The Day We Realized We’re Homeless

OK, yes, technically, we’ve been homeless since Thanksgiving. But there’s reality, and there’s your perception of reality. Barring a few financial hiccups, we’re fine. Just to look st us, you’d probably never realize we’re homeless.

If you’ve never heard of imposter syndrome, it’s this thing where you feel like your achievements are some kind of mistake that you’re going to have to pay for sooner or later.

In our case, we could look out the window and see people sleeping in a storage unit or under a bench, and then dismiss our own reality. See, we’re not as bad off as those people. We have clean clothes and jobs. We’re not really homeless.

Well, our camping stove arrived yesterday. And first of all, we realized the best place to cook would be an abandoned motel. See, anywhere else we went, it was either explicitly not allowed, or we’d have been risking police hassling. So an abandoned building became a safe shelter for us.

And second, I couldn’t get the fire started. I’ve never done it before. I cooked on a propane grill, but this is my first encounter with charcoal. Kate had to help me. And during the whole process, all I could think is how unfair it is that we’re not allowed to just eat. Because we’re homeless. Because we live in a car.

Every post I write, I struggle with imposter syndrome. I mean, I’m just one person. I’ve done research, sure, but at the end of the day, I’m still fairly privileged compared to other homeless people. I don’t know really know what it’s like for someone living in a cardboard box outside a homeless shelter or in a park.

Today, I think Kate and I got over that a little bit. Sleeping in a car and having clean clothes doesn’t make us less homeless. It makes us lucky. It makes us pretty good planners.

I’m not a spokesperson for homeless people everywhere just because I started blogging. But I am genuinely homeless, and it’s OK to accept that.

 

Please donate at http://paypal.me/tarengrant
Even a single dollar makes a huge difference to us.

Love is All You Need

And unfortunately, it’s in short supply. I’ve talked before about the hierarchy of needs. You have physiological needs (food, water, sleep), safety, love, esteem (feeling like you’ve done something that matters), and self-actualization (you have achieved your dreams and won at life forever). It looks a bit like this. Most people live somewhere between love and self-actualization, and self-actualization is the hardest to achieve. But when you’re homeless, you’re doing good to stay on the bottom level.

Kate and I live on the safety level. We struggle with food sometimes (the end of last month was a pretty good example), but we’re not worried about starving. If worst absolutely comes to worst, we can go back to her abusive parents and get money. We’ll do everything we possibly can to avoid that moment, but we’re not going to die.

We’re also not in danger. We spend all day in a library. When we can’t be here, we have two churches, a gym, and a Panera Bread to choose from. We live and sleep in a car, but we have enough blankets and warm clothes that we don’t have to worry about freezing to death.

So love is the level we struggle with. We love each other. We have friends who love us. But the rest of the country hates us. We’re homeless, and that makes us automatically criminals in a lot of people’s eyes. It doesn’t matter that we’ve never done anything wrong. One infraction is all it takes for people to condemn us.

I think I’ve mentioned our storage unit before. If not, we have one, which we pay $100 a month. The place is quiet and has a bathroom, so we spent time there on occasion. Until today, when the gentleman who works there lectured us about this isn’t out personal bathroom and we need to stop sleeping there (Kate was the only one sleeping; I was on my phone.) He informed us that we’d been spoken to about this before and refused to listen when I said we had not. I said it wouldn’t happen again, and he continued to lecture us for like two fucking minutes.

There are at least two homeless families living on the third floor of that building. A bag lady comes through with a shopping cart every single morning that we’re there. And someone is illegally storing gasoline near our unit. But we’re the criminals because we thought paying $100 every fucking months meant we could occasionally use the bathroom or sit quietly in the parking lot to watch a movie.

This is not the first place we’ve been kicked out of. McDonald’s has done it twice. Apparently, you’re not allowed to sit and eat your food in their dining room. You have to be out in 15 minutes. Take too long, even if you’re the only customer, and you risk getting kicked out. Dunkin Donuts did it once: same deal, though a little more understandable since they don’t have a proper dining room. Even our gym coach, who told us point blank that he wanted to do anything he could to help before we ever asked, told us we had to stop cooking there because someone complained about a smell.

This country needs to rethink its attitude towards homeless people. I am not a criminal. I am not trying to scam the system. I just want a place to unwind after work like everyone else. And you know what? I’m not even asking you to give me that. I just need you to stop taking it away whenever I find it.

 

Please donate at http://paypal.me/tarengrant
Even a single dollar makes a huge difference to us.

Update

The last two days were rough. I’ve had a lunchable so far today. They’re usually out of my price range, but they’re on sale for $1 at the moment. So that was a nice treat.

Due to our late start on getting work done last month, we’re a little strapped for cash at the moment. And thanks to all the holidays this month, we’re a little worried how the next one is going to go. It was shaping up to be better, but we’ve been fighting hunger and depression for about a week now. I’ve been burning through my stock of dried cereal, and Kate’s had almost nothing but bananas and milk. So we’re both sick and half starved, and work is going very slow.

On that note, I’m going to start putting a link to my paypal at the bottom of every post.

And things have taken a turn for the awful. Kate looks like she’s about to start seizing right now, so I’m going to cut it short here.

Please donate at http://paypal.me/tarengrant
Even a single dollar makes a huge difference to us.

Let’s Talk Politics

I did not vote for Trump. I do not like Trump. But I had to watch his speech the other day, and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about his presidency. I can’t tell if I’m just being taken in by more of his lies. He insists he’s going to replace Obamacare with something better. That would be amazing.

I don’t have health insurance. Even under Obamacare, I couldn’t get coverage because they couldn’t seem to process the concept of being self-employed. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a freelance transcriptionist. I am my employer. But for the past two years, until we became homeless, I was almost completely unable to work. Kate’s seizures were so bad that, even if I did pick up a job, I’d have to drop it again almost immediately. Until we became homeless, I had made about $50 for all of 2016.

So I’m very low income. That seems pretty straight forward, right? They just need a letter from my previous employer to tell them about how I was fired, and we can get this whole thing started right away.

OK, but I’m self-employed.

Oh, so you are making money?

No. I had to stop taking work to be a full-time unpaid nurse.

Oh, OK, we get it. We just need a letter from your previous employer…

And around and around and around. At one point, I finally got someone to tell me I needed a self-attestation. No guidance on what that means. No form to fill out. Just write up a self-attestation and turn it in. Where do I turn it in? Under the self-attestation category on your dashboard, there on the website.

There isn’t one.

Oh. Um…file it as a paycheck?

And then four months later, they finally got around to looking at it and informed me that it was about four months too late. But hey, if I wanted insurance, I could totally pay $400 a month for it!

So this is definitely a system that needs replaced. I’m just not sure I trust Trump to do it. Kate fully believes that he’s going to introduce universal healthcare, but I just…I don’t know. I don’t trust him. Not after the rioting at his rallies. Not after the rampant racism, the lying to get into office, the sexism towards Clinton.

I can only see this whole thing as one big long con for him. He’s going to come out of the presidency with twice as much money as he went in, and we’ll have nothing to show for it. But I hope I’m wrong. I really do. Because I want to believe him. I want to believe this country will be a better place for someone like me, for someone like Kate. I want to live in a place we can be happy.

Winter

This weekend is going to be brutal for sleeping, the coldest we’ve face yet. It’s threatening to get down to 19 degrees during the night, and the worst we’ve face is like 28, maybe 26. We’re a little worried. We went out and got Kate a ski-mask and gloves, some nice thermal leggings, and some thermal socks. She’s very happy right now. We also found a set of hand, foot, and body warmers that will help if we don’t manage to get indoors. So hopefully, she’s all set.

My problem is that I’m claustrophobic. For me, sleeping at night is a careful balancing act between being warm and not abandoning the car in a panic. I had a dream the other night, it wasn’t even a proper nightmare, that I felt like I was drowning. I flailed awake, shoved my blanket and pillow into the backseat, and started driving off in a panic. Fortunately, Kate was still awake at the time, so my freaking out didn’t cause a seizure.

Sometimes, once in a blue moon, I can sleep with my coat on. I do sleep with socks, sometimes even my shoes, and a sweatshirt, and even that relatively little amount of clothing is too constrictive. So I’m a little worried about myself. I might borrow a pair of Kate’s socks for the night and try to wear my coat. Or I might go to McDonald’s and just try to stay up if it’s too bad.

I really wish we could get a little battery powered heater this month, but I have a feeling it’ll be useless. Anything powerful enough to overcome 19 degrees would probably be a dangerous fire hazard in a car. Ah, well. We’ll make it through. We don’t have great options, but we do have options.

Next month, though. Maybe some better blankets. The ones we have don’t trap heat very well.