Boundaries

I got my first donation this morning! Thank you so much, SummerRain75! It helps a lot. You basically saved our whole day with that.

Kate and I were leaving the storage unit the other day. We were dawdling a bit, so we had the opportunity to watch a hatchback pull up and a family get out, two adults and a small girl clutching a blanket and a stuffed animal. That little girl stared at us the whole time we were backing out to leave, pretty much until she couldn’t see us anymore, and the adults kept glancing at us suspiciously.

Kate turned to me and said, “I bet those people are living in there.”

Sure enough, their car didn’t move again the rest of the night. The never left. They’ve been there two nights in a row now.

Being alone is hard. You’re lonely. You’re bored. It’s tempting to turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the mental pain. When you have even one companion, you have someone to talk with to ease the solitude and the long hours. But in exchange, you give up personal space. Your time is no longer your own. Everywhere you go and everything you do must be part of a joint decision. And, yes, that includes sleeping, too.

Kate and I have to go to bed at the same time. If, say, Kate is still awake when I crash for the night, then she’s just sitting around bored waiting to fall asleep herself. She has to be quiet so as not to wake me up so that I can get the sleep I need to function.

And that’s going to cascade into me waking up before she does, and then I get to be the one sitting around bored. I can drive us around if I want, and sometimes I do. But every bump and road noise risks waking her up, which means she’s not getting the sleep she needs to function.

It’s a delicate balancing act, which is why it’s so important to have boundaries. Sometimes, you absolutely need to say, “I know you’re trying to sleep, but I have to park in this noisy parking lot so I can get a shower.”

That was actually the specific event that spawned this post, in fact. I don’t have good boundaries, so when Kate protested the parking lot, I gave in and left. Then I brooded for an hour. Then I exploded at her for it. And that is the danger of being homeless with someone else. If you don’t have good boundaries and support with each other, it’s going to wreck your relationship.

We’re doing OK, by the way. We’ve weathered much worse in our six or seven years together.


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Even a single dollar makes a huge difference to us.

The Penalty for Caring

So Kate’s fine after yesterday. She usually is. This time, the seizure wasn’t as bad as it was looking when I bailed on the post. So now, I’m going to ramble about something I saw on Twitter.

Basically, the president of this college found a homeless student with schizophrenia living in the forest. He can’t take the kid home (giving the kid a ride is apparently against company policy or something), and he couldn’t think of anything else to do. So he let the kid sleep in the library and gave him some money to refill his schizophrenia meds. And for that, he was fired.

On the one hand, this seems like a pretty clear case of the homeless prejudice most people seem to have. “Oh, circumstances beyond your control have left you without shelter, food, or options? Well, fuck you! You should have tried harder!” There are no extenuating circumstances for this student. It doesn’t matter that he could have died from exposure out in the woods. He’s not allowed to sleep in a nice, warm library, and President Carroll has to pay the price for allowing it.

On the other hand, there are other options here. Carroll gives the student money. He couldn’t have paid for a motel room? Help the student arrange for alternate housing? I mean, it’s a for-profit college, so there’s probably no dorm system. But they could have looked at shelters or called acquaintances until they found a couch for him to sleep on.

I guess…I don’t really have a lot of insight here. Something important happened. A man was penalized for caring about another human being. Even if he didn’t go about it the best way, I don’t think he deserved to lose his job.


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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.

“Beyond Scared Straight” is Trash

I had occasion, today, to watch a few minutes of this show. First, the kid’s family informs us that he can’t be helped because he won’t listen. Then his brother, who’s been through the program before, teases him and asks if he’s going to cry. Then four cops bully him relentlessly, let inmates bully him relentlessly, make him cry, scare the shit out of him, and just generally traumatize him.

How the fuck is this supposed to help?

First of all, this kid has probably been abused his whole life. I mean, this is a family that thinks abusing him further is a good plan to get what they want out of him, so that seems like a safe bet. And it doesn’t really matter if they’ve ever laid a hand on him or not. There are other, much more insidious types of abuse.

Then they broadcast his abuse on television for all to see. TV producers don’t care about helping kids. They care about getting people to watch their show. What kind of person enjoys watching kids get abused?

Then, at the end, they make him say a bunch of things about how glad he is that he went through this because he’s not getting in trouble anymore. He has to say that because viewers need a narrative. They need to be able to fool themselves into believing they’re not really monsters who enjoy watching abuse victims get further traumatized for entertainment.

No one is getting helped by the shit. Unless you count the producers. They’re probably getting a nice fat paycheck.

Traumatizing abuse victims and mental illness sufferers makes them more likely to use drugs and commit violent crimes. You tell someone they’re shit long enough, it turns out they start to believe it. You tell someone they’re good for nothing, they stop trying to be good. You tell someone they’ll never be anything more than a thief and a liar, and they’ll decide it’s not worth proving you wrong.

You can’t scare kids straight. You can only scare them. And like a beaten dog, you can only keep them scared for so long before they lash out again. They need help, not abuse.

God, what is wrong with people?

Peanuts

Been a rough weekend. It’s nearly payday finally, which means money is scarce. And that means food is, too. Kate’s been eating a lot of peanuts lately. We used to think they were on the no list, but with everything that’s happened, we thought we’d give them another chance.

See, certain foods are a seizure trigger for her, but so was the abuse she suffered at the hands of her family. So without her family around, we’ll be able to get a more clear picture of what foods are actually bad.

Well, peanuts are definitely still bad. She’s been running down a lot lately and having very minor muscle spasm type seizures, but that seemed perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. We’re both eating like crap and not sleeping well because of the cold. But today, she had a violent running episode.

In retrospect, I can see where this had been building up. She’s been on edge, and much more desperate to escape people of late. Some noisy kids at McDonald’s caused a small running episode the other day.

So I think we’re cutting out peanuts again. Hopefully, she starts getting better soon, once it’s all out of her system.

Camping Stove and Sundry

Wow, I have been really bad about posting everyday, haven’t I? It’s been a pretty exhausting few days. The lack of a warm meal is wearing on me. We used to plug in our hotplate at the gym, but some people complained, so the coach told us we couldn’t do that anymore.

It’s funny how people keep saying they want to help, but they won’t give us the one thing we need. We have sleep accommodations. We have plenty of clothes. We have jobs. We have internet. We have transportation and storage. We just need a place to cook food. Yet the only thing people are ever willing to help with is googling homeless resources and letting us sleep on a couch.

Well, that’ll be solved soon. Friend of ours (Hi, Zob! 😀 ) bought us a power inverter. I’ll have more to say about that when it arrives, but the important thing is we’ll be able to plug our hotplate into the car. At that point, it’ll just be about finding a place to cook where no one will bother us. The church parking lot where we sleep is too exposes, and the gym is too busy. So we’ll probably try the storage facility parking lot for a while. There’s hardly anyone there, and we can hide around the back of the building with no trouble.

On that note, let’s talk about carbecue. Because we tried it this last week. If you google “cooking on a car engine,” you’re going to get a wikihow article that is way too complicated. The pictures make no sense (to me, at least), and it talks about using an ambient temperature thermometer to find the hottest spot on your engine.

If you’re in our position, you probably don’t have an ambient temperature thermometer. You probably can’t afford one. You definitely don’t want to buy one to use once for a couple minutes and then never touch again.

Anyway, here’s my experience. We turned the car on. The engine didn’t get hot enough. We turned the heater off, just in case that was hindering the temperature. The engine still wasn’t hot enough. We left it run for an hour. I could lay my hand on the engine and leave it there with only some mild discomfort. We gave up.

Much better plan is a camping stove. You can even make one yourself. You’re probably eating a lot of canned food, and some cans is all you really need. Just google “DIY camping stove”. Some of these things get really elaborate. I can’t speak to how well any of them work, unfortunately. But if you don’t have a hotplate and power inverter, camping stove is probably the way to go.

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.

Surveys for Cash

Apologies in advance. Posting from my phone today.

I’ve spent the day doing surveys for money. And let me tell you: these things are bullshit. I made $2 over the course of four hours.

I knew I wasn’t going to strike it rich. A lot of sites will try to convince you that you can make thousands. They’ll even try to dress it up in more logical terms by saying you have to join a bunch of different sites and really dedicate your time to it.

Do not listen. Surveys are bullshit. No matter how good it sounds, you’re not making as much as they’ll lead you to believe you are.

Working While Homeless

Money is an obvious thing. We all need it. You can overlook the effects of a warm meal on your state of mind when they’re just the norm, but money is hard to forget. On that note, I do hope to be able to monetize this blog soon. After all, the more money I can make, the faster I can get into a home.

But I’m not relying on the blog, of course. I have a job. Specifically, I’m a transcription editor. I compete for jobs with other self-employed editors. On a really good day, I can make about $50. You may notice that’s $6.25 an hour, which sounds pretty good, right? But first, remember that’s a good day. That’s a day where the market is flush with work, and I’ve worked my ass off to get it and get it done fast.

And second, my days are not eight hours and then go home for the evening. My work day starts when I get up, and it ends when I go to bed.

Now, you may think, “But Car Dweller! How do you find time to blog?”

Answer: by slacking off. The human brain is not capable of focusing on nothing but work for days on end. People who work more than a single job are frequently killing themselves to do it. And then they get called lazy because they’re barely making ends meet.

Well, that’s a tangent I don’t feel like going on right now. I started this post to talk about the important of having a job. You know, for your sanity. Even beyond the need for money, having a job gives you something to structure your life around. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning and a reason not to drink yourself to sleep every night.

The reason I keep such grueling hours, and the reason why I have to be careful to keep them from actually being grueling, is because this job helps me to overcome the depression that lurks in the back of my mind. I have a job. I have a reason to keep going on. As long as I have this job, I don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by the fear and anxiety of not being able to eat or afford gas. As long as I can keep making that much, I can keep hoping that I’ll get out of this situation.