Home & Hearth

Summary:  Keeping home & hearth together for daughter & self

Status:   EMPLOYED … full-time, permanent …finally, enough to live on…not quite a full living wage, but, with my new lower cost of living, I can get by and I can breathe!  I love my job! Great people! Vitally important work rebuilding the Maine local food system!  Not farming, yet!  But, I am in the heart of Maine farm country!  I love my job! Everything is great! Moving forward!  I am very grateful.

TIMELINE (2012 – present)

JANUARY 2012

  • Beginning divorce proceedings.

APRIL 2012

  • APR 28: Began work at Home Depot full-time ($8.50 /hour).

  • APR 30: Soon-to-be-ex-wife was on lease as “head-of-household”. She took me off lease and evicted me. Homeless –  for 3 weeks.  I was working overnight at Home Depot so I did not need a place to sleep at night.  I slept in the library for a few hours a day.  I slept on buses.  I napped here & there & I got by.  Weekends were difficult.  It was May & it still got pretty cold at night.  But, with many layers & a good hat, you can make it.

MAY 2012

  • Rented apartment with the help of the Homeless Veterans Program at Preble Street (I had no money for security deposit, 1st & last, etc.)

JUNE 2012

  • Divorced.

  • NOT earning a “Living Wage”! BUT, it was M-F, so, I had weekends free for my daughter! Very important, having just been divorced! Especially important since my daughter’s mother had left to live in Lincoln Park during the Occupy encampment in November 2011 & remained there until she was evicted in early February 2012. My daughter needed stability then (age 7) & she needs it now (age 10). SO, I needed something PT M-F, near Maine Mall on a bus line (no car) …

JULY – NOVEMBER 2012

  • Working FT & looking for PT job, to keep apartment and survive.

DECEMBER 2012

  • Responded to an ad for, “Housekeeper- Aramark @ UNUM”. In 1990, I worked at UNUM as a Janitor (5-9pm) then worked overnight at Hampton Inn (11pm-7am). I thought, “I did that for 2 years, then … and I can do it, again, now!

JANUARY 2013

  • Started work at Aramark. It only paid $7.76 /hour, BUT, otherwise, it fit – AND, I could pay the rent! SO, I was working 2 low-paying jobs (62 hours/week) … barely surviving … BUT, I HAD my weekends free for my daughter!

JANUARY 2014

  • THEN, Home Depot changed my schedule – no more overnight, no more set schedule, NO MORE PT JOB! Please do not get me wrong! I appreciated having a FT job! …any job! It is an absolutely vicious and brutal jungle out here! What they said they CAN do, is give me a set schedule IF I drop to PT (part-time). OK! That gave me something to work with!

FEBRUARY – MAY 2014

  • Searching for more work. Struggling with rent. Fell further & further behind.

I have been working like a damned dog all of my life!  I have been living under the constant threat of eviction.  It is NOT for lack of hard work!  It is for lack of fair & just wages.  This will be the second time in 2 years I have been homeless.   I hope I can find a place before I lose my job due to the instability of homelessness.  As it is, right now, I am home for long enough to sleep for 6 hours then shower & leave in the morning.  For the next few days, I have a stable place for the basics – laundry, lavatory, & lunches.

I need a safe & affordable place for me and my 10 year old daughter to live.  I need it quick.  I have come up with $700 per month every month for 2 years.  Just not on time.  I have fallen behind.  But I catch up.  Then I get dealt dirt.  I have been looking constantly for something but it is very nearly impossible to find housing for families with no money for security deposit and no Section 8.

Since April 2012, I have worked at Home Depot  (full-time until I switched to part-time in June 2014 so that I could get my weekends back with my daughter).  I started at $8.50 /hour, now at $9.70.

The opposite of a, “Living Wage” would be, what? … a “Dying Wage”?  …a “Killing Wage”?”

…BTW, I Googled, “dying wage” and look what I found!  “Work and Pay“, by Scott Nearing, 1916, FREE PDF download courtesy of Google Books!!!

SO, I was working 2 low-paying jobs (62 hours/week) … barely surviving … BUT, I HAD my weekends free for my daughter! … need time to write! … as soon as I publish my 1st book, we’re home-free!  Well, that WAS the plan!

THEN, Home Depot changed my schedule – no more overnight, no more set schedule, NO MORE PT JOB!  Please do not get me wrong!  I appreciate having a FT job!  …any job!  It is absolutely vicious and brutal out here!  BUT, it’s a jungle out there!

What they said they CAN do, is give me a set schedule IF I drop to PT (part-time).  OK!  That gives me something to work with!  THANK YOU!  Really!  Honestly!  THANK YOU!

NOW!   I NEED A FULL-TIME JOB!  …that pays a LIVING Wage!

IF I can earn $13 / hour, I can get by … have time to write … have time for my daughter … LIVE!  Be human.  BARELY!  Less, and I can also work PT @ HD!

My landlord, in my opinion, is a greedy, impatient, OCD psycho!  One week late and he is freaking out – YES! freaking out! – calling constantly, harassing me, “call me”, “call me”, “Ed Democracy, you need to call me, right away!”!  Two years!  Yes, I have been late!  But, I always catch up!  Isn’t there a law against harassment?!?

Last year, I got on the Section 8 waiting list.  Then I got a letter that I was up!  I got Section 8!  Great!  I always wanted Section 8!  Nice to know your rent will never be more than  30% of your income!   OOPS!  With my 2 jobs, I was making too much for Section 8!  Ineligible!   Oh well!  I’ll work hard & find better job(s)!  OOPS!  IBID!  Oh well, I now have less income since Home Depot took my PT job away!  I’ll call South Portland Housing Authority and see if I am still on the waiting list since I was not able to accept when I came up.  NOPE!  You “get dropped off the list and you have to reapply”!

Section 8 is a good program, though!   It’s welfare for landlords who all charge too much, anyway, but, hey! Bottom line: It helps people survive & avoid homelessness!  When I was getting divorced, in Spring of 2012, I was homeless for 3 weeks.  I was working overnight at Home Depot so I did not need a place to sleep at night.  I slept in the library for a few hours a day.  I slept on buses.  I napped here & there & I got by.  Weekends were difficult.  It was May & it still got pretty cold at night.  But, with many layers & a good hat, you can make it.

Then, the Homeless Veterans Program at Preble Street found me this place.  Cannot express what a relief it was and how thankful I was & remain!  But, IBID!, who knew what the landlord would be like?!?

STILL DREAMING, planning, budgeting for creating a cooperatively owned & operated family farm with 10-20 families.

STILL KEEPING my priorities straight!

Still with me?  Wow!  Thanks!  Hey!  Sorry to be such a downer!

Here’s some good news!  In April 2014, I finally got my BA from USM that I started in 1983!   I went PT off & on … working my way through … borrowing my way through ($42K in student loan debt!) … got half way through … joined the Navy in 1993 … back to USM in 1997 … graduated in 1998 … OOPS!  Had to borrow an emergency student loan for $350… paid some off but had an outstanding balance of $200+ until the balance got paid with my state tax withholdings in early 2014 … great!  Finally paid off!  Collected my BA in Philosophy in April 2014!  One of the proudest days of my life!

THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”, 
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 
                                          download PDF of complete speech 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

 – Theodore Roosevelt

JUNE 2014

  • JUN   7:  Eviction notice
  • JUN 18:  Began new FT job (M-F, 8am-5pm, $12/hr). Switched to PT at Home Depot (6pm-10pm).

JULY 2014

  • JUL    3:  Court for EVICTION!  “Writ of Possession” to follow. Homeless. Again!
  • JUL    9:  1st payday (paid bi-weekly)
  • JUL 11:  Sheriff will receive Writ of Possession & deliver it w/ final 48 hours notice.
  • JUL 16: Requested Leave of Absence from Home Depot (PT) otherwise no time to search for apartment.
  • JUL 18: Staying with family

AUGUST 2014

  • AUG 16: Moved into new apartment.
  • AUG 25: Home Depot called to say they put me back on schedule and need me back starting tonight.  1st time I have heard from them since requesting Leave of Absence.  Never heard a peep. No, “Yup! You got it!”  No, “Nope!  No ‘Leave of Absence’ … just leave!” Big fat nothing!  …par for the course…
  • AUG 26: Open House at my daughter’s school!
  • AUG 27: First Day of School!  Getting back on track & moving forward!

SEPTEMBER 2014 

  • SEP 10: QUIT my job!  Hostile work environment. Unstable, abusive supervisors & managers. There is much, much more to this story.  For now, suffice to say, I put up with it because I needed the job, until now – DONE!  Got up and walked out.
  • Started working temp jobs … not steady enough to live on.

OCTOBER 2014

  • Still working temp jobs … still not steady enough to live on.

NOVEMBER 2014

  • Still working temp jobs … still not steady enough to live on.

DECEMBER 2014

  • Still working temp jobs … still not steady enough to live on.

JANUARY 2015

  • UNEMPLOYED … still not enough to live on.

FEBRUARY 2015

  • UNEMPLOYED … still not enough to live on.

MARCH 2015

  • $4000 Tax Refund TAKEN by US Department of Education for student loans.  No complaints.  No excuses. Still owe $40,000. Just really bad timing. Really hoped that would not happen.  Really needed that.  Hoped to be able to get a car. If I had a car, I could find a farm to work on.  I can’t get stuck somewhere with no transport when needed.  In town, I can walk, bike, bus, and U-CAR (when needed). But, with a car, I could get farming somewhere.
  • UNEMPLOYED … still not enough to live on.

APRIL – MAY 2015

  • UNEMPLOYED … still not enough to live on.

JUNE – NOVEMBER 2015

  • EMPLOYED … temporary & seasonal jobs …still not enough to live on

DECEMBER 2015

  • EMPLOYED … full-time, permanent …finally, enough to live on…not quite a full living wage, but, with my new lower cost of living, I can get by and I can breathe!  I love my job!  Great people! Vitally important work rebuilding the Maine local food system!  Not farming, yet!  But, I am in the heart of Maine farm country!

JANUARY 2016 – PRESENT

  • IBID.  I love my job! Everything is great! Moving forward!  I am very grateful.

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