Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow Days

It's snowing. Not like flurrying, that us Portlanders pass off as snow and make a big deal about. Real, live snow storm. Four inches was the last report I heard. Which to people used to snow sounds like nothing but for us, who freak out when there's just a light dusting this is a big fucking deal.

Personally, I've never seen anything like it. I didn't even see snow fall for the first time until I was eighteen. You know, California doesn't do the whole snow thing. If we wanted snow we had to drive three hours to see it and then it was already fallen and hard. I didn't care for it much.

Snow falling is still new to me. So, four inches in unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it in my life and I keep making excuses to go outside and see it. I've built snowmen in my front and back patios. I've bought winter boots and scarves and hats from Walmart. I've made snow angels. And work has called me telling me not to come in because of the storm. I've baked more cookies in the last two days than I have in months. I've made soup and cooked fish steaks and twice baked potatoes. For this first time I'm running my heat. Because you know, I have the option to just turn up my thermostat. Sure, I pay for it later but I have the option.

And while this is all fun and games for me I know it's not for everybody. While I was on the back patio this afternoon watching the snow fall my new roommate came out. I rather dislike her and avoid her at all costs but with being snowed in I'm starved for human contact so I conversed with her. As always a mistake.

Her comment, “I wonder what the homeless people are doing right now.”

Of course, she doesn't know. But even so I wanted to punch her or knock her over. They're freezing. That's what they're doing. I don't have to wonder I know. If this storm had been last year I could have easily died of hypothermia. I know they've probably opened up extra shelters but I also know there is no way the city has provided a bed for everyone who needs one tonight.

Have people already died from the storm? Will everyone make it through the night? We'll never know because those that don't make it in the snow won't be reported. No one will care. And here I am safe and snug in my warm house while there are people sleeping in the snow.

I am ashamed. I know and understand the concept of survivor's guilt and imagine that is what I'm experiencing but I honestly have been tossing and turning unable to sleep because I know there are kids on the street, looking for shelter in doorways and under bridges. It's not fair that they should struggle in the cold and I'm here. If this storm would have been a year sooner it'd be me out there.

Crazy thoughts have crossed my mind like letting strangers stay in my house to keep warm or going to sleep outside myself. But I don't have the means to make my home a shelter and sleeping outside myself would do nothing to help. I think instead I will collect up my extra blankets (I have an overflowing closet full of blankets I kept for such an occasion) and take them downtown tomorrow and see where there is a need for them.

I ache for the children who are cold tonight and for my inability to do anything for any of them.And I hate that their struggle is coming at my delight to play in the snow.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Year Off The Streets


Today it's officially one year since I moved into my house. One full year off of the streets. It feels both shorter and much longer at the same time. That was a much different life that I lived. I changed a lot while on the streets and I've changed a lot since reentering life with a home. Even my body has changed. I've lost almost 15 pounds since I've gotten off the streets. It's amazing what having control over your food and never having pasta will do!!


I know it sounds crazy but I think moving off of the streets was a much bigger culture shock then ending up on them. I had lived in such types of environments before. It was almost kind of nice. I was surrounded by people who were blunt and rough around the edges. People like me. I'd had to elbow my way through survival and fight all my life. So that was nothing new.


I've never in my life stayed in one house for a full year. That's so weird to me. That I haven't picked up and moved yet is crazy. I've finally made myself a home. Which is all I've ever really wanted.
I've been thinking a lot about life on the streets and musing over certain things. I wouldn't change it. I'd change maybe some of the mistakes I'd made. I'd be a better friend. But I wouldn't change that I ended up there. The most amazing thing for me while I was on the streets is that my entire life had always been a secret. I had never been able to share the things that happened to me or who I really was. I always had to keep this front up to protect myself from people finding out about my childhood or how my family was.


In the new Disney movie Frozen I found the Ice Queen most relatable character in the movie. Locked away and forced to keep her identity a secret even from her beloved sister she sings, “Conceal, don't feel. Don't let them know.” And of course she goes crazy keeping locked away until she's eighteen. And then she explodes. (Sorry, You know I'm always looking for a way to incorporate Disney into any entry.)


That was me before the streets. I spent twenty years hiding who I was from every one. It haunted me and my PTSD plauged me. I tried to be perfect to cover up the ugliness I hid. And then on the streets, I found out I wasn't the only kid like me. I wasn't the only one who had secrets. And with the street kids I didn't have to share my secrets but I wasn't burdened by them anymore because I wasn't alone. Some had secrets much worse.


Plus, there's no use pretending to be perfect and happy when you're homeless.
If I step back and think about it I was quite the unusual homeless kid. I never touched drugs. I planned a baby shower. I fought with the people who called and treated us shamefully. I stayed Mom to my cat. I crocheted baby blankets. I taught the other street kids to crochet. I turned my friendships into blog posts and I found the internet to be accepting of our trials and triumphs.


As for the people who got me there, my sperm donor and former roommate, I'm not incredibly bitter about their parts for putting me in such a position. If my roommate apologized, I'd forgive her.
I was thinking about this moment when I was at the gym earlier today. I remember one Sunday KL really wanted milk but there wasn't a way to get us any without stealing. So I took her into the Unitarian Church I used to attend because I knew they put milk out with the refreshments they have after the service. I saw my old roommate there and pointed her out to KL. I had to hold her back from going and screaming at that lady. I saw all my old friends there too. Part of me wanted to allow KL to say what she wanted to say. It wasn't a very “Unitarian” thing to do to just cast me out like that. They should have to look it in the face. Pot Head described the church as, “a bunch of rich white people who think being liberal makes you a good person” but they wouldn't give a street kid the time of day. I thought he was right. And I hated that I was one of them in my past life.


KL had said: “I'm not going to do anything. But she should know what she did to you. You don't deserve this.” She was probably one of the best friends I'll ever have. No, she still won't talk to me. I think of her every day. A year doesn't change that.


Houdini is selling drugs and pretty strung out. I still talk to him, though not as often. And he's still my brother. Pot Head's sister died so he went back home, which happens to be about 20 minutes outside of my hometown. I was surprised to find I missed him and not just for his weed. When I make a trip home I'll visit him too. I saw that Jesus was back on the streets a few months ago but haven't been updated since. Baby Mama broke up with her boyfriend and had to move to California because he was chasing after her and the baby. I saw her off at the airport and hugged Cire goodbye. I love that baby so much. It broke my heart to see them go. I think of them and miss them every day. They left about two weeks ago. I haven't talked to Gru since he moved out nine months ago. I don't miss him. One of my friends ran into him a few months ago and he immediately started talking about me and how I ruined his life. Nice to see how he's moved on.


For seven months I kept the place to myself and the cats. I have a new roommate now. It's been really rocky having someone else move in and she's definitely not my first pick. But, it's someone to help cover bills and we're on pretty different schedules so I don't see her often. I've yet to find a stable job which is discouraging but somehow I've still managed to keep a roof over my head. Which makes me happy and says something about my work ethic.


As far as school goes, I've dropped out. It's not that my grades were bad (they weren't) or the course work was too hard. I justified it with my health and needing open hours to work (both issues on my lists of reasons) but the real reason I left was I couldn't stand to be around people my age. The biggest culture shock of all was being around kids who thought getting a B was the biggest problem their life would face. While they were crying over a B I was worried about where my friends are sleeping at night, and whether KL has over dosed in a bathroom somewhere on the other side of the country. I hated being there. Shit, I got to the point where I did the bare minimum just to pass. I stopped going to class period. I hated every second I spent stuck with those niave, spoiled brats. In all honesty I've come to believe that college really is just for the rich, healthy, white kids. Personally, I'm terrified by the fact that I'm going to spend the rest of my life in debt just for a silly piece of paper that may or may not help get me a job.


I've slowly begun to piece my life back together again. I've restored old friendships that I lost while on the streets. I was with one friend on an adventure to the Goodwill Bins when he brought up my cameo appearance in Busted. So, busted I told him what happened.
“So that's what happened in the year no one heard from you.”
“Yeah.”
“Why didn't you tell us?”
I shrugged.
“If you don't tell us we can't help you.”


I am continually surprised by the compassion and empathy my friends are capable of. They are some of the most amazing people in the world. I'm surprised by the friends that helped me and the friends that turned on me. I really found out who my real friends were. I've also made new friends. None of whom know what happened to me. Or well, none but one now. Three of us went out drinking shortly after the new year. We have a bar we always go to and we know all the bartenders and regulars, it's kind of like Cheers. Well, this particular night I told the bartender to (I quote) “fuck me up in one drink”.
Well, he must have been successful because I started talking about my childhood and revealed a glimpse of what had gotten me into foster care (which they don't know I was in). I didn't know this until a few nights later when I went out with one of the two people I had been drinking with and she asked me something about my stepfather. I had only been drinking a Corona that night so I immediately downed it and asked for something stronger.
“When the hell did I ever mention him?”
“The other night when you were drunk.”
“What exactly did I say?”


Apparently I had told them that he hit my mother and left it at that. But my friends didn't judge me for it or think of me differently knowing that. Said it just explained some things about me. So that night when we went out and smoked a cigarette I told this friend about being on the streets. It actually feels kind of good when I can mention something that happened on the streets. I don't really have anyone left anymore who was there.


I remember when I was eighteen and had just moved to Portland. I was on the phone with my maternal uncle, and he gave me really the only piece of advice he's ever given me. He told me about how the gay community is so used to being outcast from their families due to their sexuality that they find their own families, they call their “chosen families”.


“Stay away from your parents and find a chosen family” was the advice he gave. When I was in Atlanta I was able to meet his chosen family and I liked them very much.


Today I have my own chosen family. I have people who like me and accept me as I am. I don't have to be perfect. I can make mistakes. My friends make me happy. Even when I don't want to go out I'm always glad I did and leave feeling happier and content. If I don't come on our Sunday drinking nights or no one hears from me in awhile they call or text to see how I'm doing. I'm really lucky.
And yes, I still keep secrets. But, they no longer burden me. It's funny how unimportant that stuff becomes. There are just so many other things to talk about.


It hasn't been easy to keep this roof over my head. I've clung on for dear life, some months I haven't been able to pay any bill besides the rent. I still don't run the heat in my house. Too expensive. I just yawned and saw my own breath and I'm inside right now. But this is also the first year I've made it through the holidays and January without a major PTSD issue. I've struggled. I've worked hard. But I'm happy. For the first time in my entire life I am really and truly happy.
At the same time I'm still very aware that just as I did before I can end up on the streets again. Anyone can. Another thing KL said when she heard my story was, “God, now I know it can happen to anyone.”
And it can. Still, I am happy. I am at home. I am at peace.


Also, as a celebration of my one year off the streets in the next few weeks I'm going to go through all of my old unfinished blog posts that never saw the light of day and post them for your reading pleasures. So stay tuned!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Contentness


Just so you know, I should be doing homework right now. But I'm writing to you, my much neglected blogger friends. I may be paying for this later but I really want to share my thoughts before they change!



This is the time of year that my PTSD fucks shit up. Very hard. Usually. This year not so much.



Normally, by this time I'm in full relapse mode. This year, not even a little bit. Of course, there's still plenty of time for my world to collapse but for now I'm incredibly content. Even without it being the holidays I should be freaking out right now. I had some serious work troubles. I went from a job that scammed me to a job where the owner of the company was trying to fuck me. I've struggled to pay my rent. And I'm failing my classes. (Though, in all truth, the grades are my fault. I've been horrible this term and done some things I'm really not proud of academically.) I have bills I can't pay. I have a shut off notice for my power. I don't have clothes that fit the new job's dress code. (Job that does not involve getting hit on or scammed). KL is still non communicative. Houdini is strung out. My cats (I have three now btw) are expensive little buggers. My pain levels with my fibromyalgia are beyond comprehension right now.



Yet, I'm really fucking happy. I've been wondering where this joy has been coming from so I did some soul searching about it the past few days. And I came to a conclusion after some thought.



You see, I had some brief contact with my mother a few weeks ago. When I first quit my job I called my uncle (her brother) to ask for help. He told me that he was also about to lose his job but my mother was doing well and to call her. So against my better judgment I did. Any guesses how that went?



“Yeah, I can't send you $10 to do laundry I'm buying a car.”



She didn't even realize how ridiculous she sounded. And it stung. For a few days I was in a slump. I thought, “If my own mother won't help me, who will? How could anyone want me when my parents don't want me? What does this say about me as a person? Am I really that bad?” Even though I cognitively understand my parents are narcissists, it's really easy to fall into this trap of thinking after growing up in an environment of constant verbal abuse.



But that Sunday night was drinking night. Every other Sunday I go out with my friends and drink at our bar. I went feeling rather worthless and crappy and left feeling warm and loved. And it wasn't alcohol talking! I didn't have any money so I didn't drink except stealing drinks from them. It was the companionship and how they surrounded me with support in my hardship.



Usually, when I get home after a Sunday night I text one of my friends to let him know I made it home safely. Well, this Sunday night I decided since I wasn't drinking I didn't need to send that text. Surely, I made it home safely sober, if I do it twice a month tipsy. Also, I don't pay any attention to my phone so I didn't notice when he blew it up asking if I made it home okay. He finally found me on Facebook, rather upset and concerned.



I felt bad for causing him to nearly have a panic attack but I felt so loved then. I realized I matter to people. If I don't make it home safely someone will worry and look for me. Then, I have at least three people who randomly show up on my door whenever they damn well please. Or in one friend's case, whenever he gets kicked out of the strip club by my house. It only recently dawned on me that it's probably not normal that at least twice a week someone just shows up at my door unannounced for no other reason than to see how I'm doing. (They probably do this because I don't check my phone and I'm not friends with them on Facebook but still!)



I'm rebuilding the friendships I lost while I was homeless too. Part of this is from me going to school so I see some of them there. I've started reaching out to a lot of them but a lot of them are also reaching out to me and letting me know I am missed.



Oh, and remember my friend who was having a baby in shelter? Well, her baby is walking now and when I come over he walks to me with a giant smile on his face. There is NOTHING in the world that could warm my heart more than that.



In the end, I'm realizing I matter to people. Not just one or two people but LOTS of people. Lots of people from lots of different groups. And I think it's helping me understand what I've always cognitively known. There are BILLIONS of people on this planet. My parents represent 2 of those people. 2 very broken people. Yes, parents are supposed to cherish their children. And it would be nice if all did but my parents cannot see beyond their own needs, wants, and desires. There is nothing I could do to please them. Therefore, I shouldn't care about their opinions.



As long as there are people in the world who care about me I'm not worthless. And I think I matter to a lot of people. My disappearance would be noticed. I may not know what my friends see in me. I may not always understand their warmth and kindness but they really have been there for me while I've been struggling these last few months and that has filled me with so much warmth. For some reason I am important to them. For this reason I am not worthless; I am valuable.



You'd think I would have realized all of this when I was the only street kid who received care packages and had people to hang out with besides other street kids! But, I think I needed some time to get all of the verbal abuse I suffered the last two years out of my system. Being with people who build me up is what purged all of that out of my system.



And even though my grades are suffering for my social life, I am so happy I've found so many wonderful people in my life. A few of them are so wonderful they are even getting on me for my grades! I now get messages telling me to get off the internet and study! (oops!) But it's nice that they care about me beyond my company too.



To my parents all I have to say is I don't need you. I have found other people to be my family. I will take my chosen family over you two any day. I am not the things you did to me or the things you said to me. I am stronger than any one from our family could have ever imagined. And I don't need any of you in my life. I have everyone I need.



Goodnight Blogger Family. <3

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What To Give, How To Volunteer, How To Help

So I've had people ask me lately what to give/where to donate/etc when looking to help the homeless youth population. Thanks to reddit my post about this has skyrocketed with page views in the last hour. However, it was pretty early in the game to make that post so I thought it would be helpful to make new post on this subject.

Things to Give:
[Most people want to give food but most homeless youth (in Portland at least) don't need food. So I'm posting to offer some alternatives.]
*Money if you're comfortable with it
*Cigarettes
*Jackets
*Warm Clothing
*Blankets
*Tarps (to cover themselves at night when it's raining)
*Sleeping mats
*Crochet your own sleeping mat
*A night in a hotel room or hostel
*Toiletries
*Contact Solution (this was a huge need for me when I was homeless)
*Pet food
*First Aid supplies (another really big need for me)
*Over the counter medications (advil, allergy medicine, etc.)
*Hand Warmers (little packets you shake and they heat up to keep you warm for six hours or so)
*Bikes
*Mini Hair Straighteners and Curling Irons
*Make Up
*Shaving razors
*Puzzles
*Mini Board Games
*Gift Cards
*Shoes
*Books


Places to Donate/Volunteer:
*Big Brothers/Big Sisters
*New Avenues for Youth
*Project Metamorphosis
*Pear
*Food Banks
*Shelters



If I think of any more I will edit and add them later. Have laundry calling my name. :/

Puzzle Pieces

Lately, I've been feeling like my life is a huge clusterfuck of puzzle pieces that just don't fit together. You know how when you're doing a puzzle and you have those two pieces that look like they should fit but they just don't even though there's no other logical place for them?

That's my life these days.

I want Gru out of my life. It's his birthday today, well yesterday now. I refused to even acknowledge it. I've spent $600 on "his" cat in vet bills. And these vet bills aren't going to end either. Linus has been ripping his hair out to the point where his skin is scabbing. Gru didn't even think this was a problem. So I hauled Linus to the vet again today. The vet said we've gotten some undetected fleas and Linus is allergic to flea bites. So I had to flea treat the cats, give Linus antibiotics and antihistamines, and flea bomb the house. Gru has no intention of helping with this naturally.

Now, everyone knows my cat Spencer is my baby. I noticed some changes in his behavior. Namely, he is very skittish and won't come downstairs unless I'm home. The vet and I agreed it was due to me adding a snake (Fluffy) into the family. Yet, as I paid more attention I noticed if Gru wasn't home Spencer would be downstairs. If Gru was home he'd be upstairs waiting for me.

So I watched Gru interact with Spencer. I was not pleased. Not even a little bit. So now, I'm freaking out about my cat possibly being abused by this piece of shit roommate I can't get rid of at the moment. There's other issues involved in the demise of my relationship with Gru but you mess with my kitten you're in for a world of hurt.

This is made even more difficult because I'm having issues in the work department. I'm not going to get into it because really, I've been silent in this department to everyone in my life for a number of reasons. I've already found a new job (was offered a new job the next day) but I'm not sure how people would feel about it (no, I'm not stripping, prostituting, or selling drugs). And I want to wait until I have some pay checks under my belt there before I let anyone know what's going on.

This new job wants me to travel. Like, I might be going to my hometown next month. Which is part of the reason I took the job. I want to travel. The issue is, what am I going to do with the cats? I will not leave them with Gru. Not a chance. So now I have to find someone to take both of the cats for a few weeks every couple of months to make sure they aren't being hurt. Finding someone to take Spencer is not a problem. I have lists of people ready to take Spencer. Linus on the other hand, has to get medicine twice a day. He's less social. He's not everyone's buddy.

And to find someone to take both like the vet recommends? I have my work cut out for me. Then there's Fluffy. Even though she only needs to be fed/watered once a week people are a lot more squeamish about snakes than they are about cats.

So now I have a new job, which I am nervous about, pets I need help taking care of, and a roommate I really want to fall into a lake of fire.

My neighbors are loud assholes who play some shooting game at full volume at 1am. It infuriates me. The walls here are thin so I try to be considerate. I play my movies at night at a lower volume than I would like. And I end up listening to BOOM BOOM BOOM all night. I really dislike obnoxious people.

The situation with KL is still terrible. She will appear and disappear for weeks at a time. She refuses to speak to me. I try to say it doesn't bother me but  it bothers me a lot. Never knowing if today she will turn up dead; it's a feeling I will never learn how to describe. It's terrifying. I miss her so much. I feel so helpless.

I think about how I lost Megan without doing everything I could to see her. It torments me. If KL dies alone in St Louis will I be able to handle that guilt? Just the thought is paralyzing.

I am having trouble with my fibro but I need to find a new doctor. Apparently my doctor was still sharing my information with the housing program upstairs. Finding a new doctor is very stressful when it comes to fibro because many doctors think you are just drug seeking. I'm very concerned about this.

I'm homesick. This is the longest I've ever been without a trip to the Jelly Belly Factory. I know it's a small thing but I miss home so much. I miss my friends. I miss the jelly bellies. I miss the places. I miss that feeling I get when I'm home, like I can breathe easier. My hometown is a hell hole but it's my hell hole and it grounds me to go back. I miss it. I miss my mom, even though I know I don't want to fall into the poison trap again so I don't call. I don't even call the rest of my family because I don't want to fall into the slippery slope. I miss all of them. I miss my brothers that won't/don't talk to me. I shouldn't miss these things but I do.

I wish I could be one of those people who could afford to have a mental break down. I wish I could sit down and mourn the loss of Megan Penny but I still have not been able to cry a single tear for her or the two year old she left behind. I wish I could be angry at KL for running around St Louis and refusing to talk to me. I wish I could have a flipping panic attack about work. I wish Gru would try and hit me one of these days so I could beat the ever living shit out of him for the awful things he has done to my animals.

I really just want to run away and be someone else for awhile. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of the streets. I know I shouldn't complain. When it was hot I thought about how I shouldn't complain because I remember how impossible it was to be in the shelter when it was so sweltering up there. How it was preferable to sleep outside. It made me feel guilty for complaining about the heat.

I have a kitchen and lots of wonderful food that's not pasta though lately I've been eating out. And even eating out, I couldn't do that before.

So a mental break down is neither feasible or justified. Instead, I come online and complain to complete strangers. There are so many more productive things I could be doing but here I am whining at 12:30am.

Pull myself off the streets only to complain about life being housed? What kind of selfish fuck am I?

--MM

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What The World Actually Needs

DISCLAIMER: After a year on this damn blog you'd think I'd be able to learn how to format the damn thing? Yeah, I apologize this entry is fucked in format too. Sorry. Any computer geeks want to go through and fix my formatting through the blog I'll bake you cookies. =/

I'm sitting on my comfy, plushy bed in nothing but my bathrobe, which isn't even tied. (Hi NSA!) There is a mountain of clothes on the end of my bed, serving as a foot rest. The mountain topples onto my floor. Laundry I was going to hang up...a week ago that's now a jumbled mess of both dirty and clean clothes. I have my entire wardrobe back and it overflows out of my over sized closet. I just got out of a warm bubble bath. After I write this I will be going to bed as I work at 6am tomorrow. College student abuse.

It's a different picture than what I was living six months ago yes? Hard to believe that this life and that life are both parts of my life.

I ran into Beard Man at Walmart the other day. I don't know if I ever explained this on the blog before, but when a staff runs into us in "real life" they can't acknowledge us until we acknowledge them. Confidentiality. His eyes lit up and he opened his mouth to say hi then promptly shut it, hung his head, and continued walking. I started laughing and said hi.

I will say, every time I run into staff in real life they really have never been able to be coy. I think it's funny.

Anywho, Beard Man has left the organization. "Too much bullshit?" I asked. He sort of shrugged and said, "After four years it was time to go". I was sad to hear he was leaving. I can't even possibly imagine that place without Beard Man. Who would I write grievance forms about? I will miss him though. It's a sad day for homeless youth.

Director Lady left shelter. She now works at the housing program geared to younger youth (not the one I was in). Houdini said shelter has gotten worse since she left. It's hard to imagine shelter without her.

Seems everybody is moving on and the faces for homeless youth are changing. It's summer now, not that Mother Nature agrees. And with summer comes a new rush of homeless youth and tourists. The clash between the two groups is already playing out in downtown. I was there the other day to sell my books at Powell's and I saw tourists harassing street kids I didn't know. I always just keep walking even though I remember how awful it was when I was that street kid.

I remember when I was in McDonald's and a fat lady started talking about snatching the kitten right out of KL's hand. "She doesn't deserve an animal." There was one time KL asked a man outside of a bar for a cigarette. "I support my habit. You support yours." He told her. She was stung. And both those times I was too. We weren't humans. We were street kids.

But, when I see street kids I don't know in downtown I just keep walking. I don't bat an eye when they are hassled. The other day I met up with a friend who insisted on feeding me Jack in the Box. He insisted on buying a medium fry when I only wanted a small. I ended up giving most of it away to a street kid sitting in front of my bus stop. I know that's not what she really wanted. She could have all the food she wanted by just walking ten blocks. I knew that. She knew that. But she took them and thanked me and ate them before I got on the bus.

Sometimes, when I see these kids I don't know, I want to tell them I've been there. I can never bring myself to do it. It's not like I'm that much better than them anyways. I'm probably losing one of my jobs. I'm not any closer to a career. My best friend and street sister is missing in St. Louis. My street brother is selling drugs. My relationships are in shambles. What the hell do I know? I'm no better. Tomorrow, my world could fall apart and I could be homeless again.

Today, right as I was clocking into work my friend Sleepy sent me this message:

so I've been thinking about what to type. I apologize if it's kind of weird that I insert myself into your life in a random way intermittently. The "dc4" is celeste [his cat] typing on my keyboard (no joke) as I was thinking of what to type, you know, the cat that reminds me of you and kath.
Anyways, I certainly thought about you and your predicament from time to time. I mean, I've read how you've pretty much bootstrapped your way from a homeless shelter > halfway homeish > jobs and now finishing up your degree. That is really admirable. I wonder if I could do something like that and I also envy that. Everything seems so superficial from my world, though that may just be my depression talking; it has put a damper in my attempts to communicate with you and pretty much everyone else. It says "Why bother?"
But I still want to catch up, I read your blog recently. I hope things continue to go well. You certainly work really hard and are very kind. We need more people like you in this world. I need to do the same.

I've had a lot of friends say similar things. I never really know what to say to it. I don't think what I did was all that remarkable. What would have been remarkable would have been never ending up there in the first place! I don't think of being homeless as a success or something to be proud about. You should all be proud you've worked hard enough to never end up in a shelter!
I think all of you would be capable of surviving if put in that situation. Thousands of people do it. I'm not the only one who has worked her way off of the streets. I think each and every one of you would be amazed at what you are capable of when put in that situation. We all rise to the challenge when put in those situations, because you don't have any choice but to rise to that occasion.
Most importantly, people need to realize I did not do this on my own. I never would have survived without this blog. There is no way I would have made it even a week without knowing that people were coming online, reading my adventures, and cheering me on. I never expected this blog to become anything other than my therapy to get me through it. I was AMAZED it became a "thing" and the views from all over the world increased every day.
I quickly learned who my real friends were. I was shocked by who rushed to help me. It wasn't my "besties". In fact, a huge group of friends abandoned me at the beginning in the most self righteous way. Honest to God, it was a team effort. I haven't missed them one bit though. Being liberal doesn't automatically make you a good person. Especially when you act hatefully.
Most of my support came from online friends like Sleepy. What was all the more incredible about it was the fact that I don't think I ever out right asked for help once. I received more care packages, letters, and money than any street kid I know and I never once asked.
I actually felt uncomfortable about it at first. Eventually, I learned that the help wasn't just for me. I think it made people feel better knowing that they helped. No one was able to just pluck me off of the streets and make my life stable and happy. But they could send contact solution and slip me money here and there or send me letters and candies.
And these things mattered so much. It wasn't about the items or the cash or the candy. It was looking at those packages and saying, "To this person, I am a human being. To this person I matter."
From people that were little more than strangers. That's real kindness.
This is not to say that my friends in real life didn't help. They did. Savior Man moved mountains for me by keeping Spencer, letting me cook, shower, and rest at his place. My friends stood by me and helped where they could when they knew. Most of them just plain didn't know and definitely didn't know the dirty details. It was just easier to share my struggles through the anonymity of the internet than looking my friends in the eye and saying, "This is my life now. It's nothing like how you know me."
The world doesn't need more people like me. The world needs more people like Sleepy and Bunny. It needs more people like you, who stopped what you were doing today to read this blog. It needs people courageous enough to stop and acknowledge the street people they don't know. It has enough me's. It needs more yous.

--MM