Friday, March 20, 2009

Message: Hi David,
I like your website. It's interesting how the Universal Mind guides us in life. I was once homeless in Reno, Nevada when I was 19. Although my mother came to my rescue after I tried to do everything in my power to survive on my own as I did not want to be a burden to her. She raised me and four other siblings on her own after my father died in an accident. I was abused as a child as well and didn't even know it until many years later as an adult.
I have always tried to help the homeless in this way or that. One day, I came across a lovely old lady in Redondo Beach, California an area close to where I live. I saw her and realized that she was at least around my own mother's age. I stopped and asked her if she would take some money. She refused. So I asked her in her caution of me, if we could just talk. Initially she was standoffish, which I totally understood. I noticed that she had hands that were deformed. Although that did not bother me and certainly it seemed to not bother her as she was obviously born that way.
She asked me why I was interested in her. I told her that when I saw her, that she reminded me of my mother. And that I wondered how it was that a woman of her age had come to live on the streets. She told me that she had been living this lifestyle (her words) since the late 1940's. She said she used to be one of the original Pismo Beach Beatniks that decided to live outside of what mainstream society had created for itself.
I had told her a little about my street experience. She wasn't shocked or surprised of course. She was 73 years old and had been living her way for about 56 years. She said that she had had a family, but that she was always the outsider. She never mentioned anything about her hands in that regard. But people were even harsher in the '40's and '50's towards people with deformities and mental handicaps.
I thanked her for sharing her story with me and asked her once again if I could offer her any money to help her out even just a little bit. She eventually agreed to take some money but I think she only did so because I seemed a bit melancholy as I had told her that my mother was only a year or so younger than her and yet, she was wasting away in an Alzheimer's care facility in Colorado near my hometown of Aspen. My older brother and youngest sister look after her.
My wife and I worry a lot lately as we barely pay our rent and other bills. I have two children from a previous marriage who live in my neighborhood where we moved to after living 30 miles away for about four years and I was traveling three to four days a week to see my kids and also on the weekends. I had always sworn to myself that I would never abandon my children no matter what, especially after losing my father when I was seven years old. It devastated me and it took me until I was about 19 to stop crying. Losing a parent is tough when you are that young. Although it must be tougher when they are alive, but never really there for you.
My ex-wife has custody, even though she is abusive to my children, the Los Angeles County Department of Family and Child (Services?) granted her full custody even after she had been reported for abusing my son and daughter. Bureaucracy always amazes me. The abuse of my children from when they were infants is another story all together.
I would send you a few bucks, but I would need an actual mailing address as I do not have a credit card. ( got rid of it a few years ago after maxing it out trying to pay my massive child support payments). That's what's killing me. Having to pay my ex-wife for abusing my children. It enrages me. My wife and I have been trying to deal with the fascist state bureaucracy for the last five years. We are presently waiting to hear back from Child Support (Services?) about a court date to reduce my garnishments. I lose more than half of my measly paycheck to my ex-wife every week. I have had such a hard time just giving my kids the simple little things they ask for. We don't even take them to breakfast or out to dinner anymore. That's how tight our money is.
So you see, my fear is ending up on the streets again. I have even thought about talking to my wife about getting a divorce so I will not be a burden on her. My other fear is ending up with Alzheimer's like my mother. I can't live on the street with a disease like that.
It's interesting how we are all just trying to survive. I give thanks everyday for the wonderful woman who thought so much of me that she would be willing to take on my children AND my ex-wife. My children say that they love my wife more than their own mother. That's a sad thing to hear when your children say something so profound that they would rather be with us than their own mother. I have already warned my ex-wife that her children are already moving away from her, distancing themselves from her.
I have a good family and a few good friends and that's all one can ask for in life.

I hope you keep up your blogs and your stories.


Blaise Gauba
Torrance, CA

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dos Blocos, by Natania Nunubiznez

Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 1:43PM

Dos Blocos
O and I had taken over the front room on the first floor, it made it easier to monitor who came and went out the front door- who was trying to get in. It was late one night, and there before us was our gathered loot. (We had ways of getting food that required no money). Chicken and rice from Benny’s, macaroni and
cheese and sweet potatoes from Mama’s, maybe some random groceries from Diane’s line. We had some dumstered bagels and fruit. We reveled in our ability to turn cast off of this society into our nourishment. O had bought cigarettes. I think that night I had found some cds in someone’s garbage and had sold them for 4 dollars apiece so we had cash, and to top it all off we could’ve bought some vodka or been given some weed. It was the epitome of what Dos Blocos stood for, really you didn’t have to go more than two blocks or so to get what you needed then.
The loot sparkled and I remember looking at O knowing we’d have our stomachs contented, be a little high or warm and would then have fun playing with each other, all for free, in our free squat, we were sitting like bandits awaiting the cops but knowing we had the higher power of our barricades and friends at the ready. We were waiting for the fight but knew probably they would come not that night. We were bandits, thieves, connivers and here was our loot, here was our castle. And I said this to O, we relished and named all the good things with flourish, our plans for the big man, how we can get food for tomorrow, all the good stuff we had now, getting excited by our ingenuity. And when that reached a head,
sharing a cigarette.
I went down to go pee in the bucket in the corner, flashlights in my battery fading, I looked up at O struggling with the candles, at the walls of graffiti and posters and all the crap we brought in to put against the walls and windows and to weld together for barricades. Thinking about what this place was, what it meant to me... how I danced in the next room, made a lot of love and lots more friends in the apartments upstairs, of laughing down at stupid cops from the roof and watching their helicopters the next day. Knowing that if it wasn’t their plan to evict us, my daughter and I would have a chance, someplace to live. But we were already defeated. The apartment was in shambles now, going and coming from this building was far more sketchy because of the potential inevitable eviction than it ever was with the junkies that lived here, and I had to send my daughter away while I kept up the fight for this
building and hoped for the best.

I came back up the rickety ladder of a loft someone else built, and we both laughed, looked around us at the ridiculousness at what we were saying- went back on what we said..

‘actually, this place smells like shit. You know, really like someone shit in here...
And we are eating garbage.’
‘and soon we won’t even have a place to live ‘
‘yeah, and we’ll probably be in jail by the end of the week’
I curled up with him, in the echoing dripping space that was someone’s room but was actually used to be a store front long, long ago, and listened to the city outside, I remember seeing my incredibly dirty hand with its rolled cigarette moments before the candle went out and we were left in darkness.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letter From a Struggling Mother

Hello, My name is Donna Ledesma . I am moved beyond words by the comment posted by Frank. I am one of the many Americans that stuggle and wonder if tomorrow I will be one of the homeless. Every day I cry at least once, then I must every ounce of strength I have left to push forward and keep going. I have seen my share of failure, success and heartaches. The lessons have been harsh and humbling. I currently live rent free in my deceased fathers rent house. And I wonder if my mother will have to sell it so you can pay her finances. I have warm water to bath and gas for cooking, but no electricity. At night, like a ritual, I light my candles and study for my state exam. Then I listen to the radio and read a book. If a friend or family member hands me a $20.00 dollar bill, I consider buying a few more candles, batteries for my radio and the cheep noodles for breakfast and cans of soup for dinner. I know that I am a woman and their are government assisted programs. I'm afraid my pride has the better of me. I am determined to rise above poverty and succeed at creating a business. I don't know how exactly, but I will find a way. I am single and afraid of living my life alone for the rest of my life. I am an attractive woman, but I often think, "What man is going to want a woman who has nothing to offer?" My sons looked to me for advice and strength. I hope that they will remember the best I have to offer and not the worst. As humans we have our faults, mine is "pride". Most would say, you have pride when you have to ask for government assistance, but no pride in accepting charity. I say, "I don't see it as charity, I see it as help." It can be embarrassing and humiliating when you ask for assistance. People ask personal questions and even treat you less then human. I am an educated woman and would like to be treated with respect. In regards to our society, I feel it is time for the little guy to be the victor. Big businesses are falling because their greed. Even they have to tighten their wallets. In closing, though America is founded on great corporations, its nice to see that even the mighty fall. Its a humbling expericence for us all. So David and Frank, thank you for encouraging me to be a better, stronger person. As they say, "It is always darkest before the dawn." And dawn is surely coming! Merry Christmas and God Bless
December 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Ledesma (