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 (

Good People - Hard Times

Message: Hello, I happened on your web page through a link you placed in a response to an article in the Florence Times newspaper. I share some experience and beliefs with you. I believe that we are all indeed part of God as God is and that indeed we are the way that the universe is able to be aware of it's own existance. I too have had some really quirky ups and downs and my travels have carried me coast to coast and to 3 continents. I have been everything from an RV park survivor to a fairly successful businessman and back again. I have seen barefoot folks in one room shantys in the Carribean and South America that had much more love in their hearts than our contemporaries here in the US. I have been blessed to have a little bit to give from time to time and looking back on it being able to give a pair of good jeans to a Jamaican or a pair of boots to a barefoot person in Paraguay are two of the best highpoints in my life. Another experience I had that meant a lot to me was giving a bottle of wine to an alcoholic in Nashville after holding him hostage in a Waffle House in downtown. I told him he had to eat and listen to me talk a bit before I paid for it and he took me up on that. I told him that even if he had no desire at all to quit drinking that the AA meeting was just around the corner and that at least it was a warm place to sit and that there were people there that would help him survive the cold of winter to live and fight out another year. I was at one of my low ebbs at the time and not long after that my life improved considerably. I have always wondered what happened to these folks and others like them I met in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. I am now right at 50 years old. I'm lucky at the moment that I have a friend that I helped years ago that is one of the few that bothers to remember a good turn done as he enables me to keep my RV here and draw my unemployment during this, yet again another hard time in my life. The thing I find impressive about your website is the respect you are paying to folks that are down and out and I totally agree with you when you point out that their situations do indeed keep them from getting enough better to get better. I have fear in my heart that as I grow older and less desireable as an employee due to age that I may loose my lucky charm that has seen me through some of the harder times of my life. I'm thankful that I did a couple of tours in the Army and that I can be stoic in the face of it all most of the time. At any rate I wanted you to know that there are indeed others of us out here that can see something of value in someone that is down on their luck or addicted or whatever it is that has them in a pinch where the die hard capitolists have no further use for them. I think from looking at your website and reading your words that you are one of a rare breed of us that doesn't have to gain in money to gain in valuable insight or find value in your fellow man. I hope beyond all hope that after the holiday season is past that I can find a job that will allow me to again earn my living while doing a needed service for just such folks as you pointed out or helping people with mental health or similar issues. Kudos on posting it up there and if ya have the time drop me an email back as I think I would certainly enjoy a chance to chat with a like minded person. Again thanks for making the effort to show you care. Have a good holiday season. Frank