Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

17 Sep

It’s not that I can’t afford stuff, though not being able to buy toilet paper is a thing in my life from time to time.  It’s not being able to eat out, though having to limit my meal choices to eating at a soup kitchen or eating dry cereal at home is a thing in my life.

Mostly, it’s the way I get treated.

And as a person who is poor, but educated and articulate, perhaps I take it harder.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps I just put in words while others just feel in silence.

I’ve been honored to be invited to meetings where issues of homelessness and housing are discussed.  I’ve attended meetings where mental health and addiction are discussed.  Most people there are professionals.  They are paid to be there, while I am not.  They are well dressed, well spoken, and well educated, but often lack the life experiences of the people they are there to discuss.  So to avoid talking about “those people”, they will invite me, the well spoken token poor person.  They probably think they are doing awesome by letting me be involved, but then they treat me like a poor person.

I’ve been to these meetings, where I throw out an idea, and it’s immediately dismissed.  Then a moment later someone else will literally throw out the same idea, word for word, and everyone will think it’s a great idea and write it down.  That happens a lot.  Sometimes the other person is simply echoing my idea because they heard me, and they wanted to make sure others hear it too.  But that fact that I need someone else to say my idea for it to be taken seriously is insulting.

I’ve been asked to do things on behalf of organizations I represent, only to then have to have someone else who isn’t a poor person call and verify that what I said was valid, because a poor person can’t be taken seriously.

I don’t need to get paid to help people.  That’s not what this is about.  But in another lifetime, when I had a good paycheck, when I was a homeowner and a a car owner, I showed up at meetings and people wanted to hear what I had to said.  People came to me with their problems because they knew I could take care of it.  I was well respected.

I miss that.  I miss being heard.  I miss being taken seriously.  I miss the respect.

And the fact is, I’m the same person.  The only thing that has changed is my income level.  People judge my character and my skill level based on my bank account.  Liberal people.  Social workers.  Therapists.  City officials.  People working in the fields of recovery.  The people who spend all their time “helping” the poor, yet treating them like they are less than.

And I have a gift of words.  And I know what it’s like to be on the other side of this.

So how does someone who doesn’t have the words react to this?  I’ve heard from people in shelters who were sexually abused by the shelter staff, and heard professionals in that organization say “Well, you can’t take what those people say seriously.” when it was reported.  I’ve been in a shelter myself where I’ve been treated poorly by staff because they have the power to treat me poorly.  And then I’ve gone to meetings where those staff members talk about how great they are doing.

I’ve been in meetings with police officers where, as an invited member of the discussion, I’m treated with respect.  And I’ve been seen on the streets as a voiceless poor person by the police and been treated rudely for no good reason.  I’ve seen from my own experience of walking in both worlds that we get treated differently based on the context of how we are seen.

And this is as a white male in this society.  If I were black, or a woman, how much worse would it be?  I can pretend that I can imagine, but there’s no way I could ever really know.

Today, I live in low income subsidized housing.  I’m disabled, which is why I’m poor.  I finally got the paperwork in the mail that housing needed to renew my lease.  I went to the office that serves my apartment complex during their posted hours.  Nobody was there.  They left a note saying they aren’t there, as if I couldn’t tell from the fact that nobody was there.  I called to leave a voice message, and their voice mail greeting said that I should come to office during their office hours.  I was at the office during office hours.  Nobody is there.  So I went to the office that handles another apartment complex under the same umbrella.  Somebody was there who is supposed to be at the office that I was just at.  She said I’m not allowed to turn in the paperwork at any other office but the office that she’s supposed to be at but isn’t.  She said that the posted office hours aren’t really the office hours, and that we should just keep showing up until we find someone.  I said I left a voice message a few days ago saying I was coming with the paperwork during their office hours.  She said that they weren’t in the office because they were handling an emergency, which is not what the note said.  The note talked about previously scheduled inspections.  Also, she said she wasn’t in her office because she was doing these off-site inspections, but I was literally talking to her at the other office and she was trying to tell me she is somewhere else as I’m talking to her in person.  She finally said she’s only there on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursday from 1 – 3, but it was 1:30 on Tuesday.

The point to all that is that we get treated like this because we are poor, and therefore the view is that we don’t matter.  She even said she wasn’t in her office all last week, and they haven’t checked voice mail in over two weeks.  Wow!  That’s your tax dollars.  And yet, society blames us poor people for the bad economy.  It’s not us.  It’s them.

Last year, we got a notice that our apartments would be entered on a Tuesday, and that we were receiving the legal 48 hours notice.  The letter was dated for the Friday before.  But they didn’t give us the notices until the Monday before, in the late afternoon.  When I asked them about violating our tenant rights, they said they recognized that they were violating my rights and didn’t care.  They said “It’s not like you have anything else to do.”  Well, I did.  And after a quick conversation with someone I know at city hall, suddenly they were rescheduling that entry into our apartments.

And what sucks about that story is this.  If it hadn’t been that I am willing to speak up and advocate, if I didn’t have the connections and the words, then they would have just violated our rights, because they can.

People get tired of hearing me whining about being poor.  It’s not greed that motivates my complaints.  It’s the way we are treated.  “Oh, we can stomp all over you.  What are you going to do about it?”  Add to the poverty issues surrounding mental illness for instance, and valid self-advocacy goes unheard.

We should not be defined by our bank accounts, our titles, or our clothes.  We all matter.  We all deserve to be treated with respect.  Our ideas should not be weighed by our financial earnings.  Our contributions should not be filtered through green colored lenses.

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No lunches

28 Aug

Starting in September all manna meals will be at 6pm. There won’t be lunches. (Saturday is the exception. Lunch will still happen on Saturday.)

They have a legitimate reason. The St. John’s construction isn’t finished and the parent center is starting back up at Edwards so they just don’t have a space for lunch.

Unfortunately that’s going to have some negative impact on the community. Panhandling is likely to multiply as people are trying to get money for lunch. People hanging outside won’t have a place to go during lunch hour so they will be on Main Street hanging out hungry and angry as some people won’t be able to eat all day until 6pm now. That might lead to more negative encounters with pedestrians, store owners and the police. And the haymarket common account is likely to get overextended which will dip into profits and become more costly.

Some folks who don’t panhandle regularly have already expressed that they will have to start doing it daily to eat. Others who can are going to try to bus to Amherst for lunch, which will also then impact their attendance numbers and resources.

A lot of folks are stressed. As I said, Lee is doing his best under unforeseen complications but I wanted to make everyone aware so the city can be prepared and brace for the ripple effect.

What am I up to?

22 Aug

Well, not much lately.  I sit on my couch watching movies most the the time.

Over the last few years my writing has slowed down due to my efforts to be more involved in helping the disenfranchised in my community while also dealing with my own health problems.  Recently I had surgery that really halted me in my tracks.  I’m only now starting to get back to normal.

But I wanted to update you all who follow me on that status of projects that I’ve been working on.

The Television Crossover Universe — My original blog that I started in 2011.  I haven’t updated it in a while but I’m still working on both new posts and updating older posts.  Within the next few months you should start seeing activity picking up there.

Television Crossover Universe:  Worlds and Mythology Volume II — I haven’t touched it in a while, but actually it’s not that far from completion.  I expect it should be published by the end of the year, at which point I hope to start working on a different TVCU series focused on classic television series.

Cartoon Multiverse:  The Cartoon Crossover Encyclopedia — I’ve been working on this one since the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia was published.  It’s been stalled many times.  I decided to take a different approach.  This one is actually one of the few projects that I actually worked on more after my surgery.  (Mostly watching a bunch of Family Guy and taking detailed notes.)  This one might be out next year, fingers and toes crossed.

Wild Hunt Press Projects — So recently I did a Dorian Gray timeline for Wild Hunt’s first anthology, and after Wild Hunt announced more anthologies I thought I might try returning to writing fiction.  I very enthusiastically signed up to contribute many stories really not thinking my surgery was going to be as hard as it was.  So these stories are still ones I want to write, but they probably won’t make it into the intended anthologies.  Some of them are linked to each other, and I’m really excited to write them (one I’ve started), so I will finish them and then submit them to Wild Hunt for first crack at publishing them in whichever future book they see fit, or if they pass I’ll probably self-publish them (but I really prefer when I have a publisher that’s not me, because it’s less work for me.)

Cathedral in the Night — So I’ve been having some meetings with Pastor Stephanie Smith about writing a spiritual blog (and perhaps a book) with her about our experiences over the past eight years at Cathedral in the Night, an outdoor ministry in which I currently serve as a lay minister.  I’ve been wanting to start writing something that is fulfilling and could help my community in some way.  This is a charitable effort on my part.  All my royalties will go to help Cathedral in the Night’s mission of supporting the homeless in our community.

Super Entertainment Presents:  Overthinking from the Couch — So over the past year and a half I’ve made an attempt that’s almost complete to watch every movie based on an English language comic book.  So this was just for my own enjoyment, but along the way I’ve taken notes (because that’s what I do).  So a friend suggested I post my thoughts on YouTube, so I will sporadically start doing this, probably not until the winter though.

Speaking engagements — I’m doing some minor speaking events.  I’m doing my annual participation in the Smith College orientation’s “Be the Change”, and I’m also going to be a “human book” for an event at Forbes Library co-sponsored by Northampton Connects.

So those are the current things going on in my world.  I’m slooooowly getting back into things.  For a while I thought my muse might have left me, but inspiration and energy is starting to return as I continue to recover.  Thanks to all the folks who support what I do.

Attitude of Gratitude

15 Aug

Attitude of gratitude.  I used to think this was so cheesy.  I hated gratitude meetings.  But I’ve come to believe.

Once upon a time I only focused on the worst, most negative aspects of my life.  And so naturally, I was always angry or depressed, looking through feces covered lenses.

I always anticipated the worst, and prepared my resentments in advance.  I could have had the best day ever, full of good fortune, but then focus on a traffic jam or someone saying just the wrong thing and let that affect my whole day.

In recovery, I don’t have as many bad days, though I have bad moments.  I try to remove myself from negativity and surround myself with positivity.  I don’t hide from bad things.  I mourn losses.  I deal with problems.  But then I find positive outlets to recharge my batteries.  Sometimes that’s being around good people.  Sometimes that’s watching dumb movies.  Sometimes it’s sitting outside in solitude with nature.

Sadly, because I suffer from bi-polar depression, sometimes it’s a bit more challenging to stay positive.  Sometimes my head gets stuck in a dark cloud of misery for no good reason.  But I’ve even come to manage those extreme swings by forcing myself to seek out positive people and help others, and the bouts of depression don’t last as long when I keep allowing the people who act as rays of light to shine through the cloud of darkness.

The Difference Between Anime, Manga and Chibi

13 Aug

I was looking up what is the difference between anime and chibi, and came across this very good example.

The Bundle Of Fluff

Just thought of something to post!

I was drawing a minute ago and decided to do the same character in 3 basic Japanese styles- manga, anime and chibi.

Manga refers to the comics, anime to the animations and chibi is a type of manga/ anime aimed at young children.

Anyway here’s the drawing

DSCF1608 As you can see the difference from the manga and anime style to the chibi are very different but the manga and anime style are fairly similar. Anime tends to use brighter colours and less shading and manga tends to be more realistic looking proportions wise and with the shading. However anime faces have more realistic proportions for the sizes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Ramble over,

The bundle of fluff 🙂

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Retired

6 Aug
I’ve spent years trying to do something, and getting nowhere. I’ve spent year trying to be somebody, but in the end I was nobody. I’ve spent years trying to be heard, only to be ignored.
 
I’m tired now. People keep telling me how talented I am, and that I should lead this, participate in that, create something or other. Please stop.
 
Today, in my life, I am satisfied if I can just spend time with someone who is struggling, and remind them that they matter. Today, in my life, if I can just watch movies on the couch and take a nap, then it’s been a good day.
 
No more trying to be a writer, a podcaster, a politician, a facilitator, a leader, an advocate, a minister. I tried to be someone in the world, and the world said they don’t want me. So I’m done with trying. I just want to rest now. I am talented. I am educated. I know people of esteem. It’s not enough.
 
So please, stop asking.

Losing

12 Jul
SSA has decided that I am no longer eligible for disability and will stop paying me starting next month. Additionally, they are going to start billing me for medicare.
 
So I call them to ask “WTF?”, or actually, why is this happening? The office representative’s answer was “I don’t know. It just is.” So I’m filing an appeal based on suspending benefits with no reason. I mean, I’m still disabled (and boy, I’ve tried to make that not so). I’m still unemployable (and boy, I’ve tried to make that not so.) Nothing has changed. It doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t end up homeless because of bureaucratic apathy without at least a valid reason.
 
Every time I get one crisis under control, another one immediately follows. I try to deal with life on life’s terms, but could I get a few weeks off between these things?
 
I try so hard to be kind, do the right things, help others, be honest in all my affairs. My physical health is failing and my emotional instability is still a thing (as anyone who reads my posts knows). Disabled people shouldn’t be treated like this. Disabled vets, who were disabled by their service, shouldn’t be treated like this.
 
I would love to have a job, feel like I have value. I would love to be able to have money every month to buy food rather than depend on soup kitchens. I would love to not have to choose between buying toilet paper or cat food this month.
 
I’ve made attempts to return to work. Nobody will hire me because of the gaps in my work history and my age. I can’t work jobs where I have to stand too long, or sit too long. My hands randomly stop working and I drop stuff. My legs randomly stop working and I fall.
 
I’m a smart person. I’m organized. I’m efficient. Once upon a time, I was considered a valued asset. But the fact is, I’ve tried, but nobody wants me. I no longer have value in the eyes of society.
 
It’s really hard when each day society tells me they don’t want me, but then I talk about suicide and everyone’s like “No, don’t do it. You have so much to live for.” But I can’t get a job because I’m disabled and nobody wants me. And I can’t get disability anymore for reason unknown even to SSA. And now, I”m going to be homeless, because I don’t have family to take me in, and I can’t get money through a job or disability. Wow, and people wonder why folks turn to crime? Or panhandling? Sometimes it’s the only option other than suicide.
 
It’s just not right. Every day I’m trying to give back to the world, and the world is like “Yeah, fuck you.”