Collateral damage of poverty, good night sweet warrior

There are people who come into our life for a season and they have a major impact on our life; they inspire us to use our talents for the greater good. A number of years ago when I was going through a turbulent time, I met such a person. Growing up working class with a toe in poor at times, but living in the middle class as an adult, I have struggled to own my messy roots around class and resources. Anyone who has ever moved up the class ladder as an adult understands this struggle; you never quite leave your baggage when it comes to class and economics.

Randee was the first person who I’ve met who allowed me to realize that shame around class is a wasted emotion. Randee was a social justice warrior, it wasn’t just talk to her, it was reality, and she lived it. She raised two daughters as a single mama with health issues and was a fierce advocate for justice and equality.

For a season Randee and I were in close contact but as usual, life got in the way and our connection was reduced to Facebook, where we often traded notes from the trenches. I always meant to catch up over coffee but never made the time. I assumed that we would always have time.

Sunday morning, I woke up the sad news that Randee had taken her own life. No one knows why she made that decision, but we do know that Randee was in pain and wanted that pain to end. Randee used to say that being poor amounted to doing the poverty shuffle; I suspect that the shuffle became too much for her and her legs just couldn’t handle that shuffle anymore.

Often when poverty is discussed and debated, rarely does one talk about the accumulative toll that scarcity can take on a soul. It is easy to offer platitudes about hope when your own needs are met. As the US government falls apart in front of our very eyes and more people move into the needy category, I wonder what it will take for us a nation to wage a real war on poverty? To acknowledge that poverty is a killer, it strips people of their dignity and leaves them hopeless in a world that increasingly says the poor don’t matter.

Randee, like many others I wish you had reached out to me, but I hope that wherever you are, you are doing a beautiful shuffle where your head is held high and your spirit is light and your body is whole.



It’s raining, it’s pouring, BGIM is cracking

There are times when to be frank, being an adult just sucks. It sucks long and hard and right now in BGIM land I am not digging this adult thing. Clearly 2012 has decided to end on one of those notes, where it doesn’t just rain, but it fucking pours.

I have worked hard to not allow myself to get too bummed out about life and in recent months, I have tried to refrain from getting too personal online for a variety of reasons. As I have become very aware of the criticism that can be leveled at so-called mom bloggers for the life decisions we make, I decided that I have enough stress in life without leaving myself open to the harsh words of people I don’t know. I tend to brush off most people and criticism but I know when I am stressed, my defenses are down and I am more inclined to take things personally and after seeing my dreams literally needing to be held together with a Hefty bag and masking tape this week, I am feeling vulnerable and emotionally fragile.

Writing is my outlet and it always has been and after weeks of writing in the journal and talking to my inner circle, I am taking my woes public…I admit I have an ulterior motive but rest easy I am not about to hit you up, but I will have a request.

The drama started a few weeks ago when I went to the dentist, if you have been a long time reader of BGIM, you may recall that in late 2010 and in early 2011 I had some dental woes. Back in 2010 I went to the dentist and was told I needed 5 fillings and possibly 1 crown, but we were still struggling to get back on our feet financially, so I needed to delay the work. Not long after that assessment I had not one but two dental emergencies that required extractions and was still saving up my shekels to get the original work well done. It took some time but I did it and trust me when you are struggling to regroup, getting $1800 together for dental work feels good. Only problem is now almost 2 years later, those 5 fillings are now 5 crowns and $1800 worth of work has morphed into almost $9000 worth of work.

I admit I was momentarily stunned, but figured somehow we could make this happen, hell I even looked into going out of the country which is still a possibility since the cost of the work will be almost halved even with travel costs. It’s bad but hey, my credit is on the upswing since it turns out I did qualify for Care Credit, the credit racket to pay for medical/dental expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. The interest rate is only a cool 26.99%, I am fairly sure a guy named Uncle Vinny might be cheaper.

So while I was sitting here trying to save my teeth, shit really happened, some involving family which means those stories aren’t mine to share but the expense meter is running.

The final straw came a few nights ago, when I was standing in my kitchen making a cup of tea and I heard an ominous sounding boom over my head. We live in a single family house and right over the kitchen is part of the Spousal Unit’s office and one of the lower roofs of our multi-roofed house. When you hear an ominous sounding boom over your head and there are no other tenants over your head it is not a good thing, in fact all that boom really means is that your new BFF is about to be a guy called a general contractor.

The long and the short is it looks like we need a new ceiling and while the lovely Spousal Unit has offered to give it a shot, he has many talents but home improvement isn’t one of them. In fact I was more nervous when he started poking around after we saw the ceiling tiles bulging after the boom and we found beams, drywall and wires. However when we realized the tiles were bulging at 9pm at night, with no idea who to call, there was no choice but to let the lovely man poke around and come up with a temporary fix since the area was almost directly over the stove. So tomorrow we start the estimate process with contractors but in the meantime, the man has patched the main hole with a Hefty bag and masking tape. Here in BGIM land we keep it real, fuck duct tape, we got masking tape.

My ole man’s handy work…ain’t it ugly and tacky?

Then just when this week couldn’t get any worse, at 5pm yesterday I get an email from a partner agency that my agency works with, it seems the benefit concert I have been busting my ass to plan is scheduled for the same night in the same complex as our partner’s fall auction. It seems the human whose job it is to know this shit, didn’t realize that our agencies share funders and donors so having our events on the same night is just bad. Oh, and did I tell you about the email I had received an hour before that about the push for fall fundraising. See, the Executive Director of a non-profit especially at a small-medium sized agency is basically just the beggar in chief, oops that would be fundraiser.

So it’s raining, pouring, and just plain old storming in BGIM land, but I have a plan and that’s where I need your help. After mulling it over for a few weeks, despite the fact that I now officially have a full-time job, I need to take on some extra work aka freelancing. I have been in touch with my very real network offline letting folks know I am open to taking on grant writing clients again as well consulting clients, sleep is overrated anyway. Now I am casting my net to my virtual community, I know I have writing/blogging pals that read here and if you have any leads for paying gigs (sorry, I am only working for cash these days) and are up for sharing, please let me know. I had toyed with taking a holiday gig, but my schedule really doesn’t allow me to commit to shift work since the downside of my job is evening meetings and this time of year is one of our busiest with the holidays. Since needy folks tend to be even needier during the holidays but I can give up sleep and write and research.

I admit for a moment I had thought about doing a crowdfunding thing but honestly there are so many people doing em with so many things that need to be funded, that really what’s special about my shit? Not a thing and my past experience in online begging  tells me I better stick with what I know, which is grant-writing , writing and consulting. That said, if you just won a million bucks, feel free to use the tip jar on this blog, I am not turning down nothing but my collar at this point!

Lastly if you are a good thoughts/vibes or prayer person, keep the BGIM clan in your thoughts, good thoughts mean a great deal at this point. So if this space suddenly goes dark or posts aren’t as often as they have been, it’s probably a good sign that I am busting my ass with work.


PS: As for the dental issues, I have looked at all low cost options which in Maine as a rural state are greatly limited and no we don’t have a dental school in Maine. When I tweeted the dental drama as it was happening, I received many good suggestions but the upside of running a social service agency is that I know all about social services in my area.


Mama is tired of always being on stage

I have a case of the blahs, not the blues more like I am tired of always being on…one of the downsides of living in Maine is that I don’t have ready access to the support system I used to have. To be honest right now, my lack of sista support has got me frazzled, always putting on the good face and being the nice lady sometimes wears on one’s soul. That duality that DuBois wrote of many years ago is real and now that it’s official I won’t be getting away for a few days as I had hoped, I feel like the kid that woke up on Christmas to nothing under the tree. It will pass, it always does, but hey I am human and I take the good with the bad!

I ran across this oldie but goodie, I used to listen to this a lot when it was just me and the college kid, it got me through many a bad day, so I am sharing it.