Monday, May 14, 2007

How Blessed Are The Poor?

"Poverty is the worst form of violence." Who said that? It was Ghandi, I think. Not Jesus. Jesus was the one who said, "Blessed are the poor." I just spent four hours of fruitless waiting in a sweltering smelly room overflowing with the poor, the sick, the injured, and the deeply discouraged over at Our Lady of the Damned this morning, so I think I'm going to go with Ghandi on this one.

So. Speaking of poverty and violence, as kind of an aside, there was this article in the local paper today about a 30 year old inmate who committed suicide in the parish jail over the weekend. He had indicated that he had been depressed, so they placed him on suicide watch in an isolation cell "for his own protection." But when nobody was looking he managed to strangle himself to death with his own trousers.

According to the paper, "it is unknown as to why [he] took his life." "The only thing we know that could have contributed is his mother died about six months ago," a spokesman for the sheriff's department said. Actually she died a couple of years ago, but whatever. He was sad.

But the paper goes on to say the unfortunate guy was arrested on May 8 on a bench warrant for failure to appear for arraignment on charges of littering, speeding, driving while license is suspended, no proof of insurance, expired motor vehicle inspection sticker and resisting arrest. His bond was set at $1,000, and officials said he only needed $135 in cash to bond out. However, according to the article, he "was remanded to the parish jail because he could not raise the money." And the next day he tied the leg of his pants around his throat and pulled it tight enough to shut off the oxygen to his brain; by the time they found his body, it was too late for CPR.

So wait. Here's a guy who could not raise the $135 he needed to get himself out of jail, nor did he have any friends or family who could or would, in a town where 90% of the people never go to jail anyway because they know how to get their tickets "fixed," and the cops are utterly mystified why he might have been extremely despondent? Sheeyit. Ask Ghandi, people, not Jesus. This kind of abject poverty does honest to god brutal violence to the spirit.

I wasn't born into poverty myself, but to paraphrase Malvolio, I've sure as hell managed to achieve it and/or have it thrust upon me this past year. Though I'm still probably able to raise $135 if I need to. Anyway. I just thought that little glimpse of poverty was kind of enlightening. Because I think about the nature of poverty a lot these days.

Moving on to happier news, I've accepted an offer to sell my house. It's for 20% less than I was asking and 30% less than the appraisal, but it's the best I could do. If everything goes well, I'll have to be out of here in two weeks. It's an awkward squeeze though because I won't know for sure until the very last minute whether the sale is actually going to go through, so I'll have to really scramble to hire a moving company and find myself a new place to live within days. I can't afford to move out before the deal closes, because until I have the house sale money in my hot little fist, I'll need every penny I have left for daily subsistence. I'm really down to the wire, and I can't be handing my meager savings for rent and hiring movers yet, in case it all falls through.

But at least I think I have a place to go, whenever the house closes. It's a little tiny "cottage" (and what is a cottage really but a glorified shack that got a nice coat of paint slapped on it?) here in town, and it's owned by an acquaintance. Nobody's living there now, and he's willing to be flexible with my unpredictable schedule and let me move in whenever. It's cheap, and most important, dogs are allowed. So it's probably where I'll end up.

It's kind of cute on the outside:

It has a front porch.

I can plant roses and stuff in this sunny little bed along the south side of the house.

It's very old and originally there was no kitchen or bathroom. Here you can see that a little kitchen got tacked on to the back.

Here's the kitchen on the inside. There's no refrigerator, and that stove doesn't work: it's a gas stove, and there's no gas line to the house. I guess it's just there for decoration.

There's a little eating area down at the other end of the long narrow kitchen. The cool old sliding windows actually work, and have screens.

Instead of tacking on a bathroom like a lot of old houses, they converted one of the two bedrooms into an excessively large bathroom.

It's wild, the fixtures seem to just float around in all that empty space!

Lots of room! Maybe I can make this my office.

But what's big for a bathroom is cramped for a bedroom. The one remaining bedroom is very small and dark, cavelike with its low ceiling and half a window. There's barely going to be room for my queen size four poster bed, and there's no way to fit any bed in there without totally blocking at least one of the doors. This is unfortunate since the only air conditioning unit is in the bedroom, and with a door blocked, the cool air won't be able to circulate to the rest of the house.

This is the small area that the front door opens into: I guess it's called the living room, though it's really more like a foyer. The house was moved here from its original site and the chimney was left behind, so that fireplace is a walled-up dud. I suppose this area is where a few chairs and bookcases will go, so maybe we'll call it the library. I'll probably do most of my "living" in the kitchen where there's more light.

The neighborhood has a much higher crime rate than where I live now. There are several magnificent old mansions in the immediate area, including this kitty-cornered ante bellum beauty you can kind of see through the trees here (owned by a very cool lesbian couple). But there's also a rundown Section 8 apartment building next door, a funky little all-night pharmacy across the street that's always getting hit by desperate junkies, and the train tracks (both the literal and the proverbial tracks, as in "the wrong side of") are about 50 feet away.

So that's it. 550 square feet. There's no stove, no refrigerator, no laundry hookups, no heat, and not one single closet. I'm not even sure it's legal to call that a house. But it's where I'll be calling home if this sale goes through. And I'm going to do my damnedest to make it a good one.

I'm hoping it's just going to be a temporary stopover anyway, a few months, maybe a year. Once I figure out how much money, if any, I have left after I pay off my astronomical medical debts, and if my scans in July still show no evidence of cancer, then I can decide what to do next. Maybe I'll travel, pack up the dogs and go have some adventures in that treehouse on Bainbridge Island, or the beach house in Florida. Maybe I'll find a tiny place around here that I can afford to buy, or a lot where I can afford to build something tiny. Maybe a cute little Katrina Cottage. But maybe this shack is where I'm doomed to spend the rest of my days.

At any rate, I can assure y'all of one thing: if things ever get so bad that I can't raise the $135 I need to bail myself out of jail, I promise I'll put a damn PayPal button on this blog before I hang myself with a pair of knickers. Until then, I'm going to join the vast majority of the world's impoverished population and do my damnedest to make it work.

This is my current living room. How much of my stuff will fit in the new shack? Stay tuned to find out!


Blogger Mel said...

Even if I'm broker than shit, I'll donate.
I have been there all of my adult life. It sucks. Poverty fucking sucks. And so yeah, I'll donate.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Trasi said...

I'd donate. Seriously! Put a PayPal button on there for all of us to donate to your "fridge and stove" fund. Go get some used.
It's just payment for the grande education and entertainment that I get from reading your ramblings.

12:28 AM  
Blogger citygrrrl said...

count me in.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At any rate, I can assure y'all of one thing: if things ever get so bad that I can't raise the $135 I need to bail myself out of jail, I promise I'll put a damn PayPal button on this blog before I hang myself with a pair of knickers."

Thank you.

Meanwhile, I can see the potential for a beautiful garden even on these questionable grounds. It's like a blank canvas waiting to be painted with all your bright colors.

Maybe since they're offering you 20% less than your asking price you can take 20% of the roses at your current home with you when you leave.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Sassy Pants said...

I've been absolutely fascinated by what people have done with tiny little spaces over at this site -

With your awesome style sensibilities, I'm sure you can rock the office/commode cunundrum. I can't wait for blog posts from the throne room.

1:33 PM  
Blogger The Pietilas said...

I second that Put a PayPal button there now! For a fridge at the very very least. You should be at the very least sort of compensated for your writing work here at Spinning Tumor. I pay for newspapers and magazines because I like the read....

3:02 PM  
Blogger johnieb said...

I'd appreciate not having to go through Finn again (yeah, I did), though I did enjoy getting "acquainted" with him and the donut bidness fer a spell.

So, whar's the fuckin kitty? Sheez, Liz, if you weren't so damned contrary ya wouldn't be here, so I'm glad, but dayum!

Liked some things about it, but a stove'd be damned handy eventually.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I've lived in some very similar places and always made it work.Your potential place looks cute and quirky to me.

9:27 PM  
Blogger citygrrrl said...

also, if you do decide to build in the future, check this place out. i just got a book from them with plans. very cool company.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

I am sorry your house is selling for less than you hoped, and I certainly sympathise with the inevitable trauma of moving.

However, as someone who has spent most of my life living in teeny tiny spaces, it's not all bad if you get the furniture to match. The main problem I guess is trying to fit pre-existing stuff into a littler space.

Why not sell all your furniture, and replace it with smaller lighter stuff? Most of my small rooms had a single bed (which can also sleep two people at a squeeze if they're not fussed about not being able to spread out), or alternatively the futon bed which folds up and becomes a sofa (thereby freeing up the space and unblocking your doors during the day).

I'm terrible at clinging to posessions although having had to move house multiple times has spurred me to pare them down to the bare necesseties. One of the worst things to let go was books (i love books! they're like my babies!) but in the end I managed to keep only the most precious and give away or sell everything else. A few years ago a fire destroyed most of my posessions, and after the initial shock and grief it was actually ok - I realised that most of the crucial stuff lived in my head anyway, I didn't need the physical reminders.

Maybe you should set up a button for 'help liz get an electric stove and fridge fund'

Good luck.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Thanks to everyone for the support, both emotional and financial, especially one very special person who donated my first month's rent over at my son't blog. WOW, I'm floored! THANK YOU.

I don't really have the time or the means to sell my furniture, so I'm donating a lot of it to some Katrina victims who're rebuilding, to the local shelter for domestic abuse victims, and to a local family with no insurance whose house burned down last week and they lost everything. The biggest problem has been finding volunteers who will come pick it up, since I don't have a truck.

I need to hang on to my big bed because it has a super duper special bad back mattress that I can't afford to replace. But it's amazing how light I feel, watching stuff fly out of here. The things that make me sad to part with are never the expensive stuff.

I've lived in tiny spaces before and managed well. If worse comes to worst, I just pretend I'm living on a boat and then suddenly it seems like an exotic adventure. The only thing I'm freaking out about now is the zero closet business. Where to store bulky winter coats, and Unsightly things like the vacuum cleaner, the ironing board, the step ladder? Gaaah!!! But in a way it's actually kind of fun trying to come up with creative inexpensive solutions.

Again, thanks to eveyone. I may put a PayPal button up in a few days.

9:29 AM  
Blogger SMMO said...

Maybe set up some kind of clothes storage in the big bathroom?

I'm no gardener, but I bet you'll make that space beautiful. Good luck with it all.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Carny Asada said...

That little house is CUUUUUUTE. And once the roses go in, it'll look like a B&B.

I like the idea of the office in the enormous bathroom. Wasn't it Marat who liked to write in his bathtub? I think that didn't end up too well for him, though.

Will your friend let you sell the gas stove and replace it with an electric one? If not, I guess you could always set the hot plate on it!

11:16 PM  
Blogger momo said...

I was going to suggest that you sell some of your stuff on ebay to raise money for appliances, but your generosity in donating it to folks who need it is wonderful. If you don't put up a paypal button, could you tell me where I can find your son's blog?

2:43 PM  
Blogger momo said...

Found it!

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda off topic: Liz what brand mattress are you using? And is it on a box spring or boards, and...? I too have a scoliosis (rods) and a spondylolisthesis (brackets and screws) and spend my life wishing for a good mattress. I have to buy soon. Presently have a sagging Beautyrest 17 years old. Tsk.

What have you found words for you?

9:30 AM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Medea, I use a natural latex mattress with box springs, and a 2" memory foam pad on top. It's been the best thing ever. Whenever I sleep away from home, my back really suffers.

9:40 AM  
Blogger dajamama said...

I'm a little reluctant to offer advice after the previous post, but perhaps a gentle suggestion...your gas stove might be converted pretty easily to propane, and then you can just have a (cleverly disguised by roses, natch) propane tank sitting outside the kitchen.

Just a thought.

Good luck - you're still my hero.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moving company
House moving

10:39 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

You have actually completely missquoted the bible, it only says "blessed are the poor" if you cut Jesus off mid sentence!

The actual verse is "Blessed are the poor in spirit for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them". Poor in spirit has nothing to do with money. The way I read it is - "Those who are downtrodden, depressed, lonely etc are going to be blessed, because i'm going to look after them in the Kingdom of Heaven since they have it so tough in this life".

Sorry to get all technical on you and I hope you don't delete this, but just wanted to clear it up.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have held many things in my hand, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in the hand of God, I still possess.

Blessed are the poor! All you have is being taken, so that all you have left is Christ, until you realize this, more will be taken til you have nothing, only when you have nothing can you begin to be filled. Blessed are the poor! For they look to Christ for relief.

The Lord commonly gives riches to foolish people, to whom he gives nothing else.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

I when through some of your blog posts and in my opinion you have a flair to write. Keep it up, hope more will come !

office removals in London

3:12 PM  

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