Upcoming Radio Interview and (Hopefully) House-Buying-Ness

Dwight is letting me crash on his couch again this weekend while his roommates are out of town – thanks, Dwight!  Love sleeping on a warm couch instead of a cold parking lot.  Tomorrow I’m doing a radio interview, which should be kind of cool.  It’s with Jennifer Westaway of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) – so soon 2 million Canadians should know who I am, even if very few people in America do, haha.  Seriously, though, that’s pretty awesome.  I LOVE Canada.  My grandmother and her seven siblings were all born and raised in Toronto – in fact, I used to spend my summers there as a kid with my great-aunt, who passed away when I was a sophomore in high school.  That was the last time I ever visited, but I still cherish the memories of the time I spent in that cute little old house at 19 Brad Street.  When my great-aunt died, I went to her funeral but didn’t visit the house, which was being slowly picked apart by warring extended family members.  I didn’t want to see it like that, so to this day I remember it exactly as it was – the walls all painted bright pepto-bismol pink (I thought it was sooooo beautiful when I was a little girl) and a huge basement full of old mementos and family history to explore.

Anyway, I’ll link to the radio interview for you guys once I find out when/where it’s going to be broadcast.

Got an e-mail from the seller’s agent on the house today.  He hadn’t heard from me in a bit, so he asked if I was still interested in the house; he thinks that right now I can get it for a REALLY low price (he didn’t go into too much detail, but I get the impression perhaps the family is running out of time to sell it… maybe the bank is thinking of proceeding with foreclosure?)  I’m trying to figure out the most tactful way of asking him just HOW low he thinks I can get it for, haha.  I sent him the contact info for the guy we’re working with to get the loan, and asked him to find out from him exactly what our status is on the prequalifying letter.  I DID find out from the broker we’re working with that Obama is giving all first-time homebuyers this year an $8,000 tax credit (woohoo!!!!!) which I can file an amendment for after purchasing the house.  In addition, there’s some other 6% seller credit I’m apparently entitled to as a first-time homebuyer, to cover closing fees and down payment.  All together, that’s a fair amount, if all goes smoothly I may have to come up with little or no money out of pocket at all  *crosses fingers*

Still quite a process, though.  I can’t wait.  I have grand visions of an exciting new life, should I manage to swing this house.  Of course, I’m sure the enormity of the work still to be done will all sink in once I have to buy the first several gallons of paint, or call the first contractor for bids/estimates on improvements.  However, I’m also looking forward to it all.  To taking something once stunningly beautiful (now a bit run-down) and restoring it to its former glory, stripping away one layer of the house at a time until I get at what it used to be.  I’m even reading a jillion home blogs that chronicle the efforts of homeowners to restore their Victorian houses, revelling in each tale of unexpected mishaps.  I so want that to be me.  I only WISH I could complain about having to decide between paint colors, or the woes of repairing century-old plasterwork.  I’d rather worry about things like that, than about living in a parking lot forever, or wondering when I’ll be able to pull Fezzik out of the kennel, and take him to an actual home again.

Sigh.  When you’re homeless, it’s good to have hopes and dreams.  Now, if I can just somehow make them come true for myself.

Below I’ve posted an aerial shot of “my” house, so you can see how awesome and huge it is.  It’s the house on the corner, that I’ve outlined in the rectangle.  There’s the main house, and then in the back, there’s a large garage that’s been converted to living space as well (I need to decide if I want to leave it that way, I may want somewhere to park my car, haha).  In my head, I’ll paint it kelley green with white trim (it might sound scary, but like those crazy party animal Victorians, I love love love love love LOVE bold colors, especially green!), and everyone will ooh and aah at the big, beautiful green house on the corner.  And once I get it, Aishwarya and I can start looking into getting a nonprofit grant to help renovate and start our own halfway house for homeless women and children.

Yes, it’s good to dream.

house-aerial

Actual Sequence of Events

~I sit at Starbucks all morning waiting for someone to get my frantic e-mails.
~Dwight gets on gtalk around 1:00 p.m. and I fill him in.
~Dwight calls the gas station again for me to see if my phone has been turned in. No dice.
~Dwight comes to Starbucks to take me to Sprint to replace my phone.
~On a whim, we use his cell call my phone to see if the dirty bastard who stole it will answer.
~Aishwarya picks up on the other end of the line.
~General confusion ensues.

What happened was this: some nice guy (Richard) found my phone at the gas station restroom and was apparently answering all the incoming calls to see if I would call. Aishwarya didn’t hear from me in the morning like she was supposed to, started worrying, and called. Nice stranger Richard answered and explained what happened. He then proceeded to meet her at a local movie theatre and give her the phone.

Aishwarya still had no way to find me – she hadn’t checked her e-mail yet – so she went on to a barbeque with some friends, at which point Dwight and I called, and were very confused to hear her voice on the line.

So – yay!!! All worked out well.

Dwight took me to the Wal-Mart parking lot, at which point P. came out of his RV and mentioned that he had also called my cell, and the same Richard guy had picked up. He had left a note on my dashboard with the guy’s phone number.

I drove back to Starbucks, and Aishwarya met me there in a few hours after her barbeque was done, and gave me my phone and Richard’s phone number. So now I need to call and thank him so, so very much.

The other new development is that starting tomorrow I am going to board Fezzik. The Sam’s Club parking lot is not particularly safe at all (P. mentioned that he had sent another RV-er out there to drive by and see if I made it there OK, and they had seen the jillion random men hanging around my trailer, and were concerned). Wal-Mart is in a much safer neighborhood and the other members of my little RV community are around to watch out for me (I’m actually really touched that they cared enough to drive by Sam’s Club). Anyway, P. told me to come back to Wal-Mart after a day or so and just try to leave every couple of days for a few hours, and then come back and park elsewhere. However, now I’m paranoid about Fezzik attracting attention, so I am going to board him. Dwight has been super-kind enough to front me the money for one month of boarding, for which I am eternally grateful. This way, Fez doesn’t have to be confined all day while I’m at work, and he’ll get to play with other dogs and have people loving up on him, but he can still come home with me when this is all said and done.

Sigh. It will stretch things a bit, but Fezzik is worth it.

Also, I want to give a shoutout to Matt from Homeless Tales, who made the front page of Digg TWICE in two days!!!!! How awesome is that? I say, pretty awesome.

Also, thanks to Danny from Take Part – Jon (Beat on the Street) from Street Seen alerted me to your post on me. Thanks so much for the boost, and for thinking I have something to say. I saw that you guys are linked up with the movie “the Soloist”, and that’s so freaking cool. I just bought that book a few days ago, can’t wait to read it, and for the film.

Anyway – don’t worry everybody, I’m OK! :)

Stranded. Well, Plegh.

Agh!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m stranded. Worst morning ever.

I had to relocate the trailer quickly last night. Got a text message from P. in the Wal-Mart lot. Some kids apparently were teasing Fezzik through the trailer window while I was at work and he started going insane barking and attracting attention, which is very very bad. So, the other RV-ers asked me to move, and I understand. I feel terrible.

So, I moved the trailer Sam’s Club a few miles away (texted Aishwarya who told me to call her in the morning and she’d take me back to Wal-Mart to pick up my car).

Big mistake.

First of all, Sam’s Club is located in a crummier town. And situated right by train tracks. This loud train comes through honking its horn, all night long… about every hour and a half. Which wakes me up every hour and a half.

Then, around 4 a.m., Fezzik starts barking nonstop and I can’t figure out why because he’s not much of a barker unless he thinks that a strange man might hurt me.

I finally get up, step outside, and there are about 50 Mexican immigrants standing around, cooking breakfast, etc. Apparently this is where they stand around all day looking for under-the-table work.

Well, fuck.

So Fezzik is going nuts because he doesn’t like the jillion strange men hanging around my trailer.

(But wait, it gets worse.)

I go to call Aishwarya, figuring that I can find somewhere more suitable to move the trailer, and then get my car. The problem is, I can’t find my phone. Nowhere in the trailer, nowhere in my purse. Since I used the GPS feature on it to find Sam’s Club yesterday, I know the only other possible option is that I left it at the gas station I used yesterday to fuel up.

So I walk to the gas station.

The guy working there says “no, you have to ask the night guy who was here when you came in last night, he’s the one that would know”.

Because apparently they don’t have a fucking lost and found box.

So I tell him it’s an emergency, and ask if he can just call the guy. He says, like I’m an idiot, “no, the night guy sleeps during the day. He’s sleeping”.

Well, duh. I know that, and I’m really, really sorry, but this is fucking important, I’m homeless and I’m stranded and it’s my fucking phone you asshole!!!!!!!!!!

(In my mind, that’s what I said. Not really.)

He said if I left it there, the night guy probably took it with him and told me to come back tonight. Great. Just great. It’s probably gone forever, someone probably found it and stole it, but fine. I’ll try back tonight.

So I walk back to the trailer, grab my laptop, ignoring dumbass whistles and catcalls from 50 Mexican immigrants, and walk two and a half miles in the other direction, until I find a Starbucks.

And here I am, frantically e-mailing Aishwarya and Dwight (please, please check your e-mail, guys!!!!!). If I can at least get to my car, then I’ll be OK for the day – maybe I can drive to Sprint and see if they replace stolen phones. Getting to my car is the fun part, though.

Sigh. I am so insanely, monstrously frustrated right now.

My Face (Sort Of) Is Online

Well, the video interview with Mark Horvath of Hardly Normal is live here, as of today.

Some things you should know about me:

1) I do not, in fact, have a double chinned turkey neck in real life. I actually do have a jaw. I swear to God (Mark, please, please back me up on this!!!!!) I think that may just be the most unflattering angle on me ever, combined with the fact that the camera adds 20 lbs. (but why did it have to add them all in my face?!?!?!) So, yeah… kinda sorta mortified right now and kicking into damage control mode, because for all of my alleged stellar qualities, modesty is not one of them. I wish I could say it was, but… sorry. Like the vast majority of women, I desperately want to look pretty, especially in front of a zillion strangers :~\

2) I’m watching this video (with the sound down at work, so I still haven’t yet gotten the full horrific impact of this thing – what does my voice sound like?!) and I am realizing that I’m incredibly twitchy when I’m nervous. I’m gesticulating and fidgeting a lot. This bugs me incredibly, which means I’ll have to pay more attention to how I carry myself. Sigh.

3) My hair… Oh, god, my hair.

4) Lest you think I hate everything about myself and am just ragging and wallowing in self-pity, I do think that I have a pretty killer smile. And my St. Patty’s Day Faery T-shirt kicks major arse (thanks for the present, Aishwarya!) So there.

5) Obviously the cat is out of the bag – my first name is Brianna (they accidentally used my full first name instead of just ~B~). Well… fuck. Please, if you must call me anything, call me Bri. All of my friends do. I like it better than Brianna, anyway.

*whew* I shall now run and hide my face in my hands. Right after putting myself back on the liquid diet (this is Orange County, after all). Jamba Juice shall thank me.

The Bangs That Ate The World

Yesterday, I decided I should probably dye and trim my hair, since it was getting a bit out of control, and I want to continue looking presentable at my new job.

Luckily, my very first “official” job was at a beauty salon – I ran the front desk. I was twelve. I made friends with one of the hairdressers, L., and she has been cutting my hair on the cheap and/or free for the past 12 years. Touching up my roots presented more of a challenge… I thought it might be pushing it just a little too much to try coloring it in the bathroom of Planet Fitness, or the community college locker room. First of all, it’s about an hour-long process; second of all, it smells of unholy chemicals. At some point, someone would probably notice me, and I really don’t want random strangers to be aware of my existence or location at the moment.

So, I took the plunge, went into the salon early, gave a brief synopsis of the situation, and begged L. to let me put my color on there while she worked on her previous client. She lent me a cape and told me to have at it. Crisis averted.

The end result of my little beauty splurge yesterday is the monster ’60s bangs you see swallowing my face above. I love them. I’ve done it once before and it was fun, gave me a completely new look. Sometimes I need something to hide behind. Bangs are great for that.

My two youngest sisters are in Europe with their mom – currently, they’re spending time in Italy. There are no words for how much I envy them. The 17-year old has recently found herself a girlfriend, I’m so happy for her.

On a whim, Aishwarya and I drove out to Hollywood yesterday to see Sunshine Cleaners at the only California theatre in which it is currently playing (goes wide release on 3/20). We were early and it turned out, the theatre was right across the street from Amoeba music store, a place which holds decidedly complicated memories for me. Aishwarya had never been, so, underestimating the power of said memories, I dragged her in. Of course, it all hit in this massive tidal wave of emotion as I browsed through racks of thousands of used DVDs, and I was overwhelmed by incredible sadness and pain, so that sucked in general.

The movie was great, touching and funny. I knew going in that it was a dramedy about sisters who start a crime scene cleanup business, so I knew parts of it might remind me of recent events, but I wasn’t expecting the opening sequence, in which a man walks into a sporting goods store, asks to see a 20-gauge shotgun, and promptly sticks it under his chin and blows his brains out right there. I suppose it hit a little bit too close to home for me.

Also hitting close to home was Amy Adams in a role that just wrenched my gut. At one point, she says, “I’m good at getting men to want me… not date me or marry me… but want me”. I wanted to start bawling right there. I know the feeling. I suppose the initial shotgun incident started me off thinking about my biological father. I started thinking about how he didn’t love me and bailed out when I was 2, and how that kind of set the scene for my life and relationship history with men from there. Out of 7 relationships, not one has loved me. It’s difficult being with someone for months or even years, yet never once hearing “I love you”, from even a single man. Some men say it to women, even if it’s not true. I didn’t even get that. In my case, my men couldn’t say it because it wasn’t ever true. You start wondering, if someone can’t love you after six months, or a year, or two and half years – perhaps you really are unloveable. Or why a man who openly despises cheating and cheaters – an “uncheatable” man – somehow managed to cheat only on you. You think, if you’re the only one this uncheatable man could see himself cheating on, if you somehow drove the nicest man on the planet to cheat on you, there must be something really, really wrong with you. If you bared your soul and dared to become more intimate with each other than you ever thought possible, really exposed your guts and got up the courage to open up facets of yourself that no one had ever previously seen, and he still couldn’t love you, then no one could. Someone asked me for 3 wishes recently, and I gave them – one for myself, two for homeless people in general, and all the time my fourth, overwhelming wish was silently screaming, unbidden, pulsing like a siren, underscoring ever word that I actually spoke: “I want to be loved. I want to be loved back!!!!!”

So, of course, that sent me spiraling along a line of similar negative and sad thinking, which is on the whole, you know, kind of the opposite of what I’m going for. Sigh. What can I say. I’m human. It happens.

Anyway, the original point of my post is that I have awesome new bangs, The Bangs That Came From Outer Space And Devoured The World. Lovely, aren’t they?

On Best Friends

I’m telling you, it’s awesome to have a best friend backing you up when you’re in a situation like I am. I’ve been in positions before where I’ve felt like I had absolutely no support, nobody to turn to, and it’s no picnic. When you’ve got the most amazing best friend in the world, though, nothing is too tough.

You guys have already read about “Dwight”. Now, I am introducing you to “Aishwarya”, the only other human being in my personal circle that has any idea about my current set of circumstances. I have given her a pseudonym, although she has given me permission to publish her photo here (this is the two of us last week, the day before my birthday, at a local community college theatre production).

Aishwarya has been my best friend since junior high school, when she moved to California from Bangladesh. We have been through some unbelievably tough times together, and she has endured a lot of personal B.S. throughout her young life, yet come out the other side stronger for it, and beautiful as ever. Despite her own incredibly busy and full life, Aishwarya has consistently found time to be there for me during all of this craziness. She is the kindest, most giving, biggest-hearted person I’ve ever met. Just wanted to give acknowledgement. She is heading off in June for about 6 months (job-related training) and I will miss her terribly.

As you can see, my face is still blotted out by the omnipresent green circle, haha. However, my face may soon enough be a matter of somewhat public record, even if my name/exact location shall not – a certain well-known homeless activist recently did a video interview with me *hides face in hands* so I suppose anyone interested enough may see me on camera soon. Blegh. I hate the way I look on film. Just so you know, they’re not kidding when they say the camera adds 10 or 20 lbs. If you watch said interview, don’t say I didn’t warn you. :`(

I’m also going to be doing another interview tomorrow (this time by telephone) with a very kind and seemingly awesome-sauce journalist writing an article on the mobile homeless for the Daily Beast. How weird do I feel right now? I swear, I never thought the words “I’m going to be doing an interview” would come out of my mouth (fingers?) unless it was in the context of job-searching. Anyway, happy to do what I can to help put the issue out there.

Still… so very, very weird.

Yay!!! I have two blog “followers”!!!!! I have no idea what exactly this means, but woohoo.

In Which ~B~ Finds Herself Alone In A Parking Lot

Oh, simple thing, where have you gone? I’m getting old and I need something to rely on.

* * * * *

My fellow mobile homeless have all taken their RVs and fled… not sure why; Wal-Mart/police haven’t bothered us since talking to the manager; at least not to my knowledge – and no notes or tickets have appeared on my windshield. I knew P. was leaving for Lake Elsinore in the next couple of days – he found a campground out there and it’s much closer to his 13-year-old daughter. But the rest, I fear, left because they thought they might be towed :`( This is so sad to me – there are so few suitable alternatives out there; if these people couldn’t afford a campground and had to stay in a parking lot, where else will they be able to stay?

In any case, I am the sole trailer left in the parking lot (although there are still a few homeless left, all in cars/vans). I feel very naked, vulnerable, and stand-out-ish without a sea of trailers to blend into. Hopefully a few more will show up soon. I need cover. Plus, I got the opportunity to meet several of them over the last few days, and they were super awesome people. One was even a former dentist who spoke four languages!!!

* * * * *

Through newfound work connections (that’s right, 2 days in – I waste absolutely no time), I seem to have possibly sorta maybe found someone who can get me financed for the house. He pointed out loopholes – as a first time homebuyer, I only need to come up with 3.5% down payment, and apparently there’s some FHA program where I am allowed to ask for a seller’s contribution of 6% of the sales price to pay all of the down payment and some or all of the closing costs. He also seems to think that the credit/debt won’t be too much of a problem; thinks he can help me repair it in 35-60 days, especially now that I have a job. Downside of this is that I would have to schedule closing for at least 75 days out (leaving a buffer for any unexpected delays), but since the house is a short sale anyways, it’s likely to take at least that long, if not longer (could even be 6 months), so that doesn’t really make a difference. Please, please cross your fingers for me!!!

My bestest of the best friend, “Aishwarya” (she declined to pick her own pseudonym, so I named her after the most beautiful Bollywood star out there!) has a Human Services degree and is a certified grant writer. She is now the second personal acquaintance to be let in on my current situation. We went and had pina coladas on Monday to celebrate my new job, and just generally shot the breeze. Somehow, we stumbled upon the idea of having her write up a grant proposal to have the government give me some money to restore the house and use some of the rooms to accommodate 2-4 homeless women and children at a time, sort of a halfway house type thing (the home is pretty ginormous, like bed and breakfast big).

We’ll see. I hope I hope I hope.