Does it do any good?

Stood at another protest today. Protesting Wall Street and how money seems to be running the country instead of people. Protesting how money runs health programs and who gets medical treatment and how, when, and where and IF you can get medical insurance or not. Protesting how corporations are running politics instead of politicians doing what the people who voted for them wanted them to do. Protesting how even money runs churches and religion instead of how your spirituality is supposed to be within you and from you. Protesting how the wealthy few % of this country are running the country while the rest can’t afford health care, education, or even food.

As I stood there though, I did too much thinking. Isn’t that an oxymoron of some sort? Is it possible to do too much thinking? While standing next to a man with a protest sign that reads: Think.

And I did a lot of listening. I listened to the wizened voices of those around me who have been to protests before, years and years of protests. The new-age college-comers who want to be heard and have the enthusiasm of the young, and the hardened hippies that have been fighting the freedom call from money’s persecution adding lines around their eyes. Anger, lots of anger, but many ideas too. Lessons to be remembered from history that our current politicians and bankers seem to have forgotten.

Is it, are we, really headed toward some sort of national rebellion or uprising on the levels of the Russian or French Revolutions? Is that what it’s really going to take for our leaders to sit up and listen? Will the bankers and corporations ever back down? Power is the root of evil they say, and money is power. They won’t give it up willingly. Wall Street is paved with power and  money. Wall Street runs this country, not the White House or Congress. Anyone who thinks it’s only Republicans who enjoy that power is an idiot. A politician is a politician. Sorry to my Dem. friends, but it takes money to back your bills. At least how things are currently being run.

Honestly, are any of YOU politicians and wealthy folks willing to give up your SUVs and 2 car garage homes? Don’t you know you really should be paying the same for health care and insurance that the rest of us do? Just because you are/were once a politician that does NOT give you the right to vote yourself the right to better or free ins. for life. You should NOT get to pay any less taxes either or have better schools just because you have money. But I know you won’t listen to me, cuz I’m not one of you. I haven’t been corrupted by that greed.

Standing on that corner today I saw the want of greed. Beltrami county is supposed to be one of the poorest counties in MN, but you can’t tell by looking at our cars. There are an awful lot of nice cars driving by. The “Joneses” must be debt deep in loans and credit to pay for all those nice cars, trucks, and SUVs going by, but we all “look” like we’re living pretty well if you go by what we’re driving. An awful lot of those folks were honking in solidarity with us, but they weren’t coming to the sidewalk to stand with us.

I don’t go out there to stand with friends like some club or social time. It’s not a time for me to say “oh hey look at me doing my thing!” I really believe in what I’m out there for and don’t want to be taken for some martyr standing in the cold wind. I just really wonder if it does any good at all. Does anyone see us out there and think about why we’re there? Do the bankers or politicians give a shit or are they laughing? I think one person can make a difference, then I think oh hell this is just Bemidji.

That’s not all I do though. I sign petitions. I make phone calls. I send emails. I write letters. I speak in person to politicians. Not just local and state political stuff, but federal, the White House and the President. I belong to many websites. I’m sure I’m on FBI watch lists. I don’t just talk, I walk my walk. I advocate. I DO. I AM. I don’t just have a liberal reputation. I have a character and morals that I live by.

I guess all that matters is how and what you do in the End.

A day in the life of the Poor (My Day Today)

Filling out forms sucks. Responding to questions that most people deem private information is embarrassing. Then, needing to make copies of your bills, your income, your insurances, proof of or lack of home ownership – auto ownership – medical/life ins.,  proof of you are who you say you are – your birth certificates and social security cards, OK basically telling your financial life story to a stranger is more than humiliating. Plus, you have to do it in front of other people in front of a cubicle that separates you all from the people who aren’t poor.

Just the run-around to even get the papers you need to fill out the forms to make the copies is enough to keep poor people from asking for help in the first place. Does the government think all of us poor people have copying machines at home? Oh sure, we all have computers at home, too. Now, wait a minute and stop what you are thinking. I never said we aren’t smart enough to use these machines. We just don’t own them. Remember, we’re poor. So, some of us do USE them.

IF we are lucky someone has donated a used computer to us, or we scrimped and saved to buy a cheap one. Maybe  we go to the local library to use one to pay our bills online. Anyway, when bills are paid online they are not readily available to be printed or copied. Yes, the financial institution asking us to make all these copies so they can decide whether or not they can give us financial assistance, food stamps, or fuel assistance or whatever whoever could help us with offers to make copies or offer a copying machine for folks to use. Uh huh. I needed to make 40 pages of copies today; 40!

There is always a line at the copying machine on 2nd floor at the Social Services building. Do YOU want to be the person in line who takes up all the time it would take to make 40 copies when most overworked machines make approximately 7 pages per minute not counting how long it takes you to load and unload each page separately by hand? While angry people are complaining and being rude? OK, so go use the library’s copy machine like I did and pay $5.85 to make copies of papers to ask for financial help. Seems wrong to me. Make sure you have correct change or a check at the Library though, because they are NOT helpful if you have a $20 bill. OH, but wait we were talking about printing bills from the computer. Still haven’t done that. At the library that would’ve been and EXTRA .15 cents per page plus waiting around to see IF you could get onto a computer.

So, I went to my bank where they usually charge for everything, right? Low and behold they did NOT charge me for double copies of printouts of my checking account and my son’s saving’s account for the last 3 months!!! I was totally blown away, happily. Even took some of the free popcorn for lunch.  So, now I could prove my Social Security Disability income for the last 3 months. I had to show/prove that my Child Support had stopped 4 months ago even though that doesn’t count as income. I also had to show my son’s Soc. Sec. Dis. Income under my disability even though that doesn’t count either since he is a minor. A waste of paper, time, and resources if you ask me.

Now that I’ve run to 4 different buildings it made me wonder how much gas I had to use just to make copies to ask for financial assistance. Two of these buildings are close to each other, but the other two are on separate sides of town. I’ve driven over 10 miles to do this. What about those who don’t have a car or friends with cars? Taking the bus around here is a joke! This has taken me hours of running around today. There is no way I could have done this on a regular day of work. Anyone needing to use the bus or use a bicycle would take all day. And people wonder why poor people don’t have jobs? After all this, and being treated like 2nd class citizens at the places where we go to ask for help, who has time to get out there and look for a job?!

We feel like a huge pile of humiliated exhausted crap after a day like this. Not only did it take hours and make us feel bad, but it took precious money. The $5.85 plus the gas money could have fed my family for at least two days. So, I’ll go home and turn the heat down to make up for the difference. Now, YOU try to live on $844 a month.

The “System” is built to Piss you off

Which System? Any. All? I am, however, talking about the Social Welfare System.

 

I picked up my forms to fill out to apply for Food Stamps and/or Emergency Assistance only about 3 weeks ago. Along with those forms was a kit of sorts explaining everything you need to bring back, make copies of, your rights and responsibilities and right to privacy (ha, that’s a joke considering the information they are asking for,) and explanation of how to fill out said forms. There is also a page of what days and times are available for interviews for this application, saying you may even qualify for a phone interview. There is information about what you may be eligible for and how to qualify.

These pre-informative forms lie. For example, the SNAP Program info. blurp says it is for MNsotans with low income to buy food, and to qualify you need only to either be single or in a family with or without children and be low income. However, when you are actually filling out the forms you begin to realize that it is tied to whether or not you can work. So, if you are disabled and are receiving Social Security Disability payments you probably will not be able to collect from the SNAP program. Because we all know it is so easy to own a home, pay bills, and cook food for yourself and a child on $844 from Social Security each month.

Yes, apparently you are supposed to be able to live off $844 a month without any other assistance. You do NOT qualify for Emergency Assistance if your car needs repairs. You do NOT qualify for a county driver to a doctor appointment in the Twin Cities to save money OR because it would cause you medical hardship or pain BECAUSE you own a car. You do NOT qualify for Emergency Assistance UNLESS OR UNTIL you are receiving shut off  notices or your large appliances for utilities are not working. NO you can not receive any help with laundry because your machine is broken – you’re supposed to use a laundromat weather you can afford it or not or you can do them by hand (apparently having arthritis isn’t supposed to matter.)

How else do they piss you off? They keep changing the days and times for when you can call or see anyone you need to see IF you qualify to see anyone. I get there to hand in my forms and am then told I need to come another day as they’ve changed their schedule, BUT not this week, because they won’t be open Thursday or Friday.

Where are THEY Shopping?

Where are they shopping?!

OK, ran into a website on the internet, www.moneyning.com, and by perusing a few articles found “10 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Cheap.” Of course I had to also read the comments below. Now I am wondering just where all these folks are shopping and where in the country they live, cuz it sure ain’t in the Northern MN where we have to add on the cost of transportation to the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking that has to be why food costs more here, because I can’t figure out any other good reasons.

It’s the same old stuff I find on all internet articles; use a shopping list, avoid processed foods, only drink water, only buy in-season produce, shop at the farmer’s market for produce not the store, eat healthy cheap staples (oatmeal, beans, and rice,) start your own veggie garden, avoid the drive-thru, clip coupons, and stretch your meats by using tofu and grains.

I’d just like to start by saying this IS MN. The only fruit we ever have in season are apples, and some berries. So, hope you have a nice neighbor, friend, or yourself who grow them, or slather on the (maybe DDT-free) bug repellent for the bird-sized mosquitoes and Lyme disease laden ticks and go berry picking in the woods, or go to a berry farm and pay too much, OR go to a store and pay WAY too much for organic fruit and berries because the cost of being labeled organic and filing the paperwork is frivolously stupid. Purchasing in-season produce in MN only happens from maybe June (with several types of lettuce and spinach, edible flowers, maybe honey and ??,) to early harvest produce some cucumbers, cabbage and summer squash, asparagus ,rhubarb, and said above berries begin, July has peppers and some tomatoes, August has carrots, grapes, beans, garlic, more tomatoes and the apples begin, to  Sept being  the big winner with melons, onions, potatoes, and corn.

Every other type of produce self-gardeners can try their hand at growing, you need to visit a local farmer’s market,  or it’s transported in and we have to go shopping. I know it IS possible to grow certain types of cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, currants, gooseberries, kiwi, garden huckleberry, mulberry, June-berry, elderberry, beets, cabbage, broccoli, herbs, parsnips, peas, radishes, turnips, eggplant, horseradish, leeks, pumpkins in MN.  As far as the herbs go the mint family; Lamiaceae, includes basil, oregano, marjoram, catnip, all the mints, as well as rosemary, thyme, lavender, summer savory, and sage, are all grown for their aromatic leaves. Hardy perennials in this family can become invasive, especially mints. The carrot family, Apiaceae includes dill, parsley, chervil, cilantro (also known as coriander), fennel, and lovage. I know a few other herbs can be tried such as mallow, which are in the next growing zone, it just takes some experimentation and a green thumb. This information is all from the MN Extension Service at the University of MN and is deemed what is normal for MN, but I know many Master Gardeners and hobby gardeners that grow other veggies and herbs that aren’t on their lists.

Of course don’t forget the wild edible fruits that can be made into jams, jellies, sauces, tea, wine, dried fruit, spices, and survival food. http://fruit.cfans.umn.edu/files/2012/08/MN-Wild-Edible-Fruit.pdf has a huge list of these with pictures, tables of when to pick, and uses.

My point is that IF you can’t grow your own garden because you live in an apartment or something, or don’t know how, then you must purchase your produce from someone else. Like I said in the first paragraph, I want to know where the writers of the article are shopping, because the prices they listed are way lower than here. The comments start with someone stating something about canned vegetables at fifty cents. Around here you can maybe find them at that cost when they go on sale, maybe. He goes on to list seasonings+vegetable oil+electricity=fifty cents for a meal. I question that too, with the cost of seasonings around here.

Another commenter says to buy spices, oil, honey, rice, and tea at ethnic stores. He obviously doesn’t live here. Our ONLY ethnic store is in Solway (a don’t blink or you’ll miss it kind of village) and their prices are high. They can do that since they are the only kind of that store. A lot point out farmer’s markets, but I’ve done my comparing shopping. OK, if you compare organic prices the farmers markets MIGHT be lower. However, if you are living on a low set budget from Social Security Disability payments you still can not afford organic and must shop at normal stores and get the drugged food. Even better, you probably have to go to the local food shelf where all you’re going to get is over-processed, GMO, non-organic, but maybe local farmed food.

Also, when you shop it helps to purchase the store brand. Yes, I agree with this. You are going to get some bad-tasting stuff sometimes though or some extra chewy canned fruit or hard cereal. The same goes with some generic brand stuff. However, as with some of the off-brand stuff your store-bought produce is not fresh. It probably sat in cold-storage for a year before it made it to your market. http://www.foodrenegade.com/your-apples-year-old/ Welcome to the world of fungicides and waxes. Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. This is what us poor folk have to eat. We really don’t have much choice due to pricing. The food industry is backwards. What is good for us is expensive, and what is bad for us is cheap. At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture. If we are poor we can’t purchase with our conscience. We must force ourselves to eat that bite of conformity.

“I recently got 2 zucchinis, 2 yellow crookneck squash, 6 peppers, two eggplants, several tomatoes, and a watermelon for a total of eleven bucks, from an Amish roadside stand.” Here is an example of a comment from the article. I really want THAT Amish roadside stand to come here, because at any roadside stand or farmers market around here to buy those same items I would pay approximately $20 to $25, and that’s a low guestimate. At the local organic food Co-Ops, pah-lease, add on more money. Of course I am assuming those are colored peppers and not green. Colored peppers seem to be made of gold these days, tomatoes too.

Here are more tips in the comments: Don’t go out to eat ever. OK I don’t. My kids already hate me. Enough said. Don’t buy pop. Like I said, my kids hate me. Use coupons. Well, I tried to clip coupons. I’ve noticed that coupons tend to be for processed food, expensive foods, foods we would never eat, and 2-for-1 deals. So coupons never really help us. But I do make my grocery list around the items on sale in the grocery store weekly circular (I shop often enough to know whether or not it’s a “real” sale.) I also listen to the radio a lot and when an announcement says “meat sale right now at…” I check it out to see if it really is a good sale. See if your local deli or supermarket sells the lunch-meat ends. Ahhh, what? This must be a city thing, or our local deli owners are taking all this home for themselves. I have asked for bruised bananas though. Buy a bread machine at your Goodwill, and make your own bread. You’ll never go back. Well, this only works for those people in the family that don’t have an “allergy” to fresh baked breads. There honestly are those of us out here who can NOT eat fresh baked bread due to the yeast content. It is a trigger for migraine headaches. REAL migraine headaches, not those headaches that everyday people who have an ordinary headache have mistakenly begun to call every headache. Real doctor diagnosed and often food triggered migraines.

I digress, back to more tips. Stop drinking orange juice. Seriously, just stop. The sugar in it is practically pure glucose… and it’s freaking expensive. MMmmm, I wonder how many people would do this. I had to though, as it is yet another migraine trigger. I can not have anything with citrus in it, not even as an additive. There went my Doritos. Well, that’s a combination of the additive and the fake cheese. Spices, oil, and tea? See if you have a grocery “outlet” like Amelia’s, Aldi’s, or any other “bents/bumps/bargains&overstocks” store. Ah, there it is. Now I know these people must be from a city somewhere, because I have never heard of any of these places and don’t know of an overstock store anywhere either. Braising cheap or “undesirable” cuts of meat. These include Boston butts/pork shoulder, brisket, shanks and even ribs. I must admit to not knowing a lot about meat or meat cuts, but I do know I splurged and bought brisket once. Yes, I called it splurging, because it was WAY expensive. So, I don’t know why that’s on the list. In my opinion nothing beef is affordable right now. WELL, the people in this article are calling eggs at $3 a dozen and a quart of cream at $5  cheap, which they are NOT, so now I know I’m poor.

My older brother and I had a conversation about all those articles on the internet about how to live cheaply, or how poor people could save money. In our humble opinions NONE of those articles were actually written by poor people. They were probably written by people with annual incomes of at least $80,000+ with one child and they think they are poor, or at least middle income. To me they are rich. If I ever had that much money I wouldn’t know what to do with it. One popular rule of thumb holds that anyone earning 25% more or 25% less than the median is within the middle class. By that metric, households earning between $38,954 and $64,924 are middle-class. Even if I had $30,000 I would try to do cartwheels! Being disabled and on a fixed income, my average annual income for the last 15 years has been $13,000. I want the people who write these articles to try to eat healthy on that. Actually, I want to shove their article down their throat and ask them how much it cost and if it was healthy.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich

[Inaugural Address, January 20 1961]

― John F. Kennedy

The title of this “note” is a quote. I wasn’t alive during President Kennedy’s years, but somehow I think being poor may have been better then. Watching world economic talks lately and/or any political talks and perusing the internet (yes, I KNOW, don’t believe everything I see on the internet or for Pete’s sake hear from a politician!) I’m becoming morose. OK, for those of you who don’t really know me well, some people used to see me as the glass half full type of person or tell me to take off my rose-colored glasses. It’s just getting so BAD out there, and well right here. The huge gap between the rich and poor.

It’s here in Bemidji, too. That’s why most of you don’t see it, won’t believe me, and just want me to shut up and stop posting about being poor. We have our own gap of rich who want to hide the homeless and poor and the poor who want to do whatever they can to not LOOK poor. When you look at me do you see poor? How many people walking on the sidewalk look poor to you? I was going to ask how many people shopping at Walmart look poor, but many people who read my posts would never be caught shopping THERE. If you can shop your conscience and choose not to shop at Walmart, you are just not poor enough. If you can afford to shop at Harmony, Luekens, Marketplace, Menards or anywhere else without using food stamps or ONLY buying what’s on sale, YOU are the people who need to be reading this. If you don’t have to go to the Food Shelf YOU should be reading this.

I mean, I like President Obama. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I believe he is doing well with what he was given. He’s trying. He has great ideas, but VERY few people are allowing him to accomplish his ideas to help the ever-receding middle class he’s always talking about. The rich have stomped the middle class into the ground. There aren’t many of them left. According to Jim Rickards, the CIA’s Asymmetric Warfare Adviser, Pres. Obama may have to stop using the term very soon. He’s predicting another very long depression, coming soon, where those middle class will become the low-class, and the now poor- or low-class will be, well, destitute, homeless, and dying. He is also warning of WWIII, but that’s another post. I know you’ll think me crazy, but I am also dreaming of this. Other “empaths” and “gifted” people are having dreams. In the last 2 days I’ve spoken to two other people right here in Bemidji who are also having visions of this coming economic depression. Now, being surrounded by 3 Native American Reservations who am I to not listen to their healers when one talks of this? Today my conversation centered around how the rich are systematically killing off the poor. I figure it’s so they don’t have us on their conscience when they put up walls to block us out. So they don’t have to look at us, watch us die from starvation, when this depression and war hits. They will live inside the walls and be rich and cozy. The stuff of science fiction is coming faster than we think. They CAN afford it.

Enough of science fiction, whether you believe it or not something’s coming. Who knows if it will be 6 months, a year, or 5 years from now, but I think it’s time for us to get together as a community. Yes, there are a few spatterings of community gardens here and there around town. You can pay for classes to learn how to can or freeze fruit and veggies or how to grow a garden or how to make a rain barrel. The specific word to focus on there is “pay.” How many ways can I say it? Poor people NEED this information, but can not afford to pay for it. There are a lot of people out there that have a lot of skills about how to do things the old fashioned ways that don’t need electric tools, or even how to make tools (which people might find handy in a depression,) but poor people can not afford to pay for this information. This lovely ObamaCare Insurance will probably go away, so being able to identify medicinal plants or grow certain herbs may come in handy. Poor people can’t afford to pay to learn this. You think we have some homeless people now? If a huge depression does hit, if social security checks go the way of bye bye, and there is no more county money to hand out then how many more homeless will Bemidji have? I’ll be one more. My son and I will lose our home. How many people are living in homes in Bemidji right now with unused rooms? Think anyone will share? I’ve already offered my empty bedroom, but wait, I’m losing my house so that doesn’t count.

How Many of Us Want to Kick our Pain Doctor?

How Many of Us Want to Kick our Pain Doctor?
Just when you think you’ve got him understanding you he does something stupid. I thought this guy was one of them that understood the “whole body” theory. You know, everything effects everything: your emotions effect your physical, your psychological ills effect your physical and those effect your emotions and vice versa. I thought he understood a bit more about my rare bone disease too, that “bone disease” is a misnomer; that the disease effects every part of my body – including adding pain. This doc IS supposed to be a chronic pain doctor after all.
Then he goes and treats me like I’m an idiot. I mean, yes I realize he has more patients than just me, but how many times do I have to tell him I am a licensed professional, too. I put myself through college and I have a degree and I can counsel and diagnose people with illnesses, too. I can diagnose Mental Illnesses. I know all about how they can contribute to chronic pain, and I know how the depression/pain train works. It’s always the same question; which came first, the depression or the pain? People who are depressed complain of pain, often in the form of headaches or muscle aches. Yet there are people who have pain who are not depressed, yet most doctors will convince them that they are indeed depressed and that is what is causing their pain; because indeed the pain MUST be all in their head if a doctor can’t find an immediate reason for it or the pain is exacerbated suddenly and the doctor doesn’t feel like dealing with you yet again.
This is where my chronic pain doctor headed. I. Am. Angry.
I forgot to schedule my usual every 4 months appointment, and it was way past due so I called to see if I could come in. I asked if I could get my usual injections in my shoulders. I will not regale you will the long list of medical problems for why I get injections. HE prescribed them, along with other pain medicines that I do not take as much of as he says I could take if I needed/wanted to. Suffice it to say my shoulders had got to the point where I could no longer drive further than 1 and 1/2 hours without my shoulders swelling painfully to the point where I couldn’t lift my arms at all. I could not on a daily basis put my arms on an arm rest without incredible pain and swelling. I could not sleep at night. I was useless at daily chores. I was miserable. This was increasing my migraines, too. So, obviously I needed the injections.
Now, among people with my bone disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, it is known that we live with a higher tolerance for pain. We just simply live our daily lives with pain and we are used to it. What is a level 5 pain level for us would be a level 10 for anyone else. Understand? Research has been done on this. We just accept this. We fracture a leg walking across the floor…oh shit that happened. Splint it up, get in the car, drive our-self to the doctor/clinic, walk on the leg into the clinic and tell them it’s broken while they stare at us. I actually did this last week with a broken foot. Anyway, that’s just an example of how much pain we can handle. Doc says to take this much of that for pain. Nah, I’ll take it only IF I can’t handle the pain at all. So…if I am calling my chronic pain doc asking for injections for my shoulders that means I AM IN PAIN YOU ASSHAT!
Why am I yelling “asshat?” He started talking to ME about “central sensitization” and changes in the central nervous system and being more sensitive to pain. He said I should read the book, “The Body Keeps the Score” about how people are over-sensitive to pain and patients really aren’t sure that the pain is worse than it “should” be, because there is nothing to compare it to except their own memories of pain. He also mentioned my childhood and asked about adverse childhood emotional experiences that could be muddying the waters making “pain hallucinations” or pain that makes no sense or pain when you’re not supposed to. … … …
Excuse me while I take a few deep breaths…inhale…exhale…scream…inhale…exhale…
He is assuming I don’t know how to read my own X-rays. Assuming I can’t see the calcium nodules sticking out along my spine that are honestly causing pain in my nerves. This is neurology, this is part of the nervous system, and yes I understand nerve damage. Having calcium deposits all over my body HURTS! Having spinal stenosis, spinal bone spurs, rotator cuff injury, 5 lumbar herniated discs, vertebral compression fractures, scoliosis, osteoarthritis, chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, asthma, ankylosing spondylitis, stress fractures, tendonitis, sesamoiditis from fracturing those foot bones, Bursitis, carpal tunnel, hypermobility syndrome and I just won’t go on listing more. These are actual real medical diagnoses of real things that cause real pain. I am not having “pain hallucinations” and I am not thinking the pain is worse than it should be. I don’t take the amount of pain pills that you have prescribed, because if I did I would be a zombie. I do not want to live my life that way. Actually, that would not BE living at all.
Please, just give me the cortisone injections so I can lift my arms.
I understand that stress will only make my pain worse. That’s why I am writing this here, instead of giving you a roundhouse kick to your face. That’s why I am telling myself that giving you that kick to your face would only hurt me more than you, because I can no longer get my leg up that high without causing myself further hip pain. That’s why I went home and took a hot soak in the tub after you gave me the injections, while I smiled and imagined the kick to your face. It was both emotionally and physically therapeutic. That’s why I didn’t go home and sweep the floor as it needed, but instead thought of using the broom to hit you in the face instead of the kick as I knew I could wield that better than do the kicking anymore. I Rested, instead of sweeping. See, I take care of myself. I don’t overwork myself. I know my limitations and I know my stress levels. And…now I know I can’t trust you. See how I can say that with a nice calm serene face, now that my pain level is down without using all the pain pills you prescribe. All I had to do was picture you getting kicked in the face. YOU stressed me out, not the pain. The pain is real, and you’re a jerk.

About Objectifying Women & Girls

TrekNorth Administration & Board,

Have YOU been shopping for Teen Girl’s clothing lately? In Bemidji? Unless you want every girl to wear the same outfit of a t-shirt and a pair of the same type of jeans you will find it difficult to find anything that isn’t going to unintentionally affect someone’s morals.

Actually, these days the PC Police are getting out of control. You can’t blink without unintentionally making someone angry with your joke, your hair, your clothes, your music, your choice in food or even furniture! Let’s get back to clothing though, heck I’m 46 and people judge what I wear. It’s no one’s business what I wear, what you wear, or what our kids wear. It’s no one’s business what I think about what I wear, what you THINK about what someone wears, or what they THINK about what they wear. It ONLY matters about what someone is wearing when someone ACTS on what they are thinking. Then it becomes an act of bullying, or even a crime such as a hate crime or even rape.

Trek North’s original Dress Policy that is in the Student Handbook just should have been tweaked a little bit. However, it is a subjective explanation of opinions of what might be respectful of self and others and what might promote an academic environment. It does go on to state the TrekNorth community will not discriminate nor judge students based upon their appearance, yet that too is subjective and based on WHO’s opinions? Did you take an opinion poll of the parents? Of the Students?

A list was given of clothing considered inappropriate for the learning program at TrekNorth:

Clothing with sexual innuendo-this could mean just wearing a shirt with a picture of chocolate on it, if you ask today’s youth. So, how do you police this? They (youth) have such subtle, unknown words to adults that we don’t even know about.

Clothing with messages or logos that promote or advertise drugs, alcohol, or violence – that is clear, precise, and can not be argued with about what it means. It is fact, not opinion. The kids can’t mess with this one.

Clothing that exposes cleavage, buttocks, or midriffs – how much cleavage is too much according to whom? My definition of what shirt is too low will be different from Joe Shmoe’s.  Hello, have you met low-rise jeans anyone? That’s practically all they sell for teen girls, and it IS very difficult to find any other kind. Girls can’t wear cropped shirts, but if we had a football team, the boys could? You have seen the boy’s cropped sports jerseys like Zac Efron wore, right?

Clothing intentionally designed or intentionally sized to expose undergarments – again, back to the low-rise jeans. Unless you plan to go shopping with the families and help them TRY to find teen girl jeans that aren’t low-rise, have fun policing the undies. However, I DO agree with telling the boys to pull up their jeans and NOT purposefully wear their jeans belted at their knees as if they were in prison. Then, tell them how and where that look originated: in prison, as a way to let other prisoners know you are sexually available.

Clothing that promotes or represents gang activity or gangs – sometimes the kids don’t even know that what they are doing/wearing is a gang symbol. We need to educate. We have the gang task force come in to talk to our parents about what are gang symbols, but the kids need to know, too. Many of our parents don’t even know what the kids are wearing when they leave for school. Some are simply ignorant, and some WANT to flaunt the symbols to feel cool. Plus, there is an exorbitant amount of drug activity at TrekNorth that might be related to gang activity, I’m not sure. I was told that almost every incoming freshman this year was a dealer, and many of the more affluent students at Trek are dealing or know dealers.

Anyway, today the dress code went further to say girls, and ONLY girls, couldn’t expose their shoulders or wear shirts that show their chest. This is simply going too far. Really, no spaghetti straps? What, are we back in the Victorian Era? The kids are having SOOO much fun with this on social media now. Videos of guys showing off their shoulders to girls and the girls going crazy. Videos of girls showing their shoulders and guys writhing on the ground screaming, “oh no! I’ll never be able to study ever again! What WILL I ever do?!!!!!” My son is a self-proclaimed “leg” man. I asked him if he is getting a D in his class because the girl’s wear skirts? He said, “No, I’m getting a D because the work is hard and I don’t get it. I don’t give a crap what the girls wear.” NONE OF THE KIDS CARE WHAT ANYONE IS WEARING! Only the adults are pointing things out and making a big deal out of nothing.

It is the adults that are perpetuating the rape culture that THEY have grown up with, that the media and social culture molded for them and told them that if you dress in a certain way it is the clothing that will make you a sexual object. WRONG! It is thoughts that make someone into an object, and today TrekNorth made our girls into sexual objects. Today TrekNorth used Male Privilege to objectify the female body. Instead of having a conversation with the kids about respect for our human bodies, or having a teachable moment where we could have tried to change the future of rape culture by not buying into the mass media telling us that what we wear defines our sexuality, TrekNorth told girls that by what they wear they become an objectified thing and they distract males. But males aren’t an object only girls are. The boys don’t need to learn to respect the girls.  We told them Men are entitled to leer and it’s OK, cuz women have to change and men can do whatever they want to. Is THIS really what TrekNorth wants to teach?

TrekNorth has much bigger problems than what the kids are wearing that they should be worrying about instead. A kid gets his ears pierced in the middle of class while he is stoned out of his mind in front of a paraprofessional and all she says is, “it’s none of my business.” The front desk worker hangs up the phone on parents she doesn’t want to speak to. She just happens to be rude to parents and students often, and is rarely found smiling when approached at her desk.  The School Social Worker forgets which kids are in which grades and forgets to send out pertinent information to parents about the ACT test. TrekNorth often touts being proud of being a small school, so the staff should be able to keep track of their duties. As a LSW myself and knowing many of the local public school personnel, if, by example, the ISD 31 School Nurse can keep track of over 500 students needing medical care out of an average of 5,000 I’m sure TrekNorth’s staff should be able to handle 240.

If TrekNorth really wants to be a better school than the surrounding local public schools and deserve the awards and attention it’s being given, maybe it should fix some of its current issues before it tries to grow into a K-12 school. Maybe, just maybe, it should listen to its own students when they say THEY don’t want TrekNorth to grow into a K-12 school and they want the school to stay small. I’ve always been an advocate for those who don’t have a voice, that’s why I’ve always worked with youth and nonprofits.When passions run high, it is easy to perceive those with whom you disagree as the enemy. But remember, you are only fighting with each other because you all care so much. In a year, two years, ten years, what you fought over will not matter. If your anger overcomes you, walk away. When adults fight, children get wounded. Right now it’s the adults up-roaring about clothing, and children who are getting the wrong messages.

How we respect each other, how we deal with differing ideas, how we argue, disagree, and resolve differences – will shape the culture of this school. Right now the students don’t respect the staff/administration very much. I’ve been told by students that they feel they are being left out of many decisions; dress code, K-12 idea, curriculum and that TrekNorth is just becoming like every other school and it isn’t like it was any more. A successful charter school results not from people being of common mind so much as from people of complementary skills trusting each other to make decisions. Where there is expertise, defer to it, even if it runs contrary to your own opinions on a matter. Students at TrekNorth really CAN be part of that expertise, because WE,parents & staff, have taught them to be, however now we are pushing them into the background and stifling their voice. The founders of TrekNorth didn’t create the school just for their child, they created a school for all children and didn’t vote or design from their child’s desk but right now TrekNorth is leaving the kids right out of the decision making processes. This school was created to hopefully educate empowered effective community leaders, so; let them lead without stifling their individuality, yet finding these teachable moments to change social mores and rape culture that are hundreds of years old.

Thank you for listening,

LSW Karen A. Kimbrough

 

(This was a letter I sent to the School Board of my son’s school. MANY letters were sent in from angry parents, but the dress code was not changed.) Grrrrr.

Featured Content

Letter to the Editor, Bemidji Pioneer:

Misconceptions of Homelessness

Let’s set the issue straight for the ignorant and those who refuse to do their own research. Homelessness is a complex issue. There is NOT simply one or two simple reasons to suddenly become homeless and being lazy or violent are NOT part of them.

One such reason CAN be mental illness or some type of physical impairment that is permanent or increasingly regressive or chronic. In fact, until recently, a large percentage of the homeless were veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a severe physical injury. Over the years, victims of domestic violence and other forms of trauma or abuse also have constituted a large percentage of our nation’s homeless. One of every three homeless women in Minnesota is homeless at least in part due to domestic violence. 5% are unaccompanied youth, up to 40% identify as LGBT. 39% are youth under the age of 18 (either in a family or unaccompanied.) 27% of homeless clients surveyed had lived in foster care, a group home or other institutional setting for part of their childhood, 25% reported childhood physical or sexual abuse. I could type more stats.

It is said that the homeless choose to be homeless. The challenges that have put these people on the streets are complex and convoluted, and they are difficult to unravel. So it is unwise for the rest of us to draw hasty conclusions about those living on the streets. Because mental illness is prevalent among the most long term homeless, we must remember that a chronically homeless person can sometimes see the world through the distorted lens of their disease. Choices made because of mental illness are therefore not choices that are based on reality at all. But we do know this; circumstances put people on the streets. It is not simply a choice.

The biggest myth about homeless people is that Homeless people are different than I am. I could never become homeless. It is easy to separate yourself from a population if you don’t see them. If they are invisible, the homeless are easy to ignore. The fact is that one bad circumstance or series of unlucky or unfortunate events can lead to homelessness. When you listen to the stories of the homeless, you soon realize that any one of us could become homeless in this society. Moreover, homelessness affects every area of the population. Many of the homeless are still working, but without a living wage they can’t afford rent. Even being educated is not a guarantee against becoming homeless. People with graduate degrees can and have become homeless. Homelessness does not discriminate. To learn more, go to http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/ for some interviews with homeless individuals and hear their stories.- See more at: http://www.preblestreet.org/news/Myths-about-the-homeless/232/#sthash.dBQhJ7i8.dpuf

To answer Fulton Gallagher’s fears about Bemidji’s homeless committing crimes against people: For every homeless person who commits an act of violence there are many peaceful homeless individuals just trying to survive and protect themselves from being harmed. For example, a study done by Johns Hopkins University found in reviewing arrest records in Baltimore that although homeless people were more likely to commit non-violent and nondestructive crimes, they were actually less likely to commit crimes against person or property. They found that for persons who were not homeless, 35 percent of crimes were crimes against property or person. For homeless individuals, on the other hand, only 25 percent of crimes committed were against person or property. – See more at: http://www.preblestreet.org/news/Myths-about-the-homeless/232/#sthash.dBQhJ7i8.dpuf However: In the past 15 years (1999-2013), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has documented 1,437 acts of violence against homeless individuals by housed perpetrators. These crimes are believed to have been motivated by the perpetrators’ biases against homeless individuals or by their ability to target homeless people with relative ease.

Lack of affordable housing is cited as the number 1 cause of homelessness, along with low-paying jobs, unemployment, domestic violence and others I’ve listed. Hmmm, since these are factors that describe Bemidji it’s no wonder we are having this debate about our homeless.  When we use wisdom instead of prejudice and compassion instead of criticism, we can truly make a difference in the lives of those who are walking through the terrible plight of this common social issue.

For more information on homelessness, here are a few websites that are helpful:

100,000 homes campaign: http://100khomes.org/

Invisible People: http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/

Pathways to housing: http://www.pathwaystohousing.org/

Information on the Vulnerability Index: http://www.commonground.org/?page_id=789

National Coalition to end homelessness: http://www.endhomelessness.org/

– See more at: http://www.preblestreet.org/news/Myths-about-the-homeless/232/#sthash.dBQhJ7i8.dpuf

 

HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS

Years of research and advocacy around the criminalization of homelessness and increasing violence commit-ted against people experiencing homelessness has shown that added protections are needed to preserve the civil rights of people who are homeless. NCH staff work to educate public officials and local advocates about the importance of passing protections for those without housing in the United States.

National Coalition for the Homeless

Vulnerable to Hate: Hate Crimes against the Homeless

We support the efforts of local advocates to pass Homeless Bill of Rights measures that include:

  • Homeless hate crimes provisions as spelled out in the Model Language for All Legislation and

Resolutions of this report

  • Protections against segregation, laws targeting homeless people for their lack of housing and not

their behavior, and restrictions on the use of public space.

  • Privacy protections for those experiencing homelessness, and the ability to vote or feel safe in the

community.

  • Providing broad access to shelter, social services, legal counsel and a quality education for the

children of homeless families.

 

 

Karen A. Kimbrough

2902 Bixby Ave. NE.

Bemidji, MN 56601

751-2289

karenaid@midco.net

(This was a Letter to the Editor of my local newspaper I wrote in reply to someone else’s letter. It was not printed in the paper. I imagine due to my letter being too long.)

 

 

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Featured Content/Who Created This Monster?

A narcissistic, negative, and always cranky monster lives in my basement. He’s been down there for about a year and a half now sulking with his anger issues. His problems with himself, the outside world, and me have been boiling for a while. I know it’s not all due to the ADD since he’s doing well in school. Well except for the rudeness to his teachers. I swear he has not always been ill-mannered, though.

 

When this little bundle of joy came into the world I had to fight so hard for his rights, for his little body to be treated more gentle. Although I was certain I’d transmitted our genetic rare disabling bone disease the nurses wouldn’t listen to me. It was amazing how rough and brutish they treated the newborns when they changed diapers in the nursery. I was screaming at them. “Let go of my son now! You will break his hips, ankles, or his legs!” I stumbled to my child on wobbling legs to take him away and would not let go. The on-call doctor ultimately came in and asked me, “How do you have knowledge of your child having this Osteogenesis Imperfecta? Genetically it’s a 50% chance.” I told him I wanted him to call MY doctor or even the doctor who had delivered my precious child because THEY were acquainted with my story.

 

It took those two phone calls plus a visit from my Early Head Start Teacher before anyone would listen to me, but I finally got a “Handle With Care” poster placed on my son’s nursery bed. This is what happens when you live in a rural area and have to deal with medical staff with God Complex syndromes. Osteogenesis Imperfecta is extremely rare. Living in rural Northern MN where no one has ever heard of it, even medical doctors, had always been a problem for my family. In my family OI has been traced back 300 years, and for this disease which is rare, such is even rarer. The 50% genetics have gone wonky for us, and the mutated collagen genes which carry the OI are dominant. THAT is how I knew my son had it.

 

At 10 ½ months he sustained his first broken leg. He tried to pull himself up to stand. At least I’d thought that was his first fracture. Terrified of being accused of abusing my son, as many parents of OI kids are, I brought him into the E.R. I called the Early Head Start Teacher to come with me, since she was helping me to get my son tested for OI at the MN State University Hospital of Genetics and the Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, MN. Sure enough, the X-rays showed my son attained a broken femur, but also showed past healing fractures in his toes and feet. OH MY GOD! When I was putting his shoes on, his toes and feet were breaking! He didn’t walk yet, so he didn’t cry about it. He had just fussed, and I thought he hated shoes! Nothing in my life ever made me feel more guilty than that moment.

 

Within a month after getting that cast off my son was standing! What a tough little guy. Then he tripped on a towel on the floor and got a spiral fracture a week later. Most spiral fractures are the hallmark of physical abuse. For families of a loved one with OI this is normal. We live as normal a life as we can until the next break. For my son and I it has been a long road. It’s just the two of us. I stopped counting his fractures at 80. That’s a LOT of E.R. visits, which don’t even count the visits for sprains and strains, twists, and what-ifs. We go to the Shriner’s Hospital For Children in St, Paul, MN once a year to observe his level of scoliosis, fractures in his growth plates, and his spinal fractures. When he broke his back, OK taking a big deep breath, I almost lost him. THAT’s another story.

 

As you might imagine, functioning with all this turmoil is difficult on both of us. There are support groups, but the nearest one to us is 4 hours away. I follow Facebook groups, and comment on those sometimes, but I don’t get much support locally. We realized right away in Kindergarten he had ADHD, too. Having a child with OI who runs around a lot. Not good. The more he broke, the more things he couldn’t do – the angrier he got. The more times he had to be forcibly held down by me and doctors to put bones back into place, to be in pain so many times – the angrier he got. Angry at me. Angry at all adults or people of authority. Angry at the disease. Just angry.

 

Despite all the anger, everyone loved him though. Teachers, nurses, my friends; everyone always told me how cute he was. He always cracked jokes, had good manners everywhere but at home, and was so whip smart. Yes, he landed problems at school, with the ADD. It had more to do with being mouthy with authority, not wanting to be told what to do and when to do it. He wanted control of his life somewhere. The schools couldn’t understand that it was all the medical stuff to blame and not the child. They would put him in In-School Suspension and then my son would have anxiety attacks. So, they wanted him medicated. I wanted understanding. I finally found a different charter school where my son went from flunking to getting A’s! They took time to understand us and work with us. OK, I cried and begged.

 

So, my teen has problems taking responsibility for anything he does. He’s remarkably mouthy. He yells and swears at me. He doesn’t help with anything around the house. He’s addicted to the XBox. I’m aware that he could do clubs at school, but he’s antisocial from years of being in casts, not being able to join activities, being left out, being teased, and feeling embarrassed.
Is it my fault he’s so angry and negative? Should I have pushed him into clubs and activities even when he was teased? Did I baby him too much every time he fractured? I never let him not finish homework or anything, but I advocated and fought for his rights. When he yells and swears I don’t let him get away with it. We have a very loving relationship. We appreciate all we’ve got is each other in this world right now. We are a great team. Is this teen-aged monster going to be ready for the real world? Have I done enough? Will he be tough enough to handle it on his own living with OI? Is a mother ever not terrified for her children? Did I create this boy and mold him, or did the disease create this monster?

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