April 18, 2013

Living & dying on the streets: Being homeless is HARD WORK!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:36 pm

While my apartment was busy being renovated, re-habbed and fixed up for most of last month and a good chunk of this one, I had been forced to find “alternative housing” — staying with relatives, living in cheap motels, house-sitting for strangers, sleeping on various couches and futons, renting rooms-by-the-night in other peoples’ homes, staying in hostels, whatever. But yesterday I finally got to move back home!

Sure, all my stuff was still in boxes when I got back and the heater didn’t work and there was no hot water, but it’s like Virginia Woolf used to say, “All one really needs is a bed and a computer of one’s own.”

Everything else is just icing on the cake.

This past month has been a grand adventure, obviously, and a whole lot of fun in many ways. But the bottom line is that, for most of this time, I was disoriented and grouchy and unsure and unorganized and even afraid. And for much of this time I was basically living out of the back seat of my car — and in laundromats and diners and parks and libraries. Even now, my head hurts just thinking about it.

And even though I myself was never in any real danger of being actually homeless during this time and didn’t have to go without any meals and always found a roof to put over my head, nevertheless, I was constantly stressed out during this entire month. Mucho stressed out. Stressed out a lot!

So just imagine if someone was forced to do this uber-stressful homelessness gig 24/7; for months and even years at a time — with no resources, no backup and no future hope that someday soon they would be going back home again. I can’t even imagine doing all that and still keeping sane.

In just the past month, my complete respect for the homeless has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s a wonder to me that they can handle all this stress day after day and still remain sane. It’s even a wonder to me that they can even still stay alive.

According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “[T]he number of homeless people on a single night in January 2012 was 633,782.” And I bet there were a lot more than that.

Here’s to you, homeless Americans everywhere. Having been almost one of you for only one month, I salute you with all of my heart.

PS: My all-time favorite bumper sticker reads, “Imagine a world where EVERY child is wanted, nurtured, protected and loved: World Peace in one generation!” And I sincerely believed this was true until I met a young woman from China recently — and now have to re-think that idea completely.

“What are they like — those adults in China who have grown up under its single-child system, the fortunately-nurtured ones whose needs have all been met? Are they happy, secure, hopeful, compassionate?”

“No, hardly! They’re egocentric, self-centered and spoiled. They think only of themselves and their own wants and needs. Having been raised without siblings and with so many doting parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all they can pretty much do now as adults is to whine a lot when they don’t get their own way — and expect to be waited on.”

And this same sort of thing seems to be true here at my housing co-op as well. When we all moved in here back in 1979, a lot of us had some pretty grim stories to tell — having endured poverty, homelessness, spousal abuse, single-parent loneliness, unemployment, overcrowding, victimization, addiction, etc; before finding these wonderful homes. I myself had previously been living in an attic without running water and then in a small apartment with no privacy.

And then our sweet little housing co-op offered all of us bruised members of society an idealistic new chance to be wanted, nurtured, protected and loved. My co-op’s motto became “Caring and Sharing”.

And so what happened next? How did these new residents handle this wonderful new chance? Humph. Instead of creating “neighborhood peace in one generation” like we had hoped, they soon became a re-creation of the worst of today’s modern American society, almost exactly. We soon developed an almost Darwinian example of survival of the fittest.

Within ten years, my sweet little housing co-op had already developed its very own Boss Tweeds and its very own 1%.

However, something good did come of all this. Timid little me actually began to develop the necessary cajones to go up against this new 1% all by myself. And even after surviving attempts to beat me up, illegally raise my rent, stage frequent sudden illegal “inspections” of my apartment, actually try to pass an ordinance that I was not allowed to knit in board meetings, hold five (5) kangaroo courts to try to convict me of wrong-doing, attempt to evict me illegally and even to throw me in jail, I did finally win the battle to get my housing co-op not only financially stable for the first time in years but actually renovated and restored to its original pristine condition.

And then, even more important, when George W. Bush stole the 2000 election, I realized that if I could single-handedly defeat the greedy Boss Tweeds who ran my housing co-op, then taking on GWB should be a walk in the park! And that’s how I became a blogger. So, actually, I do owe those former powers-that-be in my co-op a huge debt of gratitude after all.

They proved to me that if someone, even the weakest and meekest of us all, can work long enough and hard enough to achieve justice, then it can be obtained.

And so Wall Street and War Street had better watch out! I am still coming after them. And I’m now locked and loaded — with a computer and a bed!

PPS: A well-known local psychiatrist recently gave a speech to members of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association, and he said that children raised in child-centered households were far LESS likely to become substance abusers than children raised in adult-centered households.

This probably means that the egotistic children of China at least won’t be at risk for getting all addicted to alcohol and drugs — plus it certainly explains why GWB was a drunk and coke addict for so many years.

July 18, 2012

Romney Models New 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Uniforms


September 27, 2010

More Americana: Bryce Canyon, Proposition 8 and a truck stop

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:26 pm

Right now I’m off driving around Utah. And in Park City yesterday, I went to a branch office of the Mormon family heritage center and they helped me trace my ancestors back to North Carolina, back from before the Trail of Tears. Wow. The center even printed me out a copy of an original 1900 Oklahoma census tract. It actually had my great-grandmother Mary’s name on it — and the names of her ten children as well.

And I was recently telling someone in Salt Lake City about how much I liked Utah. “You sound surprised,” he replied. And I was. My only experience with Mormons (aside from my cute high school boyfriend) came from the time that they poured millions of dollars into a California election in a clear effort to dictate to us how we should think and and how we should vote — subtly instructing us that we were supposed to hate gay people.

After visiting SLC, I was off to Bryce Canyon — which is really amazing. You should go there sometime. I think you might be as amazed as I was. And on the way there, I pulled over at a truck stop to get something to eat — and was amazed at that too. There was aisle after aisle, filled to overflowing, with stuff that was bad for you. You name it, they had it — starting with Twinkies and chips and working their way up. I took photos. I’m going to put an exhibit up on Facebook. “The Way America Eats”.

Next I crossed the Utah-Arizona border and one of the first things I saw there was a store’s billboard that read, “Lotto, Ammo, Guns and Beer”. Welcome to Arizona.

Some Homeland Security bureaucrat has recently stated that Arizona’s draconian immigration laws are “a desperate cry for help.” So here’s some help for you, guys. GET RID OF NAFTA! And also John McCain.

In addition, I would also recommend that we stop worrying about closing our borders to Mexico and start worrying about closing our borders to China! “Why is that?” you might ask. Because most of America’s jobs are being sent overseas — to China and elsewhere. And who knows? Someday we too may be forced to become undocumented aliens, sneaking over the border from Hong Kong as we too follow the jobs.

However, there’s gonna be one big problem with that one. Think how easy it will be for the Chinese government to “racially profile” us!

PS: Right before I left Berkeley in search of the Great American Experience, I heard someone make a very interesting statement: “I’ll NEVER work retail again!”

“Sorry, dude,” I should have said, “you’re plum out of luck on that one. Most of America is employed in the service industry these days. It’s retail or else!”

All over The West, I have seen this again and again — people employed in the service industry, mostly tourism. But guess what? The service industry, in the end, is NOT economically viable. People can take turns being providers and customers all they want and pretend for days, weeks, months, years that this [circular illusion] is producing a healthy economy — but it is not.

Unfortunately, America’s true economic reality has already immigrated to the steel mills and manufacturing plants of China and the sweatshops of Asia.

Further, according to Tim Lange at the Daily Kos, America’s infrastructure is also falling apart — but China’s isn’t. “Europe…puts 5 percent of its gross domestic product into infrastructure spending and China 9 percent. In the United States, it’s only 2.4 percent. Nearly two years ago, the ASCE estimated the five-year investment needed for infrastructure at $2.2 trillion.”

So if I want to continue my road trip in style, I may have to go over and drive around in China.

PPS: The next stop on my trip will be the Grand Canyon!


March 3, 2010

The Modern Moron

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 3:06 pm


August 24, 2008

The Tattlesnake – Toss It in the Potpourri and Heat with Steam Edition

Prediction: The next big McCain exploding-cigar-of-elitism flap: We now know the Jes’-Plain-Folks McCain’s spent $273,000 last year alone on household employees — what used to be called, in a less euphemistic age, ‘servants’ – but what isn’t mentioned is the hot-n-heavy rumor that they hired some, uh oh, undocumented workers amongst the various butlers, maids and nannies and, double uh oh, didn’t pay SS or taxes on the illegal imports. (Those without their papers have likely been canned and shipped back by now.) Gee, Senator, what’s your position on immigration again?

Quotable Corner:

“That’s right. The McCains pay $270,000 per year for butlers and maids–that’s $50,000 more than the median value of an American home.”
– Nitpicker, Aug. 21, 2008.

“If you had made last year as much money as John McCain spent on household help alone $273,000 — you’d be richer than 95% of American families.”
– Mark Kleiman

“When John Edwards was running for president, and the media were obsessing about his wealth, they linked his fortune to his policy positions. Surely John McCain — who can’t remember how many houses he owns, ‘jokes’ that you aren’t rich unless you make $5 million a year, and supports tax policies that would save him and his wife, Cindy, nearly $400,000 a year — should be held to the same standard?”
– Jamison Foser, Media Matters, Aug. 22, 2008.

And don’t forget to read the ‘Priceless’ McCain ad by davefromqueens on The Daily Kos.


July 6, 2008

The Tattlesnake – Drowning Down at the Old Rumor Mill Again Edition

From Everybody’s Favorite: Various Possibly Reliable Sources Who Wish to Remain Anonymous:

– China has already given the back-channel ultimatum to the Bushites – attack Iran and interrupt the flow of Iranian oil vital to the Asian nation’s economy and China will interrupt their loans and imports to the US, causing the American markets to crash even further and faster. The question is: will the mad Bush-Cheney neocons, drooling over an assault on Persia before Junior leaves office, pay attention?

– It’s a done deal: Bill Clinton has allegedly started secretly raising money for a run at the New York Governorship in 2010. Not only is Big Dog tired of campaigning for other people, he also sorely misses having political power. And he wouldn’t mind a spot in the record books as the first president to also be elected governor of two different states, one prior to the presidency and one after.


May 23, 2008

America Would Like to Send Money…

Filed under: Toon — Tags: , , , , — Volt @ 7:47 pm

April 10, 2008

Progress is Slow…

Filed under: Toon — Tags: , , , , , — Volt @ 10:38 am

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