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).

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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!

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

Ha! Hello, Mommy Dearest!

Hey mom,

Guess you discovered tGGtH yesterday…  You spent all of an hour on my site, right after someone from Flagstaff (yes, Britt, I’m looking at you) spent a nice chunk of time here too.  Welcome to the madhouse.  Does this mean you’re going to be a regular reader?  Not that I mind, every visit from you just drives up my traffic and reduces my bounce rate.  I’m just saying, the boys in charge might take issue with you “misusing” the internet to read *gasp* opinions outside of the WTBTS and all.

…What, no congratulations on my impending nuptials to a nice slice of smexy English hotness?  ;)

Matt's Coming Home, and Fezzik is a Star :)

Matt’s plane lands approximately 5 hours from now.  I’m stoked!!!!!  This time at the airport I get to hurl myself at him and be all mushy and adorable.  The first time I was too nervous about whether he’d like me as much in person, whether I’d be invading his personal space, etc.  Now I know that all signs are go, so woot!

Also, Fezzik is going to be in a commercial for www.makeastar.com, which is pretty awesome!  I knew my pooch had star quality  ;)   Actually, he’s just going to be representing the “talented pet” contest they have going on, so it’ll probably be an hour or so of sitting around trying to coax him to actually DO something in front of a camera.  You know dogs, they’ll do everything you tell them to until it actually matters, haha.  I’d better stock up on meat treats this weekend and try to get him to put together simple concepts in his head:

“me + jump through hoop = MEAT!”

“me + stand on hind legs and slobber on Bri’s cheek = omg omg omg MEAT!!!!!!”

“bwahahahahahahhahahaha MEEEEEEEEEEAT!!!!!!!!!  IT’S RAINING MEAT!!!!!!!!!”

So… yeah.  We’ll see how that works.  He’s totally gonna be the most famous Neapolitan Mastiff EVAR.  Not that I can actually think of any other Neapolitan Mastiffs in entertainment.  But I bet there’s one or two out there somewhere.

That’s right, Beethoven!  You ain’t got nothing on my blockheaded dog!  My dog will whip your arse with his superior lumbering skills!  And his laying there and snoring/drooling on command skills!  Hell, yeah!!!!!!!!

Photos/Video of Fezzik (per request)

The photos are from when I first got Fezzik (he’s filled out a bit since).  You can click to enlarge them.  The video is at the dog park, before I became homeless.  I filmed it as an update to Karma Rescue, from whom I adopted him.  Sorry for the poor/blurry quality, the video camera on my phone is, as on most phones, über-suck.  And yes, the baby-talk mode into which I lapse in the presence of my ginormous lug of a dog does embarrass me a bit.  But I don’t care.  I luuuuuurve him.

[Edit: Sorry, had to remove video for the time being. Didn't realize that by using a video from my Facebook page, my full name and link to my profile would be shown on the vid. Couldn't figure out how to remove just the name, so had to scrape the whole thing.]

Quick(ish) Update

So, if you follow my Twitter stream, you probably already know that my retroactive UI checks DID finally show up last week in the P.O. box (wooooooot!)

Some of it went towards practical things such as paying bills, but I have reopened one of my old checking accounts (the credit union one, with the great interest rate) and shoveled the rest in there, to hopefully accrue and amass enough to buy a house.

Ah, there’s the other thing.  The house that I had been working towards was pulled off the market (not sold); I’m assuming due to the California 90-day foreclosure moratorium that recently took effect.

Oh, well  :(

Matt and I have found another house that we absolutely adore.  It is still a fixer, but it is in much better condition and it costs much less (Asking price is in the $190K range).  If we can just get a mortgage for this, we’ll be set.  I have a few thousand already; we’re on our way!  I’m not going to post pictures of/info on this house because I’ve started getting paranoid that someone else will see it, think “ooh, that’s a great deal!” and it’ll get snatched from under our nose like the last one did.  So, sorry… if we get it then I’m sure I’ll be posting pics galore!

Other than that, Matt returns to Cali on Friday evening and I can’t wait to see him.  He’ll be here for 3 months this time, which is awesome.  We’re going to be spending a lot of time with Fezzik, and taking on extra work to bring in extra income, because right now we are super-focused on this house thing.  It’ll be a major bummer if we lose it, so we’re really gonna be cracking down.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

~Bri

P.S.  I am wearing a pretty, sparkly, antique Edwardian/art nouveau diamond and platinum piece of jewelry on the ring finger of my left hand…  Hmmmmm…  What could that be?  Pictures soon, I hope.  Actually, I may soon go looking for an affordable Wal-Mart camcorder/camera in order to document my life with Matt, since the one on my phone sucks.

P.P.S.  “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” is holding open auditions.  I have decided that I should totally do this, because:

a) I need money for our house.

b) I have watched this show and have a hunch that I am at least as smart as a 5th grader.  Hell, I was one not too long ago…  Maybe 13 years ago?  And I was a smartass, too.  I was the kind of kid who looked down my nose at all the other kids reading fluffy young adult novels, because I was busy toting around “Gone With the Wind” and “Shogun”.  Hell, “A Wrinkle in Time” was my first novel.  I was 6.

Bragging Rights…

I know, I know, I’m sorry, but I can’t resist.  I swear in the morning I’ll go back to trying really hard to stay humble.  But tonight, two things:

First of all, BBC News blog Magazine Monitor has posted about Matt’s article this evening.  I found out when I checked my site analytics and suddenly there was a rush of people referred from the BBC website.  They’ve linked to my latest posting, “Bittersweet”.  Awwwww. *blushes*  I headed over there and found the blurb:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2009/06/web_monitor_30.shtml.

Needless to say, my reaction went something like this:

O.o

Matt LOVES the BBC.  In fact, much of his visit here was spent lamenting that American news stations don’t cover as much international news and topics as the BBC.  I think a little part of him died every time he saw a major news channel run something along the vein of Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel when he was thirsting for more information on Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, etc.  So I just know he’ll get a huge kick out of this.  I’m frantically trying to text him awake and tell him, but I suspect his phone is off.  Still, it’s almost 8:30 a.m. in Scotland, so I imagine he’ll be up soon enough, and will get my messages.  Graaaaah, wake uuuuuuuup, Matt!!!!!  :)

Secondly… I just found out that I am the #3 search result on Google for the search term “homelessness”.  I freaked right out, let me tell you.  I’m right after the Wikipedia entry and the HUD (U.S. government department of housing).  I also discovered this indirectly through my analytics.

…When the hell did this happen?!  Oh my god.  Ohmigodohmigodohmigod.

OK, I’m done patting myself on the back for now.  Sorry.  Just got super excited.  Now if Matt will just wake up already so I can tell him!

Bittersweet

Matt is on a plane to Scotland as I type.  He needed to return home for about two weeks to sort some things out, and will be returning after that for a three-month visit (90 days is the longest he is allowed to stay in the U.S. at a stretch, per the visa waiver program currently in place between our respective countries).

I had a nice little breakdown at the airport.  Tried very hard not to cry, and failed miserably – burst out into huge, jagged, red-faced sobs (and Matt was quite a bit moist as well, which I found oddly reassuring).  I think we may have annoyed some innocent bystanders.  Our goodbyes were quite prolonged and punctuated by lots of kisses, hugs, sniffles, caresses, longing gazes, and other similar things that make strangers barf and wish that you would move the hell out of their way so they can get through the security checkpoint to the metal detectors, already.  I finally watched him head up the escalator towards the boarding area, until I lost sight of him.  He turned around many times to catch my eye and wave.  I know he misses and loves me just as much as I do him.  That is something completely new.  I am grateful for it.

Now I’m back at the motel where I will be spending the next few nights (I check out Friday morning and need to return to the trailer at Wal-Mart), and I’m trying to keep myself occupied with random things like surfing the Internet, catching up on “So You Think You Can Dance”, making dinner (ramen noodles), reading books – anything to keep my mind off the gaping hole in my life.  But nothing is working.  You see, it was hard enough being without Matt before he ever actually came out here.  I wanted to be around him in the worst way.  But now that he has been here, it’s about a million times worse.  I’m not only longing for something I’ve never had, I’m now missing something that has been here, filled my life, and is now absent.  It’s a very slight, intangible difference, but it’s there.

The passenger seat of my car feels empty.  My hand feels empty without his to hold.  The bed in the motel feels empty without him to cuddle with.  Everything feels kind of sepia-coloured and there’s a weight on my chest.  Occasionally I think I’m all cried out, but something like a half-finished carton of grape juice or a bag of Doritos he left behind will start me off again.  My pillow smells like him.  There’s still sand on the floor that we tracked in from our day at Newport Beach this weekend (he wanted to see the Pacific Ocean).  Perhaps I’ll feel a little better once I know his flight has landed and he’s arrived safely.  But even then, I know I can’t be completely top-notch again until he’s here with me, and we’re wrapping up all the loose ends to ensure that we won’t have to be parted again.

* * * * *

The “sweet” part of my bittersweet day came after leaving the airport.  I stopped by the post office to check my P.O. box.  Inside – oh, happy day! – sat 6 EDD claim forms.  That’s right, after months of waiting, phone calls, e-mails, and stressing…  I have received the paperwork to file for 12 weeks’ worth of retroactive UI benefits.  I mail them out tomorrow; the resulting checks are *supposed* to be returned to me within 10 business days, which means that soon I could be brandishing $5,700 (normally would be $5,400 but a stimulus program in place provides me an extra $25 per week, which sounds small, but obviously adds up over time).

So… woohoooooooooo!!!!!!  I have to be very careful with the money – hoard it up and get a mortgage all straightened out.  This is a huge step towards Matt and I buying our own home (which is good, since a place I was in love with was just sold to another interested party… I’m awfully torn up about it; I hope I don’t have to experience that kind of disappointment again).  I just have to scrimp and save and not blow it.  I am staying in the trailer for the weeks that Matt is in Scotland; once he returns, we are probably going to stay in a rented motorhome for $450/month.  It will be on the same property Fezzik is being boarded at, so we will be able to be with him full-time, and Matt can take him out for long walks every day and bond with his new dog.  The motorhome will also be hooked up with electricity and water, and we may even have cable TV and internet access included, which is obviously a vast improvement over Wal-Mart, and no facilities/utilities.  The downside is that the ranch is in Norco/Riverside area, so it will be a long drive to work and back for me.  With gas prices on the rise, that obviously isn’t super great.  Still, $450 is so little per month, we should save enough to more than make up for the fuel costs.

Once we are esconced on the ranch, I would like to look into selling the trailer, and into settling with Wachovia and selling my car as well.  That way, I can use the truck that I inherited from Bill, which is currently towing the trailer (and which is completely paid off).  Gas mileage is worse on the truck than on my car, but again, there’s the issue of not having to make any more car payments to Wachovia the crooks.

I think things are finally looking up for us.  I was a bit down this weekend because one of the tires on my car had a blowout, and I had to invest a lot of money in a new one that I hadn’t planned on spending – goodbye, paycheck!  But then my claim forms finally arrived, and it’s a huge weight off my mind.  Now, as long as my baby makes it home in one piece (and also returns to me safely in two weeks) I think things will be well on their way to perfect, or as perfect as imperfect, unpredictable life could ever possibly be for two crazy kids madly in love with one another.

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!!!!!  ;)