Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Powers That Beat: Social Services Fails to Prevent Homelessness

The Powers That Beat: Social Services Fails to Prevent Homelessness

Start here. See if you can follow. I am now homeless, because the crazy roommate locked me out and MDHA fucked up big time.

After reporting a shooting and working WITH the cops to help curb the violence and drug activity in my community, they discovered that the maintenance man was a house arrest due to a drug conviction. The same maintenance man who had a key to my apt and would frequently enter without prior notification and on multiple occasions when I was not at home.

After calling the non-emergency police hot line 32 times to report excessive traffic and drug activity in my building without response, the next call I made was to 911 to report gun fire in the apartment directly downstairs. I'm a New Yorker. My dad was a fed.  I Lived through 9/11. I worked as a crisis intervention specialist under contract for Level II and Level III adolescents in state custody (Tennessee Dept of Children's Services)

I am no stranger to violence.

Notified the other day by DHS that I have no tenncare 8/14/09 but state records have me enrolled as active. SSA says I don't, now DHS says I don't but they won't take an appeal because the state says I do! WTF???

Then, they cut my food stamps off because the homeless do not have to pay rent or utilities.

MDHA still hasn't recerted, but they continued to pay rent 4 months after I moved out and sent the renewal papers to my old apt because they were unaware that I was evicted and sued for $4.50.  

Fair housing keeps asking for proof that I made due diligent effort, so tied me with bullshit looking for any and every excuse to blame it on me.

Couldn't find a new apt because it shows up as an eviction.  There's more, and everything is documented.
Oh yeah, my TennCare was terminated on 8/14/2009.  I never an RFI (Request for Information) or reason for this redetermination.  No one calls me back,

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Friends are the family we choose for ourselves...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Unanswered Letter [Content Warning: TYVM, FURB]

[unedited... apologies for typos, etc]

The letter below dated April 13, 2008 went unanswered. That correspondence along with many others who just pretend I don't exist.

Now I know exactly how much I mean to this City.

There is nothing quite so disturbing as being invisible. Yes. I am homeless. I have lived through a shooting, an assault by a security guard at a medical facility, and with no other place to go, I rented a room in a house for low income adults who are SEVERELY FUCKING DISTURBED!!!!

Now I am deeply disturbed too. I am deeply disturbed that this is the best we can do.

At least I know I need help, and when to get it. Despite being owned by a CMHA [Community Mental Health Agency] and the recipient of both state and federal funds, the only rule in this house is don't call 911. In other words, when locked out or assaulted by one of the 3 other house mates, Mobile Crisis is OFF LIMITS. Now I know better than anyone that Mobile Crisis sucks, but when you are standing beneath a 6 foot woman holding a waffle iron over your head, 911, mobile crisis, IDGAF who intervenes, just someone do something!

I called the crisis hotline the other day. In all honesty, I just had no one else to talk to, my internets had been disconnected and sabotaged, the house phone locked up. I was just lonely (and locked out during a tornado warning)

But trust me, there is nothing quite like sticking me in a house with SSPMI (super severe persistent mental illness) that make me look almost normal and and a landlord with a no-call policy against Mobile Crisis and mental health helplines.

I have lost everything near and dear to me since I first offered to participate with the local police department after the shooting downstairs. That was in February.

Next, I lose Spotty because not a single person in Nashville has enough compassion to rescue an innocent animal that I rescued from one of clients several years ago. And you wonder why I'm so angry?

Don't worry, I know you want my silence, that message came through loud and clear.

You can take everything from me [actually, you already have] but you will not take my voice. And I can promise you this, my memory is long, and it is hot. Look it up assholes, hot memory.

Yeah... you did this. Now it's my turn.

Continue to sneak a peak every now and then.... your e-mails will appear on this page. Fuck you, and fuck you right back. Happy Anniversary, Elyssa. You have officially been a resident of this fine fucking state for exactly 13 years.

Kicking ass, not so much... taking names... you can bet your sweet ass I am!


[Unanswered letter to EC, Metro Council]

April 13, 2009

Can you please tell me who I could speak with (preferably informally) about a situation with Section 8 and MDHA.

I have already spoken with Pat Clark, director of MDHA, and she has been an unsympathetic to the fact that there has been an ongoing problem with drugs and violence with children in the same complex.

Legal Aid / or pro-bono refused to will represent me since my parents are attorneys. They told me I would have to get the money for court fees and a court reporter from them. That just ain't gonna happen.

I am 36 years old.

I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful in any way-- you have been extremely kind and gracious towards me, I am just exhausted by this process and I think it is pretty easy to see that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If there is someone in particular who works closely with the housing authority and utilities, kindly ask them if you can release their name to me(or vice versa) so I can make sure it on the record before I loose my section 8. The landlord is paid in full, but I still have to move by the 22nd.

Thanks so much. If there is anyone you can think please let me know. There is stigma and judgment that comes long with a person who lives in public housing, but can assure you it would not be my first choice.

Thank your discretion and assistance.

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant

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Only the Lonely Can't Play

I miss New York. I miss my wild, brilliant friends plagued by curiosity, insomnia, and creativity. But, guess what?

In the city, I can disappear. I can peruse the streets at 3am and still find things to do. If not to do, then things to see. I can stand in the middle of Times Square just reading the Live News Feeds in technicolor, or I can visit the Internet Cafe just across the street from the Hello Kitty store.

I don't think it was ever really about the city, I think it is more about the anonymity. Someplace you can be yourself, and never worry about being judged for being different. I don't fit in here. But to be fair, I don't really fit in anywhere.

Who knew that loneliness can become a family in its own right? Always there, and always familiar. Who would have believed that solitude can become our greatest companion, and that strangers can become our very best friends. I'm getting older now, and I'm not so sure I like it as much anymore...

I can wake up old friends that actually dare to sleep before the sun comes up. So while you the world sleeps, I write. I dig. I learn, I question, and I write.

To Randall, Wendy, Rob, Robert, Christopher Martin, and a few others that got lost along the way; please know that I still grieve for each and every one of you. I mourn the loss of friendships we once shared, and there is an emptiness in my life that memories and photographs will never fill.

But perhaps most of all, I grieve for my self. I grieve for the person I used to be. The person I almost was. The person I believed I would become. The person you left left behind.

To some: Thanks For Giving. To others: Good Luck ForGetting.


The Dark Night Returns
I think it is more about the anonymity. Someplace you can be yourself, and never worry about being judged for being different. In the city, I can disappear. I can peruse the streets at 3am and still find things to do. If not to do, then things to see.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Greatest Gift, My Deepest Regret: Pepe's Final Gift: The Gift of Goodbye

Bye-Bye Spotty [Content Warning]

I wish people would care as much about their children as I do about my pets.

I never even planned to get attached to Spotty. I already had one cat and had no interest in getting another. However, I agreed to hold on to her took her for one of my clients because he was not permitted to have pets while in foster care. That was 2002.

So even though I know that child will come back for her, I do feel in someway I made a promise to a child that I can't keep. I aide a promise to Spotty that I have already broken. So I guess this is goodbye again. And the only thing worse than saying goodbye, is having to no idea what will happen to her. Omg... this is almost too painful to write.

It has been months since I posted the first "ad?" trying to find a home for Spotty. I thought for sure somebody, anybody, would be willing to hold onto to her for a couple of months.

Yest here we are 4 months later, and I have to live with the fact that I am now "that" person. The person who abandons their own children, or leaves an animal behind when the move. I am "that" person.

I have already done the research. There are very few"low kill" shelters in Tennessee. The fact that they even classify them as "low" kill makes me want to throw up. But that's the reality.

I really hate this world.

No one gives a shit about the kids who are already here living in poverty, foster homes, on the streets, or anyway the can to survive. So who gives a shit about a few people who at least have the luxury of a quick painless death rather than having it drained out of them day by day; tear by tear, year after year after year after year.

I don't want to get rid of Spotty. I don't want her euthanized when I feel her little head nuzzled against my neck. She is not sick, she is not, her only crime is belonging to me. What the fuck with this world. we can through puppies into plastic bags and freeze them to death because it is "easier" than "putting them to sleep."

So yeah, there you have it. I fucked up again. How ironic that the one thing I don't have is the only thing people seem to want from me. I can't wait to hear about this one. I am 36 years old. I am not a child. I am not a criminal. I am not cruel. I have no answers for you. I do not have the resources that most people take for granted.

Why must they take the one thing I love-- the one thing that loves me. Does it make it all better for everybody else? dad, I learned my lesson. I have accepted the hand I have been dealt.

I'm not stupid, and I know that I can't blame my mom for this one since I'll be the one to drive her to the shelter tomorrow.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

If I say I'm sorry, would that make it okay for me to keep Spotty? Will someone please tell me what I need to say because I'm not sure what I did.

I'm old enough to know that nobody is coming to save me. I don't even brother to ask but why must an innocent animal who did not ask for this be the ultimate punishment for a sin I don't remember committing.

So where does Spotty go? To the farm with Abby & Ollie during divorce number two and custody battle number 4? Will my father mail me some fake ashes out of the fire place. Will my mommy drive her out to Suffolk County so she can use an assumed name like "Harrison" so I can't locate her? At least I found Pepe. I can only hope that one day I'll find Spotty.
Special message to two "special" people: Mom, I hope some takes Ziggy from you. The same way you took Pepe to that shelter in Suffolk County during the darkest moment of my life. I remember what you said, and what you were told by 3 separate mental health professionals. In fact, they remember too, because they found the your actions to be so far beyond the scope of rational behavior, they documented the entire thing. In fact, once Pepe was located, they kept a copy of the "adoption papers" in my medical records both as a precaution and as relevant family history.


Well, whatever. I can't think of anything care enough about to lose-- so enjoy. You win. I surrender. Whatever. I guess you'll tell what I'm supposed to do because that worked so well with my last Landlord.

Why can't I just live a life without empathy? I guess if you don't love anything but yourself, you will never know grief.

Well now I'm really fucked, because I'm not all fond of myself these days. Don't worry, you don't need to call parents, they already know, and they couldn't care less. In fact they'll probably bill you for wasting there time. Besides, unless you went Harvard, Yale or Princeton they don't give a shit what you think. So join the club.

Just remember this: Spotty didn't chose me. I chose her. So here we go again... because apparently there is not a single person I know who is willing to save Spotty.

Actually, that sounds about right. I know exactly how she feels.

Pepe's Final Gift: The Gift of Goodbye

Many years back I had the most vivid nightmare, that 16 years later I can still remember the details of my worst nightmare:

I am standing in a sea of unfamiliar faces. There is violence everywhere. Red. Broken. Bleeding.

I am holding Pepe, and he is broken. Bleeding. Clinging to me, clinging to life. I rush through the crowd looking for safety. There is no way out. Just angry faces in a sea of violence.

In the distance, I see two police officers. I run to them believing they will help me find a way out of the madness. Believing they will bring me to safety. A safe haven. Shelter from the storm. Free from the madness. Free from the violence. Free from this sea of unfamiliar faces so I can get my bleeding, broken, suffering friend the help he needs to make him well. The help we need to be whole again.

When I reach the podium, the men were facing the crowd. They were standing there, backs to me; they just stood there to face to the crowd banging their black, wooden night sticks while on just standing there Beating their night sticks against their palms. I call out but no one listens. No one can hear me above the roar of the crowd. So I tap them on the shoulder, holding Pepe close to my heart— hoping they will instinctively see the love and fear in his yellow gold eyes. Of course, they would rescue us. Yes, they would rescue us and bring us to safety. Free from the violence, free from the madness. Free from this hell and take us somewhere safe. Somewhere far, far away from here. And then they turn. In unison, they turn around to face me, and I look at them. I am horrified. I am horrified because these are not police officers at all. They are clowns. Literally, figuratively, in every way they are simply clowns. Clowns in uniform. In unison. In unanimity. Inhumanity. My worst nightmare. The cops were clowns.

Pepe was “only” a cat, but I made him a promise that I intended to keep. I would give him everything I longed for: keep him safe, keep him fed, make him well, I would give him love. Lots and lots of love. Unconditional love. Always. Until the day my perfect little angel would return to heaven. And I did. And he did. And we did. Alone, together, Pepe gave me strength when I was too weak to care for myself. He could not talk, but he sure tried!

After seventeen years, Pepe died the other day, and my worst nightmare did not come true. I loved him until the very end. Even then he gave me the most perfect and fitting gift. He gave me freedom. He gave me comfort. He gave me hope and he gave me peace.

I know that I can love. I am capable of complete, total, unconditional love. He was like a child. Pure, innocent and completely, totally, unconditionally loved. Yes, I am capable of love. I am capable of complete, total, and unconditional love. Pepe, my precious angel, may you rest in peace… There is a better place for you now. There always was.

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