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

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.


  1. I so understand your story. Here is another view.
    My husband had Lung Cancer and after he passed away I was left with no income. I signed up for food stamps and used them at the Ablertson's market. The checkers who worked there made me feel so sinful and what was wrong with me.
    I refuse to shop there ever again!!!
    I am no longer on assistance but do not judge others or make rude comments until you know the real story. Best Wishes Linda Seattle, WA

  2. My husband and I may never own a home because of the huge financial responsibility. We are happy renting but one day we hope to rent a house rather than an apartment. It seems fewer and fewer folks will be able to afford houses of their own in the future. Seems like a real-estate sea change is going on.

    Love your blog! Keep it up.

  3. Thnks so much for reading and visiting my blog I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it. Everything that has ever gone wrong in my life is allowing me the abilty to write and share and maybe help someone out there to not feel alone in whatever they are going through. Best Wishes to you!