Thursday, August 18, 2016

Being Single is NOT a Disease

            You’ve seen the ads. Match dot com has people around the corner just waiting for you to meet so you can get married and your life will be fulfilled. At E-Harmony dot com, fill out a 15 page report and they have the love of your life waiting in the back room. They just need to go locate him. If you’re over 50, like me, you can find the love of your life on Our Time dot com. If you’re a farm boy and am tired of meeting high falutin chicks, sign up with Farmers Only dot com. It’s all there. Yes YOU could be happy for the rest of your life, if only you would sign up on a dating site.
            But my question is this: when did being single become a disease? Maybe the same ad writers who are writing all the ads for all those medications we need now are writing the copy for the singles dating scene, but every time I hear or see one of the dating commercials, I feel inadequate. Because I like being single.
           There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I have a disease and it’s called singleitis.
           I would rather be single than married to some jerk who cheats on me. I would rather be single than married to a creep who lies, who drinks himself silly each night, even though he gets up the next day to go to work. (Please reference my February 2016 blog)
I used to joke that I got divorced before I was married almost 30 years ago. This guy and I were both musicians, singer/songwriters and met at a pub in downtown Sacramento during an open mic night. I had just lost some weight and although I wasn’t smoking hot, I was cute. We dated off and on for the next two years. The only time it would be off would be if he found a cute chick he wanted to ask out and when she turned him down, he was back to calling me. He was 11 years my senior, but that didn’t matter. We were in love. Or so I thought.
About a week before my 26th birthday, we had a talk. I told him that we had been together for two years (the longest relationship I had ever had) and that it was time we took the next step. See, I bought into the idea that someone can’t be happy until they’re married. I wanted to get that part of my life done so I could move on to the next project. I told Marshal that I was okay before I met him and I would be okay if he decided to leave. I gave him the choice. The following weekend (since he lived and worked in Sacramento and I lived in Davis and worked in Vacaville, we didn’t see each other much during the week so I spent the weekends at his place) we went out for my birthday dinner to a Moroccan restaurant on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento and had a wonderful dinner. While we waited for dessert, Marshal got down on one knee and proposed to me. I was flabbergasted! I had been proposed to before by a guy who was 20 years my senior and a drunk, but nothing this fancy. And in a public place, too! Marshal was never one to make a scene, so this had to be hard for him. Of course I said yes. We had dessert then went back to his place and enjoyed each other.
            But something wasn’t right in the land of the engaged. It’s as if that diamond ring was a go ahead to argue and fight over the smallest minutiae. It was over stupid stuff. So stupid I can’t remember. But I can remember him holding my wrists down as a way to control me physically. I didn’t know then, but I realize now, that was a form of abuse. After about two months of this constant arguing and bickering, I had moved to Fairfield the week before to be closer to my job. I was in an Improv group, RSVP, and we had a gig that night. On my way to Sacramento, I stopped at my mom’s house and called Marshal to see what we were going to do that weekend. That’s when the divorce happened. That’s when he told me he couldn’t marry me because he was afraid I would get fat like my mom and he can’t stand fat chicks.
            I was dumbfounded. All of the cruel schoolyard bullies who had ever called me fatso, flooded my head with their taunts. Here I was, no longer fat, yet I’m not good enough to get married because someday I might be? The tears came hard and fast as he told me to keep the ring, that it was his issue and not mine. But that didn’t matter. I was this close to conquering the disease of being single. This close. But I couldn’t because of what someday might be.
            So, for the next 25 years, I ate. It didn’t matter what I ate or how much I ate because no man is going to want a fat white woman in our culture. Fat Asian women, fat black women, fat Latino women, they’re all acceptable, but not a fat white woman. And when I began eating myself to death (I am currently morbidly obese), I was going to be fat like my mom no matter what I did. The man I accepted to spend the rest of my life with told me so. It must be true. I loved him and people you love aren’t supposed to lie to you, right?
            I found out a lot about myself when I was homeless. Maybe that’s why I was homeless, so I could really get to know Lynda. I finally realized, after gaining almost 200 pounds in 25 years that what Marshal said all those years ago doesn’t mean a damned thing. I heard through the grapevine he married some hippie chick and they had three kids. What he said had zero effect on him, yet I let it rule my life for 25 years. It no longer has sway over me. Unfortunately, I’m left with the consequences of weighing 200 pounds more than I should. That’s something I need to take care of because you know why when you see 100 year old people on TV, they’re not fat? It’s because fat people don’t live that long.
            Back to this ‘disease’ of being single. I love my life. Yes, there are aspects I’d like to change, like working and not being poor ever again. I allowed myself, after 25 years of a closed heart, to love again last year, only to find out two weeks into the affair, that’s what it was – an affair - that he is married. I remember him asking me why I didn’t have a boyfriend and I replied that men were assholes. His answer was that he wasn’t. For two weeks anyway.
            Being single is NOT a disease. I really wish Madison Avenue would stop treating it as such. Yeah, it would be nice to have someone around. It was nice for two weeks knowing I was wanted. But I’m not willing to give up who I am so I can rid myself of a disease that doesn’t exist.
            Who knows? My future husband just might be reading this now and not giving a damn that I’m old, fat and single. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Violent Summer

            I’m really getting tired of seeing all of the flags at government buildings at half staff. It’s not that I don’t think that those people who have been gunned down deserve our respect, it’s just that I’m tired of the killings. I had just changed my Facebook profile picture to the crying eye with the French flag in the background when more police were gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And I had changed my profile picture FROM tears over a Dallas police badge. When will this damned madness end?

            People who know me, know I’m not one for sentimentality. Many women cry at the drop of a hat. Something has to really be bothering me on a personal level before the tears come, unless it’s Mother Nature’s once a month thingy. I didn’t cry when 9/11 happened. I was MAD. Many women in our office watched the towers fall and with them, tears fell down their faces. This was something they had no control of, yet they were affected enough to cry over it. I wanted to know why the hell our intelligence and on an even stronger level Israeli intelligence, which I believe to be far keener than ours as they have to be, failed. Someone had to know something was going on. Why was nothing done? But that was one day, involving 19 radical Muslims, taking almost three-thousand American lives. What has been going on this summer is something more insidious. While in Europe bombs and trucks are killing people, Muslims included, former military are killing our brethren in Blue in the United States of America.

            Why should I care if a couple of cops are killed? Because the very same thing we are being blamed for, holding an entire group responsible for the actions of a few are exactly what these former military are doing. They are killing cops because a few cops made bad decisions, which were then televised in our 24 hour news cycle (I truly believe news was never meant to be 24 hours. Perhaps during times of crisis, like 9/11 when the story changes every hour, yes, but not everyday. Because then news writers are forced to dig deep to show us the dredges of society. Then it becomes an “I can top that” game, where people do more and more things of depravity, digging deeper until all you hear is beeped out language and shadowy figures on your television screen.) At least every hour, the new channels are running these bad decisions cops make, which builds up in some people's minds and it seems as if every hour, cops are needlessly killing black men. Some of them just needed that one push to go out and “fix the problem”, when in fact it is only one or two cops among thousands making bad decisions. But the provocative way it is shown on television, one could think that all cops are bad.

            Don’t get me wrong. Black lives matter. That there is still a race problem in this country with a black president is disgusting. It’s disgusting with a white or green or yellow or red or blue president. Because in the end all lives matter. And since these images are shown over and over and over and if there is no new update on the case, the television news continues to show them over and over because they need to fill the airtime, a few whackos think they are righting a wrong when they are only wronging a wrong. As the only way to right a wrong is through the court system. Let the bad cops stand trial. And if they are found not guilty by a jury of their peers, so be it. 

            We need to all just calm down, take a deep breath, and love those close to us. Let the people you meet when you are out and about know that they matter. You may not know them, but everyone has something to contribute. When someone cuts that person’s life off, that contribution dies as well.

            Let’s get those flags back up at full staff. Because I’m tired of changing the profile picture on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Swirling Vortex of Emotions

Whoever said “Old age ain’t for sissies” wasn’t kidding.
This past Monday, it was a perfect storm for the day from hell. I’ve been surviving on Social Security Disability for three and a half years. I’d rather be working, but all the radio jobs that were lost during the recession are permanently gone. I was going to sell my book about my time being homeless, as an agent I met over four years ago, told me to write it and he would make me a bestselling author. Since I’m only about 75% done with it, I instead sent him a manuscript of a mini-novel I wrote in 1987 and just found in my storage unit to try and get some cash flow until I could finish the homeless book. I emailed it to the agent and called a week later to see if he had received it and had a chance to read it. I left a voicemail and he called back. To tell me they were not accepting new clients. I reminded him that he had been leading me on for over four years and that I was almost done with the other book. He said “such is life” and hung up the phone. Talk about having the carpet yanked out from under you! Took the wind right out of my sails. Everything I have tried to do to get out of this poverty bullshit has not worked. And the one thing I thought would be my saving grace was anything but. That was a week ago. Now back to Monday.
I had been sick with two infections for a few weeks and kept telling my friend Rodney that I would take him to Costco. I have had problems with my car. I just replaced all of the hoses, yet there was still a leak. I took it to the mechanic last week who said there was a leak in my water pump and it would cost $200 to fix and that he didn’t want me wasting my money because with all of the overheating that had occurred due to broken hoses, he feared my head gasket would go within 6 months and that’s easily a $2000 job. Which is $600 more than I get a month. He told me to just make sure there was water and antifreeze in the radiator every other day. I topped everything off Monday before I went to pick up Rodney. It smelled like rubber burning, and I told him it was the stop leak I put in, like the mechanic told me to. We got about halfway to Costco when the car stopped. The water pump died. It was 80 degrees out. I called the insurance company to get a tow and they told me that I didn’t pay my bill. Um, yes I did, I tell them. I have the receipt in my email inbox. He put me on hold as I watched my battery drain. I hung up and called my agent. But it was President’s Day and he was off. I called the tow line back and they said they checked and yes, I did pay my bill. It would be at least an hour and a half for a tow truck. I had no choice but to wait in the heat. I texted one friend who lived nearby to see if she was home and could bring me some cold water. I didn’t get a response. So I texted another nearby friend. No response. I then texted the guy who has called me his girlfriend for the past four months to see if he was in town. No response. I finally got a response from the second friend and she brought me some water. While waiting for her, another lady stopped by and asked if I needed anything and I said cold water. She said she wanted to do more. I jokingly said a car that works. She said she had an old car she called Nixon because it was ornery but still ran. She said she wanted to donate it, but her mechanic told her to sell it. She asked if I would buy it for $10. Sure, I said and gave her my business card with all my information on it. I still haven’t heard from her. Tow truck finally got there and took me and Blanche (that’s my car’s name) home. Rodney had called his roommate to come get him. But I still needed to go grocery shopping and pick up my asthma medication. My neighbor allowed me to drive her car and on the way back, the guy who has been calling me his girlfriend for the past four months, called. My phone was in a bag and I was driving anyway, so I called him when I got home and could plug in the phone.
The day before had been Valentine’s Day and I got him a little something, some good dark chocolate because he likes that better than milk chocolate. I had texted him to see if he was coming over Sunday, but then got sick and said let’s meet up later in the week. Monday morning, I had jokingly sent him emails about some boots that were on sale I was looking at, saying he could buy them for me, since he’s always saying how rich he is. I sent some texts to tell him what size and color and then told him to read his email. Apparently, all of this communication was too much for him and that’s what he called about. Asking me not to send him stuff during work hours because then he has to stop and read everything in case it’s an important text. He could do what I do and assign different sounds to different people so I know without having to look, who it is. But he doesn’t so he has to stop. And I made him stop at least four times. Then he said that he wasn’t my boyfriend and why was I acting like he was? Um, because for four months you’ve called me your girlfriend, that’s why. Because when you come over to my place we end up in bed? Because we talk every day, sometimes for hours on end? Because you’ve not only said you loved me but you have shown it? That would lead one to believe she is your girlfriend and you are her boyfriend. Thing is, he’s married. He’s insisted since I found out and confronted him with it – I flat out asked on our first date if he had ever been married and he said he had been – that they were only business partners and that’s why they are still together, to keep the business. He’s a plumber.  I accept his answer but lay down the rules if we are to continue as boyfriend and girlfriend that he will no longer lie to me and no one gets hurt. I find out his wife is hurt by his infidelity, it ends. Turns out I have friends that work with her. He agrees and we continue on as girlfriend and boyfriend. Until Monday. When he informs me he is not in fact my boyfriend. What do you think about that, he asks. What do I think? I’ve just had one of the shittiest days after one of the shittiest weeks after one of the shittiest months and what do I think that I am no longer your girlfriend? As he would say, Are you kidding me? He then asks if I want to work for him, help him with his paperwork and he’ll compensate me. I remind him that I suggested that, without the compensation, when we first started dating. You could do that, he says. Then he changes course and says since I don’t have a printer for my laptop and I sleep all the time (you would too if you were fighting off two infections, ya little prick!) that I wouldn’t be able to do that. Next thing I know, he’s telling me he’ll call me back in an hour because he has to pee. He tells me not to fall asleep and hangs up. The tears come fast and furious.
Ninety minutes pass and the phone rings. I had just put a baked potato in the oven as I had a steak thawing and had bought some asparagus at the market. I answer it, knowing it’s him because he has a ring all his own. He asks why I called. He tells me to talk because I called him. I said, no, you called me. He begins slurring his words and I know what he’s been doing the past hour and a half. He’s probably drunk an entire fifth of whatever the liquor of the night is. I told him I don’t want to talk to him when he’s drunk and I reiterate that now. He keeps up with what did I want to talk about. I hang up on him. He calls back and I let go to voicemail. And the tears start flowing again.
Many reading this will wonder what they hell did I see in a drunk married plumber? We made each other laugh, we could talk for hours on end about anything and just enjoyed being around each other.
I’m better off without him, my friends tell me. But he’s the first boyfriend I’ve had in 25 years. Twenty five years ago, I was engaged to be married and the jerk broke up with me over the phone, saying he was afraid I would get fat like my mom and that he didn’t want a fat wife. I did get fat because those words hurt. And I swore off men because they were all assholes. In fact that’s what I told my most recent boyfriend (who is no longer my boyfriend) when he asked why I didn’t have a boyfriend. Because men are assholes was my answer. He looked at me, grinned and said he wasn’t.
Wow, the lying began at the very beginning even before he asked me out.
To add to the misery is this thing called menopause. That’s why the tears came fast and furious. That’s why I was sick on Valentine’s Day. My hormones don’t know which way to go, which way is up, which way is down. And I’m in the middle of this swirling vortex of emotions and hormones with a broken car and a broken heart.
Old age may not be for sissies, but middle age heading towards old age isn’t for any sane human female being. Because the sanity goes the moment the vortex begins and your life unravels right before your very own eyes.
That’s me. Right now. Swirling in the vortex, not able to control one damn thing.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

     Yes, it is already 2015. Dang, I'm old! A lot has happened this year, but then again a lot has stayed the same.

     January came and went and with it another non winter. The days were warm with no rain and highs in the 70's. And I have a leather jacket with nowhere to wear it.

     February, same picture, shorter month. Still living in downtown Suisun City, with only a small air conditioner, but at least my former neighbor, Connie, was coming by once a week to make help me around the apartment. 

     In March, Connie met the man of her dreams and they married in May. He's a marriage counselor. I think it will last. Unfortunately for me and her husband, she was transferred to the Navy Base (she's in the Navy and was stationed at Travis Air Force Base when we met) at Diego Garcia way out in the Indian Ocean. She's thinking after her one year ends at the end of May, she is going to see if she can get transferred to Italy. I need to start saving money yesterday so I can visit her. I've always wanted to go to Italy.

     It was another warm spring and summer. That dang Global Warming. Ming and I made it through, running every fan and the Air Conditioner. Over the summer, I began a series of sleep studies so that I could update my sleep apnea machine, CPAP. Turns out, I didn't have it. Thing is, they forgot to tell me I needed to be off the machine for at least a week prior to taking the test. So I scheduled another one, was off the machine for two weeks, but had a technician who had just been hired and had no oversight. I was diagnosed as not having sleep apnea. This is a condition I have had since I was eight years old and there wasn't a name for it. My mom used to watch me sleep because I would stop breathing while I slept.

     At some point over the summer, I went to Urgent Care because I couldn't seem to get rid of considerable nasal congestion. I was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who ordered a CT scan which came back that I had broken my nose at some point and it had healed on its own. I recalled around 2000 or 2001 I was walking to my math class, talking to my teacher at college and I tripped over a lip in the cement, where the two slabs came together. I fell down, bent my brand new glasses and ended up with two black eyes. I remember because it was a Wednesday and I was on the Governing Board as the Student Trustee. Instead of going to the meeting that night, the President of the College told me to go to the Emergency Room to make sure that I didn't break anything. They checked my orbital bones around my eyes, but neglected to check my nose. I told the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor that and he agreed that's probably when it happened. I could just leave it as is or I could have an operation that would break it and heal it properly. I decided to go with the surgery. On August 19, I had the nose surgery. It has a real scientific name, but I forgot. I know I wasn't allowed to blow my nose for a week. I never realized how much I blew my nose until I couldn't! There were stents in each nostril, which is why I couldn't blow it for fear I would blow the stents out. The moment he took those out, I couldn't wait to blow my nose! I still feel some pain around my front teeth from the operation as he pinched a nerve when he did the operation. He said it would eventually go away. I slept without my machine from the time I had the operation until my next sleep study, which was at the end of September. Guess what? They said I didn't have sleep apnea. Which is odd because I can't get into REM sleep without my CPAP machine, yet I don't have sleep apnea. My sleep doctor gave had me do an overnight pulse/ox which was about 94 %. It has to be below 85% before Medicare will give you overnight oxygen. I finally met with the Sleep Doctor (I had been meeting with his Nurse Practitioner before) and he suggested I have a home sleep study to see if maybe the setting is the issue. That's where it stands now. I'm playing phone tag with Sleep Study people.

     As the hot summer turned to fall - it was hot the final day of October - then freezing the first day of November, my heater failed to work again. The few cold days we had last year my heater didn't work. The maintenance guy came by and changed the thermostat, but it still would work sometimes and sometimes not. When space heaters went on sale in August at Ace Hardware, I bought one. Thing is, since I'm on Section 8 housing assistance, they have to have a working heater. The owner bought me a new heater and it works great. Like I need a heater...

     About this time, I met a man I had known for a year or two, but never thought anything of it. Turns out we both like lamb and his favorite lamb place was around the corner. I hadn't been on a date in years. It was fun. We have since become just good friends, as we have a LOT in common.  I've never met anyone else who could follow my train of thought the way he can and I am able to follow his train of thought and finish his sentences. It blows us both away. He's also a musician with his own studio. I've always wanted to do a follow up to my "album" I put out in 1988. We'll see how it plays out. So far, he's been a positive influence on my life. I'm eating better and even looking to try to find a way to pay the $29 a month to pay for a membership to the KROC Center. It's like a YMCA and they have excellent water aerobics. There are a few operations I want, but my doctors won't do them until I lose weight.

     I continue working on my book about the time I was homeless. I write a chapter or two when I do laundry at my friend Chritsty's house. I take care of her pets when she's on vacation or tour as she plays clarinet with the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. That's where I met her waaaay back in 2005 when I first narrated/emceed for them. She was in Boston the past few years and I ran into her at the pet store in 2014. That's when she offered to pay me a little to take care of her 4 cats, a dog and a tank of fish. I've been her caretaker ever since.

     In September, my 18 year old cat Ming, started howling. She would howl in the middle of the night when I was trying to sleep. She would howl in the morning, she would howl in the middle of the day. There is a ghost in these apartments as the main building up front used to be a mortuary back in the 30's and 40's, so I thought that was what was bothering her. Then I noticed she was drinking a lot water and took her in to have her kidneys looked out. She was in end stage renal failure. My trusty companion, who I'd had for more than ten years, was dying. She gave me that look like, "Mom, I'll do better. Just don't leave me." It broke my heart like hell, but the only humane thing to do was to put her down. My friend Christy helped me with the bill and made certain I was able to keep her remains, as it is in my will that my cats remains are to be buried with me. So far that's Herfy, Maggie T., Mowgli and Ming. The Sunday after putting her down, I couldn't stop crying. A friend of mine had been looking to re-home her longhair Tuxedo cat, Oreo, as she was afraid of dogs and my friend rescues dogs. On October 1, I adopted Oreo. There's been an adjustment period and we're still getting to know one another. But it's good to go to sleep to purr.

     I've made some positive changes in my life. I've been a pack rat for a good majority of my life, but it all came to a head when I became homeless. I have too much stuff. So I've been selling it, a little at a time on eBay. I've made a little extra cash for me as I remain on Social Security Disability and the cost of medication continues to rise. It certainly helps. Things that I can't sell, I will donate to the thrift shop of the homeless shelter I was in for two weeks. It's the least I could do for them, considering they put me at the top of the list so I didn't have to sleep in my car. It's Opportunity House in Vacaville, in case you want to donate anything.

     That about wraps my year. I'm really looking forward to 2016 as I have my book edited and sent off to the agent so he can find a publisher. I did find a novel I wrote back in the 1980's and a friend is scanning it into electronic form so I can get it to the agent. I did send him one of my short stories, but he said they don't do short works. Hopefully, he will like the novel as much as my late Aunt Judy did when I wrote it back in the day. We'll see. Maybe I can get back on the radio as an author. Who knows?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Letter: 2010, 11, 12, 13 and 14

Christmas Letter: 2010,11,12,13 and 14

      Yes, it's been that long since I've written a Christmas letter. And it wasn't for lack of things going on in my life, quite the contrary.
Let's start in 2010:
      In April 2010, I accepted a job as a census taker. I lost that job two weeks later when my fingerprints came back that I had been a very bad person. Unknown to me at the time, a crime I committed while I was 21 years old (my friends and I were drunk and they were going to teach me how to hot-wire a car), had not been updated in the FBI database and I was listed as two-time felon. I was only found guilty of a misdemeanor tampering with a vehicle. In any case, in this day and age when background checks are so cheap, I was unable to get a job. As my 99 weeks of unemployment loomed to a close in August, 2010, a textile recycling company, USAgain, hired me to find locations for their "mailboxes on steroids" so people could recycle anything doing with textile - even underwear! Unfortunately, out of the 8 of us that were hired, seven of us were let go the same day. They pitted us against each other to see who would work the hardest for them. On October 5, 2010, I received a 30 day notice from my roommate and by November 6, 2010, I was homeless.
      I spent the first 4 months with a friend who allowed me to keep my cats, Mowgli and Ming, with me in an extra bedroom in her home. Because I didn't have a job by mid-January and I told her when I moved in it should only be a few months before I landed back on my feet, as I have never had a problem finding a job, she asked me to leave by the end of February. 
       March 2, 2011, I was in a homeless shelter. My sister used her Hotel miles and put me up in a Homewood Suite on the 1st, but then I was on my own. I stayed in the homeless shelter for 2 weeks while I waited to get into "transitional housing" with the Fairfield-Suisun Community Action Council. Mowgli and Ming were staying with a couple I met while I was emceeing a Boy Scout Banquet.
       March 15, 2011, I moved in to transitional housing. I didn't know the woman who I would share the master bedroom with, but she seemed pretty straight forward. I'll call her Blondie. We became friends and totally understood each other.  She said it was due to the fact that I was a Taurus while she was a Scorpio. I do know I could leave ten-thousand dollars on the dresser and she wouldn't touch it. And she knew that if she asked for some of it, I would share, so there would be no reason for her to touch it. In April 2011, I noticed what I thought was another hernia - I had a hernia operation in December 2009 and my stomach was poking out again - so I went to the surgeon who did the previous one. I'll call him the "Hottie Doc" because we just seem to click. I wanted to make sure that the county insurance I had would cover the operation, so I had to go back the following week. That's when the abscess under my belly showed up. Instead of having hernia surgery in May, I had to have an abscess drained in the O.R. On June 1, 2011, I had hernia surgery. That was the same day my aunt found out she had pancreatic cancer.
      After I healed, I resumed my job search. I was also making some headway into clearing up the FBI mess. I think that was taken care of in May sometime, where they got it right. I kept looking for jobs, going to interviews, with nothing on the horizon. Meanwhile, outside of my roommate the rest of the women, the other four, were raised by wolves, I swear! The Program Director was also a mean person, telling us once a week, "If you don't like it here, leave. There are plenty more people where you came from. Believe me, you won't be missed." She says that to homeless women trying to better themselves. It was hell. Read my previous posts for an idea. I am writing a book on my journey through homelessness called "Homeless...But Not Hopeless". Then I had a nervous breakdown.
     My sister, who lives in Midtown Sacramento, had offered me her couch to sleep on, but at that time, Sacramento didn't have insurance for the indigent and Solano County, where I've called home for more than 20 years, does. My doctor referred me to a psychiatrist to deal with the breakdown. I didn't want to commit suicide, I just didn't want to live that life, with those people. That may sound snobbish, but I was taught differently than the people I was forced to live with and was comfortable with the way I had lived for the past 45 years.
      In October, I received a call to ask me if I wanted to be the next Office Manager of the H&R Block in the Target Center in Vallejo. Although it was a temporary job, it was a job. Of course I accepted! On the home front, the house we were living in was foreclosed and we moved to a larger house in Suisun City. That's when the real fun began. Read previous posts of this blog to understand what I mean.
       Because this job was temporary, I continued to look for permanent work and was offered a position as a clerk in the Welfare to Work office in Contra Costa County. I was originally assigned to Pleasant Hill, but there was a need in Antioch, so that's where I went to work. The day after accepting, Blondie and I were on our way to celebrate with a steak dinner when a 16-year-old boy, who had just received his driver's license, ran a red light and t-boned my car, totaling it and injuring my neck. Now I was homeless, without a car to get to my permanent job so I could lift myself by my bootstraps. I had no credit cards and not even a bank account. Thank God I had friends. One of them let me use her debit card and another paid for, a rental car, so I could get to and from my new job. Although I had given my 2 weeks notice to H&R Block, they fired me because I didn't have a car to get to and from work and to and from meetings. (I didn't get the rental until 10 days after the crash - H&R fired me a week prior)
     To add insult to injury, in California, if you are not insured and get into a car crash, even if it wasn't your fault, you cannot sue for pain and suffering. I ended up losing 2 jobs because of this crash, but I couldn't sue because my insurance ran out two weeks before the crash. I didn't pay my bill because I didn't receive a bill because my agent, who has since been fired due to negligence, didn't change my address. In fact, the afternoon, before I left the office to pick up Blondie for dinner, I called and left a message for my agent because it seemed like it was time to pay my bill. The kid's insurance company did reimburse me for the car that was totaled and paid for the rental, but that was it. I was on my own.
        I did lose my job with Contra Costa County in July 2012 because I was late too many times and took off too many days due to the neck injury. My left hand would go numb without warning, which my spine surgeon said was normal with that type of injury. Prior to becoming homeless, I applied for Social Security Disability because I couldn't stand for long periods of time due to the arthritis in my knees and the only jobs available required one to stand for long periods of time. They kept rejecting me, I kept appealing and the first week of August 2012, I had a hearing. I hobbled into the hearing room and told the judge all that had happened. The following month, I was awarded Social Security Disability and have been surviving off of it since.
      It's better than being homeless, but I really want to go back to work. I had neck surgery in June 2013 and my left hand no longer goes numb without warning. I have medical bills up one side and down the other because Medicare doesn't pay for everything and although the health insurance when you are an indigent is great in Solano County, if you bring home more than $600/month, you have a share of cost of the extra multiplied by 1.5. So in order to activate my Medi-Cal, I have a share of cost of over $900! I need a home health aid as I don't get around too well, but don't have $900 a month for one. My food stamp worker told me that if I worked I could get one cheaper. Hmmmm....
     Radio lost over 50% of its jobs in the recession and they haven't come back. In November 2011, I met a literary agent who told me that if I was serious about my writing, he could make me a best selling author. He was the one who suggested I start a blog. In 2015, I need to get to it, and assemble the book as it is already written in bits and pieces, through this blog, Facebook postings and my journal. Then I could finally get a new car, as the one I have can't seem to pass CA Smog standards and the tags ran out in September 2013.
      So that's been my life in a nutshell since 2010. My Aunt passed away from pancreatic cancer in December 2011. I found out via text from my sister while I was training for H&R Block. Mowgli passed away in October 2013 due to hyperthyroidism.  Ming likes the single life, so since she's now 17, she gets what she wants. I hit the half century mark this past year and need to get on with the second part of my life.
      Have a wonderful year!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Remembering Steve

March 30, 2014

            I met Steven Bise before I met him. I was working at a small station in Placerville where they were too busy, or just didn’t care about going over airchecks. I sent my cover letter and tape to Steve and he sent me a letter back, giving me pointers on my breaks. No one had ever done that. I was lucky to get a rejection letter. Which I did, eventually, from Steve. It wasn’t really a rejection per se, he said that maybe sometime in the future I could work the overnights on KUIC. When I interviewed for a part-time job at Quick 95, I was working afternoon drive at a station in Davis. I interviewed after work. Steve stayed and interviewed me at 7pm. I ended up getting the Sunday night, 7 to midnight slot. After losing my gig in Davis, Steve gave me more hours filling in. Finally, I got the coveted overnight gig. I was always looking for a better gig, that’s what one did in radio. Until a few years into working with Steve. That’s when I realized Quick 95 was radio fantasyland. No one was fired unless one did something stupid, such as theft. That was unreal in radio. I stopped looking and really focused on working my gig. Steve was the reason I became the disc jockey I did. He worked with me, tirelessly. Steve and I remained friends even though he laid me off twice. Who does that? But Steve was that kind of man. During both of our second employments at KUIC, Steve was raising teenagers. He once told me, as I can be quite passionate about my work, that he knew why God put me in his life. It was to prepare him for teenagers. I didn’t think anything bad of that remark, it was just true. I don’t think I ever saw Steve lose his temper. I pushed him, but he never lost it in my presence. He was so mellow, that when the thermostat caught fire in the control room when he was on the air, he didn’t panic. He calmly walked out and asked if someone was there to work on the thermostat because it was on fire. I don’t know about you, but I would’ve freaked out!
Steve’s daughters meant everything to him. The morning Delaney was born, Steve called into the station to let everyone know he was a dad. I was on the air when he called, and he was so happy. Delaney, I think he and your mom named your after some hippy group. It could’ve been worse. I think his second choice was Hot Tuna.
            I remember the first time Steve laid me off. He wanted me to come into work early and I couldn’t understand why he wanted me there. He wanted to tell me in person, but I forced him to do it over the phone. I swear I heard him crying. I wouldn’t doubt it. Steve gave everything and more to his work. When he was laid off, he said it was okay because he was able to be a house dad.
            Steve was meant to play the bass guitar. As the bass guitar anchors the sound of the band, so did its player in Steve. There could be thunder and lightning all around, but Steve was Mr. Cool even in the toughest of storms. I looked back on his Facebook page and what I wrote on his last birthday rings true. I was glad to be able to wish him a happy birthday. He fought the valiant fight.
            The world is a harsher place without Steven Bise. He was the best boss anyone could have asked for. And a better friend. Godspeed to you, Steve. Have fun in Heaven’s Bluegrass Band.