Hey guys!

Cracker and I have had a very, very blessed month.

Let me start by saying all is well with my pregnancy and our little drifter who has found home within my body. After 3 consecutive miscarriages since April of last year, we have held our breaths with this one. We got to hear our little drifter's beautiful heartbeat for the first time on July 24th. I've had some issues since then with severe, persistent morning sickness (known medically as Hyperemesis Gravidarum) but we've found the right combination of medications after losing 15 lbs and a few days in the hospital. We have our NT scan on Monday which gives us a guess as to whether our baby is at risk for Down's Syndrome and other Trisomy disorders. All in all, everything is going great with the baby, and we are out of the danger zone for miscarriage.

Camping hasn't been bad at all. In fact, it has been quite comfortable. We've been taking it day by day, and looking for jobs all over town. Last week, Cracker landed a job as a bouncer at one of the top bars in the city. It's a part-time gig, but it's a start. We got lucky one day in the last week and found $30 on the floor in a local McDonald's which fed us for a few days. With Catholic Action Center being closed for a few weeks, it's become difficult to eat in the evenings, but we've been scraping by. Yesterday, I overheard a young man at the library telling the librarian that he is doing a documentary on homelessness. Once he was finished speaking with her, I jumped up and mentioned that I couldn't help but overhear his conversation and if he wanted to talk to a homeless couple, Cracker and I would be happy to share our story.

Over the course of two hours we told our story and answered countless questions that this man had for us. We learned that he is a pastor from a church in Versailles, and his project is going to be a 15-20 minute documentary on homelessness (Adam, if you wanna add something about that, shoot me an E-mail and I'll add it to this post!) We got him hooked up with a street card and got him going in the right direction for dinner. I told him, if he wanted to, he could meet me at McDonald's and I'd get him to the Community Inn for the night to sleep.

8pm rolls around and Adam and I hook up at McDonald's (Cracker was at work.) I answered more questions and we had a good talk about all aspects of homelessness, and I even got to introduce him to a few people who have some interesting stories. After about an hour or more I walked him up to the Inn. In return for our assistance, he gave us a Visa gift card with a few bucks on it. That was God again, making sure we got some grub. I thanked him, wished him luck, made sure he got in and headed back to McDonald's. The rest of the night was rather uneventful, and today was fairly uneventful until this evening.

We're walking back to camp, and a cop spots us going down the side of the overpass. He stops us, and immediately a feeling of dread settles in the pit of my stomach. My anxiety instantly goes through the roof, and it's so bad at this moment that our little drifter goes nuts moving around. I thought for sure we were going to jail. Technically, we're trespassing where we're camping at. After a 20 minute discussion and an I.D. check, the officer comes back and says legally he can't let us stay there. However, his moral compass kept him from running us off leaving us with no where to go. Long story short, this officer got us a motel room for two weeks. I've got tears in my eyes as I write this, because this man doesn't know us from Adam and he has spent $320 out of his own pocket to put us somewhere safe.

His reasoning behind this selfless act of supreme kindness? God.
Cracker has another job interview tomorrow for another security position. If he gets the job, we'll be able to move into an apartment at long last in two weeks, and we can start a new chapter of our lives. If (when) this happens, I can tell you that this blog will not die. Our experiences in the last five months have humbled us, and it has opened a new path for me. I can finally say that I have found my calling.

I have always had a passion for writing, but in order to do it for a living I need to be writing about something I am passionate about. I hope to take this blog and put it on paper in the form of a weekly or monthly publication. My ideas are still in the early stages, but I can't let it go. I cannot turn my back on a community that has shared our struggles over the last five months. I may not like every homeless person in Lexington, but there are so many men and women who have found a spot in my heart and these same men and women deserve to have a voice, an advocate who truly knows what their needs are.

I really hope that we get to share our story at Adam's church to the youth group, because I feel like...if our story can change just one life, and open just one mind then that's one more life that will not fall not victim to the streets and that's one mind that can think forward to the progression the homeless community deserves.

Most people have this preconceived notion that people are homeless because of their addictions and sheer laziness. I'll be honest, that's a significant percentage of the homeless population. You are right to think that. But it's not fair to pass that judgment on the entire homeless community. There are people losing their jobs and homes every day. There are people trying to scramble up out of this hole they've fallen into. Some are hindered by addiction, some are barred by a criminal past. There are so many people in the homeless community that are just stuck between a rock and a hard place. Background checks, security deposits, requests for first and last month's rent, and unreasonably high rental rates make it damn near impossible for some of us to get on our feet.

The average poor worker makes $9,100 a YEAR.
You do the math, and tell me how the hell these people make it.
The welfare system is bursting at the seams because of the criminally low minimum wage rate and unfairly high prices of rentals. I have seen efficiency apartments go for as much as $550 a month. That's ridiculous, especially when someone's trying to support a family.

God willing, this is a period of transition for us and a sign of better times to come.
I'm going to wrap this post up with this one question...
What can YOU do to help bring awareness to this epidemic?
I challenge you to do something, anything to help the homeless in your area.
If you're brave enough, go out there for a day. Eat at the soup kitchens, sleep in a shelter, get just a taste on your spiritual tongue of what this life is like. I can promise that in some way...it will change you.

Until next time, my friends.
Stay safe!


A Quick Update

I'm so, so sorry I've fallen behind on this blog. Things have been so hectic lately, I just haven't had the time up until now!

As a quick update, the American Drifters are still in Lex, KY. We've moved camp twice in the last month, and have a tight little spot overlooking the railroad tracks (suh-weet!) I took a pregnancy test on July 2nd and we learned that we are expecting! We're due March 6th or March 8th (it's a back and forth struggle for the due dates, ha) and so far, things are going great. After 3 miscarriages, it's nice to have an OB who listens, and I was surprised to learn that they even have a social worker at the office who can help you find resources you need.

It came as no surprise that I was actually listing off some resources to the Social Worker. Cracker and I have an uncanny ability to find the charities and services that aren't listed where everyone can see.

We're trying to hold out hope that my settlement will arrive soon, because we want to do one big drift before Christmas. The pregnancy is high risk, and I don't expect to be able to travel after then, and really I don't want to be drifting at the peak of the flu season while pregnant. We're crossing our fingers tight and praying to the good Lord above that we get the chance to spend 60 days drifting across the U.S., checking stuff out and living a little before responsibility puts an iron shackle on us for the next 18 years (albeit, it's a shackle we're anxiously anticipating.)

I have posts in store over the coming days and weeks.
I don't want to crowd everything into one post, and I know I'll be at the library with great frequency for a while. My plans are to post up some resources, some experiences from the last month, and some articles I've been collecting on my Facebook about homelessness and the way society seems to try to control it instead of abolish it.

Until next time, folks, Cracker is out beating the streets for a job and I'm off to other ventures. I have to admit that time seems to go by all too slowly lately. Maybe it's because I'm already anxious for March to come?



Bad Luck or Bad Choices?

It seems like we've been struck with a string of bad luck.

Either that or we're making choices God doesn't approve of, but we've taken our personal inventories and really have come to the conclusion that our luck was pretty fricken rotten until today. Last Sunday Cracker and I had it out and he wound up going to jail. One of the downsides to being homeless - you can, and often will, find yourself in the jail at least once for trespassing somewhere. I have yet to go, but my poor husband got to spend Memorial Day Weekend in FCDC for it.

I made a poor decision while he was in there, and had no knowledge of why he was in jail or when he would be getting out. To put it bluntly, I had a bad mental breakdown compounded by separation anxiety and overdosed on 100 Vistaril. I'm okay now, my stomach isn't but that's another story, and I may have found a new viewing audience.

Okay, updates out of the way...I'd like to say hi to my new viewers, and thank you for taking a look. This post is inspired partly by a very kind hearted nurse over at Good Sam named Bill who said that as a medic, it's often hard to see what it's like on the other end of the stick with the homeless. I'll tell you what though, it's not just hard for people in the field of emergency medicine but I give them props because they deal more closely with the homeless than many other professions in the employment industry. Emergency rooms are often frequented by the homeless who have minimal access to constant healthcare, and often have greater health care needs due to debilitating health as a consequence of poor nutrition, hygiene and the works. I hope this blog brings some enlightenment to those who are curious as to what this life is really like.

After my umpteenth visit to the ER, I was told that I could be seen over at the Health Department so I managed to set up an appointment today over there to finally be seen for chronic care and a full health physical. Thank you, Jesus! I talked with a MSW (social worker) and my fees will be based on my income (or lack thereof). I had no clue I had access to this, which is why it deserves special recognition in this post.

Health First Bluegrass
650 Newtown Pike (Medical Clinic)
Lexington, KY 40508

HFB offers a full service medical clinic and what I believe is an emergency dental clinic. They work on a sliding fee scale based on your income and offer great service, from what I've seen and been told. Go right in, and ask how you go about being seen for an initial visit. You will need to bring government issued I.D. and proof of income. If you have no income, and are homeless, you can talk to the social worker about getting assistance to be seen.


Now I'd like to take a moment to a show a bit of the Christian-based hypocrisy that kept me away from organized religion for some years. There's a place called the New Life Day Center on Martin Luther King Blvd in downtown. It's a great little program they've got going on and they offer storage lockers, pastries and coffee for breakfast, access to community resources, computers, a phone and several different faith-based classes and movies throughout the week. They have a doctor that comes in to see the homeless, and they have a big screen TV for the visitors to watch while they're there.

It really is a great program, I loved it up until the owner proved to be a spiteful liar.
He claims he paid for our tickets to Portland, OR (that trip as y'all know was a flop. We were supposed to stay with Cracker's sister, she was a no show, we got stranded and got the idea to set this up for those who don't know.) and refused to hear why we returned to Lexington.

The very next day, we found out that God's Net actually paid for our tickets.
Steve still claims he paid out of pocket, and we're now banned from any services at the day center.

"I'm sorry brother, I can't have you back here. Too much trouble." Those were his words to my husband. Now, people have been banned and given permission to come back. We've watched certain people cause numerous disturbances there in the last 3 months. We have not caused one disturbance. But we're banned.

It's alright, everything happens for a reason. But I have one question...why would you approach someone, allege to be their brother in Christ, allege to be a Christian yet pass such a hearty judgment upon another? Where is the love that God wants him to show all people? What have we done to personally offend him? Maybe one day I'll work up the courage to confront Steve face-to-face, but until that day comes I have to blindly forgive his misjudgment.

But just for future reference, don't refer to us as 'brother', 'sister' or whatever if you're going to kick us out the door. That's contradictory and rude in my fair opinion. I wouldn't ever go up to my brother and say "Hey bro, I can't have you in my house because I spent some money on you." You get what I'm saying?

For now, the American Drifters are doing fairly well.
Cracker got out on a steady ticket today through the labor pool, which is great, and I have another 5 hours to kill somehow. I finally got a chance to check out the last book in a series I've been reading, so hopefully I can go sit somewhere and read...and hopefully it won't rain today.

Until next time, folks!!



Real Statistics

I wanted to do something a little different with this post. I have 15 minutes left to write it, so there's going to be a lot of cutting and pasting.

I got these statistics from The National Alliance to End Homelessness so forgive me if they are wrong in any way. I often look to the NAEH (I like to abbreviate everything) for statistics and stories on homelessness.

Economic Factors Lending to Homelessness in America:
-The number of poor households that spent more than 50 percent of their incomes on rent – defined by HUD as households that are “severely housing cost burdened” – increased by 6 percent from 5.9 million in 2009 to 6.2 million in 2010. Three-quarters of all poor renter households had severe housing cost burdens.
-The number of unemployed people increased by 4 percent from 14.3 million in 2009 to 14.8 million in 2010. The unemployed population increased in 32 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Unemployment rose by 10 percent or more in 11 states.
-The average real income of working poor people increased by less than one percent, from about $9,300 in 2009 to about $9,400 in 2010. There was not a single county in the nation where a family with an average annual income of $9,400 could afford fair market rent for a one-bedroom unit.
-Foreclosure activity continued to increase with nearly 50,000 more homes in foreclosure in 2010 than in 2009. Foreclosures increased from 2.83 million units in 2009 to 2.88 million units in 2010, a 2 percent increase. Nationally, 1 out of every 45 housing units was in foreclosure in 2010. In Nevada, 1 out of every 11 housing units had a foreclosure.

Demographic Factors (this report examines four populations at increased risk of homelessness: people living in “doubled up” situations, people discharged from prison, young adults leaving foster care, and people without health insurance.)
-The “doubled up” population (people who live with friends, family or other nonrelatives for economic reasons) increased by 13 percent from 6 million in 2009 to 6.8 million in 2010. The doubled up population increased by more than 50 percent from 2005 to 2010.
-In addition to people living doubled up, people recently released from prison and young adults who have recently been emancipated from the foster care system (aged out) are also at increased risk of homelessness. The odds for a person in the general U.S. population of experiencing homelessness in the course of a year are 1 in 194.
For an individual living doubled up the odds are 1 in 12.
For a released prisoner they are 1 in 13.
For a young adult who has aged out of foster care they are 1 in 11.
-The number of people without health insurance increased by 4 percent from 47.2 million in 2009 to 48.8 million in 2010. Nationally, 1 out of every 6 people is uninsured.

The odds for a person in the general U.S. population of experiencing homelessness in the course of a year are 1 in 194. Look around you, I'm sure it wouldn't take long for you to count up 194 in your immediate surroundings, unless you live in Bum Fuck Egypt, heh. One of those 194 people is likely to experience homelessness within the next year. Hell, for the Facebook junkies that could be 5 or 6 friends! You never know when you're looking the homeless in the eye sometimes. Most people are shocked to hear that my husband and I are homeless because we are two average-looking individuals amongst the general population of the U.S.

I'm going to wrap up for now. I think there's enough power behind these statistics to get my point across: Even though the homeless trend wavers, you cannot deny that it is a rising epidemic and it's due in part to the rising costs of living in America. The line between poor and middle class is being washed away. The line between the middle class and the rich is being drawn in the ground deeper and deeper with every fleeting minute.

I have one question to ask you: are you going to do anything to help bring these fluctuating numbers down?



Icehoused Hangovers

I wanted to post yesterday.
Really, I did. But we wound up going to take showers and then going right back to camp. I'll tell you what, I've drank a lot of alcohol in my short 24 years, and I've had a few hangovers to tell about but nothing compares to the hangover given to a 5'4" 125lb woman who's drank 6-7 of the bitches. SERIOUSLY. Besides, I prefer tequila or whiskey over beer any day. I truly forgot how wretched a beer hangover can really be until yesterday.

So anyways, the night before last we went over to this carpet place and got some carpet padding to put under the tent. Talk about feeling like you're sleeping on a plush bed! Compared to that hard ground, it was heaven to lay back on that carpet padding.
We finally got things a little more situated in our tent, and even built a small fire last night to enjoy for about an hour. It also helped to chase off the monster mosquitoes we have at camp. I thought they were big and bad in Florida...these guys come in a close second to the Floridian species of mosquitoes. Seriously, some of these bitches might just carry me away one day...

One place I need to mention in this post is Calvary Baptist Church. For $10 a month you get a membership to their recreational center, and this is for anyone, and they have showers open for card holders on most days from 6am to 8pm. Not a bad deal! The public homeless can come in and take a shower from 6am to 8am Monday through Friday. I'm honestly not sure about the weekend hours, I'm pretty sure weekends are card holders only, though.

They provide soap, shampoo, razors, towels, washcloths etc. and the water gets nice and HOT. You gotta fiddle with the knob though a bit. I found out the hard way that the red markers on the plate do not indicate that's where the hot water is. The first 5 minutes of my shower were spent in frustrated confusion, trying not to swear and asking God to forgive me my errant frustrations. I was about ready to give up and take a hot shower when I turned the faucet to the 'cold' section of the back plate and finally found that nice, hot 120 degree water. Mmmmm, yeah buddy!

We're slightly screwed on food stamps at the moment. We've already blown through them, but luckily Cracker got out at the labor pool today (been there every day this week at 4am!!) And I'm out at the library trying to kill some time.

I'm thinking of having him go over to God's Net to talk to Ginny so we can go back into the Community Inn if they don't shut it down tomorrow. We won't be staying there, but it'll be nice to get in there and get a somewhat hot shower with horribly under-pressurized water and then leave for camp. At least until we can afford for the both of us to get a monthly membership at Calvary Baptist. It's pretty cool that they offer those services to everyone, including the homeless. Not only do they have hot showers, but they have an indoor basketball court, game room with pool and fooseball, an exercise room upstairs and who knows what else. It's a nice set up and I'd like to get in with some of that exercise equipment and start toning up a bit more. Walking has done my body great, but it's time to firm up these flabby bits of muscle and start looking fit and trim again.

Anyways guys, we ain't up to much. Being our ol' cracker selves up here in the bluegrass. I can't wait to post some pictures of the camp, and to post some pictures of the tent we're saving up for. Our camp will be the most pimped out spot you can possibly find in Lexington, believe that!!!

Until next time folks...



Hectic Times

Sorry guys, life has gotten really hectic and crazy in a span of a week. We safely touched down back in Lexington, KY last Monday. We were put up overnight in Indianapolis by Greyhound because we missed our connection there which made us miss our connection in Cincinatti. It was nice to have a night of respite.

Shortly after coming home to Lexington, we were informed we had to move so...the American Drifters are back on the streets and this time for a good minute. We've got a pimp ass spot off the railroad tracks, but we were in a rush to set it up our rinky-dink baby tent (it's a 2-man 7x7) because it was pouring down rain all day Sunday. We're getting more situated now, and hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures of the homestead soon.

We got a chance to add some clothing to our wardrobe, too. There was a Redneck sale going on at Wal-Mart and all Real Tree and Mossy Oak camo pants and sweaters on this particular rack were only $5 a piece so we indulged. I love livin' in tree camo, especially in the woods. Now I'm working on getting a tree stand and a paintball gun...

Yes, sir I have devious ideas at hand ;)



Meeting Portland's Finest

Getting arrested isn't fun regardless of where you live, but it really sucks when you're kind of STUCK in a big city. Yesterday, the cops rolled up on us while sitting under the awning. We needed a break, especially our backs and feet. Apparently we were sitting right next to a 'NO TRESPASSING' sign, which neither of us noticed to be quite frank, and Mr. Big Bad Cop was having a pretty bad day. We were immediately frisked (mind you, these were men and they were supposed to call a female officer out), cuffed and separated. Cracker was soon loaded into the cruiser, and I vehemently prayed that I was next. If he was going to jail, I needed to go too, or so I thought. After searching our bags for any obvious problems the officer who frisked and questioned me finally uncuffed me, explained my husband was going in, I was to be never be seen on the property again.

Where we come from, you get a written warning before you go to jail, sign or no sign, so this was an absolutely shocking experience. The tremor on the right side of my body was violent, I couldn't stop crying for 20 minutes and I had to get somewhere with two heavy backpacks, two heavy Duffel bags and a heavy purse. Once I got composed, said a prayer and cleaned make-up off my cheeks I started off for TPI (day center), and I was carrying 200lbs of property on my back, shoulders and arms. It was a slow process and I could only make it in half block increments, but I eventually made it to the rail and then the day center.

Now I take the liberty of showing y'all what I saw online last night:

It was really nice to see his face and it's really not a bad mug shot. I was missing him bad and I called every hour to see if there were updates in his status. When the officer finally told me that he'd be released between 8 and 9, I relaxed. I took my ass over to the Salvation Army Drop-In Center and waited for him to call. I got the call around 8 and we were reunited a few minutes later.

Skipping the little bullshit about going to bed, waking up etc...

It's a very wet, very cold day today. We're fixing to leave TPI for the Mission since they're serving snacks til noon. I'll update some more after court at 1:45pm. Now we get to see the house of Portland's finest...yay...