Trying To Be Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. But this year I’m having trouble getting into the “thankful” feeling.  The unthinkable happened. Half of US voters chose to send our country into a 4 year train wreck.

I’m getting really tired hearing Trump supporters whine that it’s not fair to call them bigots for voting for the Great Pumpkin. Really? You willingly voted for a bigot. You apparently didn’t care that a racist, misogynist, xenophobe president (with a homophobe VP) just might enact policies that reflect his fucked up views.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein is trying to get a vote recount in a few battleground states. I know it’s a hell of a long shot but I give her credit for fighting to save us all.

We may be stuck with Trump. But thank God, there are people who will NOT allow him to send us back to the 1950’s. Democrats and Independents will bring back the protest spirit of the 1960s. The media may be willing to give him a honeymoon. We will not. He does not deserve one.

You think Democrats gave Nixon a hard time? Just wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Me and My DNA

I’ve always figured that genealogy should be taken with a healthy bit of skepticism.  After all, with each generation of your family tree, you’re assuming nobody had a damn good reason to lie about who’s been sleeping with whom. Not to mention folks who moved to a new area and created a whole new family bio.

Nevertheless, out of curiosity, I decided to spend my pennies finding out my DNA. Before, I assumed my ancestors were all from England or Ireland (the distribution between the two depending on which relative I asked.) But, according to Ancestry DNA, the truth is a bit more interesting.

Based on their results I am:

76% Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales – or some combination of the three.)
7% Ireland (I’m assuming they don’t mean Northern Ireland.)
5% Scandinavia (Some Viking marauders in my past?)
5% West Europe (A lot of possible countries included.)

This adds up to 93%. What about the remaining 7%? Well, Ancestry DNA says it’s divided among three “trace regions”. In other words the percentage is so low that it may or may not be true. They just can’t be sure.

3% Italy/Greece
3% East Europe
1% South Asia (India or Pakistan or Nepal or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.)

I may never find out if my “trace regions” are true or not and I admit that is a little annoying. Still, it does provide a lot for me to speculate about.

After that, I uploaded the file to for a medical report. Maybe others will find it useful but I didn’t. I’d get one element that suggests a higher risk for something and another lowering it. No explanation of which element holds more weight so there’s no way for me to figure out my true total risk. Although, prostate cancer came up often enough for me to be glad I’m not a guy. The next time I have a checkup I’ll have to see what my doctor can make of it. If anything.


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Presidential Election Schadenfreude

Looking at the mess the Republican Party is in, it’s really hard to avoid an extravagant sense of schadenfreude – taking pleasure in another’s trouble. I know, it’s not nice. But, hey,  I never claimed to be a perfect Christian.

I’m 52 years old. My entire life, the leadership of the GOP has gone out of it’s way to stir up hate and fear as well as to pander and wink at prejudice of all kinds. Some Republicans act as if Trump came out of nowhere, an inexplicable aberration. But he is the Frankenstein the GOP created. The GOP is not going to recover from the damage this ugly American has already caused until they face that fact and make some profound changes. Sadly, I’ve yet to see any sign they will.

And then there is the other candidate – Hillary Clinton. For those who don’t want to support her because she’s always been so controversial, I would say name one powerful woman who HASN’T been controversial. Despite all our progress, our society sees it as a character flaw if a women desires a leadership role. Women are still held to a higher standard in too many areas where a man would be given the benefit of the doubt. Think I’m exaggerating? When’s the last time you’ve heard of a male actor who was asked about his clothing’s designer instead of his roles? When has a male executive ever had to justify his work/family life balance? How often is a father criticized for his parenting choices? Why is it considered a sin for a women to be even 10 lbs overweight or God forbid, to show signs of aging? And why in 2016, are rape victims still asked about what they wore and who’ve they’ve dated, as if that justifies anything? Not to mention a judge who worries more about the rapist than the victim.

When my grandmother was born, women didn’t have the vote. When my mother was an abused young wife, domestic violence was considered a private family problem.

When I was a little girl, about 11 or 12 I think, there was a case in the news that made quite an impression on me. A woman accused her husband of raping her. From the media reaction, no one could remember a case of marital rape before. I remember there was a lot of discussion about whether or not a man could be legally charged with raping his wife. Even as young I was, I understood that if a woman lost all right to say no to her man once he put a ring on her finger, that meant she was legally his property. I couldn’t understand why there even any debate.

Women of ‘a certain age’ remember all of this bullshit and more. Including Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump keeps talking about ‘the Woman’s Card’, as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

Hey, Donald let me make it loud and clear. I am not only voting for Hillary Clinton because she is the only grownup in the race, the only sane person in the race, the only qualified person in the race, and the only non-bigot in the race. I am also proud to vote for a woman who knows her gender’s  history and takes the concerns of half of our country’s population seriously.

When I was young, I never thought I’d live long enough to see either a person of color or a woman elected president. I’ve never been so proud to be proved wrong.


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Remembering Bonnie

Today is the first chilly day of the fall here in the city. Everyone is running around like doom is approaching. Yeah, yeah I know, “Winter is coming”. But after last year (my first winter in NYC), I’m not taking it that seriously. At one point we had a serious snowstorm forecast that the media hyped into some kind of “snowpocalypse”. The mayor, transportation officials and all the other relevant city officials shut down the city and told everybody to stay home. Most people did. So of course it only snowed a couple of inches. Makes me glad I’m not in the weather forecasting business. 


This morning, the temperature started out in the high forties. Since I have housing now and a nice warm winter coat, I was better able to appreciate the crisp morning air as I walked along. It reminded me of Bonnie, a dog I had as a child. 


I got Bonnie, a Scottish Terrier, when I was in second grade. She was a butterball with fur. I think she was about two years old. She finally had to be put down due to her failing health in my sophomore year of college. Momma used to call her my security blanket. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say she helped raise me. 


We kept her coat trimmed short but she still hated hot weather. The year we spent in Florida, I had to drag her outside. She wasn’t about to leave the air conditioning willingly. She was thrilled when we moved back up to a place that had a real winter. 


Every fall, the first day with a bite in the air, she’d come bouncing back into the house after a trip outside. She’d zoom around the place, bursting with energy. On snowy days, I had to make sure I was ready at the door with a towel in my hands. Or else I’d have to chase her around the house a few times before I could tackle her and dry her off. That’s what I remember best about her – the way she’d take so much joy in something so simple. It was a gift all of us could use. Taking joy in the little pleasures of the moment. 

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Making Progress

I became homeless on July 1st last year. But a week ago yesterday – I finally got a place to call home again. It’s subsidized community housing for homeless people with mental health issues – which means there is onsite staff to make sure the residents are ok & taking their medicine & going to therapy. I have a studio apartment all to myself. It’s in the Lower East Side close to East Village Access (EVA) the place where I go for group therapy. I’m still in shock that I ended up in a place this nice.

But it only happened because of the help I got from EVA and my Bellevue Home Health Coordinator. I’ve been very lucky to have so many dedicated professionals in my corner. That’s never happened before. (Sad to say but the people at my shelter were not so helpful.) And after seven and a half months wandering in the maze of the NYC system I understand now why some people give up.

Despite what you might think there are really only two kinds of homeless people – those who have given up hope of any real change and those who haven’t quite yet. If you don’t believe what the social workers tell you it does make sense that you wouldn’t want to put up with all the petty bs that goes with trying to work within the shelter system. Everyone who walks through the door already has a lot of issues and stress they are trying to deal with. (Not very well obviously.) But the shelters that are supposed to lift you up all too often seem designed instead to break you by piling it on even more.

I wish I could tell you what kept me from giving up when I saw others like me walk out the door. Hope is a tricky thing. You don’t always know where it comes from or how to hold onto to it. But by some miracle I’ve made it this far.

This is only the first step to getting my life in some kind of order. Now I’ve got to find the nerve to take the next one.

Wish me luck.

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A Little Birthday Love

Today (February 3rd) is my mother’s AND my grandfather’s birthday. Grandpa always liked to call Momma his birthday present. If they were still alive Momma would be 79 years old and Grandpa 103. Now I’M feeling old.

Grandpa was a Southern Baptist preacher. He was as much of a conservative as I’ve always been a flaming liberal. And yet we connected. I can still remember as a little girl how I would look up at him and see this big mountain of a man. (He wasn’t that tall – but he was broad.) He was my rock – the one man I could always count on. He might shake his head over my nutty ways. But I knew he had my back.

Momma was my cheerleader and biggest fan. She never had the slightest doubt that I could do whatever I wanted. She didn’t really care what – as long as it made me happy. And with my overactive imagination I came up with a lot of interesting possibilities. When I was around seven or eight I loved to watch this cartoon show “The Harlem Globe Trotters” that was loosely (VERY loosely) based on the real life professional basketball team. I distinctly remember telling Momma that when I grew up I was going to join their team. God knows how she managed to keep a straight face. But she didn’t argue. She just went right out and bought me a basketball. I’m your stereotypical bookworm and anything but athletically inclined. So that particular fancy didn’t last long. It didn’t matter. Like every other crazy idea I came up with she just knew I could make it happen if I really wanted it.

They’ve been gone so many years now. But even after all this time I can still feel their love – their unconditional love. And how precious and rare it was.

Happy Birthday Grandpa!
Happy Birthday Momma!

Miss you.

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This Is Who I Am

Back in Regency England there was an infamous courtesan by the name of Harriette Wilson. When it came time for her to retire, she decided to write her “memoirs”. She would write a draft of a chapter then send copies of it to all the men mentioned in it by name. If a gentleman paid her a nice sum of money she’d remove all reference to him. If not, she’d let it stand. Some of her former clients included both royalty and members of Parliament. So a lot of them did pay. But not everyone.

When the Duke of Wellington received his copy he had only one response. “Publish and be damned!” I’ve always admired his nerve. He understood that secrets only have the power you allow them.

My family’s history reads like a bad soap opera. But what’s always hurt us the most were the secrets we kept – or tried to keep. From each other and from the world. I suppose I’m going to the opposite extreme, but this is what I need to do for me.

This past November I left Florida and headed to New York. Florida is becoming more and more hostile to the homeless. I didn’t really expect much in the way of help. I just figured there were more shelters in NYC and maybe the cops would be more likely to leave me alone. What I got was a lot more, from a lot of different sources.

But I still struggled with my depression. So in December, I voluntarily checked into the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. I’ve had suicidal thoughts a number of times before in my life. But this time was different. I’d reached the point where I just didn’t trust myself not to try something.

I knew I’d had 3 or 4 major bouts of depression over my lifetime. But the doctor said what really was happening was that I had an ongoing depression (since childhood) and that the major episodes were piled on top of it. And when I thought about it it did make sense. He asked me why I’d waited so long to get help. Well, duh. I waited because it felt like normal to me.

I spent 3 weeks in the hospital – checking out on Christmas Eve. I’m now on anti-depressant medication for the first time. And I’m going to see a therapist. I’m coping. One day at a time.

I don’t see myself as some sort of inspiration. But I do know that there has never been any problem that was solved by not talking about it. I hope my blog will add just a little bit to the general public conversation about homelessness and suicide/mental illness. The more people who can talk about it – the easier it will get for others to ask for help. Those who survive are the ones who are able to ask for help – and then get it.

Howie Mandel felt really embarrassed when his struggle with OCD first became public. Until he realized he was making a difference. (

I refuse to be afraid to speak.

This is who I am.

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Still Homeless – But Relocated

So I’m still homeless – just now in a different state.

A lot of local governments in Florida (including Ft. Myers where I lived) are trying their best to criminalize homeless people as a way of dealing with the problem. For example if you fall asleep in the middle of the day in a public park the police can arrest you if they want to. Over half of the other homeless people I knew personally have been arrested for loitering/trespassing.

The local churches and Salvation Army in Ft. Myers are doing everything they can to help but there are only 2 shelters there and only one of them takes women. They are always full and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse. Recently in Ft Lauderdale a 90 year old man was arrested for feeding the homeless.

So I decided I should leave Florida before I ended up getting arrested. I was getting tired of it anyway. My step-sister D. was right – after a while you do miss the change of seasons. It took a while but I saved up enough money for a Greyhound bus ticket to NYC.

I am staying in a shelter in the Manhattan area. Even though I am brand new to New York I am still eligible for help – and they have a LOT of different kinds of help available. I’ve already got a food stamp card & I have an appointment to see a therapist to treat my depression. I think if I can finally get a handle on my depression I may finally pull myself together. I’ve already decided that if the therapist recommends medication I will agree to give it a try.

As for work – my short stories are bringing in a tiny income. I also have written a few blog posts for a website. I think if I can beat back my depression then with a bit more energy I could make a full time income freelance copywriting – with a side income from my fiction. That’s my goal anyway.

Wish me luck! (Grin)

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And How Was Your Summer?

Well, this was a really fun summer. I did have a day job. The hourly pay was low and at times the stress was high but I still managed to get by. But the hours eventually dried up. So since the beginning of July I’ve been both jobless and homeless.

I’ve given up on getting another regular job. I’m tired of trying to fit my square peg self into yet another round hole. It’s time I faced it – I just wasn’t made for normal. Plus I’m too old (at 50) to appeal to employers anyway. I’m just going to have to rescue myself as a self employed person. I know I can do this if I only push myself enough. Butt in chair and produce – stories and blog posts for businesses.

I am still breathing. So I’m not done yet. There’s an old proverb that goes “Fall down seven times get up eight”. Here’s me getting up once again. Yay, me.

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My Favorite Mae West Quote

MAE WEST WHEN IM GOOD QUOTEMy favorite quote of hers. <G>

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