Girls Think Tank Community Picnic!

Girls Think Tank Community Picnic!

Girls Think Tank Founders. Image Credit: GirlsThinkTank.org

 

I am in San Diego right now because I will be speaking at the Girls Think Tank Community Picnic tomorrow (Oct. 15), which will be taking place in Balboa Park from noon to 4:00 p.m.  I’d love to meet you, talk with you, and/or sign a copy of your book (there will be a few copies available for purchase, as well, I believe…like 20 or something).  There will be several homeless services orgs from the San Diego community in attendance, and I’m told that Occupy San Diego may be in the park as well, so this should be very interesting.  One of Girls Think Tank’s major focuses is accessible water and sanitation for all homeless people (the United Nations has declared these basic human rights).  I’m pretty sure that’s something everybody can get behind.

Did a quick segment today on San Diego Living Channel 6 with the very kind and sweet Renee Koch about the picnic tomorrow and also had the privilege to have a phone chat with an über-lovely ladies’ book club in the Los Alamitos/Seal Beach area, which are some of my old stomping grounds because that’s where my mom grew up and we spent a lot of time there while I was a kid.

And then on Sunday (Oct. 16) I’ll be doing a reading/signing/Q&A at the Katie Wheeler Public Library in Irvine at 2:30 p.m., 13109 Old Myford Rd., Irvine, CA  92602.  If you’re in Orange County and you’ve never been to this library, you seriously need to go.  It is fucking adorable.  In this warm, sweet little historic building.  The first time I ever went in there was to drop off some postcards for a South Coast Repertory show, and I did not want to leave (OK, I never want to leave libraries, but this one had an extra-charming je ne sais quois).

I had the absolute best time at the Tustin Public Library reading last week – both the staff and the attendees were just some of the warmest, kindest people I’ve ever encountered.  I’m discovering just how much I love “book people” and want to get to know more of them because they’re among the easiest people for me to relate to and we have endless topics of conversation available once we get on the subject of reading, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to encounter so many lately.  Looking forward to repeating the experience at Katie Wheeler Library.

Quick PSA:  Support your local library, people!  I mean, I know there’s Kindles or Nooks or whatever (still can’t bring myself to buy one) but libraries serve such an important purpose and function in communities far beyond what a Kindle could ever offer me, that I don’t want to live in a world where libraries and used/indie bookstores have become obsolete – and my agent will probably strangle me for saying this (very politely though, as he’s a total sweetheart), because I think I might actually get a higher royalty percentage off of e-books than hard copies…but fuck it, I don’t care.  (*obligatory backpedal* Love you, Chris Schelling.  Please don’t ever leave me).

Next time you’re in a library, tell the librarian that he/she rocks and is appreciated.  Because these are seriously awesome people doing seriously awesome work.

* * * * *

That’s about it for now.  Here is a photo of a mastiff being used as a footrest:

 

Sleep, my minion.

Virgin Islands Officially Declares 10-10 Homeless Day!

Virgin Islands Officially Declares 10-10 Homeless Day!

First Lady Cecile DeJongh distributes food and Tiny Tokens of Hope in St. John.

Just a quickie post…the Virgin Islands officially declared 10/10 “V.I. Homeless Day”, in recognition of and solidarity with World Homeless Day!

 

OK, gotta admit, I’m wiping away a tiny tear.  So, so proud of how far this has spread.  I know I’ve said it before, but there it is.

Thanks to Governor John deJongh Jr. and First Lady Cecile deJongh for making my day.

It’s World Homeless Day!

Today is the 2nd Annual World Homeless Day/World Homeless Action Day.  We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished.

(Please consider using the hashtag #morethanwords today on Twitter to help get WHAD trending.)

As a co-founder, it’s weird (and cool!) to see how far the day has spread and the ingeniously creative ways so many homeless services organizations are taking the concept and running with it, along with the endorsement of celebs such as Crystal Bowersox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells, and John Mellencamp (for his second year in a row – much thanks for his support!)  Check out some of the coverage and participation WHAD is getting (will be adding here throughout the day):

 

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/10/protesters_to_take_over_vacant.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/sharewheel-in-seattle-clo_n_1004081.html

http://beta.local.yahoo.com/advocates-homeless-community-occupy-vacant-buildings-san-francisco-kron4?woeid=2487956

http://reddingvoice.com/2011/10/10/world-homeless-day-101011/

http://www.toledoblade.com/Editorials/2011/10/09/Eye-on-poverty.html

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/barnsley/more_homeless_people_in_city_1_3842721

http://www.homeless.org.uk/news/time-bridge-gap-in-mental-health-support-homeless

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/riverside/riverside-headlines-index/20111006-riverside-homeless-documentary-showing-sunday.ece

http://paper.li/UK_Housing

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/homeless-numbers-on-the-rise-says-charity-523744.html

http://www.mydesert.com/article/20111009/NEWS01/110090321/Activists-camp-out-help-homeless?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/10/10/Hundreds-walk-for-unhoused.html

http://www.news.com.au/grant-to-feed-the-states-hungry/story-e6frea83-1226162486128

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/local/east-volusia/2011/10/08/volusias-homeless-housing-bursting-at-seams-1.html

http://communications.uwo.ca/western_news/stories/2011/October/world_homeless_action_day.html

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=18&articleid=20111008_11_A13_CUTLIN641701

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/tempe/article_d442dedc-f05a-11e0-b9c5-001cc4c03286.html

http://www.thecoastalsource.com/news/local/story/New-Hydrahope-Bottled-Water-Sales-Supports-Homeles/EG0ZZ4-ep0Sd63mg6KVB9g.cspx?rss=1669

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/1010/breaking45.html

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/grant-to-feed-the-states-hungry/story-e6frea83-1226162486128

http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/32F3A7BC61C3E4F480257925004F40E6?OpenDocument

http://www.q102.ie/news/news-item.aspx?ID=4440162f-8b0a-44c4-915c-ecd60fd600bd

http://www.98fm.com/2011/category-news-sport/homeless-charity-seeks-long-term-help/

http://www.midlandsradio.fm/news_detail.aspx?footer=1&news_id=12936

http://getsmartnews.com/news/235104

http://www.bournemouthchamber.org.uk/j-events-monthly/icalrepeat.detail/2011/10/10/412/-/bcha-world-homeless-day-

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/10/10/18692939.php

http://whatcanidocampaign.org/without-a-home-worl-homeless-day/

http://www.nwcn.com/home/?fId=131433988&fPath=/news/local&fDomain=10212

http://www.familypromisegv.org/world-homeless-day/

http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=560336

http://planetatheism.com/http://theradula.blogspot.com/2011/10/quick-updates.html

http://www.wtoc.com/story/15659279/homeless-group-launches-bottled-water-brand

http://www.newstalk.ie/2011/programmes/all-programmes/lunchtime/the-lunchtime-bite-49/

http://www.demotiximages.com/news/867485/right-2-dream-too-opens-space-portlanders-world-homeless-day

http://chicagocares.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/thinking-outside-the-cardboard-box-world-homeless-day/

http://sfappeal.com/news/2011/10/homes-not-jails-to-demonstrate-at-civic-center-take-over-ten-vacant-properties-across-sf.php

http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Less+fortunate+Calgarians+give+thanks+turkey+dinners/5528858/story.html

http://sfist.com/2011/10/10/occupysf_and_homes_not_jails_team_u.php

http://lakecity.komonews.com/news/people/677457-300-homeless-out-streets-seattle-shelters-forced-close

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/10/homeless-advocates-occupy-vacant-buildings-san-francisco

http://www.kron4.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=2101

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2790724/posts

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/10/nonprofit_right_2_dream_too_se.html

http://seattlest.com/2011/10/10/its_world_homeless_action_day_sleep.php

http://www.wistv.com/story/15660693/homelessness-and-hunger-on-the-rise

http://venice.patch.com/events/world-homeless-day-parade

http://www.kpho.com/story/15661237/concert-at-tempe-beach-park-benefits-homeless

http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/localnews/stories/DRC_homeles_1011.1ec478b72.html

http://www.mydesert.com/article/20111010/GETPUBLISHED/110100338/Rescue-Mission-Marks-World-Homeless-Day-with-Launch-of-Business-Angel-Progm?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Prep%20Sports|s

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/what-made-an-accountant-dedicate-his-life-to-documenting-the-plight-of-the-homeless-2365968.html

http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/news/walking_tours_led_by_homeless_guides_discover_london_from_an_alternative_perspective_1_1084625

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/10/11/20111011tempe-concert-starts-effort-help-homeless.html

http://www.capetownpartnership.co.za/homeless-require-inclusive-solution/

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=8386451

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Homeless-stage-sleep-out-outside-Gates-Foundation-building-131516328.html

http://lesbonner.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/10/11/julian-huppert-marks-homeless-day-by-tackling-government-on-the-issue/

http://houselessness.org/?p=179

http://stjohnsource.com/content/news/local-news/2011/10/11/first-lady-launches-tiny-tokens-hope

http://current.com/news-and-politics/93488660_homeless-advocates-occupy-san-francisco-buildings-in-mass-squatting-effort.htm

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19089272

http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2011-10/empty-sf-hotels-occupied-in-world-homeless-day-protest

http://www.ballinaadvocate.com.au/story/2011/10/12/home-sweet-home/

http://greensteinmcdonald.com/blogwp/2011/10/unwanted-mcmansions-make-them-affordable-housing/

http://angels.ocregister.com/2011/10/12/vernon-wells-comes-to-the-plate-for-homeless/101193/

http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/opinion/editorials/stories/DRC_Editoral_1012.1f33c248f.html

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/9299564.Tournament_tackles_homeless_stigma/

 

Two tGGtH O.C. Library Readings

Image credit:  Tustin Public Library; ocsd.org

Image credit: Tustin Public Library; ocsd.org

If you’re in O.C., I would love to meet you at today’s signing/reading/Q&A at the Tustin Public Library, 345 East Main Street, Tustin, CA 92780, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

And if you can’t make it today, you’ll get another chance on Sunday, October 16, at the Katie Wheeler Public Library in Irvine, 13109 Old Myford Road, Irvine, CA  92602, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.!

If you’re too far South in Cali to make it to either of these, I will also be at the Girls Think Tank 2011 Community Picnic at Balboa Park in San Diego on October 15 from noon to 4:00 p.m.

I will also be in Clearwater, FL at the end of October.  More details to come.

 

* * * * *

 

Now for the disappointing news:  The TEDx event I was to speak at has been indefinitely postponed.  I’ve been recommended to a new one, but I’m not sure yet if/when that will happen, so I’ll update when I know.

Was also to speak in Cortland, NY this weekend for World Homeless Day/Poverty Awareness Week, but that also has been postponed and I’m not sure if/when it will be rescheduled.  So, I am now open and willing for WHD bookings – it’s on October 10th!  Second year running.  Really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I hear that the Occupy Wall Street movement may do something in recognition of that day, as well, so that’s really exciting.  I’m following that news story very carefully and I support the demonstrators and their right to peacefully assemble and protest.  I kinda wish I was there in NYC so I could see how it all pans out, but I’m reading that similar Occupy movements are springing up around the country and the world, so who knows, I may get to watch it from my own backyard.

A Happy Surprise. And A Bit of Groveling.

A Happy Surprise.  And A Bit of Groveling.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Becker; www.jbeckerphoto.com

I know.  I know.  I know, I know, I know.  I have been terribly remiss in my posting duties. I feel awful. There’s no excuse. (But I’m gonna make excuses anyway.)

There was lots of travelling and speaking and signing with libraries and homeless organizations and literary conferences and stuff. (And there’s quite a few more this month, but I’ll post those under upcoming events for you guys). On the bright side, I got to see some amazing places and have crazy awesome experiences that I never could have afforded myself, all thanks to my publisher sending me out to these events. I’ve now been to New Orleans (ate alligator!), San Francisco (hung out with one of their literary treasures, Tony DuShane, who was kind enough to put me up on his couch), New York (saw a taping of The Colbert Report, which was up there on my list of top 10 greatest experiences ever, so special thanks to the Audience Coordinator Stewart Nurick, who read my book and offered me front-and-center VIP seats…and congrats to Stewart and his lovely wife Alison on their beautiful newborn son Gregory), and Alexandria (met some brilliant young homeless advocate who are working hard to change the world).

In addition, South Coast Repertory’s new season just started, so it’s been madness for weeks at my 9-5 job, running around getting prepared.

And last, but certainly not least, I just became rehoused.

That’s right, I’m writing this to you now as a fully rehoused, not-even-technically-homeless woman in a legal residence. No more code enforcement saga. No more 80+ mile round-trip commute per day. Fez and I just moved into a very tiny, but perfectly respectable, little studio guesthouse/backhouse in Santa Ana, only three miles from my job. This was made possible by my publisher purchasing the rights to publish The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness in two foreign countries (so keep an eye out; the book is coming to an Australia and a Germany near you). It wasn’t a large advance, but it was enough for first month’s rent and deposit.

So I’ve spent the past month-and-a-half preparing to move out of Riverside, and then the past two weeks moving, unpacking, finding Craigslist/thrift store furniture, lifting heavy things, and generally buckling under the mass of about ten jillion conflicting emotions, as you might imagine.

I love the new place. I love being close to work. I love having more time to spend with my dog. I love that it’s about 30 degrees cooler here than in the desert. I am, of course, so grateful to those who put me up in Riverside for a low price and were kind to me, but there’s an overwhelming sense of relief to not be spending four hours per day in a car.

There’s also survivor’s guilt, and a readjustment period – I was warned there would be and prepared, of course, but it’s still not fun. My moods cycle up and down a little more than usual; I’ve been stressing a lot, sometimes over things that would normally seem petty to me. There’s the fear that homelessness could happen again, that something could still always happen – maybe I could lose my job again and not be able to pay rent. Maybe this will happen or that will happen. Maybe maybe maybe. So it’s been a little exhausting, and of course I’ve felt guilty every time I’ve almost picked up my laptop to write a blog post and then went…nah. I’m just too drained. I can’t face it right now. I’ll deal with it later.

But overall, I’m trying to soak in the joy of it. This place feels like it could be a home. It’s very private and feels like my own little niche, and I’m doing what I can to kind of nest and make it my own. Fez seems to be loving it as well; he gets to hang out with me for an extra several hours per day and while I’m at work, the people in the main house have a little dog that likes playing with him. The people in the main house seem very kind so far and they pretty much let me be so again, it all feels very private. And they clearly adore Fez, also.

So now, obviously, it’s time for me to get up off my arse and get back to blogging. I want to keep this blog going and focus on homelessness/poverty issues in the media – I’ve been following several stories very closely, particularly the Kelly Thomas beating/murder, which is particularly significant to me because I grew up in Fullerton, and it makes me extra angry…That’s my hometown, things like that aren’t supposed to happen there, etc. I’ll post more in-depth about it later, but the one small silver lining to it is seeing that it has finally begun to receive national coverage, and that the people in my hometown, who are normally very quiet and content, have really risen to the occasion. They’re angry, and rightfully so, about what happened to Kelly Thomas, and they’ve been protesting about it constantly, and I find it heartening that very few of them have been spouting the vitriol towards the homeless and mentally ill that you normally see in news comments sections.

Anyway, right now I’m in Tucson, about to speak at the Wings of Hope gala tonight, and next week I’ll be opening the TEDxSA-Artists Villiage event at the Yost Theatre in Santa Ana.  So obviously I’m really excited and honored and terrified. Over the coming weeks I’ll probably be doing events in Cortland, NYC, Florida, Irvine, Tustin, and San Diego. I’ll post more detailed info over the next couple days in the “Upcoming Events” section and on Facebook, as soon as I have more concrete details.

I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL. I was a little burnt out and needed to get it all out of my system. I’m gonna try to be less of an absentee blogger from here on out.

Love you guys,
~Bri

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.

Why I Don’t Have a ‘Donate’ Button

Why I Don't Have a Donate Button

image credit: Green Grid

So, whenever the blog gets in the news (as it has a couple times over the past couple weeks, due to the book publicity), I get a lot of emails from people offering to send me money, or asking why I don’t have a “donate” button.

So here’s the thing:  I’m not an e-panhandler.  I’ve never had a donation button and never will.  I don’t judge those who do panhandle or feel like they need to ask for money.  There are a lot of people worse off than me, as I have always said, and they need help more.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a personal decision.  But I’m doing OK.  Not completely where I want to be yet, but things are looking up and have been for some time and getting steadily better.  I have a job I love and a place to stay (which I am grateful for) that is, if somewhat legally tenuous, accommodating and far better than a homeless person staying on the streets or in a vehicle.

I’ve always said, while I and several other “mobile homeless” might be able to bootstrap it, many can’t.  They should be first in line for aid.

So please, if you feel compelled to give, give to your favorite homeless charity.  Or donate your time as a volunteer to a soup kitchen or shelter.  Donate your old clothes, or diapers, or food, or any other number of things which programs for the homeless and poverty-stricken are in desperate need of.  If you need a list of homeless organizations, I can let you know some of my favorites – you need only ask.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m one of the co-founders of World Homeless Action Day, which launched last year and had participants and events in over 100 countries.  My co-founder Jon Glackin and I do not get paid for this, nor do we request donations made out to the World Homeless Action Movement.  Dealing with money makes us both uncomfortable; we prefer to remain transparent and not be able to be accused of misappropriating any funds or using them for ourselves.  We’ve both agreed that refusing to accept/handle funds minimizes the likelihood of being falsely accused of fraud, manipulation, or deceit.  We’d rather money go directly to those on the street, who need it most.

So there you are; if you want to give, please give directly to the organization/charity of your choice (and I would definitely say to research their business practices and reputation to make sure that you feel you are giving to an organization whose tactics, ethics, and goals you are comfortable with).  Or even just buy a homeless person a sandwich if you’re moved to.  Every little bit helps.  WHAM’s job is to raise awareness and get participants involved all over the globe, to get you thinking of homeless people as REAL PEOPLE, and interested in their faces and stories, which vary with each homeless person.

If you *really really really* feel like you want to “donate” to me, buy a copy of the book or hire me for a public speaking engagement or something, if you’d like.  At least then I’ll feel like I’ve given you something in exchange – I’ve put nearly two years of hard work into that book, besides working temp and my 9-5 job.  So that way I can feel like I’ve at least earned your generosity.  I do NOT want any money or other compensation sent directly to me.  Some people think that’s cool, some people call me a dumbass for it and say I should take the money because it could help me, but it’s my own personal feelings about e-panhandling, and has been since the beginning, when I was anonymous.  I’m a huge fan of earning my keep.

Thanks for being awesome people and wanting to make a difference.  I hope you’re all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend!!!  :)

~Bri

Front Page of Yahoo, Oh My Gosh!

Front Page of Yahoo, Oh My Gosh!Hi, all!  Well, just found out that I’ve been on the front page of Yahoo! for about 30 minutes (my inbox started rapidly expanding with Facebook/Twitter requests).

I’m at my 9-5 job right now trying to keep up at least a veneer of ethical and diligent hardworkingness, so I’m taking my lunch break to say hello to the newcomers *waves* and I’ll spend the next few days trying to get everybody responded to, followed back on Twitter, etc.

In response to the most common questions I’m being emailed:

1)  Yes, I’m OK and things are looking up!  I’m still in a limbo stage, but obviously right now I have it better than I used to and better than a lot of homeless people do – I’m very lucky that I now have a job and that things have been slowly improving.

2)  Yes, Fezzik the mastiff is still with me and he’s doing great!

3)  To those asking if I still do homeless advocacy work, yes!  I am the co-founder of World Homeless Day, which launched last year and boasted participants and events in over 100 countries, and we’re hoping to increase participation even more this year!  I’m involved behind-the-scenes in the World Homeless Action Movement and it’s very important to me to bat around solutions for all homeless people of all backgrounds and circumstances.  I also take a huge interest in various other social issues that have touched my life and the lives of those close to me.  The amount I’m able to post on the blog has taken a beating (I’m sorry!!!) because I’m not only doing a 9-5 job that’s helping me pay the bills and promoting a book, but also doing work for WHAM that keeps me hopping.  I’m trying to improve my posting rates, though…please bear with me  *frazzled*  :-\

4)  To everybody asking “how could you be homeless and travel to Scotland”, there’s a long, convoluted backstory there.  It’s in the book, towards the end when things had started to improve for me a bit, and can’t be summed up in two sentences.  No, I was not/am not rich, no, I was not/am not “homeless by choice”, no, I did not just “decide” to pick up and go to Scotland, and no, I am not a “fake” homeless person and this is not/was never a publicity stunt (actually, I remained anonymous by choice for a very long time).  I don’t want to give away the end of the book, so I’ll refrain from saying more.  But a single article/interview doesn’t cover the entire story, not by far.  You sort of have to pack everything into a small space, so details get left out.  Sorry!  Once you know the story, however, by all means feel free to judge me accordingly  ;)

5)  I moderate everybody’s first comment (once you’re approved you don’t have to be again), mainly because I’ve managed to acquire the occasional psychostalker or two.  If I’m not approving your comments here it’s because you’ve probably said something jerky or classless or made assumptions based on stereotypes or called homeless people slurs or gone on a rant calling me a fakey fake McFakerson, and I don’t publish those comments because this is my blog.  You’ve got the entire rest of the internet to have a field day screaming “I think this is a fake story real homeless people don’t have cell phones OMGWTFBBQ!!!” but this right here is my own little two-foot-square space of internet, and while I welcome polite and respectful dissent, or am happy to answer questions if you email me or comment politely, I don’t bother with trolls and angry people.  I’m all about keeping it positive and proactive.  Hope that makes sense.

6)  The book is a great place to start if you’re curious about my backstory or sequences of events not covered on the blog or in interviews.  Most of the stuff in the book is NOT stuff you will find here on the blog (I didn’t want the book to just be a rehash of what’s already available publicly; I felt that wouldn’t be right or fair.)

Thanks!  Hope this helps and I’m happy to see so many new visitors!  I need to get back to work now before they skin me  :-P

My Head – It ASPLODES!

 

My Head - It ASPLODES!

Dramatic photo is dramatic! OMGWTFBBQ! Also, holy damn, I just realized my hair has gotten really long. Thumbs up for long hair!

Dropping in with a reeeeeeeeally quick line – usually I at least make an attempt to be a little more witty and engaging, but let’s face it, I’ve got a 9-5 job I gotta be at in…*checks wrist*…26 minutes. So I’m taking the prosaic route.

There’s two articles that hit the net today about me.  Reuters and O.C. Register (for which I’m on the front page.  Hi, Mom.)

If you found me through those articles, welcome!  If you’re a returning reader, feel free to like/share/Tweet/etc. either of those articles!

Things are crazy busy.  I read something from one (otherwise positive) reviewer who seemed sad that I don’t post as much lately, and I swear it’s on my “improve” list.  But I’m sort of working what feels like 3 jobs at the moment…my regular job, promoting the book, and I’m also involved with the World Homeless Action Movement and World Homeless Action Day, so you can imagine that’s keeping me hopping.  As well as the email inbox/Twitter feed/Facebook news feed crammed full of kind words and well-wishes that I still need to respond to (oh, it’s coming.  And it will be EPIC!  OK, not really, it’ll probably be me just dropping you an email and saying “thank you so much”, but for some reason I felt the need to really build that up).

Plus, I’m gonna be doing some book promotion in NYC next week (I’m always so excited to get to go back there!) so look for me on the Leonard Lopate Show, New York Nightly News, various radio programs across the U.S. on May 16th, and on the Colbert Report (OK, in the audience of the Colbert Report as the camera pans really quickly over the audience in the beginning…thank you so much for the tix from Stewart Nurick, who works on the show and read The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness and enjoyed it!)  Now, Stephen, on the slimmest chance that you’re reading this…you should definitely have me on as a guest.  Or, you know, I’d take Jon Stewart, too.  I have a massive fangirl crush (not the creepy kind, just the admiring-of-your-brilliance kind) on both of you.  And I promise to set aside my shyness and throw my all into charming and witty banter/repartee.  (Which will be not at all like this hastily cobbled blog post, but at least a gazillion times more dazzling).

So, to recap:  Running in circles.  Sorry for lack of post-age.  Working on it!!!  You readers are the awesomest!!!  EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!  Not reveling in Z-list celebrity status or anything, just head exploding from overwork.  But having fun, of course, or trying to, when I’m not stressing and being neurotic  ;)

*Deep Breath* Here We Go. (And the Day Margaret Atwood Tweeted Me)

 

*Deep Breath* Here We Go. (And the Day Margaret Atwood Tweeted Me)Today is the launch of the radio tour for The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness (if you found your way here from one of the radio interviews or other promotions for the book, by the way, welcome!)

My publisher has ensconced me in a Holiday Inn Express for a couple of days, so that I have a landline to do radio from (cell phones do not fly, apparently! Too unpredictable.) On the other hand, I’ve still got a 9-5 job, so I’m doing radio for half-days and then working the rest of the day at the theatre (if my bosses stop by and read this – thank you!!!)

None of it has really sunk in yet. Oh, it’s starting to make a slight dent in my consciousness, but I’m sort of this ball of excited/nervous/terrified/exhausted and in the end all of those competing emotions seem to be cancelling one another out in a way, until I just feel numb and a little shell-shocked. And I want to do a good job, of course :-P

Something happened a little over a week ago that just sort of made my life, and I’m still working to process it. Margaret Atwood tweeted (positively!) about my book. Of her own volition. And then had a brief Twitter conversation with me. my mind is just sort of blown and everything after that seems like it’s a bonus. Like that was the pinnacle of my life and everything afterwards is just gravy.

It’s hard to communicate how it feels having one of your heroes mention you. Authors are like my rock stars. Margaret Atwood, in particular, and this is why:

OK, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I was raised in a hardcore fundamentalist sect. It was a pretty claustrophobic, insular, and high-control group, to say the least.

My stepdad gave me several of his childhood books when he married my mother. I was 6. One of these books was 1984, by George Orwell.  I’m not sure he remembered the book specifically or what it was about, because that’s pretty heavy reading material for a kid, and especially a Jehovah’s Witness kid (who is supposed to stick to “Watchtower Society” literature and avoid “worldly” reading materials, particularly ones about totalitarianism and free thinking, revolution, etc.)

I began the book.  Fairly early on I realized I probably shouldn’t be reading it.  So I hid it and read it anyway.  Plus, I was 6 and it had some sex in it, so let’s be honest, that was kinda fascinating and taboo for me.  Even though I was so little and didn’t necessarily get the entire meaning the first time, I re-read it several more times over the next couple years, and as I matured I started making vague connections with the way I had been raised.  Similar logic patterns, doublespeak, control tactics, etc.

When I was 12 or 13, I spent a winter vacation from school in Toronto with my great-aunt.  She was a wonderful woman who took me to used bookstores, where I would load up on whatever I could carry and more.

It was in one of these used bookstores that I came across Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

I made the connection with 1984 very quickly – both books about a dystopian, totalitarian society in which freethinking is forbidden and underground.  But The Handmaid’s Tale, I felt, was even more specific to my situation – the “negative utopia” in which it was set was run by Biblical fundamentalists, and the main theme was women in particular being repressed by religion taken to the highest, most literal, possible extreme.  I understood what it meant, even then, to be a girl forbidden higher education, and taught to be very literally “in subjection” to men.  ”A weaker vessel”.

These two books were responsible for planting seeds in my mind that would later help shape my beliefs.  They changed my life and my outlook.  They made me consider points of view I wasn’t “supposed” to think about.

So last Friday, I received an email from my editor:  ”Margaret Atwood tweeted that she’s reading your book!”

I couldn’t believe, though, that it was the Margaret Atwood.  I stared at the screen and thought about this for a moment.  Could there be another Margaret Atwood somewhere?  Surely not The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood?

I clicked on the Twitter account that my editor linked to, and stared at the postage-stamp-sized profile pic.  It did kind of look like Margaret Atwood.

So I stood up, walked away from my desk, got a drink at the water fountain to clear my head, and came back to my cubicle.  I looked again.

Holy shyte, that was definitely THE Margaret Atwood!

Thusly was my brain short-circuited and I’ve been a little numb and in disbelief ever since.  I tweeted her a thank you, and she actually responded to me (twice!), and said very kind things about the book – that it was “gripping” and “funny” and had her “chewing the ends of her fingers”.  I do not even know what to do with that.  I just don’t.  The waves of happy and awesomeneness and “wtf?!  Margaret Atwood?!?!” just keep washing over me.

On the same day, the book received a starred review from Kirkus, which I’m told is a prize not to be taken lightly, and for which I am super grateful (and again, a little shell-shocked).  A few days later, Rosie O’Donnell mentioned on her Sirius radio show that she was reading my book and found it “fascinating”.  It’s such a weird feeling; I can’t even explain it, to think that public figures, people you’ve heard of and know because they’re authors or media personalities…have somehow heard about your book, picked it up and read it.  I feel so humbled; obviously I could never consider myself in the same league as these people, but all the same they’ve shown me such kindness by not only reading, but sharing their reactions to the book.

I’m still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that a bona-fide hero, an author and an activist like Margaret Atwood knows who I am and likes my story.  It makes me feel, just for a few fleeting minutes that perhaps I’m not a “Snooki”.  Maybe I really could be – am? – a writer.  A fledgling one with a looooong way to go, of course, but…a writer?  That terrifies me.  It excites me.  It exhausts me.  I also know that even if nothing this amazing ever happens in my life again, it’s already been so much more than I could ever expect.

Early this morning the radio tour began (hello, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas and Tennessee!  *waves*) Tomorrow the book hits shelves.  I’m just bracing and trying to take it all in.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me and let’s rock ‘n roll.  I have a feeling this might be one hell of a ride.