Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Saturday, January 31, 2004

It's not going to be too hard

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I can make one can of tuna last about three days, eating a couple of bites a day.

And heaven knows, oatmeal's a cheap source of fiber. I'll buy some dried fruit to add to it.

I made a wonderful salad today!

2 lbs carrots, shredded in food processor

3 oranges, halved and segmented.

1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, ground

1/4 c candied cranberries, ground

1/2 c dried apricots, ground

3 pieces candied ginger.

I mean, that's EASY to eat! 1/2 c chopped fruits or vegies is a serving; I'm trying to eat a minimum of 5 servings/day. And that salad goes down really easily!

A few bites of chicken or cheese on the side and a few crackers, and it's a really good meal.

I just have to be more creative in how I combine foods.

I can do this!

I'm very proud of dropping 4 lbs. in one week! My breasts now portrude farther than my belly again! LOL


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"I am a big loser," Whoopi has said,
For, of all things, Slim Fast, for their dollars.
I can't imagine what was in her head,
I think of our grandmas, shackles, collars.

I think of whips, brand irons. What's defeat:
Resisting fire hose, dog, shot gun and rope,
To shelter babies, earn them bread to eat,
To drudge for shelter, try to give them hope?

To sell junk food, they tore the air with screams?
To keep complacent we, who have so much?
To peddle pastas, chocolate, ice creams,
These women suffered, never eating such?

These Queens of Africa flow in our veins;
Don't desecrate their screaming labor pains.


RADICALLY reduce water usage!

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I live in a small apartment, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the worst droughts in history is going into its, I think, fifth or sixth year. Yet, I have an extensive garden, in my yard and in the empty lot next door.

Yet, I use very VERY little water: about one fourth normal usage.



Get a tub. Put it in your shower. Get a shower massager on a hose, particularly one that shuts off when not in use, without turning off hot and cold.

Run the hot into the tub until it warms; don't let it go down the drain.

Stand in tub. Shower with reduced flow. The massager has higher pressure with less water, and you won't feel the difference. Shut water off from massager, when not in use during shower. You'll have to turn off the shower with faucet handles when done, or hose could burst! When finished, dangle massager over tub to drain.

My tub holds 16 gallons. One shower half fills it. That's about eight gallons. A normal shower is twenty five gallons.

I shower every OTHER day, rather than every day. On "off" days, I take "bird baths" in the sink. I walk a lot, as I have no car. I do a lot of heavy, physical labor, such as gardening. Yet, except if I get really nasty, I don't need a daily shower.

Now, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of bleach into the tub water.

The average, low-flow toilet flush takes about four gallons. A regular toilet flushes about ten. Use your shower water. I find I can flush urine with toilet paper with half a gallon. And the bleach keeps both the tub and the toilet clean.

Your shower water can be used to mop floors, too. And it's good for soaking bath mats, towels....I have a hamster cage soaking in my tub right now.

So, right there, just for the shower, I've reduced my usage from fifty gallons in 2 days to 8! And flush my toilet for free.

Put water with a drop of bleach in the sink to rinse dishes, rather than letting water run down the drain.

To warm sink water, place a bowl or pitcher under the stream, to collect warming water, rather than letting it flow down the sink. I use it to water plants, fill pet dishes, and fill my drinking water filter decanter in the refrigerator.

Also, in the kitchen, one can buy a connector for the discharge plumbing, screw it to a garden hose, and flush kitchen sink water out into the garden.

My washer is outside. I have attached old vacuum cleaner hoses to the discharge hose and extended them uphill, to the end of a flower bed. When the washer discharges, it flushes the water into my garden.

I use half the recommended soap in my wash, and enhance my laundry with such things as vinegar or washing soda. I use as close to environmentally-friendly soap as I can get. Since both wash- and rinse-cycle water gets discharged and flows over a large area, the soaps get diluted. I also have to suppliment the watering of that bed with a LITTLE fresh hose water.

And the soaps discourage insects.

Each fill of the washer is a minimum of twenty gallons. So, I'm saving a minimum of forty gallons, per load of laundry.

Finally, there are NO dripping faucets in my house. There are drip-catchers under every water source, to make sure I'm not wasting water.

I live in a utilities-paid complex. But I don't want to hear the landlord whine about the water bill. In addition, I can't, in good conscience, be irresponsible with any utilities, considering the environmental impacts.

So, that's how to radically reduce your water usage.

Friday, January 30, 2004

no diabetes!

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What a relief! Yes, I pee a lot. Yes, I get dizzy when I eat. Yes, I'm fat. But I haven't acquired type 2 diabetes....yet!!!

But I'm playin' with fire, hunny!

Y'know, I've dropped FOUR POUNDS this past week, just from knockin the soda pops off my diet? Dang!

So, the BAD news, of course, is that I eat like a poor person, or like a sedentary American fast food junky. I don't eat fried stuff much...very rarely. But I have bad cholesterol, from too much animal protein and too little fiber.

My nurse practitioner wants me to eat fish every day! Christ! Fish is like four dollars/lb on SALE!

But then, I remembered Polar tuna. I'll never buy any other brand of canned tuna again! Packed in water, big flaky chunks...fresh tasting. And it goes on sale frequently for twenty nine cents/can. So, I usually have a whole case or part thereof around the house.

I do NOT need to eat a whole can of tuna every day! And it would drive my cats crazy, anyway. But I can eat a fork full, three times a day, before regular meals.

Same with oatmeal. I don't need to eat a whole bowl full at a time. Just eat a few bites before a regular meal!

And I've GOT to score more fruits, vegies! It's always an issue in winter, when the garden's dead.

I looked at the USDA food pyramid. I'm sure 6-11 servings of carbs/day must be wrong, with only 4-8 or so fruits/vegies. If I reverse the amounts, I should b ok.

I can eat rice. Don't mind a bit. But trying to imagine eating eleven slices of bread every day made me turn a bit green!

I'm hunting for HDL foods. There's so MUCH GARBAGE on the 'net! But, in addition to more fishies, I can certainly eat more beans and stuff.

Basically, I have to eat more of an indigenous diet than industrial. It's pretty simple. And common sense.

My sore teeth make me a bit lazy about raw foods. It's easier to chew a soft chicken sandwich than a salad!

BUt I have my food processor; I can grate carrots, for instance, for sandwiches...

I'll figure it out. I'm certainly not stupid.

I can throw in some soy, too. I like tofu and stuff. Soy milk sounds disgusting, though... But just plain ol' soy beans would b ok, and they're cheap.

I've either gotta start eatin like I'm a Mexican from Veracruz (doesn't that sound wonderful??? fresh fish, fresh fruits....rice, beans...) or like I'm Japanese (that ain't exactly a hardship for me, either! LOL).

Or move to Mexico...which is tempting....but they don't have webtv...never mind.

I sort of lost interest in cooking, after my baby died and I lost my home. There's nobody to cook for, for one thing. For another thing, I'm very far from any food pantries here. I don't know where to get free food easily anymore. So, I'm afraid to spend money on anything but protein, sugar and carbs! Vegies and fruit are about a buck a pound. I'm afraid of feeling hungry.

Well, I'll figure it out. Maybe I can get leftovers from the food coop, although that's very far away from my house. I wish Smith's marked down wilty stuff...they throw it OUT!!! jerks.

Project Share is very far from my house. And they serve meals, not grocery sacks, apparantly. And you KNOW how badly I want to sit and eat a meal with homeless people! moan....talk about a psyche out!

I WILL figure this OUT, dammit!

Mean time, I didn't buy either the sale hamburger (which was just bloody lard, when I got a good look at it) nor the sale sodas at Stadium today.

I'm switching to tea. Mix 2 teabags of good stuff with 2 bags of cheap, generic crap (100 bags/$1). Add not-quite-boiling water (about a liter?) and half a teaspoon of sugar. Refrigerate. Warm in microwave as needed, or drink cold.

Tastes lovely. Right now, I've made up darjeeling/generic.

I always mix generic and good stuff, even my coffee, which is 3 parts crap to 1 part fresh-ground beans on sale. My coffee rarely costs me over a dollar fifty a pound this way, but still tastes lovely.

Well, I'm almost bleeding, I'm so tired...It was a LONG day out there!

So, I'm signing off to listen to DemocracyNOW!, heat up a cuppa, and have an Evil Cigarette, my 9th today. I'm gonna b off em within just a few months, at this rate! Usually, by this time of day, especially having had to wait for buses and be around angry people, I'd have smoked twenty cigs by now! Easy!

I'm pretty proud of that!


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OK: in 45 minutes, I head out to the bus stop. I'm going back to the clinic today for results of blood tests.

I also have another errand to run, the bus to which only runs once an hour.

I'll be gone a long time and I'll return very tired.

Don't expect much from me today.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

"Health:" a sonnet

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I've scrubbed your toilets, pulled your garden weeds,
Washed rest'raunt dishes, taken out your trash,
I've fact'ry worked, until my body bleeds,
To pay off bills that leave me no more cash.

It's me, out on the streets, whom you avoid:
The tired one, no stylish clothes, no car.
I don't smell good and you look so annoyed.
If you brushed me, designer clothes I'd mar.

I check you out at Wal*mart, wash your wheels;
I clean your laundry, even clean your pet;
I watch your kids and old folks. Yet, it feels,
You look at me as though we've never met,

Don't know I'm sick, exhausted, under paid;
You do not know someone on Medicaid.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

it's not fair

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dammit, I ought to be able to walk to the radio station and back without needing to spend the rest of the day in bed!


I have no idea how to make this better! Every time I walk somewhere, I need to rest the next day. If I don't, I'm in big trouble.

It's so dang discouraging!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


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at 7:30am, twenty one degrees out, I trudged my useless and coffee deprived butt down to the bus stop to go to the clinic for blood tests.

I'm being tested for diabetes, among a host of other crap, so I couldn't eat or drink anything but water until the blood was drawn.

You don't want to meet me, early on a cold morning, when I haven't had any coffe and have to walk alot.

I was a grumpy gal.

The guy was from Cuba; his English was funny, but man, can he draw blood! Barely felt it! I was outta der in ten minutes!

JUST missed a bus to go back. It's a 40 minute wait 'til the next one, so I walked into Stadium Grocery, next door. Found jalapeno dip: pure sour cream, yummy, for fifty cents a half pint. Bought 4. They're having hamburger and avacados on sale next week, so I'm gonna b makin tacos! Jalapeno dip will be GREAT on em!

Drove everybody in the grocery crazy, tellin stories and tryin to stay warm for awhile.

You're not gonna believe this, but I'd packed a THERMOS full of coffee, so I could have a cup the second he stopped drawing blood! Straight up! Started drinkin it right in the blood room, kept sippin all the way thru the grocery, and moved on to the bus stop with it!

By the time I got home, my bladder was near bursting.

Sat around awhile, thawing out.

Then I grabbed Porkchop and we took off for the radio station.

Stopped by the Swiss bakery on Harvard, specifically looking for day-old stuff. Got a loaf of wheat bread. They have buy one get one free on Mondays, so I've already told the radio station I'm volunteering on Mondays, instead of Tuesdays from now on!

Nibbled bread across campus. Got there early. Poured me a cup of coffee and came back downstairs to hang with Porkchop and have a last smoke.

Porky has a nice stashing place. A little, blind alcove with juniper bushes, out of the way, out of sight. I just threw his blankie on the ground, under the junipers and said, "go to bed." He likes it. I had him tied to the cart. Nobody even knew they were there.

Finished one of the 2 rolodexes today.

Introduced myself, formally, to Marcos Martinez and some of the news staff.

Slooooowly walked back across campus at 1pm...might have been a bit later; wanted to finish the whole rolodex b4 leaving.

We hung at the duck pond for awhile. There's one, white duck with a red face who I KNOW was somebody's pet. SHe's not a bit scared of people or of Porkchop. Swims right up to him. He's scandalized! He hates water!

I may try to catch that duck and bring her home. I may....could sure use the eggs!

Ducks are good company. Messy, but good company!

Trudged thru the alley south of Central, looking for whatever. Some lady offered me dog food money. I thanked her but turned her down.

OH! I found the wire baskets from a dishwasher today! I need another thing to hang from a toggle hook in the kitchen to hang my gadgets on. This thing's perfect: insulated wire, on a swiveling spindle! I'll hang it some other day though. I've got to go back to the station tomorrow. And Thursday's trash day. I need to save my strength.

Porky and I finally staggered in at about 2:30. Basically, I was rippin and runnin for seven hours in the cold today. I'm totally pooped.

So, blogs and dishes and all kindsa stuff are just gonna have to wait for my tired butt.

Came in and totally raided the fridge: potatoe salad, kosher pickle, chicken breast and two slices of balogna with thin-sliced cheese rolled up in em. Soda pop and a cig! Except for the bread, that was the only thing I've eaten all day.

Five outta six cats are within six feet of me...I think they missed me. Snuffy's in the dresser drawer. Miss Thing's pressed against my right thigh. Mugwart's pressed against the left. Ivan's on the steamer trunk I use as a coffee table/cat bed in here. Osa's in the window seat, staring at birds. Chaco's sleeping in my closet, in a basket of napkins and table cloths. Porkchop's pressed against the soles of my feet, which feels wonderful.

Amy Goodman's on, but I aint got the stomach for more Bush/Iraq crap right now...

My feeties really hurt and so does almost every other body part. My ears and nose are still thawing out. I'm so chilled, I don't know if I'll ever be warm again!

I'm takin a dang NAP!

Run the world without me for awhile, would you?

Monday, January 26, 2004


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"Hey, look! That's Pepe's house!" the 'hood rats shout.
They point to "Cops," the show on my tv.
There's Chui, Justine's uncle, coming out,
Assisted by the blue gang, A.P.D.

A "whore motel" on Central is the scene,
For immigrants and gangsters, side by side:
When times are tight and money is too lean
No questions asked, a place to live or hide.

May'r Marty Chavez told our cops today
That "Cops" show is no longer welcomed here.
It doesn't look good, showing us this way.
It scares the tourists off, fills them with fear.

The War Zone disappears from Marty's view.
But, for the War Zone 'hood rats, it's still true.


"Welfare:" a sonnet

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Sad, sickly, slow, ashamed, grieving and weak.
I stumble over cracks; I trudge and limp.
You hurl rocks, bottles, spit and hatred speak:
"Pig! Welfare leech! Trash Picker! Lazy wimp!"

"Stop ripping off my taxes! Get a job!"
I scurry off to hide. You laugh at me.
Half blind, my breath comes short; my muscles throb.
I stifle tears. Why can't you let me be?

A quarter century I've worked so hard:
Assembly, maid, fast food joints, door-to-door.
With acids, feces, concrete, blood and lard
My mind is stained; can't do it any more.

I eat and wear the garbage I can find.
Hate me, while Halliburton robs you blind!


Sunday, January 25, 2004

ding dong, the tooth is dead!

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that dead molar is finally loose. I know I could pull it out of the socket; it's just floating in there.

I've been pulling at it, using the tooth above it as a lever. Sort of like wiggling it back and forth. I've been doing it for weeks.

It wasn't a painful procedure. In fact, it actually felt a bit like scratching an itch, deep in my jaw.

I'll have to be careful not to swallow it when I eat. I need to keep it in the socket, until I know what to do.

It would be fun, though, to pull it out in front of people and really gross them out! And then put it back in!

But I'm not going to remove it. I don't know if I could set the roots back into the holes properly again, for one thing. For another thing, I don't want to push food down in there. That's been an issue, anyway. Food contamination has been a major source of my pain. I've been swishing warm coffee, tea, water and hydrogen peroxide in the socket: anything to ease the pain and irritation.

So, until I can figure out how to get to a dentist or oral surgeon, I'll just have to be careful when I eat.

I've gotten used to chewing only on my right side, anyway. But that side, too, only has one upper and one lower molar left. And none of my molars line up right anymore.

But thank heavens! That damned tooth is DEAD!

I just hope it doesn't cause gangrene.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

I'm disgusted

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Well, I've counted my calories today. I didn't eat anything differnt than I normally do, except I reduced my sodas by 3/4.

I calculate that I actually EAT only about 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day.

I've almost eaten 1,500 today. I couldn't finish my stuffed, baked potato. It was only about the size of my fist. It had about 2 tablespoons of beef roast, a pat of butter, a VERY thin slice of cheese (about 1/2 the width of a slice of American cheese), 2 tbsp. sour cream. I couldn't finish it.

I HOPE eleminating the sodas from my diet will be enough of a calorie reduction so I can drop the weight.

I do NOT over eat! But my body's gotten so efficient at storing fat, because my nutrition is so sketchy.

For years, people have called me a pig, a slob, a sow, etc.

I never eat snack foods. I rarely eat fast foods. I rarely drink alcohol. I seldome eat fried stuff. I do eat sugar, but it's usually in something I home baked, and not a lot at one sitting.

This whole time, I didn't think I was eating excessively. And I know I get excercise.

It's a dang mess!

Basically, I'm fat because I'm poor.

urban legend alert!

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well, on my 4th glass of water today, I got the worst head ache! I mean, it's a whopper.

So I wondered: 8 glasses of water per day? I'll be house bound, unable to go anywhere not within easy dash to a bathroom!

So I looked it up.



I'm still glad to drink a LOT more water than I've been drinking! But I need to pay attention to what my body's telling me.

Flushing all the salts and potassium out of my poor, ol', beat up brain ain't gonna help me a BIT!

I mean, I've drunk a day's worth of water in half a day, and my eyes are bulging and my sinus hurt!

Shoulda looked it up before I started drowning myself! HAH!

And I'm right about my food intake: I haven't been eating enough calories in a day. I was relying on the sugars in the sodas for calories. It's 5 pm and I've only eaten about a thousand calories. Estimates I've been reading show I should be eating at least 1,400 to 2,200 per day!

I can't figure out HOW to eat another thousand calories today! I made some pop corn, with a tiny drizzle of butter (about a tablespoon for about eight cups of popped corn) and a couple of sprinkles of cheese powder (from mac & "cheese" box).

I still have 2 pieces of produce left to eat today; maybe I'll have a baked tater.

I KNEW I haven't been EATING much!

This is going to take some serious adjustment! My diet has been radically off base. I knew this was true, because I can't eat a normal-sized meal in one sitting; my stomach shrank. Guess all that WATER will stretch it, huh? LOL

I'll figure it all out, but this is very confusing.

How the HELL am I going to cram another thousand calories down my throat before bed???


I just looked up the calories in taters: about a hundred per. That means I'd have to eat TEN potatoes before bed in order to eat another thousand calories! Four oz. of chicken or turkey is only 350.

I have no idea how to eat enough food before bed time. I've only got about six hours left 'til then. I don't like sleeping on a full stomach.

THis is gonna be a lot harder to figure out than I thought...

I guess I'll need to eat a much larger breakfast.

I've never counted a calorie before in my LIFE!

I wish I could talk to a nutritionist: a REAL one, not some hippy quack!

ok...off to make a tater. Guess I can put cheese and sour cream on it, too, huh?

duck pond

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Well, it was a nice walk. Porky and I looked in the dumpsters of restaurants along Central and I found about twenty lbs. of chopped lettuce behind Wendy's. It was just fine. A little water logged...probably melted ice.

When we got to the pond, I threw some in the water and scattered the rest on the bank.

Big, fat fish and ducks swarmed to eat.

People throw their pet goldfish in the pond. I saw one dang near 3 feet long! There's a black, Japanese style gold fish about a foot long. Sure would like to catch him! I don't know if any of the fish are actual koi; water's too murky to see very well.

There are schools of minnows, too.

I don't know why Porky and I haven't been going to the pond. It's really not too far from my house: maybe ten blocks?

There's a lot of stuff at the university I should be seeing: museums, etc.

Heck, I'm only about half a mile or so from a university! I might as well enjoy it.

I'm drinking my water; got 3 large glasses down, so far, plus whatever I drank from my bottle at the pond. pee a lot anyway, so this is a real challenge. I don't dare go to the duck pond tomorrow; it'll be too hard to find a bathroom, once I get there. With about 16 oz. of coffee and 30 oz. of water in me, I almost didn't make it to the bathroom at the Humanities Bldg. today!

I've only eaten 2 small sandwiches today and a small piece of chocolate.

4 pieces of chocolate, I've learned, are 100 calories, but they're 33% of daily fat. I found that putting a bit of chocolate on my tongue while sipping coffee is fabulous! LOL.

I don't feel a bit hungry or deprived. In fact, by drinking a big glass of water with a small sandwich, I feel pretty stuffed and waddly after eating.

I'm wondering if drinking more water will help with the pain I feel from walking. While tired from our trip, I don't feel a need to rest for long. I'm sure it won't hurt. There's an acid which muscles secrete during exercise; it causes pain. I'm pretty sure hydration minimizes the effects. And it CERTAINLY can't be bad for my joints and connective tissues, the areas in which I experience most of the pain.

We left the duck pond when too many people started showing up. Although he was on leash, Porky's leash wasn't connected to anything. It weighs him down and slows him. He continues to obey commands, as long as I'm on the alert for dogs and other things he might attack. It was nice to let him have some freedom as we walked. He never went very far from me.

On the way home, I found a great treat: a shocking-pink wig. It's got crimped hair that's over shoulder length. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it's so funny! I washed it and it's hanging in the shower to dry.

I have a few, light chores to do today, but I'm taking it kinda easy.

I have to return to the clinic for some blood tests, early Monday morning and, if it's not too cold, windy or rainy, I'll walk. It's about six miles, round trip. I think. Maybe only four. But the return trip is almost all up hill.

Although I took the bus there yesterday, I did walk home. It'll poop ya out, believe me!

Well, gotta pee! L8terz! LOL
well, I found my problem. It's the soda pops!

I looked up calories per day on this thing http://walking.about.com/library/walk/blcalcalc.htm. I used my real weight and calculated. Then, I used my "ideal" weight and calculated.

The difference in calories is, guess what? Four sodas per day. Guess how many sodas I've been drinking per day (approx.)? Yep. SIX HUNDRED FORTY calories in sodas, per day, on average!

And I know why, too: appetite suppressant. Plain and simple. Explains the cigarettes, too. I only have $2 food stamps/day. If I spend about fifty cents of that on generic soda pop (about twelve cents/can), I won't notice I'm hungry! I'll betcha! DANG!

I haven't had a soda yet today; haven't felt the craving, cuz I'm full of water. I was drinking a soda with lunch and dinner, one for mid day snack and one at night.

I've been self-medicating, so I wouldn't eat too much! That makes me angry and sad all at the same time!

My poor, poor body!

1/3 of my body is unnecessary

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Well, not quite 1/3. According to a chart on the clinic wall, at the height of 5'4", I should weigh 140 lbs. I weigh 207 lbs.


This mostly happened after I lost my baby. I seem to have gained about 40 lbs. They tore holes in my gut that never stopped hurting. I went from walking about four miles per day to nearly nothing, almost over night. And I've struggled, ever since, to get back.

And, for you people living in the real world and not the USA, I have no idea how to convert all this, metrically.

Basically, I'm carrying around 3 average-sized bags of dog food.

My body's gotten very efficient, as well, at storing fat. I don't blame her. We never have a regular diet. We eat what we can get.

I know I don't eat many calories in a day. But I do drink sugary soda pops. I do it for several reasons: sugar is immediate energy; I'm dependent on the caffeine; the water here is nasty, even though I use a filtered container; I'm habituated to pop, rather than water.

So, that has to change. Immediately. Sodas cost and they're heavy to drag home. I can drink a little soda every day, but not all day, every day! I can get caffeine from tea, which is cheaper. So is coffee. I can get sugar from fruit. Even my home-baked pastries are more nutritious than sodas!

I don't have to radically change everything, right away. I can do it in bits, like I've done with cigarettes. It's very satisfying to watch my leftover cigarettes, from unfinished packs, fill an old packet to go into the freezer. It's like getting "free" cigarettes. Whatever's left over from a pack, at the end of the day, gets frozen for later. Out of 2 cartons of cigs., bought at the beginning of the month, I still have 4 unopened packs, plus two refilled packs in the freezer, plus the freshly-opened pack for today. Normally, I'd have finished both cartons by now, and would be scrounging for cigarette money to last me 'til the end of the month.

Surely, I can apply some of this to food and exercise.

I seldom walk unless I absolutely have to, because of the pain. But, now that I know how far away the duck pond at the university is from my house, I believe Porky and I could walk it every day. It'll hurt, don't get me wrong. But it's only pain.

Basically, my body has carefully stored almost 70 lbs. of unnecessary mass. That's half again my ideal weight.

I know: those "ideal" weight charts are pretty bogus. And this one was on a wall next to other medical propoganda from drug companies. So it's probably not very accurate. It doesn't take into account gender, age or ethnicity, for instance: always a red flag. I'm not an able-bodied, young white man.

Still, I know I can drop this weight. I know it'll be less stress on my poor, bedraggled feet, legs and back.

I just need to pay attention to what I ingest, and ask myself, "do you really want to eat that right now?"

I also need to drink LOTS more water! I should have gotten the clue when my pee started perpetually smelling funny and looking like organic apple juice! LOL

And I can eat 5 servings of fruits/vegetables a day. Especially stuff like onions, carrots, potatoes and other stuff that stores for long periods.

My poor body has been through hell the last, twenty years: stress, over work, pain, malnutrition... She needs my love and support.

I've treated her, too often, as an adversary, a hindrence, an obstacle. I haven't paid much attention to her. She has done the best she could, under neglect, to keep us going and keep us strong.

She's tired now. She's getting old and running out of renewable resources. I need to conserve and protect her.

I need to thank her.

She has worked so hard. She barely complains about what she's been put through.

She certainly deserves better treatment.

So, nearly 70 lbs. must go.

But I'll do it in such a way that I not only don't feel deprived, but feel satisfied, happy and enthusiastic. Like I'm doing with the evil cigarettes.

She's been through so much trauma, abuse and neglect, I couldn't bear to make her feel worse now.

It'll be so nice to walk without dragging 3 extra sacks of dog food around!

It'll be nice to wear the smaller sized clothing I find in the trash, which I now pass by with a wistful sigh.

And maybe, although I'm not counting on this, but maybe people won't be so NASTY to me, based on my appearance, if I drop the extra weight.

I've tried looking up nutrition on the 'net. But there's so much propoganda for silly diet programs. So, I've abandoned that idea.

I'll just try to eat like our primitive ancestors did, when they first came down from the trees to prowl the African savana.

That should be the proper proportions: lots of vegetation and root material, scant sugar, rare meat, etc.

Except for the sugar, that's pretty much my diet now.

But I need to lose the sugar, anyway. Both mom and grandma developed type 2 diabetes.

No "plastic foods," like sugar substitutes and fake fats; that's just sick and unnatural.

Friday, January 23, 2004


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I go to the Dr. this morning. I already called to bus co. There IS a bus to my destination this morning! I don't have to walk. I have a dollar. I packed the form that needs filling by a Dr.

I'll take my collapsable stroller. There may be groceries at Stadium, next door to the clinic. I also need inserts for my shoes; my feet really bother me.

I'm not scared of what the Dr. will do to me, medically. I'm scared of attitude. I have been treated SO badly by medical professionals over the last 15 years, and I avoid them at almost all costs.

If the Dr. prescribes antibiotics for the absess from my tooth, I don't know how I'll pay for it. I'd much prefer a shot of penicillin or some such.

I woke at 5:30am, as usual. I was very tired yesterday, but didn't let myself nap in the afternoon, for fear I'd oversleep this morning.

I've showered. I even put on a bit of make up and ear rings. I'm not a very good looking person anymore, so maybe it'll help. I don't want to look ridiculous, though.

I wanted to shower early, to give my hair a chance to dry before I leave. I try never to use my hair dryer. It seems like a silly waste of electricity, in a city as dry as Albuquerque. With some timing, a dryer, either for clothes or hair, is really unnecessary.

Porkchop got all excited, as soon as he saw me brushing my hair and putting on socks. Those are indicators that Mommy might be leaving the property, and that I'll probably take him with me. I won't, of course, and he'll be sooo disappointed. But he's had a LOT of walking this week!

Speaking of walking, I'm TRYING to buy 2 new inner tubes for my scooter, if the dang company can be bothered to assist me in my purchase. Their web site isn't very compatible with MSNTV's browser.

If I'm going to be volunteering at the radio station and such, I REALLY need my scooter!

Well, it's still an hour 'til I need to catch the bus. I think I'll make me a nice breakfast and have another cup of coffee.

I just wish this were over already...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

no trash pickin' today

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Well, it's Thursday. It's almost 7am, the time I usually head out to trash pick. But not today.

I wrote an email to Ren�e, news director at KUNM fm, telling her I couldn't meet with her today. I'm really tired from the MLK march and a trip to the store this week.

But I guess she didn't get it. When I called yesterday, she wanted to see me the same day.

I showered quickly and hustled Porkchop and my cart across campus, to the radio station. It took me a whole hour to cross campus!

I stashed Porky and the cart in an isolated corner, under some bushes, outside Onate Hall, where the station's located. I threw down my coat and told him, "go to bed."

I met a lot of my favorite radio voices. None of them looked like I'd imagined them while listening. The closest were the men: skinny guys in t shirts and baseball caps. But the women were all surprising.

It'll be nice to work with people whom I respect.

I'll be volunteering at the station on Tues. and Wed., from 11am-1pm. My first task is to organize a very messed-up rolodex system. I'm already wondering about online printable programs for that.

I explained to Renee that people in Albuquerque need to become accustomed to hearing my name and my work on a regular basis. I explained that I'm afraid people only think of me as a crazy bag lady, pushing my cart and picking trash.

She laughed and said, "you don't really do that, do you?"

I was surprised. I'd given her links to my domain and my blogs, as well as my resume and "Rogi Writes" URLs. I said, "actually, I do. I convert some things into arts and crafts to sell on the internet. Other things, I repair or clean to sell."

"Are you homeless." Oh, hell! Not THIS again!

"I pick trash in order to maintain my home and pay my rent. I can't get a decent job in this town, and I just can't flip another burger anymore."

Her attitude toward me shifted. It was subtle, but I noticed it.

We went from me, volunteering in the office while simultaneously upgrading my production and broadcast skills on their equipment to, "well, why don't you come in and work in the office a few hours a week. We'll see how we get along. And, once you finish the rolodex, we'll see if you can do a news story."

I expressed concern re: timing. The state legislature is in session for only the next 30 days. They're looking at gutting medicaid. I'd like to produce a story on that.

I'd explained that, while I'm a real journalist, and will work on any story the news department deems important, I'd like permission to focus, in particular, on news stories which directly affect the poor. I'd listed the "agressive panhandling" law, the mayor's new commission on homelessness, social services, etc.

I had assured her, when she'd said something about, "all sides...fair and balanced (isn't that Bill O'Reiley's line?)..." that I wasn't interested in writing polemics and manifestos. She had sounded relieved. I'm really a journalist. I have no interest in brow beating people into believing what I believe. I'm interested in broad casting.

Oh, I know my blogs don't necessarily reflect that. I do post many news stories. But most of my blog writing is editorial and opinion. But a blog is not a newspaper; it's a journal. And where else do I get to express an opinion?! LOL

But you'll notice my blogs contain dozens of underreported news stories, every week. I'm interested in publishing the stories we won't hear on the network news, and CERTAINLY not on am talk radio.

Well, I slipped from being treated like a peer to being treated like a potential threat and problem for the station. Because of the way I earn a living. Never mind the philosophy behind my trash picking. Never mind that dumpster diving is an artform in larger, more progressive towns. I pick trash; I might be dangerous.

I was a lady about it. I didn't get uptight. This is an opportunity, I'd told her, to crawl and dig my way out of rock bottom. I take this opportunity very seriously. I'm not about to throw it away over my bruised ego.

I walked down the hallways with the likes of Rachel Kaub, Carol Boss (I hope I'm spelling that right), Tom Trobridge (ditto) and Marti Ronish (?). These are SMART people! These are committed people! These are funny, charming, hard-working people. These are MY people!

As I was leaving the station, I ran into Marcos Martinez, station manager, in the hall.

The building's a squirrel cage; it's very easy to get lost and disoriented. Without windows, I lost my sense of direction. I was trying to find the elevator. Note: someone has scratched out most of the letters on the "Elevator" signs; they now read, "El vato." Cute, but confusing.

We hadn't introduced ourselves, but I recognized his voice and had earlier seen him exit his marked office.

I said, "This place is so confusing. And everybody runs around so fast! I'm actually dizzy!"

He smiled broadly and said, "Kinda like the TV show, 'The West Wing,' huh?"

So, we stood in that hall for a moment and discussed the writing and editting styles of "The West Wing." It's one of my favorite shows; I analyze it thoroughly. I'd never told another human being what I thought of the writing style before, how it distracts unnecessarily from the subplots, how it's obviously too impressed with its own precociousness, how much easier it is to follow the fast-paced subplots since, "that coke head, the creator, stopped writing for it."

And Martinez listened! He actually thought my opinion was interesting!

It has been over a DECADE since that has happened! At least, offline.

I'm going to have trouble, keeping up and getting a pace.

So, I don't mind doing the rolodex at first. Gawd knows, it needs doing! What a mess. Lots of time gets wasted, looking for stuff.

Rachel Kaub gave me an application for a volunteer position: 10 hrs. per week, coordinating the radio theater program. I'd expressed an interest in participating as an actor. I can't memorize lines anymore, so couldn't be on stage. But I can still read a script well.

I'm going to a station orientation a week from Sunday. I'm starting my volunteer work next Tuesday.

It felt so natural to be back in a radio station again that, at first, I forgot I've been lost for nearly fifteen years. Felt like home.

Came right home and wrote my first sonnet!

As I was walking home, I was listening to Carol Boss on "Free Form." She'd asked some performance artists and writers to write responses to the State of the Union address the night before. I tuned in just in time to hear a woman reading what I'd thought of writing: a nearly word-for-word parody of the speech, telling the TRUTH behind the propoganda.

I know I can write performance stuff. I was frustrated I haven't gotten farther along with it than I have. I compare myself to other writers too much, for one thing. I'm not a hip hop artist. I'm classically trained, but rusty.

And a sonnet has a good rythm; it rhymes; it's not hip hop, but it's a form to which an audience can relate.

So, I'm researching poetic forms, looking for ways to use them as a structure for my ideas.

I don't particularly like blank verse: too easy to get sloppy.

Real poetic forms force the writer to trim away the fat and get to the point. They're good discipline.

They're also easier to memorize, to perform, to convert to song lyrics, etc. They're easier for the audience to QUOTE later, too! Free publicity.

So, rusty as I am, I'm going through the tortures of learning to think in quatrains, iambic pentameter, and other silly stuff.

I think I'm on to something!

Then, once I have some tight poems collected together, I can slip printed copies into the "Women's Voices" and "Spoken Word" mailboxes at the radio station. See?????

dumb as a fox.

No trash picking today! I walked SIX HOURS yesterday! First, the station, then, the duck pond so Porkchop could play, then the bank and drug store, then Smith's for soda pops. By the time I got home, I was literally crying. Porkchop literally FLUNG himself on the bed and didn't move the rest of the night!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


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I've started a new project. I'm rewriting Shakespeare's sonnets, to reflect my own life.

Ambitious job, huh?

I just wrote the first one.


Two dollars ev'ry day have I for feed,
According to food stamps: U.S.D.A.,
Based on my income, rent and bills, I need
No more nutrition in a single day.

Half-spoiled foods, discounted, I will eat.
Pick off the mold; dry, freeze, can, eat real quick.
My diet's bad; nutrition's not complete.
My dinner's what the store knows makes folks sick.

The rice has meal bugs; cheddar cheese has mold.
The vegies brown; at least the meat is green.
I eat what other shoppers find too old,
Too bruised, too stale or otherwise obscene.

The milk's marked down because the date's up now.
I drink a glass and contemplate mad cow.

Check in at Poetry Home from time to time, and see how I'm coming along.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

white priviledge

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I've pretty much been a colored gal since way before I even knew I was colored. Mom and Grandma taught me their survival skills since I was old enough to climb onto a step stool and reach the dishes in the sink. There's a whole sensibility to being poor, southern and colored that just doesn't bleach out from marrying white.

I know, for example, that, if I'd ever said, "nigger," I'd have had my teeth knocked out. I know Mom damned near killed me for immitating an Indian war whoop, like I'd heard on tv.

Now, techically, these sensibilities are not "colored," per se. But they represent a combination of values one sees in this country among, particularly, southern Black and Native American peoples.

Some of the specifics were: work hard; don't whine; never apologize for dirty work clothes; always dress for town, church, weddings, funerals and revenuers; fear God and politicians; never trust the wealthy, because they're lying to you; education is the fastest way out of a pig pen; never tell family secrets because they'll be used as weapons against you and yours; never tell the boss, the sherrif or the pastor the truth; blood is thicker than water, but money is thicker than anything; die trying to do it yourself before asking for help; try to be invisible at all times; live without before going into debt; never act or look like the trash down the holler.

It has been over a decade since I have been treated with any white priviledge. The possible exception is when I'm talking to some official on the telephone. But, when people see me in person, I lose all my priviledges.

See, I'm short. I'm fat. I'm almost fifty years old. I have bad teeth. My skin shows wear. My hair's always a mess because I'm rarely in a car. My clothes come from trash and aren't stylish. I wear comfortable shoes, because I'm not in a car. My poor nutrition shows.

So, even though I'm a pale face, people often mistake me for a bag lady. Even people who read my blogs get confused and think I'm homeless! I don't know why; I guess it's just their prejudices and stereotypes. I guess they think homeless people are trash pickers. I pick trash to KEEP my home!

I don't know why they think like they do. I just have to deal with the consequences.

My neighbor, Rowen, across the alley, refuses to leash her dogs. She leaves her back gate unlocked, so they can come into the empty lot to poop all over my garden, chase my cats and attack me.

The last time, they pushed open their gate and came at me! I was just trying to throw out my trash. I barely made it back in, because they'd charge me every time I moved. I finally ran for a board outside her gate and propped the gate shut with it, after throwing another board at them to scare them back into her yard. I called animal control on her.

Next day, there they were, WITH HER, loose, attacking me and Porky as we tried to go to the MLK march.

I said, dammit, Rowen, does my dog poop on your food? I have $2/day food stamps; that's why I grow the garden! She refused to acknowledge me.

I said, dammit, Rowen, CONTAIN YOUR DOGS! She looked right at me and did NOTHING to control them!

Finally, I said, well, Rowen, you just let me know when I have your permission to live my life!

So, she put the dogs in her car, windows half unrolled, in the middle of the alley...they were packing for something. I had to walk RIGHT NEXT To that car full of snarling, snapping dogs with my wide cart and my dog, in order to leave!

See, I'm crazy. She's not an irresponsible, spoiled hippy; I'm crazy. I'm angry, so I'm not politically correct and peaceful enough for her tofu butt!

And now I'm scared to death she'll retaliate against me and I'll lose my home! It might not have even occurred to her to do such a thing, but I know how people are. She won't end up homeless over this, but I could!

Because she won't take responsibility for her own dogs!

Where's the white priviledge? She knows I'm powerless to stop her from endangering my health and safety. She could drop a dime on me for letting my cats run around the empty lot.

I can't see worth a damn. I can't out run a vicious dog. If they're out there and startle me, I could easily fall and hurt myself.

So, because she's too lazy to pick up dog crap, I get to be tormented.

When I walk to the store with my cart, people at the bus stop move away as they see me coming.

Security in stores I don't shop frequently follow me around.

Bus drivers and passengers abuse me over my clothing, my cart, whatever.

People throw things at me from passing cars. They call me horrible things.

On the internet, I get called a crack whore, a welfare cheat, a bum, a dead beat....

See, that old racism stuff has been cleverly covered up. Some idiot was talking on the net about how Bush has done more for Blacks than any other prez, cuz of Rice and Powell. When was the last time you heard of Rice and Powell in a civil rights action?

O, we aint racist now; some of our bestest friends r colored ppl. It ain't about all that no more.

Within 72 hrs. of Bush's drive by wreath laying at MLK's tomb, he appointed a segregationist judge, while Congress was out of town! A guy they'd refused to confirm, because the guy's such a reactionary skank! uh huh.

No, it aint about race no more. It's about class. Sorry to use such a Marxist word, but it's true. IF you can't afford to whiten your teeth, wear the latest trends, drive an air conditioned and heated car to keep your hair in place and the right kinds of impractical clothing on your back, you're marked as trash. You're an untouchable. You're a joke.

Women with whiskers. George Lopez threatened to BEAT his sit com mother, if she showed any whiskers! That's supposed to be HUMOR! Women with arm pit hair and leg hair.

I have MS. Sometimes, I can't bend down in my coffin sized shower to shave my legs. SOmetimes, I can't see well enough to risk shaving my pits and face. So I'm a joke. Cops literaly laughed at me once because my legs were unshaved!

And your damn clothes better not have any sweat, dirt, stains or rips! If they do, throw them out IMMEDIATELY!

ONLY ride a bike for recreation, not out of necessity! And do it wearing all the right athletic clothing. BUt if the bike is motorized, you're the target of abuse. They'll throw things at you, chase you, sic their dogs on you.

Never limp or they'll stare at you. ANd the cops will harrass you, thinking you're under the influence.

White priviledge???? Maybe in the deepest, darkest south that's still true: the ONLY thing your trash butt has better than your Black neighbor is skin color. Cuz neither of you has a pot to piss in, you both owe your life to the land lord, the mining/sharecropping/millwork/factory labor is going to kill you, etc.
But this ain't the old days, before voting rights and civil rights.

Now, they're much sneakier. They can point to the colored faces, tokens, on their boards and cabinets and say, "see? we believe in equal opportuinity!"

As they erode the middle class by sending jobs oversees. As they make it harder to find health care and decent schooling. As they make it harder to vote or hold office. As they degrade and demoralize us. As they bring in their fundamentalist "preachers" to propogandize us and teach us to hate, calling it religion.

Racism aint the OVERT agenda anymore. Now, it's class. YEah, a higher proportion of colored people get lumped into the class bind; of course, that's true.

Because it's all just an excuse to have a disposable, surplus population to work the factories and fight the wars.

BUt the factories are oversees now. And the wars are being fought on computer screens, for the most part. Not that our low class and colored butts aren't in grave danger, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But the Pentagon has created war technology that isn't as labor intensive as it was in Viet Nam.

So, here we are: the left overs. We aren't necessary to the economy. The economy is play money on wall street. That's why we can say the economy's improving, even though there are no new and DECENT jobs. Unless you think a McJob is "decent."

WHat do you do with the left overs? Get em addicted, so they're desperate and easy to control. Put them in a ghetto, segregated from the affluent. Feed them fascist propoganda, masuqeraded as religion. Make sure they're ignorant, overwhelmed and angry, but that they take their anger out on each other. They'll be so busy, fighting each other, they'll never turn on the affluent.

In fact, they'll revere the affluent! They'll actually think that, someday, they too can win the lottery and become Enron! Lying, cheating and stealing are qualities to respect, after all!

WHite privilege?

Last time anybody gave me slack for being so-called "white" was in Pekin, Indiana, a Ku Klux town. They decided to merely scare the crap out of me and let it be known I was a "nigger lover," rather than actually killing me! That is, when they found out I was mixed race. But those ignorant hillbillies are dinosaurs; they haven't gotten the message that those overt tactics are considered gauche now.

Now, you call people, "ma'am and sir" to their faces, while destroying them and leaching off them in MUCH more subtle and genteel ways!

White priviledge? Where do I sign up? I'll get me some of that, let it build some interest, and give it all away to my fellow trailer trash, whatever color they are!

Over in the War Zone, it didn't matter if you were Black, Native, Latino or white; you were garbage: to the cops, social workers, paramedics, predatory lenders, preachers, slumlords....and any of the other rare people of affluence who came by ONLY to exploit us!

Nobody cared what color you were, as long as you had some pussy, crack, a cigarette, a dollar, or whatever else might be useful.

White priviledge? Maybe in the yuppy subdivisions and boardrooms that crap still goes on.

But among us gutter snipes, we're all in the same melting pot, being rendered for dog food!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Happy MLK Day!

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Porkchop and I exhausted ourselves, marching at the MLK march yesterday. The pace was ridiculous! Us old people, lil kids and gimps had a helluva time, keeping up with the able bodied men! What was the damn hurry???

And 2 ppl, driving cars behind me, damn near ran me down twice!

Then, when we got there, all the prayers were about "our lord and saviour, jesus christ," IMMEDIATELY after saying "WE are gathered here in UNITY!" I shouted, NOT ME; I'M AN ATHEIST! I'm really an agnostic, but I didn't think a lot of people would know what that meant! I looked at Jews and Muslims, being spoken for in jesus' name, and just wondered at the arrogance!

Bad, evil Starbucks' provided free coffee. Seems to me, it'd make sense to have a LOCAL coffee company sponsor the event! And Krispy Kream donuts were free; same thing: we have some fabulous, local bakeries! Of COURSE, starbucks and KK would love Black franchizers! Anybody struggling to make it out, become successful, work like a DOG to keep a shop open....sounds a lot like sharecropping to me....

Mayor Chavez lied through his teeth about equality and justice, so I yelled out about the Aggressive Panhandling law!

I'm a great heckler. I make enemies, sure, but I make a lot of friends, too...

So, today Porky and I walked to Smith's with the sign I carried yesterday. It's the top, 5 lines of my MLK "Beyond Viet Nam" web page.

I found a bunch of nice dumpster junk today: pretty blouses, cds, bags, etc. Found a good backpack and jacket that I dropped off in front of the plasma center.

If I wasn't so dang tired, I'd wash up my dumpster finds today. It's beautiful out there. Maybe later this week...we might get snow though, if we're lucky. Dang drought.

I found a big cake box full of cressants at Smith's for about $2. Gave some away to the homeless guys on the way home.

Got another half turkey I'll cook tonite, to keep the house warm.

Some flakey pastry fruit tarts: old favs. from childhood...my favs were the lemon ones, but they hardly ever make those anymore...

taters and onions were on sale.

had me 2 garlic/herb chicken sandwiches for lunch, on 2 crescents. oh, gawd, that was gooooooood!

Ran into Cindy from indimedia.org yesterday. I keep forgetting I can publish there...duh! She wants me to write about King's beyond viet nam and about the panhandling "law."

Basically, the law said, u can't panhandle after dark or before dawn. You can't get within three feet of a mark; you can't touch them...some other stuff I don't remember. Anyway, someone...probably the ACLU....challenged it in court and the judge threw it out. But chavez ain't done with us bums yet; NOW, he's started some commission on ending homelessness. Not one homeless person on the commission, of course, just do gooder social worker types, churches and other idiots who think they're experts.

God save us from experts!

Well, I'm babbling, and I want a cig.

But I wanted to check in. I was just too damn tired, by the time I staggered back in yesterday...


Saturday, January 17, 2004

Monkey Butler

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Here's my monkey butler lamp.

It retails online for about twenty dollars. One unscrupulous outfit calls it an "antique," but in the blurb admits it's only "antique-like."

It's very small; it's a night light. With shade, it stands less than a foot. It uses a chandelier bulb, night light bulb, or xmas light bulb. It has an on/off switch.

The shade on mine is much nicer; it's shaped, black fabric, stretched on a tapered, wire frame.

It's just molded plastic, worth, at most, five dollars. Plain "candlestick" nightlights retail for a dollar or two. The shade might retail for two dollars.

Anyway, that's my monkey butler, found in the gay guys' trash this week....

Friday, January 16, 2004

Dr. King: the remix

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From AlterNet.org

Dr. King: The Remix
Chris Vaeth, AlterNet
January 15, 2004
Viewed on January 16, 2004

While much of the world will pay homage to Martin Luther King's 75th birthday on January 15, the eyes in many hip-hop heads will again glaze over the revival of grainy black-and-white footage from 1963.

Is it any wonder that the most commercialized, mass-marketed and misunderstood figure of the Civil Rights Movement offers little more than surface appeal to the hip-hop nation? The paradox of overexposure of a particular image of Dr. King is his resultant inaccessibility to young people.

While we love to hear the story, again and again, well-intentioned teachers and less-benevolent revisionists have hidden from us much of the good stuff about the good Reverend Doctor. His legacy has been reduced by many interpreters to a still portrait of a pacific dreamer in a contextual vacuum. We have been conditioned to think that everything we need to know about King we learned in kindergarten. While we remember that he was born in Atlanta and became a timeless orator, nonviolent dreamer and national martyr, many in the hip-hop nation have yet to be introduced to the radical Martin Luther King, Jr.

Call in P. Diddy, or whoever invented the remix. The revolutionary King has been lost on the B-side for much of the last four decades, while the facts of this year in our nation's history accentuate the significance of understanding the true King legacy.
Dr. King's "triple evils" of racism, poverty and war have emerged in all-too-familiar form: the Bush II government abandons American children to kill in Iraq and to perish in prison here at home, cuts off unemployment benefits and closes welfare centers, locks up innocent immigrants, and rewards the rich for their patronage of these policies.

Reinterpretation is often a struggle, and like most spaces in hip-hop, the memory of King has long been a battleground. The national celebration of his birthday is itself a product of a committed fight, not only in the dirty South but in places like New Hampshire and "by the time I get to" Arizona. There is a role for the hip-hop generation -- ever primed for battle since creating one of the few post-Civil Rights forums for honest communication about race and class in American society -- in reclaiming the legacy of King.

While his death predates the birth of hip-hop culture by almost a decade, his legacy pervades it. For many purist King gatekeepers -- excepting frontline scholars like Michael Eric Dyson -- any juxtaposition of his image with those of rap artists would amount to blasphemy. Admittedly, despite their shared capacity to move a crowd and to call-and-respond with the liveliest of Baptist church revivals and Summer Jam concerts, the vocations of King and the artists have little in common.

But the most significant thread connecting civil rights to hip-hop is King's fundamental concern with the souls and the opportunities of the young people who find meaning in hip-hop today. His spirit is present, even if his style is not.

The lifeblood of hip-hop needs the example of King, and the memory of King would benefit from young people in hip-hop culture injecting it with new meaning.

Tradition of Resistance

Ever since those 1970s days when forgotten South Bronx youth transformed their invisibility into the predominant code of global youth culture, a tradition of resistance has permeated even the most apolitical hip-hop expression.
Stretching across centuries of struggle, and in the company of figures from Harriet Tubman to Muhammad Ali, Dr. King is one of many fore parents along this spectrum of resistance. But conservative elites of interpretation have fundamentally stripped the prophetic, threatening content from the story of his life and leadership.

Four elements of this truth are egregiously absent from the played-out presentation: King's call for the massive economic restructuring of American society, his vigorous opposition to war and imperialism, the militancy in his method of nonviolent resistance, and his life as a prism through which we can better understand the long, slow, grassroots organizing of African Americans whose names don't appear in history books.

While much is recalled of Malcolm X's changing path before a bullet took his life, conservatives -- and often, the rest of us -- tend to freeze MLK in March-on-Washington-time. Of his brief 13 years of leadership, the first 11 were spent fighting for social and political rights, from desegregation to the vote, in southern towns like Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma. These are the campaigns of common King lore: Rosa Parks and the bus boycott, police dogs and fire hoses in Kelly Ingram Park, Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the climactic "I Have a Dream" speech. But what King subsequently said about these hard-fought victories is generally forgotten.

By 1967, King made the critical decision to shift his moral focus.

He confronted head-on the capitalist economic structure and the military complex of the United States, and he articulated the links between the two. He witnessed a tragedy that has reappeared in recent years with frightening parallels: a "war on poverty" that mutated into "not even a good skirmish" as funds were diverted to an unjust, immoral war in Vietnam.

Dr. King was murdered just weeks before his Poor People's Campaign, a multiracial mobilization of poor African Americans, whites, Latinos, and Asian and Native Americans, descended upon Washington. The plan was to create such a crisis of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience in the nation's capital that Congress and the Executive would be forced to deal with the crime of widespread poverty.

In his book "Bearing the Cross", David Garrow cites one meeting during these last weeks of King's life when he asked that the tape recorder be turned off. Rejecting the notion that "capitalism as it was constructed could meet the needs of poor people," he argued that "we might need to look at a kind of socialism, but a democratic form of socialism." These are the convictions of a leader that the hip-hop nation has unlikely heard, contributing to a confusion between the contemporary strategies of "get rich or die tryin'" and "get free or die tryin'."

In the months before he was killed, King consistently spit lyrics like "radical," "revolutionary," "structural transformation," "massive government shutdowns," "an end to modern economic imperialism," and "mobilization of a nonviolent army." His demands for reparations, aggressive affirmative action, fair welfare policies, and a guaranteed income for every American foreshadowed the courage of Public Enemy and dead prez more than most interpreters would allow.
Likewise, as poor black and brown kids were being sent in disproportionate numbers to kill poor people of color in Vietnam, King risked a position that almost completely evaporated the budget of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference and made him a pariah in the press. He warned that any nation that spent more on military aggression than on programs of social uplift was headed for "spiritual doom." How could he advise against the riots of prior summers -- which he did consistently -- without addressing the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," the American government?

We were on the wrong side of a world revolution, he said, battling a Vietnamese people who had quoted our own Declaration of Independence in their fight for freedom. In language that eerily resonates in the present moment and has special meaning for the generation that moves to 50 Cent, an increasingly internationalist King admonished that somehow this madness must stop.

While even mainstream civil rights leaders complained that he was hurting the cause, he replied that he had spent far too long fighting segregation in the South to segregate his moral concerns.

Truth Force

Nonviolence was central to King's opposition to the war in Vietnam, but today this strategy might be better understood as "truth force" or "soul force," the literal translation from Gandhi's satyagraha. To many young people, the negative in the term "nonviolence" sounds like simply the opposite of violence. But King's version was a technique that actively and powerfully resisted untruth and injustice, often in the streets.

King outlined a third way between non-resistance and violent resistance that first turned upside down, and then restored, human community. His was a way of engaging conflict and power with integrity, and overcoming evil without becoming evil. His understanding of love was critically different from the lyrics of R. Kelly ballads; it was an unconditional love, "agape," that acknowledged the interdependence of all life and offered the most potent weapon in the struggle for liberation.

Perhaps the greatest injustice of the misplaced idolatry of King is the failure to acknowledge the unknown foot soldiers who enabled his leadership. African American resistance long preceded the world's introduction to the voice of Martin Luther King Jr., and while he provided vision and articulation, he was a product rather than a creator of the black organizing tradition. Like the DJ who built hip-hop culture only to be replaced by a rapper with a DAT tape, there are hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizers and plain folks who paid the price of the ticket.

Their contributions might be recognized on the King holiday not simply for the sake of assigning credit, but to illustrate how a struggle becomes a movement, and how young people can play a primary role in shaping that movement. Such a clarification of how social change happens, and how King's superhero symbol only stagnates progress toward "the next leader," might help to sharpen the hip-hop nation's distinction between LL Cool J's appearance at an education budget rally and the long, hard work of organizing a community of hip-hop heads.

Martin Luther King Day is as much a day to learn the names of Ella Baker, James Forman, Amzie Moore, Fannie Lou Hamer, Fred Hampton, Bob Moses, Septima Clark, Assata Shakur, Diane Nash, Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, Myles Horton, and George Jackson, and to honor the sacrifices of so many other unnamed freedom fighters.

Among the most tired questions to be rehashed in classrooms this January 15 is what Martin Luther King, Jr. would do about the state of the world were he still alive on his 75th birthday. A hip-hop nation's artistic and activist remix of the story we have been told -- a reinvention of King's persona as complete as that of Missy or Outkast -- might offer an answer.

Chris Vaeth is a community organizer in New York City.
� 2004 Independent Media Institute.

meet my new plates!

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Oh, trash pickin' was a ball yesterday! Some gay guys moved out and that's almost always a bonanza!

Here are SOME of my new plates. Wish you could see the cups better; they're a beautiful shape!

There was some Gibson dinner ware, too, but I can't find it online. Both Kmart and Macy's sell Gibson's: same quality and similar styles, but Macy's charges about $10 more per set! LOL

The Gibsons are hand-painted with big, splotchy flower pots on them. Looks a little like Matisse. Quite bold and "splotchy."

Of course, I didn't get complete sets, but I don't care! They're colorful and friendly.

Got several other bright, primary colors coffee mugs.

Got a monkey butler lamp. It's a night light. The monkey's about 4 inches tall, wearing a real black lampshade on his head... He's carrying candle sticks in both hands and, yes, he's dressed like a butler.

Got several very nice picture frames, a hand-carved wooden cheetah, 2 blacklight bulbs, an aloa vera, a miniature palm tree, a potpouri pot, a butcher block cutting board, the kewlest corkscrew you ever saw.

Got a hand-carved, wooden box, about the size of a silver dollar, with a hand-painted cat on it.

Found several beautiful wine bottles.

Found a new blanket, new sheet and mattress pad.

Basically, I found so much stuff, the cart was too heavy and I almost died, pushing it all home! Had a BALL!

I love my new coffee mugs and matching saucers! SOOO cheerful. So Martha Stewart! It's a pleasure to crawl out of bed, nuke a cuppa, turn on NPR, light a cig and try to wake up!

I no longer smoke in my bedroom. I smoked too much in here, with the webtv. I now must walk to the freezer, unzip a ziploc bag, remove one cigarette, move over to the sofa, sit down and light the cigarette. I'm not allowed to work on projects or do anything else while I smoke. I can only listen to radio or watch tv or read.

I'm down from almost 30 cigs a day to 8-15 per day. Usually, a carton lasts me less than ten days. I bought a carton on the 3rd and still have 3 packs left!

I don't take my cigs with me when I go out. And I try really hard not to ask people for cigs, as that would mess up my daily count.

I have to wait at least 30 minutes between cigarettes.

I don't even miss the extras I used to smoke! No cravings, except if I stay out more than 3 hours.

Saves me a fortune! I should be down to $12.50/month for cigarettes by next month. That's one carton: 10 packs, 200 cigs.

I detect absolutely no difference in my health. I'm still a basket case. I'm not homocidal; I'm not over eating; Im not a mental melt down.

damnedest thing....it's as if I never got up to over a pack a day! do you know: when I had my most horrible job, I smoked TWO PACKS a day???? That was back in the '80s, before all the taxes on cigs. But that was FORTY cigs a day! jesus.

Dr. King

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American Experience
"Citizen King"

Monday, January 19, 2004
9 - 11:00 pm

On the 75th anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth, this program explores the last five years in King's life -- from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 to his assassination in 1968 -- by drawing on the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts of friends, civil rights movement associates, journalists, law enforcement officers and historians to illuminate this little-known chapter in the story of one of America's most important and influential moral leaders. (CC, Stereo, DVI)

Learn about the places where people sought civil rights around the nation at the companion Web site's interactive map. Watch video interviews of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and James Baldwin. Plus, share your stories of the civil rights movement.


Thursday, January 15, 2004


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Personal note: normally, DN goes in my "Why They Hate Us" blog.

Obviously, due to its content, today's DN belongs under the issues of poverty.

I'm listening to DN as I write this.

I have heard Bush made plans to lay a wreath on Dr. King's tomb in Atlanta today. I also heard that the Secret Service has ordered the King Foundation commemoration, scheduled for 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the church across the street were ordered to leave by 2:00 pm. I also heard that organizers, who've worked for MONTHS on this day's services, have refused, quite appropriately, to leave the church early. I don't know the outcome of this at present.

I know I'm not looking at film of Dr. King on KRQE News 13 (CBS affilliate in Albuquerque, NM) tonight. I'm looking at film of Michael Jackson.

For Bush to show up, without warning, without discussing his plans with organizers, and demand they LEAVE THE AREA for his convenience and security is the wannabe master telling the slaves to shut up and go away.

I firmly believe it is Bush, not the friends, family and followers of King, who needs to shut up and go away.

I will repost the page I built, "Beyond Vietnam," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the speach we never get to hear. Aside from some historical specifics, it could have been written today.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Thank you.

TODAY'S SHOW: Thursday, January 15

* Rev. Jesse Jackson On "Mad Dean Disease," the 2000 Elections and

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King *
On the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday we are joined in our studio by another renowned civil rights leader: Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Today, January 15, is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
He was born in 1929. He would be 75 years old today.

It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of his birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."

The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years -- his last years -- are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.


* Bush's New Space Program Criticized Over Costs & Nuclear Fears *

Bush announces plans to set up a permanent base on the Moon and to send astronauts to Mars. Questions arise over the cost, the military's role and the Mars-Halliburton connection.


* Flashback: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. On The U.S. Space Program *
Today on MLK's 75th birthday, we look back to August 16, 1967 when Dr. King said "If our nation can spend $35 billion a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam and $20 billion to put a man on the moon it can spend billion of dollars to put God�'s children on their two feet right here on earth."


* Headlines, January 15 *

- Report: U.S. Committing War Crimes in Iraq

- 10,000s of Iraqis Protest Calling For Elections

- Pentagon: Suicide Rate In Iraq Growing

- Cheney: MIA Except At Fundraisers

- Carol Moseley Braun Drops Out, Endorses Dean


Somebody bless America; we sorely need it.

If you have the right to vote, USE IT!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

the poverty diet

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Well, here it is: confirmation that the 21st century "lifestyle" is perverse, unhealthy and unnatural.

There has been a scientific experiment which counted how many steps, per day, a community of Amish walked. Average male: 18,000. Average female: 14,000. It works out to approxemately 1,000 steps per mile. They wore pedometers.

Their diet is "pre-WW2 rural:" lots of carbs, plenty of refined sugar, and ample proteins and produce. No restrictions on cakes, pies, gravies, etc. I didn't see any stats. re: calorie counts.

But these folk are physically active all day long. Even on Sunday, their "day of rest," they clocked about 10,000 steps.

I have said, for decades now, that humans are not supposed to sit on chairs and in cars all day. I mean, folks get life-threatening blood clots from sitting on air craft for long periods! What more proof do we need?

I used to live near a Jazzercise store front. I always shook my head in wonder at the minivans and SUVs pulling up in the parking lot. Out bounced women, clad in brightly-colored leotards and sweat bands, exercise mats and towels under their arms. They were paying someone to stand in front of them, in a virtually-empty room, and shout at them over disco music as they bounced.

If they'd just walked to the shopping mall and back, they'd have had more exercise than the hour for which they'd paid!

I never understood gyms, either. I have hated the smell of locker rooms since my first day of Jr. High school. Why anybody would pay to humiliate themselves in front of other people baffles me. And it's apparantly so boring, people require head phones and televisions to accomplish it.

Hang a transistor radio on the handle bar of a jogging stroller. Hitch up your dog's leash. Walk the back alleys of your neighborhood, picking trash.

My gosh, it satisfies the craving to shop. You're hunting for "finds," deciding what to take and what to leave.

And talk about bargains! That lady who said I dress so nicely has no idea that everything she's seen me wear came out of the trash! And I wear silk, wool, pure cotton. I wear hand-embroidered, beaded, batiked, hand-woven, etc. clothing: stuff I could never afford to buy!

Now I know how to measure how far I walk, anyway: 1,000 steps per mile. I'm not going to buy a pedometer, of course; I'll just count as I'm walking. See? buy a machine to do the work for you, rather than even COUNTING for yourself! Lord, have mercy!

Imagine if all that money -- wasted on gasoline, exercise clothing and equipment, gymn fees, parking fees, car insurance, car payments, car maintainance, etc. -- imagine if all that money was going to public transit, rather than individual solutionism! Imagine how much more quiet our streets! Imagine how much cleaner our air! Imagine parks in place of parking lots! Imagine reduced insurance rates and health care costs from reduced traffic accidents! Imagine healthier kids! Imagine the stress reduction!

I'm always amazed when able-bodied people are amazed at how far I walk to this and that. I don't really walk far. I used to walk a minimum of ten miles per day. Now, I'm lucky to walk 4 or so miles per week.

Maybe what America needs is a Poverty Diet. You can't afford a car, so you walk, bike and bus. You can't afford fast food or fancy restaurants, so you learn to cook for yourself. You can't afford many store-bought groceries, so you raise a garden and, if you're lucky, some poultry. You can't afford shopping sprees, so you recycle and keep stuff out of the landfills. You don't have "discretionary" income, so you learn to amuse yourself with free entertainment.

If them dang Amish just weren't so darn sexist, homophobic and up tight, I'd move in tomorrow! I always liked those Utopian communities!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

not a victim

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Lord, I'm tired! Walked to my bank. Must've been close to eight miles, round trip. Porky and I took as many alleys as we could, so I could hear my radio over the traffic noise on Central. Did some dumpster diving.

Found an old vacuum cleaner. Took the hoses; I use those to direct washer discharge water into my garden. Took some brackets I need for my vacuum and took the beater bar belt; mine was broken. So, I can vacuum again!

Found a little tea pot for my tea pot collection. Didn't find much more, cuz the trucks picked up the dumpsters yesterday.

But, on the way home, I found a very long split-leaf philodendron I've got cut into segments, in water in a kid's sand pail. And I found a big, wicker hamper with no bottom. I'm always looking for big baskets and stuff to disguise 5 gal. buckets of plant. The drum from my old washer is covered in a straw tomi mat I found a few weeks ago and now looks like a Japanese basket! Found a pine folding table; it needs some minor repairs, but will make a great plant stand in the yard.

Met some nice people out there today, real friendly. Porkchop was wearing his little, Guatamalan back pack, so everybody thought he was cute as hell. Someone had one of those wind sock dummies, with fans in its feet to make it blow, standing on the sidewalk. It was bobbing and weaving and flapping its arms, and Porkchop attacked it. Of course...I don't blame him!

I deposited a check a friend sent.

I'm trying very hard not to spend any money this month. I'm even trying to save my last $30 food stamps. I have four chickens, a roast and a big package of chicken legs in the freezer. Not to mention my half turkey, another beef roast and about half a chicken left in the fridge. I have canned goods and dry goods. I have toilet paper. I have dog food. I have some cat food, even though the bums don't like it..

I know the collection agency can't attach my bank account and that I can get the student loan discharged. In fact, I called the agent this morning and let her know I'd looked up my rights and responsibilities.

The month is nearly half over and I'm ok with money/stamps.

I asked a woman, about half a mile from home, for a cigarette. She said, "sure, for one of the best-dressed women in Albuquerque!"

Turns out, she lives about 2 blocks from me. She has seen me walking down her street with Porkchop and my cart of junk. She said I always dress so nicely! She asked my name and introduced herself. That really made my day.

Lots of people also commented on how well behaved Porkchop was.

I came home to a yard full of happy cats, glad to see me and help me unpack.

My legs are screaming and this damn tooth hurts like the dickens.

So, I'm resting for the rest of the day.

I built a web site for Dr. King's birthday with "Beyond Viet Nam" on it. That was validating! I think it is here: Beyond Viet Nam, but I'm not sure. I'll check the link after I post this.

Just when I think I can't stand it any more, someone like Dr. King reenters my consciousness and I'm healed again.

I watched "Chaos" on PBS last night: a documentary on the EVIL way the Union forced so-called "reconstruction" on white southerners. If anybody's to blame for the Klan, the lynchings, etc., I'd have to say it was the north. They created the climate; they fueled the resentment and frustration of the white south. They sat back and watched. They profitted from the cotton picked by "freedmen," forced into indentured servitude. They sent Black soldiers, to kick Black people off of land given them by the north and then returned to white southerners.

OH MY GOD! AMY GOODMAN IS SPEAKING TO RICHARD PERLE!! RIGHT NOW!!! Gotta stop posting; need to listen. THAT guy's a TOTAL bastard! He's REALLY scary!

oh, before I go, my point re: "Chaos" was this: in 1865, in Louisiana, alone, over 2,000 Blacks were lynched. I was thinking about "Patriots' Day:" the new holiday to commemorate 9/11.

The REAL Patriots' Day ought to commemorate the genocide of the Freedmen.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Student Loan Collections

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Student Loan Collections
What might happen if you fall behind on your payments.

After lots of publicity about deadbeat college grads who didn't pay back their loans -- and cost the taxpayers almost as much as a few toilet seats on Navy fighters -- Congress decided to crack down.

The Department of Education was given powerful tools to use against former students who don't make their payments.

Assessing Collection Fees

Defaulting on federal student loans can cost you a bundle -- far in excess of the amount you borrowed originally. Guarantee agencies typically add a collection fee of 25% to the principal, interest, penalties and other collection fees you already owe. (If you try to negotiate a payment plan to get yourself out of default, the guarantee agency will cut the fee to 18.5%.) In addition collection agencies charge the Department of Education a commission of about 28%. That commission is passed on to you, meaning you have to pay the money you owe on the loan, the collection fee and the commission.

Grabbing Your Income Tax Refund

The IRS can intercept your income tax refund until your defaulted student loans are paid in full. It is one of the most popular methods of collecting defaulted student loans. Annually, the Department of Education collects hundreds of millions of dollars this way.

The IRS can intercept a refund only if the loan is held by a guarantee agency, the Department of Education or a collection agency working for one of those two. If your school, the lender, a loan servicer or a company on the secondary market has your loan -- even if you are behind on your payments -- your tax refund is protected from the clutches of the IRS.

Each tax year, the agency holding your loans must review your account to verify that you haven't made payments on your loans within the previous 90 days. Once it verifies this information, the agency notifies the IRS that your loans are in default.

If you are entitled to a tax refund, the agency will notify you that the IRS proposes to keep all or some of it. To object, you must present written evidence, within 65 days of the date on the notice, of any of the following:

You've repaid the loan.

You are making payments under a negotiated repayment agreement, or you've been granted a cancellation, deferment or forbearance.

You have filed for bankruptcy and your case is still open, or your loans were discharged in bankruptcy.

You are totally and permanently disabled.

It is not your loan.

You dropped out, and the school owes you a refund.

You borrowed the money to attend a trade school and were either unable to complete your education because the school closed or you were falsely certified by the school as eligible for the loan.

The loan is not legally enforceable for any other reason (for example, your signature on the loan papers was forged).

Paring Your Paycheck

The Department of Education and guarantee agencies are authorized to take ("garnish") 10% of the wages of a student loan debtor who is in default. Unlike virtually all other creditors, the holder of your student loans does not have to sue you first.

You can object to the garnishment if you've returned to work within the past 12 months after being fired or laid off. Call or write to the agency. If you have been continuously employed for the previous 12 months, you can raise one of the objections permitted when the IRS seeks to intercept your tax refund. (See above.)

You can also object to the garnishment if it would leave you with a weekly take-home pay of less than 30 times the federal minimum wage ($5.15), or $154.50, or if garnishment would otherwise result in an extreme financial hardship for you.

The only other way to avoid wage garnishment is to contact the holder of your loan and negotiate a repayment schedule.

Losing Your Federal Benefits

Under the Debt Collection Improvements Act, the government can take some federal benefit payments (including Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability, but not Supplemental Security Income) to pay back certain federal debts including student loans.

The amount that can be taken is limited. Only the first $9,000 or $750 per month can be seized. And the total amount taken can never be more than 15% of your income. If your Social Security benefits or other qualifying federal benefits are $750 or less, the government cannot take any of your money.

Getting Sued

You can be sued forever on your defaulted student loans. And the Department of Education is suing former students more and more frequently. Student loan collection lawsuits filed by the Department increased by 55% between 1997 and 1998.

You aren't likely to be sued, however, if the agency holding your loans determines that:
the cost would exceed any amount it could get from you, or
you have no assets that could be taken to satisfy all or a substantial portion of the debt.

What property the Department of Education could take from you depends on where you live. In most states, the Department can go after your bank and other deposit accounts, and valuable personal property such as cars and antiques.
The Department can also file the judgment with the county records office to create a property lien -- a notice to the world that you owe money. In some states, a judgment entered against you automatically creates a lien on any real estate you own in the county where you lost the lawsuit. In other states, the creditor must record the judgment with the county. When you sell or refinance your property, all liens must be removed, usually by paying the lienholder -- before the deal can close.

Getting Help

If you need help with a defaulted student loan, contact the Department of Education's Ombudsman at 877-557-2575 or visit its website at http://www.sfahelp.ed.gov. The Ombudsman will only assist you if you have first tried to work out the problem on your own.

Copyright 2002 Nolo, Inc.


Applying for a Cancellation

To cancel a student loan, or to determine if you qualify for cancellation, call your loan holder or the Department of Education's Debt Collection Services Office at 800-621-3115. A customer service representative will send you a cancellation application, which you will have to complete and return with any necessary documentation, such as a statement from a physician describing your disability.

Applying for a Deferment

Deferments are never automatic. You must apply for them. You can defer repayment of a student loan if you meet one of the conditions described above and you are not in default -- that is, you have made your payments on time, are in the grace period after graduation or have been granted other deferments or forbearances. Occasionally, you may qualify for retroactive deferment -- a deferment that will cover past due payments short of default.

To obtain a deferment, you must obtain the appropriate paperwork from the holder of your loan, complete it carefully and follow up to make sure your request is processed correctly. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you're having trouble making your loan payments, it's worth the effort. A deferment can buy you some time when you need it most.

Start by contacting the holder of your loan. Tell your loan holder which deferment you think you qualify for and ask for the proper form. The holder's representative will generate the form, including your name, address and account information and should note in your file that you've requested the form. This may help you keep the loan holder off your back if your payments are past due.

Applying for Forbearance

Contact the holder of your loan and explain your situation. You may be sent some forms to complete, requesting information on your income and expenses.