It is far easy to see through rose colored glasses, to see only in the eyes of the make believe. That is until you have reached, made it or even experienced the other side of the story.  When we judge, we judge ourselves and soon live the judgment..

A HOME FOR THE HOMELESS AND THE BULLSHYT REPERCUSSIONS!

 

You’re so vain; you probably thought this story was about you!!!  Not!!! But some may be able to relate. When you look at your future through rose colored glasses it seems to be perfect and have so many wonderful additives in it.  You know the additives that are exotic and pure and don’t have those preservatives that are not good for you.  You make these delicious plans, tempting, tasty, and ohhh so good! But it does not always go as planned.  Well me, I had my life planned that I would go to college, get married, pursue my hobbies, and enjoy so many of the deserts, or extracurricular activities.  I would get married, enjoy my marriage for a few years, and have some children.  Work on my career.  And of course have the perfect meal.  Well it did not turn out that way.  And right now I am hating on those who have the life I wanted and they seem to be living theirs la Vida loca! How unfair for me, that my life is like some drawn out endless soap opera!

First let me state that my valleys have been real valleys, and my peaks seem to have only been just that, peaks! And my highs seem to be only for a little while, while the valleys and mountains seem to stay in my life the longest. And I am hiking up hills all the time.  When I look at others lives it seems to me they only go through small droughts.  And they recover a whole lot quicker, or could it be me?  Just me hating and upset that I do not have what I seem to work hard at and on all the time?  I could be bitter, I could be bitter, and yes at this present time I am venting!

My family is okay, I will not say that they are the best of the best and I came from this family that had a lot of great and wonderful things happen as I grew up.  Not so, my mother loved us.  However she was a weak woman and scared to step out on the type of faith that she encouraged her children to step out on.  My father was a monster! Not the type of dad I would recommend to anyone at all if only to save their lives.  They might as well go ahead and set up their room in hell.  My dad was a verbally abusive man, and seemed to go through spells of being a loving father.  And then he would be a titan, a man that you would think of many ways to kill him and figure out how you could get away with it.  Which is more likely than not the reason why the four of us turned out so different.

My older brother Cecil named after our grandfather (my mom’s dad) well Cecil lied and joined the core when he was sixteen.  For him it worked out very well, he made a career out of it, and decided that he needed counseling and they were more than happy to give it to him.  He married a woman he met in Hawaii, and they have twin daughters.  Cecil speaks to my mom, but rarely speaks to our dad because you never know what day you will catch him on.  He lives in Hawaii, and only comes here to visit, but he lives and has what seems the perfect life.  He always tells me, “Cas (short for Casey) you should come out here with me.  You would love it.  I will help you and take care of you.”

My second oldest sibling is Carson, and she is a big mess completely, I mean the girl goes from one thing to another.  Carson lives her life on the edge and is a nomad.  She never stays in one place too long.  One minute she could be teaching children.  And the next minute she may be back packing in Europe somewhere.  Or better yet, join some sort of commune or nudist camp.  Carson has a degree in English, and then got her Master’s in psychology.  If you ask me, she needs some big help.  But I will say this about my oldest sister.  She does whatever she feels and it seems to work well for her.  You would just have a hard time finding her because she moves around a lot.  And she changes her numbers like a mom changes her baby’s diapers!

Then there is my baby brother, or should I say the baby brother of the two brothers.  Chance is an alcoholic and is down to try any drug you give him.  But he is a functioning alcoholic and drug addict.  Funny, he is the one that makes the most money out of all of us.  He has a super mouth piece, a quick learner and has an IQ of 160!!!! A genius of course but having so much knowledge and insight in so much has driven him crazy!  He takes the dysfunction of our family the hardest.  Which is why he drinks so bad and does not per-say have a drug of choice.

Then you have me, the one who strives to do right, strives to say the right things.  Always the people pleaser, until I learned that I had to stop doing that! However, in school, drop out of school, start a job, quit a job.  But I would stay at something until I found my niche.  I have always taken care of myself very self and it seems I have always been the one that would pull through for my family and friends.  While me brother is having issues with his drug and or alcohol abuse.  My sister caravanning all over the world, not thinking of anyone but her and her life.  Which there is nothing wrong with that; I guess on my part I am a little hateful and jealous because she has the damn balls to do it! My brother who says I love my family, but I will not let them evil useless bastards bring me down.  And my brother I must say has seen something so real in me that I have been the only one who has tried to be my savior.

I will not lie and say that my thoughts and actions have been perfect, who can really say that?  We have all done dirt and some things that we are not proud of.  And I am included in that number.  I have had some seedy friends and some friends that were on the up and up.  I say this because me telling you all of this is for a good damn reason. 

I have helped so many in my path, moved in with me and done me way dirty, and some homeless I have fed and given shelter.  I have been a friend when no one else seemed to be friends to many.  And that’s fine.

I have lost money, and not small money but big lump sums of money!  Some because of stupidity and unwise decisions on my behalf.  Nevertheless I have eaten that and dealt with it.  So again, I sit here and ponder my life, I mean when I have taught myself in my life not all the time can I open my mouth and speak up.  That there is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes silence is truly golden and you just have to let some things go! And I have learned the good and hard way.  And that is okay with me.  But when you truly feel that you have adapted to this way of life and you continue to get the raw end of the sick.  It makes you sit back and see your life in a totally different way!

 

 

THE FIRST EXPERIENCE….

 One thing I learned about myself the hard way twice was that I cannot be or get into relationships with men when I am having a personal emotional crisis! No sir-we bob.  I had moved back in with my parents until they had moved back to where they were born and raised.  For the most part Seattle Washington had been my home.  And I knew nowhere else as home.  Hurt and disgruntled that they were leaving to go back to where they were from I was angry with them for a long time.  I would watch as my mother packed the house that we lived in, and in my heart would always be home.  I was in a true emotional dishevel, and at that time could not understand why they were they were leaving ME. My brother was leaving and going with them and my sister of course was doing her thing and my brother of course was overseas living his life in the core with his family. So most times I was out and about with who I thought was my best friend at the time.  He had my back, Kent seemed to understand me.  And even though we are no longer friends, he has helped me to be a better person.  Though I am jumping ahead of myself in my story.

Kent and I partied, got high, drank, and it seemed as if I was this loose young and free person.  We worked hard and we played equally hard.  The funny part about all of this, partying and hanging out was a thing of my past and didn’t really phase me, but I had to keep my mind busy doing something other than thinking of my family leaving the state. You could say that I had moved in with Kent, I was always at his house, and in the midst of that he had encouraged me to start up a business.  And that was designing my own jewelry line.  I always made my own earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces and so forth and was always getting compliments on it.  He invested a huge amount of his money and got me involved with a lot of different conventions that we traveled to where vendors would sale their wares.  Where the money came from to do all this travel I cannot recall.  But we made money! And it was the perfect distraction for me.  Things moved quickly and I could not believe the fanfare I had received from my jewelry line and the many many celebrities I had met and furnished my wares to.

In this time I had met a man, he wasn’t really my type at all, but we had basically chatted via email, occasionally by phone because he had a life that kept him working on the road to many different places.  Jason was very kind and much older than me.  Now I did not jump into a relationship with him so quickly.  We actually met way before my mother had literally started packing up the house and getting ready for the move back to Virginia. It was his voice, his kind words, and his charm that had caught me off guard! But as it was getting closer to my family leaving I was sinking into a deep depression.  Now no matter how much dysfunction was in my family I loved them and they loved me.  And it was breaking my mother and father’s heart to leave and my dad was going through his own mental and emotional mess.  We all were, my brother and I would smoke marijuana and get high as much as we could, because he and I were the closest out of the four of the siblings.

It was one night that I was crying and crying and it seemed as if I could not stop.  I was at the home I grew up in looking at no pictures on the wall, boxes stacked up against the wall.  And you could literally hear the echo in the house and that was so disturbing to me.  This was no longer my home, this would soon be the next family’s home and they would to me in my head take my memories good and bad and make memories of their own.  I had begun to hate them, and I didn’t even know them. 

This night I didn’t want to do anything, I ignored phone calls from Kent, from customers with orders, and placed everything on hold.  I had even taken a vacation from my 9-5 because everyone was making me angry at how they ate, acted, dressed and all of the office gossip had taken its toll upon me.

My cell phone had rung and when I looked to see who it was, I saw Jason’s name appear.  I answered only because Jason had no idea of what was going on in my life.  I had never told him, but for some reason just hearing the deep baritone sexy mellow cool voice made me feel calm ad serene.  So as we talked and had caught up with one another Jason felt something, I kept denying it and was wondering why he kept pushing me to talk and that was irritating me to no ends!  And I broke down and told him the story.  Well Jason asked me where I was going to stay when my family left.  And I had not even thought about it, I was so busy running around, partying, and dealing with my jewelry business I had not even looked for a place to stay! And at this time Kent was leaving his apartment and moving in with his girlfriend at that time.  Where the hell was I going to go?! I didn’t go look for an apartment, uh jeesh, this was a real predicament.  It was not like I could not get a place on my own,  I just now had very little time to do so.  But here was my Prince, or so I thought at the time.  Jason had said we needed to get together and talk, see each other.  Mind you I had only seen Jason once the whole entire two years we were speaking on the phone and through email and text messaging. Again I knew when we I was introduced to him by a colleague he was not the one for me.  But I went ahead and exchanged business cards with him.  And was grateful when he did not call me for at least a couple of months.  I think that Jason was fully aware that his looks as far as I was concerned not to my liking.  So he started off slow with me, he sent simple and sweet non-flirting emails that made me smile.  Later he would call and leave a message on my cell, text every now and then.  I will say that it did bring smiles on my face and that he would seem to call when I was always having some sort of hectic day or so overbooked with a heavy schedule.  I had begun to enjoy his attention, because there was no intentions behind it.  At least I had thought so, I mean come on, we had been talking for awhile, and very little by phone. 

Well Jason had gotten the directions to the house and I wore something sexy but not revealing.  Jason was so happy to be in my company, he had taken me to a five star restaurant to eat, and he had flowers in the car waiting for me and a small bottle of my favorite perfume.  One thing I will say is that Jason remembered everything I had told him.  We had a great time, and I came home feeling a bit better.  He had quickly set up another date for us to see each other and that is when he proposed that I move into his home with him.  He told me that it would work out well because he was always working and that he would leave to go out of town to work and he needed someone he could trust to watch his home.  Jason had told me that his home had gotten robbed being gone for more than two weeks.  It took some convincing, but I had decided to do so. 

The day my family pulled out of the driveway, I left crying and crying and I drove to Jason’s job.  Sitting in my car, waiting for him to come out.  I had never been to his home, and I was following him there.  Now fate has a funny way of showing her face at the most inopportune times.  And she made sure that she told me in her own way this was not going to be good for me.  The first thing that happened was my car broke down, and not a normal break down.  But a major break down.  So I was actually stuck at Jason’s house for a week with no transportation.  Jason had another car he rarely drove, so he lent me his other car to get back and forth to work.  My car needed a new transmission and here I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, buy a new car or fix this one and not have a car note.  Well my Prince said he would help me buy a car, I was skeptical, and I am glad that I said no to that offer because my future with Jason was going to be a rocky and shifty one.  See I thought I had got to know a little bit about Jason, but in all actuality he sold me his representative.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jason was a perfect gentleman, because we had not consummated our relationship. I slept in the guestroom and he slept in his room.  Jason romanced me, took me shopping and was always buying me gifts and saying the perfect things.  My second weekend he took me on a weekend getaway.  It was Kent that had told me to say no to him buying me a car.  Kent told me if I needed help with fixing my car he would help, it wasn’t like I was broke.  By no means was I, I just had a lot on my plate at the time.  And one of those things was to go to a convention in Las Vegas.  The space for my booth, the room, flying there was costing me a leg already.  So I took Kent up in fixing my car. And for whatever reason this had bothered Jason which should have been my first sign of his jealousy.  Since Kent was paying for the transmission on my car, I had gotten new brakes, muffler, and tires for my car.  And since she was getting an overhaul, I had even got my beauty a paint job. 

It seemed for the first two months things were working out well, and then I made the mistake of having sex with Jason.  This solidified our relationship, so now I move from the guestroom into his bedroom.  And this is when I had experienced his cell phone and house phone ringing all night and early in the morning.  It was disturbing, and yet Jason was very insecure when it came to me.  He felt I spent way too much time in his office.  So I stayed out of it and made the guestroom my office so that he wouldn’t have to see me in his office all of the time.  I would even pack up my laptop and go to a nearby star bucks or coffeehouse to work.  If a man spoke to me or a woman gave me a compliment Jason would wait until they left and say that he didn’t know what they saw in me. 

I had a huge financial setback with my business, and I had just got laid off from my job that I had been with for the past five years.  It was also at this time that I had found out that Jason was seeing another woman.  Remember I was going through it that my family had left, I called them every day! And I grieved by losing weight drastically and throwing myself into work.  Jason seemed to throw a rock at me as much as he could, I noticed that he loved to argue and then make love to me right after.  And if I did not get into bed with him after he had tore me down, he would keep me up all night by asking me to come get into bed.  I was not faithful or loyal to Jason either, so it was no big deal to me that he had found another woman.  But I was no way near as obvious about my cheating.  I shut my cell phone off at certain times of the evening.  I had a business cell phone and a personal one.  I had my business phone on vibrate and the personal one off.  I was smarter than he was.

Just as I had gotten laid off from my job and the financial issues I had and the huge amount of money I had to pour into my business Jason told me I had to leave his house.  I was stunned, nowhere really to go.  No family and my “friends” are far in between.  Well after speaking to a close friend of the family that had knew my sister ever since they were in the second grade, she had gotten my number from my mother to check on me.  So it seemed she had called me at the right time.  In speaking with her I told her I had to make a move real quick because of some extras that had jumped off, she told me she had a spare room and that I was more than welcome to stay at her place.  This of course was a huge catastrophe!  For whatever reason she would have an attitude and the meanest disposition one could ever imagine!  I would leave her house before the sun rose and come back late.  I had no key, so there were times that I would be locked out to only sleep in my car, because I was that tired. Or staying the night at a hotel or motel.  When I would buy food for the home she would make dinner and lunches for her friends.  This stunned me to unbelief!  I was hurt by the way she had treated me. After going through this for a month, my unemployment seemingly taking a long time to kick in, I had nowhere to go.  So I chucked it up and slept in my car until my first check had come.  And it seemed as if right on time I had gotten a huge order for my wares.  I was thankful, and it was then that I had been able to get a studio loft.  This loft I had made into in my living and office quarters. 

I was dismayed at how my life seem to be going, I really was.  But one thing about me I think quick and fast in a crisis!  The extra funny thing about this situation was that Jason felt he had done nothing wrong and would call and want to see me!  This was of course a joke to me, and all the emails, calls, and text messages he would send me would be overlooked deleted and erased with no return.  It was a crunch for me the first few months, sometimes me wondering where I would get money and how I would stretch a dollar to eat.  I had lost weight, well more weight than I had when my family had left.  I was not eating that much when I stayed with my sister’s best friend.  Sometimes a piece of bread or a few stale crackers because she never kept food in the house.  And I felt I was walking on pins and needles there at her home.  When I had finally made a profit, I had given her $300 and thanked her for helping me.  This had made her feel low and stupid, which was my plan anyway.  I had given her the money because she had talked so bad about me, which resulted in her breaking down and crying, apologizing to me for how she had done me.  Some may say that they would have not given up any money, but I pay where I stay and lay.  I had even given money to Jason when I stayed with him. It is how I was raised.

I thought that I being homeless like this was the worst thing any person could go through.  It gave me a whole different appreciation for those who were homeless.  Maybe that is wrong word to use, let me say insight.  Because I now know that a lot of the homeless are not out there because of drug addiction nor alcoholism.  I was one of them, and for me it was the most stressful event in my life.  How people look at you and treat you when you are down just simply amazed me.  And the ironic thing about being homeless was my sister’s best friend had lost her job, car, all of that beautiful furniture she had in her home.  Not once did she call me and ask me to stay with me.  She had gotten fired from spreading a false rumor about an employee at her job which resulted in that person being terminated from the job.  And this person knowing they were falsely accused had filed a lawsuit on the company. 

I was doing well for myself, things were coming together.  I had poured my time into my business.  Kent and I had gotten some contracts to now place my jewelry line in major department stores!! This was to me the greatest of the greatest thing that could happen for me.  My line was in small boutiques in the surrounding area, of course you could buy it online, and I had celebrities wearing my jewelry at red carpet events.  Which of course when they gave me a shout out in front of the cameras that gave us a huge boost in revenue.  See the stars and celebrities wear your jewelry for free, they do not pay.  It is considered to be an honor to let a celebrity wear your designs at a huge event.  This was how you got exposure.  We had also expanded the business in California at a few top notch boutiques, and were underway with having my jewelry sold in some boutiques in New York.  I was excited that I was finally going to get the recognition of my talent.  It was not the money that would come.  I was excited that people really loved my line.  Keep in mind that I also had to pay to have my jewelry made, buy product, and pay employees to manufacture my products.  Overhead is indeed no joke!

I was tired of Seattle, funny I was ready to move on because my business had grown in leaps and bounds. Kent had told me that I should move to either California or New York, and that Atlanta was the place to be as well.  I had been back and forth to New York and California.  I had visited Atlanta a couple of times, and I was seriously thinking of moving there.  New York was okay, but my heart was not leading me there.  And I was always traveling to California.  I wanted to move somewhere where I felt my dollar would stretch. So I looked in to Atlanta.  After visiting there and looking at homes, I found what I was looking for.  I was able to pay for a beautiful triplex home, the first floor was where I had my offices set up, and the other two stories is where I would live. 

After getting settled and Kent and I working a plan out.  I was now ready to rock and roll! Kent would handle all business affairs in California.  And I would handle all business affairs in New York because I was on the East Coast.  Atlanta had opened up so many doors for me and I was happy for the move.  I got with the right people and clicks, and I held and hosted banquets, events, and charity functionings.  I would set up a booth at every and any event that the city hosted.  And my product had now made a name for itself in Atlanta.  I was happy and content.

 

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

 

While the infamous Bush was in office the bullshyt had hit the fan! Atlanta was the number one state for foreclosures.  People were losing their homes it seems daily! Though people were still employed, businesses were now being affected by the economy.  I saw how it was affecting mine, a decline in revenue.  I of course was shaken by the decline just as Kent was.  And we had to think of many ways to drop the prices on our product and boutiques that sold our wares had started to close their businesses because they were having a hard time paying their overhead which was understandable. The crunch was on, Kent and I had devised ways to cut our expenses. We had noticed our expense account had grown out of control, so we cut back on our travel, dining, and other unnecessary spending. We had to change our manufacturer and find one that would give us the same quality but at a cheaper rate.  I had to find a company that I could buy my supplies from at a cheaper cost.  So now we were down to paying our mortgages, bills, paying our creditors and saving our money where our profit was concerned. 

The real huge blow came when major corporations were laying off thousands of people and this crash course in economy blew a lot of small business out of the water!! Now people could only do three things, pay bills, rent/mortgage and eat! There were only a few states that had not been hit hard by bushenomics and by the way.  No one has not heard or seen hide nor hair of Bush since he left office, hmmm…

Studios had cut down in film making, people were not really getting out as much as they use to.  And with this seemingly happening so fast at the rate of unemployment! People that had made money to burn had curved their spending! I saw as my savings was starting to dwindle down, and how more and more boutiques had shut their doors where my wares were being sold.  The only customers I had were celebrities pretty much, and the real rich.  And they had limited their spending as well.  So here we were, Kent and I suffering severely behind this crash.  Watching the stock market plummet, gas prices go up, utilities go up, and food went up.  I tried to keep an even head about the situation.  I really tried to stay positive.  But it was hard very hard.  I had to stop buying product and stop manufacturing jewelry.  We had quite a bit in storage so there was no need to keep paying out monies to keep things going.  I couldn’t afford it.  

The next big blow was when I found out that Kent and his wife were getting a divorce.  She was unhappy because she was not able to live the high life she once had.  And she was suing Kent for child support and alimony.  Kent had to put his house up for sale.  And at this time no one was buying, Kent had to move into an apartment.  It was far from shabby.  But never the less he had to move, and when his house finally sold.   It had sold way cheaper than what he could and should have gotten for it. Which of course made his wife very unhappy because she was hoping to get the house!  So once they went to court and the divorce settlement was made she didn’t get nearly what she thought in alimony or child support.  Of course Kent had to show every asset he had, and since he was in a partnership with me, well you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip! So in the end, his wife got half of the monies from the sale of the house.  And the alimony she wanted she didn’t get.  The child support payments are far less than what she thought.  She lived the so-called high life for about six months and had to move back home with her parents.  And in the end gave up custody of the two children they had to Kent.  She wanted no responsibility of them.  I shake my head because finances had hurt a lot of families during this recession. But what she did was pure cold-hearted, and it is when you have rough and hard times that you really find out what a person is made of. I never would have pegged his ex-wife to be of that type of character.

In the mean time I had to look for a job, and even though people were getting laid off from jobs I had to humble myself and try to find anything. So I dummied down my resume and I applied at tons of temp agencies.  I wanted nothing full-time just temp work only.  I wasn’t the only one, Kent had held it down for us in the west coast and I held it down on the east coast and we of course kept in contact as we normally did.  Kent had two extra mouths to feed and his schedule was back breaking.  My heart went out to him; I offered my home and the both of us pulling our resources together.  But Kent said he needed to stay there.  Not only for his children, because they were settled.  But for business purposes.  I agreed.  So now we were both burning the candlestick on both ends. 

I got plenty of temp work, and I was making it do what it do.  But as the economy had worsened.  Things seem to be getting tighter and tighter for me.  My mortgage was no joke! And most of my monies went to that, I was not making a lot of money temping and my savings seemed as if it was getting lower and lower.  I would have my days when I would panic severely.  Then after all the bills were paid, I would calm down and settled my mind and all of these crazy emotions. 

I was at home having a cup of coffee when I got the call.  My best friend had taken his life and his children’s! What the hell!! How did he get here? I had just spoke to Kent last night! He was in the best of spirits; he told me that he had some great promotional plans for the business.  And that he had some great leads in increasing our revenue. 

I was stunned for the longest time, I couldn’t even cry for the longest; I just sat in my same spot, on the edge of my bed.  My mind spun in many directions.  I thought of our friendship from the time we were kids, and all of the laughs we shared.  The day his kids were born.  I was there.  When he got married, bought his first car, house, and the places we had vacationed and traveled to. I was numb.  And just as I had pulled myself from sitting on the edge of my bed to go into my kitchen.  I turned on the flat screen TV that was mounted on my wall. It was already set on CNN, and just at that moment they news caster was reporting on Kent and his children.  Kent had made his children dinner they had cyanide sprinkled over their food and in the glasses of Hawaiian punch.  They all died right there at the kitchen table.  Slumped over the table.  On rotation was the soundtrack to the Lion King playing on the stereo.  Which was their favorite cartoon.  Kent had worn that disc out so much he had to buy a third one.  It was then that I had cried, and my telephone had rung off the hook, but I could not answer.  I didn’t have the strength to speak to anyone.  All I could do was just sit on my kitchen floor and cry, sob, scream, yell, and then get an unbelievable anger that had encompassed me.  I literally wanted to go to Kent and shake him back to life and ask him why did he feel the need to take his children’s life and his own.

Just as I had went in the bathroom and saw the puffiness around my eyes, the bags that seemed to form deeply under my eyes. I blew my nose, washed my face with some cold water.  And still the tears flowed from my eyes.  Never had we spoke of suicide, in this lifetime for me it was not an option! No matter how bad things had gotten or will ever get.  You only get one life, and you live that to its fullest.
My doorbell had rung, and so I went downstairs to my office, there were two separate bells when someone was coming for the office, or when someone was visiting my home.  As I went downstairs and looked outside of the window, it was a Fed-x delivery.  I quickly wiped my face, and I answered, signed for the package and closed the door.  There were three boxes and an envelope.  All of them were from Kent.  I stood there for the longest and looked at the boxes and the envelope.  I couldn’t do this, not right now.  So I left them at the front door of my office floor.  And when I climbed the stairs it seemed as if I was carrying the weight of four hundred people.  I was heavy and so hurt. I got back into bed, and I cried myself to sleep. 

When I had awaken from my cried induced sleep it was two in the afternoon.  I went straight to my bathroom and took a hot bath, I lit candles, made bubbles, and put everything in my tub that I saw that I felt would make me relax and feel better. 

When I relaxed in the tub, all I could think of what was said and shown on the news.  The one thing about CNN they did do a full investigative report.  They showed the apartment he lived in, the old house he stayed in.  How Kent and his wife had recently divorced and he had full custody of the kids.  The business that we had ran together.  The whole enchilada, it was as if a reporter had called me and had gotten the run down and when it got to the editing room they got the major portion of his bio and broadcast that went across the world! I tried to drown out the office line ringing, and my home phone ringing.  So I screamed, got up and shut the ringers off on all of the phones.  And got back in the tub.  I inhaled, I exhaled.  And this time hot silent tears fell from my eyes, down my cheek and in the hot water.

It seemed the next couple of weeks was a huge blur.  I wanted to blame so many people as to why Ken had taken the lives of his children and his own.  The main person I wanted to blame was his wife.  Because she was Kent’s’ number one enemy, she did not attend the funeral! To a certain extent I could not blame her.  She had not seen or spoken to her children or Kent since she had gave full custody of the children to him.  What did she really need to show up for anyway? She had abandoned Kent and her beautiful children! No respect, none whatsoever!

I was grateful that I could fly out on the red eye to attend the funeral.  This was the biggest funeral I had ever attended in my life! It was in a huge cathedral church, so many stars and celebrities attended.  Business owners, designers, attorneys, childhood friends and many family members.  Of course I was asked to speak because we were so close.  This was very hard for me to do and not stop in the middle of my conversation and catch my breath as to not cry.  But it was at times impossible.  I had to cry, I had to show my emotions.  And to see him laying there with his three children in smaller caskets dressed eloquently.  I hate when people say “He looked good didn’t he?” What is a bad or good look in death?  I mean are people speaking in regard to no scars? Body not deteriorated? They don’t look run down?  All I could see was my god-children and their dad my best friend and business partner laying in a casket because he had took it upon himself to take their lives and his because he felt that they would be better off dead than living. 

It was at this time that I had received tons and tons of cards, letters, emails, and very ironic a hoard of checks! I had received so much money I was undone and floored! Our counterparts really loved Kent and me, and they really felt the lost of his untimely demise as much as I did.  And to a certain extent that was comforting.

When I got back to Atlanta I had to get back to handling business, as they say.  Life indeed does go on for the living.  Thought it was very hard for me. It was extremely hard because Kent was my right hand.  I found myself about to send faxes, call him to ask him tons of questions.  And it was also at this time that I had decided to open up the boxes and envelope he had sent me Fed-x three weeks ago.  I had gotten me a fresh cup of coffee, put some hazelnut creamer in it, and sat down in my office and grabbed my box cutter from out of my desk drawer.  I opened the biggest box first.  As I pulled the packaging from out of the box covered with bubble wrap.  I had to tear it off it seemed piece by piece.  When I had unraveled it all, there were at least five photo albums.  And they were pictures of Kent and I at various places we had gone to and vacations and tons of pics when we were younger.  I sifted through each page and tears rolled down my face.  And smiles came across my face, and I even had a brief laugh here and there. 
I then saw all of my god children's photo albums and then I got angry.  I had to close them quickly.  Because I was angry at him for taking his children's lives.  They by no means deserved to die.  He could have very well called me and I would have taken care of them.  Maybe he didn’t see that as a solution…

I then went and opened up the envelope.  And it the envelope was a letter looked and felt like a book…….

I read and read, I had to go fix myself another cup of coffee.  I was back in the same place where I had been when I had heard the news of Kent’s death.  Anger had arose inside of me and here I was feeling as if Kent was being selfish.  However, as the tears poured from my eyes where I could hardly read this packet of a letter.  I tried to understand his feelings, and why he felt he need to take his life.  But there still were no answers as to why he had taken his childrens lives.  That to me was the unforgiving aspect of it all. 

Kent at times would seem to me forget he was writing a letter and ramble, and then he would seem to come back and finish the conversation.  The bottom line was his wife had hurt him severely; her leaving him had taken him to a place where he felt unworthy of love. I knew Kent loved his wife, I knew Kent had loved his children.  But in his head he felt if he was no longer going to be alive then why should his children be a burden on society or his extended family.  His ex-wife’s family had nothing more to do with the children as well.  It was as if he never had a mother-in-law, father-in-law, or sister-in-laws.  Like their marriage was something that had happened in his world, it never existed and the children were a figment of his imagination.  I purposely do not tell you her name.  Why?  Because she felt as if she never existed in this world.  And as I and everyone else that was in the circle of Kent’s and I.  We felt that his ex-wife was the best thing that had ever had happened to him.  And that this was what love really was.  When we all fell in love we wanted to have the special relationship that the both of them had. How unselfish they both had been.  Kent taking the lives of his children because her family disowned them all and Kent felt as if he had never really existed.  I shake my head.

Most of the boxes were things that were of sentimental value of Kent’s, pictures, awards, all of the business contracts, laptops he had done business on.  And there was a check of 100,000. 

 

KEEP ON MOVING

A year had gone by since Kent had killed himself, and I was struggling with the business.  I could no longer keep up with the demands and be in two places at one time.  I didn’t really realize how much work Kent had done until it was dumped into my lap.  So, I had to shut down my doors and I filed bankruptcy under my business’s name.  No longer to able run the company and not trust anyone else to help me run it.  I had tried many people in the year.  And no one worked out.  I had product stolen, money stolen, and credit cards maxed out.  Of course I sued and looked for these people.  But they were nowhere to be found. 

The smart thing I had done was save the money and put it in a money market CD.  And it was really a scary because banks and huge financial institutions were closing their doors and merging.  So much was collapsing and crumbling in the economy.  It seems the horror stories were on the rise.  Jobs, houses, marriages, cars, business’s, families were being disrupted and left disenfranchised.  The government giving people a hard time to get their unemployment.  More and more people applying for government assistance.  I can’t tell you how many of my counterparts had applied for food stamps.  And they were people who made 400,000 a year.  And they had dwindled accounts, pensions, retirement and 401k’s.

I had lived off of the interest, so since there was no longer a business, I rented out the first floor of my loft and turned it back into a home.  It was now a one bedroom that helped me with paying my mortgage.  I no longer had any savings.  If it were not for the check that Kent had given me, I would have been broke! I was now working a full-time job through a temp agency, not even making close to what I was worth.  But it paid the utilities, and with the assistance of my tenant bought food and other necessities in my home.  I had this beautiful home that was now a burden.  It was no longer the pleasure dome in which I had thought it was at one time. 

I had found myself being more and more loose with myself.  I seemed to have someone in my bed just about every night, and I was starting to drink.  I could only have sex with a man if I was drunk.  The shyt got real deep.  And after about six months, my tenant lost their job.  And she had to leave and move in with her mom.  So I was back to square one, a mortgage that needed to be paid, and I was making 14.00 an hour! 

I had struck a deal, and I rented out my loft, all three floors.  Removed my furniture and everything I owned.  Placing some in my sister’s storage.  I didn’t have to pay her any money per month.  This was a storage unit she had for years.  Mind you I had to ship all of my furniture and boxes on my old Fed-X acct.  They hadn’t got word that I had filed bankruptcy as of yet.  Why I do not know, I just called it a blessing they hadn’t received a letter.  My shipping bill was $8,000! My car was paid off, that was one thing I was grateful for.  I had two cars, but what did I need two for now?  So as hard as it was for me to do, I had managed to find a buyer for my BMW.  I had sold my baby for cheap.  And I kept my Hummer, which was a mother on gas, but I felt that having and keeping the Hummer was better for me.  I saw so many advantages to keeping that gas guzzler.  I just had no idea of my future, and I am really glad that I did!

I was at the lowest I felt at the time that I had ever been in my life.  I was making no money renting my loft out.  The monies went straight to the bank to pay the mortgage. I still had some money left over from the 100,000 Kent had sent me.  But I was no longer living off of the interest.  I had taken a one bedroom apartment that I could afford.  Of course just keeping my bedroom suite, and two pieces of my living room furniture.  My rent was 750.00 a month, which was to me 500% affordable than my huge mortgage payment with my home owners insurance included in it.  I was still temping at the same place, making the same 14.00 an hour.  I was grateful that I had thought and had stopped complaining.  But as I looked in the mirror one day, I had begun to see the stress of this hard life take its toll on me physically.  I had bags under my eyes with dark circles, I was losing weight rapidly.  I was hardly eating, and I was up late at night trying to figure out ways to hustle more money.  And I rented my triplex loft!

I had helped a few friends make some moves and do some things.  And I was awarded.  And I always kept my contacts open.  I still had tons of product so I just sold the product to whomever called for something.  I was losing interest in the business that I had loved so much.  There was no more of my business partner and best friend, and I was fighting depression very hard.  My drinking had seemed to get worse, and it was now the only thing that had put me into a deep sleep.  I had to have at least two glasses of Merlot just to go bed.  And the funny thing was I was counter re-acting that by taking all these vitamins and herbs.  And I was working out furiously.  I was in a big huge cloud of smoke that I was trying to keep my head above and see through it.  I was one of the many numbers of people that were having it hard and trying to keep pressing forward in this hectic messed up life and economy. 

One thing I had to do out of need and not because it was something that I had enjoyed was to have a massage and go see a chiropractor at least once a month.  The massages I had to get every two weeks from the tension that seemed to set up in my lower back, shoulders, neck and my wrists.  I was breaking down it seemed every day.  But I managed to keep going. 

My assignment was going to soon end, so when I had filed my income taxes.  I had bought my ticket back to Virginia.  Shipped and packed the rest of my things and shipped them back to Washington.  I had to move back in with my parents.  I was now tired of the struggle, tired of barely making it.  And Atlanta no longer brought me the same thrill that it once had.  I needed to breathe and chill out.  I applied for my unemployment and kicked back.  In the midst of kicking back, it seemed as if nothing changed in my parent’s home at all.  My parents still had that rocky vida loca relationship.  And to me it had gotten worse.  They couldn’t see it.  And my mother seemed to fall back into the routine in acting as if I was a child again.  That I needed her direction that I needed her to tell me what I needed to do.  And here I had a multi-million dollar business.  But oh well, so I found myself not being able to take it in their home.  Once my unemployment had kicked in, I had started looking for another job, anything, but that wasn’t going to be easy because the economy was in such a damn slump.  And more and more I wanted to go to D.C. and look for Bush and ring his damn neck!

My sister had helped me get an efficiency; she had to co-sign for me.  And this was a most humbling experience.  Here I was rolling a Hummer, and had at least three closets full of clothes, diamonds, furs, and top designer bags and shoes.  But it was what it was.  I stayed to myself; I didn’t let anyone know that I was back home.  It wasn’t because I felt embarrassed of my situation.  It was that I didn’t want to be bothered.  I didn’t want to drink, party, hang out, see or be involved in any small chatter.  Only because I was tired and didn’t want to deal with anyone elses bullshyt.  I had six months to get me together, and another six months to keep it there.  So I was hoping that Washington would be good to me, it was all I knew at this time.

The pressure had gotten so bad at my parents home, my dad acting a holy fool.  So guess what?  I had slept in my Hummer for three days until they had finished laying the hardwood flooring and painting.  Mind you this was a huge studio apartment, it was as big as the one bedroom I had in Atlanta.  The studio and single apartments were a lot bigger than they were in Atlanta and in California.  And the rent was cheap for me because my sister knew the guy that owned the apartments. 

In the meanwhile, my mortgage was still being paid, and I had some major expenses with my Hummer.  New tires, a huge tune-up, and then here it was that my transmission was going out.  I had to fix it, I had no choice.  Thank God that I was able to pay for it.  I was living off of that money as if I did and didn’t have it.  I made that money stretch.  But it would soon be gone, and the unemployment would run out.  I so wish I could read the future.

I looked for work, but at the same time I really didn’t.  I got food stamps, I applied for any and every day type of aid that I could.  I spent most of my time taking long hot baths, drinking wine.  Reading books, magazines, and surfing the internet for any and everything.  I had began to be this really frugal shopper.  I now enjoyed shopping at Goodwill’s.  The funny thing about it was that I had plenty of clothes.  But I didn’t wear them, they were all mostly in storage.  The winter was coming up, and I knew that I would have to get my winter clothes soon. 

At this time I really didn’t see myself sinking further into a deep depression.  But the one thing that really kept me mentally was reading a lot!  I had taught myself so many things, learned so many things.  And at this time I had decided to keep my money coming in from unemployment I would go to school to pick up a trade.  Not that I needed one, but I didn’t want to work at all! The only thing that was a true friend to me was a bottle of wine and a book, as crazy as that may sound. 

So I enrolled in a school to become a computer tech.  Something I didn’t want to do.  But forced myself to like and get through.  The course was for eighteen months.  And I didn’t think that I could get unemployment for that long.  But here I was, paying rent, getting food stamps so I was eating.  Applying for every grant and loan I possibly felt I could get.  And I was forcing myself to make A’s at school.  I had managed to keep unemployment going, only because we were getting extensions on it and when the loans and grants had kicked in.  I was paying bills; I was paying my rent in advance, paying for books and materials.  Making ends meet was hard.  And many of nights I cried myself to sleep, and I cursed out those whom I loved when they got on my nerves.  Hell my nerves were bad; I didn’t know how to handle the overload of stress.  I was stretching dollars, stretching gas.  I had most times kept my Hummer parked and used public transportation.  I only drove my car when it was truly needed.  Times were hard.   

I had good days, I will not say that I didn’t, I met friends and I was dating a man that was a big help to me.  It seems as if he knew without me telling him that I was having it hard.  The first time he came over to my studio and saw how I had my place decorated he knew that I had to have had money at one point and time.  When he also found out that I drove a Hummer he was also shocked.  When I would invite him over to hang out and have desert or coffee, at times he would leave an envelope with a card inside of it.  I would open it, and there would be money in it.  Sometimes a hundred dollar bill, sometimes two.  Never anything less than that.  Carlton knew that if he asked me if I needed anything I would simply tell him, “I’m good, I don’t need anything.” And I really meant that.  I did not want anything from him.  I had never relied on a man to pay any of my bills and I was not going o start now!  That is how I felt.  And when I tried to give him the money back, he would refuse it all of the time.  I had actually saved every bill he had given me, not spending a dime of it.  And one evening when he came back to have wine, I laid all of the money on the table.  He was very shocked that I had not spent it on things I needed.  There was $600 in front of him.  He went in my kitchen where I kept my bills.  Grabbed my bills and then left.  When he came back my bills were paid up and I did not have to pay my cell bill, electricity, or gas bill for five months.  My bills were not that high.  I truly felt special that day.

Carlton and I had gotten serious, and we were spending a lot of time together.  Carlton was very smart and sharp and helped me a lot with my homework.  It had begun to get easier and easier with his tutoring.  I was grateful for his help.  And I was also restraining myself from falling for him hard.  I had not been in too many relationships, and love was more of a treat if anything.  But I seemed to have a lot of time on my hands.  He kept my mind busy by buying me books about computer technology, the one I loved the most was the how to be a computer tech for dummies.  Something along that guideline.  And it broke it down so much more simplistically. 

I eventually opened up a little to Carlton of what I did for a living, not too much.  And told him about Kent, telling him that Kent was my best friend and business partner.  And it dawned on Carlton at the very moment, He knew who I was!  He had seen my picture in magazines and had heard my name mentioned at the Emmy’s, Oscar’s and many award shows.  Just so happened that Carltons ex was in the entertainment business.   

Time goes on as it always does, and things happen, some good and some bad.  And though I really could not give my all to Carlton.  I was glad that I didn’t.  Because I felt having a man like him was too good to be true.  He was incredibly handsome, intelligent, had had a very infectious laugh, a deep sexy voice.  And he always smelled exquisite and dressed the nines.   Well, Carlton was a dope dealer, and I would have not guessed or had any knowledge that he was.  Until the FBI knocked on my door! Yes the FBI, this man was wanted in New York, had changed his name three times and was fleeing from state to state.  I was behooved and baffled; of course the FBI knew I had nothing to do with what he did for a living.  And had no clue to whom I was dealing with.  They of course caught him, after he had left my house.  And I was a part of his capture.  They arrested him after he had left my studio apartment.  I was sick about the whole situation, but I had no choice but to cooperate. 

I was sick for months, and again had to will myself to finish up school.  And to not get so emotional at times. 

I have always flipped my mattresses, and I always flipped the cushions on my sofas.  And you guessed it, the day I did this.  There was huge amounts of cash under my cushions and mattress.  I smiled; I and I sat on the floor looking at all of that cash crying.  I knew it was no one but Carlton that had left that money.  Of course he had never wrote me or called me.  I did check up on him though.  He had gotten fifteen years fed time.  And they took him back to New York.      

When I had finished counting that money there was $200,000!! I could not believe it!!! And it was all hundred dollar bills.  The first thing I wanted to do was go shopping, but that was not wise of course to do.  So I thought logically, I paid off my loans, and paid old debts.  Some that filing bankruptcy did not cover.  My Hummer needed some work on it.  It was at this time that the tenants that had rented my loft in Atlanta was leaving.  So I now had the money to pay my mortgage up for a full year! And that is what I had done.  I did not want to lose my home that I had worked so hard for.  But yet, if I would have known the future…..

I shipped my things back to Atlanta, happy to be back, happy to have landed a job for IBM as a computer tech, who knew that this is what I would be doing for a living?  Me? Nope, not in the least.  I was still selling some of my jewelry, but of course this was not new product.  And the price I was selling it for I was basically giving it away.  I felt like I was just at this constant shift in my life, like I was all over the place with my life.  But I was making it I was making things do what they are suppose to do.  I was told, or shall I say that I was making pretty good money for what I was doing.  Which to me still seemed like crumbs in my opinion, 16.50 an hour was not a lot of money.  But the great thing about it was that I had my mortgage paid for the year.  And all I was paying utilities, gas, and a monthly pass on Marta Atlanta’s public transportation.  I drove my Hummer to a park and ride to save on gas; it was a hundred dollars to fill my tank up.  Gas was rising in cost. But I still was happy to be back in what I considered “home” back in my home.  And still having thoughts of Kent and what took us years to grow and build together. 

 

I had started to get back in comfortable mode, but it all came to a halt again.  IBM was laying off people, and I knew that I would probably be on the chopping block.  I was in the team of the last crew being hired.  And since Atlanta was a right to work state, they had the right to fire you without cause as well as you had the right to leave the job without cause.  IBM closed down two departments, and then they started to let go of the people that were “problems” not doing their job, missing a lot of days, or consistently coming in late.  Everyday coming into work I was on edge.  Now the thing about all of this was the fact that I always give 100% of myself to anything that I do, and I also have a tendency to “over work” if that makes any sense.  I enjoy working, and I am thorough and detailed person not letting too much if anything slip through the cracks.

 Well here we are, a month later and a year back in Atlanta.  I got laid off, and I was back on the unemployment chain.  Back to applying for unemployment.  And I already knew what the process was going to be.  And that was going to be waiting for an approval, that meant being behind on bills and that meant the little money I had saved I would have to stretch and back on food stamps.  So this was going to be another lengthy asking for my patience process.  And the other worry I had was how much would I get on unemployment?  My mortgage was a $1,000 a month.  And of course this did not include my utilities….I was trying not to get in a funk.  And asking my family was not going to help me because they could not do anything to help me. 

I had went on Craigs List and placed an ad for a roommate, the rent would be $500.00 a month.  They would have their own bedroom and bath.  And downstairs I had a small fridge there and built in cabinets they could use to store their food.  I was hoping that my ad would be answered soon, but ……

Two months go by, and all of the people that had answered the ad were not people I felt comfortable with living in my home.  And no matter how hard up I was for money, I was not going to just let anyone come and live here.  Heeeeellll naw.  I needed to feel comfortable that I could lay my head down and feel some form of trust.  And this was the length of time I also had to wait for my unemployment to come through.  I was now as I knew I would be two months behind on my mortgage.  But the check that I got was $2,300 dollars from the claim forms I filled out.  So it paid up my mortgage and I had $300 that I could not spend.  I was feeling in a helpless state again, and I had to keep myself calm.  This economy was making me angrier and angrier by the minute.  And I was going to be late next month because it was due again in two more weeks!

It is funny, crazy and horrible that at one time everything you have worked so hard for you can lose in a matter of minutes, days, months or even seconds! I went through so many of my savings, lived off of interest on my savings and CD’s thought I had done the right thing.  Made the right choices in my career, with my business and in my love life.  And here I stand, feeling helpless and lost in all these diversified changes and hard times.  I know I am not the only one going through it, but it sure as hell feels like it!

 

THE STICKY SHYT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL

I was getting desperate so I had rented to a the wrong person, and had to call the police on him because the man was bipolar and had tons of other mental issues.  Because of that I didn’t have to do a thirty day eviction notice.  They took his crazy whacked azz straight to jail then to the hospital for observation is what the police told me they would do.

My unemployment was not cutting it, my bills were behind, and my gas had gotten cut off.  I was getting further and further in a jam.  I had to sale my tri-plex beautiful loft.  And the sad part about it was now it is a buyer’s market so the buyer’s would make out good but I would not get close to the what I had put into the home. I had made a few renovations and upgrades even thou I had bought it brand new and was the first person to live in it after it was built. And the way the market was who knew when I would actually have it sold.  And the crazy part about it was, I still had to pay the mortgage until it was sold!!!

I really was in a huge beat me up state.  I could not leave the state and go elsewhere.  I had no money to go anywhere else, my family was in a crunch.  Even my sister who was always all over the place had to sit down and be still too! My brother was the only one working and his wife had gotten laid off from her high-profile job.  So the only income there was, was his.  So there was no one that could fully help me ship my furniture, pay my storage, give me a loan, I tried and I tried.  I wanted to sale my furniture.  But I held off, because right now I didn’t have pay the storage, my mortgage and my cell bill was what I had to pay.  My Hummer, well I only drove that when I had too. 

I put another good portion of my clothes and shoes in storage, this time having to pay for the closet unit. Which was something do-able, and I moved into a transitional home.  In other words I was now in a shelter for abused and battered women.  I had to lie to get into that! And this is where a new different wildlife, crazy life would begin.  I had no idea of what I had gotten myself into.

The first thing that I had to do once I “joined the program” I had to have a counselor, case manager, had to attend meetings, and keep a journal.  Had I known that it would be this much, I would not have done it.  But I was desperate for a place to stay, I had nowhere to go!

Now going through the shelter or program I would have my own room and bathroom.  So for me that was an extreme plus.  But I was not happy that they would be doing a room check every week.  Your room had to stay clean and bed had to be made every day before you left. In other words, you had no idea of when they would come and check your room so you had to stay on top of that. Now everything they asked or demanded you do or be a part of you signed a contract or waiver. So you had no choice but to comply. You also had to be gone out of the house by ten-thirty!

They could not go through your things, but I wasn’t too comfortable with that. I will say this, the place was very clean and decorated modern contemporary.  Which that made me feel at ease because of course being a designer, I have an eye for the visual. 

Also the writing in a journal every week, we were not required to write something every day, but we were required to write something once a week that we had to share at our weekly counseling gathering.  I had to turn my hurt and pain into that journal in what I had went through in my business and with Kent.  But throw some twist and turns in there where it seemed I was in an abusive relationship. I also had to see a counselor every week, uh jeeeessssh  it just seemed that I was getting deeper and deeper into this.  A play, a star in a reality TV show that I was not seriously apart of the cast.  I was truly an actor in this case, and I had to stay in character for this.

We were all given a chore we had to do once a week every week while we were there.  They provided us with food, we could only eat in the dining area of the house or the kitchen.  We were allowed to eat in our room.  There was a “social room” where you could watch television, play games, cards, read magazines which were self-help and fashion magazines.  There was a phone of course that you could use and receive phone calls at the house.  There was a curfew, and I was not excited about that at all! But I was told that it was better than before because the first curfew was at 6 p.m. and it was now 9.m. You had to sign in and sign out daily, write on the list where you were going for the day.  You couldn’t lay around all day.  They encouraged you to do so much.  And within the first three weeks they made your schedule of things you “had to do”  I wasn’t too thrilled about that either.

What I had chose to do was stay up in my room majority of the time that I was there.  However, we were not allowed to have a television, or laptops in our rooms.  But we could have a radio, stereo or CD player in our rooms. Of course I took one of my laptops to my room.  I had a Wi-Fi card so I could get the internet on my laptop.  I could do quite a bit in my room, and keep looking for a job.  Because what the program required was that you do look for a job, they had a program that helped you look for a job, your case manager assisted with that as well. That was a plus for me, not only would I be looking, I had someone who knew some people that could get me in somewhere, “back into the real world” as they would say. 

I didn’t want anyone to get close or me get close. I wanted to just take advantage of the shelter and do what I had to do to move forward and out of there.  Of course there were a lot of rules, things I could and could not understand and things that I could not get with and understand.  Some of the things that were asked of the residents were too much.  I stood out like a red stop sign!  My clothes, shoes, handbags all designers.  Also I drove this Hummer jeep, now don’t get me wrong there were women in there that had come from a marriage of serious and real abuse!! And yet I was a woman that was far from that! But I was running out of suggestions, help, tired of running into walls.  Tired of hearing the word no.  I was at my wits ends.

I didn’t also want the women to dump on me, for anyone to see right through me and my lies.  And didn’t want any drama, I had enough more than enough of my own.

I had a lot on my plate, talking to a case manager, counseling, meetings, job search and still trying to maintain a life of my own and date. Well honestly, not date.  For what?   If you wanted to leave for  a weekend it had to be pre-approved three weeks in advance. Not that I had to do that, but just the changes and control this shelter and people had over you while you stayed in the shelter.  And whatever food you purchased, you had to put your name on.

I soon found out some things that would blow my mind!  First there were some serious drug addicts and alcoholics here!  They were actually drinking and doing drugs in their room!  They were thieves and liars!  And so many times the girls food that was left in the pantry and fridge was stolen to sale to get dope money.  So I quickly learned that all dry food I would keep in my room.  And I would buy a fresh meat to cook daily if I wanted fish, steak, or whatever.  The moment it was opened no one touched it. The women in this shelter, at the time I moved in there were ten.  And it dwindled month by month or weekly.  But I will later get into that. Because women were evicted and left on their own.

There were also women in their that were sleeping with each other some of the counselors, of course breaking the rules and coming in at all times of the night high and drunk. There were a series of fist fights, drag out hair pulling. One resident said that she had invited one of the other residence in her room and she was raped! I was shocked! Of course a lot of this had been reported but nothing was done about it.  There were times that a few of the women that were real addicted to the drugs  would fight and argue of who had the most respect and  whom had to bow down to whom.  The crazy thing about it was, there were at that time three women that was having sexual relations with one of the head counselors who lived on the premises.  Of course her quarters were connected to the house.  But you had to go through a hallway that led you to her office.  And off of her office was her mini apartment.  She had a swanky place, decorated very nice with a lot of beautiful artwork, I could readily tell that this organization paid her very well for her services.  This furniture was not cheap, neither were the clothes she wore.  I ignored her advances and pretended as if I was dumb.  But she did not make it easy.  However if I was a lesbian I would have fallen for her charm. Maybe even bi-curious I would have fallen for it.  But I was neither, and I knew trouble when I saw it.  So I stayed away from her as much as I possibly could.

No matter what time of day or night in or outside of the shelter house you could smoke.  There was plenty of juicy heartbreaking gossip! I mean someone, anyone for that matter always seemed to know someone elses business and mind it better than there on.  I would even get an earful about me!  I would walk up and hear the women stating that I thought I was to uppity and better than them.  Which was not true, I just know when you get a lot of women together in one place, under one roof.  There will be a lot of eggs thrown.  Had I not had the designer clothes, the Hummer, designer bags or shoes.  Guess what?  They would have talked about how pitiful I was, how quiet I was, what was my story.  I have seen this all too much before.  When the award shows when come out, the celebrities and stars, designers and hairstylist came out of the bag and were catty as hell!! And you would think a group of women who had been physically, mentally, emotionally abused would have more and important things to do than gossip and pull someone down due to the fact that they had been downtrodden for years.  I can say this is the reason why the Director/Counselor of the house had lured so many women to her.  She knew they were at a low point in their lives, that they needed love and affection.  Someone they could trust and talk to.  So she took advantage of that by getting in their heads.  Some just wanted attention, other’s wanted the dinners, flowers, candy and gifts.  The only ones that  she did not deal with was the alcoholics or drug addicts.  Why would she?  It was too damn risky, but she would use them if they were good thieves.  She would actually tell them what to go boost for her or her lovers and then when they brought it back pay them very little for it. They were alkies or drug addicts of course to shake the pain they had and were going through.  When we all sat at the open counseling sessions in the house, these women told some really horrific stories!! My heart broke and I would cry while they cried.  Some of them would literally shake, scream and break down and you could see fright all over them.  This is what the director thrived off of, she would know what to do and say to the women she was attracted to and snag them. 

Women came and went in and out of this shelter home.  Some of course left and went back to their abusers which was the real sad thing.  Some would come back over and over not truly getting over the ex’s.  And for me that was very, nooo extremely frightening someone would go back to the man who has abused them over and over.  These women came in here to heal, physically!  Broken arms, legs, blackened eyes.  Some eyes were closed shut!! Broken and cracked ribs, many and many bruises.  Some of the women that came in and out were beaten and raped by their spouses, something I could not understand at all!

After being there for four weeks I had begun to get really depressed, no job, the many sob stories and all the women that had these many mood shifts and changes.  There were two women in the house that were lovers, and they should have been because I could see no reason why anyone would want them.  I know it sounds mean.  And that I was being catty and digging low.  But to be honest with you, I think these women were running the same scam I was.  They needed somewhere to stay and there was nowhere else to go to but here.  They spoke very brief in the meetings about their abusers.  One apparently looked as if she was an ex-drug addict.  Hair fallen out and not pulled out.  Come to find out the lie she told about her man throwing gas on her and setting her on fire was a lie!!! I had felt sorry for her on that one. But the truth of the matter was, her mother had seriously abused her as a child and she was the one that had through the gas on her and threw the match.  This came out  when the lady that she was sleeping with had spilled the beans.  It was true, it was a scam. Fortunately for those two I was the only one they had told.  And because I was here under a lie, there secret was indeed safe with me.  They both had been evicted from their apartment because they had lost their jobs.  The lady that was burnt, Tina.  She had been unemployed for more than a year and had exhausted all of her benefits.  Then seven months later, her girlfriend Chantelle had lost her job.  By the time her unemployment had kicked in they had been evicted.  Chantelle was a serious man hater, she loathed men to the fullest.  The only thing she enjoyed doing was getting their money.  But hell, I was trying to figure out how and who was giving it to her…??? Because she was far from pretty.  She was however a great booster!!! So I assume that is what she was talking about, taking mens money.  I was just trying to figure out why she didn’t steal to get her went paid? And maybe and maybe not I would get the answer for that question.  But it was not a big deal to me.  And the two of them both hated the ground that the Director Kathy walked upon, but why? Chantelle stole for her as well.  Now I am not sure and could care less if they were on drugs or not.  I did know they would get drunk every now and then.  And I knew they hated me, plotted on me in trying to get me out.  Hated on the other women there.  And they were always complaining about the Director to get her fired.  But to no avail….

We also had to do a volunteer, or what you call a community service.  It was feeding young and disenfranchised children.  These children were bused from all over.  They were the children of abused mother’s that lived in other shelters in other counties.  We were the only shelter that had a clothing boutique for the mothers and children.  We fed them, and they also had a program that was similar to the “Dress for Success” program. It helped mothers get clothing to wear to a job interview.  I enjoyed working in the boutique, it was the cafeteria that I loathed.  Some of the children were very ungrateful and so were the mothers.  And they felt they could come in and talk the crew any way they wanted to.  The cooks, the janitors, the dishwashers were all paid employees.  It was us the servers that had to do this community service until we had found jobs.  The first three weeks I went to the cafeteria was bliss, no problems, maybe because I was a new face along with three other women.  But as soon as they felt that we had gotten comfortable, that is when the real and true colors came out.

One of the cooks, he was a huge mess and a half.  He was rude, crass, overbearing, and he loved to pick on everyone.  I stayed out of his way, kept quiet and this was also a gossip hot spot.  The executive chef, the assistant manager, they all were hateful people. 

It was Johnson, the cook that had cut his eyes at me a few times.  He flirted in his own way.  And if anyone said anything mean or cruel to me, he would step up and say something.  I was glad that we had to only do this one time a week.  Because I had begun to loathe and detest that place and the shelter like a sickness! The people that lived and worked in the shelter were said to do drugs with the women in the shelter and have sexual relations with them as well!  Drama back to back!! I made sure to stay out of everyone’s way.  I mean, I cooked my food, left the kitchen and retrieved to my room.  I came to the meetings, saw my case manager, went to the counseling sessions, wrote in my journal, did my chore, looked for a job and went on interviews.  While still trying to make a whole lot more happen.

I had went on some promising interviews, of course not making the money I was worth but it was okay.  I had signed up with five other temp agencies.  It seemed the agency I was already with could not find me anything.  I had also managed to save up a thousand dollars in the four months I had been there.  But the depression was getting worse, not being able to sleep, and back pains from all the rigorous  work and schedule I had been keeping lately was draining.  I hadn’t done this much since I had my own business.  But the labor portion I didn’t have to do.  Long were the days of having a maid come and clean my loft twice a week. 

Drama seemed to be the new calling card for me.  For a week straight there seemed to be crap, shyt, crap, mess, shyt and more crap. My room had gotten broken into, my mother was in the hospital and I couldn’t get to her.  My Hummer had caught a flat, I got into it with the cook at the cafeteria, I got into it with one of the ladies that came in to eat, she called me a bougie bytch…I ignored it.  And then she kept going on and on.  Asking me did I hear her, I came from behind the glass and got in her face.  Cursed her out and didn’t back down.  She sat down then.  I had to walk out that day.  I was getting more and more tired of the women who were cut throat, the lying director who was sleeping with the women.  And the lie I was living.  And just like that, a breakthrough had come through. I had found an apartment, and I had gotten another extension on my unemployment. And I had gotten a job through an unemployment agency for three months.  I packed my shyt and I left.  I left the key in my room and didn’t say good-bye to none of those people.

I had found a place in a not so nice neighborhood.  However it had what I liked.  The utilities were included in the rent, it had a dishwasher, a walk in closet, hardwood floors, and it was a nice size.  The rent was cheap and reasonable and I could hang with that.

I had moved in, set up my place.  Moving my stuff in at night so no one could see the things I had.  The only thing I had to pay for was my cell bill.  I already had a wireless internet card. Rent was 550 a month, I could pay that with one of my unemployment checks.  I felt set.  I didn’t start the temp to perm job until Wednesday so I had some time to chill, relax, take long baths, and get my head straight.  Because the bags under my eyes were enormous.  I was going to have to use consealer under my eyes. But I finally had peace, peace of mind.  And I could come and go when and where I pleased.  I no longer had to check in and checkout.  I also didn’t have to deal with the druggies or the crap of being hit on and being cursed out.  I was grateful that they took me in, but who knew? And when was I going to stop this up and down back and forth in and out and life bringing me so many damn fall outs and let downs???.... I still felt that I was skating on thin ice by moving into this apartment.  That I was taking big risk, even though I had found out that I could still get my unemployment while I was on this temp job for three months.

My mother got out of the hospital, she was doing very well.  Much better, she had to have her gallbladder taken out.  I was happy for that, and yet I felt bad that I could not be there.  And hoping my father would lay back and not act up while she was recouping.

Of course my house was still on the market, I had offers but if I took them I would be giving my three story loft away.  And  I was not going to do that no matter how hard up or on the bottom.

I was in the tub, scented candles surrounded me.  There was soft music playing in the background.  I was relaxing in the tub, an as I had had flashbacks of what I have gone through the past five years. Tears had begun to fall from my eyes.  I thought of Kent and his children, the lost of my business, home, and jobs.  Moving it seems from place to place to place.  How I had no matter what kept my head above water.  How I stretched a dollar.  The hurt, pain and the sacrificing that I had gone through with dating and seemingly falling in love with a drug dealer.  I was overwhelmed by it all.  And not knowing if I would be homeless again, if I would have to save up money to move back home again to my parents. And for me that was even out of the question.  If I seriously wanted to move to Hawaii with my brother who had made the offer more than once.  My question was, what would I do there?  What could I do? I didn’t want to live on my brother and his family, I didn’t want to be a dependent to anyone.  Jobs were scarce everywhere and the economy was not getting that much better.  And the jobs that were offered were low-paying and who could make it off of that?  Some people were taking two and three part-time jobs in order to make ends meet. There were also so many of my constituents that had also suffered madness and mayhem in this recession.  More and more business’ were being shut down. A whole lot of downsizing had to be done.  My associates sold their expensive cars for economy cars.  And downsized their living expenses and homes.  The problem with me was , I wanted to downsize, but I still owned property that needed to be sold.  And my Hummer was paid for, while my other cars I gave up and sold.  It is funny how things, and I do mean things that you feel make your self-worth don’t mean shyt in the end.  I cannot look back and say all of the things that I had. To me it is like a life someone else has had and not mine.  Like that was a dream, a good and bad dream all at the same time.

I was living from check to check, from food stamp date to the next food stamp date to eat.  I had auctioned off all the jewelry I had left on eBay.  And that had given me some money to handle old debts I had incurred. And the rest to place in a savings I would not and could not touch.  For me a little something was better than a whole lot of nothing.  I then went ahead and sold my Hummer, though that was the last thing I wanted to do.  And I had purchased another jeep.  I didn’t want a car.  I just thought that what if I have to make another serious move, I need to have some sort of truck to get all of my stuff in a couple of hauls.  It was a used jeep of course, and it was a good deal and didn’t have a lot of miles on it and was in very good condition. 

I also can’t state the last time I have even dated a man, been with a man, or even looked at a man.  For what I guess?  I was at the point of lost hopes and desires, what would be the point.  I was a has been in this economy, another number or statistic. 

Since I had signed a six month lease, with a portion of the monies I had gotten from the sales of my jewelry and a small bit from the sale of my Hummer.  I managed to pay up four month’s rent.  And I would save my unemployment checks to pay the other two months. At this point it was called patience, and standing strong.

 

When I worked the temp job for the three months, I saved each and every check.  Well most of it.  I only purchased the necessities.  Never had I been so cheap and frugal before.  The great news was that I had gotten a buyer for my three story loft!  I was excited and saddened at the same time.  It was also the time that my lease had three more months to it.  And trust me, I had my mishaps and drama here.  The crack heads were up at all times of the night, there was gunfire, arguments, hanging out in the complex all times of the night.  Drinking, getting high.  It was indeed a menace.  But I dealt with it and minded my business, no one bothered me.  I was happy about that, if nothing else. 

One weekend I had gotten up early when all was quiet.  I went and sat out in front to drink my coffee, I could no longer afford going to these cafe bakery’s and expensive eateries to have coffee.  If I did, I had to buy a small cup of house blend.  And just sit there for the ambiance and Wi-Fi they had there. 

As I sat looking at all the trees,  a serene calm had come over me.  I inhaled the freshness of the air, and consumed the quiet.  I could tell at one point and time that this apartment complex was a really nice place to stay years ago. There was a pool, which was now empty and behind a locked and gated fence.  The laundry room was no longer because of a fire.  And there were townhomes that had two and three bedrooms.  Now it was a povish area where low-income people stayed and empty townhomes where drug deals were made and drug addicts got high.  The management company kept it as clean as they could.  But they had a hard time keeping the riff raft out of the complex.   I had done a little investigation on my own about the area.  And through it all, there were some really good people here, some that were hard workers and stayed to themselves and were making ends meet such as I was.

As I took a few sips of my coffee, I had noticed a young girl coming from the wooded area on the side of the complex.  She was carrying a blanket and pillow along with two huge duffel bags that were stuffed tightly. Looking at her I knew that she was sleeping out there in the wooded area.  I could tell that she was a newly homeless person.  She was probably hiding away out there to sleep where she felt it was safe.  I watched her as she walked over to the complex and went straight to the water faucet.  She turned it on and had gotten a cup out of her purse and filled it, she drank at least three cupfuls of water.  She then pulled out a wash towel and had begun to wash her face. Tears were now coming from my eyes, I was so blessed, and all I had lost and been through didn’t mean a damn thing to me.  I was the fortunate one, and she, she wasn’t as fortunate as I was. 

“Hey!” She jumped.

“I’m sorry, I will leave please don’t call the police on me.” I smiled.

“Come on up.” She looked surprised and gathered her things slowly. And she walked up the stairs.  I started to focus more on her face and the way she was dressed.  She was a young woman.  Very pretty, and trying to maintain her appearance in her demise.

“Yes ma’am?”

“Are you hungry? She shook her head yes. I just need you to be honest with me.  Okay?”  She nodded yes again. Are you on drugs?”

“No ma’am.  I can’t afford them.  She laughed. A weak laugh.  Then she cast her eyes to the ground.

“Why are you living out  there?”

“I lost my apartment and job about 7 months ago.  Money ran out with unemployment.  I was staying with friends but they put me out when I was no longer able to help pay rent.  Sooo, I have been living on the street until I can find a real job. I do odds and ends to eat.  But it is not enough at times to get a room.  But not often.” My eyes had welled up with tears again.

“Okay, come on in, go and take a shower. I will fix us breakfast, and we will see what we can do to get you some help okay?” She nodded her head yes and had begun to cry.  I got up and held her in my arms, and we cried together it seemed for a long time.  I could sense the relief in her body while we held each other.

Her name was Tammy, and she was twenty-six not far from her twenty-seventh birthday.   No family out here.  Tammy had graduated from Clark University.  And held a degree in communications.  I was mad that the recession had placed us both here with nothing, and that our past accomplishments didn’t mean shyt!  Tammy carried her degree in her duffel bag.  And that had melted my heart.

I had given Tammy shampoo and conditioner, she had beautiful hair that she had worn in a bun.  She told me that she did that in hopes to keep the bugs out of her hair. Tammy said that she had a cell phone, but it  had been cut off for the past three months.  And that her parents and most of her family lived overseas.  Her father was in the military.  And that she would send them emails telling them she was alright, she managed to do this when she went to the library.  I asked her why did she not tell them that she was homeless and needed money.  And I asked her would they help.  She said they had helped her here and there.  But they could only do so much because they were helping her other sister and brother as well.  So she didn’t want to ask for money to often.  This young lady was just making do, she had stayed in shelters. But her experience was one so hard that she vowed she would not go back.  That she would rather live on the street than to go back. 

Tammy was a very sharp and articulate woman.  I was very impressed.  After we ate breakfast, I then took her to wash her clothes.   I had clothes to wash as well.  I went to the bank and I had withdrew $200 and gave it to her.  For me it was worth it.  And just as I had come from the bank, I had gotten a call that my three story loft had gotten the offer I had been asking for!  I was overjoyed! And then…..

 

I let Tammy stay with me until my three story loft had gotten out of escrow.  I paid the rent up for Tammy to stay here for another six months.  I gave her the bed, one of my laptops, and some of my old clothes.  We were both the same size! My food stamps were available I gave Tammy the card to fill the kitchen.  I felt good doing this. 

I didn’t know where I was going to go from here, but I was grateful that I was offered a permanent job through the temp agency.  And of course I took it! At this point, I just found a one bedroom apartment and paid the lease up for the full year.  It seemed that I felt comfortable in paying things in advance than I did month by month. 

Tammy was feeling better about herself and relieved at the same time.  She had found a job as a waitress and was grateful for that.  Able to turn her cell phone back on and take care of herself.

As I look back on my issues, I do believe that me being homeless was now for me to assist someone else, and for me to see that I was better off than a lot of other people.  I may not have been in the same state that Tammy and many others have been.  But I was still living, I was still above water.  I was still eating, and now there is truly a home for the homeless throughout all the bullshyt I went through.

 

“Just Toy”

Written Expressions

9/2010

 

Emilie M

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