i make no excuses about who i am! love me, hate me, just read me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I am a paid blogger my piece was sydicated on read it! Tweet it and share it on Facebook! Tweet me as NotUrTypicalGma !

Friday, September 17, 2010


I find that my life has taken many twists and turns along the road less traveled. In each of these little side trips I have learned something valuable. Sometimes I find that I have to repeat these life lessons a few times before I actually learn from them. I was homeless on my own without my children almost 10 years ago and though that was stressful it was not as bad as being homeless with them years later. I had made a series of bad choices, living in a house shared with others is never a good idea, it never works. Especially if it is family. Then we moved into a house that we could not afford, we thought we would because my love was working and I was working and we got this bright idea to have a paper route to supplement our income! Wrong, people do not pay up. Then my love goes on a binge and loses his job. I injure my back at work and it all goes down hill from there. We stayed at the local Rescue Mission, and I talked my way into yet another apartment. In between that time we actually slept in our van at a lake. Once I called my cousin out of town for money for a motel room, it was like being at a five star hotel. We were clean and fed but we were tired of having to stay out on the weekends all day because the policy at the mission is to be gone until supper time. That was more draining than anything. We sat in the park and longed for a bed to lay on. Even if it was just a mattress without a box spring. We longed for a nice hot bath and fresh fluffy towels. We had to shower after other people at a certain hour and shower quickly. We had to attend Bible Study because it is faith based, not that faith is a bad thing, faith is important and somehow that is what you cling to. Faith may be the only thing you have in times like these that pull you through. You sit in this Bible study with others in your situation, and some who will never learn that life lesson, addicts and cons and people you think lesser than you. It is during this time that I realize I am not any better, I have belly flopped off of my pedestal, and dragged my kids down with me. It was also at this time that my teenage daughter was pregnant. What kind of Mother was I?

There were days that I would cry when no one else was around and days when I would cry when everyone was around. My love had spiraled into his demise, heavy back into the meth scene. I became tired of the life that I was living. After moving several times, more than not getting evicted, because I knew how long that took from my experience with the house. I learned to drag it out, to have a place to stay a little bit longer. The moving and transition was due to a garnishment of 25 percent on my paycheck, leaving me with sometimes bi-weekly checks as little as 325 dollars. Garnishments for the house that we thought we could afford to rent. I still have that stinking garnishment but I am going though a paralegal to file bankruptcy and soon, poof that will disappear. I just have a great landlord that lets me pay every time I get paid to lessen the burden. She knows my history and I am determined not to live that way again. I live in a quaint little house with a great yard for my grandson. I love this house! It is "our" house.

We have a large homeless population in my central California town. As a transit driver I see a lot of them, some are families or parts of families single parents mostly. Some are street people who have lost their way due to alcohol and drug use. Some are mentally unstable, nameless faces that pass through or take up permanent residence in our local park or  the benches at my workplace. There is Roger the alcoholic heroin addict, former hairdresser to the stars. Stories of Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Nicks pepper his conversations. He talks about not always having been this way. One day he disappeared and he was gone for two weeks before he miraculously arose from the dead. The story was that he had been found dead out by the river one frigid morning. No, not our Roger he came into town freshly shaved, his blue eyes twinkling off of the light reflecting from his silvery gray hair that was brushed back neatly. We were all genuinely surprised if not happy to see him and he laughed off the "Roger is Dead" headline. Coyly saying "I was at my cousins for two weeks." The weather warms up and he is out and about.
Some of the street people get permanent addresses and get legit and some of them clean up and get sober, one such couple was Pam and Tom. Tom was an old codger who had a penchant for living on the wind and he also had a penchant for Pam a former stripper. Pam had a penchant for meth. So at the beginning of every month Tom would get his SSI and Pam would entice it from him. Tom told me once that he was so in love with Pam that it didn't matter what she did. He said the heart could not help who it loved. He had tears in his eyes as he said this. Tom and Pam were in an car accident, he suffered a concussion and he started to suffer dementia after that. He lived for a short time in a community with disabled people, but he would sneak out to see Pam. Still knowing how to get to his love when he needed to. Pam then entered a shelter for women who suffer from chronic homelessness called the Shunamite House. I believe she has lived there for a year and has gotten clean and is now Toms care provider. They ride the bus occasionally now and again running errands or going to the doctor. Tom secured housing in a Senior Living Community.

So it touched me to see a young woman riding my bus with a little wisp of a girl, and I guessed that she was homeless. She was well spoken and her child was clean and well kept, and I recognized that all too familiar dreariness on her face. We began talking and she told me she was at the shelter. I said I understood what she was going through and then I offered her some resources. This girl was already en pointe, securing homeless status for the Housing Authority transferring her social services case, all of the things rolling to get out of the situation. She told me after a few conversations that she felt a stigma and that she was someone who had a great job as a correctional officer and had education and never thought she would find herself homeless. She hated how people down talked her and made her feel less than. She talked about not wanting to settle for the first place that came along because she did not want a bad environment for her daughter. How someone made her feel that she had too high an expectation, because everyone knows if you are homeless you should not aspire to wanting more than less then. The attitude of ignorant uncaring people makes me so angry that I just want to scream in their faces, " if it was you going through this wouldn't you want to salvage any dignity you had!", really just yell at them till their faces vibrated and their hair blew back! So I empathized with her, but i didn't pity her, that is not what a person in her circumstance needs. I gave her my number but she has never called me, and I even told her where I lived so she could go to my house and be in a nice cool place when it was 106 degrees here. She has never come.I saw her a few days ago and things are getting better, her final paperwork is going through, funds for section 8 housing choice vouchers will be available in December. Section 8 programs are available in all states and are funded by the HUD department . This allows tenants the right to choose a residence that meets strict criteria and is certified as a section 8 housing residence. It allows low income individuals and families to pay a percentage of their rent, the rest is funded by HUD. People who are successful on this program have the opportunity to buy their own homes through the DAP program which allows families to get assistance for a down payment on a home being built in an unincorporated area of the county or city. There is also the Self Help Program , which allows families to use sweat equity as a down payment on their new homes also built in unincorporated areas. Often times this is the only way low income families are able to own homes. Imagine going from homeless to homeowner, and what a great feeling it is. I am just happy for now renting my house!

My new friend tells me she will come by this weekend when I have a yard sale. I told her to bring stuff she needs to get rid of and come and relax for the day. I hope she does show up. Just the other night my girls and their friend walked to the neighborhood store and it was a little later. My oldest rushed in to tell me that there was a young woman standing out in front of the store with a little girl and luggage and a container filled with toys. I immediately thought of my new friend. She said she looked lost and scared, and at the moment that she was going to approach her to see if she needed anything a woman got out of her car and offered this young mother a ride. She accepted and I can only imagine the situation she was leaving to take a ride with a compassionate stranger. I know if I would have been there I would have done the same thing. Would you have?

Homelessness in America is not going to go away anytime soon and the homeless people who are in your town don't deserve to be shunned or discarded like trash, sometimes a kind word is all that is needed. Maybe a sandwich or hot coffee or cold water. Be thankful that you are sitting in your house tonight with a nice meal even if its Hamburger Helper, and electricity, and the sounds of people near you. That you are able to take a hot bath for how ever long you want. When you put your head on your pillow in your bed think of those people who are trying to find a place to sleep. Think of me and my kids in our van, and how I still got up and went to work and they to school everyday. We were fortunate to have the assistance of Madera Unified School Ditricts liason Rachel Donatelli who gave us information about keeping my girls in their schools. Homeless students sometimes find refuge at school because it is the only stable environment they experience during their period of homelessness. This link provides information on a national level for homeless student assistance The McKinney Act which you can also find in the previous link provides information regarding the laws of "The No Child Left Behind Act" as it applies to homeless students. Do not pity us we are better people for having had that experience. We are stronger as individuals and as a family. Home truly is where the heart is. If you or someone you know is at risk of or are experiencing homelessness contact locally for emergency rent vouchers or funds for temporary shelter, or nationally 

October 29,2010
Just wanted to add that Roger passed away he fell at the bus station and hit the back of his head and fractured his skull, he went into a coma and passed on October 25th, we all miss you Roger and know that you are in a much better place probably talking with Jimi and Janis about their hair.
In memory of Rodger Dwayne Lott. The place won't be the same without you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

good hair..bad hair...freckles or tan are u defined by these as a woman of color?

I am 100% Mexican American. My love is 1/2 African American and 1/2 Chippewa, Native American for those that do not know what Chippewa is. The native name is Ojibwe. We have three beautiful daughters from our sometimes tumultuous and stormy union. None of them resemble the other and this was cause for a lot of unspoken side glances and whispered gossip among family and strangers alike. When I would go to the doctors office I would inevitably get glances and doubletakes and stares when I referred to my daughters as sisters. "Oh they are sisters?" was the common question I would get. "Yes they are sisters and before you ask, yes they have the same father," I would add. I knew that was the next question on these gossipy ghetto fab chicks minds sitting in the office with their babies. I always felt the need to explain my childrens heritage and ethnic makeup, I don't know why. Just seemed that once they knew there was a legitimate reason why my caramel colored, doe eyed doll and her dresden skinned, almond eyed sister were so different, their tone and stares stopped.

I will admit that I was quite nervous when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I had nightmares that she would some how inherit the "bad" hair I had heard about from my loves Aunts. I even had dreams that she would be this ebony skinned little baby that no one would believe was mine. My love is a nice caramel color in the summer and sometimes even lighter than me, a fair skinned Mexican. His hair had wavy curls, when he had hair that is. My Father even said I ended up with a Black man to spite him, so surely he would feel the same way about my baby. Oh but when she arrived her beautiful little face and coal black "good" hair made his heart melt and everyone elses. When my second daughter arrived she was this redskinned rat faced little baby with tiny little slits for eyes and golden tips on her light reddish brown hair. In a few weeks time she turned into this pre-dresden skinned little pink beauty. When I see them next to eachother now I think how beautiful they are. Each envying things in the other, my caramel girl has curly waves and my fair skinned porcelain doll has straight. She looked like a little china doll when she was little. Then there is my mini-me she is nothing that they are and she is every bit her mama.

I had asked my love when he was little was it hard for him growing up. He said he was called "zebra" and "white boy". He felt different and was treated as such by his Aunt's and Grandma's, at least that was his perception. Other people did not believe him when he told them who his mom was, people thought he was adopted. He said he felt reverse racism even in his own home with family talking about "white folks" and equally talking about "black folks" too. He said he did not fit in with the Blacks or the Whites and settled on being a class clown to get attention and fit in. He felt angry, confused, like he should not have been born. He learned to become a chameleon, observing other people to fit in, but in his neighborhood he was rejected in many ways. He says he was not "hood" enough, he did not speak in the street slang, but rather in a more respectful manner. He says he felt the need to "come up or down to the individuals level" more for their comfort than his own. When he went to jail for the first time he had to choose who to affiliate with, he chose his Indian heritage something he was told often as a young child, "your father is Indian and that makes you Indian". Associating with them was far less drama laden than claiming White or Black. Looking back on it now he feels that he learned to fit in in any situation and that maybe at the time it was hard on him but it has served him well in life. So I knew my daughters would have the same problems somewhere down the road.

There are little comments or remarks that are made and I hate that I get defensive about them. I will never forget being in the grocery store when my oldest was about 5 and my middle was about 3. She was sitting in a cart and kept looking at this black lady who had these long beautiful braids, staring at her every turn she made. Finally the lady made this remark "Actin' like they never seen a black person before!" and she started to stomp off and I said, "Thats funny because they are black and they see their Aunts and Grandmas all the time." She looked at me and I know she was seething... but I did add, "she's just never seen extensions." This was in the 90's pre Tyra and Beyonce extensions, braids were the common look. I secretly felt good inside HAH I told her! Once my oldest entered school she had a little bully who called her "blackie" keep in mind this Mexican child was darker than my daughter. Also keep in mind that I live in a town that though there are color lines it  is not as backwoods as the next town over. We have a mix of nationalities. My little girl would come home in tears. So finally when she asked me why she was the color she was. I took a lesson from my Grandma Katie who called them chocolate and vanilla, I read a story called "Grandma Blue" to the class. Took some Neopolitan ice cream and took out a scoop of vanilla saying it was me, and then I took out the chocolate and strawberry saying this was her Dad. Then I mixed them and showed the kids the color and I asked is the ice cream still good? Of course they all said yes. I explained to them some of us might have more chocolate, or vanilla or strawberry and it shouldn't matter because we are all still the same. So that saying mean things to each other or calling someone names was just not nice. Then they all got ice cream and my daughter was the hit of the year. No more tears that year anyway.

 I check the box that says "other" on paperwork for their race/ethnicity. I guess that being who they are sometimes can be the issue of the day and that will subside as they get older.I find it sad that my oldest daughter was not black enough to hang out with the black girls and my middle daughter oddly has more black friends. Personally I think my daughter was seen as a threat to all those black girls who hated her "good hair" and her "high yellow" skin. When they tell people their ethnicity they get puzzled looks and "no you are not!" as if being Black, Mexican, and Native American has a set skin tone. My youngest fits in with everyone anywhere, but that is because she is outgoing. So I find it strange that my straighthaired girl still flatirons her hair as much as my curly locked daughter. My freckle faced girl hates her freckles she who barely tans 1/2 a shade when in the sun all day. My oldest is tan all year round. My hair is more nappy than any of theirs! Oooh and girl my "kitchen" is a mess, (that is the nape hair on your head). Good hair, bad hair, bee stung lips, or just right lips, freckles, or tan.... these things don't define you. As a good friend says "I define me!" Embrace your uniqueness.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I was syndicated on
As you see by the title of my blog page, yes, yes I am a welfare mother. There is a misconception that all people on welfare are lazy, drug addicted, uneducated, dregs of society. Well I am here to tell you that misconception needs to be changed. The simple facts of the matter are that many people like me on welfare are single working moms. I make no excuses for the choices I have made, like being in love with a drug addict, or that I played a role in my own demise from a bright future. I have made a lot of irresponsible choices along the way to this somewhat happy stage of my forty-something life. Choices that led me to be on and off of welfare for the last 18 years. I have also worked or been in college for those last 18 years. I work at a job that pays me 11.00 dollars an hour and I have benefits. Benefits that I cannot afford. According to the poverty guidelines our state has set for welfare recipients I still qualify for full coverage Medi-cal and Foodstamps. I have two children that are on my welfare case. Not ten...

The thing that got me writing this blog was, well believe it or not, Facebook. I was Facebooking it on break from my job and I ran across a status that an old high school friend had posted. Something to the effect that she was irritated that someone getting their medication from the pharmacy she works at with Medi-cal benefits had a cell phone with better apps than hers. Well of course I was reading this on MY cellphone. She went on to say that people on welfare had no business owning cellphones.Well this really got me thinking  how whitebread that statement was. Whitebread is a term Iwill frequently use for people I view as conservative. So I had to post a comment back. It basically said that I was sorry she felt that way and that she must feel that way about me, because I too received assistance and worked. I went on to say that my cellphone is my only phone and that I had commented via my facebook application. Well, if that did not ignite a firestorm. I will admitt that throughout the morning I checked for any notifications regarding her status. She went on to comment later that, It was ok if I had a cellphone, OUCH, just not people who abuse the system. Like I needed her approval  to have my cellphone, hah Cricket didn't even do a credit check! During the day I kept track of comments left and the women who did respond all agreed with her. The last person to respond commented that she had just left a Von's grocery store and was in line behind a woman with a multicolored weave and a Juicy Couture track suit, with Rockstar nails and Coach shoes and a Gucci bag. This lady in front of her was complaining about the size of the cereal box she was getting according to the commentator with her "foodstamp card thingy". She went on to say that she and her husband who are school teachers work very hard and that they have a budget blah blah blah blahzooo. I imagined her voice sounding  like the Peanuts schoolteacher as I read this, "WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH WAAAH." So me, being the type who has to have the last word, commented back.

I explained in my post that what that lady was complaining about was probably the WIC program  because with Foodstamps you can get any size of cereal box! I went on to say that her multicolored weave was probably a "kitchen weave" and her namebrand clothes, shoes, and purse were all probably knockoffs found at the local flea-market, and the "Rockstar" nail polish could be found there too! I then explained that the WIC (go to this link to learn more or Women Infants and Childrens program were vouchers for specific healthy foods for pregnant, and lactating women and children under five. The Foodstamp program found via this link  is funded by the USDA as is the WIC program. Then I closed with this little thought, I told her to take a look at her students in whatever school she was teaching in and try to guess which one would go without any dinner that night. A meal most of us take for granted. Maybe their parents let pride stand in the way of getting assistance, maybe they worry about the people that would smile in their faces, and then grumble behind their backs in that grocery store checkout line. People like her. I did this all from my handy dandy pre-paid Cricket cellphone. So I had the last word I think because I received no other notifications. So thanks friend, and friend's friend for inspiring my first blog! I love to inform misinformed people, think of it as community service for the assistance I get!

Right now so many people are going without, sometimes because of misinformation, sometimes because of pride. The economy being what it is I don't see less people on aid anytime soon. Working class poor, people who live paycheck to paycheck like myself, will make the best of  it. That is after all what we have learned to do, or do without.  I will feed my kids whether I pay cash or use my benefits because we know all to well what it is like to be hungry. I try to be a no nonsense kind of shopper (it helps that I am a great cook that is another blog though) but every once in a while we eat a steak bought with foodstamps. The hardships I and my children have endured, everything from hunger to homlessness, have made us who we are today. I do not live with regrets because anything I have lived and learned has been well worth it. Now I have the opportunity to write about it...... on the computer I own with internet service. Something else people on welfare should not have. OOOPS...