elise_rasha: (Default)
 Being homeless is a humbling and growing experience. Days are spent finding a place to get out of the cold - while it isn't Michigan cold, it's still nippy around here - as well as seeking work. I go to WorkSource, use their computers to hop onto Snagajob.com and find what I can actually do in terms of work. I have no college degree as of yet. I'm also not really much of an office person or factory worker. I enjoy retail work with an emphasis more on food service. It's been a month, I've had a few leads with a couple of interviews with nothing panning out just yet, but the fight isn't over yet. I'm not giving up. Despite some of my anti-social tendencies, I do like to interact with people. I love to hear their stories.

Days are also spent at two of the libraries, checking Greyhound and craigslist, and letting family and friends know that I'm all right - most of my family is still in Michigan. Most of my friends are in Michigan. My mother, stepdad, and brother are in Tulsa. My sister will be joining them soon. I'm still heading for Philadelphia. Facebook is one of the best ways I keep in contact, especially when I'm not sure I'll have my cell phone from one month to the next. I also used the computers to type up The King and Queen of Wands for publication.

At night, when I return, I eat dinner which is provided for me by the shelter and go someplace a little quieter than the rest of the house so I can write. And I listen to the stories. I watch mothers struggle with their young children. I stay with women who are overcoming addictions and coping with health conditions. 

I talk to my mother a little more than what I used to, which is strange because we lived together for so long. It's funny how distance can actually repair a relationship. It may never be what it used to be and it may take my mother a while to get used to the idea that I need to trust my intuition.

There's also something else, and this is reposted from facebook:

Here is an ugly, ugly truth about homelessness in Washington.
It's caused by people coming here to seek work. I should know. I'm one of them. Washington has the highest minimum wage in the United States right now. THE HIGHEST at $9.32/hour. That isn't including what Seattle has mandated for minimum wage, which is $15/hour. People are coming here, living on the streets, bouncing from shelter to shelter (because they're NOT permanent; some allow a person to stay no more than 90 days in ONE year), and the housing authorities are overwhelmed. In Bremerton, in Kitsap County where I currently live, the housing authority had to stop taking applications. There's a 4-5 YEAR waiting list for many places. The first place I applied to for low income told me their waiting list was nine months. Most people in the shelters can't wait nine months or 4-5 years.
And it isn't just single people like me who are needing a permanent place to stay. It's FAMILIES trying to survive. It's single parents escaping bad situations and trying to protect their children. 
I listen to the stories the women in the shelter tell, about how they're trying to find a place to stay, and what they've gone through in their lives. Many of them will have to find another shelter to stay in until they can find a place to stay. Many of them can't stay with family because they either don't have family in the area (like me) or it's unhealthy for them to be with family.
So it's time. It's time for a great many things, my friends. It's time to understand that economics is playing a very huge part in the plight of the poor and the homeless. It's time to see that corporate greed is destroying this country. 
It's time to raise the minimum wage. After all, the more money people have to spend beyond the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing, the more money the corporations will continue to make. Continue to oppress the poor and the homeless, continue to make it impossible for them to get by, and the economy will not survive.
I have been very humbled by everything I've learned. I will also not be silenced on this matter.
I have done nearly all I can while here in Washington, and it's time for me to move on to the next place. I'm only one person, but I have a voice. I will fight for these people, though. I don't care what mistakes they've made in their lives. They are PEOPLE, first and foremost, and every life is worth fighting for.
I stand by raising the minimum wage. I stand for getting people off the streets, out of shelters, and into HOMES and with jobs that can not only support them but to help them thrive. 
Raising the minimum wage is only the start, though, and I encourage people to get out there, to do something, be it donating food, money, or time. You never know what a difference you can make in someone's life until you see that smile, that look of relief that says more and gives more than anything hoarding money could ever do.

And, yes, my homelessness has been a positive experience while at the same time a crash-and-burn/you-really-need-to-learn-this experience. I researched where the highest minimum wages are at in the United States, and it's all in Washington. For about two and a half weeks, until I received my food assistance, I went to the Salvation Army for lunch. I overheard a woman on her phone telling a bill collector she doesn't receive unemployment. She's been unemployed since 2011, and she goes to the Salvation Army for two of her meals Monday through Friday.

These are the stories the world needs to hear, and I know there are people out there trying to get people to hear them. I want people to hear them. I want the blinders to come off. I recently told my grandmother the world is what we make it. She told me that the world isn't what we make it, that it's a dangerous place to live in anymore. Like we don't have a say in how dangerous this world becomes. Mind you, I love my grandmother. She's one of the sweetest, most loving people I've ever met, but she's at a point where she doesn't believe the world can change. She choses to see the danger. She listens to the horrors about human trafficking and can only speak about it. By her own words, she proves my words true - the world is what we make of it.

So I will say it. The world is a dangerous place, but it's also very beautiful and filled with kindness. I have met nothing but kindness from the residents of Bremerton, from some of the shop owners, and they help to ease the hardships that I'm facing. There's also nothing more dangerous than apathy and unwillingness to bring about the necessary and painful changes that are so desperately needed. I no longer want the apathy in my life. I want to do something, and I have the skills with writing. I'm willing to bring about these very painful changes.

I will write more about the homeless experience. Because it's a very real problem, one that needs to end like childhood and world hunger. It's time to wake up. I know this sounds very preachy, but it's something that a lot of people are turning a blind eye to. If we don't act now, if we don't do something, it really will be too late.

***

Finally, I would like to announce that The King and Queen of Wands went live on Friday. There were a few hiccups (like me forgetting to save the cover in the cover creator), but it's now available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. Portal to Gaming is also available for $3.99.

The cover, once more, was done by my lovely and talented younger sister, Kyla, and I love everything she's done for me. Thank you, Kyla, for the hardwork and beautiful cover designs.

elise_rasha: (Default)
 So the other day I posted to facebook that I am homeless and staying in a shelter. It was something I figured would happen upon moving out to Washington. I didn't have much money, an expired driver's license, and nothing lined up for work or a place to live. I also have no family in Washington - I have two very casual acquaintances in the entire state and really not a lot of support from either one for a variety of reasons. It was a very risky venture on my part, and I admit that I was very naive about a lot of things.

It's one that's also been paying off. While I will not say which shelter I'm staying at - this is out of respect for the people who run the shelter and for the safety of the women who are also staying there - I will say this. My life hasn't nearly been as difficult or as fraught with hardships as I used to believe. There are so many women, so many people who have never had a safe haven their entire lives. I'm very fortunate that, until I moved out here, I had a place to sleep, food on the table, and clothes on my back. I'd been surrounded by the love of family my entire life. And that isn't a bad thing because some of the women who are in the shelters haven't had that. They've never had that kind of stability, that kind of home environment, and, while mine wasn't always the greatest (told my counselor when I was 16 I thought my dad was manic-depressive because of his up-and-down mood swings), I now know my life could have been a lot worse than what it was.

I am still seeking work in Bremerton, where I'm currently staying, where I've been for the last month. The goal now is to something that will pay halfway decent, be it seasonal or something a little more long term and will give a lot of hours. I need to save up what I can to move to Philadelphia, be it after the holidays, when my 90 bed nights are up, or even six months from now. This hasn't been a wasted trip. I wouldn't change a thing about my life and where my path has taken me. I feel much closer to my Gods now because I listened to them on what they wanted me to do, where they wanted me to go, and I'll keep doing what I can to hear them, to listen to them, and to do what they need me, what I need to do.

There's a lot that I can't do right now - be out after a certain time of night, can't work any midnight/overnight shifts, drink, be wild (not that I would, anyway) - but the pay offs on a lot are still there. I'm homeless but not out of hope or happiness. I have a deeper respect for what others go through. I've been blessed with a lot of kindness from others in situations like me. I feel like I'm growing stronger every day I'm out here, and I look forward to the next adventure each day brings. It usually means finding a computer to seek work and a place to rent either as a month-to-month contract or a six month contract, but there's always something new.

I only have one thing I'd ask of anyone who reads this journal. If you see a homeless person, offer that soul something, be it a meal, a blanket, a ride, a place to stay for the night, or just a friendly ear, and fight for change for them. You truly don't know what a single act of kindness can do for someone. It creates an ever lasting beauty, and it will be remembered.