Saturday, July 28, 2007

RACE RELATIONS/looking back at my past

Race relations, the elephant in the room.

  There's been plenty of attention given to white on black racism, but when I googled reverse racism I found nothing!. I told my friend, Frank, who is a Baltimore psychotherapist that I couldn't find any material on black on white racism, he replied; white's are too scared to speak out about it, I've got more than a dozen clients talking about their experiences with race relations in Baltimore, privately when they come into their sessions with me!


Here's what has shaped me. I grew up in Randallstown, a Baltimore suburb. From 63-69 I lived in an all white neighborhood. I was under 6 years old so I remember very little. My mother insisted on a bigger house which we did not need, so my father moved us to Kings Park in 1969, which was very diverse. Asian, Turks, African Americans and more.

When I was about 8, Craig moved in across the street. Craig was 6 and black. He was my best friend for a year or two, and then he left and went off with mostly black kids. That was hard for me. One day, his father, Mr. B. drove us to the city. Someone yelled at me: "Look at the Honky!" 

  Kevin lived down at the end of the court. He was one year older then me and black. I thought he was beautiful and I loved him, as did most every white girl on the block! I was about 9 when I fell for him, but my love was unrequited!.   Kevin, Craig, and myself went to see the JACKSON 5 at Painters Mill Music Hall! For as oblivious as my parents where, I've got to give them this much, they never, ever said a racial slur in front of me, and never, ever forbade me from having black friends.

Most of my 6 years on Hobart Court I remember being a fairly isolated child, but I have flashes of memories of the kids and there was little racism that I was aware of/yet:

. Melody and Derek were black children, and every time I came to their door, their mother's said something to the effect of "He/she can't play right now"  In retrospect, I don't think those moms wanted me to play with their black children.

At 12 years old, somehow my parents lost their house. We moved away into an apt.

  My parents did not facilitiate my being able to stay in contact with any of the kids from Hobart Court. For the first year, Roxie, who lived in my apt. bldg. was my best friend (she was white) then, out of the blue, she stopped speaking to me and instructed all the kids in the building that they are not to be my friend. So no body in my building spoke to me except Marty who was five years younger than me and the little brother of Sarah who was one of the kids who left me out. Boy these 2 years left lots of scars.

I started playing with the black kids around the corner. One day, one of the black girls said, "go play with kids your own color" 

No boy ever asked me out in middle or high school. My first boyfriend was Steve. (he was white) We met in high school, but didn't start dating until after high school.

At 19, my parents forced me to take a secretarial job and forbade me from going to college. I was a medical transcriptionist down near Reisterstown Road Plaza. I was frickin' miserable. I was the only white employee on the administrative staff and treated very abusively by Dee, a fellow black employee who I was forced to work very closely with.

One day I went out to lunch by myself. I had just been paid, and had at least200 cash in my purse, a beautiful new leather purse, a leather bible, a radio, a wallet with sentimental value. Two black men came up behind me, and one said: "HEY SEXY MAMA, give me your purse" I gave it too him and he ran. Later that day the 2 boys robbed about 3 more women, one was pushed down into the street and hurt. I never saw a weapon, but I had nightmares every night for the next year. (PTSD) My boyfriend Steve says that I told my parents I was too scared to go back to that job and they said something to the effect of: "Well, that's too bad, you'll go back to that job" And I did. But six months later against their orders I enrolled in college paying my own tuition.

I was engaged twice. From 82 to 83 and from about 89-93. Two different men, both white. After 95 I began meeting and dating black men. Most of the black men I connected with were either from Africa or various Islands. But, I think I've dated men from at least 25 islands and countries.

Up until 96 or 97 I was pretty idealistic about race relations. I hadn't lived in Baltimore city long enough to become hardened. In 94/95 I did some work with the Bahai's to help bring white and black together.

In 95/96 was when my Baltimore homeless stint's begun. I was in a very vulnerable place. White woman with no car and no money in a violent and hateful city. I continued to date black men until about '02, and stopped because their was an ocean of cultural difference between us that meant that the relationships never went anywhere. By '97, I no longer believed that blacks want to be integrated with whites. I still don't believe that integration is what most blacks want.

I experience black on white racism daily. I get treated like trash by most black cashiers (especially the women), most black bus drivers, most black riders on the bus, most people in the welfare office, and most black restaurant staffers in my neck of the woods. Most of the blacks I meet hate me the minute they see that I am white. How can I possibly believe that most blacks want to live together peacefully with whites with the experiences that I have?

You could argue with me and say: "Elana, you can't prove they are treating you this way because you are white" And I would reply: "You didn't ask Sidney Poitier to prove that he was discriminated against for being black, did you?!" (In his book "The Measure of a Man" he speaks openly about w on b racism.) A person would have to be stone cold to not know when they are being discriminated against!


The black high school dancers think it is so cool that Tracy has come in to dance with them! The black protesters are worried about her safety, but honored that she wants to help them achieve equal rights. I think it's a fairytale. It was deeply moving when the Tracy's friend started dating a black man, but in present day Baltimore, they'd be treated like shit for doing so. My friend J. (who is white) is married to a woman from Kenya, and they live here in Baltimore. He and his wife get spit at and yelled at when they go anywhere together.

When I attended a Baltimore Kwanzaa Event, it was made very clear to me that I was not welcome there. (and I could name a million more experiences like this)

There are a couple of all black settings where I feel very welcome (like the Sankofa African Dance theatre and festivals) But this open ness and loving ness to whites is a rare, rare, thing, (at least in Baltimore)

There, I said it. I spoke from the heart, and I don't regret it.


Hairspray was phenomenal. I had been counting down the days to see this movie, and would be willing to see it again. 90% of the time I was either laughing or smiling.  Poignant.

Given that I grew up in Baltimore I studied the sets carefully. Does anything look familiar?  A RESOUNDING YES! The sets were remarkably authentic even though this movie was filmed in Toronto! I remember for example the ESSO gas station that is now EXON. I was looking to see if I could find any of my father's shops. Truth is since I have no family contact I can't remember much at all. Just that there was ELANA'S PIZZA SHOP on Liberty Heights Avenue (yes, if that name sounds familiar it's because there was a movie called LIBERTY HEIGHTS that i believe was directed by John Waters!) my father also had a bar called SPORTSMAN'S CLUB 500. But I don't remember where that shop was.

John Travolta was phenomenal as a caring and loving mother, he was ALL WOMAN! And the accent! If you're from Baltimore you'll howl in laughter the first time you here him say: "TRACY, TURN THAT RACKET DOWN, CAN'T YOU SEE I'M TRON TO ARN IN HERE! (trying to iron)

Tracy (the daughter) reminds me of me in many ways. She's an activist and she's gung ho about wanting equal rights for blacks (for easy of writing i will say "black" instead of the 7 syllabled, african american) and she's not worried about whether others approve of her decision to help out with the marches. The other way she reminds me of me is that although I probably wasn't so bold in high school, later in life I wouldn't have hesitated to crash an all black soul and disco dance party! And she gets ridiculed for her weight every day, as I still do. (as adults are just as cruel as children)

This movie is a great family movie (mmm, kids 13 and over perhaps) and a good venue for discussing race relations with your child. (I call this "the elephant in the room", race relations that is)

In my next post, I will compare/contrast the race issues of Hairspray with my own life and how race relations and my life experiences have shaped who I am and how I think today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random resources

Poor and/or homeless people need to be highly resourceful to survive in a culture where they money for everything.   One of my goals/hopes is to someday create a directory of most of the resources I've acquired over the past 14 years.

These are just some of the resources I've obtained in the last 2 or 3 years. (Baltimore has multiple neighborhoods like "Timonium" or "Waverly")  In making this list, I am not necessarily endorsing or recommending, the agency.

2. Balto. County Dept. of Social Services-410--853-8953

3. (for those interested in Humanism)

4. Buddhist chanting

5.   info. on bankruptcy


7. (everything is free)

8. Salvation Army 410-783-2920
Dept. of aging  have funds to help you pay off your utility bill

9. Angies list evaluates service providers.

10. (annual arts and music camp held in Westminster, MD and Scotland annually)

11. auto trader (to buy a car) 1-888-512-0094


13. (the author Sark writes inspirational books largely for female readers)

14. (care for other's homes)

15. (helps with one's employment search)

16. (place free ads for anything your wild imagination can dream up)

17. (resources for drummers)

18. (resources for progressives looking for love)

19. supposedly if your really lucky you can get dental care here. I've not been successful with attaining it. called Mission of Mercy and it's in Reisterstown, MD in a church. 410-833-5870

20. they say you can get a car loan from them. 1-800-809-7908

21. emergency fuel fund. (helps with bills) Ms. Parker 443-423-6042

22. employment,

23. be an extra in movies. Taylor Royal Casting Company, 410-466-4977

24. be an extra for hbo's the show "The Wire" 410-767-0067,

25. cooperative living.

26. "Financial Aid for the Disabled" by Schlachter Weber includes resources on f.aid for women. (book)


28. modeling jobs.

29. this site is for memoirists.


31. (or is it .org) for people interested in trying vegan food.

32. (personals for progressives)

33. (buy a Honda)

34. (they'll help you find a job)

35. (anything and everything to do with gov't subsidized housing, not all that user friendly in my experience)

36. Gary Null. I asked this author to sponsor me to go vegan, in exchange for my telling my story on how my health improves. This was my idea, I didn't get a response however. P.O. Box 918
Planetarium Station, NY, NY 10024

don't know his web address, sure he has one though.

37. the homeless person's rep. project. i asked them to help me get my car legalized in MD, since the fines accrued while I was homeless. Never heard back from them. I don't have their phone # here with me at the library, but they are in Baltimore.


an intentional community right on the md/pa line.

39. The International Center (I taught English here to foreign speakers) is in Lafayette, Indiana

40. (perhaps this is earlier in my list, right now I am typing directly out of my address book)

resources for progressives

42. (biography of Courtney Love and her mom)

43. info. on the disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. c/o A. Donnay 410-362-6400

44. (Barbara Ehrenreich's website)

43. (marylanders united for peace and justice)


("fighting and finding the causes of homelessness")

45. was recommended to me as a good i.s.provider.

46. (how to travel with this illness that i mentioned earlier in my list)

47. (place to relax)




51. more work as an extra. Pat Moran

52. (publishes Baltimorean's stories)


54. dating websites for progressives.

55. dental care for the poor. People's clinic. 410-467-6040

56. MTA mobility, van rides for the disabled only after you fill out a mountain of paperwork and get dr.s authorizations. 410-468-4941

57. job opp.

58. (the md. state arts council)

weekly environmental newsletter

60. (fascinating site, i took the test that tells you what your real age is. my real age is 56 years old)

61. (dating)

62. (everything art for lafayette, indiana)

63. social work jobs.

64. support for memoirists.

65. grants for folks with disabilities going back to grad school., and



68. the Test school. (they no longer have their massage school) 410-296-5350, but they used to offer reduced price massages.

69. Tai Sophia Acupuncture Institute


70. place resume on line at

71. (we make a difference)


73. BGE bill help, CAN 410-339-6457



76. women's law center 410-321-8761

77. write and publish


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Living with lyme

I admit that I am seriously ill and have been for years. Most of what I know about my illnesses are due to personal research and reading, because low income people especially, have such difficulty accessing quality affordable care that they are forced to work a lot harder for answers then a more affluent person.

I don't think any of my friends or acquaintances realize that I am seriously ill. And because fibromyalgia and lyme are largely invisible, unless you are living with the sick person, they are not likely to notice how sick I am.

 The fatigue is debilitating.   If I lived  in a healthy home where I culd regulate my sleep I'd fare much much better. The noise level in my building is too high for me to do anything but catnap. I lose my balance more frequently and suspect that I have significant nerve damage. I "pray" that I don't end up in a wheelchair. (I've no doubt that I qualify for a wheelchair, a walker, etc. as there are some days where I am too weak to walk.)

The list of lyme symptoms is exhaustive. My friend Mary Byrd Brown had lyme and she blogs about it on her website, Years ago she recommended a lyme specialist to me in Annapolis. I haven't been yet because so many things need to be in place before I can access care.  I need a reliable car, good insurance or monies to pay out of pocket. Ironically since I haven't owned a car, I have more monies available for the occasional rental car, I am going to get out there to have my blood retested.

I am in almost 24/7 excruciating pain. Fibro. pain is described as diffuse musculoskeletal pain. The lyme means I feel like I have electricity runing thru my body 24/7. I have 24/7 pins and needles in my hands, arms, legs and feet, most movement is excruciating. I have numbness, tremors, jaw, teeth and eyeball pain, well I could go on and on with the list of bizarre sounding symptoms. Lyme and multiple chemical sensitivities symptoms are virtually identical to persons with Gulf War Syndrome. Lyme has also been closely compared to m.s. and m.s. patients are frequently mis-diagnosed. I will answer any questions that you have.

I have no choice but to work because I'll never have a good life on what social security gives me. And I can work as a counselor/life coach while sick. That's the one thing I know I excel at while sick. Plus, like most people I want to work and live my fullest potential. And obviously the higher one's income the more chances they have at physical, psychological and emotional recovery.

I do still have more than a glimmer of hope, even though my life circumstances by most scales would be considered inhumane.

Again, I welcome your comments and encourage them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Beggars and street people"

Generally speaking, Baltimoreans view my friendliness as suspicious. And it's a sad, sad thing but i think I get why. The only person who spoke to me yesterday in public wanted money from me.

The first person to speak to me in public today was also someone who wanted something from me. FRIENDLY BUT GUARDED. That's my motto. I was in the Subway today, and there was a man standing on the stoop outside who smiled at me. I smiled back. Another man was walking in as a customer. Man one said to man two who is that rock star on your shirt. Man two was suspicious of the friendliness and was speechless. Man one followed man two into the restaurant.

Man 1-Is that the rolling stones?

man 2-No response

ME-I think it might be Mick Jagger?

Man 2-No, it's guns and roses

ME-Oh, Axel Rose. He's from a town that I used to live in.

Man 1-Where is that?

ME-Lafayette, Indiana.

Man 2 orders his food, and man 1 walks near my table.

Yes, that's Axel Rose he's from Lafayette.

You're from Laf? I lived in Chicago. he said. I continue to be friendly, but do remain guarded. He said I'm a street person. REally I said? You're really super clean. He said, not usually, I just got all cleaned up a little bit ago and someone gave me this baseball cap.

ME-I know most of the Towson street people either by name or by face, how long have you been homeless?

MAN-this time, only about a year.

ME-Wanna hear something shocking?

MAN-I know what you're going to say, you're going to say, why don't I go to the shelter.

ME-Actually, I was going to tell you that I used to be homeless, and black men always say to me "a white woman, homeless?" But poverty knows no color.

MAN-That's right.

ME-How did you become homeless?

(Most homeless just need someone to listen to them non-judgementally)

MAN-I was adopted

ME-Me too.

MAN-I'm only 26. I went into foster care at age 4, me and my brother. But my mom couldn't afford the rent after it went up 50 dollars. You know, I'm a drunk and an outlaw.

ME- I know, 500 a month is an awful lot of rent.

MAN-So I stayed at this mission and then the Salvation Army, but I couldn't follow all of the rules. You had to work 40 hours a week, and my boss got mad at me.

(I'm beginning to suspect this guy is going to ask me for money)

ME-So where do you sleep at night?

MAN-The parking garage. (He is ogling every woman who walks by outside.) See that woman over there?


MAN-She's too big, she's not my type.


MAN-You think you can help me out? Give me some money?

ME-I don't carry cash, Baltimore is too dangerous for that. But I can buy you a drink. (Obviously I mean a soda, we are in the Subway)

MAN-A beer?

ME-No not alcohol.

MAN-I don't drink soda. Well, have a blessed day

ME-You too, good luck.

MAN-I don't believe in luck, just blessings and miracles.

ME-Well, wishing you many good things.


See YA

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I wanted to rent a car because I wanted to see "Linda" in Owings Mills, her 2 year old, and twin newborn boys.

I call Lemon's rent a car (yes, the same one you read about in an earlier blog) 24 hours in advance to attempt to make a reservation. Unfortunately, I think that same woman answered that I told you about a few months ago.

HER-"Hello, Lemon's rent a car"

ME-"I need to rent a car tomorrow, the smallest that you have."

HER-"You'll need a driver's license, proof of insurance, and a major credit card."

ME-"I don't have insurance, because I don't have a car."

HER-"You'll have to purchase our insurance"

ME-"Yes, I know" "Please have someone pick me up at 10 after noon"

HER-"What you mean 10 after noon?"

ME-"I need to be picked up at 10 after noon?"

HER-"At night? 10 at night?"

ME-"12:10" pick me up at 12:10"

HER-"I don't know what chu talkin' bout."


HER-"O.K., we'll call you before he leaves"

ME-"Don't bother, I don't have a cell, I'll just be downstairs."


ME-I don't have a cell phone so there is no point in you calling me!"


ME-(I'll just have to agree with her to get this call over with) I agree to her demands.

I spend the next 24 hours worrying that no-one will show to pick me up since this incompetent moron doesn't speak or understand English despite being American.

12:10  rolls around and I have to call back to make sure they are really going to pick me up. They did, and on time. The man who picked me up, Malcolm, was nice, professional and a safe driver remarkably enough. For 24 hours my life normalizes and I dream of what it would be like to own a safe car. I think about how much would change. For example, it's 100 degrees and I'm in an air conditioned car as opposed to having to stay at home since I can't handle the mid-day heat. The trip to Linda's would have been 2-3 hours one way by public transit. So much changes with a car. I visit Linda in her gorgeous home, with her wonderful husband, hold one of her newborns, and dream of a normal life. She's so deeply connected that either friends or family visit her every day! I can't even imagine that kind of support. In the 6 hours I'm there, there is ZERO noise pollution. It's like a mini- vacation! Boy,24 hours sure does go by fast.

My other friend, Lucy ,was kind enough to pay off my MVA "uninsured fines" that I accrued mostly while I was homeless in '03. $1,345.00. And that's just the uninsured fines. There are also fines from the city and impound fines. I call it the "POVERTY PENALTY" Barbara Ehrenreich talks about it in her book: "Nickel and Dimed." but I coined the phrase!

I recently learned of a program called "FLEX CAR" where you can rent by the hour. To get to the car though, I'd still have to take a bus, then walk to Hopkins and then the same thing on the return trip. Lucy is trying to get me one step closer to being able to purchase a car.

The busybodies in my bldg. are so nosy and judgemental that I go to great lengths to not give them any clues about my life at all. I can see it now. "You bought a car?!" "Where you buy it?" "How much it cost?" "How can you afford that?" "You workin'?" "Where you workin'at?" (If these were my friends I'd gladly answer the questions!)

So I decide to not use my personal parking space for the rental car. The other reasons I decide not to use the space are:

a. someone might tow it. (yup, even though it's assigned to me)
b. my space is next to the woods, and I don't feel safe especially after dark. I told management that and requested a new space. They wouldn't reassign.
c. whose to say the maintenance men or residents won't vandalize this car, they don't hesitate to steal from my apt.

So, I park it in Cedarcroft overnight. (Cedarcroft has virtually no crime and is across the street!)

I had to set the alarm clock to get the rental car back in time. I didn't get a chance to run any errands at all. Today, (and this is typical) anxiety set in almost the moment I left my building. Right outside my building (and this isn't the stressful thing) a woman of about 55 is hunched over on the "La Pew" bench, with headphones on, and curlers in, listening and singing gospel music badly. She doesn't see me.

Here's where the stress starts. Four steps away from my building the neighborhood beggar starts yelling at me from York Road. "Miss lady, how you doon?" I can't avoid him because he is at the top of the staircase where I need to be. "MISS LADY HOW YOU DOON?, he yells again. I think, "What other route is there for me to take?" None. I am forced to pass him.

When I get to the top of the staircase onto York Road, I see that he is completely blocking the sidewalk. There is too much traffic for me to walk in York Road. "YOU GOT 25 CENTS?" he asks. I ignore him. There is only a tiny grassy area for me to pass him. He regularly harasses me. "Well, god bless" he says after I've ignored him.

He knows damn well that the people in my building are as poor as he is. I'm 99% certain that he collects social security disability.  "YOU LUCKY YOU ON DISABILITY!" (and so are you!)

So, I've barely left the house and I'm filled with anxiety. I try to cross York Road. Even though the light is red, I wait for the speeding cars to come to a complete stop. That has made the driver mad, and many times makes the drivers mad, but I've seen enough cars run red lights that I'm not going to just "trust" that they will eventually stop.

I replace the gas, buy a coffee and drop my car off at Lemon's. I was really hoping I'd get Malcolm to drop me off at my place, but he was busy. So, DeShawn was assigned to take me home.

He takes a c.d. out of the c.d. player and puts it under the visor. We drive a 1/2 block and something falls on his head. I jumped. "What's that?" I exclaimed frightened. "That's the c.d. I guess I didn't put it in a safe place." I was mad because he is supposed to be a professional driver and he should know the importance of securing stuff so it doesn't go flying.

  He is speeding and tailgating a fuel truck!. Thank goodness my place is close.

  He starts questioning me. " What do you do?"

 " I'm an unemployed social worker"

  You married?


  where did you grow up?

  I found this very stressful because I don't want to build a relationship with a man driving me one mile. He tells me where he grew up and what his degree is in. English he said. I asked him if he has ever used it. Yes, in the city schools. Of course he immediately talked of violence in the schools, of 10 teen boys who attacked him in the classroom. I said, "And if it's scary for you, a big black guy, you know it'd be terrifying for a white chick!" He was speechless! He dropped me off at my house and we bid farewell.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

T.V. Show "Age of Love"

Have you seen it? It airs on Monday nights at 9. I'm thrilled that pop culture is beginning to address the topic of younger men dating older women. This 30 y.o. tennis star from Melbourne, AUS (where i lived) is dating 12 women. Half are in their 20's and half are in their 40's!

Hooray 40 year olds! They're smart, sexy and energetic. Mark said that within 5 minutes of meeting them he decided that "age doesn't matter!" It's fun to watch, but I don't envy these women. I can't imagine being in a competition like that! Talk about stress!

It'll be so cool if he chooses a 40 something to be his one and only!


Demi Moore and I are very, very close in age and she's with a 20 something..........


As of today, the level of danger in my building has increased. The scariest of the 3 maintenance men is moving into the building today. Not only does he have easy 24/7 access with his master keys, he can make copies of my key for his friends who live here in the building. (We are not allowed to change locks without giving maintenance a copy of the key)

After brunch, I was sitting in front of Kookaburra cafe. My neighbor "Paula" from my building happened by. She's a very street smart African American about 55 years old. I don't usually understand her speech perfectly but I can get the overall picture of what she tries to communicate. She's very scared here at La Pew Apts and feels desperate to get out like me.

Paula-"You smellin' those drugs up in your apt?"

E-"Absolutely. Sandra (another neighbor) asked me if I was getting the 2nd hand crack cocaine smell and I replied: "Is that what that is? That probably explains my migraines and bloody noses"

P-"The drug smell is real bad. You know they (staff?, residents?, visitors?)crawl into the pipe walls.

P. and I discussed the mysterious 24/7 banging in our building, we wonder if the place is haunted. P. went on to say that staff have installed special speakers in the bldg. so they can spy on our conversations. I'm not sure where these speakers are. She suggests they, the speakers, and possibly video cams. have been secretly installed in our smoke alarms in our apts.

P.-"Did you see in the newsletter that Parker, the new maint. man is moving into our bldg. today?

E-"I did read that in the newsletter. We're in even more danger now."

P.-"We sure are. He hangs out with some really bad news people who live in our building."

We talked about the steps we are taking to try to move. She said that the last time she moved, HUD "changed her name" I told her that Baltimore City kicked me off the wait. list for section 8 in 2002 but didn't alert me. I didn't find out until 2004. I still don't have my voucher, and I first got on the wait. list in 94.

E-"I found out who supervises "La Pew Apts."

P-"You did?"

E-"Yes, they're in FL. They told me to install a videocam so that I can catch the maint. men in the act of stealing from me, but I fear retaliation."

P-"You can't tell on them. They WILL retaliate."

E-"I know."

P and her friend went to the grocery store. Our conversation pushed me to go over there for boxes and finish packing. Walking back from the grocery store she saw me again and said: "Be careful, they prejudice in our building."

E-"I'm well aware that they don't like me because I'm white."

P-"Well, they don't like me either because I'm such a light skinned black!"

E-"Oyy" I roll my eyes.

"See you soon."

P-"O.K. see you soon"

Tuesday, July 3, 2007



I've been boycotting Bagel-o for the last month. Well to be precise I've been boycotting this particular branch of Bagel-o for a month. I've had nothing but bad experiences with employees there.  BUT ,they have a great outdoor patio.

Here's a little bit of background before I go into the main story. I'm am extremely aware of my environment at all times and probably take more precautions then most people. Here's an example. Since the weather has warmed up, I've had "sidewalk cafe safety" on my mind.  

Seems like most sidewalk cafes have no buffer between the customer and the driver who is parking their car or leaving the restaurant. I can't think of any reason in the world why I should trust most drivers, based on my past experiences. With the subject heavy on my mind, as usual, an article comes out in the paper on the topic. Did you see it? Baltimore Sunpaper, sidewalk cafe safety. Too much.

So, whenever possible I try not to sit in a place where there is a good chance of a car running me over. About 3 weeks ago, I was in front of a grocery store's sidewalk cafe, when I felt my chair "melt" under me. I lost my balance and my stuff fell to the ground. I had no idea what had happened. A man saw it happen, ran inside to complain. I asked him not to complain for my sake, but he proceeded to anyway!

Lucky for me, one of the more intelligent employees came outside to investigate. We'll call him Rick

. He said: "Yes, our patio furniture is very dangerous, and poor quality! We've already had a little boy fall out of the chair onto the ground. The owner bought this patio set because "it was a bargain!

me-: "Sounds like this product is ripe for a recall!" Rick assured me they'd get better furniture.

At Cahuna's cafe about 6 weeks ago, a woman tied her dog to a table and it came crashing down!

At Bagel-o's the place I've been boycotting, I thought, I want a little bit of sun. So, I bought a drink from the drug store and walked over to the patio. Some of the employees are very mean spirited so I will not go into the store, and will only take in 10 or 15 minutes of sun then I'll walk to the grocery store to do some shopping.

The wind is blowing, I'm holding a glass bottle of coffee. Before I can blink, the umbrella from the table next to me blew over to me and the base of the umbrella pole punched me in the chest. Remarkably, there were no cuts and remarkably the pole didn't get my eye, which could have blinded me.

It was very very painful. And I'm already in a lot of pain because of the fibromyalgia. I held my chest for about 10 minutes or more while the crazy patron next to me held the umbrella up to my chest instead of letting it fall to the ground. I had to yell at her to let it go to the ground.

  She said: "Are you o.k?! "No, I'm in alot of pain!"

  But are you o.k.? she insisted.  Did the bottle cut you? "no, I'm not cut."

She said: "I'm going inside to get someone" I replied: "Don't bother, they'll be glad I got hurt" (you think I'm exaggerating, but there are 2 managers and at least 4 employees who would enjoy that I got hurt) She said, "I'm going in anyway" She got some random employee who had no idea what to do. (most people are terrible in a crisis) I went inside to look around and see which manager was on duty. If one of the neutral managers is on duty then I"ll complain, if not, then I won't complain. I see no managers at all and I don't trust the intellect of the employees. So, I start to walk home. Then I think: "Is that the right thing to do? just leave?" No, I thought. So I asked an employee for an incident report.

She went to the back and apparently asked the manager where the incident report was. He is one the managers who is neutral toward me, which is a good thing. So, he started to fill out the form, but I didn't trust him to do it right, so I told him I'd fill it out myself. But near the bottom of the form (he had the form back at this point) there was a place where he was supposed to fill it out.

It asked: "Does customer plan to seek immediate medical attention" Although I told him "not immediate" but I'd keep an eye open, he wrote "no, she doesn't" I didn't realize it til later. He got a report from the 2 witnesses and then came back to me and asked me for my phone #. He said: "I wrote no, to cover my ass, but if you decide to seek medical attention that is fine"

Ironically, I was in the e.r. within a week of my birthday for the last 3 birthdays. I knew that trying to get to an e.r. without a car was going to be hell on a Sunday.

Every 20 minutes I've been checking my injury. Day 1 a barely noticeable bruise, day 2 a more evident bruise. The pain is there all of the time in kind of a dull way. I haven't been able to reach my Dr. directly and the receptionist hasn't given me a clear answer on what to do. So, I'll call "after hours" in the event he wants me to get an x-ray.  My friend Allen is a doctor and encouraged me to have someone look at it because he said that problems may develop down the line.