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!

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

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.

Homeless Tales Article: Twitter's Transatlantic Homeless Love Match

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

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

And Now, for a Bit of a Surprise…

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

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

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

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

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

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

here we are.

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

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

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

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

I love unconditionally, and I am unconditionally loved.

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

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~

Happy Birthday To Me.

Well, I’m 24 today. Just one more year until my quarter-century crisis. Eh, maybe I can have it a year early. I’m not one to stand on ceremony.

Heading to Disneyland this afternoon. They have this new policy where you get free admission on your birthday.

Later, I’d like to look into posting a blog about free/dirt-cheap entertainment options that are out there. Besides the daily worries, I occasionally have trouble with the mind-numbing boredom; although I am surrounded by a trailer full of books, sometimes you just need a change of scenery and pace. I think putting some fun into the experience is important, homeless individuals are just as deserving as anyone else to enjoy life a little.

My two best friends took me to the local college’s production of “Guys and Dolls” last night, so that was a bit of a distraction from life. Musical theatre. Escapism at its finest. Nothing like a mob of sexy, sweaty, singing men doing arabesques in zoot suits to take your mind off your troubles (yay!)

By the way, suddenly I seem to have all of these readers sending me encouraging comments on Twitter. Thanks so much to you guys for your support! If you write on similar topics (homelessness, unemployment, etc.), know that I am reading each and every one of your blogs, and linking to them under my “Related Content” section! It’s great to have people out there to reach out to.