Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Sunday, August 31, 2003

The Woman In The Kitchen

an email:

From: (Rogi Riverstone)
Date: Sun, Aug 31, 2003, 11:53pm
To: a member of the UU Fellowship
Subject: the woman in the kitchen

That woman in the kitchen today accused me of the following:

Stealing from the homeless.

Being too lazy to seek food donations elsewhere.

Lying about my circumstances.

She LITERALLY called me, "rude" and "selfish" for even asking for some pot luck left overs.
S[deleted, a fellowship member], I think her name is, PUSHED me, to try to force me out of the kitchen because I was DEFENDING myself against the woman's accusations!

My god, the woman was GOSSIPPING about me BECAUSE I'd left the kitchen! I only came back to get the food I'd brought to take home! I walked in and she was going on and on about me! Nobody asked her to stop!

You people don't know me! I needed to defend my character and try to explain my motives!

I asked a table full of people, during lunch, if it would be ok for me to ask for left overs. I wanted their advice. Nobody would answer me.

So, I did the best I could. I needed that food! It took real courage to walk into that kitchen and ask if I could have some of that food! Not ALL of it: some of it. Just for a few more days.

But to have my character so publicly attacked in such a way, to have NOBODY ask that woman to STOP insulting and attacking me, to be PUSHED and told to be quiet about it and leave....good LORD!

It was an innocent request! My: morals, character, personal finances, access to transportation, disability, etc. should NEVER have been open to such hostile scrutiny and bitter attack!

I have MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. I can't see at all well, especially while walking strange streets in bright light or dark night. The 2 miles round trip to [Fellowship meeting] wears me completely out! ALL the food pantries are much farther than that.

I'm not some self-pitying, lazy, spoiled bum!
I've earned every moldy piece of bread I've gotten in this town. I volunteer; I earn my keep! This was the ONLY time, in 10 years, I've asked for food without volunteering for it.

There's much more, but I think this is probably overwhelming enough.

I spent the rest of the day, humiliated, discouraged, in bad pain, scared and SO sad.

I had to BEG for people's LEFTOVERS today, and not only didn't get any food (because I refuse to take anything under such circumstances! I wouldn't be able to eat it), I had my dignity publicly stripped from me for trying to take care of myself!

It is just a temporary crisis. I have a job now; I'll get paid in just a few more days. And I can contribute a LOT to the Fellowship! I could PAY IT BACK!

I'm not so worried about that woman: poor folks in this town are VERY critical of each other: Crabs in a bucket, pulling each other back in if one tries to get out. For all I know, she's seriously mentally ill or something.

But I NEEDED SUPPORT from the Fellowship! Why was I asked to leave? Why not her? She was the one attacking! I was simply defending myself! I didn't insult her. I didn't attack her. I didn't threaten or cuss or anything! Why was I asked to LEAVE?

I know YOU can't answer that, but I need for people to discuss this. Hopefully with ME!

It broke my heart.

Thoughts On NASA Photographs

From an old post in an MSNTV-only discussion group.

NASA pics thoughts

Group: news:alt.discuss.clubs.public.science.alternative.rriverstone_2

Date: Sun, Aug 10, 2003, 7:09pm (MDT-1)

From: Rogi Riverstone

This is what I mean about reality being amazing.

Sometimes, after a GRUELING day of human/societal crud, I'll be watering my garden at dusk.

The cats will b playing; the humming bird and bees are snagging the last drops of nectar off the sunflowers before they go to bed.

The cicadas and crickets start signalling for mates.

A breeze blows through the alley and the tree tops sound like ocean waves.

I'll pull out my old plastic lawn chair, sit smack in the middle of the alley and look up.
The sunsets here are gold and tangerine and grape and other sizzling colors.

The sun disappears behind the mesas and volcanoes and the stars appear.

I can't see much, here in the city, with the light pollution and the dust.

But I pick out Orion I find the Summer Triangle and the planet Vega.

I see a planet now and then.

But in my mind, I see photos like these.

I remember peering thru the local astronomy society's home made telescopes in the middle of the night as we shared picnic baskets and sipped coffee.

I remember the first time I saw a globular cluster, on the far side of the Milky Way.

I think about how beings on other worlds might be seeing our part of the sky.

I think about Dr. Sagan.

I think about my father.

I think about Voyager and Galilleo and ancient peoples who looked up at the same sky I'm seeing and wondered, just as I am.

And I often weep with the glory of it, with the magnificence of it, with the intensity and intricacy of it.

And, suddenly, the guy who called me a name, the slum lord, the drug addicts, the smell of urine by the dumpster, the pettiness and hate and stupidity I've slogged through all day falls away.

And I am the Universe, conscious of itself.

Friday, August 29, 2003


The birthday money people gave me this month really helped. Not only is the outstanding phone bill paid, but I could buy extra food.

I just cleaned and skinned a canteloupe. It's perfectly ripe and so satisfying. After I finish eating it, I can get into my cheap watermelon.

Last night, I found a restaurant-sized can of pinto beans. People here set things out for the vagrants who pass through this neighborhood, on the way to and from the package liquor on Central Ave. and the park, by my house, where they score weed.

Since I have some left over pork roast in the freezer, the pintos will make many meals, with the sour cream, cilantro and onion I bought last week. Tacos, refries, bean soup.....

There are still two chunks of brisket in the freezer from last month, about 4 lbs. When it's 69 cents/lb, I buy two, whole briskets: about 15 lbs.

I made my pizza, out of marked down, stale French bread, an 8-cent can of tomato sauce, left over mozerella and "dog food."

The discount grocer marks down hamburger when it starts to turn grey, calls it "dog food," and charges 59 cents/lb for it. I buy 3 or 4 packages a month. I thaw one, scoop inside for the pink meat for me.

The grey meat I boil in water & powdered milk, mix with flour and egg, and bake on cookie sheets for animal kibble. The cats and dog love it!

So, it's five days 'til my disability check. But, except for the last roll of toilet paper that I'm rationing carefully, I have everything I need.

It's a week after that before I get my food stamps, but I have enough food 'til then.

I grew up with full cupboards and refrigerator. I always had plenty to eat and lots of variety.

Especially since moving over here, that's definately not true anymore. I don't live close to a food pantry that doesn't thump Bibles and play Lady Bountiful anymore. I won't take food from people who treat us like losers.

I won't take food unless I can earn it. I used to work at a food pantry, for two years. I'd LIKE to volunteer at Food Not Bombs, cooking in exchange for food here, but it's a very long walk on a Sunday, when buses don't run.

So, I've really been scrambling for food, especially at the end of the month. In a total emergency, there are two restaurants on Central near here. I can dumpster dive, if necessary. But I'm prone to disease, so I avoid that option.

My diet's been really bad this summer. This was the first year for this garden. No tomatoes; got curly virus. I see chilis forming. It was too hot and dry for the corn, and the squash bugs killed my melon and pumpkin vines. The cilantro and parsley bolted and went to seed. Not enough rain...not hardly any.

Been collecting 2 liter bottles. Going to fill with potting soil, place on window sills, plant with individual lettuce, cabbage and herbs. Should b able to grow fresh produce all winter in here, especially since I've been rescuing florescent fixtures to bolt to ceilings for years!

Gotta eat more fresh stuff! I swear, the potatoes, melon, cabbage and tomatoes I've been eating this past week have made me feel MUCH better!

I rely too much on meat-flavored starches. I've got to change that!

I have enough!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Personal Responsibility

June 23, 2003

Oh, my aching heart! I headed out at 3pm today, cart full of my puppets, dolls, herbs, seeds and gourd bird houses. I had three cents.

I sold seven dollars on Friday, and had planned to return both weekend days. But I tried using a collapsable, wire basket cart a neighbor gave me on Sat. Within two blocks, I couldn't continue. I sat in the island in the middle of the street and rested, and came back home.

I spent Sunday recovering. It really hurt my arms and shoulders.

So, today I headed out. I was so scared of how people might treat me, I was actually crying before I left.

I got down to Smith's grocery, about a half mile, and hung my stuff in the little tree by the street. This time, I remembered to bring a folding chair. The breeze was nice, and it wasn't too bad.

But I sold nothing. Two people gave me a dollar each, just because. And the kid selling papers in front of the store gave me a quarter for a cheap soda.

I gave up around sunset, packed and headed back.

I go down Silver Street, because it's tree lined and shady. I like looking at the rich people's gardens, too. And the street is wide enough I can walk in it and the occasional cars can pass me without trouble. The sidewalks are broken up and there are few curb cuts. Since I can't see nor walk too well, it's safer for me to walk in the smooth street.

I got to the corner where I turn to go up my alley.

A family on the corner was outside. Their doberman came after my pit bull. I freaked out, cuz Porkchop attacks and bites viciously.

The woman started laughing at me and said their dog just wanted to play. I begged them to control their dog, and they just stood and laughed, making excuses for their dog.

I was furious! I had to put my body between the dogs. Porkchop was freaking out and going in circles. He weighs nearly a hundred pounds, and is difficult to control when he's agitated.

Finally, the man got his dog.

I tried to explain Porkchop's history of being bait for fighting dogs. I tried to explain I have multiple sclerosis, and don't need a dog fight around my feet.

The woman just laughed. I think they were stoned.

I don't normally do this, but I was SO angry at being laughed at, I cussed at the woman and called her yuppy trash.

The man came after me! He called me a fat female body part and told me to move.

I'm fat because the surgery to remove my dead baby tore up my abdominal muscles which, coincidentally, are hurting from the strain of pushing the cart. I can't exercise or even move normally because of the damage.

I have the right to walk in safety down an affluent street, in broad daylight, without fear of injury.

If Porkchop had attacked that dog, I don't want to THINK what would have happened!

I can't move! People on the internet, from all over the country, sent me money to move HERE, to escape the War Zone of addicts, whores and gang bangers! I rented trucks and hired guys to move me! That's why I have no money left: I'm still paying off the phone deposit, four months later!

I think that man was really going to hit me. But I keep Porkchop on a long, metal leash. The part up by my hand is heavy metal. I grab that and swing all three feet of it at attacking humans and dogs. So I swung the chain, and he backed off.

All the work I did to try to move to a better neighborhood, and I'm STILL surrounded by drugs, drunks and whores. And STILL can't walk down one of the yuppiest streets in town in broad daylight, without being scared to death and put in serious danger of injury!

Albuquerque people are EVIL!

Monkeys On Their Backs

June 19, 2003

Addiction is such a waste. I was watching the Ken Burns series on Jazz. Charlie Parker was, according to a friend, a true genius: interested in all manner of things besides music, multilingual. And completely eaten away by a heroin, and when he couldn't get that, alcohol addiction. Took off from a cross-country train at a stop in the desert, wandering away, looking to score! When his daughter died of pneumonia in NY, he telegrammed four times from Los Angeles. His messages to his wife became more and more about him, not her or their daughter. The last one simply said, "help me. Bird."

I imagined his wife, alone, devistated and heart-broken all the way across the country, facing all the decisions alone which a family death requires, the mother of a dead child, knowing her husband is 3,000 miles away falling completely apart. And helpless to change any of it. Just the moment when she needed help, comfort, compassion and some fierce protection, her spouse is using a 2 year old girl's death as just another excuse to get loaded! And doesn't give a DAMN about what that's adding to her grief! ...except that he can use his GUILT and self-hatred from that as anOTHER excuse to get loaded!

There is, in my experience, a distinctly addictive personality type. Not that all addicts exhibit this to the same degree, but the brain's need for the chemical takes over compassion and, often, even acknowledgement of others--except as vehicles by which to procure and use the drug of choice, or to shore up the damaged and self-loathing ego.

When I lived in the War Zone, I could pretty well avoid regular contact with addicts, except in their "drama queen" emergencies, when they were endangering others. Here, I'm exposed to addictive personalities EVERY DAY. It's very tedious and stressful.

My neighbors sized me up as soon as I moved in here. I am low income, so I won't contribute financially to their acquisition of chemicals. I'm not physically attractive (by superficial standards, anyway), and so cannot contribute dopamine to their ravaged pleasure centers. I don't even have a car to drive their impaired butts to and from the package liquor store or their dealers!

But I am all alone, disabled and vulnerable. I also state openly that I have a right to be treated with respect, a concept with which few addicts are familiar--at least, insofar as it pertains to OTHER PEOPLE besides themselves. So, I am the Straw Man. They project all their negative self-hatred onto me. They attribute their own motives onto me (eg: if THEY had a dog, THEIR yard would be full of dog poop, so, therefore, mine must be!). They think they'll feel better about their own self-hatreds and shattered self esteems if they can compare themselves to me.

Fact is, of course, none of them has a garden. None of them prepares gourmet meals. None of them surfs the net, participates in social justice, does anything more creative than trying to out think authorities such as cops and employers.

Since I won't allow them access to my home or facts about my life, none of them realizes exactly what fools they've made of themselves with their jail house mentality of trying to make me their "bitch," with which I simply refuse to cooperate.

Some fluff brain white girl in an alt.discuss group whined at me that my email signature took 67 seconds to load when she clicked my post. I thought it was strange that she just sat there, counting seconds, instead of moving on to another post. She called me a moron. I truly believe she thougt my use of the word, "oxymoron," in the post in question was an insult to her!

At any rate, I carefully wrote back about my MS, my vision and small motor challenges. I explained having a website of my most frequently visited links, as well as info that others with whom I correspond find valuable, is necessary for me.

I was thinking about her yesterday: how abusive, self-righteous and arrogant she had been, and I wondered if she might be chemically dependent. "Nah," I told myself, "you're just hypersensitive to chemical dependents, because of the neighbors in your building. Don't assume she's addicted!"

Within hours, she'd replied to a post by someone else re: what one loves and hates. She loves beer, and plenty of it. And "bud," of course. What a way to introduce one's self to a philosophy newsgroup! Such priorities! And preparing large meals for special occasions (ie: showing off and making people grateful to her). She hates "whiners."


She justifies her abusiveness because she was minorly inconvenienced by a "slow-loading" post. Normally, of course, as everybody in the dang group explained to her, my posts don't LOAD slowly, and when they do, it's a server-side glitch, not my fault! But she chose to IGNORE that fact, in order to justify her abusiveness!

She went so far as to say she not only doesn't owe me an apology, but that I owe HER one, for inconveniencing her with my blind, crippled self! LOLOL

A PERFECT example of the addictive personality: hostile, self absorbed, self righteous, ignorant (and proud of it, dammit!) and arrogant.

Then, I thought of George W. Bush.

Wow, we're in deeeeeeeeeep doo doo!

I've Made Myself Too Small

June 15, 2003

I woke momentarily confused. I thought I was in an airplane. Then, I remembered I'd turned on the air conditioner, sometime around 1am, to mask the screams and thrown beer bottles from the apartment building across the empty lot outside my bedroom window.

"Sunday Morning on CBS" was mostly a large infomercial for next year's Ford car models. There was a small section on a sidewalk chalk art festival in some town called San Rafel California. They're reproducing the Sistine Chapel in chalk: professional artists, kids, passersby. Italian sausages sizzled on a grill. I felt jealous and wished I lived there. I wished they'd devoted half the air time to this fleeting segment as they had to the Ford piece, but guess they couldn't find a chalk company to pay for promotional consideration.

They did a piece on that stripper museum, out in the Mojave desert. It was supposed to be funny; Bill Geist does the funny, quirky, human interest pieces. Female sexuality is supposed to be funny, especially when it's old women, who made a living in burlesque, a "tawdry" artform. I marveled at these women: spangled, feathered and spandexed under the bright, desert sun. They smiled broadly, batted their eyes powerfully, undulated liquidly down the runway, directly over the faces of onlookers. There wasn't a super model in the bunch. None of them looked like the feminine "ideal," currently pushed to market products. When a 75 year old great grandmother and famous, old time stripper took the runway, I was dazzled by her slender, muscular legs.

It made me question my decision to retreat from my sexuality. It wasn't so much a decision, as a resignation. My teeth are broken. I can't stand the rejection of superficially-horny strangers, answering a personals ad on the 'net. That's just the men.

And FORGET women! I'm too strong and wild for women anymore; I scare the hell out of them! And I resent the snippy, backhanded passive aggression they use to impose their behavior modification on me. It's called manipulation. You'd think, after TWO women's liberation movements in this country, in the last century, alone, women would have dropped stealth tactics for open warfare. But we're still too intimidated by the totalitarianism of patriarchy to be honest. We aren't liberated; a few of us are tokens, to shut the rest of us up.

After the TV show, I turned on the radio, for "Weekend Edition" from NPR. I guess I need light, fluffy news on Sunday. I learn a lot, though. And, without a car, which I dearly miss, it helps me travel to familiar old stomping grounds, as well as places I'd never have thought of going.

As I listened to an interview with John Coltraine's kid, who's just released an album, I heard Raoul begin a racket outside.

Raoul is completely self-disabled, through excessive use of mind altering chemicals. Well, he's not COMPLETELY disabled; he manages to maintain the facade of being a (gawd help us) SURGICAL NURSE at the university hospital. But it takes large quantities of cocaine to head off to work at 8:30pm, after a 3 hr. nap, to wear off the effects of 4 hours of daily, afternoon drinking and marijuana smoking.

Raoul hates me. The very first time he became abusive to me, I put my foot down and made it clear I wanted nothing to do with him. So, he has organized other neighbors here, also chemically dependent, to torment me, to try to force me to move out. He provides them with alcohol, drugs, money and food for their assistance.

It's so bad, I took apart a segment of my fence, out by the alley, and built a gate to the empty lot next door. I rarely use my front gate. I want no contact with anybody here.

But I do sneak out, late nights or early mornings, to attach my garden hose to the faucet outside my and Raoul's gates. I have an extensive garden: in my own, narrow yard, along the outside of my fence, along the alley, in the empty lot, and in two flower beds across the alley, outside the adobe wall of my neigbhor, Rowen.

My washing machine sits on a concrete slab in my yard. It flushes out through lengths of flexible tubing I've spliced together with duct tape and baling wire, and waters the large flower bed I constructed the length of the back wall of the building I live in.

I stepped outside last night and fell over a red brick and a two foot length of 2x4, placed there by Raoul. I confiscated them, after I picked my self up off the uneven path of step stones, dirt, pebbles and weeds out there. My wrists hurt. My torso is bruised. My legs are scabbed over.

So, Raoul had to drag out his hand saw and a drill to devise something to mask the gap in his fence, inside of which he has concealed a series of paranoia-inspired locking devises which he sincerely believes only HE can unlock. When my electricity went out and the utility company damn near ripped Raoul's gate off its hinges to get to the meter box, I swiftly unlocked the entire Rupe Goldberg contraption in less than a minute. It was either that, or stay awake all night while Raoul worked, to guard his crap from the vagrants who wander onto the property, or repair the gate, myself. I mean, this guy was going to tear the gate DOWN to get to that meter!

Joe, Raoul's "student," came up as soon as the utility guy turned off all the electricity in the whole building without warning anybody. He asked how I got in, and I said I opened the gate. I explained the circumstances. But Joe questioned whether I had Raoul's permission to enter! I actually DID have Raoul's permission, as the problem persisted for several days. But Joe said, "do you REALLY?" So, I said, if he had any questions, he should refer them to the property management company, and ignored him thereafter.

Raoul's still out there. Sounds like he's building an ark. I can't see inside his yard. I have a small cosmetic mirror on the top shelf in the kitchen, pointing outside BOTH our gates, so I can see what the hell's going on out there. But he's inside his gate, making a racket.

"Singing Wire," Native America music and topics, is on the radio now. I love that show. If you haven't heard, "Indian Karz" by Kieth Sekola, you haven't heard NDN music.

Time to pee now, so I'm signing off.

I almost forgot! Today's Sunday! That means CHAT in an hour! MSNTV users, here's a great and easy to use IRC: http://homes.paulding.net/stb/tomeegirl/chat/chat4tv.shtml http://homes.paulding.net/stb/tomeegirl/chat/chat4tv.shtml

Computer users, go here: http://www.net4tv.com http://wwwlnet4tv.com and click on the "chat thing to find out about it...look for "shows."

Creating Reality

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

A rainy morning, thank heavens. There's been a drought here for three years or so and, while this modest shower does nothing to change that, wild water is most welcome to me. I always feel guilty dragging a garden hose behind me. I know this is a desert, and that my little "terraforming" projects aren't normal in whatever slum I've scratched out the lastest garden.

But the pumpkin flowers are radiant. A modest, hot pink petunia blooms from seed I planted in, of all things, the drawer of a baby changing table. Next to it, sunflowers open from a paint bucket set inside a wicker waste basket. Gourd vines lash themselves to anything up which they might climb, from a fallen twig to a discarded cigarette butt. Corn stalks stretch luxuriously amid dark red amaranth sprouts.

Basically, everywhere around me that I have to look, something I've planted beams back at me, completely indifferent to my back breaking work, grunting, scabs and sore muscles. But reflecting the effects magnificently.

I've removed the concrete block from in front of the gap in the picket gate so the cats can leave my yard again and go into the empty lot. It's very jungle like out there, and there are infinite spots for languid naps in deep shade. They're camouflaged from detection by hostile neighbors. And it's just too hot most days for more than a long snooze in the cool of the garden beds.

I met a neighbor up on Silver Street, where the affluent home owners live. He noticed my gardening in the empty lot and thinks it's wonderful. He knows my circumstances here: surrounded by hostile, chemically-dependent neighbors. He's disapproving of the management company that operates this property. Apparantly, they're notorious slum lords, "managing" properties all over the city.

Since it's a cool, cloudy, rainy day, I'll stay in and make fairy rag ladies. They're dolls made of shiny, fluffy materials I find here and there. They have hand painted, paper mache faces and hands and are stuffed with rice or beans, depending on size.
I need to sell some of my crafts. I just paid the phone bill; I have $1.85 left 'til the 3rd of next month.

I have 8 gourd bird houses. They have doors hinged in wire with bead door knobs. They're painted to look like cottages with gardens growing 'round them. Each has a little window with a cat looking out. They're quite nice.

I still have herbs and seeds, too. And there's just enough time left in the season to plant seeds.

I also have my "pillow puppets." They're made of old bed linens. They're marionettes, with yarn leading from hands and feet to a dowel and bent coat hanger armature. They have yarn wigs and bead eyes. They stand almost 2 feet tall. If one removes their strings, they actually are decent pillows for napping.

I should do laundry; I've still got one more winter blanket and 2 pillows to do, but I don't want to wet the ground on a rainy day, so I'll wait. Wouldn't want a swamp in my tiny yard.

I'm hoping for a peaceful day, but I never know what shenanigans my neighbors' clouded thinking will bring. So, I'm enjoying it while I can.