Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dad's Final Father's Day

A few days after Dad's 76th birthday of April 20, 2005, he suffered a massive stroke. After three days in the hospital,  the doctor met with his wife (my stepmother) and myself to let us know there was nothing more they could do for him. Dad was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes when he was in his 40's and in the previous few years, his kidneys had shut down. He was on the maximum dialysis available, three times a week. That allowed him to live a pretty normal life. The day before his massive stroke he worked the Lion's Club annual golf tournament, stopped by my radio station's broadcast from a credit union (why weren't you there, he later asked. I told him it wasn't my time in rotation), went home, took a nap, then had dinner and went to a play with his wife. His last day walking he made use of his legs. Of course he didn't know it was going to be his last day walking.
The hospital made arrangements to have him moved to a nursing home to live out his remaining days.  They even let him have chocolate ice cream that night because doctors figured it wasn't going to hurt him, as he didn't have too many days ahead. My younger sister, Maureen, had flown in from wherever she was troubleshooting a Johnny Rockets restaurant, to be by dad's side. She spent the night with him, sleeping in the other bed in his room. She didn't want him dying alone. That's why he supposedly got married, but that woman was at his home, deciding whom should receive his belongings.
The next day, dad awoke, had a little breakfast and then the doctor came by. Jokingly, the doctor said, "Have any plans for the day?" Dad though for a second and said, "It's Friday, so I'm going to dialysis." The doctor was taken aback. Dad had admitted, when they were moving him, that he'd had a good life. So when the doctor asked the question, he was surprised. Thing is, he didn't know Dad. Dad didn't just give up. Dad fought. And he was in for the fight of his life.
April turned to May and May to June. I tried to be with him at least three times a week. I worked about 30 miles away and lived 40 miles away, but he was my dad and even if he was just sleeping, he knew I was there for him as he'd been for me many times growing up.
My older sister Debra, lives 3,000 miles away, so she'd call at least once a week, while Maureen visited when she could. I figured this was probably going to be Dad's last Father's Day, so I asked Maureen to make him a pineapple upside down cake, the dessert he used to make for us as kids. I told her that we were going to have a party in his room on Father's Day. I even told Dad that we were going to celebrate Father's Day at the nursing home, bringing him treats and gifts. I had read somewhere that if someone who is dying has something to look forward to, they are more likely going to hang on. Dad had a speech therapist and a physical therapist to help him repair the damage that his stroke caused. He was making progress too. We were all so happy for him. Until the heatwave.
The nursing home he had chosen didn't have air conditioning. Which is no big thing if you're in San Francisco or Alaska. But Dad was in Woodland, CA. Temperatures get over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and June 2005 was no exception. They had swamp coolers, but it only got the temperature down into the low 90's. Because Dad was on a catheter, he got a bladder infection. They gave him oral antibiotics, but his body could only fight one thing at a time. They sent him to the hospital and after being on IV antibiotics for a few days, he was fine. Just in time for Father's Day.
Dad grew up in Oakland and was a big fan of the Oakland Oaks baseball team. It was prior to the Kansas City Athletics moving there. When the A's took the scene from the Oaks, dad became a fan of theirs. He and my older sister Debra were HUGE fans and went to games together back in the early 1970's when they were champs three years in a row. I think Debra even got to hold Reggie Jackson's beer while he was signing autographs.
I knew just what I was going to get Dad for his last Father's Day. I bough a jersey at Walmart and had a local T-shirt print shop put McMahan on the back, then #1 Dad under that. I also bought him an A's hat as he needed to wear a hat every time we took him outside for some fresh air. Maureen brought the cake and I'm kicking myself now because she gave him something else but I can't remember. But I do recall it was very sentimental. We all enjoyed the cake and think we sang to him as well. He was so happy, he was crying, although I've been told that ppl who have strokes are emotional.

Dad passed away about a month later. He got another bladder infection and began hallucinating, even hitting me because I wouldn't do a story on the "drug dealers" there.
I called his wife, since she was the only one who could make the decision. She decided that he would no longer go to dialysis and the people at the nursing home would make him comfortable. Dad fought with every ounce he had, it just wasn't enough. When his wife explained to him what was going to happen,  he accepted his fate, saying he'd lived a great life and had the three best daughters anyone could want. On his final day on this earth, he was in a coma, the nursing home said that he was non-responsive. I stayed with him while my sisters went out to get some lunch. They brought back a six pack of Dad's favorite beer - Sudwerks. We clanked our bottles together over his bed, toasting him. Then Maureen got one of those sponge things on a stick and poured some of her beer on it and lifted it up to Dad's Irish Hook nose (that's what mom always called Dad's large proboscis) and a funny thing happened. Dad, who was non-responsive just that morning, opened his mouth! Maureen gently put the beer soaked sponge in his mouth, while dad slurped it dry! He opened his mouth for another sip and Maureen gave it to him.
We were blessed to have one last beer with Dad on his last day on earth.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Housing Crisis Must End

            If you live within 100 miles of San Francisco or San Jose, California and rent, you are well aware of the housing crisis going on. But it’s much worse if you’re like me and on Section 8 Housing Assistance. The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the federal Fair Housing Act Amendments Act of 1988 prohibit discrimination on the basis of the following criteria (called “protected categories”): race or color; religion; national origin; familial status or age—includes families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women; disability or handicap, or sexual orientation. (Nolo) Yet it’s somehow okay to NOT rent to those who are poor and receive housing assistance from the federal government. How do renters get away with this obvious discrimination?
            For the longest time, ever since I began on Section 8 in 2013, I just took it for granted that it was okay that I was being discriminated against. In fact, up until this morning, I figured it was fair to allow each renter to decide whether or not they wanted to accept renters who are on Federal Assistance because they can decide who they want to rent to anyway. Then I realized they can’t pick and choose whom they rent to. That’s illegal, as stated in the above paragraph. So then why is it still legal for them to discriminate against someone just because they happen to be on Public Assistance?
            If a renter allows Section 8 renters, they are guaranteed most of the rent, paid on the 1st, by the federal government. My rent is currently $1000 for a 350 square foot apartment with no garbage disposal, no dishwasher, no air conditioning, no ceiling fan in the bedroom, no patio, no laundry services or machines, plenty of cockroaches, beetles, moths, spiders and plenty of crime. But because I pay more for healthcare monthly than I do for rent, my rent is only $294. However, the Property Manager still gets the remaining $704 from the federal government every month on the first, but I can’t pay my portion until my Social Security comes through on the 3rd. But the Property Manager still receives $1000/month. Why don’t all renters participate in this program?
            I had been on a waiting list for a 2 bedroom apartment in another part of town. I got on the list in January 2017. I called every month around the 1st to see if anyone was vacating a 2 bedroom, downstairs unit (I’m disabled and have a very hard time walking up stairs). About March 2017, a male answered and told me that I was on the list so I needed to stop calling. I called back in May and was assured I was still on the list. I called and left a message every other month after that, just to stay on their radar. But since I was getting voicemail only, I pressed star 67 so they didn’t know who was calling. I finally got a hold of a person in February 2018. She told me I wasn’t on the list. I told her about the male who answered the year before and she said no males worked in the office. I asked to be put back on the list, but she said her assistant, who had just purged a bunch of names needed to call me first. It’s April 10th and I’ve yet to hear from said assistant.
            I really want to move back to Village Green Apartments because in addition to central heating and air, dishwasher, patio, they now have washer/dryer units in each apartment! I’d love a 2 bedroom so I could set up my office in the 2nd bedroom, an also have a place for friends to crash. If I had an office set up, I could begin working from home. That would help me tremendously. But for now it’s a pipe dream because Village Green won’t accept Section 8 Housing and the other place that does, won’t put me on the waiting list again.
            So I’ll go home again with the bugs, lack of dishwasher, air conditioner, ceiling fan, garbage disposal and crime.
            Because it’s still legal to discriminate against poor people.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

           Yes, it’s that time again. Can you believe Christmas is only a week away? Or as my cats would say Catmas is less than a week away and you better get us good stuff. All Simba wants is to play with Oreo. All Oreo wants to for Simba to go out with the trash. But she’s a vampire cat, so what do you expect?
            My January began with promise. When we last spoke, I had only one cat, Oreo, whom I had adopted at the age of 9 (her, not me) on the first of October because I missed having a cat around, after Ming passed away in September. A friend had been trying to rehome Oreo because she was afraid of dogs and my friend rescues dogs. So Oreo came to live with me. She’s what most people who don’t like cats think ALL cats are like: standoffish, biting scratching machines. Turns out that Oreo just has anxiety issues. We have more in common than I’d like! But the fun part is trying to get her to take her medication. Because she has arthritis in her back (told ya we had too much in common!) I put Cosequin in her food. Because she knows I put medicine in her food, she will eat a little of it, then wait until Simba is done with his food and eat his before going back to eat hers. Even when I don’t put anything in it, she does this. I’ve even put the medication in his food and she’s eaten it. Thing is, when he eats her anti anxiety meds, he bounces off the walls. He’s already an energetic kitty.
            I got Simba from a cat rescue group out of San Francisco called Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue. Cats that are adoptable but are looking at being euthanized because of their age (everyone wants kittens) are given to Give Me Shelter to rehome. After they are deemed adoptable and given a clean bill of health, Give Me Shelter has 3 days to find a home for them or they may be killed. I was looking for a lap cat and my experience with neutered males has been that they are blobs. There was a male tabby named Jake that I was looking at getting, but he went to another home. Then Simba came up for adoption. He’s a handsome boy who was 7 years old. He was chipped, that’s how they knew his name. He was left inside a zipped canvas bag and thrown into a parking lot in San Francisco. I can’t believe the cruelty of some people. Hope Krampus visits those people this Christmas. I drove down to San Francisco and adopted him from the PetCo in the Mission District, where Give Me Shelter holds adoption fairs every week. Because I’m on a limited income, they waived the $100 fee. So if you want to give me something for Christmas, send whatever money you would spend on me to in my name. They do great work and it’s all volunteer.
            Since I couldn’t rename the cats, they both got new middle names. Since she looks like the cartoon cat Sylvester, that’s Oreo’s middle name. And because I swear he embodies the spirit of the Egyptian Cat goddess Bastet, that’s his middle name. I know, gender and all, but no biggie. They’re both fixed. They don’t know what gender they are. They just know they have a momma who loves them.
            As far as health, the UTI’s continued with ferocity. Although I enrolled in a weight loss class in April, I was unable to make most of the classes because I just couldn’t shake the UTI. I’m scheduled to see a urologist at the end of the month to see if there is a bodily reason why I keep getting them. I asked the person who ran the classes if I could just come to the classes I missed as I paid $200 for the classes, but she said I had to pay another $200 and begin again. Don’tcha just love HMO’s?
            I petsat for my friend in March and made enough money to purchase an adult tricycle. But I was only able to ride it a few times before it was stolen. I called the company that made the lock and told them they were going to replace the lock with their top of the line model. And what do you know, they did! I sent the pieces of the cable lock that the thieves left and they sent me a U-lock. Friends rallied around and I came up with enough money by my birthday at the end of April to purchase another trike, now with the U-Lock on it. It has a quick release seat, so that’s inside the apartment as it’s tough to ride without one. I plan on riding it more in the New Year, when I’m not sick with a UTI or a cold as I have now.
            I lost my driving privileges with the beginning of May. Turns out I missed a court date for a fix it ticket back in 2014. It was for expired registration. I had paid all of the fees, but didn’t have an extra $300 laying around to get the check engine light to go out so it would pass smog. For those of you who don’t live in Eco Freak California, we have to have our cars pass a smog test every 2 years to make certain our air is cleaner than it has ever been. I’m surprised they don’t make us all go around with pure oxygen around our necks. Anyway, I was given a ticket, but because I had just moved and the local post office has its head so far up its ass it’s coming out its head, they never delivered the summons court date. I had registered my car two times during that time and nothing was said. Not until I got the notice to renew my driver’s license. I’m now part of a class action lawsuit against Solano County Superior Court for giving fix it tickets to poor people and taking away their driver’s licenses if they can’t afford to comply. They target people with older cars, knowing we don’t have the money to fight them. I never thought I’d be working with the ACLU, but thank God they are there. It shouldn’t be illegal to be poor.
            I was able to do some community service hours helping Heather House Homeless Shelter raise some much needed funds. I will continue to help them. Because I’ve been there, done that, and know it’s tough. I finally got my driver’s license in the mail 4 days ago.
            In addition to being sick most of the year, my next door neighbor Chris, who I used to give my recycling to and he would keep the carport clean, decided to start using meth again. And decided that no one was going to sleep past 4am in the summer as he collected bottles from the local businesses and banged them under my window. In September, I had finally had enough of it and called police on him. Then he began threatening to kill me and called me fat names every time I would leave my apartment. I would say nothing to him, and he would come out of his apartment and start yelling at me, saying things like he’s going to kill me but have to find a piano box to bury me in because I’m so fat. Gee, I though Middle School ended in the 1970’s for me. I called police and they said they could do nothing that it was a problem between me, Chris and the property manager. So every time Chris did this, I texted the property manager. I also alerted housing, since he’s on Section 8 housing as well. They said there was nothing they could do. Then Chris began blaring his stereo, turning up a woofer a friend bought him, knowing it bothers me. He knows this because when he was human, I would walk over to his place and ask him to turn it down. He apologized and said it’s hard to tell with the woofer. I told him since he lives in an apartment, he doesn’t need a woofer. I was literally losing my mind. I complained on Facebook and got some great advice, to get a restraining order, which I am pursuing. I go to the hearing tomorrow and I pray the judge grants it. Even though he is supposed to be gone by the end of February – the property manager finally got off his ass and refused to renew Chris’ lease – I plan on finding a new place this year and don’t want to ever see his face again. Meth is bad. People who take it are worse.
            That’s where my life is a week before Catmas. I’m petsitting again and am getting my laundry done as well. My goals for this year are to find a better place to live, and get healthy. I hope your New Year brings you everything your heart desires.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I'm in Fear For My Life

            I had come so far from being the person I had to be when I was in the homeless house. I was getting on with my life, every day doing something more to improve my life. That was until my neighbor, who suffers from myriad mental illnesses, went ballistic this past summer. He decided to get drunk and take other medications as well. Prior to living in these apartments, he was a meth head and homeless. He got himself clean and got SSDI for his mental issues and moved in six months before I did. Prior to this outburst, we got along great. Both my other neighbor and I gave him our recyclables so he could augment his income. In return, he would sweep the carport every week to keep it clean. He also stopped some other meth heads from stealing my small refrigerator I kept outside because there was nowhere else to put it. But after he apparently received notice last July that his lease was not renewed, he went on a binge, threatening to kill everyone in the 5 unit apartment complex.
            I called police because I feared for the safety of his girlfriend in his apartment as he was throwing things around and screaming and yelling. Police came, and he tried to come outside of his apartment and harm them. He kept calling the female police officer names, such as “cunt, whore and bitch”. But she and her partner remained calm, telling him he had to stay in his apartment or they would arrest him on public intoxication. They eventually came over to talk to me and my other next door neighbor and we just told them what we heard. They said they were going to leave because their presence there is what was setting him off. As soon as they left, the neighbor got into his car (his girlfriend had left by then) and drove off. I called police because he was drunk and on other drugs as well.
            He was stopped less than a mile from the apartment. I don’t know exactly what happened next as I wasn’t there, but my other neighbor accessed the police report the following day to find out he had tried to run the female police officer over with his car. Either she or her partner had to shoot out his tires to make him stop. He was subsequently arrested on drunk driving, driving without a license and attempted murder of a police officer. That last charge was dropped by the District Attorney because Black Lives Matter and he was unarmed, except for the two thousand pound vehicle he used to try to kill an officer of the law.
            Later that week, I found out from my neighbor, that he had filed charges with the Housing Agency against everyone in the building (even though I’m the only other one who is on Section 8 Housing and would be affected) of harming his civil rights. All I did was call the police because he didn’t belong on the road. When you’re drunk, you have no right to get behind the wheel of a car. It was then that I decided I would no longer help him out with recycling. As far as I was concerned, people who tell lies about me don’t deserve to know the time of day.
            When he noticed I wasn’t giving him my recyclables, he began banging bottles underneath my window at 4:30am to wake me up. One day in September, I had enough and called police. I told them that I needed my rest and that he was being a nuisance by banging bottles underneath my window at 4:30am. Then went to speak with him and he denied doing anything. Thing is, my neighbor’s boyfriend heard him because it woke him up too. After the police left, the bottle banger began threatening to kill me and said things such as “You’re so fat I’m going to have to find a piana box to bury you in, you fat ass, lying bitch.” I called the police again, who told me to ignore it. Ignore this man’s booming voice? It’s the second time he’s threatened to kill me, yet nothing is being done. The police told me it was a matter for the Property Manager to take care of. I called the Property Manager who said that part of the deal was that he’s not supposed to have recycling in front of his place. I asked him what was he going to do about the death threats and he said he’d talk to me later and hung up on me. That was the last time I spoke with the Property Manager. Because now when he sees my phone number come up, he sends it to voicemail. He refuses to answer my texts and refuses to answer his phone at work.
            From then on, it just got worse. Every time I would leave my apartment, he would get up, come out of his apartment and start calling me “fat lying bitch! You so fat you need to ride that tricycle of yours, ya fat ass!!!” Then he began turning his music up real loud so that the wall between our apartments would move. I asked him one night to turn it down and he just turned it up louder. I was forced to purchase an air horn as a way to fight back, so I blasted the air horn. He just yelled, “blow that horn fatty, blow that horn!!!” I finally pounded on the wall that was moving and within a few minutes he was pounding on my bedroom window, all wild eyed, trying to break in. I called police AGAIN. And AGAIN they told me it was a matter between the Property Manager and him. I called the Property Manager. I texted the Property Manager, but the Property Manager doesn’t care. Because if he did care, he would take care of the issue.
            I was gone for a night with a friend a week before Thanksgiving, and came back the next day, only to be assaulted once again, with him yelling fat names at me. I suffer from PTSD. The thing that sets it off is yelling and loud noises, such as the loud booming stereo, which the police say he can have it as loud as he wants as long as they can’t hear it in their squad cars when they drive by. So the apartment I pay rent on is utterly useless as my PTSD has kicked in overdrive and left me just a bluthering ball of nothingness. I can barely hold on to what mind I have left.
But no one cares. I know no one cares because no one will help me. That last time I called police, the officer said he was going to tell the Property Manager to kick us both out. Because I’m the only one calling police, they think I’m making this up. But I’m not. I made such great strides after being subjected to this kind of crap in the Homeless House, run by the Fairfield Suisun Community Action Council, that I’m back to where I was the day I had to call police because my roommate spit on me, body blocked me and held a knife up that she slept with, threatening to kill me. She lied to the police and said I hit her. They told me the only way that they could arrest her was to arrest me. I had just landed a job at a Fortune 500 Company and an arrest would cost me my job. I had no recourse. Even though, for right now I’m not homeless, I am emotionally and mentally back at that same place because PTSD has taken over and I have nowhere to turn.
            The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I applied for a restraining order against the neighbor. It wasn’t granted, but there is a hearing on it on December 12th. My friend is going to serve the papers to the neighbor this afternoon or evening. I fear for my life. If he went as ballistic as he did when his lease wasn’t renewed, how is he going to respond to a restraining order?
            I just pray I get to update this blog again. Someday…

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.