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!

CNN’s Young People Who Rock

Well, here’s the video of my CNN interview with Nicole Lapin, on her weekly segment, Young People Who Rock.  It was supposed to be a bit longer, but Obama decided to give an employment update right at the same time my interview was scheduled, so that delayed it several minutes, and bit a chunk out of the time that I was to be on the air, so I had to try and cram a lot of the info I wanted to get in there into a smaller running time.  Therefore, I’m talking really fast, and barely letting poor Nicole get a word in edgewise.  Still, seeing myself on camera or in photos mortifies me, so I suppose it’s one of those blessings in disguise – less of my chunky face on TV, woohoo!

(I’m now seriously considering actively eating healthier; seven months of sustaining myself on cheap-ass food has not been kind to my figure.  I’m not quite as big as I appear on TV – the camera adds 10 or 15 lbs., and most of them seem to be in my face – but I could still probably stand to take much better care of myself).

Matt was there for this interview, so it was his first time on a TV set (the Today Show wouldn’t fly him out to NY as well along with me, so he had to stay behind and await my return, blegh).  I felt a little better and more confident with him there.  Less nervous.  I don’t think I’m quite used to being on TV, nor will I ever be, likely, but I was more at ease this time around.

And now to embarrass Matt a little with photos of his cute self on the set of YPWR.  This is history, folks.  Matt NEVER gets his picture taken.

Nicole was so super awesome and friendly, chatting with me in the makeup room along with the awesome hair/makeup artist, Jennifer, whose Herculean task it was to transform me into a raving beauty (kidding, but she did do a fantastic job!  I got airbrushed!!!!!)  Jennifer is having a baby pretty soon, so congrats on the new kid, Jennifer!

But yeah, Nicole was great at setting me at ease; she’s a total sweetheart and a damn fine reporter – she has this informal, approachable thing going for her, which I think is a great bonus when it comes to reaching out and reporting to our generation.  Nicole is right around my age and clearly she’s super intelligent – I can’t imagine what it must take to be a respected CNN reporter at so young.  Her segment has been going strong for 2 1/2 years, and I’m honored to have been her guest.

So, thanks so much to Nicole, and to CNN for having me on again!

On CNN Again; More Quickie Updates

Hey guys,

So, this afternoon I’m going to be on CNN again.  This time, though, it’s gonna be live!  *eep*  So tune in or set your TiVo to record CNN’s “Young People Who Rock” segment with the awesome Nicole Lapin at 12:30 PST!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for over a week; the new job is fantastic and has been keeping me challenged/on my toes.  Plus my commute is four hours round-trip per day, and when I get back to the trailer, all I want to do is crash and unwind.  So I’ve been procrastinating, and I’m sorry.

I’m still on the back lot in Riverside, although that’s still a much huger step out of this.  In fact, it feels as though I’m in a bit more of a limbo between “homeless” and “not homeless”, by virtue of the fact that now I have some utility hookups, meaning that unlike living in the Walmart parking lot, I can flick on a light switch, cook, use the restroom, and even take a (cold) shower!  This is major progress!

Matt’s flying back home to Scotland on Monday, so I’m going to be spending all of my time this weekend with him – if you don’t see me around, that’s why!  This time, he won’t be able to make it back to Cali for probably 2 or 3 months, so that’s going to suck.

I swear though, after Matt lands safely in Scotland and I can stop chewing my nails over it, I’ll post a more comprehensive, detailed update.  I’ll also try my hardest to keep posting more often!

Love ya,

~Bri

Radio New Zealand Interview; CNN; Today Show

Interview – Radio New Zealand (Nine to Noon)

Above is the link to the audio file of my interview Tuesday with New Zealand’s NPR show Nine to Noon.  Sorry, my cell phone connection flickered at a couple of points, but overall I feel like I did decent.

Surprise; CNN news anchor Ted Rowlands called in the morning and asked if CNN could come film a segment.  Thinking he meant in a few days, I said absolutely.  Come to find out, he meant in about 2 1/2 hours!  Panic mode.  Dude; Ted Rowlands and his awesome camera guy were in our trailer today.  Very surreal.  They were fantastic, by the way.  Very personable and set me at ease, so I barely noticed that I was in front of a camera.  They stuck around for about an hour and a half; not sure how long the segment itself will be.  It might air Wednesday morning or (more likely) Thursday morning.  If I get any more info beforehand, I will post it; otherwise, I’ll embed the video on the blog.

In about 5 1/2 hours I fly out to New York, where I be on The Today Show Thursday morning with E. Jean Carroll (my first time meeting her in person).  I can confirm that we are scheduled to be on around 10:30 a.m., and we are being interviewed by Hoda Kotbe and Kathie Lee Gifford.  Will try to get and embed this video as well in a post, if you’re not able to watch.  Sadly, Matt will not be able to accompany me to NY, although I tried my darndest to get them to fly him out as well.  Sadness.

So, yep yep!  After my Today Show appearance, I will be attending a couple of meetings in NY, and then leaving Manhattan to fly home in the early evening.  Should be back home by midnight, Friday morning.  Very, very busy.  And tired.  But all super exciting.

* * * * *

Confidential to Stacey Niffenegger in Gilroy, CA:  I just received your very touching letter in my P.O. box.  Besides thanking you for your very kind and personal words, I wanted to tell you that you are fantabulous and I know you will do superbly at finishing out college.  Your determination to commute an hour each way to and from school to better yourself each day is inspiring to me, as I have yet to finish college myself (or indeed, to attend any classes other than community college ones).  Keep up the awesome work, and know that it’s OK and normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, especially with a mountainous task like higher education before you.  You rock, chika!

~Bri

P.S.  There is a rat or mouse in our trailer.  We’re not sure which, but either way… gross!  It got into a bag of chips and a sack of potatoes.  Ewwwww.  I hate killing things, but traps must be bought!

Ask E. Jean Update!

Wooooooooot!  E. Jean got back to me (thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!); my internship starts Sept. 1st!  Best of all, she was kind enough to tailor it to my circumstances by making it an hour a day, 6 days a week, so I still should be able to work a regular job (which is fantastic, since this week I’ve had several places express interest – tomorrow I’m interviewing as Executive Assistant at The Alzheimer’s Association, yay for nonprofit work!  Also have had interest expressed by a celebrity author/animal rights activist (PA), aerospace company (EA) and medical management company (EA).

Sooooo… things are looking up!  Which is great, because it cost quite a bit to fix my car (just finished today) and now Matt and I are running incredibly low on funds (although much better than we would be, thanks to the super-generous people who sent us donations), but it doesn’t even matter right now because I’m so ecstatic!  I have the awesomest internship that will make my CV look fantastic, and I’m likely to get a decent-paying  job within the week  :)

Poor Matt.  He’s been such a trouper.  I woke him up this morning gasping/screaming/flailing madly, having stumbled upon my own story on Save The Assistants (awesome blog run by awesome people; I highly recommend checking it out!)  Poor guy bolted upright all bleary-eyed and panicked, terrified that something was horribly, deathly wrong.  He was a very good sport about it though, and he’s very happy for me, though I’ve been ignoring him all day in favor of job applications, internship freakouts on FB and Twitter, and picking up propane/milk for us.  So I think I should probably sign off now and go give him some attention and cuddles.

Cheers and much love to my readers!

~Bri

Interview Finally Posted!!! Also, Ingrid and General Direction of tGGtH

Well, I’m only three days late with it, but FINALLY figured out how to post the CBC interview with Jennifer Westaway:

I sound very nervous and am talking about a mile a minute, haha.  I got some super sweet comments from Canadian readers, and now I have to set about answering all of them (I like to personally respond to everybody)!  So, if you’ve left me a comment at any point this last week, I’ll have probably responded to it by tonight.  Really.  I swear.

Things have been a tiny bit crazy, there may be problems getting the house and I may need to come up with about $10K more than I currently have, within the next two months, in order to get it.  This means that I will need to look into selling the few remaining possessions that I have, including my antique 1934 baby grand piano, Ingrid… I dumped much of my furniture at a thrift store, but put her and a few other items in storage when this thing began.  I used to think that she would be the one thing I would never be willing to sell, and it breaks my heart to make the decision, but this is my dream house and I need to really take a serious look at what is most important to me and my long-term happiness.  I suppose I could always find another piano… but houses like my Victorian simply don’t exist around here, and I really am head-over-heels in love with it.  At the same time, I could get another piano but not another Ingrid; musical instruments have a sort of life and personality to them and I will miss her terribly.  I imagine she’s quite disappointed at being stored in pieces in the dark for the past few months, and will be even more disappointed that I’ll never play her again.  Or perhaps it’s just anthropomorphization.  In any event, I probably won’t make much off her (nobody is buying pianos at the moment; instruments that would have cost thousands a couple of years ago are going for mere hundreds or even being given away for free on Craigslist now).  I have a few other things that I suppose can go – a book collection of thousands of books (which also breaks my heart) and several hundred DVDs – it may be well over a thousand now, I didn’t really keep track when I was collecting them.  I used to work for Blockbuster Video, can you tell?  In any case, not very good resale value, but perhaps it’ll be something.  I also have the Dodge Ram that I inherited from Bill when he committed suicide.  It’s about 10 years old, and only worth about $2500 max, but it’s something.  It’s currently hooked up to the trailer, but perhaps if I eventually find a month-to-month rooming situation that works to my satisfaction, I can sell it.  I also have a fair amount of vintage clothing left, which I used to sell a lot of, so I’m thinking of starting to sell off the nicest pieces.  Still, not much of a resale market for vintage with this economy, but I’ll do whatever I can.  I will NOT lose this house.  I CANNOT.

I’m also gonna have to take a hard look and figure out exactly where I want to take tGGtH at this point.  I feel like I’ve veered off the original intent, which was survival tips and advice and resources.  I seem to be posting more and more personal stories about my daily life, which I’m not ENTIRELY averse to, but somehow I feel like perhaps I might eventually come off as whining about my life, when the original intent of the blog was to help others.  So I may want to start including more topical/homeless news/tips/links to resources type postings.  Thoughts or impressions?  What I want most out of this thing is to help others even in a small way, and also do my part to put the issue on the map.

Also, just curious… any of you guys think I could ever pass as an advice columnist?  The idea recently came to my attention and I find it somewhat intriguing, although unsure as to whether I may be the type.

Onwards I forage – to the comments!!!!!!  :)

Fezzik Re-Boarded, Radio Interview Info, and Thank-You's.

Fezzik has been boarded at a VERY affordable rate at a ranch in Norco, thanks to the power of Twitter.  Sage is the nice lady boarding him, and he seems super happy to be there.  I miss him terribly but it’s good to know that I can visit any time.  Also found out:  he WILL chase chickens.  And horses (but only if they run).  You’d think a few well-aimed kicks in the general region of his head would dissuade him, but nooooooo.  He came running to me whining for about a second and a half before deciding to see if his next attempt would go any better.

…Idiot dog.

I want to thank everyone on Twitter involved in helping me find a solution for Fezzik.  So, thanks to @ChiqueLife, @dailypatricia, and @SewChick for schilling on my behalf!!!!!  I can’t tell you guys how much I appreciate it, and how grateful I am that you would work so hard to help a complete stranger like myself.  Please check out these awesome women and their respective websites below:

http://www.chiquelife.com/

http://patriciahandschiegel.tumblr.com/

http://sewingchicks.wordpress.com/

And super extra thanks to Sage at http://www.sagency.net/, not only for agreeing to board and care for Fezzik long-term while I work on buying the house, but for showing me around the ranch, making me feel at ease, welcoming me to visit any time, and calling/e-mailing me regularly with updates.  I feel so safe and secure that he is in good hands and enjoying himself!!!

As far as the radio interview with Jennifer Westaway goes, it is being broadcast Easter Monday, April 13th (today!)  It is going to be a 3 1/2 minute segment on their national radio news, “The World at Six”.  It starts being broadcast at 6:00 p.m. from the Atlantic region; earliest you could hear it streaming would be at 2:00 p.m. our time at http://www.cbc.ca.radio/.  Probably better, though, would be to download it as an mp3 and then you can scroll along to find the item without having to listen to the entire show to hear it.  You can do this in the afternoon/evening here:  http://www.cbc.ca/w6/

So… yep.  Here we go again!  She said they’re going to mention the name of my blog on the air, let’s see how high the Canadian traffic spikes!  I love Canada!

Ooh, got my tax return, too.  Woohoo for extra money!!!  Although, can someone please explain to me… my income tripled from 2007 to 2008 (this is before I was laid off, obviously).  Yet I got only about half the amount of refund this year as I did in 2007.  How does one earn MORE money and get LESS back?!  *confused*  H&R Block guy tried to explain it to me, but failed miserably.  Ah, well.  Anything is helpful at this point.

~B~

Livid.

So, radio interview with Jennifer Westaway went well, I think.  Not sure how long we talked for, must have been a good half hour or so, although all that needs to be edited down to about 3 minutes before being broadcast.  Still not sure when it’s going on the air, but she’s going to let me know as soon as she knows, so I will link to it when it happens.  You should be able to reach it here though when it does happen:  http://www.cbc.ca/radio/

Fezzik is not looking well.  He’s lost a lot of weight, which really bothered me.  I asked them to ramp up his feeding.  They go “oh, so would you rather we give him two feedings a day instead of one?”

Um… you’ve only been feeding my dog once a day?!  He’s used to twice a day.  How much have you been feeding him?!

One cup of food a day.  That’s all my dog has been getting.

Just for reference, adult Neapolitan Mastiffs should be eating 8-10 cups of food per day.

What kind of fucking morons are these people?  And now they want to charge me extra for extra feeding – isn’t that why I’m already paying more to board him than smaller dogs?!?!!?!?

He was very happy to see me, but he seemed depressed and lethargic, not his normal upbeat self.  And I can’t blame him, poor thing is STARVING.

Also found out from the teenager at the desk (contrary to what I was told when checking him in) that he is NOT being exercised daily, apparently that costs extra too (they told me when I first boarded him that it was included).  He spends his days in a 4′ x 12′ dog run, and his nights in a 4′ x 4′ cage.  At least with me, he had a 30′ trailer to roam in – more than twice the space he has now.  I didn’t want to make a scene, especially with a reporter there, but I’m livid.  Just insanely livid.  For the time being, they’ve promised to feed him more, but tomorrow I’m starting looking for somewhere to move him.  Seriously.  Who feeds a giant breed dog ONE cup of food per day?!  GRAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!

He’s lost a ton of weight and he’s blowing coat and his nose is raw from rubbing it on his kennel door… I could have cried, it makes me so angry to see my dog rapidly decline like this.  He was SO much better off with me, and yet I’m paying $600/month for them to starve him.

So, looking for a new place ASAP.  A place that will let him play and interact with other dogs, take him for walks, and freaking FEED him – they’re out there, I know, I interviewed at one once.

I’m tempted to give out their name and location so that they get credit for being assholes, but I’m afraid of giving away my own locale at this juncture, until I get off the street.  If anyone knows anywhere in Orange County (I don’t care which area, North or South, I’ll travel!) or even as far as Long Beach/Lakewood area, please give me a recommendation.  My dog can not stay at this kennel.

*cries*

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! :)