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

On Best Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Still… so very, very weird.

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

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.