbidden from seeking employment."

The only people I knew who were winning their disability cases were winning because their parents were paying for their apartments and totally supporting them. So the people who need disability monies the least, get it the fastest! Maddening!

I've been very despondent as a result. I awaken each morning with dread and fear. I'm in work mode nearly 24/7.

I still have some city fines to pay as well.   One was the "car abandonment" fee, (due to my 03 inability to pay for the car repair) and one is a 32 dollar parking ticket that has accrued to 800 dollars!  This is really unfair , yet there is no point in fighting because I'll never win.

  I could move out of state to escape the fines.  BUT  if I move out of state, and drop my apt. I''m at very high risk of yet another episode of homelessness.

Staying at my apt. could get me killed. If I install a deadbolt lock, management will break it, then send me a lease infraction.

  If I put all of my belongings in storage, keep paying the rent on my current subsidized apt. and go to a safe house, I'll be accused of welfare fraud, as you aren't allowed to have a second address!

  If I stay where I live, my belongings will continue to disappear and my life will still be at risk.

In 95, my one bedroom apt. in Hampden cost 400 dollars, that same apt. now costs 850, and wages are stagnant.  Poor people are imprisoned, and no matter how intelligent they might be they  face nearly impossible odds.

I know this piece may be a tad bit redundant, but so is poverty.

More than an acquaintance, less than a friend!

Yes, I need a new category. There are many people in my life who, when they bump into me in town, they embrace me with a hug, or in today's case, ask for a kiss on the cheek! These aren't people who I can call on if I need someone to talk to , or need a favor. They aren't even people who I do activities with, they are people who love me from a distance...... more than an acquaintance less than a friend.................

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"My 'hood"

A week and a half ago I was on my evening walk. I was right across the street from my apt. when I saw a well dressed African American man about my age picking up trash. I told him: "I used to do that when I lived in Hampden."

Brad*   " Baltimoreans have no respect for their environment and litter openly"

E-.     "Are you a homeowner?"

. He pointed to the home he owns.

E-  "when I moved into the 'hood, I asked other Cedarcroft residents what the deal is with crime. That was 28 months ago.  Here's what I was told:  "The only crimes in Cedarcroft are opportunity crimes where folks leave valuables on their car seats."

I asked Brad if that neighbor was telling the truth. He laughed sarcastically and went on to say:  "I was broken into in the middle of February.   I came home from work to discover that my door had been completely REMOVED! and there  was snow on the ground!"

E-"How did the police handle it?"

B-"Oh don't get me started. I had to call the cops 8x before they came out. Meantime I was stuck outside in the snow for hours. The cops said that it took them a long time because they were on a shift change! I was furious!"

I told Brad that after dark in Cedarcroft  I can't see my feet below me, everyone is too cheap to keep their porch lights on. That sure doesn't make me feel safe!

B-The break ins happen during the day!

E-Do you feel scared in Baltimore?

B-"No, because I'm from the Bronx. My siblings and I were not even allowed to play outside without an adult!

E-Wow. How many home break ins have their been in the last year on your block?

B-"Ten, on my street alone"

E-What's the answer?

B-I had to spend alot of money for new windows and move my nephew in for added security!

I told Brad of my predicament and gave him my email and website address. A 43 year educated African American male who is afraid to live alone. If that doesn't illustrate how sick Baltimore is, I don't know what does!