On Current Dearth of Juicy Tidbits

I'm headed to Scotland next week!!! :)

I feel sort of guilty for not really giving you guys any juicy insights into my personal life lately, but that’s because things are pretty static and there’s really not much to tell at the moment.  I’m still visiting with Vicki Day in London and scooping entrepreneurial business tips from her brilliant mind, which is fun, but nothing particularly dramatic like my trailer being towed from Wal-Mart or other such harrowing tales to regale you with.  Not just yet, anyhow.

Ooh, except that I’m apparently *~*~*finally*~*~* getting the first half of the book advance on Monday, which will catapult me into relative financial solvency, at least for now.  So, yay!  *does the book advance dance* Following which, I can give Vicki’s über-patient daughter Alice back her room and head northwards to bounce around the lovely country of Scotland some more.

Still haven’t decided when I’m heading back to California yet, but in the meantime, I’m “subletting” my trailer to another homeless gentleman, a friend of another woman staying on the same lot as me.  This way, I don’t have to worry about also paying rent while I’m out here, and I get the added bonus of feeling like I’ve helped somebody out (woot!)  Thanks so much to Sage for facilitating all of this, by the way.

So, I guess at least I’m making the most of my first time travelling out of the country!  I’m earning the very first stamp in my very first passport, dammit.

In the meantime, I have the weekend at my disposal, so today I’m off to run around London and take care of some important business in preparation for travelling next week.

Also, yes, I’m aware that HomelessTales.com has been down for several weeks.  I was initially under the impression that it was a matter of someone forgetting to pay the hosting fee or something equally simple to fix, but according to the gentleman who hosts it for Matt, the server was apparently hacked by a disgruntled former employee, the password changed, and the account closed.  It’s not irreversible, the files are still there, but it’s been one headache after another trying to rescue it and re-establish everything.  Sources tell me it’ll be back up Friday or Saturday… I’m really hoping that’s correct, though, because prior to this, I was under the impression that it would be up last week or even earlier.  So, fingers crossed  If you’re on the Street Voices crew, apologies for the delay!  I know you’re going through withdrawals and itching to post again.

Talk soon!

New Chapters

I posted this update over at Homeless Tales, Matt’s site, and wanted to repost here to fill everybody in on what’s been going on with the two of us (to make up for my somewhat vague update a couple of posts ago).

* * * * *

I will start out with Matt’s joyous news – Wednesday, October 28th, at 9:25 AM Scotland time (2:25 AM PST), Matt’s daughter was born via Cesarean section. Her name is Kelsey, after his grandmother, she weighed just about 6 lbs. even, has bright blue eyes, and undetermined (but darkish-seeming) hair. She’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think Matt wants to post photos/video of her online, understandably, but if you’re interested in seeing her, perhaps he can e-mail you privately. That’s his call, though, and she pretty much looks like… a baby.

(Since you’ve likely guessed by now that I wasn’t the one giving birth, I should probably head off any negative knee-jerk reactions at the pass, so: No, there was no infidelity involved; yes, there was protection being used; and no, there is no ill will on the part of any parties involved).

Matt and I found out about Kelsey’s impending arrival a couple of months into our relationship. For a girl who decided at about age 9 that she never wanted to have kids (I mean, look at the role model I had to go on!), it was something of a shock for me and a lot to take in, and Matt graciously gave me the option of backing out. But I love him so much, and I know I’ll love his daughter, so I stuck around, obviously. Now I’m nervously prepping for the responsibilities that come with being a stepmom, and eventually a full-time mother, since we will likely have children ourselves one day.

Life-altering event #2 came the day after Kelsey’s birth, when I received an offer for a book deal (thanks to my brilliant agent, Chris Schelling, who also represents the famed Augusten Burroughs)! Chris is clearly the most awesome evil genius ever; the preparing of the contract and such details takes a few weeks, but upon signing, I receive a decent advance. It won’t buy us a house or anything, but it will rent us an apartment and should also clear up my debts, opening the way for us to get a home loan, we hope! There’s also talk about potentially turning the story into movie-ness, which is kind of mind-blowing to me, so I’m just kind of trying to study up on the various options one day at a time and make sure Matt is involved in all decisions, since it’s his story, too!

So where do we go from here? Well, for now, I’m still in the trailer, waiting on contracts and such to be ironed out. But upon receipt of the advance, we are likely going to look into relocating to upstate NY – towards the small, tree-covered town where we’d like to settle permanently, when we have the means – and yet within a couple hours’ drive of the city, for when book promotions and such things start, which I get the feeling might be largely NYC-centric.

Matt and I would also like to get married, although we still need to bat around immigration red tape, and now with Kelsey thrown into the mix, options are further narrowed down, so that’s just one big wait-and-see game. I imagine once Matt flies back to CA, there will be lots of running around and spazzing out like decapitated chickens, trying to get things planned and settled. I’ve entered that phase already, truth be told, but not much I can do about it for several more weeks, so I’m probably just stressing myself unduly.

In case you can’t tell, I never in a million years imagined something like this would happen to us, and I’m sort of floored and flabbergasted and quasi-in-denial. I don’t feel like an author or the subject of a movie, or anything grand like that, which kind of makes me feel a little like a fraud. I’m still very much “just plain me”. I keep wondering whether they’ve just got the wrong person and haven’t realized it yet. Or I keep coming up with “what-if” scenarios and future disasters like “what if it all falls through and they change their mind before the contract is eked out?!?!?!” Which is unlikely, I know, but still, what can I say? I’m panicky and uncertain right now. A large portion of my life I’ve been told that I’m untalented, uninteresting, a disappointment to my family and to God, and ugly to boot; it’s still so hard for me to imagine or accept people being interested in me, much less enough to ask me to write an entire book about myself.

* * * * *

I can’t say it enough; I am so grateful to my readers, friends, and the Street Voices and Twitter communities for having my back for so long.  Things are finally really looking up and there’s no way that I would have gotten to this point without the online support network that I’ve been lucky enough to find, as well as the utter kindness and generosity of E. Jean Carroll, ELLE magazine, and the most fantabulous Chris Schelling.  Thank you all, guys.

Life-Altering Stuff

Hi all!  Quickie update  :)

Life-altering things have happened this week.  I need to check and find out what and how much I’m allowed to say, but looks as though I’m on the brink of exiting homelessness for good, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Other than that, keeping on keeping on.  Matt’s still in Scotland, and is likely to be for about another month or so.  He’s working super hard keeping up HomelessTales.com, as always, and we’re still batting around red tape and fun things that have to be settled before we can marry or anything.  Still in love and so happy about it though, and that’s going a great ways toward keeping my spirits up.

I may have stable housing soon but will still, of course, continue advocating for homelessness, on this blog and elsewhere!  In fact, I’m glad to have recently done at least a little bit for a couple of girls on the east coast who were thrown out by their parents due to their sexual orientation, and are now living in a car in freezing weather conditions.  An appeal on Twitter brought a lot of fantastic suggestions for shelters, programs, donations, and just ways to keep warm in their current situation.  The girls wish for their names and location to remain anonymous, understandably, but I wanted to give them a shout-out on the blog and let them know that there are so many people rooting for them.  I also want to thank everybody on Twitter who reached out to help them, many mere moments after I posted the plea.

So, yep yep.  Thanks to my loyal readers for sticking around!  Also, I’m in the Guardian today, apparently.  I did this interview quite a while ago, and had assumed that it wasn’t going to go to print, since I didn’t hear back for so long.  So, an extra little bonus surprise today!

Matt Home, Raising Money, New Homeless Tales Authors!

Matt’s home!!!!!  I’m so excited  :)   At LAX, there were a ton of paparazzi hanging around the international arrival gate – David Beckham was supposedly arriving.  Also, Eric Dane (from “Gray’s Anatomy”) and Rebecca Gayheart (from “Dead Like Me”) got off while I was waiting.  I didn’t recognize them, because they were wearing sunglasses and scarves and things, but jillions of flashbulbs went off and people were following them around.  Then Matt came out and I hurled myself into his arms and it was all very cute-ness, once he figured out that the blurry ball of redhead bouncing at him was me and that I would indeed stop just before knocking him over at full speed.  I am soooooo happy he’s back.

We’re staying in a trailer on the property where Fezzik is being boarded, so that’s exciting.  It’s a farther drive to work for me, but it’s slightly more practical for two people and we get to spend time with Fez.  We have a camera now (not just my crummy, fuzzy, pixelated phone camera) so I will try to post pics and video of Matt, Fez, and the area we’re staying.  Work changed their mind about using Fez in a commercial (this is the third time they have asked me to participate in a commercial and then backed out, so I don’t think I’ll say “yes” next time).  This means I just get to relax and spend time with him now instead of trying to get him to do things for the camera, which is something of a relief.

Spending the next three months fundraising; ideally, we’d like to purchase our house right before Matt has to head back to Scotland (he has to return every 90 days due to visa waiver reasons, and stay for a week or two before returning).  That way I could move in, get things settled and all, and then he could come back the next time to a real, legitimate home for us.  So, my retail site should be going up soon.  Besides my very cool vintage clothing collection, we may also be looking into selling vintage books, as well as the trailer and my car.  So, if you need/want any of these things, they will soon be available.  We are currently building my new website and I’ll post linking to it hopefully sometime this week once I’ve got it a bit more established and polished  :)

Also, I’m very excited about all the discussion going on over at Matt’s site, Homeless Tales.  There are several new authors and comments have really picked up lately.  People are having some really thought-provoking ideas and, even when they don’t agree, some really respectful and healthy debate, which is awesome.  It’s so great to see so many homeless and formerly homeless individuals from such varied backgrounds and perspectives coming up with plans and approaches with which to combat the problem.  Please go check out the new articles there – I was blown away by the depth and preparation that obviously went into each of them.

Homeless Tales Article: Twitter's Transatlantic Homeless Love Match

http://homelesstales.com/2009/06/twitters-transatlantic-homeless-love-match/

Awwwwww.  How loved do I feel right now?  What a sweet man I have!  OK.  Mush-fest over, for a bit.  No, really!  I swear!!!!!  ;)

And Now, for a Bit of a Surprise…

Yes, I have been incredibly delinquent in updating.  I’m sorry!!!!!  I hope nobody worried too much!

The thing is, life has been somewhat action-packed for the past few weeks… I’m madly, head-over-heels, crazy-in-love; every cliché in the book I suppose, but it’s all true so I suppose it’s cliché for a reason.  My boyfriend/future hubby, it turns out, is none other than Matt Barnes (aka w0lfh0und) of www.homelesstales.com, whom I have referenced in past blogs.  What I was keeping under the radar (for the time being), was our burgeoning romance, which came somewhat out of left field and gobsmacked us both.

I suppose the whole thing really started when my friend “Dwight” suggested that I promote tGGtH on Twitter.  I had vaguely heard of this Twitter thing, and I’m not gonna lie… I thought it sounded kinda inane.  I didn’t really “get” it at the time.  But he assured me that it’s a great place to promote new blogs, etc. so I figured… what the hell.

The aspect of this whole scenario that I continually find the most romantic is that Matt was the first to “find” me, and in a way, he saved me… or at least helped me to save myself.  Matt monitors keywords on Twitter, among them those pertaining to homelessness.  Within an hour of my first Twitter post, he had skimmed my blog and added me – my first follower.  He liked my writing, and invited me to post on Street Voices.  Happy for the additional cathartic outlet to while away the time while I searched for job and home, I accepted.  The two of us also struck up a seemingly platonic e-mail correspondence, and I found myself checking my inbox several times a day hoping for a new message.  Eventually, this led to IM-ing, and at some point I suppose we both just figured it out.  It was one of those revelatory “a-ha!” moments that you hear about but never quite imagine happening to you.

From the start, I found Matt to be highly intelligent, noble, devoted to his cause, adorable, funny, sweet, caring, nurturing… everything I had ever dared to dream of in a man and in a partner.  However, despite the instant crush I developed on him (which I desperately attempted to hide), it never occurred to me that there might be anything that could come of it.  For starters, I had promised myself not to get involved with any men for a while after my last godawful breakup, and especially not while homeless – what business did I have starting a relationship while I couldn’t even boast a job and a home?  Secondly, Matt lives in the U.K. – England-born, living in Scotland following his own bout with homelessness.  Little did I know that Matt had an insta-crush of his own.  For a couple of weeks we weaved awkwardly around it, each of us occasionally dropping the slightest of flirtations, then quickly backing off, feeling like any idea of reciprocation could only exist in our minds.  To an extent, we were both terrified of making fools of ourselves, and that our feelings were misguided and unrequited.

However, once we started hitting the 10-hour conversation mark (daily), the reality of the situation became difficult to ignore.  Things finally clicked and we realized and admitted how mutual it all was, and the depth of what we had discovered in each other.  And now, after a couple months of that…

here we are.

Matt is in California with me at the moment.  He came out just over 2 weeks ago, May 20th.  The hour waiting at the LAX international arrivals terminal  (his flight was delayed) was the most agonizing hour of my life.  Panic set in – would things be completely different in real life?  Could e-mail/IM /phone conversations possibly measure up to the real thing?  Would it all crumble the moment we saw each other?  True, we had photos (and in his case, video footage) to go off of, but would it change in person?  Without going into too much detail (some things are better left private and sacred and beautiful) I am happy to say that the moment I saw him, I knew that the love I had felt for him online was in no way diminished, but could only increase a thousandfold.

For now, we have pooled our resources and are staying in a tiny motor lodge; however, we may need to go back to the trailer for a week-ish until I am paid again.  Things are a bit tight for me financially (my hours and pay were cut at work), and we are having trouble accessing some of Matt’s paychecks, which are generally mailed to his home.  He flies back to Scotland on June 22 for a couple of weeks, and will be returning to CA following that for a longer stay… hopefully 3 months, the maximum allowed on his visa waiver program.

There are plans in motion for Matt to stay in the U.S. with me permanently… relatively soon.  These are, of course, fluid at the moment.  Kinks need to be finagled and ironed out.  For instance, somewhere to live would be fantastic, haha.  We also need to deal with various legal issues and such.  International immigration, marriage, those kinds of things… are obviously not quick processes, especially in the United States (may I just say, red tape sucks).

But, the important things:  I am safe.  I am supremely happy, happier than I ever thought I could be.  I am happier homeless and living out of a trailer and a motel than I ever was housed, or trying to gain acceptance and approval from my whacked-up dysfunctional hell of a family.  I love Matt more than I knew it was possible for me to love anyone.  I can’t wait to build a future with this man, and prove my love to him daily, for the rest of our lives.  For the first time, someone has looked at me, seen me at my very best and my absolute lowest, and loved me anyway, and reminded me so over and over and over until it makes me want to cry; I am so happy and fulfilled.

I love unconditionally, and I am unconditionally loved.

It’s so fantastic and mind-blowingly awesome that I almost don’t know what to do with it.  Just writing about it is making me a little misty-eyed and my heart feels kind of weighted, like it’s going to throb open.  But it’s so, so super beautiful.

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! :)

Quickie: New Article Up on Homeless Tales

New article I wrote for Street Voices was posted on HomelessTales.com yesterday. Seems to have sparked a little bit of debate, which is good: Bad Choices vs. Just Plain Rotten Luck

I'm HIRED!!!!!!!!!

Fantastically and completely unexpectedly, I have (as of today) joined the working homeless. My interview today panned out great and they hired me on the spot – I start Wednesday!!!

The company does internet marketing and search engine optimization, with a focus on clients who are mortgage lenders. I interviewed with the CEO and his Lead Developer. I got great vibes on the company, the people, work environment, and the general atmosphere of the place. After interviewing, I expected to at least have to wait a couple of days to find out (I was feeling pretty confident, but these days you never know) – but they asked me if I could start immediately! They said that they don’t usually make a job offer right off the bat like that, but I seemed like the perfect fit for the company and their culture, and they saw no reason to see anyone else before making the decision!

Wow. Just… wow. I’ve never been so flabbergasted (or flattered) in my entire life. 8 MONTHS of searching and dead ends and sending out applications into cyberspace that may as well have been dead air because no one ever even called, and then… boom!

The position is really a catch-all, which is great because I will be able to build up my strength in all aspects of a business. It’s a 31% cut in pay for me from my last position, but who cares – I’m being paid what the market will bear for my skills at this precise moment in time, and it’s a HUGE increase over making nothing! The CEO made sure to mention to me that as the company grows, I will be offered pay raises and bonuses often, as he would really like to get me back up to my usual pay scale. It seems like they really try to take care of their employees there – I met the other workers, and they seemed cheerful and content with work and life in general, so how nice is that? What a change from the last guy who interviewed me last week. My official title is Executive Assistant, but the position will cover everything from Office Management to Human Resources to Payroll to Article Editor… There are 5 employees in the business, as well as a few freelance workers they’ve outsourced (company is growing and expanding, so adding some more) and I will be overseeing them all! How insane is all of this!? I’m terrified and thrilled, what a challenge!

Of course, I have to go to extra lengths to make sure that they never find out that I’m homeless, for however long that may be, but I’m pretty positive I can pull it off. As long as I arrive on time, work hard, and always appear polished and tidy, I don’t foresee any major problems with it. I’ve tried to draw up an estimate of how long it will take me to get myself out of this and into a house. As near as I can tell, I should probably expect about 4-6 months, if all goes well and I budget very tightly, save as much as possible from each and every paycheck, and avoid emergencies and/or complications. I will, of course, still be updating tGGtH daily; new posts will probably arrive in the evenings, though, rather than mornings/afternoons as I have been doing.

Oh, my god. I’m exhausted. Happy, but exhausted. It’s still all sinking in.

Thank you guys for your support, I don’t know that I’d have felt or projected nearly as much confidence if I didn’t feel like I had an invisible band of cyber-homeless-activists cheering me on as a support network. Unbelievable.

Shameless plug: don’t forget to send in your letters to Colbert and Jon Stewart, kids! Homeless Tales links to just about every major (and about a jillion minor) homeless activist/volunteer/shelter out there, in all areas of the world. If Homeless Tales gets a boost, we all get a boost, and the issue gets some major face time on TV in front of millions of viewers – I’m willing to bet more of the younger generation get their news from “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” than from actual newspapers or news networks. And, the younger generation is the one that’s going to take over and inherit the earth next, so earning their awareness is a pretty big deal.

Interview-ness

Well, I had my interview this morning.

Sigh.

You know, within a week of being laid off from work, I got a job offer from an investment banker. At the time, the economy had started to crumble, but I don’t think anyone quite realized the severity of the situation. I turned the job offer down. It paid slightly better than my former position, but the folks I had interviewed with were like corpses in business suits. I couldn’t get… well, anything out of them. I kept searching for a sign of humanity, a smile or something. Desperate to make some kind of human connection with them, I even threw out a couple of jokes. Nothing. I had assumed that I completely bombed the interview, so it was definitely a surprise to receive the job offer.

I should have jumped on it. I should have. But all I kept thinking about were those interviewers who seemed so miserable, so completely deathlike, and I imagined the job sucking away any last vestige of spirit, individuality, creativity, and silliness that I retained. I was positive that a job like that would drain my soul bone-dry.

My boyfriend at the time thought I was crazy. And I suppose, in a way, he was right. But it’s hard to describe the complete and utter panic that clawed at me when I visualized myself being swallowed up by that company. I wanted to be me, not a bad carbon copy of myself, a vague humorless imprint.

If I was offered that job again today, would I take it? Hell, yes. Would I stay there once the economy righted itself? I doubt it.

I felt the same kind of panic today at my interview, for different reasons. It wasn’t a high-end financial firm this time, just a little chintzy office run by a quack of a guy who invents “health” aids that don’t actually do anything, that nobody actually needs or uses except really paranoid/OCD people who buy everything they see in airplane catalogues (i.e., oxygen bars, personal UV lights to kill bacteria, et cetera). He was a bit of a pompous, insensitive ass, but I suppose not intolerable. The overwhelming, pervasive feeling of the office though… it was one of depressing resignation. Four or five people in one room, sitting at their computers, ignoring one another, keyboards clacking as they processed orders and data. When I walked in, no one looked up. No one spoke. Just clacking keyboards.

I suppose I should feel good that I even got in to interview – the owner told me that he had received over 1,000 resumés for the position. He is looking to make a decision by tomorrow, so at least by then I will know, no dangling and wondering here. I tried to muster up enthusiasm and put on my “interview face”, but I don’t know how well I did. I’m not much of an actor, and from the moment I entered the door, I felt heavy and overwhelmed with sadness. Everything just seemed grey. Somehow, I managed to keep the interview going for about a half an hour – asking my pre-selected questions, specifically chosen to maximize the appearance of my interest in the company.

Lest you think that I am picky and a whiny, selfish, spoiled brat – believe me, if I am offered the job, I will take it. And I will smile every day that I walk in there, no matter how much of a dead end I feel it is. I am under no illusions about the precariousness of my situation, or the likelihood that I will be offered another position anytime soon. Yes, I will take it.

I post my personal feelings and fears only so that you can see that I am human and imperfect too. I am not always able to look at the bright side, or find the silver lining in everything. I am no Pollyanna.

But… this is what it is. Sometimes, to get by, we just have to suck it up and take the most readily available option, until we can move up to something better.

Just don’t do drugs or prostitution, kids! (By the way, I’m now a guest writer for Street Voices, how cool is that? After depressing interviews like this, at least I can head over to Starbucks and make believe, a little, that I’m a “writer”, haha. So, there’s still a little fun out there for me. Thanks, Matt!)