Friday, May 8, 2015

Another Update to my GoFundMe campaign - 5/8/2015

I slept in until 9am this morning, the latest I've gotten up in a very long time.  Got dressed and took Kazé for an extended morning constitutional – and even picked-up his poop.  I did a lot of thinking during the walk – especially as I passed properties that are being fixed-up.  I don’t know what I should do – save the money it would take to fix this place up, knowing I will leave it in a couple of months, or try like crazy to keep this house and them put in some money and sweat equity to fix some of its problems.  This house means the world to me – there’s no denying that if I had a choice I would stay here.  I have lived in this house longer than at any other address and every nook & cranny is filled with memory.  I watched my boys grow into men here, nurtured an entire cadre of rented kinds within these walls.  This house is home for me – Erhard and I began our new life here in Rockford at a different address, but considered this house our true Rockford home.  Now the thought of leaving it behind because I've lost it to the bank is heartbreaking.  Every time I think I’m over it – and ready to move on something pulls me back here.  It feels like another death of family event.
On top of that I have been informed by Muzyka Funeral Home that my beloved brother (Steve’s) cremains are finally back (he donated his body to medical research following his death from the autoimmune syndrome know as Wegener’s Granulomatous).  I have waited 2½ years for him to return and now I can’t ransom his ashes because I don’t have the $225.00 required to close-out my account with the funeral home.  I don’t blame them – they handled all the arrangements and transport beautifully and deserve to get paid – I just don’t have the money.  I want him home.  I have my mother’s and Erhard’s ashes and have always imagined interring them all together.  But I cannot conjure money out of thin air and although I am taking on as many hours at work as I can get I am just beginning to break even and being able to support myself somewhat.

I pray every day that my story makes it out there and that serendipity is generous.  I want to turn back the clock to a time when I was the “fairygodmama” to others – helping them in their time of need or want.  I know that once I can I will do it again.  But right now I am the one in need and this is the only forum I know of that might prove my solution.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

TOUCHING BASE 05.02.2015

Today would have been my 34th wedding anniversary.  Its days like this that give rise to much introspection on my part – of where my life has taken me and where it’s going now.  I've just finished my third week of work and I am glad that I have the opportunity to contribute to my own support.  I am also more keenly aware than ever of how much more difficult my life is without a car.  I took the bus to work yesterday – and while I am rejoicing in that feeling of independence it comes with a price – it adds a full 90 minutes to my commute one-way.  Taking the bus both ways would turn a normal 8-hour workday into an 11-hour sojourn.  Besides leaving me completely exhausted and in more pain than I have had in quite some time, it makes it difficult for my dog, Kazé as well – perhaps a side concern – but a very real one for anyone who has ever cared for a beloved pet. 

This morning, as Kazé & I took our usual hour-long constitutional I was also very attuned to the fact that while I need cat & dog food, kitty litter, and household supplies, I have no way of getting to anywhere that sells them.  Nothing is within walking distance here – even though I live in the heart of Rockford.  While I have the money to buy my cats’ food I have no rational means of transportation that would allow me to bring those purchases back home.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the support I have already received – I am flabbergasted and humbled by the outpouring of generosity I have experienced.  

I just fear that I’m not getting any further than this.  I have been looking at cars – hoping that I could find one for less money than I had originally asked for in my campaign – but the truth of the matter is that not a single usable car was priced under $4995 (and even then these had well over 150,000 miles on them already).   If I don’t increase the amount of my campaign goal I simply won’t be able to get my freedom back.  I won’t be able to do the things I need – and that leaves me saddened and frustrated.

My sister Angie will soon have major surgery and getting to her is absolutely impossible without a vehicle.  There is nothing running south from Rockford along the Rock River – no bus, train, or pony ride I could take.  Oregon is over 30 miles away – way too far for even my “Chicago-legs” & my love of walking and hiking.  I am her guardian and I am getting desperate.

Looking around my home I am also acutely aware that the clock is ticking on my being able to remain here – I have less than 2 months in which to raise enough money to attempt a reasonable modification and/or renegotiation of the mortgage on this property.   Since my name did not appear on the loan, and my beloved husband left no will or final instructions, I am required to have far more money up-front in order to begin this process.  I have almost nothing to start with.  Every cent I have been given so far has gone to pay-up my past-due utilities (which are now current – and for which I am immensely grateful & relieved).  

But if I can’t rescue my home or act as my sister’s guardian in the fullest sense of that responsibility my campaign will have only  succeeded in making my situation better and I will still be prevented from “giving-back” to those I love and beginning the process of empowering others in my position to rebuild their lives.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Life Makeover 3.0

I am a 57 years old widow that is looking for a way to reboot her life and also "pay it forward" as I go. After years as a caregiver I lost almost everyone in my family over the course of the last seven years (my mother in 2007, my dear husband of 30 years in October of 2011 and my beloved older brother just 11 months later). Then just four monthes after that my sister Angela got very sick and spent the better part of the next 15 months in-and-out of intensive care.

I was widowed suddenly, and we had used up all of our savings in the months prior on my husband's deteriorating health and he left no life insurance or will. As a result I have been thrust into poverty. While I have finally graduated from college (after taking an additional two years off to care for my dying brother and my sister) I am unable to find a job that would allow me to do this on my own in the time allowed me.

My home is in foreclosure and I only have 90 days to rescue it, I am two months behind in all of my bills, I just got a job - but it's part-time. I need a car first and foremost - so that I can continue to act as my developmentally disabled sister's guardian and to take on a second job because my own car finally died. I suffer from severe fibromyalgia and arthritis which makes doing things extremely painful.

I want to be independent and productive and a car and the ability to rescue my home would allow me to do this. I want to help other women who are in my position - finding their entire lives turned upside down just as they are reaching their 50's. I want to continue to offer solace to young people who would otherwise not find safety in their present situation. I have a B.S. in Psychology and a loving, caring heart and given the chance I can make a real difference in people's lives.

I owe several years past due Real Estate taxes (ever since my husband died), 5939.47 is the minimum I need in order to negotiate a loan modification, student loans will start in June, I presently owe 1256.24 in utility bills so I don't have everything shut off, and a decent, not fancy car. There are other expenses I haven't listed because it all seems a bit overwhelming - even to me.

I have lived in this house for almost 25 years and it has always been a refuge for others. It's an old house and over the years has accumulated a number of serious maintenance issues - none of which I can pay for right now. Many a "rented kid" has found a home here - even a single mother and her kids trying to put their lives back together.

I am not sure I could continue to do this in any other space and without help now... please help me continue to be a source of solace and support. I know there are other women who find themselves here after a sudden radical change in their lives and young people who need a place where they can feel safe being who they are.

But right now I desperately need to catch-up on my bills and then more than anything I need another car because my sister will again require extensive surgery and there is no other way to get to Oregon Illinois from Rockford (no bus or train service) and I have always been there for her - it's only been a year since she was so ill I almost lost her. Back then I had a car (12 years old) but now even that is gone.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

reflections on a genocide studies class

I came to this class the first time in the spring of 2012, just a few months after my husband died.  At that time I was a Psychology major/Anthropology Minor/ and LGBT Studies Certificate student.  I originally signed up for the class because I knew that my interpretation of genocide, and especially the Holocaust, had been skewed by the atrocious memories of my mother and mother-in-law, both of whom were German, both driven from their homes by an advancing Russian army.  I wanted a scholarly perspective that went beyond rhetoric.  Over the course of the first time through the class I was horrified to discover how few episodes of genocide I had actually been aware of and the causes and outcomes of each haunted my thoughts and put me on a search for a meaning behind such madness.  Over the ensuing two years my life has gone through many personal changes – much of it upheaval in the most intrinsic sense.  As I watched my life implode little by little I continued to think back on the catastrophic effects genocide produced in individuals for whom, it can honestly be said, the world as they knew it was obliterated forever.
I returned to the class this semester with the same academic aspirations, but with a new perspective on life.  I saw even the most all-consuming tragedy as an amoral event given moral valance by the actions (and inactions) of each individual involved – however indirectly.  I began to dig deeper into the information presented throughout the class, always searching to ascertain where individual agency manifested itself, and what resulted from it.  I especially centered on issues of complicity – both for those that become perpetrators and for those that stand by and do nothing.  Throughout the readings, and in conjunction with the research I did in preparation for the two APBR projects, I delved deeply into both the effects of collective ideology and the psychology behind individual agency.  At times I brought controversial opinions to the discussion because I want a forum where such things could be openly debated – and I was not disappointed.
Prior to coming to Northern I had graduated from an intensive two-year Lay Ministry certification program through the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.  It was there that I found my true passion in the study of belief.  Not just religious belief, but belief as a human construct and intrinsic dimension of our make-up.  This class has not only fueled that passion but given it a present-day immediate relevance as well, as every episode of genocide was expounded via the perspective of what did the parties involved believe as these events unraveled.  As a result I plan to take the knowledge gleaned from this class and funnel it back into my own research in order to give voice to the importance of individual responsibility and the power of agency.  I am confident that once the history vaults are thoroughly scrubbed of shaded interpretations, a method can be found that will enable social scientists to begin the daunting task of reminding the world what it truly means to be a socially-situated human creature and world citizen.  I want to be part of that process – through writing, research, speaking, and engagement.
Many years ago I read Karl Menninger’s “Whatever Became of Sin?” in which he examines the consequences of losing touch with individual issues of accountability and recompense.  In this class I have had been privileged to bookend that lesson with what happens when this occurs among large groups of people.
This has left me convinced that the asking of forgiveness must not be accompanied by amnesia.  It is vital that we continue to remember and learn from each genocidal event so that these incidents can one day be finally relegated to the pages of history.  But not a history cloaked in either polemic or whitewash.  But a history that is ours to bear and bear up.  If I would erase the tragedies of my own individual life, what would become of the person I am today?  If we attempt a revisionist view towards the darker aspects of our collective history, what part of our humanity will be sacrificed in the process?  This class has taught me in graphic and unforgettable terms what happens when good people forget, and the voices of evil are the only ones remaining to be heard. 
Time and again areas of the world have descended into serial episodes of intractable horror only to emerge with the belief that forgetting is the best path to healing.   Generations grow up not knowing their collective cultural history or the responsibility bequeathed to them because of it.  There was a time when I truly wished my mother could forget, and I harbored a deeply-seated but unspoken rage at the unspeakable events she survived.  Today I know that had I succeeded in forgetting I would have been no better in preventing the continued existence of such evil as if I had personally succumbed to it.  We must stand together as one voice for justice – no matter the location, the people; the time.  We must accept the harsh reality that for every possible crime within the constellation of genocide it could be us and move toward bringing that reality and the implications of its truth to the wider audience of the world.
The last time the Honors group met you said that in your work in Cyprus you had “managed to make both sides angry, so you must be doing something right.”  I smiled then, but that statement profoundly summed up what must be done by everyone with breath so that bringing to light the realities of these tragedies can be a path to reconciliation, forgiveness and education.  I would like to believe that genocide is something we, as a species, can someday prevent forever.  But rather than focus on that, this course has taught me that the more important concentration must be on “what can I do today to make sure it isn’t happening on my watch?” 
I wish there was a part-two to this class because I feel there is so much left to learn, but another benefit of this experience is that I am now aware of a myriad of resources where I can continue to study on my own and where one day I hope to have some small measure of impact.  Beyond the various disciplines that define my intellectual passions, I am a writer by heart, and it is through that vehicle that I hope to leave my mark in the ongoing struggle for Human Rights and Justice.  This class has armed me with a wealth of information and a more astute understanding of some of the most horrifying and tragic world events and how the consequences of these continue to influence the world today, and a deeper belief in the importance of the individual in all aspects of this reality. For that I am profoundly grateful.