Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Check out the WISH LIST section of my website

It's a strange aspect of the blogsite, in that, you can't really make a list per se. You have to put a website there. So, for lack of anything else to put, I put www.honda.com.

However, it doesn't say that anymore, I added my other website to that spot. Please check it out.

"YOU MUST SEE THIS ISSUE!/URBANITE MAGAZINE 5/08 (DEVOTED TO THE SUBJECTS OF CRIME AND VIOLENCE"

tHE WEB LINK IS

www.urbanitebaltimore.org

So, I've just picked up the May issue of the urbanite. It was May 5, my last day with the rental car. On the days I have a rental car, as you know I do all of the things the rest of you likely take for granted. Going to the grocery store, the doctor, the park if it's a pretty day and get a hike in.

You know I"m consumed with worries about crime and violence 24/7, and I'm excited that this is important enough to the staff at "Urbanite" to devote an entire issue to it.

I go to whole foods. The manager says she's been worrying about me (it never ceases to amaze me who thinks of me and cares about me even though they don't call me or hang out with me) because she hasn't seen me hanging out at the bookstore where I used to hang when I had a car. She hugs me and asks me what's new. I explained that she hasn't seen me at the bookstore because I really can't get there easily enough without a car. I explain that I try to stay off of the buses as much as possible. She says, "horrible, aren't they; so dangerous" I immediately think of Sarah Kreager who was almost beaten to death by 9 teens on the bus. They began beating her up on the bus, then dragged her off of the bus and nearly killed her but a Hampden resident called the cops and that's what saved her life. Sara has been heavy on my mind since this beating happened in the beginning of December, and it's a bus that I've had scary experiences on too.

(the bus that runs along falls road, i think it's the 27)

H. and I agree (the manager) that we would never raise children in such a sick place as Baltimore.

Sara has become locally famous. I drive to my dr's appt. and OH MY GOD, IS THAT HER? I see her walking thru Hampden with a man friend. I drive around the block so that I can pull my car over and introduce myself to her. I do just that. I pull over, as her if she is Sara, tell her who I am, and about my experiences and that we are all thinking of her and wishing the best for her. She took my hand and squeezed it affectionately and thanked me.

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Approximately 5/7/08

I'm sitting in front of the pizza shop in my neighborhood and it's a perfect Spring day. V's pizza only has 2 outdoor tables. 2 of my neighbor acquaintances from my bldg. go in and order some food. They are both in a wheelchair. R. is African American and about 50. S. is white and 43. S. was beaten up as a 9 year old by some school kids and left with brain damage. I don't know what the scoop is with R. But when they came out of the restaurant they asked if they could sit with me. This is a first. I don't have friends in my bldg., just acquaintances, and with the horrible conditions at my bldg. I'm friendly, but guarded. Especially with the men. (guarded that is)

So, it was nice to talk with the 2 of them away from my bldg. where I feel like I am living in a fish bowl and have no privacy. I told them that I am sitting here reading the crime and violence issue, and encouraged them to pick one up. We talk about the burglaries at our bldg. and R. Says that if she catches them she's going to kill them. I told her I understand her anger so well. S. says he doesn't want to move because of the friendships he has in the bldg.

Neither S. nor R. have ever given off an angry vibe and I do feel safe with both of them. After we talk for 1/2 hour or so, another neighbor comes by, he is in a wheelchair too. His name is J. He's about 53, I think he said, and African American. Anyway he has lost the use of both legs and one arm, in 96. I talk with him about the burglaries too. He said he knows they come in his apt because they move his belongings around. (this is a fact, I found my deodorant in my bathtub, and 1/2 stick chewing gum on my dresser for example, and I always chew an entire stick of gum) J. says he has a gun for protection. He seems very nice, and I feel safe with him too.

I particularly enjoy the one on one dynamic especially with the right people. R. and S. left so I asked J. how he ended up in a wheelchair. He was living in the Edmondson area of Baltimore near route 40. He was a trucker. Every night, he'd go out for a late night bicycle ride in his neighborhood. He woke up in shock trauma in traction one night in 96. The staff told him he'd never walk again. He said it was the most devastating news of his life. "You got hit by a car?" I asked. "No, a boy beat me to paralysis because he wanted to steal my bicycle." He felt especially devastated by losing work. He said (and I've found this to be true for most African Americans) that Jesus and christianity are what keep him going.

He really wants to have a friendship with me, but I'm extremely reticent about giving out my phone #, given all that I"m going thru at that bldg. I'll try to take the time to talk to him when I see him on the street, and I did invite him up for raisin bran today, (he declined) (I don't think I've ever let anyone from the bldg. in my place in 3 years) so for me that's a pretty big deal.

Needless to say, he can't wait to get his hands on the May issue of Urbanite magazine.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My friend Ron

Please check out my friend Ron's website:

www.awareandoutraged.com

part 3/events of may 20

I consider going to Bagelo but worry about getting robbed. I wonder which of these contractos is indirectly responsible for robbing V. I tell the contr. who has just entered my home about the hx. of robberies of my apt. and that I can't decide whether to leave or not. (the noise of drills and hammers is unbearable) He replies-"If I were you, I wouldn't leave. Not with all of these strangers coming and going."

I turn down the classic rock. He smiles and says: "You can leave that on!"

Contractors are walking past my door, and really digging the tunes. Some are dancing, some are singing, some just smile.

On 100.7 "The Bay" they are featuring music of the year 1974. They do a snippet of dialogue from the old t.v. show "Good Times" which I can really relate to.

j.j.'s sister-"WHAT CHU GONNA DO TODAY , J.J.?"

j.J.-"WELL, IT'S A TOSS US BETWEEN TURNING ON THE T.V. AND WATCHING THE FIGHTS, OR OPENING UP THE WINDOW TO LISTEN TO THE FIGHTS!"

;)

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My Korean neighbor sees my door opened and just wanders in. I can't understand his English But I can surmise what's going on. He asks if the rehab is today, but he just says: "today?"- because he only knows a couple of words of the English language. So, I show him , in a sort of sign language, what will be done today. He says: "Trouble, big trouble." and then starts talking to me in complete; but completely unintelligible English. I think he is trying to tell me his wife is sick; but I don't know for sure.

After he leaves I put on my protective earmuffs because the noise hurts my ears and I don't want to acquire any more hearing loss.

They prop the apt. door wide open, so it's really dangerous for me to leave the apt. for very long.

3:00-I turn on Ellen Degeneres and think: the bedroom closet doors look pretty. 3 minutes later a man knocks on my bedroom door. I yell for him to come in thinking that they were all done in my bedroom. He doesn't say excuse me or anything. He plugs a shop vac. into the same outlet as my t.v. is plugged into and turns it on to so called "clean" the carpet near the closet. The vacuum cleaner must be broken. A thick cloud if dirt, dust and pieces of paint fly thru the room and into my eyes. You can imagine how upset I am. AFter about 4 minutes I say:

E-"Please TURN THAT OFF! I DON'T WANT YOU TO DO ANYMORE!

cONTRACTOR-I CAN'T TURN IT OFF, I HAVE TO DO THIS

e-TURN IT OFF! IT'S BROKEN AND IT'S BLOWING STUFF ALL OVER MY ROOM!

It's 5:30 and a contractor finally comes to give me a sink and turn the water back on. I ask him if I can load the sink with dirty dishes yet. He says: No, because I haven't tested the water yet."

I point out the sea of dead roaches surrounding the water heater that were there when i moved in. I told him that his staff promised to clean that up before putting in the kitchen cupboards. He said: "I can't clean it up, because staff have all gone home without me and they have the vac. cleaner.

3 minutes later, he says: "I see what the problem is, one of your pipes has burst!"

E-"So, you'll be here for a while?"

C-"Yes, but I have to get more tools. (The roaches are now swimming in a pool, and he can't leave my kitchen like that)

6:30- Maam. I sorry that your floor is wet, I had to get up the bugs with rags since I have no shop vac.

E-THANK YOU. i REPLY

(I'm in day 3 of this ridiculousness, still not being told in advance when they are coming and what they are doing. Obviously, I had to get out of the house today. I listed to almost 4 hours of drilling today but had to get out. More La Pew postings coming soon)

posting 2/ THE EVENTS OF MAY 20/"conditions getting worse and worse at la pew"

THE EVENTS OF MAY 20

8:45 A.M. - BANG, BANG, BANG. (Someone is banging at my door. Typically maintenance will just keep banging until you get to the door) By the time I get to the door nobody is there. I've only been awake for a minute or so. I still have the chain on. I yell down the hall. "WERE YOU KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?! no response. "WERE YOU KNOCKING AT MY DOOR?!" I yell again. My neighbor yelled: "YES, eLANA, THEY WERE KNOCKING AT YOUR DOOR!"

Two contractors aproach my door. "We're here to work!"

E-"What are you going to be doing? We weren't notified or given a day!"

group 1 of contractors-"YOU WEREN'T?! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED!"

e-"wELL, THEY ARE FRICKIN MORONS, AND THEY DON'T TELL US ANYTHING"

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE DOING TODAY?

GROUP 1-"REPLACE CUPBOARDS, COUNTERS, VANITY, TURN OFF WATER"

e-oH BOY. WELL THEN I NEED 1/2 HOUR TO GET A BATH AND GET EVERYTHING OUT OF THE SINK.

GROUP 1-ALRIGHT. HE HEADS FOR MY BEDROOM!

e-WHOA!WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!"

The contractor laughs a little bit embarassed. "I'm sorry maam. I was just going to go see if anything is blocking your bedroom closet door. Is it?

E-"Yes, but I'll move it."

CONTRACTOR 1-O.K. JUST COME AND GET US WHEN YOU ARE READY"

I take my shower, get the dishes out of the sink and get my clothes on. BANG BANG BANG. SHIT. THERE GOES MY DOOR AGAIN.

I RUN TO THE DOOR.

GROUP 2 CONTRACTORS (THERE ARE 2 OF THEM)-"YOU READY, WE HERE TO DO YO FLOS"

E-"THE WHITE GUYS JUST TOLD ME TO COME AND GET THEM WHEN I'M READY!"

aBOUT 9:15: GROUP 2-"YOU NOT READY?!" (THE ONE IS VISIBLY FRUSTRATED)

e-"Well, management didn't tell me in advance which is really disrespectful, I only need like 5 more minutes"

group 2-(He begins to soften) "Sho is disrespectful. O.k. we can give you the 5 more minutes"

E-"Thank you"

Project Supervisor comes to my door. "EVERYTHING O.K.? He asks, concerned. I ROLL MY EYES, BUT SMILE, BECAUSE I KNOW IT'S NOT HIS FAULT. i TELL HIM THAT MANAGEMENT DIDN'T INFORM US OF A DAY. "YOU WERE STANDING RIGHT THERE AT THE MEETING NEXT TO THE MANAGER WHEN I ASKED HER WHAT DAY. AND SHE REPLIED "SHE DIDN'T KNOW"

SUPE-Looks down at his notebook. "Here it is right here. apt. 123 May 20. I gave G. the notice and she was supposed to notify you."

E-(Hmmm, I'm thinking, this notice might have been stolen too) "Oh well, that's the way they do business around here"

SUPE-"i'M SORRY"

It's about 9:40 a.m. Nobody has come back. I hear the black contractors yell to the white contractors: "She not ready!"

group 1-"BUT SHE SAID THAT SHE WAS!"

e-I'M READY! I YELLED DOWN THE HALL, CERTAIN THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT ME.

GROUP 1-JUST A MISCOMMUNICATION" he told me.

E-"I'm USED TO IT"



5 minutes passes and I tell group one that I'm ready.

"Conditions getting worse and worse at La Pew Apts"

I save the notices that management puts under our door, and I intended to bring them with me to the library today, but I can barely think with what's going on there. So, I will go by memory with the notices and bring you up to date.

Paraphrase of Management Notices received under door ( and my comments included as "a.n." which means author's note)

Approx. April 1 we received the following notice

-"Sometime between April 3 and April 5, someone will come by to measure your cupboards. Don't call the office to find out the day or time, we don't know" (author's note-nobody ever did show up to measure the cabinets)

-Note given on Approx. April 4 (they don't date their notes, and some of my notices get stolen before I ever see them)

"Come to office, to sign a new form needed" (a.n.-It's a full time job trying to survive these conditions. Sometimes they give us notes every day for weeks, forcing us to keep them in our consciences all of the time)

-Approx. April 25

"Rehabbing of all apartments will begin around April 28. Do not call the office to inquire about dates or times, we don't know" (author's note-So, looks like we have to be on guard from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. monday thru friday for months? No privacy. What kind of rehabbing are they going to be doing? Will they just walk in on me? Well, I can't leave for a job or other personal reasons because there is more of a likelilhood I'll be robbed. This means maint. (the thieves) are going to be letting in the contractors. What's this going to mean, noise wise? The noise is already unbearable, both in and outside of the bldg)

Since April 28th ish (for almost 4 weeks) There has been a cacophony of drilling and hammering and yelling from early morning until up to 6 p.m. Unbearable. They've been in the apt. above me for weeks now.

Note given under door around May 15th:

Come to the community room at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. to find out more about the rehab. (author's note-yeah right, they wait weeks to tell us what's going on. I'll bet it won't be very informative, but I'll go anyway)

So, I go to the meeting and arrive at 4:07 p.m. Many things have already been discussed it turns out. 90% of the attendees are talking over the manager, so I can barely hear a thing. Anyhow, one woman raised her hand to ask a question and the manager, G. replied: "I'm not telling you, because you arrived 5 minutes late for this meeting"

I raised my hands and asked 2 questions:

"When I moved in I found a sea of dead roaches and mice droppings under the kitchen sink and in the wood seams. Will this be thoroughly cleaned before the new cupboards are put in?"

"Yes, replied the contractor, we always clean that before putting in the new cupboards"

(author's note-No you don't, I thought, because P., a fellow resident, showed me the finished product of his cupboards. I looked under his sink, and the mouse droppings and dead bugs were still there)

Then I asked: "So, what days will you be in my apt.?"

G-"I don't know" (she replied at the verbal speed of an auctioneer) Maybe end of next week"

Authors Note

(This is so damn disrespectful. And this is the way La Pew has done business for the entirety of the 3 years, suggesting that poor people don't deserve privacy or respect)

THE EVENTS OF MAY 20

Thursday, May 15, 2008

15 yrs. after college graduation/Emergency Assistance Centers

I had the news on, and I was on my way out of the bedroom into the other room. But when I heard the newscaster say this, I ran back into the bedroom. "Imagine having a college degree, a job and going hungry. We have the statistics on middle class hunger"

Some states have seens a 73% increase in usage of emergency food banks in the last year due to hunger. And it's the middle class that we're seeing.

(Now my comments)

Because I did something extra for myself this month (go to New Jersey) I will pay the price on every level. Today I can either walk the 14 blocks to the city food pantry, then walk back with heavy bags, or I can take the bus to the Towson food pantry (and utility energy assistance) or I can live solely off of rice, eggs and bread! (can be done, but boring!) I used to worry that I'd starve to death when I missed lots of meals, but now I think I heard that you only need 200 calories a day to survive. Certainly there are millions of people around the world who are living off of very few calories.

Well, I feel particularly unsafe doing the walk to the city food pantry 14 blocks below my house, so I opt to take the bus to Towson. And I fare very well. I continue to practice gratefulness for the things that do work. Today, C. was at register at Bagelo, so gave me my coffee for free. The bus driver must have been behind schedule so he rushed us on and told us not to pay our fare. So far I've "saved" $2.10. There is a wonderfully friendly (very very unusual) man sitting next to me in the shelter, from Honduras, so I get to practice my Spanish.

I get to the Emergency Assistance Center and they give me 20 in food Credit for Giant, a 125 dollar voucher for my utilities and about 30 dollars worth of food.

Today is partly cloudy and about 70 degrees. I find someone to hitchike to the University with after only 5 minutes of asking people.

(I've had most of my traumatic bus experiences on the southbound bus)


So, for this moment, I have to say, a lot of luck came my way today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The finale of "The Bachelor-London calling"

MMM. Ellen Degeneres was right. She predicted that Matt would pick Shayne. I really didn't think he would. In the beginning of the series I really didn't care for Shayne very much. She blew up or had some kind of meltdown in the beginning of the series, I can't really remember the details.

Poor Chelsea. What a romantic show. But, I sure don't envy these girls. I'm sure they realize before they sign on that they'll be sharing Matt, and statistically they are unlikely to get chosen. I like Chelsea. That was a neat risk that Shayne took, when she took a photo of herself on the beach, wrote I love you in the sand, photographed it, framed it and gave it to Matt.

Boy, I was thinking about how hard it would be to have to go to meet the parents. I'm sure I'd be a nervous wreck. But Matt's mom was very kind.

Were you surprised that Matt picked Shayne? Do you think they will live happily ever-after?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"The Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak"

I cannot tell a lie. I am physically, psychologically and emotionally exhausted. Remember the lyric "sleep is the only refuge that she gets" (smile, cuz she's a lady) anyhow, I often wonder if I have to die to get the rest and recovery that i need, as I have never lived in a place quiet enough to sleep since the early 70's. Between the urban noise outside and inside my building, the crime, the poverty, I desperately need to recover in a quiet place, but I don't know of any quiet places to recover for the poor.

I did a lot of research (internet) to see if such places exist, but they don't seem to. There are ashrams, but I'm not interested in the religious component. (those kinds of places where they want you up at 5 am, kind of defeats the purpose) Again, no wonder so many poor people escape their lives thru drugs and alcohol.

Now, elavil helps me to catch up on my sleep occasionally, but I had a severe reaction to it the other day so I can't rely on it anymore.

Anyhow, I also overcame a huge fear a few days ago. The fear of long distance highway driving alone. But I made it in one piece. Only stayed 1 day, 2 nights. Hotel was 5x noisier than home, sat right on a highway, so i didnt sleep even 5 minutes. Went to Northern New Jersey, will explain in a future blog.

I'm composing that piece by hand before posting it here at my blogsite. So, keep your eyes open. I'm at the library now because I had to get away from the construction noises coming from the apt. above me. A daily occurence. Called cops, but they never do anything.

By the way, the very first editorial I ever wrote was on how noise pollution severely impacts my life. It came out in the Baltimore City Paper in 2001.