The Hustle

Woke up to another broke day, what did I think that overnight my fortunes would change? Would a sudden glitch in a computer system or a friendly hacker log into the bank and deposit a sum u heard of in my world. I am on th bus or as I sometimes call it my 1.15 million dollar stretch limo. and someone keeps blurting out inadvertent words  In yells. It must be Tourette’s I think. Whatever it maybe it certainly gives the ride some sharp points with which to draw notation to. Gotta go I am up next on my stop. More later.
Now I find myself on the train considering  the hustle. What is the hustle? The hustlers that wake and say today I gotta get some cash so the hustle begins. This is the hustle. My thoughts were with the GA office this morning and getting on that hustle but no such luck. Tomorrow. 

The GA office is daunting. So crowded and loud.ihavenot been there in a few years but pass by it daily and get to enjoy all of the atmosphere as I wait for the train there. Today it is all about used books. I am heading to school to cash in some used books. I am guessing they will take a few. I am thinking 2 or 3 of the four I have. Here’s to a successful haul. This should net about 15 or 20 dollars. 

And the verdict, one book at seventeen dollars. I was surprised I thought they were going to take another one of the tiles I had but they chose not to. Still seventeen for one book is pretty good.  The third they would have taken would have been great but apparently it came with a disk which I M having a hard time finding. Still I need to start looking for It better sinc it would yield forty dollars. This coupled with the general assistance and food stamps I will apply for tomorrow should help me out tremendously. Although it is my html and CSS elements bible, so I am hesitant to part with it at this juncture. It even has some beginning Java script. 

Why am I in these straits well it is a long story involving lawyers, school financial aid, and more. The lawyers are great about holding things up. I swear, things should have been settled now but the pushing of dates forward, something I am learning they are famous for has apparently no end to it.  At any moment I could get cleared and released to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars and more. It is just a waiting game.  Until then I hang it and wait. 
Once the cash comes through I am out of here. Where,  first to Thailand to get some things done probably for about a month and a half. I want 4 weeks in treatment and then full dental work and recovery there. A few facial odds and ends and then a whole new me. Until then the daily hustle.

The next day ‘s  hustle is much more unexpectedly rewarding and long term. The nightmare that is the welfare office has finally joined the ranks of technological automation, touchscreens and all. I am out in less than an hour and a half with an early appointment for the following morning.  

There are plenty of seats for everyone, not too much Tourette’s and only a small number of obviously truly indigent people searching for parking areas for their shopping carts, aka mobile home on wheels. These are the folks that are in constant search for outlets to charge their free mobile phones that are hawked for free outside of the welfare office by the newly created homeless agency that finds that tracking via cell phone is much easier than doing a simultaneous count across the country on a single evening. See are the same folks that vow to take the non-profit to a for profit industry, one indigent at a time. I am sure with a small bite out of the meager stipend that general assistance gives for the privilege of  county contract. after securing the outlet for the mobile phone it is generally off to the restroom or makeshift bath and shower area. The floors are always soaked with people coming out of the restrooms in a state of half wet hair as the hand dryers usually have a line and after complaints from  the other patrons,  security chides them for using them.

This day is different things move efficiently and quickly, evidence the technological advances are helping and that the economic downturn is on an upswing. It has been four years since I have been in need of help and much has changed. I laugh constantly at the idea of the vilified welfare cheat. As a single man I am eligible for a two month a year benefit of 180.00 in cash aid and 180 per month in Cal Fresh food credits.  Cal-Fresh sounds so much nicer than food stamps. I am excited to learn some of the local regular farmers markets now accept Cal-Fresh  and the Saturday market in Oak Park will double one’s purchase of fresh vegetables if using Cal-Fresh. For those without a car a bus pass is provided with the benefits as well. I am offered extra day pass vouchers in addition to the pass but turn them down . The thought crosses my mind to take advantage of this free service as ,many people sell their passes at the light rail stations but I opt not to take more than I truly need. How someone would put the effort into cheating to get such a small amount is beyond me but I am sure it happens. 

Good news I find out my medi cal insurance has indeed been approved. I applied in January but due to back ups in the registration process I had not heard for sure whether or not I had been approved for it. I find it extremely ironic that Cal -fresh has a policy of not distributing food stamps to convicted drug felons for fear they will use the benefit for drugs. It is difficult to do as it comes on an atm style card redeemable for food only, any taxable item is not included I the total so toilet paper is not even an option with it. The irony in it is that the general assistance cash aid has no such restrictions. So the only option for a convicted drug felon is to receive the cash aid over the food stamps program. Make sense doesn’t it. Good news knows that cash aid won’t be spent on drugs over the food only purchase credits. I wonder how many hours went into drafting, legislating, arguing and voting on such intelligent policies as this one. 

After heading home I stop at a local business that a I have a gift card with some change left on. The is nothing I can purchase there for under 15 dollars ( a pair of socks) so I de ode maybe someone will take pity once and. Refund me the couple of bucks left on the card. When I redeemed the original for merchandise I was intending to go back and make more purchases when the need arose. The store is great, locally owned Mom and Pop small business just the kind of place I prefe to spend my dollars I when I can afford to. Most of the chains have a rule that when a gift card has less than ten dollars  left on it they have to give the change out if requested, this law does not apply to local businesses though. I am I luck not only do I have more than a couple of bucks I change let on the card ( 12.00) but the owner politely refunds the cash. I upon hearing the mount left on the Drs decide to peruse the merchandise seeing if I can afford a pair of socks. The only plain cotton pair that I can find is the least expensive at 15.00 a pair. Well I tried, had they been under nine dollars I would have jumped. Hey they gotta feed their family too. The hustle has been rewarding today. Hazaa, Hazaa! 

Now if only I can come up with the back rent, pg and e before the shut off date, and get the Mac out of hock so I can get the manuscripts I am trying to get grants for. Luckily I was able to access some of them on my iCloud last night but the largest of them the 130 pages I am trying to submit for a cal humanities grant with a  Non- profit sponsor under the California Voices grant, which encourages the stories of under represented communities to be  documented and published. They did some great work with the Afghani communities and Hmongs. 

I want to tell the stories of the HIV + indigent homeless communities, especially those that are afflicted with substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness that often result in chronic homelessness and being out of care. This results in the spreading of not only stigma, stereotypes, but the disease itself and the cycles of abuse both substance and domestic violence. I am trying to get either The VOA which runs a homeless shelter/ safe house for HIV+ men and women, Harm Reduction Services the agency that runs the syringe exchange here in Sacramento as well as providing emergency treatment for abcesses, MRSA, and other medical issues that confront the IV injection community in the Sacramento Valley two days a week using UC Davis Med. students to care for the drop in patients.

 Whereas Cares, the former  HIV medical and social services provider gives wonderful care, as a nearly full time volunteer there for over a year as a peer advocate, positive speaker for the junior high and high school level , and Shanti Life peer and eventually facilitator, as well as community outreach worker, and on the Client  Advisory Panel and AOD steering committee with positions at AIDS housing alliance and Mercy Housing’s Colonia St. Martin Community, I can attest to this. A key volunteer during the CDC and federal government visits when applying for such some huge grants and talks of becoming a federally funded community health care center were a part of my daily life. Now that the goals of such have become reality and Cares Clinic has expanded to the broader community funding is not the struggle that it could have been had it not been for the foresite  of a well educated Board of Directors connecting the Pharmacy at Cares to its funding early on in the plague. Funding is now secured but the stigma of treating mainly HIV+ clients I imagine is difficult to shake as these health centers do knot exclusively cater to Poz individuals. 

needless to say the other agencies still struggle with funding especially the smaller like Harm Reduction Servies, Breaking Barriers, and Golden Rule Services the latter two providing crucial support for youth and people of color and otherwise overlooked populations still devastated by rising HIV infection rates despite the advent of Prep. These agencies are where the most impact in stopping the spread of the disease and educating the next generation at risk and at ease. It is to these populations that I want my project to be geared towards.

So many of these stories are close to my heart and all of those involved have touched me deeply. Many of them are not with us any more cut down by a disease that for all but a few is manageable. The honor of getting to be with them and share as well as be a part of their lives in a brief moment near the end is not lost on me. Getting to sit with their estranged families and relate who they were just before their deaths, telling of their interests relating the memories that they had passed on of the family that sat before me to comfort some of the guilt that intolerant parents had used to banish them many years previous was just the beginning in the telling of their living with AIDS, shunned by family, dying in hospice, often overlooked by those even living with them. The stories and voices are not silenced in my mind and still more tell their own stories today. Let the world hear their voices. Let the young and their families not endure the loneliness, shame, regret, and guilt these tender souls did as a result of stigma that still rears its ugly head today. The hustle continues on so many levels.


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