Thursday, August 30, 2007

An Oprah Special/Hurricaine Katrina, 2 years later

I intentionally stayed home for the special. I still haven't gotten to see "when the levees broke" with Spike Lee. I was severely depressed for many months after Katrina. Because it is so similar to what happened to me so it hurt all over again. The Katrina special was mostly pretty sad. New Orleans crime is slightly higher than Baltimore's now. One murder per day there. The people who go down there to help rebuild, sometimes get murdered.

The special was very comprehensive. After Katrina happened, I thought, these people won't recover for years, if at all. What happens to them will be what happened to me.

They will get caught up in endless governmental red tape, and their "job" will be to survive from day to day. They will find there is no affordable housing, they won't be able to access decent health care, they won't be able to afford food, they will suffer from severe depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. Turns out that suicides have been very high in all regions affected by Katrina.

The people who are still in the Fema trailers, are suffering with the same maladies as I do because the trailers are an environmental nightmare. So many American structures built in the last 30 years or so. With sick building syndrome people suffer bloody noses, sinus infections, migraines, and asthma for example.

Just imagine how much better these folks would be doing if we weren't spending so much money on destroying Iraq!

They tried to end the Oprah show on a hopeful note,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you can donate money to Oprah through her angel network, or you can go down there and do some hands on work for example.

I try to show hope in most of what I write, but I also want to be honest. For this particular piece, I'm simply going to say that, many many Americans have been virtually forgotten.

Filipino Festival/It sure feels good to sing again

It happened about 3 months ago. There was a karaoke machine right next to the opening ceremony booth, which was a shame, because the karaoke performers wouldn't have been able to hear themselves sing.

Just as F. Fest began, it started to rain. I took refuge at a library nearby. After about an hour and a half I headed back to the festival. I went down a largely obscured side road of the festival.

Much to my surprise there was a stand of sorts totally devoted to Karaoke. I performed 2 songs then excused myself to find the outhouse! Well, by golly, one of the festival heads said something very exciting to me; "Hurry back Elana, we really could use your help with entertainment!" When I got back, I guess all together I did about 12 songs. I thought to myself that they are giving me too much preferential treatment, something I am not accustomed to.

There was a sound booth there, for 10 dollars you can cut a demo! Boy it sure was good to perform again.....................That is what I am meant to be doing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The system is down"

Two main themes of my blog are:  Day to day life in poverty


                                                    The system is down/ everyting is broken

 Back in May I found a sheet of paper on the ground with scotch tape on it, so apparently it blew off of someone's office door. I smiled and thought "Oh my god" I have to pick that up and save it. It said:


 I'd love to hear from you if you've also experienced every level of society as broken and chaotic. (I seem to remember something from a grade school science class where they describe the universe as chaos)

I wake up and check my voice mail messages. The first one said:

a. this is sally, i need to speak to jane. jane, I'm here at the pediatric clinic in fort worth, texas. call me back. i hesitate to fax the paperwork to this number,  so call me back. (sally did not leave a phone number)

b. is a taped message. "so your warranty will expire in 90 days if you don't call us back, so get back to us" (no phone # or company name mentioned)

I ask myself if I should even bother going to the job fair at towson university. After all, most employers won't look at me since I don't have a car. I dress, get my resumes together and head out the door because it's important to me that I always feel like I've tried my best at making a better life for myself. I go to Brick Wall's Pharmacy for a cold coffee. I have to purchase it at the pharmacy rather then up front because their credit card swiper is broken.

I leave there and head to the bank.

I ask the teller for a check card register.

"This?" she asked me.

"No" I replied.

"This?" she asked holding up a large check cover.

"No" i said. "This?"

"Yes" I replied.

"How should I have phrased my question so you would have known what I needed?" I asked.

 transaction thingy!? "I have no idea how you should have phrased it!" the teller said.

"Well, thank you" I said.

I head for the bus stop and take the bus to the university. I head for the union. I start asking students.

"Where is the job fair, do you know?"

"no" the first student said.

e (elana)-"Where is the job fair , do you know?"

"no" the second student said.

e "where is the job fair , do you know?"

"No, they are giving blood in that room there." the third student told me!

e-"I'm not here to give blood! but thank you anyway." (funny, my friend casey goes to goucher and said they are constantly trying to get blood out of her!)

I head to the info. desk.

"Where is the job fair" I ask.

"I have no idea the clerk said."

A student overheard me. She said: "Oh, they really blew it when they advertised the job fair in the towson university paper, they said "Tuesday" but they meant next Tuesday!"

e-"That's pitiful when the job fair people can't even put out a correct ad, that's ridiculous!"

"It sure is." she said.

Now, I am over here at the Towson U. library. It's shockingly quiet. The kids came back to school yesterday. Normally, after the kids come back the library sounds like a zoo. Perhaps it's because I'm here early in the day. Oh well. I'm going to go check my email now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"What does Elana look like?"

I paid Kinkos to help me put my photo on this website. I paid them 6 bucks, and they didn't do what I paid them to do. So, if you want to see what I look like, my photo is at

member 30163

"Log" 8/20/07, york road Maryland to Pennsylvania

1:45 a.m.

I've called the police 4x in the last 24 hours. Twice because of the jackhammering upstairs and twice due to George's stereo pumping through my floor and shaking my dining room table. Due to the noise pollution I can't sleep at all without medication. I toss and turn until about 4 a.m.

10 a.m. I awaken to the sound of g's stereo. Is that what woke me? I'm in worry mode already. The maintenance men break into my apt. at least twice a week. They figure out when I'm gone then break in. I feel depressed. I'm not ready to face my day so I go back to bed and try to sleep more.


Up for good this time. 50 dollars worth of belongings missing this week. Check voice mail.

1. "Miss Snyder I'm sorry , there is nothing we can do here at city council regarding the robberies. You'll just have to keep calling the police. You aren't allowed to change the locks. Do you need a contact name and # over at Northern Police District?

2. Ms. Snyder, this is Tom's taxi. Your credit card didn't go through can you please call us back?

I call both people back. Then I call 411.

ME-I need the # for Northern Plice District please"

electronic operator-I'm sorry , I didn't understand"

ME-"I need the # for Northern police district please"

elctronic operator: "Transferring now."

E-"I need the # for Northern Police District please"

op-"What city?"

E-"Baltimore, Maryland"

operator "searching, searching, searching" "Maam, I can't find a Northern District in Baltimore, MD."

E-"Thank You"

12:15 p.m.

I wonder to myself. Should I make a police report for the things stolen this week? No, I better not do that while staff is still here in the building. Better wait until evening. I hope I can get an officer to dust for fingerprints as well as see if they can find a match for the blood smear on my dresser drawer, from months ago. (I interpret that smear as a death threat)

12:20 Call chatline. An old acquaintance is on line. I tell him about the robberies. He has an extra v.c.r. He's going to help me next week to set up a discreet security system. We talk for an hour.

1:20 I go to shower. I hope the water pressure is enough to get the shampoo out of my hair. I don't want to call the maintenance men to fix my shower for obvious reasons. At least there is a bathtub.

1:35 Call House of Delegates, get their voice mail. I leave a message asking them if they can advocate for me regarding the robberies.

ditto for the Governor

ditto for Jayne Miller of the I team (a team of people that explore legal problems and then broadcast the investigation on t.v.

Return Carol's call from Tom's Taxi. I suggest they need a new credit card swiper if they can't get my card to work. She takes my credit card numbers again. this time it works.

2:23 I'd like a cold coffee. I gather my belongings together to put in my backpack. The backpack is very heavy and that's bad for my spine. But I don't have a car, so I have no choice. These are the items I'll need today. I hide the tapes under the pillow, the soup under the sheet, the money in that very clever place. I blast the radio and begin to leave the house. I can't let staff see me leave. Just as I'm on my way out the door, a maintenance man walks past my door. I stall. I wait for him to turn the corner, I put the 8x11 sheet of paper in the apt. door, then make a mental note of how it's placed there. then I leave. There's a note that falls to the ground that someone stuck in my door. It's another demand from the office.

"You must come to the office between 1 and 5 on Friday to turn in your side door keys. We need to give you the new keys. This is for your own safety."

Safety my ass, I think. They are the reason I'm not safe. On top of that, what if we are at work between those hours, or out of town. Then we'd get a "lease infraction" for not following the rules. What a horrible place to live.

I don't take the elevator. I take the side entrance then climb down the three flights of stairs. A maint. man sees me leave.

I walk to Brick Wall Drug Store to buy a cold coffee. The clerk at the front register doesn't like to ring up white women, so I take my purchase to the pharmacy where most of the employees are pretty decent.

I walk to the bus stop. There is a man walking behind me. Will he mug me? Kill me? I only have to walk a block and a half to the bus stop but I don't feel safe. Here comes one of the beggars. I leave the sidewalk and walk on the grass to avoid him. He doesn't pick up on my non verbals. He passes me then turns around to yell @ me "Hey, miss lady, hey miss lady, God Bless!"

2:58 I arrive at the bus stop. It's just me and a latino woman. We could wait 10 minutes or two hours there is no way of knowing. A white man of 50 is clean and carrying a garbage bag that I don't notice initially. He addresses us both. I know the latino woman doesn't understand his English.

Beggar: "I have a question. I just went to social services and they denied me and I was wondering can you give me some money for the bus?"

Me-"I don't carry cash." "The people in my building aren't allowed to use that welfare office even though it's 2 blocks from our apt. bldg. because our bldg. is in the city and the welfare office is "county"

Beggar-"I'm sorry to hear that maam"

3:15-I see the bus coming. I notice the man's garbage bag. "Are you homeless?" I ask. "Yes" he responds. He walks over to the trash can, pulls out a pizza box, and begins eating the scraps. I compare his actions to mine. I just went through the starvation and hunger because I was too proud to beg or dumpster dive. I just hoped that the starvation wouldn't kill me. I got very weak and sick but obviously it didn't kill me.

3:17 I board the bus. This time I don't feel as scared as usual. I'm careful not to make any eye contact which might anger the passengers. I get off at my stop @ 3:27. I walk to the university to blog, check my email and work on my book. I read a tiny bit of a female homeless survivor's website. I leave at 4:30.

4:30 I walk the 7 blocks to Sub Club for a sandwich. Getting 7 blocks without getting hit by a car is no small feat in a town that is so pedestrian unfriendly.

4:45-Arrival at Sub Club. The employees here have always been real weird. One employee takes the order of woman 1, while looking at me , woman 2. So woman 1 keeps looking back at me since the clerk is. When he gets to me I place my order then say, that's all. (no toppings)

He says "what do you want on it"

me-"that's all"

female clerk-yelling past the woman in front of me......"chips and soda?"

me-"no, that's all"

"but this woman is in front of me" I declare. One employee smirks at me and they mumble to each other about me in a foreign language other than Spanish.

4:55 After I am done eating I walk toward the bus stop. There are 2 teen girls there who are making fun of my weight and smoking cigarettes. I go sit on a curb with another man who is waiting. He says his mother had to drive him to the 55 bus line, he took the 55 to the 8, now he is taking the 8 to the light rail. I wouldn't be surprised if his one way trip takes him up to 3 hours.

5:15 Bus arrives. There is a new woman on the bus. She asks the driver where the light rail is. The driver says she'll try to remember to let her know. I give the new rider detailed instructions. The driver hears me, and starts yelling stuff at the new rider.

5:35 I've arrived at Bangles Book Store. Hopefully Aaron is working. He always cheers me up. (he isn't) I try to cross the parking lot to Bangles and an SUV is barreling towards me. I put up the stop sign with my hand, and the female driver yells angrily at me. I can't hear what she is yelling.

I come to Bangles for 3 reasons. I feel safe in Bangles but not on the bus to or from.

I have few positive experiences with humans in my own neighborhood.

I don't have the physical, psychological, and emotional wherewithal to do bus tranfers, so I live my life almost solely on one road.

Aaron isn't here so I read and write. It's still a tiny bit better for me to be here then to be at home.

8:10 p.m. I better start walking to York Road before it gets dark, since the streets and buses are so dangerous.

-A customer who I've never formally met before says: "you're here all the time"

ME-"Yes, it's healthier for me to be here, then at home"

"I was on my way to the bus but I'll have to scrap that plan because it's dark. I got so used to it getting dark at 9 p.m.

Ron-"So, what can you do now?"

E-"Well, I'll have to hitchike home"

Ron-"That's safer?"

E-"Yes" "I call it selective hitchiking. I simply suss up customers leaving the store decide who is safe, then ask if they are going my way"

Ron-"Oh, o.k. I'm surprised to hear that public transit is so dangerous"

E-"For single women or minorities it is especially dangerous"

"Miss, pardon me, but do you happen to be travelling south?"

I do this every 20 minutes for the next 2 hours as Ron and I talk. He says, you are never going to find anyone to take you home. I reply, if I absolutely have to I'll take a cab. No, don't do that, that's too expensive he says. Yes, it is too expensive. It costs me 14 dollars to get home. Oh boy, that is alot of money, he says. I tell him that the cafe clerk said that if I get stuck with no ride, she'll take me home at 11:30 p.m. I surely don't want to be here that long.

Ron and I go inside I get some food. Turns out the cafe clerk, Robin, gets off earlier tonight, at 10 p.m. I go with her, this is the first time. She flies through the parking lot like a race car driver and makes a sudden sharp turn to exit the parking lot. She nearly ends up on the island divider. I'm terrified the whole way home. She assures me she is an excellent driver who does not "speed, but drives swiftly." I won't be her passenger again.

It's 10:20 p.m. and remarkably I am, yet again, home in one piece..........................

I check the paper in my apt. door, it's in the same position that I left it in. It's unlikely anyone broke in today. Still I open the door slowly just in case. Nope, no humans, just me and the ghost.

(many think our bldg. is haunted, including me. One day I found my candle on the toilet paper holder, and my baseball cap moved to a different hook. I haven't moved that hat in months!)


"Shwew, what a relief"

The editor at Urbanite magazine asked if I could submit a log of my day to day life that is current. I tried to pull together a piece like that, but because of my dangerous situation at home, I couldn't get together a colorful piece. I had to hide so many details in the event that residents or staff in my building read the Urbanite.

It's so ironic that I can write so much more freely about my day to day life on the internet than I can for a local mag.

My piece "All in a Day's Work" will appear in the September issue of Urbanite magazine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"You got da baddest walk in Baltimore" (public housing antics)

I was telling my chatline friend Steve, that what would be called "sexual harrassment" in white mainstream culture, isn't sexual harrassment at all in other cultures, it's just the way men relate to all women.

In the 2 years I've been living at La Pew there have been 3 or 4 men in my bldg. who regularly harrass. Like "Studley" He's a pain in the a__, but harmless. Everytime he sees me he feels compelled to tell me how he perceives my walk. I joke and kid and treat it lightly but I really dislike it. One time I responded: "Oh, do I still have that walk? I didn't realize it!"

Studley is always dressed like a pimp. The other night he was drunk and with a male friend. He yelled down the hall at me. "There's the Dundalk girl!" (I'm from Randallstown) I said "Nope, Randallstown" "Oh, what year did you graduate?" (Of course I know he's calculating my age) I said: "Guess" He replied: "93?"

E-Nope 81.

S-You're not that old.

E-Yes, I am.

S-turns to friend, "she got one helluva strut" "Girl, you got da baddest walk in Baltimore!"

(As a writer, I loved the phrase and couldn't let it pass me by without sharing it with you readers!)

I may have one well of a hard life, but I'm a writer and will always have a sense of humor!


The minute I wake up I'm in worry mode. I call the house of delegates and leave them a message regarding the looting of my apt.  to see if they can help me. I also decided to call the chat line. There was an "old friend" on there who I've never met in person. Steve grew up in Detroit. When I told him that the cops here don't  seem to care about our safety he said: "That's how it is in every major American city, you're right, all they care about are the murders."

He claims he's going to bring me a vcr next week and help me set up a security system.   (which never happened)  He said that if I don't catch them red handed they'll just keep at it.

I start to leave my apt. I can't let the maintenance men see me leave. As soon as I open the door, the is walking past my door. I stall so he doesn't see me leave.

I step outside and a begger yells "hey miss lady, hey miss lady, well god bless" I've mentioned him in an earlier blog. I can't help but to be annoyed by the poor who ask the poor for money. I go to the bus stop. It's me and a latino woman waiting for the bus. A clean white man of about 55 with a large trash bag says "Excuse me but I have a question. (i know the latino woman doesn't understand his English)

 I just came from social services and they denied me. I need money for the bus" I told him that I don't carry cash. I don't notice his trash bag immediately. Trash bags are an immediate give away to homelessness. I tell him that no one in my apt. bldg. are allowed to use the social service office even though it's only a block away. I explain that the people in my bldg. are city residents and the social services is in the county, so we aren't allowed to get food stamps or anything of the like from them. The homeless man said "I'm sorry to hear that maam."

The bus is coming and that's when I notice his garbage bag. I ask: "are you homeless?" yes, he says. He walks over to the city garbage can, finds a pizza box, pulls it out and begins eating the scraps. In my case, I just went through the starvation, I never would go into dumpsters and eat out of them. One day a homeless man said to me "you wouldn't beg either?" "no" I said, I just went without the food and wondered if it would kill me"

The side effects of poverty are all consuming/reflecting on 8/21

Yesterday, I stayed "home" because I needed rest. But I cannot rest when I'm at home either. Til 2 a.m. I had woofers pounding through my floor, the effect of George and Ron's stereo's. I've called the police about 500 times since I've been living here, they come out to see if they can hear it (you're lucky if they come within an hour) they'll knock on the door and say "turn it down" But there are no repercussions for Ron and George. As soon as the cop leaves the stereo goes back on again.

I can't even think when I'm at home. To top this off, the people above me sound like they are doing construction projects. From noon to eight it sounded like a jack hammer going over my head.

All together yesterday I called the police 4x. I also contacted city council and asked if they can advocate for me regarding the thefts. This week they stole my trac phone, underpants, new homemade tye die socks. The asst. to city council said that I can't change my lock since the lease doesn't allow it. As I said, I know the maintenance men are doing it.

So you want to know why it's so hard for people to get out of poverty. You spend so much time just trying to get through each day and on top of that you are trying to normalize your life. It's harder work than any middle or upper class person has ever had to do.

Monday, August 20, 2007


This morning I made a 16 mile round trip on York Road (York Speedway) to return the car Darla had lent me. In that 16 miles I saw ONLY 3 pedestrians! One white female, one black male, and one white male.



Have you ever gone through something and not known a single other person who'd been through it? So you write about it in your journals and possibly feel very alone. My friend is a therapist and has at least 12 clients who discuss with him how angry Baltimore residents seems to be and how unsafe they feel living here.  

I used to feel afraid to breech the topic of reverse racism. I didn't think anyone would believe me. I feel a sense of relief because now I have 2 single white female friends who've gone through horrible verbal, emotional and sometimes physical abuse for being white. One of my friends is a nurse at a hand clinic and my other friend was a hostess in the dining hall of a nursing home. She did not feel safe at all, based on what she saw happening to minority white employees. She'd run to her car after work for fear of being robbed, raped or killed. And this happened in rural/suburban baltimore county. Somehow she survived the job for 4 years.

I'm so grateful to now have 2 women who I can have an open dialogue with.

I told Jill (the one that worked in the nursing home) that Oprah had a panel of speakers discussing racism and sexism right after the Imus controversy. Jill said that the problem of reverse racism needs to be acknowledged before anything can be done about it . Wise words from a 20 year old, don't ya think? But no-one on the show, on the panel, or in the audience acknowledged it. I've been meaning to write to her.............................

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Customer Dis-service/public housing antics

The worry about my belongings being stolen, and the worry that I'm going to come "home" and find someone in my home is really hurting my health. I feel so powerless. It's not unusual for me to call the chatline (mentioned in an earlier post) and just "vent" or ask people what they would do if they were in my shoes.

Some say, "take matters into your own hands if staff and the cops don't care. One said, how about the city councilperson can they help you?

So, I left a message on the Governor's machine since I really don't know which branch does what. I told him how unsafe it is and how we aren't allowed to change the locks, and what other branches of government can help me? I just left that message a few days ago. I've written to the I-team/ channel 11 before with no response. HUD hasn't helped me.

So, today I called "hearty locks" In my experience 95% of humans are lousy communicators, and lousy listeners. I frequently wonder how these people even keep a job down. I asked her for an estimate and she said: I don't know. She said, well the trip to your house will cost 39 and the installation 45 and the locks range in price from 40 to 90, according to which lock you want. I told her like 3 times how important it is to not park on my property since I'm not allowed to be changing the locks. The first 2x she just blew right over my request not hearing me. Finally she heard me and assured me that he will park on crimson street instead of coming into my parking lot. (our building has heavy surveillance and cameras so this needs to be done discreetly)



I explain about the heavy surveillance and how I"m not allowed to change them. Silence. He ignores me. I'm very uncomfortable with him and consider cancelling the job right there..........

We go upstairs and he quotes me a price that is about 50 dollars more than what the clerk said. So I said, then I don't want it. He ignores me calls the office and tells me I need to speak to their clerk. I do. She's arguing with me telling me I am wrong. I tell her "forget it, i don't want it it's not what you quoted. HEARTY LOCK man begins to leave. 10 minutes later the hearty lock receptionist calls my home again. I say hello, and when I recognize her voice I hang up on her.

I try to report this experience to ANGIES LIST. is where you can find reputable service providers or make negative reports. But it turns out that you have to join to do that and pay some fee, which I didn't want to do.

Terry lent me her car today, so I tried to run errands. America is totally broken. Everything from clerks ALWAYS making a mistake on your order to broken credit card machines, every single aspect of society feels broken and everybody is so angry. From morning to night, nothing ever gets done properly.

Does anyone else find that NOTHING WORKS in our society? So many things go wrong each day that I fear people will think Im making it up.

Do you also experience our society as broken at most every level?

15 years ago I had a college textbook called CRISIS IN AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS. It's so amazing and timeless. I hope to buy the most current copy it was so amazing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"America's got Talent"/N.B.C.

Similar to American Idol, alot of the show is piddled away by talk, stalling and judging. I really don't think the voting process is very fair and that's why I'm not voting. About a month ago, I opened up my Baltimore phone book and looked up "Irwin"

I wanted to congratulate 14 year old Julienne for having made it on the show. But I was unable to find her #. Perhaps I can figure out how to get an email to her.

I don't really consider the judging process to be any more fair than it was with "American Idol" Because look at how far Sanjaya got on American Idol. He got that far based on looks, charisma, and sex appeal, not talent.

A.G.Talent is similar in that "Sideswipe" has been eliminated. They've been working they're whole lives and have a phenomenal and unique act and they have been eliminated. The Glamazons aren't good enough to have gotten as far as they did, however they are cute and I do enjoy them. They are not a one million dollar act.

Currently it is a tie between "Butterscotch" and the singing ventriloquist, Terry Fator. Butterscotch is an amazing talented beat boxer with unique gifts. Terry and Butterscotch are equally talented working in different genres. There really is no fair answer here. How could I possibly vote? Should I vote on whose act I think would attract the broadest audience? That would probably be Terry. But 20 somethings will flock to see Butterscotch.

Either way, they've both got great careers awaiting them. I will not be voting. Will you?

Public Housing Antics/Daily Rituals

As you know I've gotten most of my valuables out of the house. It's still traumatizing each time they steal, but at least it will be mostly stuff that's replaceable. Today Debbie took 3 boxes of stuff to put in storage. I had to part with those last 10 c.d.'s that I had really wanted to keep with me, but I'm simply going to have to go through a shift in my thinking to survive where I live. I'll simply have to view it as emergency shelter as opposed to a home, that way my expectations remain low.

The robberies consume me night and day. When I'm home, I'm always wondering what else is missing. If I can't find an object, the first thing I think is: "Did they steal that too?"

When I went to the grocery store today I had to shop with the mindset that the maintenance men will steal whatever looks good. So, I hid the cheese under the juice, the crackers under my comforter, the tapes under my pillow, the journals under textbooks, the list of belongings under the bathroom towel and the change in that very clever place. They won't want my cereal, I purposely bought health cereals and soy milk cuz they won't want that. Hmmmm, will they steal my lemonade? Unlikely, it's organic. They won't want my nectarines or bananas.

I had to take most everything out of the living room drawers and put it on top of the dresser, that way, as it gets stolen I'll notice more quickly.

Blast the radio, put an 8 by 11 sheet of paper in the front door. That way, if it's gone, or in a different position, I will know that the maintenance men have been in my place. Maybe I should just leave the dirty dishes in the sink, that way they won't steal those dishes at least.

Some people accuse me of not working. But survival is very very hard work!

Life on the streets

Nicole gave me pepper spray, but it's extremely unlikely that I'd ever use it. Because there are so many people each day that motion in a way that suggests they will physically hurt me but don't. If I were to use the pepper spray everytime I thought someone would rape or kill me I'd be using the stuff as if it were lilac air freshener!

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Getting there/Baltimore's blessed buses"

8 to 8:40 p.m. Lutherville light rail

My life is in grave danger. First I have to try to walk through the c.c. parking lot without getting robbed or hit by a car. At the light rail there are 4 to 5 females and 1 male at the #8 bench/shelter. It's certain they'll harrass me if I go and try to get a seat. I sit on the ground a few yars away. I feel like an ousted jr. high girl. It's an awful feeling...ousted and in grave danger both at the same time.

A car drivers toward me and if she makes a mistake she'll run me over. The girls at the shelter are loudly discussing a knife fight that they were in. They keep laughing and saying: "she do this she do that" ( are they talking about me? I don't dare make eye contact)

It's 8:30 p.m. ish and I go sit on the cement base of the lamp post. $ boys of about 16 come up behind me and are very loud. They 1/2 surround my pole, yelling and pushing each other. I'm wondering if they'll kill me or rob me? One of the boys said something about me "she doing like this" They all laughed. One of them kicks the pole. Yes, I am terrified and I get up and start pacing.

Once on the bus I sit near but not in the "handicapped" seats. It's about 45 or 50 degrees on the bus, I open a window for warmth. Another woman immediately closes it.

About 3 miles into the trip something happens to the 2 women in the handicapped seats that has always been my greatest fear. A 300 lb. mentally retarded man with a large soda falls into their laps and drenches their clothes with his 7-up. He says: "Oh Well" then gets off the bus.

I immediately tell the women that I have napkins for them. The bus driver yelled back: I ALREADY OFFERED Y'ALL NAPKINS!

Remarkably it's 9 p.m., I'm home, and have apparently survived yet another experience on Baltimore's "blessed" buses!



Helen (my adoptive mother who I haven't seen in 17 years) was being really nice to me, we had a peaceful and brief conversation. She gave me a 50 dollar bill that had been folded up so many times it looked like a tiny square.

She said: "What did you do with the car I lent you? Where is it?" I told her I hadn't taken it out. Turns out she gave me the key, I put it on the passenger seat and the car was stolen.

Next thing I know Helen and I are in the back seat of some car that is doing 100 mph and hydroplaning. I wonder if I'm going to die. The car stops at a church or school. There are thick crowds of people in front of and inside the church. A man asks the crowd "Whose seen the Laverne and Shirley show? I raise my hand. He grabs my wrist and flies me away, I am now seperated from Helen.

I wake up.


I have so little control over my real life, and the dream shows that everything is chaotic, and I have no control there either. I remember my dreams daily. I'm open to you "dream interpreters" comments!


Making new friends in Baltimore is very, very hard. I used to assume that if I made a strong connection with a person that it would turn into a friendship. But that rarely happens.  An article in Psychology Today
 purports a very interesting  theory. The following is a paraphrase of what I read "Repeatedly seeing your acquaintance over and over, whether at your child's school, your job, or the cafe, is what turns acquaintances into friends.

Perhaps this is what I like so much about intentional community ( there are alot of natural friendships/relationships growing because you naturally run into each other over and over again.

Last July I lost use of my Mercury Sable.   I was not speeding and I was on a road whose speed limit is 25. I lost my steering and brakes (one year ago) on a winding hilly road called Lake Avenue. Just months earlier a stranger explained to me what I should do if i ever lose my brakes! The advice saved my life. (He said you shift to neutral then use your emergency brake to stop the car) but I hear there are other ways too.

I lost many choices when I lost that car and one of them was going to my favorite bookstore/cafe. It's typical Baltimore where most of the customers are unfriendly but where I've always made strong connections with the ever changing cafe staff. (People I see repeatedly, as mentioned earlier on making new friends.)


When I left the house I saw and heard a group of about 6 La Pew* residents yelling in front of the elevator. One of the women's dogs and leash were blocking my path. I said excuse me twice, she couldn't hear me so I made a wide loop to get around the dog, so I wouldn't get tangled in the leash. I didn't even bother trying to access the elevator.

In an attempt to cross Wyman Drive, 2 cars nearly hit me because they weren't looking for pedestrians.

I go to the pizza place and the entire floor is flooded with bleach and detergent while 3 employees decide to deep clean while patrons are dining!   I'm allergic to the chemicals but can't eat outside cause it's raining. I go to the back of the restaurant and eat my pizza fast. When I try to leave the one employee acts like he doesn't see me and is about ready to mop over my feet! I have to say: PLEASE WAIT FOR ME TO PASS!"

I go to cross the "super rude" grocery store parking lot, I'm in the crosswalk. I have right of way yet an old man who doesn't stop for the red light,  proceeds to nearly run me over by making a right turn on red WITHOUT stopping. I'm furious. I yell into the driver's side.


WAIT FOR WHAT?! he yells. MIND YOUR OWN GOD DAMN BUSINESS! he yells, angrily pointing and wagging his finger about an inch away from me.


(He only hears the first sentence, not the second. My friend Jack who is also a psychotherapist, said that my response was a healthy and normal one! cool!)

My heart is racing. I'm forced to cross one more street to get to the bus stop. A man in a truck makes his left before allowing me to cross. I shoot him an angry look. He stops his truck to get in the last angry look.

I can't believe the stress of all this hasn't killed me!

Public housing antics/up all night

I was up all night last night due to noise and upset that HUD is coming. I cleaned for about 6 hours to prepare. We only got about 36 hours notice. Why am I so upset about the "inspection"?

A. What exactly are they looking for? Subversive literature, drugs, bathtub rings? One resident got written up for having a bathtub ring!   Will they go through my drawers?

B. Who says THEYwon't steal from ME?

C. The maintenance men who have to let them in might steal from me again.

D. A scammer may knock on the door claiming they are HUD and do goodness knows what.

E. Will maintenance contaminate my food? (They've stolen my medication, so whose to say how far they'll go)


HUD came and stayed 15 SECONDS! What kind of an inspection is that? My apt. isn't up to code, but they didn't even notice.

"But urban residents don't need a car!"

Oh no?  I can prove that Baltimore city residents need a car.  Here is my albeit unscientific proof! I went through the Baltimore City Paper's employment section. There were 113 help wanted ads. I qualified  for 17 of the jobs. Out of those 17 jobs, 13 require a car.  Out of the 4 that don't REQUIRE a car, I'd have to allot 4 hours of each day for commuting.

Have I made my point?!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Home Security

My belongings are still dissapearing, I've lost about 100 dollars worth of stuff in the last month. I've been pricing security systems and I can't find anything under 350 dollars because I don't already own a vcr or dvd. And I'll bet the fact that my t.v. is 30 years old will also mean more purchases.

The manager down in GA claims that if I can catch these maintenance men stealing from me on video that she will fire them instantly.

I also called around for renter's insurance. There's no point. There's a 500 dollar deductible and they won't due a full on investigation unless I've lost more than 500 dollars worth of stuff. The one agent said that because my apt. complex has no deadbolts she probably won't be able to write me up a policy at all! And we're not allowed to install deadbolts! If we do, management will just take it out!

I'm looking to move but even that is going to take quite a long time since I can't afford fair market rent. I've toyed for 12 years on moving to one of the egalitarian communities, but I just don't think I'm fit enough to handle all of the manual labor involved. In an egalitarian community you work 45 hours a week and get free room and board. All monies are shared. I'd like to get ahead and you aren't allowed to save there. On the flip side, there are many aspects of the life that are appealing.

Global Warming is very real to me

I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" 3 times and also, ironically, saw Al Gore on the Oprah show yesterday, because I was at home due to the heat!

The last 15 years are the hottest 15 years on record for the world, with s.dakota at 122 degrees! Today, and yesterday I had a hard time breathing. The reason I'm here at the Towson public library as opposed to the Goucher library is because I don't have a car, and the walk to the goucher library is nearly impossible on this 100 degree day.

Yesterday, on the O. show, they showed an Alaskan village where the residents have had to be relocated due to global warming. Their entire village is falling into the sea. Also, Gore showed on the maps how millions of people all over the world, their land will get swallowed up by the sea. San. Fran, Manhattan, and Florida are some of the examples.

I'd really like to live in CA but we can't choose a place anymore based on climate because we don't know what's going to happen. The extreme number of wildfires is also because of global warming.

Luckily, Gore showed 5 things each American can do to make a huge difference. I'm betting it's listed at

The final episode of "Age of Love" NBC

It ran for 6 weeks on a monday night and i didn't miss an episode. As a reminder it was a reality dating show and i became completely emotionally invested in it! Mark Phillapousis (who has totally won my heart) is the 30 year old professional tennis playing bachelor from Melbourne Australia. He was supposed to find his Mrs. right from 2 groups of women. One group in their 20's and one group in their 40's.

He was supposed to bring Meghan (21), Jen (48) and Amanda (25) from the u.s. to his home in Melbourne, as he had eliminated all of the other 10 women. At the last minute Megan freaked out , because of her fear of flying, and couldn't go to Melbourne. That was very hard on both Mark and Megan. It broke Mark's heart that Megan wasn't able to overcome her fear. But I know from experience that once your panic attack sets in, nobody is going to talk you out of your fears.

I had a major panic attack when my ex and I were driving through the Colorado mountains in the early 90's. hive's you name it. there was nothing he could do to allay my fear of heights!

Anyhow, one of the things that was really sad about the last episode of Age of Love was that Mark reallly wanted to continue dating both Amanda and Jen, but the constraints of the show forced him to choose. I was shocked that he chose Amanda as Jen was so much more confident and secure and not as manipulative as Amanda.

Jen and I have something huge in common. We both left behind wonderful, wonderful men in Melbourne (as that is where my marriage broke up and I blame it on myself)

I am really going to miss Mark!

I tried to go on to the website to discuss the show but was unable to get in.


The last line of the last episode was Amanda saying: "Now, we'll live happily ever after" Apparently that is what so many think when they get married. Amanda is one lucky woman.

Monday, August 6, 2007

More thoughts on the movie "Hairspray" and why it's so personal to me!

I needed an excuse to be out of the house so I went to see it again. John Travolta sure does make one helluva woman! Phenomenal! And Nikki Blonsky, I saw her on Oprah. The producers of Hairspray showed up at the ice cream shop where she works to break the news to her that she won the spot. Amazing talented girl.

Edna and Wilbur reminded me of my birthmother and her husband. Marcene, my birthmother plays a very traditional role in their household and one day I remember her husband bragging to me that he had never changed a diaper in his life!

I forgot to touch on the issues of fatness that come up regularly in the film. That was also deeply moving to me as I've gained so much weight in the past few years, and I feel people staring and making fun of me most days. I was so happy when Tracy got her mom to come out of the house after 11 years, and thought about how similar Marcene's life is to Edna's. (Marcene is my birthmother, she is very heavy and wedded to her housework) And the thrill of Tracy upstaging Amber in that final "Teen Baltimore" scene, Edna shaking her bootie up there, and Inez winning Teen Baltimore! Hurray to the big girls! Yes, I want to lose my weight, but I feel that the most important thing for big girls to remember is to feel proud of who they are no matter what their dress size! Kudos to Hairspray's coverage of the big girl issues! (I did not see the original, but I'll have to)

May 62, that's the time period in which Hairspray takes place. Nikki is 17, and my birthmother was just 4 months away from conceiving me in may 62 and was 17 years old.

Tracy reminds me so much of me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I'm definitely the one that goes against the grain and I've been in many marches and protests. I was so deeply moved by the 2nd march in the movie that I wept all the way through it.....the march where Queen Latifah is singing: "I know where I've been" what a tearjerker. I'll bet I was one of the only people in the theatre who cried through it. It felt so personal given my life experiences with race relations which I touched on in an earlier email. I can't remember who I said it to, but i once uttered the same words that were uttered in the movie: (Tracy was referring to her ability to dance) "NOT BAD FOR A WHITE CHICK!" Tracy's best friend reminds me of me too when she starts inter-racial dating; I can remember roughly around 96, I had a couple of dates with a black man and when we went to the grocery store in working class white Baltimore, I enjoyed being seen as a "rebel" just by being seen shopping with a black man in that neighborhood!

I miss dancing like that. Like Tracy did when she sneaked into the all negro classroom to learn a few moves! When I was in elementary school, Craig (my best friend at the time who I mentioned in an earlier email) had mixed race dancing parties at his house. We danced to Earth Wind and Fire, the Jackson 5, James Brown and whatever else was popular back then................

If there were non smoking disco/soul/funk dance clubs near my home, I'd probably go every week. Thank goodness for the no smoking ordinances that will soon be going into effect!

Hairspray is more than just a musical, it feels groundbreaking in the messages that it sends.

Just another statistic

I'm not going to worry too much about whether or not I'm being redundant. I'm just going to go with whatever is on my mind when I come to the library. I've just had my 3rd accident in 5 weeks. It's scary to think how close all humans are to just becoming another statistic. Whether it be a person who was shot, hit by a car, killed in a car accident, we're just all so close.

I have numerous close calls daily as a pedestrian since there are no ped. rights in Baltimore. I read in the July issue of Urbanite magazine that a pedestrian is struck every 4 hours in Baltimore. And there are so many incidents each day where I come near getting hit.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to cross York Road (there was no crosswalk anywhere near where I had to cross) and I tripped at the curb and fell into York Road. So the top half of my body was in York Road and the bottom half of my body was on the sidewalk. Luckily I was able to push my body most of the way onto the sidewalk but not completely as I couldn't stand right away. About 5 people saw me but no one asked me if I needed help. I sat on the sidewalk in alot of pain for about 15 minutes and knew that I hadn't broken anything. Eventually I was able to stand up.

Luckily there were no cars near my to turn me into roadkill when I was in the street, but it was a close call. My knees are bruised and skinned up my hands are in pretty good shape. A woman in my building was hit by a car right where I fell, and she was sent to the hospital. It was a serious accident.

Also in the July issue of Urbanite magazine was an article on a plan to create numerous bike trails in Balto. within the next 5 years. It's going to be part of something called East Coast Greenway that will give hikers and bikers a "safe" way of getting from Maine to the Florida Keys. The reason I put "safe" in quotes is because as I've alluded to before, if you are on a bike or walking you have a very high chance of being mugged in Baltimore. The paths are a wonderful thing but won't change the fact that Baltimoreans absolutely need a car if they want to find and keep decent employment and to reduce their chances of becoming just another statistic!

If I could cast a spell

If I could cast a spell, I'd shut down every private vehicle in America for 2 weeks. I'd love for every American to experience life without a car. A forced exercise in empathy.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Violent section 8 housing

The latest with me is this. About 100 dollars worth of stuff and belongings has gone missing in the last 2 weeks from my apt. And Im not permitted to have a lock where maintenance doesn't have a key! ;(

Yup, it's the maintenance men.

Was advised which security camera to buy. Got it home, clerk told me the wrong thing, it doesn't tape record. Obviously I have to move, and obviously I need some belongings with me inside my current apt. They will steal anything, I feel so powerless. Guess, I'll have to try to find another security camera, but don't really hav the strength to keep living like this.

It's draining, terrifying to live somewhere where every time you leave the house you know something else might go missing.

Putting lots of time into finding another home. Could take years to move to another section 8 apt, with the wait lists and all, so in the meantime I am exploring intentional communities in the surrounding states. Hope to visit one this weekend. (

Had blood rechecked today for Lyme disease. Eager for the results. Not sure whether my primary care physician is equipped to handle my symptoms but I'll ask him. 24/7 pins and needles in my feet, legs, arms and hands thats been worsening. Limbs always falling asleep. Many other scary symptoms. Will keep you posted.

Where is the joy?

Well, there is one piece of good news. My first piece has been accepted for publish in the Urbanite magazine.

The piece is called "all in a day's work" and will appear in the october issue of the urbanite. It's the only good news that I have for now.