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.

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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!

Those Who Aren't So Lucky

Something I think it’s always important to point out:  Compared to many, I have been and continue to be damn lucky.

I was fortunate enough to garner some media attention that has brought me opportunities.  True, I’m not in a house/apartment of my own just yet, but I’ve taken tremendous strides forward from the Walmart parking lot, and new possibilities continue to pop up here and there.  I am light years ahead of where I was, and the vast majority of it is due to sheer, dumb luck.

Not everyone is so lucky.  Most don’t get this kind of media attention, they go unnoticed.  And many are in very dire circumstances, much worse than my own.

It’s a double-edged sword, this good fortune I’ve had.  On the one hand, I’m very woohoo, perhaps my ship is finally coming in! On the other hand, I’m just one person.  It makes it all the more depressing to read about or even receive emails from hundreds more homeless people, many in far more horrible situations than mine ever has been, who need help.  I want to save all of them, and since I clearly can’t, perhaps the best I feel I can do is continue to try to make others aware of their plight, add their voices to my own.

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.

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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!

Intrigued

So, as of yesterday I’ve had like 25 people visit me from a vegan community on LiveJournal.  I’m intrigued, but the referring link is a protected entry, so I have no idea why I have been mentioned there.  Right now, I’m really, really hoping that I haven’t offended a bunch of vegan people somehow.

Other than that, it’s pretty slow here.  Hopefully will have some form of interesting news to post soon, but it’s been very quiet lately.  Still working on getting the vintage site up and running.  Also, Matt gets peevish at me when I try to take adorable photos of him to post here.

Next weekend, the grandparents of my half-sisters are visiting from Texas to pick up some of their inheritance from me (I need to sign over title and such things) so that should be interesting, and a slight change of pace.  Found out from the half-sisters’ mom that my mother is aware they are coming out, so right now I’m really hoping I don’t have to deal with my mother tagging along, as she generally tends to enjoy being vengeful or otherwise unpleasant and I just don’t have room in my life for that kind of negativity.

So… yup yup.  If anything interesting or otherwise exciting comes up, I’ll post it  ;)

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!

California Meltdown… Should I Be Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge?!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31381205/ns/politics-washington_post/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31001101/ns/travel-news/

News like this makes me think maybe I’m on a sinking ship and should get the hell out of here before it gets worse… Mind you, there are always “crisis” scares just before everything seems to right itself and sail straight, but something tells me perhaps they’re serious when they’re saying the state government is 50 days away from a complete and total meltdown… what does that mean, anyway?  It doesn’t sound good, that’s for sure.  I’m starting to think perhaps we’ll all go bankrupt and I’ll never get my retroactive EDD benefits after all.  Ever.

Well… fuck.

*hurriedly looks up homes in upstate NY*

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~

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