Wednesday, 3 April 2013

My Habitat Home: Before The Beginning

June 2001

It was the middle of June, before my birthday.  My dad died.  I can't say I was particularly sad.  I had a twinge of how sad it must be to die unloved and I was reprimanded for it.  I have no clue why I was reprimanded.  My thoughts and feelings belong to me and me alone.  I don't feel that those thoughts or feeling were wrong because without it, I take away a part of me that's very much a sympathetic, empathetic human.

Sept 11, 2001

It was a morning like any other. I woke at 5:00 AM to get ready for work. I was a manager at Burger King and needed to travel away from my home store because the franchise I worked for opened a store that didn't have enough crew. They depended on crew from other stores.

As usual I did my ritual shower, got dressed, hop into my new Kia Sephia that would later get repoed. I had to pick up one of my employees because we were going to a site where buses don't run very well.

It was just a normal morning.  I waited at all the traffic signs booming music and head banging.  I got onto the freeway during rush hour in Cleveland, OH.  Just another day in the big city.  I got to my employees home and we headed to work.

We were at a light when we heard the news. "Breaking news a plane just hit the World Trade Center." I didn't think much of it. I thought 'Well, gee that's sad.'  The next time I heard the DJ's voice. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" The DJ screams . "Another plane just hit the World Trade Center!"

That's when I knew it was intentional. This was no accident. You can get away with one plane, two is intentional. Chills went up my spine. Who could be so evil? Even if religion is blamed no religion truly would condone such an act of pure evil.

Every opportunity we had we were watching the news.  This kind of thing doesn't happen in America.  What is going on here?  I saw the collapse of the World Trade Center.  The lives lost were all innocent.  Very few had little to no political gain other than those from that terrorist group.

The entire day at work was slow the attack had affected the way people ate.  I stood at the back window collecting money from customers. As I looked out my drive-thru window I saw a small plane being escorted down by a military plane. It was all very surreal and scary.

The Pentagon had been hit and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania flew over Cleveland Hopkins International.  There were rumors that we, in Cleveland were expecting to be attacked.  If you lived in a large city, you were scared.

Downtown Cleveland was shut down.  No one came in or out that day.  Cleveland was a ghost town.  I had never seen this city sleep.  There were no traffic jams or busy streets.  There was no one on the streets at all, just me coming home from work.  I lived a mile from downtown I had to take back roads to get home. I couldn't take the freeway, that too was shut down.

The next day was not business as usual. Gas prices went from $0.99 to $2, $3, $4. Gas gouging began. Even though a statement was made that no one is to profit from the attack I have to wonder, why does gas cost so much now? Oil companies have record profits. I do believe the gouging continues but was done in a manner to hide what they were doing.

My mom, who was a Headstart teacher, spoke of children who had nightmares.  They were drawing the destruction of the towers and they were terrified it would happen in their back yard.  Children should live in love, not fear.

I thank God my children weren't born in those days when we were bombarded with images meant to place fear into every American. I do firmly believe the images placed there for some form of control.   This is not a conspiracy theory. This is the thought of someone who went to school for journalism. Journalist can control what you think or feel. That's why companies love commercials.

The days after 9/11 I saw a renewed sense of patriotism.  We all carried American flags and were no longer democrat or republican.  We were Americans who have freedom.

9/11 took some of those freedoms we enjoy.  There are now cameras everywhere.  Some even took images of you in the buff.  Since I don't fly, I never dealt with that.  Children are patted down before boarding planes.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.  I don't care if it was political or not.  I don't care what the circumstances are this is a man that was wanted dead or alive after 9/11.   It ended a chapter in Our history.

January 2, 2002

My Kia Sephia was repossessed on this day around 10:00 pm.  I really didn't care.  I knew it was going to happen.  I was going through depression and nothing mattered at all.  I worked the night shift and tried to sleep all day.  That was impossible because the neighbor bumped music day and night and when he wasn't doing that he was fighting pit bulls of which the Cleveland police did not care at all.  I would cry night after night.  I would hear these animals scream.  I went to the theater every single day for peace of mind, quiet, and some semblance of sanity.    My next door neighbor stabbed my brother in the arm.  He aimed for his heart and thanks to karate, missed.

Looking back, it's easy to see how depression can happen.  I began to hate home.  It became, for lack of a better word, "ghetto."

I removed myself from a managerial position at Burger King.  I made $22,000 which for a single person is pretty darn good at that time.  Having my life threatened over a tomato being placed on a burger, when it should not have been isn't my cup of tea.  The difference between a Clevelander and a West Virginian is this, West Virginians are nicer and yes, I am a Clevelander.

June 12, 2002

I met my husband at a bus stop.  Very persistent guy, he just wouldn't leave me alone with my little journal.

June 21, 2002

Was my first birthday with my husband.  I was still in depression over what was going on next door.  I had stopped taking care of my rent and bills.  I just let it all go.  I could have saved money and moved to a better apartment but I just didn't care.  I had spent more time in tears just hearing those dogs in pain.

July 2002

The gas was already shut off which meant cold baths.  It was the middle of the summer so I didn't care much about that.  If I had air conditioning, I probably would have felt different.  The eviction notice came and I called my mom.  I knew she would be upset and it was over this, I did care about.  I don't know what was going on in his mind so I won't even speculate.

What I do know is I'm not the kind of person you date and dump.  I don't get into relationships for flings.  My husband came with me to West Virginia.

The rest of 2002

I worked at a fast food place in the small town I lived in as a child.  There truly isn't much there at all and nepotism is only fine when you aren't abusing others for the gain of your relations alone.  The people who benefited from overtime, were related to the manager.  The manager would only work me 12 hours a week. Three hours a day.  Home was five miles away so the only thing I was able to accomplish was paying gas in the car.

We had no children.  Without children you are not eligible for food stamps, medical care, or the cash benefit of welfare.  We were a hop, skip, and a jump away from homeless if it had not been for my mom.  We had nothing and it didn't seem to matter what job I had, they were all the same.  Meanwhile, my husband was doing his own type of job hopping.

My girl time was late which is not typical for me.  I knew something was up.  I took a pregnancy test and it turned out positive.  My husband didn't want kids.  He didn't think he could have kids.  I have to admit to being a little scared to breaking the news.

I sat in the car and told him and his reaction was just about blank.  I was insulted when he asked me if it was his.  I was never with anyone.  The fact that he requested testing was even further insulting.   I was truly hurt by the lack of trust and tried to understand where he was coming from.

A previous girlfriend tried to pawn a child on him and when it came up negative, she kicked him out and at some point came after him with a pair of scissors.  When you surround yourself with those who manipulate for their own self gain, I imagine trust is hard to come by.

My son was about six months old when my husband's dad visited.  He insisted, during a private  conversation, that my husband does "the right thing" and marries me.  I suppose my oldest looks just like daddy.

What we needed was independence and a job that was not a welfare job.  Welfare job= $2.15/ hr for a $20/hr job.

Because my oldest was born with seizures, we had extra help and a social worker to help point us in the right direction.  She helped to get us into the project in a city that had more jobs.  Yes, it is government funded and yes rent was free.  I only saw it as a stepping stone.

A woman would scream outside our window, "I'm proud to be a crack head!"  A man was tazered  by police outside our window.  I've no clue why.  Another man was tear gassed outside my window and my window was open and I was holding my son who was just a baby.  The fumes wafted up to my window, my eyes watered, and my throat closed temporarily.  In a moment when you would think that I was thinking about myself, the thought of  'How is this affecting my son?' entered my mind.  It was in that moment I promised we would somehow get out.

I began to research Habitat for Humanity.  We did not earn enough money at the time but it was always there haunting my brain.  It seemed like there was always something going on in the projects.  Someone murdered a police officer.  My husband and I had no information.  We had no desire to create untrustworthy friendships.

I looked out my window.  My apartment building was surrounded by police and the local news crew.  Naturally, I was  curious as to what was going on.  I peaked my head outside the door and there stood a police officer pointing a gun to my face as I held my 18 month old son while in a very pregnant condition.

The police officer asked if my husband was black.  I said no and then I was urged outside with my child.  My husband was in the tub and the police officer saw he was very much white from top to bottom (pun intended).  It turns out that my neighbor was dating the killer (lovely) and he was arrested outside my door.

I wish living there was really boring.  Things like this became common to see.  People were giving sexual favors on the stairs outside my apartment door, in plain view.  I found a stolen purse on my stairs and returned it.  This was so common.

My being pregnant was a Godsend because I would have a daughter which meant we would have to move to a bigger apartment, in a slightly better neighborhood.

I sill saw the drug deals go on and kids stole from my kids, people graffitied all over our property.  It sucked on a whole different level.  Things seemed ok at first.

We had a beetle infestation.  We began painting them with nail polish, different colors and gave them the names John, Paul, Ringo, and George.  We saw these particular beetles often throughout our house and on the outside as well.

I began seeing holes in the wall. Termites.  My neighbor said that the apartment used to have so many of them they would bite the children.  Darn it!  Out of one bad situation into another!   A week after moving in, black mold began appearing around the tub and toilet.  We did fear the bathroom and the entire second floor.

Next we saw roaches and no matter what we did, we could not get rid of them.  It really made matters worse when my neighbor's kid put something in the toilet upstairs and it flooded my bedroom, destroying our fairly new bed.

We slept on an air mattress for a few nights.  We were so grateful when my husband's place of work gave us a mattress.   This was the last straw for me.  I was completely disgusted by the entire place and to make matters worse, wasps were now coming out of the heating unit.

We made enough money to get the kids out and into a Habitat home.  The rest is as they say, history.  That history is scattered throughout this blog from beginning to end.

We no longer live with m mom and her bats, we no longer live in government housing, we no longer have cash assistance from the government.  We do get food stamps but these things are all just stepping stones.  We try our best because we hate relying on this assistance but we can only do what's within our grasp.

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