Wednesday, December 30, 2009

hear me sing, see me sing

Here is the proper link for the video. You can clearly hear my voice blending with the other carollers as the audio clip for the amazing Christmas lights at the senior center in Hampstead. Then the video goes to a live shot of all of the carollers. The camera starts on me and then spreads to the rest of the choir at the restaurant.

click on the link for "North Carroll Christmas"

Monday, December 28, 2009

"the holidays"

I was told to show up at the old elementary school for Christmas Caroling. I was told that the mayor and Santa would be there, but neither showed. I'll tell you who did show. A drunk organizer. It was below 30 degrees and I was a bit concerned about frostbite. I suggested to the organizer that we move, not stand still because of the dangerous cold. He said we can't we have to wait for the others. Although I was 10 minutes early there was no opportunity for socializing because 2 journalists showed up at the same time as I and began to immediately interview the 5 people (not me) who were with me.

I was pleased that my singing voice did decide to work. I tried to walk around to see the beautiful lights (which you'll see on the t.v. spot I just learned of today) but I couldn't cuz of the ice.

After about 3 songs (I asked who our audience is) and D. said "we are our own audience) we were asked to go the the restaurant.

We were asked to get up on the stage but that didn't make much sense to me because there was a sports game being televised on a screen behind us! When the waitress asked no one in particular if she should turn off the game I said "Absolutely yes"

Yet, we were up there more than 5 minutes before they turned the game off. I had to shield my eyes from the video camera. D. would typically start the singing before waiting for people to find their page.

He said we can go order anything we want drink wise. I began to order a drink, drink and then realized that he is likely wrong about it being free. So I asked and they said, no only beer or wine are free not mixed drinks. So I got a coffee.

Another waitress said that actually you can get anything that you want. I told her I was thinking of getting a white russian (i wasn't sure if it was a good idea) she brought me a white russian and about 1/4 of the way thru we were told to go to another venue in Manchester.

I rode with a woman and her mother. We got there and the pastor told us that we can't sing there because they are busy with choir practice. I was very angry. Talk about poor organization. D. decided we'd go to another nursing home but he didn't give us an address. The driver swore she'd find it. Mind you it's 28 degrees and she's driving all around but didn't have the sense to follow anybody! So we missed out on singing at the nursing home. D. told us we are to come back to this church later. Since we were lost and I feared the worst I asked if we could go back to the original church.

We went inside and I sat on a stoop in the unheated hall of the church. this is too cold. I felt there was no choice but to go into where they were practicing for Christmas. I'm so mad I have nothing to say. The driver and her mother come in and sit down and the driver pulls out her cell. D. tells her "Oh, no. We aren't going to be singing at that church. Drive back to the restaurant"

The restaurant told us we can have free dinner but I was so angry by the time we got back to the restaurant that I didn't even join them for the rest of the singing-I just stormed out and went home.

Nonetheless, I can clearly hear my own voice on this video that was on television and is on the internet.

here's the link.


click on

"North Carroll Christmas"

You can pick out my voice as being fairly high with a lot of vibrato.

(Next week I'm going to be evaluated for "Dysphonia" at an ent specialist)

The Illusion a camera creates/thanksgiving

The other day I was going through old newspapers ready to put them in recycling and low and behold I made the Carroll County Times.

A church in Hampstead had a Thanksgiving dinner that was called Faith Feast. There were only about 20 or so attendees if that many. There had to be 50 or so empty place settings! The cameraperson who photographed the 3 people at my table was able to "hide" the fact that it was actually a huge table with only 3 of us sitting there. Anyhow, I'm not sure how you can find the photo on the internet but if you're savvy I'll bet you can. It showed up on 12/11/09 and the meal was entitled Faith Feast.

The Illusion a camera creates!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Merry Frickin' Christmas"

My landline was disconnected this morning.

"Interview at the Daycare Center"

I dropped off my application in June.  I called every 2 weeks to follow up on it. Got my interview last week for teacher's aide.

I arrived about 1/2 hour early. You can see the classrooms when you're sitting in the park lot. because the blinds are open.    I've seen a few things over the months that concern me; but like i've said in prior blogs; the only schools that really impress me are the Waldorf and the Young School.

So, I'm sitting in the car and the teacher is letting a 1 year old play inside a full  toy box.    The child is keeping her balance by hanging onto the glass window. She goes to pull the venetian blinds down because her height is increased by being in the toy box.

Instead of the teacher removing her from the toy box, the teacher raises the blinds higher.

I go inside. There is no one in the office so i am "trapped" in the foyer or about 10 minutes. I can't get in the school because there is a security keypad.    I reason that eventually someone will notice me. The other interviewee comes in and we are both essentially trapped in the foyer.

Eventually we are asked to go sit in the office. I wonder which seats we are supposed to wait in? The asst. director says: "Let me call the director on her cell to see how "close" she is to the school!"

"How close" she is to the school I wonder? Shouldn't she be HERE?

asst. says, "She just passed Sheetz"

What is Sheetz I wonder?

The other interviewee isn't paying her much attention and is filling out an appl.

An asst. begins searching for my application.  (Shouldn't that have been found before my interview time?)    She is distracted and gabbing with 2 other employees at the same time. My anxiety is increasing. Doesn't look like she'll find it. She asked me my name again, then said: "I'm sure the interviewer will know where you're application is!"

Director comes in and starts looking for my application.    No luck. Yells across office about what my name is? The asst. is so loud I wonder how the director can even hear me. No appl. She said she'll just wing the interview without my application in hand?!

The other interviewee and I are shuffled back to an unheated room. Director provides the other girl with a thorough interview based on her APPLICATION! Then cheats me with  a much shorter interview. Director makes more eye contact with the other girl. Says there is no one on teaching staff over 29....................(I'm 46)

I look over at the director's notes. I note the proper first and last name for the other girl on one paper, and SMITH on the other paper. I asked who SMITH is?

She said: "That's you!"

NO I  said incredulously I'M SNYDER!

"Well, I thought you said Smith!" the employee said.

We are sent in for a 15 minute working interview. We each got to pick an age group. I pick 4 year olds. The moment I enter the room I am devastated by the stench of bleach. I'm reminded of how bleach triggers migraines. No windows are cracked and i think they should be.

Anyhow the kids are dancing which is perfect cuz I can just jump right into that. I felt happy instantly with the kids. But the teacher didn't enjoy the kids at all. She kept reprimanding them and even seperated them for talking. (They are only 4)

I thought it a shame that she doesn't enjoy her job. She was supposed to be observing me but she wasn't........................

I feel I was at a distinct disadvantage.

I called yesterday to see if I got the job, and the director implied yes. She said she'd call back in 2 hours but didn't.

I called this morning and she said things have changed call back in 2 weeks.............

cest la vie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Memorial Service for the Homeless"

Baltimore County Coalition for the Homeless held a memorial last night in Towson. There was a service with different speakers with 2 of the speakers reading the names of each Baltimorean who died on the streets in 2009. Two of them were named "Unknown."

The most surprising part of the night was hearing a speaker who has a Masters from Johns Hopkins and is homeless and staying in the shelter in Baltimore County. He's been homeless for 16 months.

Then there was a vigil where we were given plastic votives and walked to the newly constructed memorial in Towson again for those who died homeless on the streets of Baltimore.

The other highlight of the evening was that a boy scout of 14 is the one who built the memorial. He did a little speech and said that he was required to build the memorial as a Boy Scout project. He didn't intially care about the issue of homelessness but as he learned more he became very interested in it.

I don't know exactly how to end this piece other then to say that, I told one of the attendees that most homelessness is hidden. People doubling up with family or friends because they can't afford rental costs.

They figured out that a minimum wage worker would need to work 145 hours a week to afford a 2 bedroom apt. in Baltimore county!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"What a Life"

You'd be blown away at the # of things that go wrong. But this particular story's final question is, yet again, "Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty"

On Thursday, I had decided to attend a live taping of an NPR show on the subject of homelessness. I worry about everything there is to worry about. Again I visualize and wonder; is it better to break down in the burbs, the city, or the beltway. Not only did I forget my trac phone but it has no minutes on it anyway.

I'm nervous because I have to go down to Old Frederick Road and I usually DO get lost in that region. I have my directions printed out from Map Quest. They are wrong. So I drive around an extra 30 minutes and keep asking people out on the street. Finally there is a woman who knows not only where the church is but that Old Frederick Road is all chopped up. She tells me how to get there.

I arrive 1/2 hour early at 11:30 a.m. Every parking space says "reserved for so and so" I don't see any other lot. But I drive around figuring there must be another lot somewhere. There is a winding hill that leads down to a lower level. But there is only one car. That must be for the host of the radio show, I figure. I wait to see if anyone else will show up.

3 more show up, 2 are on the panel. We walk up to the church which is kind of like a castle. There are multiple staircases and multiple doors. I thank goodness I'm not in this mess alone. We try some 6 doors. We finally find one that opens. I say, this makes no sense, how could handicapped people access this with no ramps? I find an auditorium and say: "this must be it" I go in to the bathroom. When I come out the 3 people say, "we were just told by the custodian that this isn't even the right building. It's not in the church at all! It's in the mansion.

Another long walk.

Interesting event but I was hoping to get an opportunity to tell my own story on homelessness.  The best part of the radio show for me was the following moment. A woman walked up to the mic. (there were many homeless in the audience, and ex homeless) and she said this to the panelists:

"I have to be out of my place by January 13th. Which of you panelists is gonna let me come and live with you?!"

"I will" an African American woman on the panel said. "I am not kidding. You come and stay with me!"

I was really touched by it.

We had a hard time figuring out a way to walk to our cars on the way back as it was a very intimidating labyrinth, again with a lot of stairs.

I decided to look at one of my childhood homes. The one I lived in from 69 to 75  My old place. To see what it looks like. My parents lost that house in '75. (Wonder how diff. my life would be if I had inherited that house?)

Drove up Reisterstown Road and to the Giant. When I was in the Giant I saw this guy I had 2 dates with in February. He asked: "How's the car running?"

"It ran today" I replied.

He was in front of me in line, and I'm sure just pulled off as I was trying to start my car. There is a horrible noise. Something is horribly wrong. I went into giant and used the service phone to call for roadside. I'm freakin' out. I realize that the trip is 14 miles, and my break down coverage only allows for a breakdown to occur within 15 miles of your home!

An hour later the tow driver who looks at the car says that I popped a spark plug. Takes my car to the mechanic takes me home. I do not have the $ for car repairs.

Next morning I call the girl over at the welfare office and ask the voice mail if there is any money in the coffers for a car repair. She said, "I was just on my way out the door but I'll check" She found money for the repair, faxed a promissory note over to the mechanic and I got the car back at 5 p.m. the next day; just in enough time to get snowed in with 18 inches of snow.

Again, I ask myself; "Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Hey, that's my favorite song!"

Here's what I checked out on you tube today

Brandy by Looking Glass
I Just Want to Stop by Gino Vanelli
Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe
Reminiscing by the Little River Band
Alone again Naturally by Gilbert O'Sullivan
Ain't no Sunshine by Bill Withers
Use Me also by Bill Withers
Biggest Part of Me by Ambrosia
Baby come Back by Player
"At Seventeen" by Janis Ian
Poetry Man by Phoebe Snow

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"The good news and the bad news"

The bad news is that I'm in my 5th day of a headache. In the 4th and 5th days my headache grew much worse and is accompanied with nausea and eye pain and visual disturbances. I can barely function. I don't know what's causing the headaches and I haven't found any meds that make a difference. I had to leave the house to buy some stuff and my library materials were due today.

The good news is that "Compu Kids" donated a computer to me. It's not set up yet because I don't have a desk. I'd love to have internet but I don't know if I'll be able to afford that right away. But at least I can work on my book from home.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Bumper Stickers"

Saw 2 great bumper stickers today.

"What would Scooby Doo?"


"Road Rage Princess!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Which is the worst torture?!"

I got my teeth cleaned today for the first time in 6 years. It was horrendous. Well first off the hygienist kept asking me the same question over and over again. I thought, how many languages do you need this answer in?

But what I mean by torture is, The office is playing non stop Christmas Carols.  But on top of that you've got that horrible machine that blows air in your mouth, and the cleaning machine that makes a high pitched squeal. It hurt my ears and I thought boy I should have brought earplugs.

I asked the hygienist a question about the anesthetic. She said "What do you mean anesthetic?"

  "Do you usually use it?  Well, the doc. told me last time you would use I anesthetic  since I"m so sensitive, and my gums are so diseased."

She went and got him and indeed he did say that. I figured he probably also did not communicate with her that they are only to clean 1/2 of my mouth today. I was thinking about the multi sensory torture and how I just wanted to get it over with. How about when they ask you questions while they have the tools in your mouth. I hardly ever could hear a word she said because she was drown out by Christmas Carols.

It was a very painful process but I'm so glad I got it over with. And I really don't know which of the multi sensory tortures were worse. She slipped and poked the needle into my lip and didn't even apologize!

But I am really grateful to finally have been able to take a step toward keeping these pretty teeth.  Carroll County Social Services is paying for this dental work today; a program that does not exist in Baltimore.

"Street Smarts for Women"

I was speaking with a woman today who grew up in Carroll County, briefly lived in Baltimore City and moved back to Carroll County. She said something that made me smile knowingly. She said one big lesson I learned about living in Baltimore is "Never Smile!"

I learned the same lesson years ago I told her, especially on a public bus. I asked her "How did you know that this is an unwritten rule in Baltimore?" She said, "If I smiled I got all sorts of unwanted attention from men" "One day, I smiled at a man in a grocery store, so he followed me out and kept following me. I had to avoid going home so I could lose him."

This inability to smile was one of the main reasons she decided to move back to Carroll County.

I told her that I lived 12 years in the city and I've developed such a tough outer core that I'm totally unprepared for all of the people who smile at me since I've lived here in Carroll County. I can't even prepare a smile in return fast enough for them to notice!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"My Life on the Streets" by Joe Homeless

I've been looking for about 7 years. I had heard that there were a couple of books out there memoir style about people who had experiences like mine, but they are few and far between.

Yesterday I was in the library (not in the memoir section) in the Social Issues section. I found a book entitled "My Life on the Streets" It was published in 1992. This guy who is afraid to use his real name, documents (like I've done for 16 years) everything that happens to him while on the street. He can't spell well or type and apparently has no journals or pens or notebooks. He finds a discarded tape recorder. 

He makes tape after tape from wherever he is spending the night. I think in the end he had 30 or 35 tapes that were 60 minutes long.

I read this book in one day. I've had so many experiences that are similar to Joe. For one thing, after you read this book you realize that most humans really are scum. He and I have mostly bad experiences with humans. Yet he never calls humans scum in his book even though that's how everybody treated him.

I just googled to see where he is today and I'm dissapointed to learn that he died in 1999 at the age of 56.

Have you heard of him? He fell homeless at the same age as I did, 30 years old and like me, never made a full recovery to a normal life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"I wish i could say"

that things are going well. But it would be a lie. The # of things that goes wrong for me is embarrassing and I can't put it on a blog. Which is why I don't write daily.   There is however,  a non profit who are hoping to donate a computer to me.

For as much as there is to like in Carroll County, this really was a "stopgap" move for me. It's hard to envision making a long term commitment. The real goal was to get out of La Pew, get out of danger and that I did, or so it appears.

Now, with my book. I've finished rough draft chapter 1 of my book. Two people have seen it and describe it as compelling and "can't wait to see what happens next." It is the part of my life that is totally right. My calling. I'm driven. I have someone doing a very light editing job for me 2x a month. Has a PHd in english. Professor of English at Hopkins.

I'm disappointed that the people in my complex aren't more friendly. There's only 1 other person besides me who is under 60 so that doesn't help me cause much!

Received 3 new diagnoses in the last 2 months. 2 I believe are correct the 3rd I don't think so. We know our bodies best and we should NEVER blindly accept what "The Great OZ" (the doctors) state without questioning it!

Made 2 very amateurish music videos. Lots of unwanted vocal changes in the last 8 months meant that the songs didn't sound very good. diane rehm has "dysphonia" i hope that's not what's going on with me. I do have some of the same symptoms that she had before her voice went wacko (host of the diane rehm show)

Surprised you are still reading me religiously. Last week had 7 readers a day which is pretty high given that I don't post daily.

Thank you for caring about what happens to me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"November's Harvest is Bountiful" part 2

whoops, that wasn't the whole list. here's the rest

-4 Dannon blueberry yogurts

-2 Amy's vegetarian pot pies

-1 Amy's black bean burrito

-1 Amy's enchilada black bean and veggie

-1 Amy's veggie loaf/ mashed potatoes and veggies (vegan)

Friday, November 13, 2009

"November's Harvest is Bountiful"

But it wasn't always that way for me. Because I am a starvation survivor. Yesterday however I had 80 dollars in which to spend at the Giant Food Store. Here's how I spent it.

Kashi brand frozen sweet and sour frozen chicken dinner

-Horizon brand organic milk 1/2 qallon

-imported gouda cheese (i can't remember the brand because i threw out the empty wrapper)

-Bolthouse Farms "Green Goodness" fruit smoothie 32 ounces

-2 cans Amy's brand organic vegetarian soups; lentil and split pea

-1 can natural sea brand white albacore tuna

-4 oz. Bumble Bee Albacore "steak" fillet (Lemon and cracked pepper)

Nature's Promise 16 oz. organic crunch peanut butter

-Streits egg and onion matzos 11oz.

-Bumble Bee Wild pink salmon 5 oz.

-Annie's brand cheesy ravioli 15 ounces

-Annie's brand shells and white cheddar macaroni and cheese 6 oz.

-Pepperidge Farms 15 grain whole grain bread

-Scott Naturals 6 pack toilet paper

-cooking mitt

_Giant Brand mayonnaise

-Amy's low vat vegetarian barley soup

-Pepperidge Farms dark chocolate Milano cookies

Authors Note. You see what kind of taste I have, and you know my background as a starvation survivor. I'm reminded of the people I used to hear on the MTA bus. They never said "I want a car" They always said: "I'm buyin' a Roll's Royce" "I'm savin' for a BMW!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"A 6 year wait"

I finally got to the dentist. There is a social service program at c.c. social services that paid for the exam and x-rays.

  It was a nightmare. I expected the x rays to be bad but not that bad. What I mean is they use some newfangled rings that are huge. she couldn't get them in my mouth. she said stuff like:

 "I don't know what to do" "I've done this work for 30 years yet i don't know what to do!"

She was like a bull in a china shop. She'd pull my hair, bang the x ray machine into my mouth by accident, I felt gagged by the plastic protective covers on the rings. When she said she didn't know what to do I said:

"Why don't you use the dental tools that are typically for the children? or  why don't u just ask the doctor how you should proceed?"

 She kept repeating the same procedure with no success.  .  I  told her that my pain is excruciating but she didn't seem concerned.

So the bottom line is that I thought she was horribly unprofessional. I considered switching to somebody else. She was unable to complete the x-rays.

  I said to the dentist: "She is implying that she has never seen a mouth as small as mine" Ridiculous.

When all is said and done I likely won't lose any teeth to gum disease. no cavities, teeth in good condition.

Need to get cleaning but can't unless the welfare office approves the costs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Road Rage on rural roads"

One of the things that really worried me about moving to Carroll County is having to drive predominantly on rural roads. These rural roads are all over Baltimore as well but now predominantly I have to drive on roads with no shoulder, one lane.

Pretty much every time I get behind my wheel I have to deal with road" terrorists"  The way people behave behind the wheel has largely formed my opinion of humans in general. You show your true colors when you rage, tailgate and blind people with your bright lights in the hopes of intimidating them into going faster. I typically do 35 to 38 in a 40 zone  but other drivers expect me to do a minimum of 65 in a 30 or 40 mile zone. (if I don't obey what they want then they terrorize)

One of the wackos was blinding me on Shawan road intentionally. It caused me to make a wrong turn. I turned onto Western Run road (but didn't know it) and got horribly lost. Western Run is desolate, one lane no shoulders and pitch black. I drove up and down up and down until I was forced to drive down a long country lane to a random house and ask for help. My trac phone has no minutes on it. It's not even 6:30 p.m. but it might as well be midnight for as scared as I am.

The hope is to have them draw me a map back to Falls Road. There is a truck in the driveway. The lights in the large, large house are on, and it appears this house has been converted into an apartment house.

I am  afraid of certain dogs but I have no choice but to employ my social work skills! because  I am approached by a large seemingly friendly dog but I'm still nervous.

I say: "Hi Baby Waybe, how's the goochy goochy goo, good little doggy that's a good boy!" The dog seems to like me. I attempt to walk up the stairs to the front door to knock on the door. The dog physically blocks me with his body which he presses against me. I fear that if I go closer to the house the dog might try to bite me and I'm not sure if he is angry about my trying to approach the house.

By the second step I decide it best to go back to the car. The dog tries to get into the car with me and largely succeeds! I take my cup of water and put it on the ground. This only distracts him for a second then he is 2/3 in my car again. I am forced to push the car door against his body to force him out of my car. I then sit in my car and honk the horn for a few minutes hoping someone will emerge. To no avail.

  I drive up and down Western Run again. I have no idea if I'm going North, South, East or West. I am pretty sure that the road meets Falls somewhere.

Will I have to just camp out in someone's driveway until the sun comes up?

I find another house. I drive down the long lane and approach the house. Lights on, car in driveway, no one answers the door.

I drive on Western Run seeking another house. These houses all sit way back. This one is a mansion. There is a heavy knocker. A man yells "Who is it?!"

"I'm horribly horribly lost please help me!"

He opens the door. I ask him if he'll draw me a map and tell him I have no cell phone. He (like so many men) swears I don't need a map because "it's easy"

He explains that I go left, right, then left on Falls Road. I'm terrified that he might be wrong or that I might not find it.

Eventually I get home and decide it is the perfect night for me to sample my Kahlua since the Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog isn't in yet. And I decide that I will never drive after dark without a loaded cell phone again.

Please think twice before you terrorize your neighbor on the roads.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Street Survival" 4/15/96

Remember when I used to italicize and put things in different colors? I don't know where those options have dissapeared to. ;(

Anyhow here is my Author's Note written today. I've been journaling since 1981. I never journal with an audience in mind. I write what is happening in my life and from the heart.  Original journal entries may not include every detail that happened that day but they will give you a very good idea of life in urban poverty. I hope to illustrate in this entry how much time, how much physical and psychological energy and how dangerous it is to have so few choices in life. It's hard work to survive and very time consuming. Is there any time left over to get ahead and better your life? You decide.

4/11/96 Written from "Bawlmer Cafe" near Johns Hopkins Hospital

I figured I better be conscientious and attend the mandatory workshop required of everyone on food stamps. I went out to the bus stop (I live in Hampden) at 7:40 a.m. The #27 bus arrived at 8:10 a.m. The driver isn't sure but she thinks I should transfer to the #5 to get to my destination. Then she goes on, you should probably transfer to the #62. "How often do those buses run?" "I have no idea" she replied.

I decide instead of waiting for the #62, that I better walk the last 12 blocks to the Career Center. (could a disabled person do all that is required to make this round trip?) I'm scared because my acquaintance Charles told me to stay out of East and West Baltimore.

I arrive at the center 45 minutes late. They don't want to let me in. I talk them into it. I'm one of 3 whites in the workshop. Lucy* the teacher walks us through: "How to fill out a job application!" Tragic! The women sitting near me are looking at my application because they don't know how to fill one out.

  One man turns to me and asks:" how do you spell "JANITOR?!"

Lucy speaks rapidly in Ebonics. Workshop attendees are fighting about urban issues such as child rearing practices. I don't agree with any of the harsh philosophies. When this "job application" segment is done, we hadn't even had an opportunity to fill out the entire application.

Next I was led to a computer room to work with a system called Alex. I never got to finish what I was doing with that either then I was led somewhere else. We were just shuffled from place to place and for what?

I leave the Career Center to head for the #22 bus. Theoretically it runs every 20 minutes. I'm freezing cold in unfamiliar territory. I decide to just go ahead and walk the 15 blocks that are required to get to the subway station at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I am in the "Hood of hoods."

I'm weaving back and forth from one side of the street to the other for the entire 15 blocks in the hopes of avoiding getting mugged or killed. At one point 3 men are walking behind me. I walk fast hoping to pass them, when one called out to me:

  "Hey sugar! How you doin?"

I don't know whether I should ignore him or answer him. One began chanting: "SWEET PUSSY, BEAT PUSSY, DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PUSSY!"

I am TERRIFIED!  I will NOT go back to this neighborhood again. I'll just have to take any kind of work at all so I won't need the food stamps. I pray that something comes through quickly.........................

"Hacked into my account"

Someone hacked into my facebook account which i rarely use; and sent folks a video in my name. I'm sorry about that, I have changed all passcodes hoping I won't get hacked again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Good Shabbos"

Friday evening I had one of the most meaningful and enjoyable evenings in a long, long time. I attended my first Shabbos. Shabbos is the day of rest for Jewish people. This family is Orthodox. The parents are 43, and the mother just absolutely glows. It's so obvious that she has chosen the right path for her life.

It seems that service is a big part of this family's life. I tried to remember the last time I had such an impressive multi dish meal and it was in 1996! The children are 10 boy, 7 girl, 5 boy and 3 boy. 

 I told mom I was going to spend some time with the children because "I don't get many opportunities to be around kids" So Abby  the 7 y.o.  said: "Don't you work in the preschool anymore?" "What do you do?!" She's the record youngest human to ask "What do you do?!"

Shoshana* had me help light the candles and showed me how to say the prayer. You wave your hands 3 x and then cover your eyes before you say the prayer. Before the meal started the dad put his hands on each child's head and said a prayer. Each child had a huge smile on their face during the prayer. The children are so so happy!

When I was growing up (I lived with my adoptive parents for 24 years) I don't recall more than 3 shared meals in those years! Sitting down communally sure is a lost art, and those kids are really benefitting from it!

The meal took about 2.5 hours if not more, as they took breaks to say singing prayers. Mom already has an idea of who the right boy is for their daughter! So I asked them about the matchmaking tradition as well as asking many other questions about the yarmulke, the long curls by the ears and many more questions.

("Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match find me a find catch me a catch)

The evening brought back the memory of my parents suddenly deciding to enroll me in Hebrew school without explaining why.  I had never even been in a synagogue. I recall that my Hebrew name was Rivka. I also remember visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and putting a written prayer in the wall in 8/87.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

"That was like "pulling teeth"

I've been waiting, and aggressively trying to get a dental appt. for almost 6 years. The compliment I hear most is about my smile. But I've been worried sick about my advanced periodontitis. I saw an ad in a newspaper offering free consults. When I called the office they said in essence, "oh, we didn't mean for that to apply to u" So, I asked to speak to the manager. When I complained about false advertising she said: "When can u come in?!"

I had my appt. today. I was thrilled and surprised at how well the receptionists treated me. I am also thrilled to report that the dentist spent 1/2 hour with me. He said that he really is not very worried and that I am not going to lose any teeth! I was terrified! I told him that "People say EVERYTHING  about themselves when they smile" He said, "That's a good point, I never really thought if it like that before"

Anyhow, a program of the welfare office is going to pay for my intial exam and x rays. This may sound so mundane to well to do people. But I went most of my life taking stellar care of my teeth, with regular appt. and braces.

I had been having a recurring nightmare for years that all of my teeth fall out. Hopefully I'll stop having that nightmare. Even though the social service office isn't promising they'll help with anything beyond the first appt, I am thrilled to have the "dental ball finally rolling!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"When WE Interview THEM"

You know what they say about interviewing. We should be interviewing them. I periodically go through the yellow pages and just cold call the daycare centers to see if they are hiring for teacher's aide. Even though I'm qualified as teacher I prefer to not have the hassle of making lesson plans so I apply for aide positions.

So, this one center gave me permission a few days ago to come in any time during business hours. The director looks really sloppy. She brings me into her cluttered tiny office which is in complete disarray. She says something to the effect of : "As you can see, I IS in the middle of a housecleaning project!"

I doubt she'll have a clipboard in which I can fill out the appl. so I tell her don't worry I'll just lean on my notebook. She surprises me and pulls a clipboard out of a file cupboard. She then asks me to sit in the lobby to fill it out because there would be more room. "Never mind that box blocking the sofa" she says.

As I'm sitting there filling the appl. out, one of the aides is on the phone with a parent. She says something to this effect:

"Little Jack are sick, there are all kinds of funky colors showing up in his diaper and his fever is high. YOu'll have to pick him up!" (very professional way of communicating!)

I begin thinking about swine flu, and the increased risk of illness, in general, that the staff faces.

I'm surprised that the applications asks:  "Make sure you include 3 personal, not employment references." I'm not prepared for this surprising request. When I go back to the director's office she conducts a 2 minute pre-interview of sorts. An aide comes in and just interrupts with her concern. The director looks at the aide briefly while the aide is talking , never addresses her concern, then looks back at me and keeps interviewing me as if the aide isn't even there. The aide is forced to stand in the door and wait for the "interview" to end so that she can finally get acknowledgement for her concern.

I get in the car and imagine the following scenario. I'm working in the center and I hear little Billy say the following: "I ain't never givin' my mother a present again"

I reply: "You aren't going to give you're mother any more presents?"

Billy-"Well, the director says "I ain't" all the time!"

I faced this challenge when nannying too. For example I didn't want my "kids" playing with guns. "Mommy says I can play with guns, why can't I when you are here?! my kids would ask me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"The Carroll County Difference"

I am sleeping through the night for the first time in 35 years. In the last 35 year period, I sleep anywhere from zero to 4 hours a night; and I've been known to be awake for weeks. (no, I'm not bipolar) But things like no heat in most of the places I lived, no airconditioning in apts that were averaging 120 degrees (city rowhouses) in the summer, noise pollution and the constant fear at La Pew that someone would kick the door down meant that I don't sleep.

But now I know in my heart that no one is going to kick that door down once I go to sleep. I can run into a 7-11 and leave my purse on the seat and nobody is going to smash my car window to get it. I can walk thru my apt. parking lot after dark without worrying about getting raped or robbed. I have a wonderful intelligent kind nurse practitioner who really listens to me. I have an auto mechanic who does occasional minor repairs for free because he knows I'm struggling. A small non profit is helping me with food and auto expenses. A program of the carroll county welfare office helps with occasional car repairs and such if they see you have a proactive personality.

Customers in grocery stores ALWAYS asks me if I'd like to go in front of them in line since I have so few items.

I can't say I'm happy in part because I don't make enough money to have a normal life, but I'm grateful every day for these small things that are making a world of difference for me.

"Careful what you reveal on a blog"

Yes, I do know this golden rule. I can assure you, I never ever post anything without giving alot of thought to who is reading this blog and the long term implications of heavy self revelation. I only share about 5% of my life on this website for that reason.

Fibromyalgia is absolutely devastating. I've had it for at least 22 years. The official diagnosis came in 97 but I knew something was very wrong in 87 and I diagnosed myself with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My throat is sore all of the time. I feel pins and needles in my extremities all of the time, my limbs fall asleep on a regular basis, and my joints hurt. What motivates me to get out of bed at all is-movement is very important and can distract you from the pain. It's just too excruciating to stay in bed, although the thought is tempting. My current nurse practitioner here in c.county doesn't know what to do about that. I'm in excruciating pain that never goes away. Mornings are the most devastating. The med. I'm on doesn't seem to do anything to help yet I take it religiously just in case it is helping.

I really don't know why it has never occurred to any of my Doctors to refer me to a pain clinic. When I described the pain to one of my acqaintances whose overly educated in this area he suggested that I'm probably supposed to be on the duralgesic patches which he described as "1,000 times stronger than morphine!"

Turns out there is a pain clinic here in Carroll County and I"m trying to get an appointment there. Some mornings it takes me over an hour to roll over in bed (because of temporary paralysis) and always over an hour to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I use the wall for balance on my way to the bathroom.

There are only 3 things that I can think of that would take a pain patient's mind off of the pain. Massage, warm swimming pools or bathtubs, and the third is "well you know!"

As you can see, I've been writing for almost 3 years publicly. I'm sort of at the point where, I'm getting so practiced at this, and over time I feel less and less embarassed to reveal publicly. I also feel that the more truth I tell about my life (in my book) the greater the chance I have of selling alot of copies and getting out of poverty.................................................

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"I recommend the flu shot"

I've always been afraid to get one but discovered today that it is absolutely painless. Earlier in the day I overheard a woman in a cafe talk about how her baby has the swine flu. My nurse practitioner said that she's seeing lots and lots of bad flu cases at St. Joes Hospital.

Please don't take any chances. Even if you have no history of becoming ill, most docs are recommending it this year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1/8/05 part 2 entry continued

Sat in the lot for a few minutes and someone offered to push it into a space for me. I tried to start it back up and I got it into a space. Ity was in the red and smoking. My lungs feel heavy and my throat sore from breathing in these fumes.

I do my shopping come back out but I don't want to go home. You feel stranded when you're at home without a safe or working car, so I'd rather not be there. I pray that the car will make it to Panera (all of the anti freeze leaked out when I had it running in the parking lot at the aptearlier)

I got the car to South and 3rd street, I was proceeding North. The gage went into the red and I have to stop the car again and put on the flashers. I'll have to sit and wait 20 minutes in the car before trying again to go to panera. An officer asked me to pull it into the bank lot but instead I drive it, smoking, to Wendy's since they usually have an abundance of parking spaces. Hopefully they won't tow it.

Went into Wendy's and asked the manager if I could leave it overnight; I might not be able to get it home safely. She said that I could. Even at this high cost, I could not stand being stuck in that apt.

I proceeded to sit in Borders eating my grocery store pizza and worrying wondering, if I should try to drive the car home? Should I "hitchike?" Should I chance breaking down on S. $th street the route I would have to take to get home?

The village pantry girl at the 4th street store told me that there are alot of shootings and stabbings on 4th street. If I break dwon there, where should I tow the car to?

Will I be able to walk on s. 4th street without falling on the ice? getting hit by a car? or getting stabbed?


In Baltimore one is a little less likely to get stabbed on a snowy night since even the "bad guys" don't like to be out in this weather.

"Another glimpse of my future book"

Author's note
I'm crashing at Gary's apt. in Lafayette, Indiana. We dated for a few weeks then he decided to reconcile with his ex. Nevertheless, he is in the psych. hospital now where I had to bring him a few weeks ago for a nervous breakdown. While there in December he made an unsuccessful suicide attempt. He'll let me stay at this apt. theoretically until I get my housing voucher. Instead, I vacated on 2/1/05.


Originally I heard that it would not snow today and that it would be warm. I'm still without a working car and it's making me crazy.

Yesterday, I had the car towed from Woodruff's back to home since I can't afford the repairs. So I only got to leave the house for 1.5 hours. I figure the buses aren't running today any way.

I woke up at 7 a.m., looked out the window, though about how hard it will be to get anywhere without a car. Thought about my limbs and how they just fall asleep whenever. Did Gary commit suicide? I think I"ll just go back to bed.

I awoke some time around 1:30 p.m. I have cereal but no milk. If I try to walk to the Village Pantry for milk my feet will get drenched. I called "Random Auto" and asked them if it is dangerous for me to drive a car that needs a new head gasket? I've got to get out of this place.

The mechanic replied: "It is dangerous to drive a car that needs a new head gasket because you will do more damage to the car" Well, I think, sounds like it probably won't "blow up" I need food so I have no choice but to get in this car and go. At about 2 p.m. I went downstairs to start the car. It took me almost 2 hours toget all of the ice off.

I borrowed a scraper and couldn't remove any of the ice with it. My neighbor sprayed de-ice on it and that didn't do the trick either. I let it run to see if having the defrost rear and front would help but that didn't do the trick either.

I walked upstairs to get a bucket of hot water to splash on it and that didn't help either. I let the car run for another 30 or 40 minutes. Saw a man in the parking lot (a real sweetheart) and asked him if he has a scraper I can borrow. He thought my right window had been smashed because after I rolled the right window down there was a very thick sheet of ice still in perfect placement that looked like another window was there! A windown that you can't see through! I smashed at that ice and I couldn't get rid of all of it ; so it looks like a smashed window! (I never experienced so much ice in MD) The neighbor chipped away at my ice for about 20 minutes. Somehow, I made it the 1.2 miles to Payless grocery store then stalled out in the parking lot.

"All in A day's work"

journal entry from 10/15/94 

Authors Note-I'm staying in a group house with 1 woman and 4 men. 3 of the men are abusive, and I'm living intimately with domestic violence. In a few weeks I'll make my escape in the middle of the night and move out.

Lafayette, Indiana (Another day of job hunting)

I started out the morning making job calls. Called group Homes for Children and they said they had already filled their position. Called Boyer Adia temp. services and they said they didn't have any work for me. (I have no car) They told me to call back later in the day but I couldn't because I was either on the bus or in the Payless grocery store interview.

I left the house at 1035 a.m. to go to the downtown bus terminus. I arrived at 11:05 just to find out that the South Street bus doesn't leave until 11:45 a.m. for Cracker Barrel restaurant. (I'm applying for dishwasher and cashier) Then I found out that this bus doesn't even go to Cracker Barrel. By that time I missed the 11:15 bus and had to wait around for the 11:45 bus.

I decided to go in person to Westminster Village to fill out the application for secretary. At 12:10 I completed that task. I had to go back out and wait for the bus again so I can go to Kelly temporary agency and taking the assessment of skills test. They want me there by 1 p.m. The bus didn't come until 12:30. It rode all around West Lafayette and didn't arrive downtown until 1:10. The bus I'd have to get on to go to Kellly services wasn't going to leave until 1:45 which would have gotten me there by about 2:10.

So I decided to get on the bus that will take me to HOme Hospital where I am required to take the drug test for Olsten temporary services, specifically Wasbash Industries/Subaru Isuzu.

I arrived at Home Hospital at 1:30 which was 1/2 hour early. I was very hungry. I went to the cafeteria but it had closed at 1 p.m. I didn't have cash for a vending machine so I had to walk for 1/2 hour to get to Main Street. I walked into a restaurant (Pop's) to see if they take checks. They don't. I had to walk to Village Pantry (like a 7-11) because they were the only place within walking distance that would take my food stamps.

I got a cheeseburger and tried to heat it up but the microwave was broken. After about 15 minutes the manager managed to "repair" the microwave.  My food now heated I discover that the only place to dine is outside sitting on the ground across the street. It's now 2:15. I have a 4 p.m. appt. to interview at Payless grocery store.

I was worried that if I walk back to the lab to do the drug testing I'll miss my interview at Payless. Nevertheless I decide to walk back to the lab to find out how long it will take.

I went in and found out that I'd have to pee in a cup with a woman watching me. I try but i am unsuccessful.   So I waited in the reception area until I was ready to try to pee again. I talked and joked with other guys in the waiting room as we waited for our turn at this degrading task.

One guy had been there for more than an hour and he just foud that he could not pee with people watching. He went on to say that if they'd bring in a pretty girl:

 "she can watch me grow!"

 He then called out at a  female tech.........

"Don't forget to put the block on that so they don't find the cocaine!" She was not amused.

I had to pee in front of 2 women and I still didn't produce enough. They said they'd try to send it in for inspection but they didn't know if it would be enough urine or not.

I left there and got on the bus for Tippecanoe Mall's Payless interview. While I was at the mall I decided to apply at some of the other stores in the mall. The Payless interview went well but she said she didn't know how long it would take for the hiring staff to make their decision.

I have 20 dollars in food stamps and I have to make them last until October 12th. So I figured I better also apply at Hallmark and "Dollar Time" stores.

The drug testing results go to Olsten by 4 p.m. on Thursday. If I don't have a job by then I can start working at the factory, Wabash National on Friday. I don't think I'll have the strength for it though I'm hoping I'll get another job offer by then.

Either way I have to go to Wabash National's job orientation by 8:15 tomorrow morning. This means I'd have to be downtown by 7:45 a.m. (i do not know what time i should arrive at the bus stop)   Where am I supposed to stand to catch that bus? On the East side? the west side?

Anyway I took the bus home from the mall and got out at Grant and State street. I can't afford to eat out, I guess I'll have to go "home" if I want to eat. But if I go home I have to face my abusive roomates. I decided to go to Village Pantry for dinner again, then I walked to bible study.

Got home and went to my room. Someone broke into my bedroom. The door's lock has been broken. This gives me a creepy feeling. I just can't understand what  or why my roomates would want to steal from me.

I must get up very early for the Olsten orientation and possible clerical testing. I'm on the phone and Bernie (one of the housemates) is screaming at the top of his lungs and bashing on my bedroom door. What an asshole. What assholes they all are. Thank goodness Bernie's bedroom isn't adjacent to mine.

As you can see: "Poor people are just lazy"

"Putting together a memoir/societal critique"

Initially I assumed I'd put all 16 years into one book. But, upon further examination, I don't think it's a good idea. In part inspired by the Pelzer memoirs; I've decided that I'm going to split them into 3 books. Not only will this potentially generate more income, but I think it makes alot of sense on many levels. Most books are about 250 to 300 pages. How could one possibly take 16 years of daily journal entries and compile it into one book.

I wish I had someone I could discuss this stuff with but not yet. There is a woman who considers herself the mother of all Baltimore memoir writers who offered to help me at no cost a few years ago. I will look her up today.

Another thing I learned, (I just re-read Laura Rothenberg's memoir) is that you are supposed to divide each chapter into about the same amount of pages. Laura definitely broke that mold, but I won't follow her lead there. Some of her chapters were 10 pages and others were 70 pages. She is one of the few who did her memoir journal style. "Breathing for a Living"

So, here is the plan for now.

Book 1 represents 1/94 through 5/99

Book 2 represents 6/99 through 6/2004

Book 3 represents 6/2004 through 5/2009. This seems like a logical place to break since this is when I got out of that deadly "La pew apts"

Coming up today, I give you another glimpse into my books in the making.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Butter knives and screwdrivers!"

Last week my mechanic said to me; "Don't worry this car is not going to leave you stranded!" Yesterday I showed up at the Timonium Fairgrounds primarily for the job fair around 2 p.m. I've never acquired a job through a job fair before but I feel best when I know that I'm giving it "my all."

When I arrived at 2, there was only one employer left. She said that it ended at 2. I said what? It's doesn't coincide with the hours for the rest of the fair? But I thought the fair ended around 4! She replied that the job fair people did a terrible job with planning and advertising. She agreed that it was not made clear in any way that the fair ended at 2. This job fair was geared to "baby boomers" of which I make the cut by about a year. I imagined in my mind that people younger then 45 would have "snuck in!" because of the bad economy.

I start walking around to see what's available for us so called baby boomers. Pretty much everything is geared to seniors of which not all baby boomers fall.

I went over to the fitness booth and saw that they were checking body fat levels. I had a pretty good idea what mine was because I had it done at the MAC Timonium where I was a member for a whopping 3 months in 2003 right before falling homeless again. In addition to checking body fat levels they check other aspects of fitness. After they have you do the sit and rise test, the can you touch your hands to each other behind your back, and the walk fast around the cones test, they measure your scores.

they said to me: "Well, we have a score sheet that we measure you against, but all the categories are above 60 years old"

"That's kind of silly I said, because this is supposed to be for baby boomers"

They said that compared to 60 to 69 year olds I fall below what the average senior can do in every category! Am I upset by this? Absolutely not. I told them that a person with fibromyalgia can't measure themselves against a healthy person, they need to figure out what's right for them, and what's normal for someone with this diagnosis.

After the girl did my body fat test (which was the last test) She left me with the following parting words which I think are so simplistic they sound ridiculous. "Well, your fat levels are a bit higher than normal so eat right and exercise!"


Talk about profound!

I go out to my car (I'm giving you the short version here) at about 3:45 and although my car starts, it won't shift into reverse or drive. I'm in a very large unpaved lot with few other cars and this is damn scary. I start flagging people down in the hopes that someone will have a cell. After 3 people and about 6 tries I got thru to my insurance company. She insisted about 4x that I must give her a callback #. Despite my repeat attempts at telling her I didn't have one she insisted. "In case you need to call us back" she kept repeating.


When I told her that I am more than 15 miles from my mechanic she asked me "How will you be paying for the overcharge?!" I knew the question was coming but it panicked me. I imagined myself dying in the car and someone finding my skeletal remains. Because I have no way of paying for the overcharge.

"Credit card" I replied. KNowing darn well that that my c.c. is tied to my checking account and that there isn't enough money in there. I knew it would go through but cause my other checks to bounce.

I was really really scared. I feared that the sun would go down and the tow driver would never find me. How in the hell am I going to pay for this? What's the alternative but telling them I have a credit card. The alternative is that I'd have to leave the car there, and it would get towed to impound and I'd never get it back.

The tow guy came in good timing, less than an hour. I told him it wouldn't go into gear. He said "They told me the car wouldn't start" (I knew I had to say that to the dumb girl because she'd never be able to process anything any more complicated then that) The tow driver went on to say-"I don't know how we're going to get the car on the truck" I knew that was rhetorical so I didn't respond. He tried to put the car in gear and when he couldn't he said:

"I'm going to teach you how to put this car in gear, even though I know this would piss my boss off. He doesn't make any money if I get you going! But I don't want to cause more damage to the car by putting it on the lift and costing you money for nothing

I replied: "I'll bet it's been a long long time since any of your stranded customers have said this to you but IIIIIIIIIIIIIII LOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEE YOU!"

He got out a screwdriver and pushed it on a piece below my gear shift. "See that little piece? YOu push and hold that while you put the car into gear. I'm going to leave it in gear for you." I told him that I don't have a screwdriver so I'm just going to drive it straight home.

This morning I tried the same thing with a butter knife and it worked. That got me to the hardware store where I was able to buy a screwdriver. I said to the hardware guy "Which screwdriver would be best for starting cars?! " He gave me this look like wwwwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttttttttttttt?! Of course I wanted to achieve a similar effect!

Took it to the mechanic yet again and he said I'd have to bring it in next week and he'll take it apart. I said, "I'm here more then I'm at the doctors" "I'd like to trade this car up?" "Who do you recommend?!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"A Magical Place"

When I arrived at the festival at 2:30 on Sunday, I wondered if being there would reduce my stress. I was stressed for alot of reasons but then even more stressed to learn I'd have to pay $5 for parking. I wasn't even sure if I had an extra 5 on me and realized I might have to turn around and go home. Turns out I did have the extra 5.

I'm at a very magical place. Spoutwood Farm in Glen Rock, PA. I'm not positive the web address but I surmise it's

It's the Mother Earth Fest. I've been here twice before. I was here in 98 with Anne who was coming to pick up her seasonal share of the harvest. This is the site of the Community Supported Agriculture Program. I was also here in May 2001 for the Faerie Festival. The theme for this festival is sustainable living.

In the past I hadn't noted this property as magical, but this time it really feels that way. Literally after about 15 minutes on the property, I felt all my stress melt away. When I told some people there that I felt that way, they said, that's because Spoutwood Farm is a magical place. There's something about the combination of the land, the architecture, the beautiful brightly colored outfits, the interesting and beautiful things being sold and the friendliness that is really unique. Virtually nobody seemed "guarded" like in Baltimore.

You know if you've been reading my blog, that I have a "Special Place in my Heart" for a handful of places. The Carroll County Farm Museum is another one. Always something transformative about being there that goes even deeper then the natural beauty.

At this festival there is a guitarist sitting off to the side putting on a show. He stops the show, so that he can give an off the cuff flute lesson to a 7 year old walking by, who hasn't quite mastered her instrument. He instructs her to come back when she's "learned to play the flute" I think thats a very tall order! She runs away without looking back! She isn't with any adults. Which seems quite normal in an environment like this. You just kind of know when a place is really safe. I can imagine that Woodstock was probably like this.

One of my favorite parts of this festival was the bus diner. The owners painted some cool designs on a school bus and turned it into a restaurant. The bus seats are transformed into booths. Wondrous for me, but I'm told that the diners in the old days were reconverted trains!

I'm surprised to learn that I only live 10 miles from the PA line, and that it would only take me 1/2 hour to get to this festival.

I finally got to the see the straw bale house that my landlord and his family built here in 2000. Absolutely amazing. You certainly can't tell that it was built out of straw. It was kind of surreal because he decorated it with the same antique rug that I walked on daily when I was his tenant for a year in '00-'01.

I most certainly wasn't used to this kind of difficult terrain. I had a hard time keeping my balance and even had a hard time with the slanted path that one had to walk on to get from their car to the festival. It felt even more painful then usual to walk. (It does hurt to walk anyway when you have fibromyalgia. Your thighs and calves and sometimes your hips and feet hurt. Not the same kind of hurt that a healthy person would feel after a workout)

I would also bet that you can learn about this place by going to

(glen rock)

I hope you enjoyed this post!

"Health Care in America" 4/4/1997

Here I am again. Doing yet another involuntary sociological study.

  I'm at Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore City (hch). It isn't as packed as I would have expected. The man who checked me in was cordial, but not particularly bright. Which is not all that unusual in my experience.

I told him he had spelled both my first and last name wrong on the intake form. He didn't correct it. He said that I shouldn't worry because he'll enter it correctly when he puts it in the computer.

By the time my form made it to the nurse, she copied my name (still spelled incorrectly) onto yet another form. She was very high strung and looked anorexic. She couldn't get the sterile cover onto the thermometer and tried 3x! She threw it down and said: "I GIVE UP!" I told her that:

I'D be patient with HER! She finally got the thermometer in my mouth and then didn't wait for it to register. Started to pull it out when it was still only 95 degrees. I pointed to show her that it wasn't ready.

She put me back out in the waiting room with the other patients. They smelled strong of cigarettes and were sneezing. Anyhow-the homeless who present  here are primarily men.  Where are the female homeless?

Author's Note

My journal entry didn't describe anything beyond those initial experiences when I first arrived. But I feel it's pretty powerful anyway!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"In the first two hours of my day today"

I check the mission of mercy flier because I need the phone # of the Reisterstown branch. There is no phone # except for corporate. mom is that program that doesn't seem particularly merciful at all. The dentist comes twice a month to x location. Patients need to arrive very very early and hope that they are in the first 5 to arrive. Some say show up at 3 a.m. some say 5:30. I ask the woman when is the next time the dentist will be there. Sept. 30 she says, then she jumps ahead to something else and i slow her down so i can write it down. No remember you're showing up at 5 or earlier so you want the right date! I repeat:

"So the dentist will be there tomorrow. What time should I show up?"

"Oh, did i say sept. 30? I was wrong. It's not until 10/8."

Now how about for the REisterstown location. That's a less scary ride for me at 4:30 in the morning.

"Well, no dentist is coming at all in Oct.

"So what time should I get there?" I ask

"5." She said.

"I should get there at 5?"

"5, that's how many the dentist will see, 5. The rest will be turned away!"

I feel extremely nervous about driving at 4 in the morning with a car that the mechanic just can't seem to fix properly.

"I say, and we do need to wait in line outside, right?"


p.s. The doors don't open until 8:30. And I've done outdoor lines like this in 20 degree weather in January. As I get older, and feel so ravished by fibromyalgia pain this is very intimidating. But I have cavities and advanced periodontitis where most of my pretty teeth are loose.


Called bge to get an extension for the shut off notice. I waited on hold for about 1/2 hour. My extension is until 10/8. On about 10/4 welfare will help with the bill


remember I was screaming and crying at the specialists office. they never were able to complete the outpatient procedure, so they referred me out to a pain specialist. I call there today and the recept asks me the same dreaded questions I've been asked for 15 years.

"What is your insurance"

"Medicare I answer"

"Do you have a secondary?"

this dear reader is a trick question. Because if I had said, no i don't; she probably would have scheduled me. But instead she said

"The doctor cannot take medicaid patients!" the staffer told me over the phone.

E - "Can't take medicaid? But medicare is my primary and it will cover the entire bill!"

receptionist- doesn't matter, our team won't touch medicaid under any conditions.

E-"I want to speak to the insurance specialist."

receptionist-"I am the insurance specialist."

E-I want to talk to the manager.

receptionist-"well, I can't give you a # for the manager, because the manager is the doctor's wife and she'd have to be called at home. All I can do is leave her a message!"

(it occurs to me that all I had to do was just not mention the Medicaid and they would have given me the appt!)


My friend is paying a portion of my phone bill so I don't get shut off. He's been trying for 4 days and Verizon keeps telling him that no such account exists. Finally today the Verizon rep. found my account.


me to the mechanic. "You know that repair you made 2 weeks ago?" "Well, it broke 48 hours later. Can I come tomorrow?"


At grocery store the people in front of me ask me if i'd like to go first since i don't have many items. No thanks I said. The cashier yelled something to me about the express line. I shook my head no. "She yelled: Yes, express is open" "I yelled "I'm not going to express, I'm staying here." She muttered something angrily under her breath.

Nearly every grocery store some clerk is begging you to switch lines. It's very stressful. And for her to be angry that she has to wait on me? If she were a server she'd make bigger tips on the customers with a lot of items. But to resent that I'm staying in her line?


Am I the only one who sees society as broken on every level?

Monday, September 28, 2009

3/23/94 Journal Entry from:

Out my bedroom window I see a brick wall. Symbolic of the walls I keep hitting? I am trapped by who I am. I said I didn't want to depend on any man. But am I willing to do ANY type of work? I see why they sell their bodies.

I like St. Kilda but my life conditions are deplorable.

I walk the streets alone

Prostitutes solicit day and night

The red light district

Some in sequins

Others in shorts and runners

With their asses hanging out

High heels, heavy makeup

Many say they're trash

They are the lonely, the abused, the poor

Need to feed their children

The men-short, fat, scruffy or

Tall, professional with suitcase

Wait on the curbside in their cars

Old Koori man, no teeth left

Drunkenly stumbles into me

Is this all there is?

I'm just like them

With the fascade

Of formal education

The sad, the lonely, the angry

I want to know them

I feel their pain

I hold back the tears, barely,

As I eat my dinner

Alone on Acland

Authors Note: Acland St. is a major thoroughfare in St. Kilda, Australia where I first experienced homelessness/lack of a fixed address.

"My Book"

I'd really like to write this book journal style. It's not a very common style but it can be done. My friend John who has heard me read from journals for ages, feels that my book would lose alot of power if it was written in the narrative form.

I've written chapter 1. It's entitled Australia. Initially, I plan to get chapter 1 as perfect as possible since many literary agents want the query letter and the sample chapter. About 2/3 of chapter 1 look pretty good, very interesting, but parts seems boring. Much of my journals include brainstorming lists (when I was homeless) That's pretty much what you're doing. You're constantly thinking, planning, worrying and trying new survival schemes. So, that can be boring to read if I don't figure out a way to make it more interesting.

I feel in my heart of hearts that a life story like mine is easily a best seller and perhaps soon I'll post some excerpts of chapter 1.

I reviewed 4 memoirs to get an idea of average length of a chapter in a memoir. Mine is about right. 20 pages single spaced. 40 some double spaced. I just got done reading "Waiting" for the second time. It's really fun and by Debra Ginsberg.

Now, I'm reading "How Starbucks Saved my life" About a high powered exec who didn't find happiness until after losing everything and going to work for starbucks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"You DRANK the water?!"

Here's what transpired last Wednesday night. I showed up to a free concert (held in a bookstore) 15 minutes early so I could get a good seat. When I gently opened the screen door, it sounded like it was going to come crashing down. "GEEZ!" I said, surprised. The owner seemed instantly angry with me. "What's the problem?" "Well, I thought you're door was going to come down!"

"You're early!" She said in a disapproving tone. "The band isn't even here?"

elana(-I feel like saying "Would you like me to leave?") But I don't. I say, well, yes, I am 15 minutes early.

I feel unwelcomed. I go over to the free coffee station.

owner-"Like I said. You're early. There is no coffee"

(I'm just about ready to leave) I notice that there is not one single chair set up for the concert.

elana-"Which room will the concert be held in?"

owner-"The band will be in the hallway, so you'll be able to hear anywhere in the store!"

elana(-hear? not see? And I'm the only person here? Forget it). I simply get up and leave.

I head over to a drumming circle that I've never been to before. About 25 show up. After 5 minutes one of the drummers turns out all of the lights and we're sitting in pitch black. I play a percussive frog for 10 minutes and drums for 15 and then I've had it. I don't like sitting in the pitch black. I look around for something to drink. I can't find anything, so I head for the kitchen and pour a cup of tap water. Can't be any worse then the water at my house, I think.

A few minutes later Carl looks for something to drink. He says: "I'm thirsty and there is nothing to drink"

"Well, why don't you go to the kitchen and have a cup of tap water"

Carl-"That water's no good!"

Me-"I thought it tasted good."

Carl-"you DRANK the water?" But it was tested positive for ecoli!"

Me-"What?" "And nobody warned me in advance?"

I begin imagine myself in the morning doubled over with cramps, vomiting at the emergency room.

During announcement time I announce what happened. The leader said: "Didn't you see the sign? The sign is prominently displayed: "This water has blah blah blah organism!"

sherry says: "It's positive for coliform!"

elana-"what the hell's the difference what organism it is? the point is that we should have been warned!"

jack-"That is definitely enough to dampen one's evening isn't it?"

elana-"it sure is"

leader-"elana, if you begin feeling sick, call your doctor"

marci-"eat lots of yogurt!"

jack-"that's what i call a bad day"

elana-every day's a bad day, i am not known for my good luck!"

jack-"you too ehh? I worked 30 years at a job that I hated. Me and I wife went on vacation and it rained the whole time, and when we came home the house was flooded!"

I survived, I did not get sick. My friend Faith said that I should call the health dept. to report this, she feels this church should be shut down...............................................

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If I take "them" to court"

If I take everybody to court who deserves to go to court, I'll be in court 24/7!

  The couple that donated trashed furniture back in June damaged a 6 foot swath of my new carpeting.

   My neighbor says I should take them to court. The mechanic that was supposed to have completed a job correctly within 90 days refused to re- do the job.

 So a Hampstead mechanic said "You should take them to court!"

 If the car breaks down due to that issue, I will not have the means to fix the car. When a company promises you a product that you prepay for and then doesn't deliver and you have to spend an hour a day for 6 weeks correcting it, they should probably be taken to court! going to court is a job! You have to be well prepared!

"Me and Landlines"

Well, att never refunded my $50.

  I could take them to court for that plus the 6 weeks I had to go without a phone. Verizon just came out and repaired my phone after 2 weeks with no service. But my bill is due on Friday and even though I got them to reduce it for the 2 weeks without, I still won't have 118 by Friday. So they say they are going to disconnect me. I also had to pay 80 for the trac phone since i was without a landline.

In anticipation of being disconnected I called Quantum and asked the clerk 5x in a 1/2 hour conversation:

 "You still haven't answered my question!  After i give you the 40 that you require up front, how long will I be without a phone?" He did not want to answer the question directly so I just repeated myself until he did. He said you'll be 1 to 2 weeks with no service unless you transfer from Verizon. But if you don't transfer from Verizon you'll lose the phone # and be without service...............................................

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"The Underground Railroad"

A woman came to the library to do an all ages presentation called:

 "Stories from the underground railroad"

  She was phenomenal and also used instruments. When she asked if there were any questions I asked:

"Does slavery still exist today and if so where?"

  I did this for the benefit of the kids. She gave a 20 minute interactive answer. She said that she used to be a slave to food. There was only one black family in the audience. An 8 year old boy said: "Yes, there is slavery, when people abduct you after you get off of the bus!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"My home phone"

How long do you think you could go without making a phone call?

  I've been forced to use the prepay trac phones this month. But I can't use them for real chats because a 2 hour card costs 30 dollars. I put in 3 or 4 orders over the phone for Verizon repair and I also emailed them with a detailed description of what is happening. 4 days later they emailed me back to say; there's nothing we can do, you emailed the wrong department.

Now, the one time I got thru to a real rep. over the phone she said someone would come on Thursday. That's 2 weeks with no land line. She said I'd have to be home tomorrow for an 11 hour period. They will arrive between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. I do not know if they will charge me or not. I don't feel I should have to pay for the 2 weeks I've been without a phone.

Your life comes to a real stand still when you have next to no phone access.

"Longstanding appointment at the Rotunda"

The Rotunda Mall is in the Hampden section of Baltimore city. It used to be the neatest place. There were about 10 pay phones, a hamburger joint, well one could do virtually anything at the Rotunda.

But I hate going into places that have security guards. They never needed security guards until about 5 years ago.

  When I needed security guard Monday, it took me nearly 15 minutes to find them. There were 2 men in a truck in the parking lot who were casing out women. They honked at me when I was pulling into the lot (they were parked with engine off) just to try to scare me. I honked back and they started laughing. My intuition told me these guys are bad news. When I got out of my car I heard them say "she just got into the Camry"

  I reported them but the female security guard acted as if she'd never remember the description of the car I gave her.

I told my doc. about it and he said "oh yeah, when i was in the mall last week having pizza, I saw a purse snatcher run past me. The mugging took place in the mall in broad daylight"

Then after my appt. I saw Lorraine in a mall hallway (there are 3 stories of offices upstairs) and she said that one of her clients was mugged at knifepoint in the mall lot last week.

Sadly, I will probably stop going to the Rotunda Mall.

Fibromyalgia the invisible

I'm going to talk a little about Fibromyalgia.  In my experience, it can be managed with lots of money.

 but without lots of money one cannot engage in the most helpful therapies like acupuncture, massage, chiropractic.

Sunday I awoke with a migraine and nausea. I went up to the grocery store and looked for something called emetrol, but they don't carry it. It takes away the nausea. They do carry Pepto Bismol but that doesn't work so well with nausea. I had those symptoms thru Monday.

Tuesday, I had violent stomach pain all day. There isn't much point in staying in bed all day or at home especially with no phone service. Today, I'm very very weak, and just kind of taking baby steps. So far all I've been able to accomplish today is to buy 2 items from the grocery store. After that I laid down in the car  for about 1.5 hours. There's no point in pushing yourself. You know your body and you just do what you can do and no more.

I still want to work part time because I want to be productive and use my talents like most everyone else on the planet. And that extra income would potentially allow me to eat healthy all month long, not to mention just generally improve my quality of life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"how did you get your name? is your name greek?"

I get asked about my name all of the time. I assumed that my adoptive parents named me but since I haven't seen them in 20 years, I can't exactly ask. I found something very very special last night in some boxes that were in storage. I found the letter that the social worker sent me in 1989 when I was conducting my search for my birthmother. (I found her in 3 weeks)

Heres what was sent to me 20 years ago. It's called the "non identifying information/heritage information" on your biological parents.

Birthmother was 18 at the time of your birth. She wa described as being 5'2" tall, about 120 lbs. She had brown hair, hazel eyes and a medium freckled complexion. Personality was described as being sweet, gnetle, domestic and with considerable artistic talent.

She is the 2nd of 4 daughters. The oldest sister had completed high school and was in beautician school. Birthmother was gong to return to her last year of high school and expected to make top grades.

Birthmother's paretns were divorced because of birthmother's father's mental illness. He was in a veterans hospital. He attended college for 3 years and attended barber's college. Birthmother's mother attended business college and worked as a secretary. Birthmother described herself as being close to her mother and her sisiters. Heritage is English, Irish and French.

Birthmother knew birthfather for a fairly long time but did not date him steadily because he was away at college.

Birthfather was 19 and had completed one year of college at the time of your birth. He was described as being 6' tall, medium build with blue yes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. His religion is Jewish. He has an older brother.


Birthfather had hay fever. Birthfather had respiratory problems which she described as chronic bronchitis. Birthmother's mother is the youngest of 13 children.

Birthmother saw you at birth. She gave you the name after an aunt and a cousin. The name was a Jewish name. Birthmother wanted you placed with a Jewish family. She especially values what she knows about Jewish family life.

Normal pregnancy, 40 weeks. Length of labor was 2 hours. Weight at birth was 6 lbs. 10 ozs. and 20 inches long.


Family and Children's Services

Friday, September 11, 2009

"When Money DOES buy happiness"

I think if you are a grounded person, money can buy happiness. As long as you don't use it to replace meaningful relationships with people and meaningful work. The reason I believe it buys happiness (it does to some degree in my case) is because it buys you a home in a safe neighborhood, it buys you less worry which in turn improves health and frees you up to play and do things that bring happiness. It buys a way into the social networks you desire. It buys you transportation and a safe car to allow you to socially connect. It buys you massage, health care and healthy food. It buys travel, and it can even buy you a partner/wife or husband.

I always feel happiest when I have a few bucks in my pocket. Again, I'm not suggesting the money to replace the people, spirituality, and work, but to enhance your ability to make healthy choices that in turn enrich your life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Post Secrets"

I can't recall if I've blogged about this or not. I tried emailing a secret a long time ago without success. So I finally snail mailed one. You've got to check out the book by Frank Warren. If you haven't already heard he is in germantown. It's supposed to be a freeing experience to mail him a secret on a post card.

I don't know about freeing but it sure was fun! And it sure was fun to see the photos of the handmade postcards in the book!

"outpatient procedure"

I had an outpatient procedure yesterday that was very traumatic. I fully expected that I'd be under local anesthesia but found out that there is NO ANASTHESIA WHATSOEVER! The 2 nurses tried to perform the procedure but I screamed in pain. When they brought in the doc. he was angry that they bothered him. He did not greet me. He asked me what they wanted. He attempted himself and I let out a bloodcurdling scream and then started crying. He snapped that since I"m uncooperative, he is referring me out!"

Well thank god for that! Why did this doctor go into medicine with absolutely no bedside manner? Why this particular specialty which requires alot of patience and compassion! I was in pain for the rest of the day. The only saving grace is that my medicare paid for every penny.

(yes, i'm gonna keep ya guessin' on what the procedure was, but i'll never tell!)

Big lesson learned since I've had this medicare is, it might pay for it, but it isn't necessarly going to buy you professional or compassionate care on the first try! At least I have the luxury of continuing to look for

a combination of professional office staff, professional and compassionate medical care. perhaps i'll study the "best of baltimore" magazine that does a special on medical care each year.........................................................................

"Back to the pay phones!"

My land line has been out of order since friday. BGE never credited my account for august payment. the agency that is going to make my car payment for me will pay it more than aweek late. how am i supposed to manage this stress? tough to have a normal life ya know. but still chipping away at transferring my journals to disc. and sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that i have at least one best seller in me!

Verizon can't come out and troubleshoot until the 17th! Must i switch companies again? i've added minutes to my cell, but i certainly can't afford a land line bill and a cell bill.

met with a job "coach" today. one of the best experiences i've ever had. she has the perfect combination of warmth, smarts, and professionalism.

i told her that i'll never land a job with a resume due to all of my gaps, but she feels otherwise. she said employers won't even look at ya nowadays without a resume. we'll meet again in 2 weeks. in the meantime she assigned me to circling job ads to show her, just to give her an idea of what i like, and how open minded i am with my search..................................................

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Something to Be excited about"

I am now an official member of

This is a national (and perhaps international) community of women who are writing their memoirs. I think it will make a big difference to not be going at this huge project by myself. they will be featuring my blog on their website.............................................

Four days no phone`

My phone went out of order on thurs. just before labor day. Initially the problem was that I could not get a dial tone. Now, when I pick up I hear crossed lines I hear somebody elses conversation. I can't receive incoming calls.

I fear that Verizon will take forever to fix this............................................................

"Why women should marry!"

Women should marry because everything comes in childproof containers! They need a man to open jars! I bought pancake syrup from the grocery store a week ago. I could not get it open. I banged it upside down on the floor, as sometimes that will pop a lid. No luck. I tried a wet washcloth. No luck. I bought the only jar opener in the grocery store. six dollars and fifty cents. Still won't open. Waited 5 days asked a neighbor if she had one of those old fashioned free jar openers. She lent it to me. No luck. She tried she got it open. I can't get my medicine bottle open, so i go to wal mart to get some easy off lids, they are closed.

"I can't get it closed" My air mattress has had a slow leak since about 6/11. I've tried poster putty, duct tape, used chewing gum, and an official repair patch no luck. I awaken every 3 hours with a mattress that has flattened to the floor. Wal Mart doesn't take exchanges. Coleman will but it takes 6 weeks. I went ahead and just replaced the whole bed the other day.

I can't get it open, i can't get it closed, in a sense i can't be independent! My friend joanne stato wrote a song (and she has an amazing voice) about things that won't open. check her out at

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"I Need a Decent Vacuum Cleaner"

My neighbor lent me his, and said "it doesn't work very good" What does that mean I wonder? Then why keep it? What it means is that, for it to pick up anything you need major woman power, you have to press the vacuum into the carpetwith all of your might. You need to keep this up for the entirety of the apt.

Today, since it is payday I toyed with buying a vacuum cleaner. I constantly have to assess what is a need? What is a want? You know when you're behind some guy in line and he tells the cashier that "I need 3 packs of Marlboro" Since I think so much about want vs. need, I think to myself: "YOu don't need cigarettes, you want cigarettes!

I've often wondered whether or not it is a good idea to buy electronics from the Goodwill. What choice do you have if you can't afford real stores. Because in a real store, you'd likely need all monies up front for an electronics purchase which is often out of the question.

The goodwill near me really stinks, but I have no choice but to go in there. I've noticed, and this happens multiple times every day, that when you say to a clerk "I have a question" they always reply "I can't guarantee you that I'll have the answer" Now what the hell kind of customer service is that?! Shouldn't you listen to the question? So today was no exception. And I replied: "Well, if you don't know then who else would there be to ask?"

I ask, with vacuum cleaners, since you have no carpeting here, how do I know I'm getting a working product.

"She looked over to another employee, hoping that employee would know the answer"

"You don't."

Elana-"How long do I have to return the product"

"There are no returns" "There is a swath of carpet in the front of the store that you can try the vacuum cleaner on"

I bring over a hoover. I turn the button on, and all sorts of flotsum starts flying thru the air!"

I said, "well this doesn't work"

clerk-"Let me see if it has a bag"

"It doesn't have a bag"

"You can try our bags and see if that works"

I ask if I have to pay for the bags just to try out a vacuum. She said, no. Then she started waiting on customers who came after me. I sort thru 6 or so sets of bags, some look like they are at least 50 years old. I'm not sure what model this Hoover is. I wait for her to finish ringing people up. She finally yells over for Grace to help me. Grace doesn't look like she's going to be much help. I suggest to grace that we try the only bags that say they are for hoovers. Grace opens the vacuum, and says, "no bag is going to be adequate becuase there is a piece missing"

She tells me to go to Wal Mart and buy something on layaway. I go to Wal Mart. I ask "how does layaway work?"

"We haven't had layaway in 2 years!"

I find a bissell for 50 which is well worth it, but I'm really afraid to spend that kind of money all in one fell swoop. I ask different employees if they know any stores that still do layaway. I wonder if it would be a wasted drive to go to Target in Westminster. I wondered if you can put a 50 dollar item on layaway. I wondered if they'd run a credit check...............................

I'm exhausted! Maybe that carpet doesn't need to be vacuumed after all!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"I met Luke at the library"

Today, I remet Luke. Luke is 25 and lives here in Carroll County. He only makes 8 dollars an hour at his job for the red cross. As a result he lives in a tiny room in someones house where he says he has little privacy. He cannot afford the entire rent, his dad has to subsidize him. But since his dad is unemployed he's worried that his dad won't come thru with this months rent. His mother is disabled. Luke cannot afford a car and has to either walk or have his dad drive him. He's young enough that perhaps he has the strength to do the walking. Out here there are no sidewalks and I'm sure it's still a very hard life. he said he sleeps very little and his phone is due to be shut off today...........................................

"Nothing works, everything is broken"

There were 2 workshops advertised in the newspaper, both for today. One was a morning workshop put on my the Department of Rehab. Services and the other one was "the emotional side of unemployment"

Both were in the same bldg. When I arrived I was turned away because "You did not pre-register and you are not collecting unemployment" I told them that it is their error, not mine, for running ads for these workshops. I said, "I drove 1/2 hour just to have you turn me away?!" "You should be making more of an effort to accomodate me"

Berc-"The best we can do is call "DORS on the phone and see if they can accomodate you"

I talked to the DORs clerk on the phone and she said, no I can't meet with you today since you don't already have an appt. I told her that I left a message on their voice mail letting them know that I'd be attending."

Then I told BERC that they oughta let me in the afternoon workshop. they sent me to a guy named Mike. Mike said:"I absolutely can't let you in because you are late (Late? I was supposed to be in the a.m. Dors workshop!) Plus, you aren't collecting unemployement.

Elana-"Well, if you aren't going to run honest ads in the carroll county times, then you oughta pull them out all together"

Mike_"Ad? What ad? I don't know if any ad in the newspaper. Show me"

Elana-(NO, why should I help you if you aren't going to help me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I'm thinking. Find your own damn ad)

So, I just wrote to the carroll county times to tell them that they should think twice before running these false ads!