Sunday, April 29, 2007


On my last car I had a bumper sticker proclaiming:  DON'T POSTPONE JOY!

  Two of my greatest joys are being with children and listening to or performing music. Today's show was amazing! This was my first C.C.O.M. show. The children appeared to range between 6 and 17. Hey, is that little boy the boy I used to nanny for?! It sure looks like him! One little girl has long platinum curly blonde hair and glasses just like I did. I can tell which of the children are really moved to joy when they sing, versus the children who are coerced by parents to be in a choir.

"Omnia Sol" (let your heart be staid) is sung by 3 high school girls, 3 part harmony. It moves me to tears, it is so beautiful. Right after I start crying one of the singers starts crying, yet I don't think she saw me crying! Turns out that those 3 girls have been with the choir for 9 years and this is their last year. Lots of bouquets of flowers are given out. What a wonderful "spring break" this was!

Friday, April 27, 2007


I've been talking on chatlines for years. (via telephone)

  "QUALITY FISH" was the ad that appeared in the back of the city paper.

I've considered writing a book  specifically devoted to "chatline dating." Truth is I go on very very few dates.  I probably only met 2 or 3 people in 2006. I have one simple rule that guides me with these chatlines.    I know within the first 3 minutes of talking to a man whether or not it's worth continuing the conversation. My rule is: is " FIRST DATE, PUBLIC PLACE"

Sadly, my friends, most of the men that use these sites are totally unwilling to wait for a good woman, apparently they do not feel that a good woman is worth waiting for. I make it clear that, ........I value my safety, I value my life. What kind of weirdo just invites a man or woman over to their house who they have never seen or met in their life! (Many of the women that use these services DO invite strangers over to their houses sight unseen!)

Here's how these chatlines work:  Men pay, women don't. Hypothetically speaking, 25 women call in and 25 men call in. You are supposed to be honest and really call in  on the side that represents your gender, but some don't.

 There are about 8% women on the men's side and probably visa versa. You get everything from 18 to 60 year olds calling from all around the world. Your personal phone number remains completely unknown unless you  choose to give it out.

. You have 2 choices. You can either talk on the live chatline, or you can just listen and respond to the permanent ads. These chat sites also have a web address if you wish to partake of it.

. So, "quality fish woman" (like myself!) calls into a central number, let's call that 123-4567. In my case I go directly to what is called the "live chat room." I scroll through and listen to the 25 or more men on the line.

 I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Elana, with so many men, why are you still single?"

My response: "Just because there are lots of  fish, doesn't mean they are: "quality fish."

I press caller block when i hear voices or ads from persons  that I know I'd never click with. In this instance, the caller block feature is the #8 on the telephone keypad. I usually widdle it down to about 5 to 10% of the men that have called in. Then I go from there. Just like the television show: "The Bachelor."

First I narrow the list  down to 5 or 10 men, then,  I widdle down even further. For example if I like the voice, but the very first thing they say on their greeting is "come on ladies, i need some action tonight" or "I'm willing to pay to play" then I block those calls.

. Eventually, the men get to recognize who is who. There are a handful of old timers out there, but I'm one of the oldest. (9 years) There are only 2 or 3 others who have been out here as long as me and we are in some cases phone acquaintances and they genuinely want to know how I am doing, even though they have no desire to meet face to face.

Since telephone is the medium, I listen  for articulate men with nice sounding voices. They are few and far between. Every once in a while a man might peg me as a "snob" since I am seeking a quality fish. For example, in the last few weeks, there has been a man on the line who everytime he hears my ad he leaves me a message that states:


Time to use the caller block feature! 

Sites where I believe there are plenty of good quality fish but I haven't met any yet are some of the sites where I can more readily (in theory at least) meet men who share my values. These sites are:

Oh, if you plan to try some of these date/chatlines out for yourself please remember:


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Surviving Baltimore's brutal public transit"


 Is it even possible to complete more then one task per day without a car? 

 It's absolutely grueling  to be without a car in Baltimore, regardless of the neighborhood you live in. Yesterday,  I needed to get to Hampden, a working class section of Baltimore city. Regretably, this would involve another potentially traumatic round trip on the #8 bus.

I boarded the extremely crowded bus at about 12:15 p.m.  I like alot of personal space, but I know it's  not an option so I try not to get upset about being pressed against some sweaty stranger's body! On this particular day, immediately upon boarding there is a verbal fight  in progress. Admittedly  it can be difficult to discern a loud conversation from a fight.

As I attempt to WALK  to my seat, the bus jerks forward and I end up FALLING  into my seat (inadvertently brushing against the woman next to me) She quickly turns her head to the extreme right as opposed to a more natural position of facing forward. I said: "Pardon me maam for brushing against you."

"Don't you maam me, dis ain't no military!" she replied.

I think it's fair to say that, a rider who is new to Baltimore's bus culture, will likely find it extremely disturbing.  But I've been doing this off and on for 13 years, and I know not to take the abuse personally. It can take years of practice to not internalize the cruel way that people treat each other.

A man in a wheelchair in the front of the bus is yelling at a group of people in the back of the bus, they in turn, yell back. Most of the "conversation" is unintelligible to me. The apparent "fight" results in the bus driver loudly reprimanding the man in the wheelchair. She yells: "You will stop that yelling or you can get off at the next stop!" He screams in return..... something to the effect of: "Oh yeah, try to make me!" Meanwhile, between all of the screaming , the man in the wheelchair is undressing every female passenger under 50 with his eyes! He gazes at me for long periods hoping I'll pay attention to him.

"Fights" between driver and rider are common. Yet, despite all of the threats drivers make, they're all pretty much empty.   Personally, I think the drivers are afraid of retaliation, therefore don't make good on their threats. I know of many unpublicized knife and gun attacks towards drivers.

A 70 year old woman "high" on heroin (i don't personally know alot about drugs and their effects) gets on the bus with a 40 year old man who also appears to be high on heroin. They appear to have fallen asleep while standing up. Most people on heroin, appear to me to be dozing with their heads usually tipped very low. Meanwhile, the woman who has just sat down on the other side of me says to me: "Tell her that she can sit down" I asked the woman: "Are you giving up your seat?" "She's asleep or high, how am I supposed to get her attention?"  She didn't answer me.

"Maam" the woman next to me called out, "would you like to have my seat?" "No." The high woman replied. The woman seated next to me again beckons me to ask the high woman another question. "Ask her where she got her onyx." I didn't. The bus is very hot and the driver yelled: "It already 85 degrees in here!" I believe she was implying that we better not piss her off because she's already hot as hell!

The 5 mile trip feels like 50 miles.....................but as usual I survive it, (if not barely!) then transfer to bus 22. Luckily, my trip on bus 22 ends after about 1 mile. I disembark from the bus with tremendous appreciation for sun, fresh air, personal space and my person still in one piece!

"this town's in shmatters, I'm in tatters!" Mick Jagger croons!"


authors note-Please assume that everything on my blogsite is non-fiction unless otherwise noted!


The large Austrian woman carried it in her travel case. One day it spilled and the scent of lavender remained for years. There was something very comforting about lavender to Renate. It would ease the stress of her recent relocation to the United States. When she was a child her mother performed a ritual with her every night. Before bed her mother would drop a few drops of lavender into a mixing bowl with warm water. Then her mom would say: "Renate put your hands in the lavender water and let it wash away all of your sadness. Then imagine your favorite beachside memory. Guten Nacht my favorite baby!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My initial reaction to hearing the  news was "detachment" of sorts.

 I thought  about the big picture. I don't claim to know the current statistics but what I do know is this. There isn't a day that I don't fear being murdered either on the street or in my home. I think about and I am aware of guns almost constantly. That wouldn't be the case If I made enough money to own a car therefore enabling me to select a "safe" neighborhood to live in.

 And it wouldn't be the case if I didn't have to walk Baltimore's streets, wait on her bus stops and ride her buses. So, initially I thought, o.k. the media gives lots of attention to gun violence when more than one person in a day is murdered.

 But in places like Baltimore, where there are 1 to 4 murders a day, and probably hundreds of muggings per day, the media barely covers it.

 So initially I told myself that I wasn't going to watch too much coverage of VA tech. As it turns out, I've watched about 6 hours worth of coverage. It's been very interesting and at this point, I am processing it at a more emotional level. Because now, I've seen the faces, I know the names and a little bit about their lives. And I feel very sad.

 But ya know, I still think Blacksburg would be a fabulous place to live, because it's not a place where one has to continuously watch their back. And VA tech will once again be an amazing, peaceful, beautiful respite from our murderous society. I wonder if our gun control laws will toughen up? I guess it's rather unlikely. And those of us in urban America will continue to have to constantly watch our backs.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"We have a possible 911"

Dear Friends,

My acquaintance from Borders books told me a few months ago, "you couldn't pay me to use Baltimore's public transit again.  The most dangerous is the #8 which travels along York Road."

And this young woman with alot of street smarts like me, is the person who influenced me to stop using public transit after dark. This of course means no night life whatsoever. But it's worth it if this is what I have to do to keep myself alive in this murderous city.

Today I only had to ride the #8 bus 2 miles one way,  to the public library. In that 2 miles we had one relatively minor incident (pretty common) a man who was standing lost his balance and fell into a young woman on a cell phone.   She was angry that he lost his balance but not  the least bit concerned for his well being.   Well, this my friends is the Baltimore way. And perhaps even, the American way, but Balto. is what I know best.

I was riding a double decker bus with about 50 people on it. Counting the number of passengers on a bus can be hard to assess because you don't want anyone to catch you "looking at them" as that too, will probably make them angry.

 In incident # 2 a man who is about 50 years old and 250 pounds falls to the floor face down

. I quickly look around and  cannot believe that no one has asked him if he is o.k.,  or if he needs help getting up. I yell to the driver "We have a possible 9-1-1" I then walk over to the man , ask him if he is o.k. and if he needs help getting up. Still there is complete apathy from the passengers and I'm wondering where I'd find the strength to even pull him off of the floor! He says he's o.k. and doesn't want help getting up. He does get up on his own, and then for the rest of the bus ride he says "damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!"

I hear 2 women making fun of me by repeating the phrase:  "possible 911" and then laughing.  It is also very common for African American women to ridicule white women mostly because they were born "white"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The Contest"

They call it "The Secret."

 I've been using those sorts of principles for a long time.   The basic idea is the "law of attraction" thinking positively, and drawing positive people and positive things into your life. It's just one part of a spiritual principle that I've tried to live by in the last 10 years or so.

Recently,  I learned of a drawing/contest  near my house. I thought the drawing would take place that day, instead, only the entry took place on that Saturday. That's o.k. I walk in the doors of the bank, and there are about 6 employees of Jack FM in the lobby. There is a table with a hat on it. I ask one employee, "how do i enter?" He said, you just put your name in this hat. I told the Jack FM staff that I had been visualizing winning the money everyday. That I was visualizing what I was going to spend the money on, and visualize my name being called. One employee replied: "Oh, yes, that's from "the secret!" Reader, I thought I put my name in the hat for the contest I heard about on the radio (for 1k a month for the rest of your life) instead, the contest is for something else it turns out! The Jack staffer mentioned something about baseball, and I really had no idea what he was talking about! I walk further into the bank to sit down and wait for the name to be picked out of the hat.

Instead, a female teller, Jane, asks me: "Have you enrolled for the contest yet?" "Yes" I replied, the hat was in the lobby of the bank. She said: "That's for the baseball tickets! Don't you want to register to win the 1k a month?!" "Yes, I replied, that's what I thought the hat was for! The teller enrolls me for the 1k a month contest and promises to call me after the drawing. In the meantime, I sit and wait for the Jack FM drawing to happen.

12:00 rolls around and they pull the name out of the hat. "Elana Snyder, you won!" "Wow! I thought, and I don't even like baseball!" The entire Jack fm staff takes photos of me with them! I have no idea where the photos will be posted. Anyhow, I get a knowing wink from staff who heard me talking about the secret! Another man, hearing about my visualization "trick" yells out:


Day to day survival in La Pew Apts.

For the last year, I have made every attempt to follow chain of command regarding problems that arise here. The staff here are ridiculously unprofessional and disrespectful to the tenants.. You already know from my previous postings that little by little my belongings have been disappearing.

  I  didn't want to believe that maintenance staff were responsible for these burglaries.    But I know of 3 other people in my bldg. who have had their stuff stolen. When I was doing laundry recently, my male neighbor nonchalantly said: "Yes, maintenance love to steal from us: meat, canned goods, c.d.'s, cash, jewelry, anything of value!"

  I replied: "Me too, did you call the cops?" "No." He replied.

  I thought, why in the world are you just taking this! You're a large burly man, and you too are afraid to report this? Geez. He ran off a list of people and what has been stolen from them.

Over the course of the last year, I have spoken to and written to a number of people over at Hud, (Housing and Urban Development , they administer the Section 8 program of the federal govt.) I've gone in person to the management team downstairs, I have gone to the police, (who will rarely write up a report) And I have even considered  restraining orders. 

  Management will not permit us to install a deadbolt or to change the locks, and I have feared using my name in official reports since the maintenance man all have keys to my house and can retaliate with rape, murder, or whatever they like. Needless to say, I don't sleep much. I have boxed almost everything up, to reduce it's likelihood of being stolen. I plan to box everything up except one carload.

When I talked to the head of HUD about a week ago, she said something very surprising. She said: "All I can do is ask management when their team enter tenant's apts!" I thought, this is incredulous. It says on the website that we should call the 1800 # for  HUD if the apts. are being mismanaged. The website also says that mismanagement is very common.

 I'm coming closer and closer to my breaking point with all of this. Today, someone knocked on my door at 10:30 in the morning. I was not expecting anyone so I did not answer my door.  The maintenance man simply walked in when I didn't answer. He said he needed to change the filter! I was furious, as this happens all of the time. I told him he was going to have to come back. I called the office (normally I don't because they are so abusive and non-responsive to us) and talked to the assistant manager. I told her "No more coming into my home without giving me adequate notice

." "Well, that isn't going to happen!"  she replied.  So, for the first time, I went to the head management team who oversee managers in my building.    Thank goodness, the woman was very professional and compassionate. I told her that I had been doing everything anonymously for fear of retaliation, but that I just can't take this anymore. I told her the whole story of the last year of stealing, and how staff just come and go as they please. She said, not only is it not acceptable, but she wants me to buy a videocamera and set it up in my living room! I will consider this, but in the meantime, I will probably put everything in storage and keep looking for a new place. I've been working my ass off for 12 years for a better life. Wish me luck!

"Noise Pollution/At the bookstore"

I'm at "home" and I'm attempting to talk on the phone. In the background there is the sound of an electric saw coming from the back yard and at the same time the woman in the apt. above me is hammering. Noise pollution has seriously affected my health and my sleep for most of my life.

It is not unusual for me to have to leave my apt. with the sole attempt of finding a quiet place elsewhere.


I've decided to buy this month's issue of "Baltimore"  "BEST PLACES TO LIVE."

  I love to read those kinds of listings as part of my quest to find the perfect place to live.

But first I walk up to the counter and ask the clerk: "Does this store carry "Measure of a Man?" by Sidney Poitier? Yes, she said, but we ran out.   Would you like me to call you when our next shipment comes in?

 Yes, I responded, "I've already read half of it, since Oprah recommended it. On another note,  did you know that  Baltimore magazine is rating the "best" places to live within Baltimore?  Baltimore isn't right for me and I am always looking for a better place to live!" I pick up the magazine and hand her my debit card.

CLERK-"Elana Snyder" she said out loud, reading the name off of my card.   Did you ever date a man with the last name of Duchane?"

ME-"Yes, for 6 years. We were engaged!"

CLERK-"Well, I was very close friends with his brother!"

The clerk and I chat for about a half hour.   It turns out that we first  met in the late 80's. We have fun catching up. She non-chalantly said: "Yes, you know that time we visited you and your boyfriend in Indiana, right?!

"You did?!" "Wow! I don't even remember that!"

I believe this familiarity is why so many never leave the place of their birth or rearing. One of my favorite sayings about life in Baltimore is this:

"You know what I love about Baltimore? That I know everybody. You know what I hate about Baltimore?! That I know everybody!"

My attempt to rent a car

Last Friday, I walked over to Lemon's*  Rent A Car. I wanted to wait for the manager as I thought I'd probably get better service this way. At least that is what I've learned from past experience with customer service. But the manager was on the phone, so,  one of the female employees came over to "help" me.

ME-"I need a car for 24 hours. Which of your cars is the cheapest?

CLERK-"We ain't got none dat's da cheapest!"


CLERK-(appearing exasperated) she looks over to the manager to ask him a question but he is talking on the phone. "She want economy!" the clerk yelled to the manager.

ME-"Actually, that isn't what I said. I asked which cars are the cheapest.

CLERK-"We ain't got no cars"

ME- "You don't have any cars?" (at this point I am at my wits end)

CLERK-"You need to make a reservation"

ME-"That doesn't help me because I need a car today." I walk out totally exasperated.

(I try again a week later and I get a professional sounding clerk on the phone, and successfully rent the car for a day! This rental car center is closest to my home, and the cheapest in Baltimore. This is why I went back!)

The many dialects of the English language

I have been giving this subject alot of thought. I wondered if on my blog I should "write it" the same way that I" hear it." For example, in the book, "The Color Purple", if memory serves me right, it was written in the same way that the characters speak. In Jonathan Kozol's books, he honors his subjects by writing exactly what he hears.

 For example, if my neighbor says to me: "I ain't got no sugar." that's exactly how I'd like to transcribe it on to my blog. Now that you know this in advance you'll know that my intent is not to be derogatory, but to be true to form. Tell it as I hear it, that's what I plan to do!

handwriting analysis!

(when necessary I change the names of the "characters" in my life story to protect both the innocent and the guilty!)

Today I bought a handwriting analysis card from Laurie's giftshop. Ironic. She made me show my i.d. because she says that my handwriting on my credit card slip doesn't match the handwriting on my driver's license! She said, normally she doesn't make customers show i.d! In general, Baltimoreans are very suspicious. It wasn't until I left the shop that I realized the irony of being asked for my i.d. after buying that handwriting analysis card!

Sunday, April 1, 2007




"Singly checking into a hotel room with six way full length mirrors gives one plenty of opportunity for self reflection at every angle!"



These are things that I experience daily. Gross incompetence at almost every level. Whether it's ordering a bagel at a restaurant, or trying to find out the process I should follow to appeal a decision that was made by the Motor Vehicle Adminstration just to be told "there is no such thing as an appeals process."

The following happened on my second day at the Inn.

One of the female guests was mulling around the cafeteria choosing her breakfast items. All the while she is talking on her cell phone complaining to her "phantom" friend about her "dismal" lack of choices! "This is ridiculous, I need black tea and there isn't any. This is unacceptable" Indignantly turns to custodian. "All these teas, but none are black. Where is the black tea?"

custodian: "The Inn isn't allowed to carry black tea!" (authors note: this is what I mean by gross incompetence, he doesn't honestly thing we'll believe that, does he?")

guest: Complaining on cell phone and to custodian at the same time: "That's it, I've had it! I'm cancelling the room!"

me: I'm thinking, "What?! are you crazy?" Why don't you just politely ask the manager if there is any black tea anywhere, and if not: "Could the Inn please consider carrying it in the future?" Reader, I then out of curiousity went to personally inspect this "dismal" tea situation. 16 TYPES! There were 16 flavors and this woman cancelled her room! If this isn't the epitome of "The Ugly American" I don't know what is!


It's Monday. I was hoping that I'd catch up on my sleep at the INN. But the steel  hotel room doors slam shut at approximately 30 second intervals! This vibrates the furniture and jars me awake, just like at home! So, I'm still exhausted. But, I'm sure at some level the change of environment helped, at least some.

To take public transit home would save me 25 dollars. But I fear being robbed because I have a full gym bag with me; so I am forced to take a taxi. It's quite a sad state of affairs when it is too dangerous to wait at a bus stop, or ride a bus in broad daylight because you know you have a high chance of being robbed if you are carrying any possessions at all!

 I asked the hotel if they could reccommend a taxi service where the drivers drive safely. I said: "Please don't call  Jimmy's cab, I've had nothing but bad experiences with them." She said, o.k. I won't. 10 minutes later my cabbie pulls up. I get in and we have pretty enjoyable conversation except that he makes a cell phone call every 10 minutes or so-and or ANSWERS  a call every 10 minutes.    He does not have a hands free device.

 We get to my house, and he asks if I have a few minutes to keep chatting. I reply: "Yes"; because my intuition tells me that outside of his driving,  he is a safe person.  Then, he pulls off with me still in the car! I was surprised but not scared. He didn't ask me per se if I'd like to keep him company on his runs. He asked if I had a few minutes! So, after he pulls away I decide not to protest, as he says: "I have a couple of runs to make."

 Well, Mac* was not speeding when he took me HOME.   But it was a different story on this second run. But what's worse is HE FRICKIN' FELL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL! Can you see why I am desperate for a car?! I have bad experiences with 99% of the people who I am forced to ride with! Luckily, he woke back up before totally crossing into the opposing lane of traffic! I don't want a car, I NEED A CAR, BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE A LONG HAPPY LIFE! So, I will put "car" on my blog wish list!


I was always afraid of what would happen to my apt. if I left for an overnight.  The 3 days worth of newspapers were piled up in front of my doorstep. Ironically, since I was gone over the weekend, I had the least chance of getting robbed again because (in theory at least) the maintenance men are off from work, and they are the ones who are stealing from us. I had only been home 1/2 hour when management left a letter under my door. "PLEASE COME TO THE OFFICE"

Management controls our lives 24/7. We have cameras all over the entire bldg. watching our every move. They leave us letters with instructions, on average, 3 times a week. They leave us letters telling us that "they might come into our apts. at any time between 2/14 and 2/28" for example. So I am always on high alert between 8 and 6 monday thru friday. They treat us like it's their apt. not our apt. So management is robbing us blind,  then ordering us to come to the office! I am fed up.

 So, I wrote the following reply directly onto the letter they sent me: "PLEASE, GO TO HELL." Of course I filed it away I didn't deliver it!


I'm pretty sick of restaurant food. So I walked to Giant and bought some salmon and mayo. On my walk back from Giant I saw the bus driver drop off a woman at a spot that they normally refuse to drop off at. I recognized her from aorund the 'hood and on the bus. Turns out she lives in another HUD bldg. also run by La Pew. (yes, la pew, just like peppie la peu)

 I told her about how maintenance steals from us tenants regularly. She stunned me when she said "Yes, they stole 200 dollars from me and I've hired a lawyer, I am sueing them!" YIPPEE! FINALLY SOMEONE BESIDES ME HAS TAKEN SOME ACTION! I "pray" that these maintenance men get fired and quick. I feel like such a prisoner here. Not safe in my home, not safe outside! Desperate to get out either way.


Maintenance saw me get on a bus today. That's very bad news, because that gives them "license" to go into my home, steal and intimidate. So, I set up a trap of sorts that would allow me to tell whether they have been in my home or not. Sure enough they were. I called 311. (non emergency police)

Officer H. would not dust for fingerprints or write up a report even though I have evidence that they were in my home. Officer H. said: "You'll just have to move. I can't do anything to help you. You have no "proof" that they were here. I showed him the evidence and he said, "that's not good enough, if you're not sure that there is anything missing from this specific day then there is nothing I can do."