Changes

Sep. 10th, 2013 11:03 pm
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Been a while since I posted. Personal news. I changed therapists and ended the therapy relationship with the third of three good, helpful, effective therapists I've ever had in my life. The batting average per all therapists is about one in fifty so far, with local culture factors and the fact that it's a gender clinic raising the chance of another good one here in San Francisco. Many of the culture conflicts that made decent therapists bad ones for me have diminished or been eliminated.

No one in this clinic is ignorant about transgender. Most of them though, are focused on helping people through transition. I'm there beacuse it's the safe clinic to work through post-transition issues and the PTSD from a lifetime of historical horrors. The more political I get, the more I find out how many of my inner demons are outer demons and still there in the world, to varying degree by locality and culture and situation. I know a lot of transpeople had it worse than I did and had less resources to face it.

I know a lot of them are dead and I won't weigh my pain against anyone else's. I just know there are too many suicides and how close I came to being one in this life, how many times.

Julie is the second of three good therapists who let go of me because they stopped being therapists and worked on changing the system instead. There may be something about me or my situation that helps them come to the conclusion it's a good thing to do with their lives. Or in Roland's case, maybe he made too many waves and got bumped upstairs ala Peter Principle. I hope wherever he is that he is making the changes he hoped to. I know she is because I've got her email updates and I'm stunned at how big they are.

As of January, I'll be able to get phalloplasty covered by my state medical plan. The one surgery I just blow off and live without because, well, it costs too much and I have a whole long road to go before I'm up into minimum wage let alone working class let alone afford out of pocket surgeries for something that's not a matter of day to day survival. No, it's for quality of life things like oh, locker rooms. Risk of what would happen if I got busted at a protest.

I didn't go to Occupy because even with lots of other protestors swept in, I did not want to be the only man with a female organ in a men's jail. Not when rape culture, ha ha ha, is as thriving as it is in this decade. Civil disobedience is laudable, but I've always faced cruel and unusual punishment just as any transperson does. The choice of Shawshank Redemption or protection by solitary confinement is which torture's easier to face.

My former therapist was one of the activists who worked on making that phalloplasty decision happen. That is enormous. She's moving mountains.

I'm facing molehills that are mountains in relation to my physical abilities. I still don't have a case manager and need one, because fibromyalgia means I stop being articulate when I'm stressed. Add that to a real, subtle phenomenon: the person who's sick is not the one listened to. Important facts go unnoticed because it's the sick person saying it, not someone abled representing them. This is true in medical situations and also in bureaucracies.

I want out of the system. I can't just keep watching my income stay the same while the cost of living goes up every month, not just every year, by so much. I'm at subsistence level and right now it's stable. But anything can disrupt that fragile balance. The tobacco shop on the corner in walking distance closing might be the one thing that means I quit smoking or cut back dramatically and just to a pipe. Why? Because pipe tobacco's available in walking distance but the filters for rolling cigarettes are at the edge of my mobility limits. It was closed yesterday and it was closed on Monday when I went down on my routine to get the month's supplies.

I'd also need something to replace it. Seriously, something to manage stress that works that fast and matters that much emotionally. Not just physical action replacement, something that actually does, is a thing in my life that is not on the food-shelter level of survival. That tells me I am not yet so far down I will die of it. It matters symbolically. Tobacco is something that helps with the hunger and helps with focus, it does a lot of things for me as a drug, and it is also something I do for myself and reward myself with in small ways as needed. It is a self comforting mechanism and it is also the last grain of luxury in a life of subsistence want.

On the plus side, instead of the signs that say "I didn't survive HIV just to die oflung cancer" at the clinic, I could put up something like "I didn't put up with all the rest of that crud just to support big tobacco."

Quitting as political statement might be emotionally satisfying but I would need to replace it with something or things that serve all its functions, or I lose function and fall back and that pushes me too close to the cliff. It's too bad I can't get to know someone with an organic tobacco farm to trade quantity for quality and keep a very small amount of organic tobacco around as a treat. Go to the "Weekly" level instead of half pack.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
It worked! It is great! It is awesome!! I didn't have Netflix here in San Francisco because even with the expanded Verizon plan, I had to limit my bandwidth. Cable TV came with the building but a few months ago I had it taken out because I didn't watch it.

I could not re-adapt back to commercials every five minutes or less, no choice of content or time. Regular basic cable was depressing and stressful. I'm listening to commercials on alternative radio and they startle me. Most aren't as bad as the TV ones are. Like many people, I just don't bother because it isn't fun. It's more fun playing a game or watching a download or something.

i haven't had movies much since I moved here. With losing my Verizon bill and getting the meals that heal plan - five hot meals a week Monday through Friday to help my budget - I might be able to afford Netflix again. I missed it ever since I moved, especially on bad days when I wasn't up to actually doing anything more active.

Just got my reminder call for my doctor's appointment tomorrow. Big exhausting day. Leave at 9:30am to get my shot from the nurse at 10:30am, then wait down there till 1pm for doctor appointment and seek out the hospital social worker in between since I'm down there anyway. Hope to feel good enough to be coherent with teh social worker. Getting help with transportation to my medical appointments would be another big budget move. Every trip for anything is $2 each way, $4 for the appointment or event.

I will have a $70 termination fee on Verizon but the lady there counseled me to just wait 30 days and ask for a payment plan on it, since I dont' think I could come up with all of it at once. I'll send partial payments to carve it down but I'm not going to rush on it, not when I do have another service and I'm not cut off from the world if I'm late. I can be realistic now about that. LOVE the new broadband!
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Went off the wagon on the "edit an hour a day" because my days don't match Earth's days and if anything else takes concentration or too much time, I don't have the energy for it. Editing does take more work than rough drafting.

But I can average it because the days I did were 3 or 4 hour stints. If I go for 7 hours a week minimum that I can keep up.

Today's happy distraction, an intake appointment for Salvation Army's "Meals that Heal" program. I'm getting hot meals five days a week. Out of an entire month's menu there are only three or four that might be too spicy for me to eat, most of it I can eat. They lean toward things I not only can eat but actively enjoy, tomorrow it stars with Swedish meatballs and beef-barley soup. MMMM two favorites.

That will help cut the impossible food budget and add in things I can't afford, like, meat and veggies. I've been living mostly on rice, ramen, potatoes, onions, oatmeal, corn meal, pasta and hominy grits, all things I can buy in bulk and eat simple, with butter or olive oil. The one big expense is the olive oil healthier than margarine and used whenever it'd taste as good or better in order to cut back the butter. I'm not trying to lose weight. I don't eat enough to maintain my weight and have been losing weight rather dramatically since the last time I tightened my belt.

Instead I sort of count calories to try to get in enough in a day. I dropped about 15 pounds due to eating less by skipping meals and some foodless days when I first lost the money and wasn't prepared to, have been having bad days toward the end of the month. Beverages other than coffee went by the wayside a long time ago. I don't afford soda when I could get a can of Vienna sausages to have some meat in my diet or a pack of hot dogs or a canned stew dinner once a week. no fridge so everything's nonperishable.

I'm good at living on th echeap but there are a lot of cool things on these meals that I don't bother buying because they're sides. Beef barley soup - it's not enough calories to be a meal for the day beacuse soups are too light. Soup is not cost effective when I'm trying to get in enough calories to live.

They put salads in about half the meals. I can't eat raw veggies and salad dressings make me sick, but I'm going to deconstruct the salads, cook anything that can be cooked in the microwave and put it into ramen for a second meal of the day when it has salads. No sense throwing away fresh produce just because I have to rinse salad dressing off it, especially if someone else cut it up and it's just putting it in the sink with the water running for a bit. Anything unpalatable that can be reworked, I'm going to eat it. Any veggies I don't like by themselves, like peas, can go in ramen where it's tolerable but adds nutrition.

Though I must really crave them bceasue the last time I got a TV dinner, I ate the green beans and they tasted good. This is like "gatorade tastes good" feeling, I hate green beans so if they taste good my body's craving it.

I am so relieved I finally got into a program. Whatever these meals are, it's food I didn't have before and I'm able to afford it.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
I don't do chain letters. When I got one from a good friend who thought it might move me, I did not pass it on. It had the usual chain letter thing at the end, send it to five of their friends to make their day. The story didn't move me to tears and make me want to join a church. It scared me.

There's this person probably living in a middle class house, probably never been financially strapped beyond running out of pocket money and outgrew that. The one and only time in her life that she helped out homeless men with their breakfast floored her. She'd never actually done anything like that before. Then when she does, she gives them a sermon. If they were Christian, that's great, it takes the edge off it being patronizing when she credits God for it.

But if they're not, it's something they smile and put up with and lie through their teeth to get a meal. And she thinks it's so wonderful and rare that she's got to turn it into a chain letter. Is she actually going to start making a habit of it?

Is she making such an enormous sacrifice by smiling at people who smell bad because they don't have access to a shower? She could have invited them over to let them shower, put their clothes through the washing machine, hired them for work around the house.

Real generosity would've been "I've got a basement that really needs sorting and cleaning out. I'll give you $10 an hour and you can get first pick on the yard sale items if you take the job. It's sweaty work, so if you want, you can use the shower and washing machine while you're over here."

The greatest gift you can give a homeless man is work. They are driven by the same work ethic as most Americans and the custom of "blame the victim" runs so deep that they get shamed all the time. The reactions of everyone in McDonalds in the story was typical, they stared at the letter writer in shock and the homeless men in disgust.

The letter writer, having given them one meal rambles off into telling the world about how very very Christian she is and show off. She got her money's worth for those breakfasts. For the price of holding her nose and remembering a religious custom she can now establish herself as a Good Person to thousands of people she doesn't know, friends of friends of friends.

There isn't even a call to action to do the same thing. The call to action is to pass on the chain letter, read about it and turn Christian. This is the flavor that makes Christian Brand Charity such a humiliating process. Oh, and they were obviously white homeless men. She didn't react that way to the scary black homeless men, if they even dared to come into that McDonalds.

For me it's every day. If I'm not broke, whenever I see a homeless person in my neighborhood I share a buck or so, sometimes more if I'm flush. I've skipped my snack because an old black man in a wheelchair asked if I had any change. "No, but I've got a dollar." I get out my wallet and give him a dollar. I don't stop at the Paradise because it was budgeted for my snack. I know that this is my turn, I'm paying it forward. I grin at him and say "I been there, I've only been on Social Security the past five years."

Sometimes they thank God. I smile like a Unitarian and don't preach at them that I'm doing it for Goddess or as a secular humanist. They've got enough troubles without a lecture about religion. I don't lecture anyone on that because it's their lives and their soul. I don't know what religion means to them, I could be spitting on their lifeline if I do. I only know what it means to me and what it feels like to endure religious spam when I'm starving.

Instead I just ask how they're doing, wish them luck, if I've got time (and I usually do) open up a conversation. Give them a break and some real social contact. Some of the people panhandling in my city aren't even homeless. They live on benefits, can't quite make ends meet and pick up that little extra that lets them eat all month instead of just when the check comes in. Others are so isolated living in SRO housing that panhandling becomes a way to meet people and a reason to get out of their rooms.

Sometimes they talk to me about life, about benefits or about how San Francisco was so awesome in the sixties and the seventies. They've been here all along and they fall through the cracks. There's nowhere to go if they're on general assistance or if they're waiting for Social Security or waiting for a pension.

They see where I live and tell me where the food banks are. We're all the same community. The generosity of the blue eyed man in the story toward his mentally impaired companion is common. That's like me and my neighbors in the SRO. Occasionally someone knocks on my door and asks if I have any food. I'll share, because I've gotten good enough at shopping and budgeting to have enough bulk stuff around I could spare something for them.

Then sometimes I'll meet someone in the hall asking "Do you want a loaf of bread?" Or "I've got some chicken in my room, got it from Meals on Wheels, you want it?" My neighbors feed me too. It's reciprocal. I've been deeply grateful since there do come times when the check is a bit too far away and I don't have anything in my room that doesn't need cooking.

I don't think the story means nice guys don't win or that empathy keeps you out of the upper crust. I think it's that people with empathy handle homelessness better and find it easier to survive the streets. The mean ones get in fights and get themselves in jail. Loners crawl off and have a much harder time of it because they aren't getting help from the street.

Or they drink and keep using the alcohol-addiction resources to get along.

In shelters the mean ones turn up but the guys with signs asking for work or food are usually the more sociable and friendly people who had hard luck. That letter writer was so shocked at the blue eyed man's generosity. It doesn't fit the profile. It's not what she expected for someone who doesn't have money to have e heart. Bad things do happen to good people.

I guess maybe that's why the story makes an impact on the socially sheltered. Maybe that was its point. "OMG someone who doesn't bathe or work actually cares about someone else. Maybe that's why he's not working, he looks after the mentally impaired guy."

What he needs is a place to crash that doesn't treat him like a juvenile delinquent. Work that he can do in emergencies and get paid for so that he's still got his self respect and doesn't get looked down on by insulated middle class people. Open markets where he can sell stuff he scrounges or gets given. Co-ops where he can own his work.

My city is of two minds about homeless people. We have the same divide on that as the rest of the country. Wealthy community developers gentrify old quaint low income neighborhoods and introduce Sit-Lie laws - you can't sit down on Market Street. Oh but I'll bet that some exhausted tourist who has money and sits down on the street because she's got a disability gets a different explanation than a confused local senior who can't stay on his feet long enough.

SF does a lot of things right. The Sit-Lie law is a blotch on our civic honor. It runs against everything we stand for.

Currently a new program is being started, where panhandlers are offered the chance to participate with animal shelters in a dog training program. They get $50-$75 a week, the supplemental money they need to survive on benefits. The dogs are company and they're allowed to adopt the animal if they don't want to give it up. Walking the dogs serves the same purpose of getting out onto the street and meeting people, socializing and having something to do.

So the dog program is a good thing, but Sit-Lie has got to go. Other city programs need to come in to really get the homeless off the streets and create livable, low-income housing and emergency housing for no-income people. I've been no-income people more years than I had SSI, so I know that's its own terrible gap. It's too easy to die waiting for SSI if you don't have supportive family who can afford to take you in or friends willing to let you crash.

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