Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Car accident caused by road rage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thank You for everything sir"

No reply........

Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

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

"The war zone"

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

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

Should I wear my ring and risk getting mugged?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Are you lesbian!"

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

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

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

"Hi Elana! Are you a lesbian?"

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author's Note

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

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

"Towson University"


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  It is so draining to leave the house in Baltimore.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

"My past"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 4, 2007

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

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

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


Dear Adam,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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