15 Minutes, Activism, Chemo, Vocal Booth

A long time coming…

so, it’s been a few months. How ya dune? Me? I’ve been regrouping on multiple levels: from a change in my mood stabilizing medication to getting a bit fitter to reconsidering the direction my podcast, At The Table, which is including a name change. When I started ATT, the concept was to have guests who were in the Creative Arts talk about their work. Over time, I discovered that since I had a very low listenership, the creatives decided I wasn’t worth their time. It became more about “who’s gonna hear” rather than just talking about their process. So, I went solo, and talking/blithering/venting for an hour is an art form I have yet to master. I’m working on it.

Soooooo…. I am also contemplating adding a video live stream so I can “loosen up” in front of the mic. (trust me, it’s easier to talk when you can actually “see”).  I”m an actor – I need the audience’s adulation and support, MY GROUPIES RIGHT AND/OR WRONG!!!!!

So, my streaming options are OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) with an external web camera for FBLive or youtube from my laptop, Periscope from my phone/tablet – I had a viewership when Meerkat was around, so Persicope is the more viable option. I love the interaction on Periscope. viewers ask questions and sometimes get a bit rude, but hey, it’s ok.

I’m thinking of renaming the show after my humor blog The 5-23.

Prose & Poetry, Vocal Booth

The Sheltered Existence Part 1

May 23, 2011, I checked out of my apartment, and checked into the psych ward at the Allen Hospital in NYC.(Actually, I checked myself into the Psych Ward at NY-Presbyterian first, then went to Allen.) I was there for three weeks total. 3 days in observation, where all I did was sleep as, there was nothing else to do, and two weeks in the Psych ward itself. The diagnosis? Major Depression.

The men and women I resided with for that two week period were pretty cool people. Seemed the most were “emo” cutters. one or two who were delusional, and a few like me, who were there because we held thoughts of doing ourselves in.

Sadly, there was one patient who really should have been in a nursing home.

After my two week “vacay”, I was released with my meds, into the custody of a friend. from there, since there wasn’t enough space to keep me and my suitcase, I went to the Assessment Shelter.

From There With The Grace of God

What follows, is my journal to date.

June 3, 2011 

I arrived at the shelter in the morning, to be told I had to relocate my laptop and camera. So, I walked back to the train, and headed back into Manhattan and to my friend. Dropped my stuff off, and began the sojourn back. I arrived back at 4:45 pm. 5 hours later, I am still waiting for intake. FINALLY, at 10:00 pm, I was handed the paperwork with an apology. Didn’t eat, as I wasn’t a resident, yet. So, dinner that night was a bag of kettle corn and a Snickers™ bar. While waiting to be given the paper work, a resident went into an asthma attack. Asked at the desk to call 911, which they said they already had. Asked if I could stay with her, was told “no.”

I am now “E14” and must carry my “identity papers” a/k/a Meal Ticket with me and show when I eat, sign for my bed, do laundry or at anytime when asked.  Welcome to “We Control Your Life” Curfew is 9:45, since bed check is 10:00pm. Lights out at 11:00 pm. 6:00 am wake up call. we get 00:30 to shower poop and dress. Remember to lock your locker, as once 7:30 am rolls around, you’re locked out of the dorm til 5:00 pm. Did I mention Breakfast is 6:30 – 7:30? Meals in the cafeteria are an adventure. Will someone get all cranky pants and accuse another of stealing their cup of what passes for juice? Will the Homeless Police have to intervene? Will an audience?

The shelter itself is a converted school, in an isolated area of Brooklyn, an industrial area, that closes up shop at 4:00pm, and definitely makes you not desirous of being out after dark. Curfews, bed/bag checks. Still beats sleeping on a train.

June 5, 2011

My friend, E is aghast that I described the area the shelter is in as a “ghetto”. It is. No services, amenities closer than 4 blocks away in a single direction, Did I mention we’re actually cut off from the rest of the area because it’s in a freaking industrial park? I did? Sorry. Just because we live in a shelter, is no reason that those of us who work (or anyone else there) can’t have a decent meal (food is awful and non-nutritious).  We can’t shop for toiletries without having to ride the bus or a subway 30 minutes just to get to a business district. Just because I’m homeless, don’t think I don’t work and pay taxes.

See, I live in NYC, and I am living within my means. I don’t make enough even for a share.

June 6 

It’s all hurry up and wait. Breakfast ends at 7:30, and the caseworkers don’t arrive til 9:00, which gives us an hour and a half to twiddle our thumbs. At about 8:30, The Binder appears, and we sign up for a slot with the caseworker. Then, we sit some more. The staff for the most part is courteous and respectful. A few of the staff treat us like we’re leeching of them. Some of my fellow shelter peeps? Not exactly the “give respect to get respect” types. The collection is an interesting mix of working homeless, transgender, mentally ill and castaways. Some of the women are gay, and dress like little “gangstas”. A couple of women were tripping on the Trans’ presence, but if you’re male and identify as trans, they can’t turn you away. And, there are women on parole and probation there. So, we tend to get treated like petit criminals. Bags are searched and we walk through a metal detector upon entry. With good reason.

One dorm mate is loudly, proudly schizo-affective and fully functional, yet lives off mine and the rest of the taxpayer dime. Another went to the hospital earlier.

June 7 

Breakfast was two “cheese omelets” just this side of edible. Might be powdered eggs or “egg beaters” and  bread. Thin coffee (think water with a brownish tinge). Most of what is served ends up in the trash. Should be grateful for all the daily bread we are served. (up to 6 slices/day). Talked to my hospitalized dormie. She told me she had miscarried.

Schizo-affective has been transferred out of the shelter.  The girl who miscarried has been transferred to another shelter that can better serve her.

June 8

Found out from the girl who had the asthma attack,  it took 40 minutes for the EMT’s to show up, and there wasn’t any paperwork done by the shelter about it. Last night, I completed all the intake shit. Now the wait for the transfer to transitional housing. Am eagerly awaiting the step up from this one step above incarceration. The general opinion of those of us who aren’t on parole/probation, is that this is like being in jail.

The Shelter: it’s a converted school in an industrial area of Brooklyn. Yeah, I said that in another entry. Oh, well. anyway, some of the girls work just down the block going down.

continued

15 Minutes, Vocal Booth

background work as metaphor

I’m working background for short film, and I’ve realized it’s the perfect metaphor for my life. In spite of all the interesting and curious things that I’ve experienced, I’m still living an unnoticed, nondescript life. My question is: WHY? how can this be? Am I just “not trying hard enough” or “applying myself” or is it a bit more than that, like “unhealthy brooding”?

Stay tuned.

Activism, Vocal Booth

An old letter to my father regarding my mTBI

I wrote this two years ago – it’s been slightly edited:

Dad

you asked me on the phone today, why I am working if I am 100% disabled. Did you ever stop to think, that I am earning more money working? That I have an apartment, instead of “living” in a shelter for the next 6-10 years and receiving around $450/month? Yes, father, I am actually making more money working. Have you considered, that since my assault, I have been royally screwed by every single State/City Agency I have had contact with – from the Independent Living Centers, where I was kicked to the curb, and have never had the courtesy of a reply from the Center’s Manager, to having a bogus “student loan” reported as a “default” on my credit, (yeah, my credit wasn’t too good, but still) to having “advocates” for my welfare lie to me, to having housing affidavits not sent in, to just dealing with shit on my own, because I realized that no one will really help. NO ONE in this Hell Hole gave a damn, The Center for Jewish Poverty and J— included.

Look what I accomplished daddy, and tell me why you don’t seem to appreciate what I have come through. Not even our “own” gave a damn.

why do you not like me? that’s what it feels like to me. To you, I may be being “silly”, “ridiculous”, or whatever other adjective you wish to use, but dad, it’s how I am feeling. I come to you for help/advice and you tell me essentially I am full of shit. “How can I be disabled? you work. Well, guess what? I am in the “High Functioning” category of TBI. and, that entitles me to ADA protections. Hey, maybe, I should have been left in a coma, or more visibly injured. Then you wold believe I am disabled. But I don’t look or sound any different than before, so how can I have deficits? You’ve read the Neuropsycholigical report. Was that bogus?
This is similar to what I feel everyday:
http://brokenbrilliant.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/ruminations-of-a-high-fuctioning-mtbi-survivor/

“But seriously, folks, there must be a better way for tbi survivors to make a living, than having to schlep into an office and be surrounded by people who neither understand nor care about your condition. I’ve worked with disabled people before, and while our employer did accommodate them, and they were great friends with everyone they worked with, the simple fact is, they had to work like the dickens just to get by “normally.” And while people did help and reach out to them, there was always that undercurrent of pity that makes my skin crawl.

I just can’t bring myself to “play the disabled card” as a tbi survivor. I’m still up in the air about whether I’d even mention it to an employer. I certainly will not mention it to consulting clients. That would totally work against me, I believe.

I just need to keep it to myself, unless there’s an expressed need to let people know what’s going on. I guess it’s all in a day’s work for a tbi survivor… trying to figure out how to navigate the working world. Or the world in general.”

See, dad, no one really does give a shit. No one believes.
http://www.braininjurylawblog.com/cat-10-myths-of-brain-injury.html
http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/21644a.htm

I also just cut my nose to spite my face. Joined a LinkedIn group fr mTBI survivors, and left afte being asked in email about my creds: Survivor, caregiver or doctor, and all because I posted two of the links from this email into that group.

LISTEN UP: IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE BACKSTORY, ASK ME UP FRONT, AND IN PUBLIC.

FML