EDD Hatred Level Escalates; Awesome Book; Religious Past

Today was a day that was mainly frustrating and exhausting, for personal reasons.

In addition, yesterday I gasped with joy as I opened my P.O. box.  A beaming, glowing ray of light fell upon the envelope from California EDD.  The angelic chorus sounded.  For a brief moment, the world was so very lovely.  Finally, finally after hours of fruitless phone calls trying to get through, several e-mails begging for a response, with only maddeningly robotic (and clearly deceptive) “we will get back to you within 48 hours” automatons to appease me…  FINALLY!!!!!!!  My claim forms for my extended benefits had arrived (in case you haven’t yet read my previous post on this subject, I am now owed several months’ worth of retroactive extended unemployment benefits, prior to my getting a job.  Sat down recently and tallied up the amount owed from the day that I filed.  Turns out I’m owed in the vicinity of a little over $5K at this point, which would take me 1/4 of the way towards accummulating the $20K I recently found out I need to pull out of my bum to get this house so that I can then start the whole fun part of seeing what’s involved to use it for transitional housing purposes to take in other homeless women/children (that’s a story for another post, but soon, I promise).

Ripped open the envelope to find… a (second) “approval” notice letting me know that yes, I am eligible for extended unemployment benefits (well, duh, same exact notice I already received waaaaaaaay back when this crap saga started)…

There were no claims forms included.

None.

Zilch.

Aaaaaaaaaand………… yeah.

Seriously.  I know they’re backed up because CA is now like the poster child mascot of insanely skyrocketing unemployment rate states (OK, besides Michigan), but what the eff?!?!?!?!?!

WHERE are my UI benefits?  With those I could at least start the process, combine those with the money I have on me now and I’d be $6K down, only $14K to go.

* * * * *

In other news, stumbled upon this book called I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed, by Kyria Abrahams.  She was raised in the same religion/cult/whateveryouwannacallit as I was (won’t reference it here, you’re welcome to look it up if you like, but if you’re a reader and a devoted member of this religion, I’d really appreciate you skipping the part where you leave me comments telling me how wrong I am about the organization, wrong for leaving, assuming you know everything about me, assuming you know everything about your own religion/cult/whatever, assuming you know everything period, etc.)

I read the first couple of pages and identified so strongly with it (plus it’s hysterically funny – the chick has mad sarcasm skills, which is kind of my M.O. too, so I liked her right off the bat) that I had to stay up all night reading it.

It really brought back waves of memories for me – I left the organization at 18 when I moved out of my parents’ house, although while staying with them they insisted on dragging me back, which I put up with to the best of my ability… zoning out, which I’ve perfected the art of.

Kyria really got the language and syntax and feel of what it’s like growing up as a member spot on.  Many of our experiences were alike – particularly the one where she swallowed a bottle full of pills in a failed suicide attempt and her parents ignored it, didn’t drive her to the hospital, nothing.  Left her to either get over it or else face the consequences of her actions and die.  That struck me so because I had such an eerily similar experience – at 14, in a fit of hopelessness, I impulsively swallowed a jumbo bottle of Tylenol (yeah, go ahead and laugh – but ODing on Tylenol causes liver failure, it turns out!)  My family’s tenant found me in the bathroom and called my mother, who blithely told him “have her stick her finger down her throat”, hung up and drove to Palm Springs with my sister for the week, leaving me to be sick and/or die while said tenant, also a member of this religion, shrugged his shoulders and went back to bed (turned out I was just in agony all night and the next morning.  Nothing major.  I was lucky.)

Now, clearly I got over the whole idea of death after that… agony like that made me decide it really wasn’t in the cards for me.  Nope, never trying that again *shudder*.  But still, it was scary.  And finding out that there was someone with a childhood so similar to mine – let alone her writing a book that is breaking into mainstream literature! – was kind of an eye-opener for me.

The last part of the book is the darkest.  This is where our life experiences varied more (and Kyria admits she has some medical/mental issues such as OCD, etc. that didn’t help with some of the more naive/destructive choices she made in her desperation).  She married super-young to someone she had nothing in common with, as children with our upbringing are wont to do (no premarital sex, and no secular “dating”.  “Dating” = “Marriage”).  She was, unsurprisingly, miserable, and started cutting, using drugs, and sleeping around to escape her marriage (adultery is the only valid and accepted reason to divorce, in this religion).

OK, slightly different from me – I never dated boys from my congregation.  I didn’t want to.  Was never interested.  There were, as she points out in the book, very few prospects, and I never felt like settling for a pale shadow of the real thing, just so that I could have sex or play house.  I knew even then that I wasn’t wholly and completely invested in my religion.  I think to some degree, I was always looking for the time when I could bolt.  I was attracted to men and dating and life outside of my super-narrow, controlled little world.  I saw hypocrisy and abuse everywhere I turned; not only in my own family, but in others in the congregation.  To have admitted so would certainly have meant trouble for me – even complete shunning from all I knew, including my own family.  So, when I turned 18, I simply disappeared.  I didn’t take any of the complicated channels that the heads of the congregation, or “elders” pretend are mandatory.  I refused to be labeled, refused to be shunned, I simply up and left and nobody ever questioned it.  Nobody ever really wondered where I’d gone or why, or what I was doing.  Nobody cared to investigate, they just made their assumptions and moved on with their lives, zealously preaching to anybody who would listen.  One more fallen angel.  Oh, well.

On the few occasions my family dragged me back this year, I was generally regarded with unease and suspicion, which amused me more than anything else.  You could tell it was in everybody’s mind that I must have turned into some little Satanic whore (paranoia and fear are big there).  Nobody knew anything for sure, and I didn’t volunteer any information on that score, neither confirmation nor denial, even when prodded, but some form of “sexual misconduct” was widely assumed, it was quite obvious.  After spending several years away, I had come more to grips with the knowledge that these people didn’t truly have any claim to me or sway over my life (in stark contrast to the certainty I had held in my childhood, that they could ruin me – or rather, that they could have God ruin me).  Now, to a degree, I enjoyed being the boogeyman, responding cheerfully yet bluntly when I spoke at all and seeing the awkward shifting and furtive glances at my outspokenness, my complete and utter lack of “spiritual” thoughts and goals, at least as far as they define such.  I had always been something of an oddball, even when a child.  I was disarmingly perceptive and never quite took things at face value as much as I “should” have.  I had opinions and ideas of my own, questions even about things in the Bible that made me uncomfortable or curious.  I was mildly bothered by the idea of “proving” a scripture by reading another scripture.  To some degree, I wanted to look at and hear all points of view before coming to my own conclusions.  This was highly frowned upon in the organization – looking at outside points of view was considered falling prey to Satan.  We were only to accept what we were told at face value by the heads of the organization, all mere men who were supposedly being “inspired” by God.  Chastised often for this moral failing, I did what I could to sublimate it, bury it, bend my will and conform.  It was embarrassing to be scrutinized and looked down upon.  It was embarrassing to be different within the organization, and also to be different outside of it – in school, and at work.  But, when it comes down to it, I was never the conforming type.  Now, I can find humor in my role as fallen, sinful, devious skank-ho; even relish it a little.

It wasn’t always like this.  It took a lot of struggling and therapy.  And reading Kyria’s book brought a lot of it back in a flood; despite the barbed humor which had me laughing my arse off, the feelings and pain beneath it were refreshed.  I don’t think anybody who breaks free from that kind of past ever fully gets over it.

Anyway, it was just kind of crazy and surreal seeing that there was someone else like me; someone who fought back (although sometimes in different ways) and got up the courage to leave.  We both had to learn to live in the real world – you’re not prepared for it at all when you come from that background.  You’re taught to fear the world, flee from it, dangers lurk everywhere ready to pounce on you.  In an interview, Kyria made a point that struck me as all too true – you are told by your family, your friends, your fellow congregation members that life isn’t worth living outside the organization.  That if you leave, everything will go horribly for you because you’re defying God, slapping him in the face, and being punished for it.  The irony, of course, is that initially that does often happen, your life does go sort of wonky – but not for those reasons.  It’s not difficult so much because the real world makes it difficult and you are being punished.  It is difficult because, never having lived in the real world, you have no idea to go about it, and have to start from scratch, teaching yourself and painstakingly learning through trial and error.

Six years later, and I’m still nowhere near done learning to adjust.  I don’t think I completely ever will be.  But… it’s a start.

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

Fezzik and House Buying

Fezzik is boarded. It was difficult, not sure how big a fan of the boarding facility I am. I want to come and take him to the dog park on weekends (since they don’t allow their canine boarders to play together). They said that I can, but they “discourage” it because I’ll “depress” him… wtf?!?!?! So you’re telling me I should go without seeing my dog for a really long time?!?! That he shouldn’t be able to run and play at the park?! Screw that, he’s hanging out at the park with me on the weekends. Seriously, I’m not sure how much better this boarding thing can be for him, sounds like he’ll be getting less exercise and less interaction with other animals.  Plegh.

They slipped a flimsy little lead over his neck to take him back to the room. I offered her his Halti nose lead, since he’s used to it and it keeps him awesomely under control, just a little tug and he’s putty in your hands, since like all dogs, he follows the direction of his nose. She said no and took it off and took him back.

I signed the last form and turned to leave. All of a sudden, commotion, and then Fezzik comes HURTLING out from the back rooms DRAGGING this hapless woman behind him, trying to follow me. He did NOT want me to leave him, he is just such a velcro dog and wants to be near me whenever I’m in the room.

She took the Halti after that and he went along meekly. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

* * * * *

House buying info (largely a copy-paste of a reply to a comment on my last post, since I’m lazy, haha): Dwight and I have completed our loan application, and are supposed to receive our prequalifying letter this week, upon which we can make an offer to the bank, woohoo!!!!!

Hopefully they will accept quickly, although there may be a counteroffer negotiation process. Closing will need to be scheduled for at least 75 days out. Short sales can take up to 6 months to process, I’m crossing my fingers for a quick and easy 75 days.

I am hoping to rent the cheapest month-to-month apartment I can find, as soon as I know the situation with the house offer. Due to the low price of the home, my mortgage will actually be lower than an apartment payment, plus I will have to expend a bit on down payment/closing costs. As a first-time homebuyer, I am apparently entitled to request a 6% seller credit from the purchase price to cover much of the down payment/closing closts, so much of these fees will be covered; however, I am trying to retain as much savings as possible in the meantime as a cushion in case there are still some fees I have to come up with.

Overall, it’s one of those “wait and see” situations. I also need to find an apartment that will allow large dogs, which can be tough in the area (especially on a month-to-month basis, most landlords are looking for a longer-term commitment). Depending upon these factors, I may be able to squeak into an apartment, or I may have to wait until closing on the house.

Either way, I am soooooooo completely stoked about it. Here’s some photos of the house, via GoogleEarth. As you can see, it’s quite ginormous, and very old (1904 Victorian). From the pics, I’m sure you can tell it’s a bit of a fixer-upper… one or two windows have been broken and boarded up, and will need to be replaced, and there’s a fair amount of stuff in the backyard that I’m hoping the current owners remove when they leave. And I would love to paint it a new color. But the bones of the house are fantastic… isn’t it beautiful? Just so much character. I can’t have a new house; I love things old, with history behind them; I just want to jump in and start making it mine. All those little nooks and crannies and discoveries waiting to be made. I especially love the octagonal room on the side – I want it to be my room. There are about 8 bedrooms right now, but I’ll probably want to scale that back a bit (although I want as many as possible, if I turn it into a halfway house for homeless women/children like I was considering). You can’t see, but there’s also a ginormous garage behind that’s been converted into a guest house. And a basement and an attic – you never get that stuff in Orange County, especially no basements!!! First thing, though, I’m getting rid of the plastic kids’ swing set (I don’t have kids, and if I did, I’d find a nicer set, haha). So… yeah. There you go. A little window into my head and what I love and what makes me tick.



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.