Lucky me!

Life’s a particularly hard row to hoe these days. BUT. Today is a very good day because I just finished making congratulatory phone calls to the applicants who’ve been accepted into the Michelle Begley Mentor Program. There’s much joy that comes from being the program coordinator, and a big piece of that joy is getting to be the bearer of good news. Woot! I do love spreading happiness.

 

And now I think I’ll take the doggo out for a walk in the sunshine.

Lucky, lucky me.

Eviction is an act of violence

This pandemic continues to expose the many holes in our inhumane, capitalism-obsessed society. We’re about to see an enormous surge in the numbers of people who are unhoused. Those figures were already shameful and they’re about to become catastrophic. For the last three days, I’ve worked with the Denver chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) as a housing advocate offering support to those facing eviction. The stories I’ve heard made me scream, rage, cry, and cry some more.

Image by Rusty Gouveia from Pixabay

Silly me, I thought it made sense to encourage an elderly couple infected with covid to emphasize their health issues during their eviction hearing in order to buy time before they were forced to move out. Wrong. I listened in yesterday during their virtual court hearing as the husband described the difficulties of his health issues and then reminded the judge that it was against public health and safety to put covid-positive people out on the street. Was the judge affected by this sound argument? Not at all.

The good news is that their eviction notice/notice to quit was served incorrectly and now the process starts over. That will buy the couple time to, I hope, recover before they’re forced from their home. That’s considered a victory in this hellscape reality.

I’m waiting to hear back from a young couple who had their eviction hearing this afternoon. There are three generations living in that apartment and the family has been desperately searching for a new place to live ever since getting their notice to quit. There’s nothing out there for them.

Tomorrow is the hearing for two brothers. One lost his job at the start of the pandemic, but the other still had a job with reduced hours which allowed them to hang on by a thread. Then second one lost his job when the employer couldn’t hold on any longer. Their unemployment benefits took so long to be processed they are now facing eviction. They spent all of July looking for a new home but, surprise surprise, no one wants to rent to two unemployed people.

In both cases, the tenants had always paid their rent on time and tried to arrange payment schedules during this hard situation. Didn’t matter. The landlords are determined to kick them out in the street during a pandemic.

We are a broken society. There is nothing great about a country that not only allows this kind of abuse but intentionally puts laws on the books that inflict trauma on its citizens. Eviction is an act of violence.

It is way past time to rise up.

In support of Sunrise Movement & the planet

I’m headed off to Boulder for a Sunrise hub meeting to plan our next steps for achieving a Green New Deal. As mentioned before, I love these young people and their passion and am honored to have their backs as they fight for the planet and a sustainable future. They’ve already changed the conversation about climate change and brought it to the forefront.

Please consider lending your support. Go here to join the movement, find a Green New Deal town hall meeting near you, and/or to make a one-time or monthly donation to support their efforts. Thank you in advance!

Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

Anguish and Outrage

This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.

As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.

How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I’ve started a new volunteer gig and yesterday was my second day helping out. The man who’s training me noted that there was just one week until Christmas. My back was to him and without the benefit of body language, I assumed (I know, I know), he was launching into the typical stressed-out “I haven’t started my shopping yet and there’s so much I need to do” conversation so I figured I’d put us both out of our misery and/or guilt by announcing that all I cared about was the Winter Solstice and increased daylight. I capped it off with “Christmas Smishtmas.”

Turns out he wanted to talk about the over-sized tree he’d gotten this year and how it’s too big for his tiny apartment, but that it’s so nice to go home after a long day and turn on those pretty colored lights. Oh, yeah, and beneath that beautiful tree? Wrapped gifts for his girlfriend.

The poor guy sounded apologetic.

The thing is, I totally understand those sentiments and if I wasn’t so lazy, I would have put up some pretty colored lights of my own. I tried to convey that, but he was clearly ready to move on to a non-Scrooge-related topic.

MorgueFile photo courtesy of Cohdra

MorgueFile photo courtesy of Cohdra

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol