Friday, May 30, 2008

Entitlement: I Waited Too Long To Get Subsidized Housing.

It is Memorial Day and I am at the apartment of a disabled church member. He has had several strokes and can't work. He has a one bedroom apartment with a backyard for $520/Mo. I confess I got angry and jealous over his residence.

For $560/Mo. I live in a 14 foot x 14 foot room with a sink, no heat, closet, bathroom or kitchen. This is not subsidized housing. But with a bathroom down the hall, careful use of a small space heater, microwave, rice cooker, refrigerator and one of those hang-over-the-door closets I make out pretty well.

I have heard many times that with my 3 disabilities: legal blindness, Cerebral Palsy and a hearing loss, I qualify for subsidized housing. Yes, but millions of others do also, and there is a pecking order.

See we disabled folk decided to make it a law that we are to be "un-disabled" legally. So, when I apply for a job, they can't have a note in my file about my low vision, use of a walker, or anything that would make me "look" disabled. What this accomplishes is a two trip stage to not being hired.

I go for the "agency" interview. Since my file looks like everyone else's file I get a call for a job. If I don't have a little chat with the placement agent, I'd show up at the work site and would be sent home! It is much easier to tell the placing agent about my legal blindness and get hung up on, without wasting hours of my life to accomplish the same thing. Yes, its illegal and no, I'm not exaggerating.

Because people love getting something for one-third of its value, able-bodied people have legislated new ways of being "disabled". No more is it the standard, "visible" problems. Now drug/alcohol addiction, being grossly overweight, mentally ill and most diseases qualify for government housing.

Enter the lawyers, after the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It used to be that a blind adult was allowed to reside with the elderly. No more, blindness is considered a high risk condition and we are now in lovely segregated "disabled only" buildings that are just the opposite of what "mainstreaming" and "liberation" were supposed to be about. 

It wasn't until the passing of the ADA that any landlord ever called me a "bad insurance risk". Now my toileting habits are up for discussion. Its hard on one's sense of self worth to have to explain in painful detail that I can go potty all alone, yes, both kinds and I know if I need to vomit, to go to the potty too!

So, back in 2001, I decided it was time to go after those lovely apartments everyone was saying were mine for the taking. Oh, how shocked I became after several months of this dreary adventure. I decided to go through a Social Worker, as I thought they had an "in". They don't, but me traipsing through their office insures they have a job.

Upon entering this Social Worker's office, I met a young lady who demonstrated how one survives a drive-by shooting in one's living room. I was so totally taken aback by this, I actually lay prone on her office floor as she explained how you lay flat on the ground until the shooting stops!

Still believing I had some rights in this melodrama I sarcastically informed her: "If you think I want a studio apartment bad enough to risk being shot in my own living room - lady you are crazy!" Bad client, naughty, no! Never assert yourself. You need to understand...

This lady then lectured me on my attitude. Oh sigh! She then handed me a three-inch thick sheaf of papers with two columns of addresses on each sheet. The ones marked "open" were the ones I could contact for possible housing.

99% of the apartments were "closed" or "non-disabled", or wouldn't take MY set of disabilities!
The several that were open were in neighborhoods the police attempt to avoid. No, no, I won't go! So after an attempt with another agency, yielding even nastier neighborhoods to live in, I gave up and prayed to God for the gratitude for what I had in 2001. A ghetto room where people pulled knives on you as you attempted to go to the bathroom. (They were free-basing at the time).

Within three months that building was condemned and I moved to my current middle class location with a high rent. BUT it is safe, quiet and clean. I wish I had more space, but again, it is safe, quiet, clean and I have sunlight most of the day through a beautiful window that actually looks out to the sky and not another building wall!

People at church have been pushing me to really go for getting better housing. I endured their: "you have no faith" lectures and did not re-enter the world of subsidized housing. Oh, need I forget, I'm 153,462 on one waiting list and #1, on a second. I always lose out to an incoming AIDS patient and I've been #1 for YEARS! I finally just let them all laps. After five years, what the hell?

But viewing my friend's this lovely little apartment on Memorial Day, hypnotized me back into the fray. I was given an emergency housing hotline for my county. The person who called for me told me that this agency requested me to call them, as: "... they were sure they could help you". NOT!

I connected to what sounded like a 911 call room. I gave my story and was begrudgingly given two phone numbers. All housing recommended to me was in towns 2 hours away from where I live. Of course, some of those same great enclaves of crime and violence came up also.

I have to ask myself: Where is it written that I am entitled to something MORE that I can't afford? The Government is already paying my general support plus almost $300 a month in free insurance and medication. It isn't like I'm on the street with a tin cup. What is so bad about having a bathroom and shower down the hall, when being in the hall is so safe, that people leave their doors unlocked while in the bathroom, or shower?

Once again I relearn that to plan ahead when one is on the system is silly. The man on the hot line was not impressed that I felt I was losing my ability to walk up and down the 30 stairs in this building. They aren't set up for THAT. So, I'll walk until I have to butt-walk and when it gets to the crawling stage, I'll be screwed-up enough that my HMO will enlist that Social Worker to "put" me somewhere. But by then, my mouth might be the only fully functioning organ in my body. I'm going back to being thankful for what I have and not pursuing the holy grail of a kitchen and toilet I can call my own.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Geek File: Desparation Is The Mother Of Disaster.

I had fifteen days of cat-sitting to do in the Berkeley Hills. I loaded up my portable USB drive with my four raw audio files and settled down to get the Black History Presentation edited. So when I returned home, I could burn the CD's, make their artwork and turn in our churches first CD for sale.

Now, I have been known to sit on a job like a hen, hoping inspiration will somehow hatch. It doesn't. But this time, I was on it and REALLY, REALLY worked. Two of the four files were full of those metallic clicks from defective cassette tapes. Oh, how I chased those buggers down!

Yesterday, it seemed like my drive was acting strange and the computer was just frozen in "spinning beach ball" heaven. When I ran disc Utility on the drive it failed and told me it was over.

I was briefly returning home to my newer Mac and slammed that drive back into my machine where it was seen on the desktop just fine. Then I ran disc utility again and something got fixed, according to Disc Utility, but something else got broken, as my "label records" were now invalid and Disc Utility doesn't seem to fix them.

Oh friends, here is where you can take a small water spill from a cup, turning it into an overflowing washing machine flooding your entire home. Beware! There are two demons that will drive you to make terrible judgements. a) current fatigue and b) dread of re-doing hours of work a second tine.

Current fatigue tells you that to re-do a week's worth of work will literally kill you. It won't , but the mess you make to AVOID that re-work, could...actually kill you!

Dread of the re-work. I have a friend who had offered to buy me a program that fixes sick discs and other things where your data goes bye-bye. I refused, at the time, as it appeared I didn't need the program and truthfully wasn't sure I had enough tech savvy to USE the program. But under the twin narcotics of fatigue and dread, I was ready to jump into anything!

I now share the IM's between my friend and I. Note that under normal conditions, (when I am not out of my mind) I would rather buy a new computer than face going into "Terminal" where you can turn your Mac into a doorstop, by fiddling around when you don't know what you are doing.

My Friend: "... and not a guaranteed success I hate to say it, but... You're looking at some re-work my friend."

Me: "np, can I screw around in Terminal and fix the bad records?"

My Friend: "Uh yah... the term "screw around in terminal" NEVER has a good result."

Fellow Geeks and geeks-in-training. I KNOW he already did this proposed experiment and probably had to do two weeks of back work to clean up the mess. What was I thinking?

Me: "sok, I won't die. If I wasn't paying for a vacation this week, I'd have the money (to buy special software)."

My Friend: "lol OK. So I won't even feel the least bit bad then. Vacation! Ha! Some kind of geek you are picking vacation over a tech tool!"

I realize, I must step away from this computer. No searching, logging in, or even pawingthrough the "Help" files. I now leave you to do something harmless, like read an ebook.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Humor: I Present To You The Hamster Dance

Yesterday a friend started reviewing that Austrian incest case. No doubt she was stunned by the level of depravity human beings are capable of heaping upon one another. Is there any limit to said depravity? Short answer: no.

When I first heard about this dreary episode I comprehended I didn't want to know any more. As my friend dredged up all the sordid details I perceived my vision blurring in and out. If I didn't act quickly, I'd remember something dreadful about my own childhood.

I decided to refuse the information and made a determined effort to keep my attention off my screaming psyche. It worked, no new memories. I really don't need to waste days with more of the same "details on a theme", cogitating and weeping.

My advice is to stay far away from this particular case, as elements of it could stir up memories you may not wish to recall. If you are in that difficult part of recovery where memory retrieval is important, than this case may be your ticket to personal liberation. It is a very sad and dreary affair.

When I woke up this morning NOT having flashbacks (thank you Jesus), I began my morning email / website review. As a fan of I read through the quick messages of friends. The word "meme" came up. I didn't know the meaning, so I did a Google search. A meme is a small piece of information, quickly understandable, and usually funny. Oh, like some of the goofy pictures people use to represent themselves.

I then ran into an example: The Hamster Dance.

This genre is about ten years old, according to some, but it is new to me. I am still laughing. I ponder: what stress and impossible task the author was avoiding, while he created this? Me, I should be editing audio for my church.

So, now that we can all have a good laugh, I leave you to return to what I should have been doing for the last 30 minutes :)