Monday, December 31, 2018

December 31, 2018

It's been a strange year for me. But the world (and America in particular) has also had a messed up 2018.

I wrote 2 years ago that Donald Trump could be a great President or give in to his caustic personality. Obviously he has done more of the latter- a summit with North Korea's Kim the Insane and a good economy due to less regulation and the abolition of the Obamacare tax are overshadowed by his obsession with a border wall, his desire to end birthright citizenship, tariffs with China that are undoing the good Trump has done for the economy, and his stonewalling over the Muller investigation that is proving that Trump's personality quirks (i.e. paying off mistresses and lying about it) are more criminal than the Russian contacts and meddling done by Trump associates and to a smaller extent by allies of the Hildabeest. Trump is rapidly becoming the Republican version of Bill Clinton (the most corrupt President of my lifetime), and that is not a compliment.

While North Korea is less likely to nuke us than they were at the start of 2018, China is becoming more aggressive, and Mad Vlad Putin's Russia is becoming more confrontational.

The environment is changing. Contrary to most radical environmentalist beliefs, climate is not static and is always changing. Some things man cannot influence or control (i.e. volcanism, tsunamis, the East African Rift splitting the continent of Africa apart, the fact that warming always comes after an ice age, the slow crustal sinking on the East Coast that is changing that coast's sea level), but pollution is affecting wind patterns, rain, and temperature variances. It used to be called Global Warming, but it's not causing warming everywhere. In some places, rainfall is increasing (especially the Northeast), while out West and in the Southeast, annual rainfall is decreasing. Glaciers are melting, and there is unusual warming in the Arctic. Combine rising sea levels and the natural sinking of the east coast, and it spells disaster for Atlantic coastal communities, especially Florida, the NYC area, and the Gulf Coast.

Trump's attitude led to the Democratic takeover for the House, which promises even more gridlock in 2019. Conversely, it also led to a more Republican Senate, which is good on the judicial front but bad for gridlock and getting anything legislative done. The judiciary has no business doing the legislative branch's work, but both sides seem to be content on letting the courts approve things that could never pass a legislative vote. This is why there was so much contention over the Kavanaugh vote earlier this year.

I have problems with most of the media. Right wing talk show hosts are screaming more and trying to defend Trump actions that are indefensible. The left (espeially NBC/MSNBC) is anti-Trump all the time (even on the good things he's done), and supportive of things that are even more radical than anything Trump has done (i.e. open borders, excessive regulation, Medicare for all, pre-JFK Federal income tax rates, Socialism, and overt hostility towards Catholics and Evangelicals).

Personally, I don't see how this country can unify or avoid a civil war. Hopefully I can afford to move out of the US if it ever gets to that.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

December 30, 2018

What a long strange year it's been. I started the year with a high paying job in a small town in Maine. I had an apartment, a cat named Misty, and a 17 year old Ford Taurus that had handled a cross country move from Texas to Maine with minimal difficulty.

Less than a month later, I was unemployed, the apartment was no longer in my name, Misty was in the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society shelter, and the Taurus had barely survived a move from Maine to Brooklyn after a steering hose burst that wiped out my savings. My remaining possessions were in a storage unit in Long Island City. By the end of March, the Taurus was in the possession of a formerly car-less West Indian couple from Long Island, and I was in a psychosis inducing living environment in the New York City shelter system. By that time, I had resumed regular writing for the first time since March 2016 thanks to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers' Workshop.

By the end of April, I had enough. Elmhurst Hospital diagnosed me with a severe case of depression. I had snuck my laptop into the shelter and composed a few songs- one of which mixed EDM and classical. I used what little savings I had from my state tax refunds and public assistance to pay for a one way flight out of NYC and the shelter system to Denver.

I spent a little over a week in Denver before ending up in one of their shelters, which was run by Denver's Catholic Charities. That situation was a lot less chaotic than the CAMBA, Ward's Island, and SCO shelters in New York. I was able to find temp work rather quickly. But the temp assignments were not permanent, and the one permanent job I secured (which lasted 10 days) put me at odds with my body clock and the shelter's meal schedule. During my spare time, I joined a writer's group from Denver called Hard Times. But after 2 months in the shelter and nothing permanent on the horizon, I decided to move back to my hometown of Colorado Springs in mid-July.

I blew most of my savings on a month and a half of a house share rental in the Hillside neighborhood. After numerous job rejections (including one at the Chidlaw Building where my father worked in the 1970s), I was hired by Elwood Staffing (the successor to my former longtime employer of SOS Staffing), and sent to a warehouse on the south side of town. The work was unlike any previous warehouse or assembly work I had done before. My coworkers were very close-knit and social, a major departure in attitude from previous co-workers in Denver, NYC, and Texas. My medical records were transferred to Peak Vista and Aspen Pointe. By the end of my first visit to Aspen Pointe, I found out I was misdiagnosed in NYC and Denver- I have been suffering from (previously undiagnosed) PTSD for years, dating back to when my father was still alive. Numerous events have triggered it, including my mother's sudden death in 1991, the events of 1995 (when I lost my grandparents and father within a 9 month span), my eviction and subsequent blacklisting by the Colorado Springs Salvation Army in January 2015 which led to a Catholic Charities assisted Greyhound ticket back east, and most recently, the violent DeLousio-mandated NYC shelter nightmare.

By late October, I had enough money to buy a car, a Buick Century. Due to an extended Thanksgiving break, I drove the Buick east towards Pennsylvania and NYC. I got to visit my relatives in PA for the first time in over a year. And the Buick was big enough to fit all of my belongings from the storage unit, which I emptied in the Buick's only (day) trip to NYC. The ride back was scary, after running out of money due to an unexpected insurance bill and snow-related road closures in Missouri.

Less than a week after my return from Pennsylvania, the warehouse laid me off. Apparently the decision was made high up in the company because my supervisor and co-workers had no idea until I returned to clean out my locker. Elwood sent me to a lumber company (which resulted in 2 hours of work and a finger injury) and to a moving company that handled events at the Broadmoor. About 10 days after I was laid off, I was called back to my former warehouse site, and I'm still there to this day.

I have been going to Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral since I returned to the Springs. A few people there remember me from the previous times I attended Mass. One family even invited me to their Christmas luncheon, to which I am very thankful.
What a long strange year it's been. I'm not quite up to where I was in early January. But I've discovered a lot about myself. I'm probably more open to different kinds of friends and relationships. I'm probably more Catholic than I was at the start of the year, as various church-run institutions in Denver and Colorado Springs helped me recover from a traumatic and violent situation in New York. I'm a more prolific writer than I have been in years. I have written 2 short stories with characters I haven't written about since 2011. Thanks to Holy Apostles, Hard Times, and Wattpad, anyone can read and comment on these works. I haven't composed as much music as I normally do (although I'm working on a couple of tracks for my annual New Year's Day release on Tuesday). Hopefully in 2019 I can get more settled.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 28, 2018

At this point, I don't know what to think of life anymore. I moved back to my hometown of Colorado Springs 6 weeks ago and blew my entire savings into getting into a room rental that is cheaper than anything I've lived in since San Antonio. But the job market is nowhere near as great as it is presented in the local media and government websites. I don't know how much of this is due to my bad history (i.e. the Goodwill fiasco in 2007, my lack of transportation since March 2018, and being banned for life from anything to do with the local chapter of the Salvation Army in January 2015).

I finally did secure temp work this week, at the successor to my longtime former Springs employer of SOS Staffing (which was the only Springs employer to give me a positive reference). But I won't see any income that could cover my monthly rent before mid-September.

I don't know what happens next. I have no money to cover non-rent expenses. I don't expect the landlord to accept rent 2 weeks late, especially because that is longer than the unpaid rent time required for eviction. I've tried most of the charitable organizations and even GoFundMe, to no avail.

I don't expect to blog again anytime soon because I don't know if I can survive this after a combined 6 months of homelessness so far this year.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

August 25, 2018

I don't have respect for most politicians these days. Our current President is scandal-prone, uncouth, and a walking disaster. And yet he won because his opponent was even worse- contemptuous of the law, promoting a political philosophy at odds with most Americans, and dismissive of her detractors to the point of calling them deplorables. And the current governor of my former state got away with saying 4 years ago that pro-life Catholics and gun rights supporters have no business living there. Where I live now, a crony corporate socialist almost in the mold of Bill De(mon)Blasio is leading the conservative outgoing state treasurer to be the next governor.

There is one fewer Senator tonight. Not too long after deciding to stop treatment for brain cancer, he passed this evening in Arizona. John McCain straddled the line between conservatism and moderation, and was called a "Maverick" as a result. In a sense, he was the last grownup left in Congress.

I got to meet John McCain in late 1999 at a political rally in Staten Island that I was covering for Brooklyn College's Journalism program. He was a bit blunt as far as his political speeches went, but after the rally, he was very nice to the press and to the people who came to the VFW to hear him speak.

McCain was very cordial to his political opponents. The Democrats liked working with him until he won the Republican nomination for President in 2008. Then they threw everything and the kitchen sink at him to make sure that Obama got elected. He regained their favor over the last 2 years as he became a target of now-President Trump.

Over the last 26 years, politics has gotten more extreme and less unifying. Socialism used to be a dirty word in American politics, now it has taken hold of a large segment of the Democratic Party. What was considered mainstream when I was a child is now considered right-wing, oppressive, and something to be overturned. Progressivism used to mean supporting progress, now it's a code name for the radical left. Congress seems to be split between a few people with common sense, a few Trump sycophants, and a growing number of "progressives" who want to bring down Trump, conservatism, and the whole capitalist system.

With McCain gone, there are few politicians left who could reach across the aisle and be respected by both parties. And the parties are drifting further and further apart with nativist Trumpism on the Republican side and radical left wing socialist antifa racist redistribution on the Democrat side. Trump and his opponents have made it an us versus them battleground. With McCain gone, there is no prominent voice left to attempt to bridge the widening political gulf.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24, 2018

As if my life can't get any worse...

I got a rejection e-mail earlier today from the last outstanding job offer I had left in NYC. And to add insult to injury, I got a call this afternoon from the New York City ID program- an ID I applied for in March got sent to the shelter I'm staying at. The shelter refused the mail with the new ID in it (in blatant violation of their own policy), and it got sent back to the city. I was told to pick it up in person no earlier than May 4, but at this point, I have no intention in staying in NYC that long.

Right now the only thing keeping me here is a psychiatric appointment for tomorrow morning (which I probably need to attend now more than ever, even if it is more of a diagnostic appointment for wherever I do move to). I am exploring bus options (supposedly the city provides one way bus tickets out of town), but it looks like any move will probably not change my homeless status.

So much for getting a job that pays $13 and hour or getting the chance to vote Andrew "No Homo" Cuomo out of office this November...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018

Supposedly today is Earth Day. I understand the recycling and trying to protect the environment thing, but I don't understand the extremists who worship the earth as a god and are willing to save the planet at the expense of their own species.

I've been stuck for the last 3 months in the NYC homeless system. My first 3 weeks were at a "Drop-in" center in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Unlike city shelters, drop-in centers refuse to provide beds for their clients. They use chairs. 3 weeks of attempting to sleep in chairs and the back problems as a result of sleeping in chairs led to me entering the city's shelter system. I've spent over 10 weeks in that nightmare, with dozens of rejected job applications, the forced sale of my car, and the HRA/Public Assistance nightmare driving me to the brink of insanity.

I'm supposed to hear from my last outstanding job application tomorrow. The pay is minimum wage (although NYC's new minimum wage of $13 an hour is higher than anything I've ever earned before). But I see no point of staying in NYC and wasting away in the shelter system if I can't find work. I'd argue that unemployment has gone up here precisely because of the new minimum wage. And even that's not enough to keep up with the rents, with SROs now renting for far more than my last apartment in Maine.

I don't know if those fancy resumes, those sessions at the writer's workshop where I managed to start on a decent short story, or all that free medical care that proved that I still have asthma (and managed to prove and disprove that I had serious liver problems), I don't know if any of it was worth it.

Monday, January 08, 2018

January 8, 2018

Amazing how one event can send your whole life crashing down. In my case, it was a major car repair. What started off as an oil change appointment led to a burst steering hose and a check-busting $400 repair that due to the scarcity of replacement parts is still not completed yet, 3 days after I took the car in. Without a running car, I have no way of getting to work. Because of my lack of transportation, I no longer have a job. I have at most 10 days to find a job walking distance from my apartment before rent is due again. If I don't have the rent money, then I lose my apartment (and the $610 deposit), and will probably end up homeless again. So far this period since March 2015 has been my longest period of not being in a homeless shelter in the last 10 years. But I guess I can't escape the inevitable again.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

January 4, 2018

It has been a busy few months since I last posted here. Since October, I've had my first apartment since May of 2011. About 2 months after I got the apartment, a new landlord bought out the building and changed the rent payment dates. I got to spend about a month alone before a nosy neighbor moved in.
That nosy neighbor, known as Misty the Cat, has proven difficult to evict, even after she misbehaved and disfigured my face with her claws.
For the first few weeks, she was a indoor/outdoor cat, due to the fact that she had been living outdoors for several days to several weeks before she barged into my apartment. She now spends her days indoors, using my tv stand as a lookout post and using the crawl space underneath the kitchen sink as a hideout whenever she hears a plastic bag crackle or hears boots stomping on the floor.
I've been wearing my boots a lot due to the weather- snowstorm after snowstorm since early December, and 2 weeks plus of sub-zero mornings. The snowstorm today qualifies as a blizzard (probably more so than last week's Christmas storm that dumped a foot plus of snow on my neighborhood).
If I didn't have an apartment, a needy cat, and a high paying job 23 miles from home, I'd consider moving to the warmer climates of New Jersey or Pennsylvania. But all this may come crashing down if my 16 year old Taurus (with 220000 miles that has never experienced these kind of weather conditions before) stops running.