Homeless News – and San Francisco Bound!


Homeless News - and San Francisco Bound!

Image credit: Examiner.com

Hey, Bay Area readers! I’m packing right this moment for a whirlwind tour of San Francisco (I’ll be there for about a day and a half crashing with the inimitable Tony Dushane – a fellow ex-JW author – and his lovely lady friend, who have been kind enough to put me up for an evening). I’ve never been to SF before; I’m stoked! And I’ve gotten a little advance lovin’ from SF Weekly, for which I’m most appreciative.

If you’d like to see me, get your book signed, or have any questions for me, I’d love to see you at Book Passage this Wednesday night from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. I’ll be doing a Q&A with Tony, we’ll be signing copies of our books, and you’ll be able to say that you were at my very first signing ever (OK, I’m *really* nervous about this. Please don’t tomato me. My hair is red enough.)

Book Passage is at 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111. See you there!

* * * * *

I’ve been jonesing to post the following recent news articles that I found topically relevant recently:

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor – blue language alert; don’t read this one if you’re sensitive to various euphemisms for anal rape. The author vividly describes the feeling of being effed over by the system…that oh-so-familiar feeling of paying more just to be poor. I have personally experienced all 5 of the items on this list. The article would be hilarious if it didn’t ring so uncomfortably true and describe the vicious Catch-22 of the poverty circle a tad too well, via the typical sardonic excellence we’ve come to expect from Cracked.

San Francisco: New Homeless On Street as Others Find Housing – Despite claims that the recession is ending/has ended, hundreds of “mobile homeless” (like I was) are turning up in San Francisco alone. As fast as longer-term homeless can be rehoused, more are filling the void.

The Silent Jobless – The L.A. Times touches (again) on the vicious poverty cycle that the American economy is stuck in, who is still unemployed despite claims of economic improvement, and why.

* * * * *

Additionally, I want to thank Elaine Ash for her kind words about my book on her blog, and for sharing her own story. Elaine touches on a very important point I’ve alluded to in the past – sure; younger homeless people like me, despite how crappy it is to be homeless, and how difficult it is to dig yourself out of it at any age…still have a pretty fighting chance. We’re young and, in a competitive job market, we often have an edge.

But what about the 40, 50, and 60 year olds who thought they had it made, who have worked hard their entire lives and are now finding themselves without jobs, income, or homes? What about those who should be spending their golden retirement years gardening or playing racquetball or sleeping in after a good 40 years or so of hard work? Haven’t they earned the right to be cared for instead of spending those golden years living out of a car? They’re at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work, despite having a good deal of accrued experience over us young’uns.

Stories like Elaine’s and those of countless other people I’ve heard from need to be publicized. My story is only one perspective, but there are so, so many more to be told. Please check out her blog, hear her story, and lend her a little moral support, at the very least, if you have a couple minutes :) Thank you again, Elaine, for putting your voice out there.


  1. Brianna, you deserve every bit of attention you are getting. You are the definition of perserverance and I admire you greatly. While you make important and generous points about older Americans, I also feel some clarity-which-may-sting, is in order on behalf of my generation. Forgetting the lessons of our WW2-gen parents, many of us abandoned frugality and saving. We took America for granted and thought the economic party would never end. Certainly, our leaders on both sides of the aisle, led us down a garden path to debt and gold-plated promises. The bill will land on the backs of you and those younger if we don’t get off the spending crack pipe. While I have a great deal of sympathy for any and all who are homeless, my greatest concern is for YOUR, not my, generation. Since the beginning of time, the world has survived by putting young people first. Keep focused on those coming up, Brianna. You deserve the same America, full of promise, that was handed to your parents when they were young. If we pull together, and particularly if Boomers embrace the sacrifices their own parents made, we can turn this thing around.

    Thanks again for everything you do and all your kind words. You deserve every success in life, and I have the feeling it will all come to you.
    Best wishes,
    Elaine Ash

  2. So glad you will be here in the Bay Area tonight. I am really, really, really, really, REALLY trying to come out to see and support you. Flat broke at the moment, so we’ll see what happens. If I have to miss out, I hope that you will be back for a second signing. Enjoy your time in the Bay!

  3. I just finished reading your book…I think I read it all within a couple days. It was amazing. It actually pushed me to start writing my own memoir which I’ve been putting off for years. Thank you for writing it and putting your story out in the public. I wish I could come see you on your tour but I’m allllll the way in Ohio. So if you’re ever in Columbus! :)
    All the best!

  4. not my real name says:

    brianna, i am a girl in high school and i just read your book. i stayed up until three in the morning trying to finish it. my parents are not abusive and i am in no way in circumstances even remotely as severe as yours, but as far as the basis for most of the emotions in your book, i feel like i understand most of them. especially the feeling of wondering if i will ever be loved. i know that my family loves me( even though sometimes i have to wonder) ,but i always had the underlying fear that the only reason they loved me was because they have to. i have never been in a relationship and (to my knowledge) have never had a guy interested in me.
    I also understand the trust thing. in school alot of people talk to me, but they all know not to say anything to set me off. in reality, i am not at all this type of person, and i hate when i act this why. BUT, i know that if i dont let people get close to me, then they cant hurt me. i have cried enough for about five people my age and i am done coming home and crying until i fall asleep, just to wake up the next day and know i have to do it all over again.
    i wish you a happy life and hope that everything in your life is the best that it can be

  5. My introduction here may be rude, I do not mean to be, but it is hard for me, as a 30-something Gen Xer, to have much sympathy for some Baby Boomers who have watched their “good life” go bye-bye.

    When it comes to Baby Boomers struggling to retire, in my totally unscientific opinion, but based on a lifetime of observation of this generation, the answer is…too much money.

    Life was too good for too long. It was always going to be that way. Some never saved a penny (or saved very few) and now they are left with an empty bag. They never planned for economic disaster–that happened to their grandparents. But now they are hurting but you will never see it. They are stiff-upper-lipping-it. But deep down they know that too many years of keeping up with the Jonses has led to where they are at now. That truth cannot be spoken.

    This is not the case with everybody. Other saved right and invested wisely and they are indeed OK. My father is in that category. He retired in April. He was not able to save as much money as he wanted to over the years, but he will not starve or have trouble keeping the lights on. His house is paid for. Others will not fare as well. Here are two examples:

    When I sold cars for General Motors, I witnessed the abuse of “free money” quite often, always from “home owners”–ie, 40- and 50-somethings with good jobs and great credit (maybe too much debt, but hey….). They walked in with puffed out chests and big grins because they had just taken out the equity in their home and they wanted to buy the baddest and most bitchin’ Corvette we stocked. We sold the cars and they smoked the tires on the way out. But what do I see now in the used car ads? A whole lot of cheap Corvettes. Prices are so low you can get a recent model with low miles for almost half the original purchase price. That kind of depreciation was unheard of prior to ’08. And I’m screaming because I can’t afford one! I’d love to be driving an ’05 Corvette Convertible that cost $60,000 new but for which I only paid between $28- and 32,000.

    My mother and step-father. The “crash” has rocked them quite hard. My step-father was laid off, got another job, was laid off again and remains jobless at this time; Mom has just been laid off from a job she held for 12 years. Panic is beginning to set in with both. I am afriad they may lose their home. Why? Because when times were good, they spent too much money on fancy crusies and expensive home improvements. Result? No retirement. All the money is gone. My step-father is in his 60s and firms do not want to hire somebody who is “marking time” until retirement. That statement may be untrue as far as 60-something job seekers are concerned (especially now), but companies have apparently experienced that scenario and they are not keen to repeat it so as a result even the good ones suffer.

    As for me and my fellow Gen Xers, I am not sure our parents taught the right lessons on managing a budget, so we may end up making the same mistakes. I have noticed an explosion of of money-management classes offered by colleges or investment firms or individual “experts” (who will tell you how to get out of debt if you buy their $1500 DVD/CD/self-published book package) so the knowledge is available if folks want to learn.

    • I can relate to what you are saying totally. I am also a Gen-Xer who has watched for 45 years as people older than me (and also many my same age) spent money like there was no tomorrow. I have never had much money in my life ever, but I’ve always had just enough to get by. I could never understand why everybody else seemed to have so much and I never seemed to have anything to show for myself. I was besieged by jealousy. But now I am seeing those people drowning in debt and facing bankruptcy and foreclosure. It is hard to feel any sympathy for them. They did it to themselves. They were living on borrowed money, which is something I could never afford to do. I am still ok, and still have a job and will probably have to work until I drop. I doubt I will ever have the money to retire, but if I can keep a roof over my head, I feel I will have succeeded in some sense. I hate to say it, but it is about time that reality caught up with these people…

  6. I read your book and just posted my review on my blog, McGuffy’s Reader.
    You are a very wise and brave young woman. I am very impressed with your writing, your perseverance, your fortitude.
    I wish you all the best. You certainly have earned it.

  7. Hi Brianna

    Wow! It was such a nice surprise to find other homeless blogger’s in the world and quality ones at that.

    I have not arrived at homeless day just yet, I have about 28 days or so to go, I have prepared for it for about 10 days now, and I thought it might be a good Idea to just write it down somewhere.

    Anyway I guess I will be a kind of affluent Homeless Person as I have a part-time job at the moment and will be sleeping in my car a 10-year-old red Toyota.

    I admit I’ve not read your book and neither have I ordered it yet but when I’m paid I will do.

    I think I’m a little touched in the head for choosing to become homeless and its something I can’t explain either, but it just feels like it’s my destiny to take this path.
    I’m sure that most would people would say what a loser, he became or he chose to make himself homeless what a waste or rubbish life.

    Strange as it seems, I believe I’ll be richer than most because of it. Yep, I have fears etc about many things to do with this

    I’m pleased to say I have found 3 solutions to 3 problems today that I was facing about my looming homeless journey. breakfast supply, internet connection and showers all sorted.

    Here it’s almost midnight now so I’m off to sleep.

    I’m so glad that I found your site here.

    Ian UK

  8. Read your book (in less than 24 hours)-read it outloud to myself & son.

    Read your book while sitting in grocery store parking lot——funny-in a ‘not funny’ way … ‘in-car homeless’ person(s) reading your “Girl’s Guide to Homelessness” while sitting in her(their) car in grocery store/gas station parking lot.

    By the way…on page 29 (3/4 way down the page), there is a misspell/typo– the restaurant name:
    Marie Callendar
    (should be: Callender)

    Both my son & I are amazed at what nastiness you have had to endure over your lifetime. WOW ! We are impressed at what a great (level & caring) person you ended up being. Well wishes for success to you.

    • Hey Suzanne, I saw some of your other posts on this blog and I hope that you are okay.

      There is actually a “culture” of people that live in their cars by choice. If you google it (which I suspect you have figured out for yourself lol!!) you can find a lot of resources. There is a guy that wrote a book about it (30 bucks) that I’ve heard has some great tips in it!

      I plan to live in my car for a few years (at this point by choice) and then write about it. Info for women is sorely needed at this juncture in the economy…

      All the best to anyone reading

  9. MaggieTrudeau says:

    Thanks for the book and the blog and the rest!
    My godson has a “crazy” mother and had to leave home just before his 18th birthday. Sound familiar?
    I got him an older camper and 3 months at an RV park for his birthday so he could stay in school and connected to his friends. Your book and blog have been instructive, encouraging, and engaging. THANK YOU

  10. Suzanne says:

    ***Bri: Saw this posted on your ‘home’ page>>: “But what about the 40, 50, and 60 year olds who thought they had it made, who have worked hard their entire lives and are now finding themselves without jobs, income, or homes? What about those who should be spending their golden retirement years gardening or playing racquetball or sleeping in after a good 40 years or so of hard work? Haven’t they earned the right to be cared for instead of spending those golden years living out of a car? They’re at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work, despite having a good deal of accrued experience over us young’uns.”***

    ***Boy the part of this post that mentions bout how hard it is for 50-60 yr olds to get hired, is a gazillion percent ‘bang on’ !!!!!***

    But also add: a bad credit report, a non-clear background ck(from 10 yrs ago), & being unemployed for more than 2 yrs–and you have the ‘recipe’ for ‘almost permanent’ job hiring refusal.

    The non-homeless just have no idea–as to, how speedily one can land from ‘full time employment and living in a residence’ to ‘jobless and living in one’s car’…AND the extremely arduous (taking years) uphill climb back to ‘full time work & place to live’ ! ! !((They (non-homeless) have no understanding that you cannot just: “quickly & easily step back into the ‘full time job & permanent residence’ life !))————–>
    Even (miraculously) attaining full time work… does not alot one the luxury of, at the same time moving in someplace. As one still has to ‘reside’ in their car while trying to save up the (‘to be able to move in’) required ‘sec dep’ & ’1st mos rent’.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Nice how Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sends free laptops to poor in Africa that cannot afford to buy computers.


    Why not make laptops available to the ‘no computer’ – “new homeless” here in the U.S. as well???

    Making it possible for them to: hunt for jobs, send out resume’s, etc from ‘free wifi spots’ (Starbucks, Panera, McDonald’s, etc.).

    ***Instead of only being able to use computers at a library(limited by hours library open and…”time allowed on computer” limitation by library.***

    Just wonderin…….

  12. Suzanne, you make a really good point. I think it’s because “the elites” really have no idea the shape the country is really in. And many about-to-be-homeless are not talking about it and thinking the recovery’s gonna kick in any day now because that’s what Washington keeps telling us.

    • Elaine,
      I have been homeless for almost 6 years, give or take a few months in the past 3 years. I never considered myself homeless until last September (2010). In March 2006, I moved out of my house because my children’s father decided to pursue a relationship with our babysitter, who had been evicted from her apartment and I gave her room and board and some spending money for watching our child. When I was 6 months pregnant with our 2nd child, she was also pregnant (4 months behind me) and informed me that her baby’s father was also my fiance.
      Since that time, I have lived with my parents, my brother and his family, and a few other places. My mother set me up with a very nice boy (and I say boy in the highest context of the word), he being 21, and I being 28. After dating a few weeks, he proposed. He came from a wonderful family, had his own apartment, a beautiful car, and a love for me and my children beyond any I could have dreamed about. But I wasn’t in love with him. He was my friend, yes, and I care about him deeply but not passionately.
      Currently, I am 31, a single mother of 3 children, and getting assistance to help me help myself out of this situation I’ve gotten myself into. I didn’t finish college when I was younger, so I am now working on my Bachelor’s Degree. The field of education does not pay well, I realize this, but I need to find a career with the same schedule as my kids. I do not have daycare, nor many friends who are willing to drop everything to help me with my children. Their dad sent a text last Monday evening, asking if I would tell his son Happy Birthday. He says he wants to be a part of their lives, yet my youngest son’s birthday was last month, and he forgot about his birthday. I tried to help him reconnect with them, and in doing so, I would drive 2 hours every other Friday night to drop them off at his house, stay at a friend’s house in the same area for the weekend, and then pick them up Sunday afternoon and drive home. After 2 months, he texted me that he would let me know when the next weekend would work for him to have the boys. I haven’t heard from him since that weekend in April (2011).
      I feel like I’ve wasted time, energy, and money that could have helped better my and my boys’ situation, rather than wasting it on trying to help foster his relationship with his children. He currently is ordered to pay $200 a month in child support. That was 3 years ago, when I had a decent job and things were turning around for me.
      I’ve been moving from one relative’s home to another for so long, I never considered myself homeless. When my ex boyfriend’s mother passed away, I rushed to California to be his moral support. He manipulated my emotions, begging me to stay, give him another chance, etc… and so I did. Less than 6 weeks passed when he had taken my car, left me and the boys on foot in Stockton for days at a time, spent every penny I had saved, and borrowed money from the few friends I had made, promising them I would pay them back. I could not live like this anymore, not having any family or friend support network, I felt completely isolated and hopeless. A friend from home (South Dakota) called me when I was at a laundromat. I was on foot, the boys and I were carrying our laundry in plastic Walmart sacks, using my last $5 to wash what few clothes we had. He pleaded with me to go to a bus station, and he would bring us home. I was too proud, and I wasn’t leaving without my car. I paid for it, so shouldn’t I keep it? I didn’t think my parents would allow us to come home, as my dad threatened that the last time was the last time. Needless to say, here we are the 4 of us sleeping in one bedroom upstairs, my parents in the room directly below ours.
      I can’t tell you why I am not able to keep my own apartment or hold down a job for more than a few months at a time. My best guess is that my kids come first, and if they are sick and can’t go to school, I must stay home with them. During the summer, if I don’t have a sitter, I have to call in to work, because I can’t leave a 6-, 7-, and 9-year old home alone.
      I have no doubt that my situation will improve upon completion of my degree, if our government has not completely eradicated our school systems.

      • Stay away from men. I’m not saying they are the problem, but you need to take care of yourself and your children first, not help out “old boyfriends”

    • I think its also the “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” mentality and the whole “law of attraction” garbage that makes people less sympathetic to the homeless in the US.

      There is one point, though, that most of the homeless in the US (barring those that are alcoholics and drug addicted) live better than most of those poverty stricken in Africa. Just sayin’.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Looked online to see if there was a “Planet Fitness” in (or close to) my area. No such luck !
    So…went to PF webpage, hoping to (on their “location suggestion/contact us” page) send them info on empty building in my area.(an abandoned Circuit City bldg.) However, I was not able to ‘submit’ my suggestion.
    So…I googled the empty bldg-brought up that page(which happened to have “email this page to a friend” capability)-put in PF email address, typed a short msg suggestion they (PF) open a location in this bldg.((*If not why not at least somewhere in my county or the next over county.))

    After reading in your book bout how you (for $10 a month membership), could take showers. Hoped that place like that existed here-maybe one will open soon???? Those who are able to take showers anytime they please, have no idea what it is like to not be able to “just take a shower” !!

    Almost closing time at the library—

    p.s. Still no work-last interview(job which I was totally qualified for)-did not get the job!!

    I sooooooooooooooooooooo need a company to just (bleedin) ‘give me a chance’ !!

  14. kathryn sutka says:

    I just finished your book. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I was sad, I was happy, and at some points mad. I can not imagine (I tried while reading your book) the torture your mind, body, heart, and soul indured. You are a true inspiration for those without the necesities that are often taken for granted. I also have a mastiff and the fact that you cared for him as you did….is just amazing. You changed my view of the typical definition of “homelesss”. As there are multiple levels of wealth, there are multiple levels of homeless. I praise your strenght and courage. I know my words are meaningless for the fact that you know nothing of me, but because of your words I know more about the struggles of one who becomes homelss.

    Much Love

  15. Brianna- I Brought your book yesterday and I just finish reading it. I couldn’t put it down, it was so touching. It made me happy and cry and then it made me piss off. what that Matt or whatever his real name is did to you was just plain wrong. And like my mom always said it will come around and hit him hard. That’s what karma does. Anyways your whole story was touching. I’m not sure where your at now but I’m hope it’s getting better and if you don’t already have it I hope you get your dream house. best of luck. Tina

  16. Hi Brianna

    This is kind of odd it does seem that the housed people predetermine what they think the homeless want and need and then set about doing that without actually asking a single homeless person is that what yo want or need.

    Imagine if you did that in business just assuming that’s what the customer want’s with checking first.

    Anyway I will be ordering your book on Wednesday via Amazon I hope.

    Ian Living in His car in about 20 days.

  17. Suzanne says:

    Well…still need car “overheating” problem fixed(but have no money to pay a mechanic) and…gas tank on (red mark) empty-stopped by a church to see if they would let me have a Dominick’s ‘gift card’ (so I could use it to put gas in my car)–got turned down. Not good to totally run out of gas-as cops will have ‘stranded’ car towed-which would put me & my son ‘on the street’ !
    Also will be losing a-l-l of our possessions as I do not have the $245 to pay storage place on July 1st.(in desperation-asked my ex-husband if he would help-he said no) NO churches or gov’t agencies will help with this as they see it as a “luxury”-WHAT A CROCK !! Luxury my arse!
    Next in the ‘things going wrong’ part of life: $99 sticker for license plate is due in July–again I don’t have the money for it, & again…no churches or gov’t agencies will help with this type of “bill”.
    “Fairy ‘Income’ Godmother”-where are you????(and how come you didn’t wave your wand over last job interview?)
    Happy July 4th–yeah right!–Somehow just don’t feel like being in a party/celebratory mood right now.

    • I think that while some of these things are considered luxury one thing that the homeless have is the right to vote. These times are changing and while certain things were considered a luxury back in the days we fail to realize the time we are living in the moment. It is absurd for some people to find that a homeless person can have access to a cell phone or a computer. But when we see them begging on the street for change it bothers us and we say….Why don’t they get a job. A homeless person with a cell phone and a computer is on the right direction. We want them to get a job right? Internet seems to be free now more than ever and can be accessed in a lot of places. Wi-Fi is open to anyone with laptob and within range so why would we judge someone who is homeless for the simple fact that they have this access? We assume that if they would sell that worldly possession they could find themselves threading better waters. That is not the case. 1) if they sold that piece of technology then they would be left with nothing to help them get ahead in this world. So if they want to look for work and submit resumes then they would not just have to find a place that offers computer use but also the availability of internet. What im drivig at is that not only does the mentality of the common folk need to change but also the laws that are out there. For example needing some help to pay for a rental storage facility should not be considered a luxury. Nor should it be considered a luxury to pay for tags on a vehicle.
      These are essential things that people live by and not everyone has access to a home and to transportation. As a matter of fact having a vehicle is an essential function of life and it enables people to drive to and from interviews and new jobs. How many people have lost their jobs due to being late or not being there?
      Voting and requesting that such laws be modified, changed, and added to our ballots is a way to begin change in the common mentality. It is a passage to unite the homeless to the technology out there and to allow the common folk to connect with them. It is amazing to find how closely related the common folk are to the homeless. It takes just a few paychecks to become homeless and on the street. It is very simple as that. But it is only felt when you are in that situation. So I would suggest vote, get out there and make a difference. We seem to just get out and vote on what they tell us to vote for or we take the initative to introduce new laws until something has happened to move us enough to suggest a new law. We seem to lack the responsibility of looking around and realizing that something needs to change.

      So homeless or not: “Get out and Vote”

  18. LauraElena says:

    I never leave comments on blogs….seriously, I don’t. Even if I really like something or agree or disagree…most of the time I just don’t feel like I have any right to make comments on something that is open to everyone. But I had to comment here. I just finished your book while doing some study abroad work in England and I’m….speechless. Your story is incredible. I think you are incredible, and smart, and beautiful and just an amazing woman. I’m glad you wrote your story, even though I imagine it was really hard to put yourself out there like that. I’m an English major and I still can’t get past the numbing fear of sharing that intimate part of myself-my work. But, I’m glad you did. Good luck with everything you’re doing, I know you’ll be wonderful! Thank you.

  19. I am about halfway through “The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness” and I must…. must say.. I love it. I read almost exclusively memoir and am ripping through your book at lightning speed. I have a bit of a different perspective on homelessness. It is from a police officer’s viewpoint working almost 20 years in a very large city. I also have blogged about it on http://themothercenturion.blogspot.com Although my take is a bit differerent than yours, with you not really drawing the “probable cause” attention like many that we in law enforcement come across, I have one particular post entitled “Hands on Fire” that still sticks to my core today. I made it into a short story which I then submitted to a contest.. Who knows… so I have only an excerpt. I also blogged “Flat on My Back on the Rail Platform”. I love your voice, your youthful approach and candor and your “20 years my junior” take on things. I must say for the short time you have been on this earth, you have a lifetime of experiences already. I also focus on parental indifference in my book that I am working on and again tied to my work in the field as well as my personal life as a mom to two boys, one who received a kidney from mommy 3 years ago. Good for you for coming out of your childhood in one piece.

    Wonderful! I highly recommend your work. Good luck to you and kiss Feezik for me. I too love my dog..

  20. Piper Davenport says:

    I just finished reading “The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness” and although, you skimped on the “homeless” part, I stayed up all night while I was on vacation to read it. I must say that I was impressed by your storytelling skills but was turned off by you being an admitted atheist. I think you should be praising God for your new theatre job. That said, I wish you all the best as you search for your place in society. Good luck!

    • Brianna says:

      I thank the wonderful people who *gave* me my theatre job and make it such a joy to work here, some of whom are not religious at all, or may worship a different god than you do.

      I’ll give THEM the credit and let them pass it on to whom they will, if they are so inclined. If I were them, though, I would find it offensive that a stranger deigns to praise some other vague entity (that they may or not worship) for *their* kindness. So with all due respect: I do not care that you are turned off by my atheism. It’s simply none of your business, just as it would be none of my business to try and convince you that your religion is wrong.

      I (and, apparently, many homeless people, formerly homeless people, and homelessness service providers) disagree with you that I “skimped on the homelessness”, as well, though I am glad that you at least peripherally enjoyed the book. The entire point of the book was that homeless people struggle with the same needs and feelings and problems as everybody else. We don’t need “poverty pimping”, thank you very much.

      Brianna Karp

      • Suzanne says:

        Your title of your book *does* give the impression that it is a “how to”/”guide” book (that it would be mostly filled with “how to make it on the streets” information-for the newly ‘uninformed’ homeless).

        Your book is actually more your biography. (not complaining that you published your life story, just think a different title would have better reflected what was in the book-your life story)

        Your ‘reply’ to Piper gives evidence as to how greatly you were hurt by the Jehovah’s Witness “religion”(well the people close to you who practiced it). Your words to her were kind of strong,
        possibly your hurt is affecting your choice of words.(Maybe an area your therapist could work with you on??)

        Yes…homeless people *do* suffer the same struggle/needs/feelings as the non-homeless, I for one can attest to that. You, however, in your book, were not able to address homelessness from the aspect of “on the street” or “in one’s car” perspective—would have been nice if you could have included that kind of information–even if it were someone else’s info and not yours.
        Best of luck to you in your endeavors,

        • Brianna says:

          Hi Suzanne,

          It says “a memoir” right on the cover, and the title is a tongue-in-cheek take on a serious subject, as well as the title of my blog (see also: “The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing”, which is not a guide either, but a narrative).

          The book also mentioned some of my homeless friends’ experiences, which differed from mine, but again, it is a memoir and I can only really tell my story from my perspective – someone experiencing rough sleeping or shelter sleeping or etc. should read experiences told by people who can offer that perspective, which is one of the reasons why I included a reference guide in the back. I’ve said for years that there are as many backstories and perspectives on homelessness as there are homeless people, and I’m only one of them. Actually, I get commended a lot by other homeless people for NOT trotting out the weepy stories and the poverty pimping, and instead focusing on the human aspect of just, “hey, this is who I was, where I came from, and what happened to me”. Homelessness didn’t define me, it was just my residence status. And as a large chunk of my homeless life was spent in Starbucks sending out resumes day after day, you can see how 350 pages of that would get boring really fast.

          Most homeless people find a routine and stick to it. Just talking about that part isn’t enough. Like I said in the beginning of the book, it’s not enough to tell you I’m homeless, you want to know how I got there (and, of course, what happened afterward). People want to know why they should care about the homeless. The answer to that is because they’re just like anyone else. And the best way to show that is to say: “Here’s who I am. This is how I became homeless. You should care about me because there is no ‘representative’ face of homelessness – if you want to see the face of homelessness, look in the mirror. This could be you, or somebody you know.”

          My reply to Piper is borne out of exasperation at the sheer number of people who seem to think that it is any of their business to tell me whom I should worship, when I would *never* be so rude as to do the same to them (and believe me, I get scores of emails on this point every week). How would she feel if I had the arrogance to contact her out of nowhere and tell her that she should be thanking Buddha for the good things in her life? Or Allah? Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Or nobody at all, because there is no god? She would (rightly) think I was arrogant and crossing a line.

          Sorry, but I shouldn’t “admit” to being an atheist? I should be ashamed of it and hide under a rock? Implying that my disbelief would be more salient to Piper if I hid it and *pretended* to believe? Nope. I’m proud of who I am and not believing in a god doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in other ideals – and among those ideals, I am a huge proponent of the separation between church and state. I can be, and am, a good person without believing in someone else’s god(s), and I should be able to live my life openly without having to pretend to be religious just so I don’t “offend” Christians by…what, exactly? “Admitting” to being an atheist? Not even a militant atheist, not trying to convert them, but just mentioning it in passing? As though my mere existence is offensive to them?

          I’m not an atheist because of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, I went on believing in some sort of god, or at least trying to, for several years after leaving the JWs. Atheism is a choice that I arrived at after a lot of research, thought, and examination of evidence, because it was the right choice for me. Not as a knee-jerk reaction to my former religion. That said, I have friends of many faiths, and we get along fine, because I don’t care what you believe as long as you’re a nice person, you don’t try to foist your beliefs on me, and you don’t try to make laws based on them that will infringe upon my rights. Easy, right? Live and let live.

          I get it, that now I’m a quasi-public figure and people get to have an opinion about me and my personal business. Fine. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with their opinions, or take them lying down, and yes, I absolutely feel strongly about people presuming they have the right to try and publicly shame me into believing the same as they do, or acting as though it overshadows any of the good that I have done or attempt to do. I feel the same way about shaming someone based on religion that I feel about slut-shaming, or fat-shaming, or homeless-shaming (three more problems I get to deal with on a weekly basis).

          I also feel insulted on behalf of the MANY kind people who have helped me out, who don’t believe in Piper’s god…insulted that their good deeds would be so overlooked and negated. As though they couldn’t possibly do anything kind or good under their own steam. But if it’s any consolation to Piper, I would gladly give up my theatre job if it freed up God’s time to turn his attention to feeding starving Africans, curing AIDS, or rescuing 8-year-old Thai prostitutes.

          Or maybe, just maybe, these people decided to help out a stranger because they’re awesome people.

          I hope this at least elaborates some, and I appreciate your wishes of luck :)


  21. Hey!! I am currently hiking the Appalachian Trail as a means of having a GRAND ADVENTURE!! I stumbled across your book and decided to pick it up as I myself am kinda homeless… At my “peak” I was employeed witht he union and making 37$ /hr at the age of 23 since then I have lost my job, my house gone into credit card debt (learned lots of lessons the hard way…) and got a seasonal job in the florida keys that houses me and pays very little… BUT I too am thankful for the friends I have that help me out, the job I have for most of the year and the mindset that I may be homeless the rest of the year but that doesn’t mean I have to give up or give in.

    I picked up the book not realizing it was going to be the memoir it was which really captivated me and had me asking so many questions of myself, the world and of course you the author :P
    I really connected to it in many ways and kinda painfully in a way that yes there is someone that really gets it!!! My friends dont really get my homelessness cause I joke and stay over night for a few days then try to move on so none of them ever really get sick of me.. Out here on the trail I have kinda noticed things as well like when most people with more money stay in hotel and hostels when they get to town I have to say good bye after sharing a beer and go find a spot to sleep next to a rail road where no cops will come to look.

    I dunno sorry for ranting I looked you up on FB and couldn’t message ya so thought I would try the .com that you so excitedly mentioned in your book at one point in the story!! ^_^

    I am sure you have all kinds of friends and maybe even an e-stalker or two(hopefully not!!) but being sucha super social butterfly I couldn’t help but try to reach out for a hello and maybe try to get a response! Like you did with your mentor E. Jean Carroll

  22. Hello – I started reading your book tonite and it is 1:30 a.m. and just finished it. Could not put it down. Amazing story; you must be an incredibly strong person to have pushed through such adversity and persevered. I wish you all the best and I just wanted to let you know how much I truly enjoyed your book.

  23. Charlotte says:

    Brianna, I started reading your book this morning & just finished it. I had to look you up. All I can say is WOW! I wish you the very best.

  24. When are you going update your blog again? I have enjoyed reading it….

  25. sandrita m says:

    Brianna, I stayed up till 1am finishing your book; it was just that gripping. Have to say that when you decided to surprise Matt at his home for Christmas, I knew Matt had some surprises, as well. In retrospect, do think Matt was lying about his love for you or his intention to marry you?

  26. Dear Brianna

    Just finished your book. I couldn’t put it down. You truly have lived a difficult life but yet you still go on with admirable strength and such engaging wit. I wish you the best.


    PS. I hope you get your house someday.

  27. Getting worried about you. Are you ok?

  28. Hello, This is your blog and your book and your story, so I am glad you feel willing to tell your story exactly how you see it and remember it. I enjoyed the book completely, I knew from the beginning that Matt was going to disappoint you, but he is not the first person (man or woman) who misguided someone-likely he was misguiding himself along the way. I admit, I wonder about Matt’s response to your book. Could you share that in your blog?

    The only part about your book that I struggled with was the negative tone toward all Jehovah’s Witnesses. Truly, you were raised under cult-like beliefs; but I have been a guest in the home of JWs and was welcomed without pressure or even discussion of religion. JW, like all religions-Catholic, Lutheran, Muslim, Baptist- will have extremists. It is your story and I respect that. I do feel for the many JWs who are loving, kind, and open-minded. I do hope that my experiences with JWs is closer to the norm than yours, but we will never be certain of that. I am glad you included that part of your story, it was important to understand a part of who you are.


  29. I learned a lot from your book. I know that there is all kinds of stories out there about the new homeless in America. I can tell you they do not look like the folk you normally see on the corner sidewalk asking for money. You have been through a lot. And it really bothers me to hear people say that having a trailer to stay in is a home. Would they consider it a home if they had to stay there not by choice? I mean if we all want to judge why not try shutting off the water in your home. Try going a week with no water. Better yet try going a day with no water. A full twenty-four hours of no water and you can only imagine how hard it is for the people who live in their cars, on the street, or on trailer. Finding a place to shower is is sometimes the hardest thing ever. It is not that easy. So throughout your book it angered me to find that people can be so closed-minded, especially the priviledged people who instead of helping out they would rather open their mouths (while sitting down) and utter worthless things that do not help anyone.
    I am glad to have lived all the experiences with you while reading your book and I am sorry about the whole Matt situation. It sounded way too good to be true from the very beginning. But we all can get trapped into things like that when we are alone. I hope that things get better for you and I hope that from all this experience something good comes up. You are representing what the new homeless is and looks like. Sadly, it is the youth and the future of the country. We lacke the investment into them although they are what we will become dependent upon in the future. I hope that people see more of what you are and less of what they think a homeless should look like. Thanks for writting and continue to fight for this cause.


  1. [...] from Australia, but it has a directory from around the world. One little blog has an unusual name: Girls guide to homelessness. Sounds like a lighthearted romp. Hey, I’m all for a little fresh breeze after a hard day [...]

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