Saturday, May 26, 2007

"i wonder, is this bus stop a crime scene?"


Saturday 3 p.m.

It's broad daylight. I walk to the bus stop nearest to my home on the city/county line. I step in chewing gum. Is that a dead body under the bus bench? There's dried up blood on the street below my feet. I take a closer look under the bus bench. Filthy dirty khaki overalls, covered with blood stains. A bottle of antibiotic lotion that is opened and on the ground. A used bandage. About 75 of those free atm envelopes that you can get at any atm. Was he the bank robber? Is there money in the coveralls? Was he standing by innocently when the bank got robbed? Do I call the police? Channel 2's new's car just drove by. The crime tips phone # is painted on the side of the car. I feel like a frickin' detective!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


There is an unbelievable amount of serendipity in my life. Many serendipitous happenings each day. It's been this way for at least 10 years. I looked up serendipity in the dictionary so as to provide clarity for this particular entry.


O.K. here's a fun example. I bumped into my acquaintance Susan on Monday. Susan used to be Sam. Susan has decided to live out her life as a woman. When I told her that I was working on my memoir, she asked me what steps she should take to get her own memoir written?

I told her everything I know then spent this week trying to come up with more creative ideas.

Do I personally know any gay authors?

transgendered authors?

I know lots of gay and bi-sexual people.

  Maybe I should put Susan in touch with the GLBTC, the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered center of Baltimore.

I thought this might be the best bet since so many people, even liberals, are often a little bit uncomfortable with building relationships with transgendered people. So, I'm thinking about this and you'll never believe what happens next.

I've been very sick for about a month. I'm took the bus to my new doctor, Dr. W today (I have a non-contagious variety of bronchitis) After our visit, I asked him about the book he has displayed in the receptionist's window. Have you read it? I asked. (It's non-fiction and it's called: GETTING SIMON about 2 gay doctors who adopt children) Dr. W. giggled and said, oh yes, I've read it all right! It was written by my partner about our lives together and the adoption of our children! "I didn't know you were gay!" I said with a smile! He just smiled.

Well now, doesn't this provide an interesting connection for my acquaintance, Susan! I can't wait to tell her about it!

Monday, May 21, 2007

"on the bus/dangerous life"

Not every trip by foot or bus is scary, but many are. You just never know. The media hasn't announced it yet, but in my experience here, carless, single, white females are an endangered species!

I needed to be in Hampden today. That means taking the 8 to the 22 bus line. The 8 was fine for the first mile. Then, there's a stop where they pick up the "recovering addicts"  Things starting getting real loud and dicey at this point. The next 2 miles seem to take forever.

I get off on 33rd st. proceeding west toward Hampden. I wait about 15 or 20 minutes for the #22. There is an African American man sitting next to me who is 59 (he told me!) with his wife. A 45 year old woman flags down a ride from a stranger. I worry for her. Just in case I note the make, model and color of the car that picked her up. The driver peeled wheels as he sped off with her which made me even more nervous.

 The wife of the man next to me softly says: "Talk about risky business." I said, "you're not kidding, I took down the car info. just in case." The 3 of us talked about how dicey things feel at this stop today and how we don't feel safe in Baltimore in general. There is a man digging thru a garbage can, and another man, talking gangsta talk to no one in particular.  The man next to me is from N.Y.C. I said: "I hear N.Y.C. is much safer then Baltimore." He said: "You're not kidding." We talked about the need for self defense classes. He said he and his wife are activists and trying to make b-more a better place to live. I said that I'm no longer an activist, because all of my energy is going into survival.

They were waiting on the #3. I was waiting on the #22. Feeling safe and comfortable with the couple I told them that the reason I was using a hand signal to flag down the bus to pick me up is because the drivers "don't always pick up white people." They both laughed in a compassionate, "Oy vey" kind of way. The woman held her hand out to me, I gave it a friendly squeeze and she said: "God Bless" as I boarded the bus.

On the way back from the Rotunda, I walked along the Avenue. Lot's of cool, independent shops. But my ankles and feet hurt very badly so I didn't have the wherewithal to walk the short distance to Hopkins University. So, I waited 1/2 hour for the #22 to take me the 4 blocks. There are no seats. People refuse to move back, even though there is plenty of room in the back. So people are squeezed together like sardines. I can't move an inch.

  A woman says to me "Excuse me"

 and I ask: "Where would you like me to go?!"

  There was not a hint of sarcasm in my question to her. The woman's friend starts yelling at me: "OH, THE BITCH GONNA GET SMAWT!" "MOVE YOUR FAT ASS OUT OF THE WAY BITCH" she instructed her friend to push me out of the way. The girl yelled at me for the next block. Thank God, my stop was so close or I don't know what would have happened. You see, my need to get out of Baltimore feels like life or death.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"The Price is Right"

"COME ON DOWN!" Bob Barker beckons.

Although I don't remember much about my childhood there are some things I remember very clearly.
  In the adoptive home I grew up in, the television was on all of the time. Before 1975, once my parents came home from work, they retreated to separate rooms, turned on their respective televisions and they would stay on ALL NIGHT LONG!   My family (no siblings) NEVER  sat down to meals together.  

My mother watched her own t.v. in the bedroom, there was a t.v. in the kitchen, and against my will my parents put a t.v. in my bedroom. My family rarely talked to each other. I was a totally isolated child. I can barely remember a positive word from my mother at all. My most vivid memory from my years at my parent's house were something to the effect of:

"Not now elana, can't you see I'm watching t.v.?"

I lived with "mother and father" from 63-87. I pretty much raised myself while the "television drug" destroyed all concept of "family!"

From the time my father was forced into medical retirement (1975) until '87, the television was on 24 hours a day. My parents didn't sleep much, and neither could I. I witnessed my father watch Bob Barker on the Price is Right, every single solitary weekday for years. Altogether, he watched at least 12 hours of t.v. a day, my mother, about 6. I viewed these t.v. shows as having stolen my parents from me. 

From '81 to '07, I rarely turned on a t.v.    A rebellion of sorts. Nevertheless, I absolutely HAD to watch CBS's 2 night special devoted to Bob Barker this week, because of all that Bob Barker was to the American people. What an amazing man, icon and activist he was! (I didn't know about the fur activism until this week)

I have NO doubt that my late father, Arnold, was watching these "Farewell to Bob Barker" specials from a very comfortable La-Z-Boy chair somewhere in Game Show Heaven!

How did television influence your family dynamic growing up? How does it affect your life now?

Monday, May 14, 2007


For me the question is no longer, "should I stay at La Pew Apts?" I absolutely plan to leave. The question is, how? Poverty is extremely complicated and I am open to your ideas/feedback. I have been unable to increase my income enough to have a safe, healthy, happy and productive life. So here are the questions and the challenges that I process each day.

I make 642 a month. Although I only pay 92 in rent, the perpetrators steal at least 100 dollars worth of stuff from me per month. They have gouged my furniture with blades and it appears that they have put blood on my door, and my furniture as a way to intimidate me to move out. Although I prefer a normal middle class life it doesn't look likely. Average rents in safe neighborhoods are 800 plus per month for a one bedroom. That doesn't even touch the issue of where one would come up with money to keep a decent car on the road.

I waited 11.5 years for subsidized housing, seeing it as the only way to get ahead.  Technically, the rent for my apt. is 817 a month. The gov't makes up what I don't pay. But it is a sick, sick place to live and I can't even sleep there let alone hope to ever recover from lyme or fibromyalgia.

So, I could continue to struggle to try to increase my income which has been a losing battle. Or, I could start travelling around the U.S. staying on communes and such and perhaps bartering. Do I want to rough it? No, not really. I'm in chronic pain, alot of pain, and significantly disabled. Walking is very painful to name just 1% of my physical challenges. Should I continue to pay the $92 a month for the subsidized apt. in the hopes that someday I can get my subsidy transferred to another state in a healthier hud bldg. while travelling around trying to find a new place to build my life? Should I keep paying the rent and travel around Europe on my remaining 542 a month? If I stop paying the rent on my current place, I may never qualify for a HUD subsidy again. 

In theory, the federal govt. rental subsidy is like insurance against total homelessness. Someday I may even qualify for a HUD or HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HOUSE. I have, on some levels, rather mainstream dreams. But the reality of my life is that I've been unable to attain a normal life therefore have to consider what the alternatives are.

Do you have any creative ideas? If yes, please post them in the comments section below. All comments, except derisive ones, are welcome!

If you have any ideas please click on comments. Comments from women who have ever had to live a decent life off of very little money are especially welcome.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Pedestrians last"

There are no pedestrian rights in Baltimore. You may read the occasional article in Baltimore newspapers about the issue, but there aren't many. Why aren't their many? Because the problem presumably doesn't hurt enough people for it to be considered an important issue. The lack of ped. rights in Baltimore is one huge reason why I want out. Nothing like having visited or lived in a place that DOES have ped. rights to change the way you feel about the issue forever. To see the issue in a different light.

If I had made better decisions back in 1993, I'd probably have either citizenship or permanent residency rights in Australia at this date.  Melbourne, Australia was like a dream come true for people who love to walk without worrying about getting hit by a car! (I lived in Melbourne for 9 months in 93/94.)

I hear that the entire state of California has very strong ped. rights. Well painted lines for the ped. walkways, strict fines for cars that dare to go over the ped. line, timed signals that allow adequate time for crossing, and I assume, the little ticky sound (very technical wording here!) that allows blind people to get across safely. (Melbourne had all of this too)

I spend virtually all of my waking hours trying to figure out how to create a better life for myself, create more control. I live on York Road where it is not the least bit unusual for cars and even larger vehicles to travel at 80 m.p.h. Even though there are lights, people run them!   Even when I'm on the sidewalk, I don't feel safe, and it's not unusual for me to walk into a yard off of the sidewalk, because I fear a fast travelling bus or truck may careen onto the sidewalk and maim or kill me.

Last winter, I met Christine (her real name) who stands on York Road carrying a sign that says: "HUNGRY, PLEASE HELP." She only has one leg. She's about my age.. One day, I asked her if she would mind telling me her story. She literally was walking on the sidewalk on york road one day in 1993, when a car came up on to the sidewalk, ran her over, and cut off her leg. You know, she doesn't want pity which is bloody amazing. She said that she's been unable to get a proper fit for a prosthetic, therefore, just uses the crutches. She allowed me to take her photo (with the sign) and everything. Talk about a powerful photo!

I am absolutely disgusted with our lack of respect for pedestrians in Baltimore. (It made me just as angry when I lived in Lafayette, IN where the problem is just as severe) I don't know how often you follow the news but occasionally we'll have a week in the Greater Baltimore where 1 to 3 pedestrians are hit and sometimes killed.

Every time that I leave my house on foot and attempt to cross a street, I take my life into my own hands. If you don't believe me, and you live in Baltimore city or county, give up your car for 2 weeks. Accept no rides. Journal daily on your experiences as a pedestrian and you'll see what I mean.

I just started something new this morning which I have been wanting to do for a very long time. For people who don't have a car to get to the gym or to the park, or to the walking trail (you get the drift) the only exercise you get is the kind that puts your life in danger. So, since my bldg. is so noisy that I can't sleep much anyway, if I want outdoor exercise that is virtually worry free, then it will HAVE TO happen from 6 to 7 in the morning. Those are the only daylight hours where there are few enough cars to walk without being significantly endangered.

I started it today, and loved it. I get beautiful morning sun in my apt. and when I got back at 7 a.m. I walked into my living room, and I belted out at the top of my lungs: "OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY, I'VE GOT A BEAUTIFUL FEELING, EVERYTHING'S GOING MY WAY" ( DO YOU KNOW THE SONG?) (I am truly at the point where I realize that my neighbors don't give a flying f___ about the noise they make which is why i sang that one line with such great abandon!)

At 12:30 p.m. I had to cross york road to go to the pizza place. A car was blocking the pedestrian walkway so I was forced to walk behind it. Suddenly, without checking his rearview mirror, he backs up! He comes within a quarter of an inch of hitting me. I let out a bloodcurdling scream! It terrified me, and it happened so fast! Knowing that if I express anger at him, I could get shot, I say to him through his opened car window, "Please don't hit me!"

"Well, you belong in the walkway!" was his angry response.

I know there are some people who are lobbying for better ped. rights in Baltimore but it is my belief that the changes won't come fast enough to make it worth staying here. Unlikely, Baltimore will become ped. friendly in my lifetime. I understand that it is very expensive to make towns ped. friendly. Of course there always seems to be plenty of money for interstate improvements and such, isn't there? Wanna move to CA or Europe with me? I'm really not kidding.. If I had the means, I would move to a place where I could walk lots and lots without worry. (It's no wonder we have such a rapidly growing obesity problem in this country!

Any and all comments are welcome.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Another grueling day"


12:50 p.m.

I leave house for Bagelo. I take the elevator down to the first floor. It's pretty rare for me to have a normal or positive experience with someone in my building! Anyhow, a man is blocking me from emerging. I just look @ him for what seems like forever, waiting for him to let me pass. (What ever happened to common sense!?  ( Like letting  people off of the bus or elevator before you enter?)

 He won't budge. Finally, I say: "Would you please let me out?" At the same time I ask that my "stalker" yells at me from down the hall:

 "How you doon today?"    I ignore him.   "Elevator" man finally lets me emerge.

A woman in a wheelchair is blocking the exit to the elevator. I ask her if she needs me to hold the door so she can get out. "No, I'm not going out!"

  "Can you let me out then please?"

I come home to wait on a call from a friend. Just before I leave the house, I have to hide my 6 c.d.'s (most everything else I was forced to put into storage) and my journals, and just pray that the maint. men don't see me leave my bldg. (They steal at least one thing from me per week)

  They always see me leave my apt. and they did today as well. Last week they stole a portrait and a frying pan. I've decided not to enter into a legal battle because I don't want to risk being physically harmed. My life matters more than my stuff at this point, and as I said in an earlier blog, we are not allowed to change the locks without giving a key to the maint. men.

Becky drops me off in Towson. I called the courthouse in advance to make sure that I go to the correct court bldg. I am filing a small claim against my phone provider who is sending me 100 dollar bills every month, even though their ads promised that they will provide me service at 25 a month. I keep paying the bill for fear that if I don't I'll be without phone service.

  I walk the 7 blocks to the courthouse. I have completely forgotten that I have a non working cell phone in my backpack. Security puts me though the belt and such. They send my coins thru, my fanny pack through, my backpack through, my keys through. Oddly, the security sensors don't detect my non working cell phone and like I said, I didn't even remember it was in my pack! Once I'm all the way through all of the sec. proceedings I ask the guards to point me in the direction of the small claims court. "Maam, you've got the wrong bldg." "That's 5 blocks away!"

I walk east to York Road. During my eternal wait to cross York Road,  a middle school girl on a school bus sticks her head out the window looks right at me and says:

 "Fuck you bitch! "

 These brief "human" interactions exhaust me and are a big reason why I want out of Baltimore.

  I cross York Road and walk to the other courthouse.

I finally arrive. I put everything on the belt. "Maam, do you have a cell?" "No, I replied" (again, not remembering that I do) They find it and tell me to come back when I don't have a cell. I frustratingly say out loud to the air (knowing that they don't give a damn about my problems) "But I don't have a car to put the cell phone in!"

I was bound and determined to file this small claim. I walk 2 blocks thru Towson eyeing each shop, restaurant and office, fully realizing that my proposition will seem very strange. My plan is to walk into one of the shops, hand an employee my cell phone, and say something to the effect of: "I know this seems really strange, but I have to go to the courthouse and they won't let me take this in, will you keep it for an hour?!" I thought about the weirdness of the whole thing, looked up at the library clock and realized that the courthouse will be closing soon and it's just cutting it too close. I abandon my hope for the day and come to the library to post this to my blog! Talk to ya soon!