The Monogamist

Autostraddle asked me to answer a few questions for their A+ subscribers, one of which was about the worst date I’ve ever been on. I’ve since ceased dating and all romantic activities because quite frankly, I think most people suck. However, back in the day I was a dating machine and I’ve been left with a lot of stories. I have so many dating horror stories that I started a book about them several years ago.

In the interest of keeping my answers for Autostraddle brief I’m sharing two of my chapters here on my blog with the first below. This particular story is even Halloween themed for an extra fright. I hope you enjoy reading about my tales of dating woe.

Trigger Warning: Biphobia and mental illness.

The Monogamist

Women Seeking Women

Hi there,

I’ve had numerous dates and some of them weren’t that painful, but I still haven’t found what I want. I’m not looking for marriage or kids; rather, I want a partnership. I want to share my life with someone and have that person do the same in return. I’m looking for someone who is educated, intelligent, compassionate, well-rounded, truly liberal, sensual and sexual, and looking to build a life with someone that doesn’t include marriage and kids.

I’m 28, cute, sexy, sensual, bi (biphobes need not apply!), affectionate, independent, eclectic, curvy, confident, over educated, cerebral, and down-to-Earth. I’m also very feminist and concerned with social justice and environmental issues, but I love my heels, dresses, sexy lingerie, and I have one hell of a cute giggle 😉

I work in progressive (leftist/liberal/democratic) politics and am very passionate about what I do. I love modern art, jazz, college football, cooking, throwing parties, and am a white water rafting junkie.

Basically, I feel at home sipping martinis in heels, discussing philosophy over coffee, gulping water from a CamelBak while hiking, or just staying in and cooking a nice meal.

Drop me a few lines about yourself if I’ve piqued your interest.

Oxox

Before the days of the Craigslist Killer and the war against CL for its pay-to-play postings, my “monogamist” replied to the above ad, my ad, on craigslist. I wish I could tell you what she had said to me to win me over, but I can’t recall. Whatever she said was enough to merit a response.

Over the course of several emails and instant message conversations I mentioned that I enjoyed writing and kept a casual blog. I had recently written an entry in response to an irritating newspaper piece about the lack of truly romantic, modern movies. This list had claimed that An Officer and a Gentleman was one of the last real romances made. I had watched that piece of chauvinistic shyte and was pretty irritated that a reporter believed that the subjugation of women was romantic. I unleashed my feminist venom online. I wrote about how the true tenants of romance were often misunderstood. It’s not the trite, socially obligatory gestures that make us swoon (you can keep your cheap, nasty, drugstore chocolates and half wilted roses on Valentine’s Day thank), but rather the acts that truly surprise us and show us how known, understood, and loved that we are that makes an individual fall to their knees. If someone wanted to make me giddy with delight then they’d give me a basil plant because they know I love to cook or a bottle of good bourbon because I’m Southern and living in the Northeast sometimes makes me homesick and once again, bourbon is one of my most favorite things in the world. Of course my monogamist just had to read my blog so I gave her the link and off she went.

We agreed to meet on Friday night for drinks. Much to my pleasant surprise she not only came to pick me up, but she parked her car and actually came up to my apartment door. This was rare dating behavior for a northeasterner. It’s also the type of behavior that makes my Southern grrrl heart swoon.

I buzzed her into my building and quickly checked my lipstick and hair before she knocked on my door. I anxiously, but nervously, answered my door to find her bent over, ass in the air, with a bottle of bourbon tucked into her back pocket. I burst into laughter and asked her what the hell she was doing. It turns out she spent too much money on a new pair of jeans that made her ass look so great so she figured she’d present my “roses” (ie my bourbon) that way. I was instantly smitten. This woman who barely even knew me thought so much of me that she not only read my blog, but she actually paid attention to it and brought me bourbon. And she showed off her cute ass for me. Score!

There was instant chemistry. She was cute, polite, spunky, fun, and did I mention cute? I was crushing hard. We went to a local pub and flirted and chatted for a couple of hours. She was so little and cute that she couldn’t drink much so she nursed a beer while I had a beer and a couple of Jacks. The date was so fun that I didn’t even want to get drunk or run away. This was a rare phenomenon on my dates.

While nursing her second beer she informed me that she couldn’t drink anymore because she had to drive, but she didn’t want the date to end. I made the smitten based decision to invite her back to my place for some bourbon. She jumped at the chance, grabbed her beer, and put it inside her jacket and led me out the door. This move seriously impressed me. In my own responsible, booze hound way I liked that she would stop drinking in order to drive sober, but wouldn’t leave her beer behind. We got to her car where she opened the door for me and then she got in and put her beer in the cup rest and we took off to my place.

We were engage in lighthearted, flirty conversation on my couch with a couple of glasses of bourbon when one of us finally lunged at the other. I can’t recall who did the first move, but kissing quickly led to roaming hands and heavy breaths and pants.

I can’t recall which one of us pulled away, but one of us finally did. She suddenly looked at me with an incredibly serious look and said “I have something I have to tell you.”

I got a little freaked out but rolled with it. I told her to tell me whatever she needed to say.

“I’m a monogamist!” she said.

I had no idea how the hell to respond to this so I made a light-hearted joke:

“Do they make a cream for that?” I asked.

She completely missed the humor of my question and then launched into some slightly manic story about how her last girlfriend cheated on her and how she’s a “monogamist” and can’t be cheated on again.

I softly, but firmly, told her that while I was very sorry to hear about her ex, but that we were only on our first date. I went on to say that I was having a wonderful time, but once again, it’s only a first date. I wasn’t about to commit to someone that I barely even knew, but that I’m always honest and upfront. This all seemed to assuage her manic feelings, but I was left feeling just a touch shaken. I saw a red flag waving off the in the distance and that’s never a good sign. Given all of this new information I put the brakes on anything more physical occurring that night and I put the bourbon away. She needed to sober up because she wasn’t staying the night with me; at least not that night. I had a hunch that this was a woman that might go over the edge of sanity and it was probably best that I didn’t sleep with her. Being young, stupid, and horny though, I still wanted to see what may happen.

Skip to a sunny, crisp New England Sunday morning. After futzing around my apartment and putting off work I decided to give my monogamist a call. She was also in procrastination mode so we agreed to grab lunch and do some shopping. Once again, my 4’11, 90lb slightly unhinged, but oh-so-cute date picked me up at my place. While on the drive to the Prudential mall, somehow the topic of sex with men came up. She made a couple of back handed comments about how disgusting the idea of sex with a man was and that she tried it once and that was more than enough for her. I can certainly appreciate the varying views of attraction and even to some extent repulsion, but given my experiences with one too many biphobic lesbians I learned to be wary when they talked about how disgusting sex with men was

I cautiously asked her about her one experience. Turns out she was on a bitter breakup so she and one of her fellow gold star lez friends hit a straight bar, got roaring drunk, and each took some guy home. According to the monogamist, he tried to fuck her in the ass without asking or using lube. Now I’m attracted to men and on occasion a little anal can be fun, but that would plain piss me off and end with his sorry ass thrown out of my apartment and probably without his clothes, keys, or wallet. If it’s not pleasurably consensual sex then it shouldn’t be happening.

I explained to her that I no woman, regardless of orientation, would enjoy that encounter because it wasn’t consensual, but that for some of us, under the right circumstances, sex with men is far from disgusting. She threw out a couple more comments about how she was disgusted by even the notion and that it was dirty and led to disease. At this point I was fuming because of her biphobia. However, my public health, safer sex outreach counselor side came out and I asked if she had used protection. Of course she didn’t. It was really hard for me not to laugh at that. I mean really, a drunken one nighter with some dude you picked up at a bar and fucked without a condom can lead to disease?! Alert the presses! I nicely, but firmly informed her that with protection the people involved are fairly well safe, and that women who have sex with women should practice safer sex too, and then I changed the subject.

We’re now sitting at a bar having a drink and waiting for our table. Things are calm and flirty again, and I’m feeling a bit more at ease. Perhaps it was my mojito, but I thought there were smooth seas ahead for our lunch. Of course, crazy doesn’t take a vacation for long and it was merely the calm before the storm.

To this day I can’t recall how this line of interrogation began, but soon I was on the hot seat regarding my sexual experiences with men. It’s 3pm on a lovely Sunday afternoon in a family friendly restaurant in Boston and I’m being grilled about how many men I’ve fucked, if I liked it, if I like women more, and if I’m currently fucking a guy. I was absolutely furious and was sucking down my mojito like its last call at the bar and I’m nowhere near tipsy.

I calmly, but with an unmistakable tone of fury, told her that it was neither the time nor the place for this discussion and that I didn’t appreciate being spoken to in such a manner. Seeing as this chick had no respect for my boundaries, she kept after me.

“Are you seeing a man now?!” She demanded.

Her eyes were were lite up and wild. It was like looking into an amusement park fun house, spiraled tunnel.

“Clearly I need to remind you that we are only on our SECOND date! If or whom I may be seeing is absolutely none of your business.” I replied between long drags of mojito.

Now there’s a perfectly polite, and might I say adorable, British man sitting at the bar next to us. He is looking increasingly nervous and uncomfortable with every passing second. If there had been a comic thought bubble above his head I imagine that it would have said something like this: “God, when I asked you to send me two lesbians to watch this wasn’t what I meant!”

And on the argument continued:

“Well it is my business if you’re fucking some man because I don’t want a disease.”

“If you want to have a conversation about safer sex practices then we can have that conversation at a more appropriate time, but we both know that’s not what this is about!” I responded.

“It is so what this is about! I don’t want you sleeping with some man.” She snarked back.

“Oh but I can fuck every woman in Boston?! You clearly can’t stand the fact that not only have I been with men and have enjoyed it, but that I refuse to apologize for it. You knew from the start that I’m bi. If you’re so fucking insecure that you can’t handle that then you shouldn’t have responded to my post!” I practically screamed above the sound of the lunch time crowd of children and their owners.

“No, I don’t want you fucking anyone but me!”

“Well, Monogamist, you don’t get to make that call. WE ARE ONLY ON OUR SECOND DATE!”

It was at this moment that the hostess called us to our table. The only reason why I hadn’t ran out of there like the place was on fire was because I left a water bottle that was covered with stickers from my travels in her car and I didn’t want to loose it. I have since learned to keep all of my belongings on me at all times.

We quietly and awkwardly walked to our table. A very bubbly waitress greeted us and was met with my order for “a vodka martini, now”. She raised an eyebrow and looked at the two of us before scurrying away. I suppose that hard booze on a Sunday afternoon isn’t the norm for most people, but I dare them to be in that situation and not need to knock a stiff one back.

The biphobia and absurdity seemed to have had subsided and my monogamist apologized for upsetting me. I once again very calmly, but firmly, told her that I won’t make a commitment to anyone after such a short time and that while I understood that she was nursing some wounds, and had resulting trust issues, that I if I choose to commit to her that I wouldn’t cheat. I also mentioned that if she kept pushing me that not only would she not have to worry about me cheating, but that she’d never see me again.

Things eventually became fun again (thank you vodka!) and we had a nice lunch. After lunch we headed to shop for one of the very few things that I enjoy shopping for: cosmetics. Awww sweet bliss! I could play in the makeup like a little kid with finger paints. Soon she was asking me for my opinion on eyelash curlers which I found slightly surprising. My monogamist was what most in the dyke world would call a “soft butch.” She wore women’s clothes, but wasn’t particularly girly, nor was she particularly boyish. There was a slight air of so called femininity to her, but she was definitely not a Femme like me.

I gave her my opinion on eye lash curlers and went on with my shopping. We made our purchases and then wandered to an Irish pub to watch football. It was over a couple of pints and football that we talked about our families and eventually our battles with mental illness. At that point in my life, my depression, panic disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were fairly well under control. Under control or not they are chronic illnesses none the less that I had to be, and mostly likely always will be, mindful of.

My monogamist told me that she was bipolar and had been hospitalized only a couple of years earlier when her father passed away. I felt complete empathy for her then, still do to this day in fact, but after having seen some of her highly erratic mood swings I wasn’t falling off the barstool in surprise. I suspect that she wasn’t being properly medicated and was still dealing with the trauma of losing her father and that was partially to blame for her behavior. I cut her some slack, but I now saw a few more red flags waving off in the distance.

It’s now Saturday, one week from our first date, and we’re both getting our Halloween costumes in order for a party at a queer grrrl bar in Somerville, not too far from her house. The plan was for me to stay the night at her house after the party was over. We were finally ditching the clothes and having a sleepover that wouldn’t facilitate much sleep.

Dressed as a devil in a blue dress and her as an angel we headed out for the night. A few drinks, dancing, flirty, making out, and hours later I was completely relaxed and having a great time. No sight of the fun house tunnel eyes. No sooner than I had thought that I couldn’t wait to get her home and out of that costume she made a completely out-of-the-blue, passive aggressive comment about how I might prefer to be with a man. That was my breaking point. I had taken all the shit I was going to take from this pint size, biphobic ass! I slammed down my drink and told her to hurry up because she was taking me home right then. I went storming out of the club with her running after me yelling “Wait, Jen! Stop! I’m sorry!”

While I was running as fast as my little heels would take me I heard snickering from the by standers. Normally I’m one of the people laughing at the dyke drama that occurs, but that night I was part of the show.

I got to her car absolutely fuming. She finally caught up to me. I demanded that she open the door.

“Not until you tell me what I’ve done!” She half-whined, half-screamed.

“Open the car door! I want to get my things from your house and then I’m going home!” I replied.

“No! Not until you tell me what I’ve done!”

“Fine, forget it. I’ll take a cab.”

“NO! Wait.” She said while finally unlocking the car door.

We both sat in the car and the same dialogue started up again: me telling her to start the car and her saying no. I finally told her that I was very angry and a little drunk so we’d talk about it the next day when we were calm and sober. Of course rationality didn’t work on her so I had to once again say that I’d get a cab. This finally got the car moving. We were sitting at a red light when she literally balled her hands into fists and began to rock back and forth while hitting her head repeatedly saying “What did I do? What did I do?”

I looked at her in absolute horror and surprise. This was not something I was expecting. We finally got to her house and I made a bee line for the door. I was up three flights of stairs and grabbed my bag like I was training for the Olympics. I turned around to leave her bedroom only to find her with her tiny arms outstretched blocking the doorway.

“Move out of the way. I’m going home.” I demanded.

“No, not until you tell me what I’ve done!” She said in a tone that reminded me of the Exorcist.

A minute or two of this same back and forth goes on. I finally attempted to move her. Now bear in mind that she’s tiny and I’m significantly larger than her. I didn’t want to hurt her nor did I want to risk her calling the police on me. I simply wanted to get the hell away from her. I very gently pushed her out of the way. She bounced back up in front of the door like one of those blow up clowns that kids play with. You hit them once and they bounce right back up ready for more.

At this point I’m absolutely pissed off. It’s clear to me that she was trying to be threatening and intimidating. Obviously given the size difference she wasn’t any physical threat to me, but I was angry that I had one more romantic partner trying to scare and abuse me. That was when it dawned on me that I could use this to my advantage.

“Your roommates are home, right? Don’t they have friends over? I said to her.

“Yes. Why?” She asked suspiciously.

“Well think about it, monogamist, all they can hear is a woman telling you to get out of the way because she wants to leave and you yelling ‘no.’ What must they be thinking?”

With this she finally moved and I flew out the door like a crazy person and ran after the lone cab on her street. I hadn’t even made it over the Charles River back into Boston before the text messages began pouring in. Every message was mean and spiteful. I ignored them, but this went on for a couple of hours. I woke up the next morning to find a text from her saying: “Check your mailbox.”

I lived in a secure apartment building that required a key to get into the building and a key to get into my mailbox so I was freaking out. I ran down my stairs to my mailbox, but hesitated before opening it. I didn’t know if a venomous snake was going to jump out or a bomb would go off. I had no idea what to expect. With shaken hand I opened my mailbox to find it empty. I let out a sigh of relief and went back to up the stairs for coffee.

The Red Sox were playing in the final game of the World Series that night (they won) and I was going to watch the game with a buddy of mine. On my way to out to meet him I noticed a letter duct taped to the main building door. It was addressed to me. Inside the envelope was a two sided letter written in tiny hand writing from the monogamist. The letter was absolutely certifiable. It went back and forth about how crazy she was about me and how I was a horrible, mean bitch and she hated me. She talked about how she spent the entire day crying and talking to her friends about me. Now this might be warranted if I were actually a horrible, mean bitch or perhaps even if we’d been together for say a year or so, but we had three dates and never slept together. This was all way too much given the circumstances. Included with the letter was a mix CD she made for me. At least I can say she had good taste in music.

Monogamist CD Playlist:

  1. Temper Temper: Tuscadero
  2. Let’s Stop Kicking Our Hearts Around: Wanda Jackson
  3. Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line: Waylan Jennings
  4. You Can Have It All: Yo La Tengo
  5. Suck My Let One: Bikini Kill
  6. Come To Me: Bjork
  7. I’m Sorry: Brenda Lee
  8. Gimme More: Britney ‘muthafuckin’ (sic) Spears
  9. You’re So Vain: Carly Simon
  10. What A Difference A Day Makes: Dinah Washington
  11. Hole In My Head: The Dixie Chicks
  12. Hold Me Now: Elastics
  13. Love Is A Stranger: The Eurythmics

Finger on the Pulse

49 dead 
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters 

It's the Muslims!
It's the crazies!
It's the homophobes!
It's the automatic guns!
It's the man not the gun!
It's the Christian Right! 

This was the largest mass shooting in American history
Correction:
This was the largest mass shooting with a semi-automatic gun

A nation born in blood 
The blood of Native and Black people
A nation built on the blood of 
Latin@, Asian, and Middle Eastern people 
will continue to 
run red 
with the blood 
of the 
Oppressed 

In a nation where we give out 
guns 
like candy on Halloween 
In a nation where we 
slaughter
W/POC
and 
Queer people 
like they're nothing but flies 
fucking up white, het folks
sunny day picnic @ the park 
Should we really be surprised? 
In the grand scheme of things
49 
is a minor blip 
on the US 
death tally 

49 dead 
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters 

He was a closet case! 
The hets scream 
loud enough 
to further drown out 
the queer cries 
only to assuage their 
hetero guilt and complacency

This attack was motivated by homophobia 
they say condescendingly 
Yes, yes it was
But it was Latin night
And I assure you 
there were 
Bi and Trans folks
up in that club
Erasing their existence and struggle 
is a 
Slap in the face 
to all who suffer from 
Racism
Biphobia
and 
Transphobia

49 dead
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters 

He was crazy!
Mental illness is the real culprit!
More than 1/2 of all gun deaths are suicide
1/2 of 1% of gun deaths are mass shootings
Those with mental illness 
are more likely to hurt 
themselves 
or be 
hurt by others 
Orlando is proof of that
Even the faux revolutionary 
Bernie
likes to get in on the fun 
claiming 
he'd 
ban gun sales 
to the mentally ill 
as if we're the 
pro-blem

49 dead 
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters

We need blood!
Give blood!
But not a queer man's blood
But it's those 
Muslims
that are homophobic

Prayers! Prayers! Prayers!
Get 'em right here!
Plenty of empty 
right wing 
well wishes to go around 
w/ your side of 
free chick fil-a
queer bashing nuggets
to munch on 
during one more 
meaningless 
moment of silence
b/c 
we care

49 dead 
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters 

Automatic weapons are the problem! 
It's the damn NRA! 
Gun control now! 
Since 1966 
There have been 
869
victims 
of mass shootings
in America
(excluding gang shootings because Mother Jones doesn't care about black and brown bodies) 
All of the shooters
minus 3
were men

Something smells foul in America
& it's the 
toxic masculinity factory 
spewing it's poison 
telling our boys & men 
that in order to 
prove their manhood
their worth
they better come 
locked & loaded 
w/ 
guns a blazin' 
or they're just another 
fag

49 dead
53 injured 
Countless souls in tatters

ISIS! 
Hezbollah! 
al-Qaeda!
Bomb them all! 
Because if 12,000 + airstrikes 
hasn't worked yet
What's one more? 

Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here 
goes the US imperialistic 
blood lust logic 

"I appreciate the congrats on being right"
he smugly tweeted out
from the comfort of the 
ivory, trump tower
Surveil the mosques
And ban the Muslims
Ignore the Christians though
as we all KKKnow 
there's never been an act of 
terrorism 
committed by a 
Christian

49 dead
53 injured
Countless souls in tatters

Patience, everyone
there's plenty of 
Blame 
to go around and 
time to prove that 
no one 
has their 
finger 
on 
the 
Pulse 


*I've included hyperlinks throughout this piece to the sources I used for data.

 

Pride, Dignity, & the Failing of Section 8

*I apologize for the bad formatting, but WordPress refuses to properly post this and I refuse to wait for this program, or any other, to give me the space to express myself through grammatical correctness.

I’ve had a lot of questions and suggestions lately regarding my housing search with my Section 8 voucher. I thought I’d take the time here to explain how this program works, or rather how it doesn’t work.

There are a variety of housing vouchers and public housing options with continuously changing program stipulations that are impossible to keep up with. I have a Section 8 voucher which means I can, in theory, move where ever I’d like. I pay 30%, or up to 40%, of my income in rent and the housing authority pays the rest. I can’t go above 40% of my income in my portion of the rent because then I’d be rent burdened and Section 8 is supposed to help eliminate that.
The housing authority that issues a person their voucher is dependent upon what city they live in. There are a set number of vouchers available for disabled people, the elderly, families, and single, able bodied people. The wait lists vary a great deal based on which of those labels are applicable to you and on what city you live in. Brookline has a 10+ year wait for a voucher. Somerville had Section 8 vouchers available only to disabled people. It took me approximately 3 years to get this.
Now on to the rental details of this ineffective and soul crushing program. Everyone is issued a Section 8 voucher for a specific number of bedrooms, not a monetary value for rent. My voucher is for an one bedroom apartment. All voucher holders have to adhere to what is referred to as “payment standards” that are set by each municipal housing authority. This is essentially a cap on how much rent and utilities are allowed. The payment standard for an one bedroom in Boston is $1387 and for Somerville is $1261. Anyone who lives in Massachusetts knows that rent costs a great deal more then this and salaries don’t come close to covering it. That’s why you have so many adults living with roommates in this area. Given that we’re currently facing a serious housing crisis in Boston the unrealistically low Section 8 payment standards create an even larger barrier to safe and affordable housing for disenfranchised people.
So you can’t spend over $1387 in rent and utilities for an apartment in Boston so get a roommate. Makes sense, right? Except you can’t. Anyone who lives in the apartment is considered additional household income and then that counts against me and the services I receive. Why don’t you lie to get around this? Because you can’t. The voucher can only cover the set amount of bedrooms in an apartment that it’s issued for. I can only use my voucher for an one bedroom apartment. I still can’t have said apartment go over the payment standards. You still can’t lie to get around this? How will the housing authority know? Because they inspect the apartment before the voucher holder moves in and they receive a copy of the lease. Having a roommate doesn’t help me in finding a place they’ll approve of, nor does it impact how much I’ll directly pay in rent. It merely increases the likelihood that I’ll lose my voucher for not following the program rules.
Coincidentally, I’m only allowed a guest to stay a total of 22 nights in a year. That’s isn’t 22 nights per person. It’s for the entire year. Let’s say I’m dating someone and we want them to sleepover 1 night a week at my place. They can’t because I’d then risk loosing my voucher. I could also risk loosing my voucher for using medical marijuana in the apartment because while it’s legal in Massachusetts it’s still illegal on a federal level and Section 8 is funded through the federal government. I can use oxy (with a prescription) until my heart’s content, but I can’t use weed which helps my pain a great deal and has far less side effects then narcotics. These are two great examples as to how Section 8 further polices the bodies of the poor and plays the role of the institutional Daddy that is there to make sure we do right because we can’t possibly be trusted to make the best decisions given our situations for ourselves.
Moving along to the inspection. In theory, the inspection makes sense. It’s to ensure that Section 8 voucher recipients are living in safe homes that meet health and sanitation codes. However, it takes one to two weeks to have the inspection completed and the apartment must be empty when inspected. This means that the property owner is going without rent for part of a month in the hopes that they’ll pass inspection and they can rent to the voucher holder. They also have to fill out and submit a great deal of paperwork including some of their financial records. How many landlords have you had that would do this? I haven’t had a single one in Massachusetts that would go through this. When going to see apartments there’s almost always someone living in the apartment at the time of viewing and they usually move out the day before the new tenant moves in. Landlords here don’t even take a day to clean, make necessary repairs, and paint. The inspection then creates one more barrier to finding an apartment with Section 8. There is also of course the discrimination that voucher holders experience, but I’ll leave that for a later discussion.
Don’t some buildings have low income units? Yes, buildings that receive certain tax subsidies do have to put a set number of low and moderate income units in their buildings. The problem is that they don’t have to put in many of these units. In Boston, and many other large American cities, the only housing being built are high rise condo and apartment buildings for the obscenely wealthy. Many of these units begin at million and go up in cost. The developers become wealthier on the tax payers’ dime while creating a greater housing disparity that creates housing instability, higher rates of homelessness, over crowding in housing, and rent burden. The government of course plays their part in allowing this to occur.
I have a list of approximately 500 buildings in Boston that currently have these low to moderate income units. Can’t you apply for one of these units? How does this work you ask? It’s a long, tedious, time consuming, and soul crushing endeavor. The list shows 20 to 30 property management companies that manage most of these properties. It makes sense that you’d call the management company to find out about the units they have in all their properties, right? In case you haven’t figured this out yet this system doesn’t work on common sense and a stream lined approach to housing. You have to call each individual property to find out if they have units available. They’re also primarily open only Monday to Friday from 9 to 4. If you can’t make the multiple hours worth of phone calls in that time period then too bad. You’re simply out of luck. To add to this frustrating and draining process many of these sites don’t answer the phone and only have an option to leave a voice message, but they never return phone calls.
Isn’t there a website you can go to to submit an application or inquire about availability? No, there isn’t. When I have been able to get someone on the phone I’ve often been told they’d email or mail me applications, but that more often then not hasn’t occurred. Some properties require applicants to send self-addressed stamped envelopes for an application or to apply in person. Not every voucher holder has the means to apply in person due to a variety of factors such as disability. work schedule, and cost of transportation. Poor people also don’t have the money to buy numerous stamps and hope that the applications will be sent to them. Many of these applications are also 10 pages long so one stamp on a letter size envelope won’t work.
If these units exist why are you complaining about how difficult it is to find housing with your Section 8 voucher? Because the units are always taken and the wait lists, if they’re even open, are 1 to 10+ years long for an unit. I called one property last week that has had their wait list closed for 9 years because they have such a backlog of people in need of an affordable unit. One property management company that I’ve spoken to has a company policy not to tell Section 8 inquirers how long their wait lists are. I suspect that this is an attempt to appear as if they’re helping the community while really they are only pillaging.
10 years is a long time, but isn’t it better to just get yourself on these lists and try to wait it out? Think again. Waiting out a dire situation of poverty and rent burden leads to homelessness, abuse, and the growth of personal health issues and disability, as well as public health concerns. It’s also inhumane, elitist, and an unrealistic option to tell people to wait it out. To add to the emotionally, physically, and mentally crippling problems that poverty leads to for so many of us there is also the issue that vouchers expire. A Section 8 voucher holder has 60 days from the date of issue to find an apartment and sign a lease. If after 60 days you don’t have an apartment then you can file for a 30 day extension. If after those 30 days are up you can file for one more 30 day extension. In total, voucher holders have 120 days to find an apartment that meets the completely unrealistic demands of the Section 8 program.
I’ve opted to fill out applications for buildings in the Boston area that have a wait list of a year or less while hoping that I can find something in the now 3 months I have left on my voucher. Let me tell you about some of the questions that are asked on these preliminary applications. I’ve been asked my gender, age, race, eye color, height, weight, and if I have a criminal history and if so the details of said record. But discrimination in housing is illegal you say. Ha! I say to you. Even before I began my housing search with my voucher and I was employed full time I was told by landlords that because I’m a single woman they won’t rent to me if my father doesn’t co-sign the lease. As we all know we women can’t possibly handle our finances ourselves without a man involved and we all have fathers to fall back on. I’ve had landlords ask about my sexual orientation and dating practices. I’ve had landlords make racist comments about the fact that I’m Native. And on and on and on. While this is all illegal that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur and the applications that most affordable housing units use are full of bigoted questions that can lead to housing discrimination, as well as the complete breakdown of one’s self-worth which is already difficult to maintain in the face of poverty and oppression.
Let’s move along to a possible happy outcome. You found an apartment! Let’s celebrate! No my friend, not yet. Now you have to come up with the financial resources to secure the apartment. The housing authority only pays the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent is only paid in your last month in the apartment. They don’t help with deposit nor do they put a cap on what the property owner may ask for. There’s also the matter of the non-refundable one month realtor fee because so many landlords in the Boston area use realtors to advertise their property. This is also not regulated by the housing authority. Even with a Section 8 voucher I could still be looking at anywhere from $3-5,000 that I have to put upfront to move into an apartment. I have Section 8 because I’m poor so I don’t have that kind of money.
Aren’t there other government programs or charities that can help with moving expenses? In theory, yes there are, but like the Section 8 program itself these programs are few and far between and have many stipulations that most people don’t meet, even if you’re poor and disabled. Because I’m disabled I have a much higher cost of living due to my health and life needs and I don’t have the luxury of moving with a Uhaul and some friends. I have to hire movers which increases the amount of money I need to get into a new apartment. Thankfully I can pack myself so I don’t have to hire packers, but that’s still incredibly painful and difficult for me to do so it’s a slow moving process that keeps me from taking care of other issues in my life, such as maintaining my health, applying to jobs, or writing. I might also mention that many of the charities that do supposedly help poor people are incredibly misogynistic and bi/trans/homophobic such as Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. I finally swallowed my pride today and called both for help, but was told that Catholic Charities had no money to give-because the Catholic Church is so hard up for cash-and no one answered the phone at Salvation Army.
Let’s say that by some small miracle I was able to save the amount of money that I need to move into a new apartment. Here’s where the system really fails me and countless others. The fact that we’d have that money is counted against us in the services we receive. Any money that I save means that my food stamps, disability, health care services, and Section 8 can be drastically cut or eliminated all together. Even if I were able to save money, which I’m not because I’m given so little that I can barely even live, I would have to keep it in my sock drawer or a coffee can because I can’t have it anywhere that the government can see. This is one more way that the system keeps poor people from being able to save and invest in order to get out and stay out of poverty.
Just to add to the ridiculously out of touch nature of government based social services student loans are not considered in your cost of living breakdown. As we all know us poor people are uneducated, lazy, and stupid. We couldn’t possibly have pursued, or hope to pursue, a higher education. (Full time students are not allowed to live in many affordable housing units). I can’t file bankruptcy to eliminate my student loans and because I have private loans I can’t even have the interest rates or payments lowered or deferred. Every time I apply for a service or fill out any of the countless forms that keep my current services in place they don’t count the nearly $600 monthly student loan payment that HAS TO BE PAID as one of my living expenses. If my mom didn’t co-sign those loans then I wouldn’t have been able to get my education which has proven to be utterly useless and detrimental to my financial health. As many know my relationship with my family is tenuous at best and outright toxic and abusive at its worst. I believe that if my mom wasn’t financially obligated to pay my loans  then she wouldn’t help me in paying them. As a result I would default and the government would most likely take that money out of my monthly disability check to make the payments.I then would be without a doubt homeless. Thankfully she is obligated and able to pay them so this is a concern that I’m able to put on the back burner for the time being. Of course having excessive student loan debt doesn’t help my credit score so it does impact my current state.
There you have it. This is a basic breakdown of Section 8 and its many failings. I’ve come to the conclusion that pride and dignity are privileges only reserved for those with some measure of financial stability and mine are being chipped away more and more with each passing day. I currently am at a rent burden rate of about 80%, live in an unsafe house where I’ve hurt myself twice on the property due to my landlord’s negligence, and am unable to have many of my health care and life needs met and am without the resources to climb out of poverty. My depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are only growing worse throughout this housing search process. I honestly don’t believe that I’ll continue to fight if I lose my voucher. If this occurs I’ll mostly likely be one more statistic of an Indigenous, bisexual, disabled, woman that’s a rape and abuse survivor that found the system and society to be nothing more then a serious of humiliations and abuses that were too much to bear.
After years of studying and working in politics and now being on the receiving end of so many government services I can confidently say that the system is not working to help people survive or thrive and move into a place independence; it is set up to keep the oppressed down so that we can never rise up and take what’s rightfully ours.

Advice Needed

I need some serious advice. I just found out that my roommate has been charging me $175 more a month for the rent. Our rooms are the same size. We both pay half the utilities and oil bills. I don’t use any of his belongings. He does NONE of the cleaning. This property is falling apart and is so unsafe that I’ve hurt myself two times because of my landlord’s negligence and my roommate won’t do anything about it or allow me to. There’s also no lease so that’s not even an excuse he could use as the only person on the lease.

$175 isn’t much for many people, but it’s a great deal for me. It means the difference between going without enough food, and healthy food at that, and having my diabetes become worse and putting me that much closer to blindness, losing limbs, kidney failure, and heart disease. Two of those are already issues in my family. It’s the difference between me having enough money for the T, The Ride, and cabs so I can get places I need to go. I’ve missed doctors’ appointments because I didn’t have enough money to get their or the physical energy to take the T. It means being able to join the Y so I can have access to a pool so I can get in better shape and have my chronic pain be that much better. It means being able to send out my laundry on occasion rather than having to limp to and from the laundromat and having to take extra pain pills as a result. It means not having the horrible side effects that come with pain pills and not exacerbating some of my health issues. That amount of money could also give me the tiny cushion I need so I can put some energy into things I enjoy and want to accomplish like writing, getting published, starting the reproductive justice organization that I so desperately want to form. $175 makes a huge difference in my life.

I only moved into this place because after 10 months of searching it was all I could find. No one in the Boston area wants to live with one of us so called dirty, diseased, slutty bisexuals. Yes, I’ve been called those things multiple times by both straight and lesbians and gay men here in so called progressive Boston. I’ve had a roommate call me a squaw and think it was just hilarious to talk to me that way. Even if I can swing the rent for places I don’t have the thousands of dollars to put down that landlords require now. I’ve lived in roommate situations where I was so scared for my safety that I moved furniture in front of my bedroom door. Then there are the numerous costs associated with getting housing that meets my disability needs.

I moved into this shitty house because I had no where to go and was trying like hell to get out of an abusive relationship with little to no help from anyone. I had to fight just to get paid by the “progressive” candidate I worked for at the time. I was at the point of looking at women’s shelters because I was so desperate. Meanwhile I had to go on living life as if everything was ok because I couldn’t possibly tell all the productive and successful people I know that I was currently being abused and needed help. I reached out to one person for legal advice that I thought was a close enough friend and she simply told me to figure it out on my own because it wasn’t that complicated. She’s now a City Councilor and only reached out to me last spring when she decided to run and needed money and volunteers. The hypocrisy of the people in politics in MA is unbelievable. And people in the political world here wonder why I’m so angry with the MA Democrats and “progressives.”

Things got so bad that I tried to kill myself. My psychiatrist was shocked I was even still alive after I finally told her and my therapist what I had done. If I wasn’t pumped full of so many fucking drugs on a daily basis then I might have been lucky enough to have this miserable excuse of a life finally end.

Every day is a constant struggle just to keep myself alive. I’m so upset that my roommate is one more person that has significantly added to the misery I suffer through day in and day out. I have no where else to go and no one to turn to that could help. My own mom can’t even be bothered to call me on Christmas or my birthday.

I don’t know how to handle this and right now I feel like I’m going to have a complete meltdown. I was already having a hard day because of a night full of horrible nightmares and sifting through the over 20 prescriptions I take daily so I can possibly figure out what’s helping me and what’s making my health worse. I hate my life so much that almost every day just feels like a futile exercise of survival that only brings agony. I’ve been trying for three years just to get some in home help with domestic chores which the MA government has the ablistic audacity to refer to as “adult foster care!” Apparently being disabled and poor in MA means that I’m little more than a child. Even the case workers, therapists, and doctors I have can’t make the services I need happen.

I seriously need help and have no idea what to do. I don’t know what could possibly be suggested that I haven’t already tried, but throw any ideas my way. Please.

Suffering, Self-Destruction, Speaking Out, & Political Warfare

The last year and a half have been some of the more difficult years I’ve had to face in some time. Due to this I haven’t had the emotional, mental, or physical energy to write for this blog, my book, or most other pieces. I’ve occasionally had a poem come upon me that I felt was appropriate to post, but bringing for the where with all to write deeper and with further explanation has simply never happened. Obviously there is a great deal that has occurred over this period of time, but I’m going to keep it as short as possible.

I was in a relationship that turned out to be very dishonest, manipulative, demanding, and emotionally abusive. Under normal circumstances I would’ve left a relationship of this sort, but I simply couldn’t afford to move out of the apartment we shared. My health problems have become so severe that they have placed great limits on the type of housing I can live in which of course significantly raises the cost. Rents in the Boston area have sky rocketed over the last few years, my health care costs are insane now, and my income stream is abysmal compared to these current costs. I was forced to stay under the roof, due to my disability and finances, with someone who mentally and emotionally tortured me day in and day out.

As one can imagine this led me down a very dark path. I fell apart and without a proper support system I was at a loss as to what to do. My mother, whom I no longer speak to nor do I ever see myself speaking to again despite my deep love for her, knew of the situation and offered no help. The irony in this is profound given that she was once in an abusive marriage and that several of the women in my family have also been in abusive marriages.

Things reached the point that my pride broke and I began looking at shelters. I told my ex that I was going to contact the police if he continued his behavior. He soon moved out after this with the promise that he would pay the rent on the apartment until I either moved out or the lease ended. Like all words that escaped his lips, this was a lie.

Two months later I came home to find under my door a notice to appear in court for an eviction hearing. The apartment management company never called me once nor did they ever follow MA law and send me all of the paperwork that comes before the eviction hearing notice. This was now the end of May 2014 and I had been looking for a place one month after we moved in together which was July 2013. The cost of apartments, my physical needs, the extreme biphobia in the Boston area (the minute potential roommates would hear that I’m bi they were no longer interested in me), and the housing shortage that left many of us scrambling to pay $800 to live in a closet in an unsafe house with 5 roommates no where near the train or life necessities left me unable to find anything. Thankfully I found the horrific place I’m in now at the last minute. I still had to go to court and deal with the mess though and of course my ex, nor his family, could be bothered to attend even though we were all legally obligated to be there. The one bright side of all of this is that I never have to see him nor his loathsome family ever again.

I had a few professional difficulties arise during this time. I have never been a fan of the area I live in. Over the years I’ve found it to be very gender conformist, racist, especially towards us Natives, pro-colonialism, horrifically biphobic, elitist, ableistic, puritanical, self-congratulatory, arrogant, stand offish, cold, and rude. This is not to say that I haven’t found some pleasures of living here, but it’s never been home. Despite this I’ve tried to be socially and politically active, but this came to a breaking point for me, like many things, in the spring of 2014.

I found myself disillusioned with the politics, parties, and the way social and political issues were addressed, if at all. An issue came about that caused great difficulty in my life. I found myself dealing with a set of -isms that were too blatant for me to ignore. After years of suffering out right abuse in “liberal” politics-being called an “injun,” hit on at work, told that I’m bi so bring in sexy bi girls to get the male donors, not being paid for my time and reimbursed for my expenses, told I don’t deserve time for a meal break during a 14 hour day, being told “If you don’t shut up I’m going to throw you through a wall” etc-I simply couldn’t take it anymore. While this situation was not that volatile it was still bad and indirectly told me that I was worthless. I left the environment and was soon threatened with a lawsuit. There were no grounds for the suit, but because of my financial state I couldn’t lawyer up. The same day the eviction notice came was the same day I was threatened with the law suit.

One week prior to this I finally snapped and tried to kill myself. The day I left behind unhealthy professional environments was the day my mother finally went too far with me. I have dealt with years of her emotional neglect, dismissal, and denial of the many abuses I’ve suffered over the years. I choose not to rehash them now, but they are great and they are painful beyond belief.

When I told her that I left this particular situation and why (over a text message because she never called me on any day) instead of giving me support and love or even saying a simply “I’m sorry” her immediate response was to say that her and my step-dad couldn’t give me money. I never said one word about money as a concern of mine let alone asked for money. This is a woman who once told me that I was only angry at her and my step-dad for not giving me enough money. Meanwhile I had just told her I was beyond hurt and angry for things such as her ignoring me telling her when I was only 14 that my boyfriend had raped me. Two months after that I tried to kill myself because I couldn’t take the nightmares and the other symptoms of PTSD any longer. She still denies this to this day. I think she doesn’t even believe that I was raped. Yet she has the audacity and the heartlessness to think that I’m shallow enough to be angry because they won’t give me money. This is one of many examples of heartache my mom has caused me.

I read that text and something in me just broke. I went to my liquor cart and grabbed my bottle of Jack, mind you it was the largest bottle of Jack you can buy, and I started drinking. I drank 3/4s of that bottle. That alone was enough to put me in a hospital. I didn’t stop there. I went to my pills next. Given my health problems I have my own pharmacy. I started mixing them all taking handfuls. I made sure to mix in a nice batch of the narcotics so that they would combined with each other and the alcohol and stop my breathing. I was also careful not to take so many pills that I would be sick and loose them all.

Apparently thanks to my worthless, broken body having health problems that goes back to my childhood I am now like an elephant. It takes large animal size tranquilizers to take me down. I didn’t even get one day of relief from my life. I woke up 6 hours later! I was a groggy, disoriented mess, but I was still awake. I never went to the doctor nor the hospital. I simply drank a lot of water and slept it off.

When I finally decided to tell my therapist and psychiatrist about it they naturally were worried, but sadly not too surprised. My shrink pushed for hospitalization, and then out patient day treatment, both of which I refused. I went through those horrors as a teenager and I’d sooner die then go through them again. [If asking for help means being forced into hospitalization I simply won’t ask for help. That’s how bad my experiences were as a teenager and how much I know about the US mental health care system (not that it deserves to be called “care”) as an adult. I’ll go it my own before I suffer that abuse again!]

After hearing everything I drank and took that night my psychiatrist said in so many words that I was lucky to be alive. I was furious I was alive! I stayed angry for months after. Some days I’m still angry about it. I’m not sure how I didn’t do it all over again, and for good measure slice wrists up like a child making paper dolls, when I received the court notice and the lawsuit threat. Believe me when I say I’ve had the thought many times since. Writing this now has me thinking about it.

I hate that I feel this full of pain and I wish I had the solution to make it all go away, but I’ve spent the bulk of my life trying to hide it all because when I asked for help no one cared. I can’t say that too many people (there are some and they are amazing, loving human beings!) seem to care still, but I refuse to be silent. I don’t give a damn anymore if that means lawsuits or if it hurts my career kissing ass to a bunch of self-righteous, self-congratulatory suits that don’t really care about those of us who are suffering in whatever manner that may be. I could care even less if it makes people “uncomfortable.” Too damn bad! If just hearing about my realities makes you uncomfortable then imagine living them? I am doing everything within my power to care for myself, to better myself, and to have the future that I so desperately want and so rightfully deserve.

In the mean time, I try to remind myself of something that two amazing women have said. One is my fabulous, Indigenous friend, Elyse. She has told me a few times when I’ve felt low that not only am I loved, but that our continual survival as Indigenous women is an act of resistance against colonialism and the powers that want to do away with us. I’ll admit that the few times I read that when I felt so low I wanted to cut myself, starve myself, drink myself into an oblivion, or even kill myself, I wanted to tell her to go “fuck herself.” Elyse is amazing person and I love her dearly, but those words don’t mean a lot in when you’re at one of your greatest moments of suffering. I always told myself though that she loved me enough to say that to me and helped relieve some of the pain.

The second woman whose words ring in my ears are Audre Lorde. I’ve always loved her saying “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Recently though an amazing revolutionary lovin’ man in Boston, Eroc, posted on his Facebook page another Lorde quote that I try to remember: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

My actions that make people so uncomfortable and angry with me that they go so far as to threaten me with unfounded law suits or personally attack my character are my form of self-preservation and that is my resistance against the colonizing powers that want to destroy me and this is one of my acts of political warfare.

Alienated, Full of Rage & Pain, & Fed the Fuck Up

Fuck men who eye rape me while waiting for the bus

Fuck men who are bus drivers who hit on me and make me feel unsafe

Fuck men who take advantage of a full train so they can rub against my ass

Fuck these asshole men who do these awful things all within a 20 minute time span on one fucking day so I can spin the fuck out and fall apart.

Fuck my mom for her half-assed emails that I only just saw because I checked my old email account.

Fuck her for thinking a half-assed apology without meat behind it would make things right

Fuck her for causing me more pain

Fuck the “community” and the goddamn white, well to do breeders for thinking that marriage “equality” was some big win for all of us.

Fuck white, financially well off gay men and women who think they have a right to be condescending to me, a Native American, bisexual, disabled, poor woman, with a long history of abuse in all its forms by telling me how hard life has been before gay marriage “equality”

Fuck WordPress for making me be subjected to their bullshit rainbow header because hey, today they care about all us queer folks. Never mind about all those days in which so many of us have been beaten, raped, imprisoned, impoverished, homeless, and so forth. Yeah, we matter today because those that are well off are suddenly “equal” under the fucking law.

Fuck them, fuck you, fuck everyone!

I’m fighting like hell to not self-destruct right now because there is NO safe space for me, but hey, I now have “equality.”

Owning My Pain Induced Fault Lines

I’ve recently come to some hard realizations regarding my past and how they are impacting my present. This may be the only time in the immediate future that I can get this out so I’m taking the plunge without editing so that I won’t erase the honesty of my situation.

I’ve thought that my mental illness presented itself when I was eight years old, but now I think it was childhood abuse and trauma that was coming through. I was standing in our ugly shower that’s the color of unhealthy bacteria laced phlegm sobbing with my mom’s disposable pink lady Bic razor against my wrist. I have no idea what upset me and how I learned that cutting one’s wrists could end one’s life, but there I was. For the last few years I’ve thought that that was the beginning of me becoming crazy and fucked up. I’ve viewed it as the start of me being damaged goods, but the reality is that it was the abuse in my house that led me there. I can’t even remember anything but bits of pieces of my childhood before the age of eight and I don’t have constant memories before the age of ten. This is also something I’ve only recently come to understand and grip the gravity of as unhealthy and abnormal.

I was raped when I was fourteen by my then nineteen year old boyfriend. I’ve always known that that I was young and just a kid when that happened, but because I had been through so much already and was smarter than average I never really thought of myself as a child. I didn’t see it as childhood sexual abuse. I never saw myself as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. That’s what it was though.

I’m not sure why seeing this all for what it was has been so difficult for me. Maybe it’s my own internalized self-blame and hatred. Perhaps by seeing myself in the role of more of an adult I was able to give myself more power when it was all taken away. I’m not sure, but I know that this has been unbearably painful and has rocked my sense of self-worth and ability to further cope in my current shitty life circumstances. There are things that have been a part of my life for the past several years that I can’t publicly speak about for a variety of reasons, but they only add to the trauma that I face. They add to the alienation I feel from people. This is all such a large part of why I’ve further pushed people away. Granted, I haven’t found many that are understanding and patient for me to let in, but the few that have come my way I somehow kick out of my life through a series of tests. Only a few people have had the understanding and compassion to stick by me through this all.

I don’t blame those who I don’t understand and it’s too much for them to deal with, but this is a small taste of what I’m going through. Every minute of every day I’m in pain. Between the fact that my body is a worthless hunk of junk that has continually let me down (now I have a lump in my right breast to contend to) or the trauma that I carry in my soul without any relief or comfort I simply don’t know how to let people be close to me. How do you let yourself open up to the idea of being loved when the overwhelming majority of your life you’ve been told time and time again that you’re so unworthy of life that you deserve abuse? Seriously, someone tell me how because I really don’t know.