A Song of Pain and Rage

I am raging so hard right now.

For the last week, I’ve been dealing with mountains of ineptitude from the medical establishment.  Namely, my doctor wrote a prescription on Friday.  At the pharmacy, it was “rejected for prior authorization.”  According to the pharmacy, the insurance company rejected payment, and I would have to take it up with them.  I was, of course, welcome to pay $235 in cash and leave with my prescription immediately.  HA!

Of course, I did not have this information until after the close of business hours, as my appointment had been in the late afternoon.  Which meant that the doctor’s office AND insurance company were both closed for the weekend.  (FYI, in Texas, the Medicaid program just pays for people to have private insurance instead of covering medical bills directly.  Because this is Texas, friend of both corporations and ineptitude.)

So I settled myself in for a really fucking uncomfortable weekend, sure that it would be taken care of on Monday.  The medication in question was one of two pain medications that I have been taking for quite a long time.  It was the significantly “heavier” of the two, and I was somewhat worried about going into opiate withdrawals in addition to suffering immense physical pain… But it would all be taken care of on Monday.  Right?  So I leaned much more heavily on the other pain medication, prescribed in limited quantity for “breakthrough pain,”  which is supposed to be used sparingly throughout the month.

Monday came and went.  I logged several calls each with the pharmacy, the doctor’s office, and the insurance company.  No results.

Tuesday came and went.  I made the same round of calls several times, without either results or even so much as a return phone call from the doctor’s office.  I was pissed on Tuesday because this whole problem could be alleviated by ONE individual clicking a button on their computer screen that said “authorize,” and also because I’ve been on this medication for a good amount of months and have never had such problems before.  “Prior authorization” had never been required, and it SHOULDN’T, because the medication, while expensive, was still a generic.  The insurance company’s customer service representative explained that they had “changed the matrix” to require prior authorization on that specific dosage and quantity of the medication in question.  I started out pissed at them, but the longer the bullshit stretched out, the more angry I became with the doctor’s office.

Why?  Because sure, the insurance company “changed the matrix” and added a new layer of difficulty to my life.  But it was the doctor’s office who simply had to make a phone call in order to get the individual at the insurance company to click the stupid “authorize” button.  And they hadn’t done it.  Every time I called, there was some new excuse.  Having done clerical work and even WORKED IN A RESIDENCY PROGRAM (my doctor is the head of a residency program), I am fully aware that they can do things really fast or let them linger for weeks.

So when Wednesday rolled around and nothing had been changed, and the doctor’s office continued to give me the run-around (“oh, we haven’t received a request from the pharmacy” — bullshit), I arranged to get a ride and took my crippled ass to the doctor’s office.  To say they weren’t pleased to see me was an understatement.  I reached the receptionist at 3:48 pm.  I was called back to talk to the nurse at 4:10 pm.  The charge nurse assured me that they had “sent the fax.”  In fact, they had done it “today” because “we didn’t receive the request until today.”  O RLY?

So I called the insurance company from within the doctor’s office.  They said they had not received anything from the doctor’s office, but that if I could just let the customer service rep talk to a member of the doctor’s office staff, she could override the system, as I had already been waiting for so long.

The charge nurse refused.  First it was that she couldn’t talk to the insurance company on my phone.  Fine.  I guess I can understand that from a “chain of responsibility” standpoint — she could be talking to anyone, right?  So I got the rep’s extension and asked her to please call from the office phone.  The goal was to get it taken care of while I was there in the doctor’s office, so we could stop at the pharmacy on the way home and be done with this miserable fucking nightmare.  I was quite a bit more polite than that, though in retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have been.  Why?  Because she also refused to call them from the office phone.  She said that she had done her part by sending them a fax and that if the fax hadn’t been received within 72 hours, she could send another fax.

WHAT??!?!?!?!??

Somewhere in the middle of all this, while I was on the phone, the charge nurse asked the (snotty) receptionist what medication I was “trying to get.”  The receptionist told her, and they exchanged a glance before the nurse said “ohhh… I understand.”  And not in a nice way.  In a… judgmental way.  Because clearly a young woman who can walk and work and live a normal life has any fucking business judging a woman in a fucking wheelchair who is only trying to get someone to authorize a medication that the nurse’s fucking employer — a well-seasoned, no-bullshit physician — prescribed.

So, at that point, I pursed my lips and sat quietly for a moment.  To hear her tell it, the charge nurse is in “charge” of the whole office and there was no one to appeal the decision to.  Experience tells me there’s always a higher authority, especially in a residency program, but getting access to that authority is not easy.  My doctor was out of the office.  The charge nurse was being, for lack of a better word, a bitch.

The only thing left to do, for the moment, was find out when or if “the fax” had been sent.  So I requested a copy of it.  In Biblical times, the response would have been classified as “much wailing and gnashing of teeth,” but she finally gave me a copy of the fax (cover sheet only), which showed that the fax had indeed been sent… On Wednesday at 16:00, or 4:00 pm.  In other words, after I arrived but before the nurse called me back.  So I had spent days getting the run-around only to find out that it had, in fact, been nothing but run-around.

I left.

I suffered a pretty miserable night, as the “break-through” medication was dwindling.  This morning I called the pharmacy, who is familiar with me on a first-named basis, and they verified that the prescription was still “rejected for prior authorization.”

So I called the insurance company.  They were not familiar with me on a first name basis, but were able to see the sheer amount of times I’d called in the past week.  They said they hadn’t received any fax from the doctor’s office, but that sometimes it took 24-48 hours to “process.”  Interesting (and not the 72 hours that the charge nurse had told me).

Then I called the doctor’s office.  I asked that they please call the authorization in, as the insurance company couldn’t verify receipt of the fax.  This was met with several impassioned iterations that “we sent it yesterday!”  And… at this point, I don’t disbelieve them, due to the fax cover sheet with confirmation showing it was transmitted successfully.

It’s just that it doesn’t really matter anymore.  I am OUT of “breakthrough” medication now.  I tapered as well as I could, but I never expected to still be high and dry 6 days after first presenting the damned prescription.  Opiate withdrawals are a real fucking bitch.  I do not care that they already faxed it, since “already” is defined as “not until I showed up in person at the damned doctor’s office” which, by the way, is on the other damned side of the damned city.

And so, here I am.  The breakthrough medication was at no point enough to actually relieve the pain.  If it was, it would be my “only” pain medication instead of my “breakthrough” pain medication.  It did keep me out of withdrawals when I was able to take a reasonable amount of it, but it’s been days since then.  My arms and legs ache, I’m sick to my stomach, I’m hot and cold at the same time, I have diarrhea… And the pain.  It’s incredible.  It has a life of its own.

I used to think that I was pretty tough.  That I could handle anything.  That nothing could hold me back, not even pain.  This is because I was arrogant and also had NO IDEA what pain was, what it really meant to hurt.  I just… I had no idea.

This is… not the same as someone whose “back hurts” or has a sprained ankle or even half a dozen broken bones.  This is major joints just… demolished.

There’s a hip replacement in my future.  And an ankle fusion. Possible knee replacement.  Even those are unlikely to solve my problems.  Medication has never completely relieved my pain; I’m well aware that all I can ever hope to do is manage it (make life more tolerable), and even that is not possible 100% of the time.  I would say that, fully medicated, I can stand to be alive about 70% of the time.  (This is not the same as being suicidal, though I have heard of untreated orthopedic pain doing that to people.)

I wake up crying in the night.  Fully medicated, that happens maybe a couple of times per month.  The last several nights, it’s been 3 or more times per night.  My dreams have been filled with graphic imagery of torture.  I can see how someone could go completely crazy.

Here’s a little science on the subject of pain for the nerds.  One quote hit me pretty hard: “Chronic pain is like water damage to a house — if it goes on long enough, the house collapses.”

Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used To Know

It’s funny how people can change by leaps and bounds without even realizing it.

It’s even funnier how much people stay the same despite a whirlwind of changes.

In case it wasn’t obvious, this blog qualifies as “somebody that I used to know.”  Now it is read by some friends… and some enemies…. and various and assorted other characters.  It’s also not at all representative of who I am or who I want to be.

So allow me to tie up some loose ends before moving on.

The eviction case was dismissed, as we knew it would be because the entire situation was an exercise in stupidity.  The crazy landlord has not returned our security deposit.  This is not exactly surprising.

We have moved and I am significantly happier with my living situation. 

Healthwise, much is the same.  Nothing is going to really change until I get my right hip replaced, and I don’t know when that will be.

I’m trying desperately to get my hands on a computer of my very own.  I have a story stirring within, a book to write, which ultimately means I need dedicated space and equipment to make that happen.

That’s about all, folks. 

Envy, By Any Other Name

I am in a shitty mood.  I’m sure it pertains to my period.  As does an onslaught of greasy skin and acne that I’m entirely too old for.

I don’t spend a lot of time being angry, though the sensation is like a second skin that slips on easily when I indulge it.  Typically I consider anger to be “not useful” and reject it, but there are times (like right now) when it’s too difficult to push away.

I am downright fucking pissed off and it started yesterday.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday.  The clinic I go to is part of the county hospital system, which sees Medicaid patients and a lot of indigent people who wouldn’t have access to healthcare without the county’s subsidy.  In other words, when I visit the clinic or the hospital, I see a lot of poor people.

And it irritates the crap out of me when I see people there carrying Coach or Dooney & Bourke… and pushing strollers that cost more than the last car I bought.

I would like to say that this was righteous indignation on the part of the taxpayers who subsidize these peoples’ medical treatment.  But it wasn’t.  It was something much uglier… A deadly sin by the name of Envy.

I was even jealous of the security guards and the people who worked in the cafeteria.  Why?  Because they could WORK.  It wasn’t glamorous or high-paying work by any means, but those people were able to stand up straight, put one leg in front of the other, and perform tasks in exchange for money.

I can’t do that.  And because I can’t work, I also can’t earn income to purchase things that I need or want.

At some point, I will hopefully redeem myself with a post about how grateful I am for the system that keeps me afloat.   But that day is not today.  Because today I am FURIOUS.

I am mad about the little things and the big things.

I used to have standards.

I would previously never have considered buying off-brand dish soap or 99-cent toilet paper.  I would also never previously have considered relying on public transportation.

I don’t like this!

I am moving in less than a month and I DON’T HAVE A BED.

Who in the hell doesn’t have a bed?  I mean seriously.  What kind of person is 30 years old and doesn’t own something so basic as a BED?

I used to own a bed.

I used to own several beds.

I used to have multiple storage unit full of things that I owned.

I am going to stop  now.  I’m going to go outside and smoke a cigarette that I can’t afford and try to make this fury subside.

My Future Is Coming On

Doing nothing is extremely unrewarding.

Physically, financially, mentally, spiritually.

As such, I’ve decided to start writing again. Not as a sort of “improve my craft” exercise (because I have no craft), and not to “share my gift with the world” (because it isn’t much of a gift), but because I don’t have anything else to do and because, finally, I think I have a story to tell.

I’m not sure about the future of this blog. It is mostly a pain in my ass. I may update as situations I’ve shared here proceed or resolve themselves.

I’m on the cusp of something, kiddos. Maybe the book will be garbage, but sometimes it’s more about the process than the output.

Now it’s just a matter of getting equipped. The future is a cheap used desktop and one jaunty hat away.

The Wicked Witch of North Texas

This morning the ParaTransit (wheelchair) bus arrived early and I wasn’t quite ready to go.  When I finally got outside, I was still officially “on time,” but the bus had been sitting there for several minutes.

The driver lowered the hydraulic lift and greeted me with a question: “Why did your neighbor tell me you don’t live here?”

I was a little taken aback.  I am accustomed to greetings like “Hello” or “Good morning.”  And frankly, I don’t think of myself as HAVING a neighbor.  The Landlord lives on one side and an empty soon-to-be condemned house sits on the other.  After a few beats, I realized she meant The Landlord had told her that, and I said “because she’s basically a bad person.”

Which is basically the truth.

Once I was on board, the driver told me that The Landlord had told her that no one lived in the house as we had been evicted.  I guess the point was to encourage the driver to leave immediately, thus stranding me without a ride and hitting me with a “no show” on my ParaTransit record.  (No shows are punishable by suspension of services, which would well and truly screw me since we don’t have alternate transportation.)

I told the driver a little about the situation and she said “What kind of person does that to someone in a wheelchair?”  I didn’t answer this time, but of course, the answer is: A BAD PERSON.

I admit that I can hold a grudge with the best of them, but I have been trying to see people in a more positive light.  Most people have SOME redeeming qualities.  But The Landlord?  Not so much.  She lies as a matter of policy, cares only about herself, takes advantage of everyone she comes into contact with, and is easily the most vindictive person I’ve ever encountered in life.  And that’s saying something, because I known more than my fair share of bad people.

In the past few weeks, she’s attempted to steal a USPS package, shown exactly how crazy she is in appeals court, pled guilty to assaulting Tim, and tried to divert my sole means of transportation. 

I wish I could click my heels and go to Kansas.  Not that I’ve ever spent time in Kansas.  But I’m pretty sure The Landlord hasn’t either, which makes it an ideal destination.

Seems Like I Should Be Getting Somewhere

I have been doing a ton of reading lately.  Mostly this is because I find my thoughts taking me in directions I’d rather not go.

This nonsense with The Landlord has monopolized an enormous amount of time and energy.  Just a few days ago we went to court for the case in which she assaulted Tim.  She brought two “witnesses” with her to court to “straighten out the situation.”  What’s funny is that neither of those people were present at the time of the assault and their only insight into the situation was what The Landlord has told them.  I can’t imagine what their testimony would have involved, but I’m a little glad they didn’t make it to the witness stand, because I had previously thought better of the both of them.

Instead, The Landlord struck a plea bargain with the prosecutor.  In exchange for a guilty plea, she got six months of probation.  That’s fine with me, but frankly, I can’t imagine her staying out of trouble for six months.  Her temperament is such that she’ll probably have to take heavy doses of anti-anxiety medications in order to keep her mouth shut and her hands to herself.

If her laughter as she left the court indicates anything, I guess The Landlord somehow views her guilty plea as some sort of victory.  I would personally consider that a loss, but hey, more power to her.

She later told one of our roommates that the plea bargain was “her idea” to “spare everyone the stress and misery.”  Er… okay?  You can’t argue with Crazy (which is the main reason I haven’t spoken to her in months).

Other areas of life continue to baffle me.

I am having some issues with my church.  That’s not to say that I’ve had any type of disagreement with anyone associated with the church or anything like that.  I just find myself questioning whether this is the right place for me.  I have a long list of pros and cons and possibilities.  The bottom line is that despite feeling that we were led to that particular church, I’m not sure I agree with their pet causes and internal politics.

There are a lot of good things about the church.  Their adult education program is amazing, and the pastors are energetic and engaging.  There are many opportunities to get involved and they do some positive things.  We’ve become friendly with several other members.  But I feel like there is a serious gap in one particular area, which I won’t specify because this is, after all, a public place.  But that area, while of minor to no importance to the church leadership and apparently a large amount of the congregation, is  deal-breaker for me.  As in, it’s the backbone of my faith and my perceived reason for living.

I’m not quite ready to hand in my name tag and leave the church, mostly because I’m putting at least some stock into the idea of “there’s a reason for everything.”  I ended up here for a reason (hopefully).  Maybe hearts and minds will change about this particular subject, or maybe… I don’t know.  Maybe it’s something I’m supposed to spearhead.  Maybe not.   I’m quietly watching and waiting, and really REALLY dreading the idea of leaving this church to integrate into a new one.

I’m also kind of down about my stupid health issues.  All of the different medical professionals I see have finally come to a consensus on the subject of my hip, which is that it needs to be replaced.  They do not agree on a timeframe.  Some say the sooner the better, and others say I should wait as long as possible.

I also  need to have a fusion done on my right ankle, as it has not improved.  I still have severe neuropathy and “drop foot” and the broken parts healed… quite horribly (and only partially).  Even the right arm, which snapped in half and was the least traumatic of my injuries, has improved but not completely healed.

So basically, the last entire year of my life… All of the misery, the suffering, the indescribable unstoppable fucking PAIN, the so-called “healing” and the therapy… IT’S ALL BEEN FOR NOTHING.

Literally, I am going to have to do it all over again.

I have come as far as I’m going to come and it’s not good enough and I have to start all over again.  The catheter, then the bedpan, and the agonizing months of recovery time.

And even this will not “fix” the problem.  I broke my pelvis in three places and it will never be the same.  The fusion on my ankle?  It will hold my foot at the appropriate angle and I won’t be able to bend or flex it.  I can’t now and I won’t be able to post-surgery, either.  I will still be a damned cripple.

I really just want to run away.  Except that I can’t run.  Ha ha ha.

And this is why I spend all my time with my nose in some book or the other.  Reality is a bit too painful for me right now, mentally and physically.

I am exhausted but I can’t sleep.

This is why God created scientists who invented sleeping pills.

The Latest Installment Of This Eviction Nonsense

The court date in our eviction case came and went without affecting much change.

Everything was different this time.  We were represented by an attorney.  We had a judge who actually observed the rules of civil procedure.  Even the reason for the eviction case was different this time.  Instead of evicting us for $58 that we don’t owe or a contract that we haven’t breached, The Landlord tried a new tactic.  This time, she needed us out of the house “RIGHT NOW, TODAY!!!!!” because apparently we are endangering her grandchildren and Child Protective Services has demanded our removal.

Except that CPS has done no such thing.  We live next door to The Landlord and her grandchildren.  We don’t so much as set a foot in their yard.  We have absolutely nothing to do with either The Landlord or her grandchildren, unless you count the times she tasked us with babysitting them, but that’s been a few months now.  The Landlord claims that we are preventing her from providing for the physical safety and financial security of the children by…. get this…… calling the police.  ON HER.  For things like trespassing, harassing us, and assault.

She went on and on about how this eviction is for the sake of the children, who did not live with her when the eviction was filed and weren’t mentioned in the actual suit itself.  The judge informed her that while The Landlord herself undoubtedly cares very much about the children, that she, The Judge, is concerned with who has the greater legal right to possession of the house we live in, a subject which has nothing to do with children who live next door.

To make a pretty short story even shorter, the Landlord went crazy.  Crying, wailing, flailing her arms, etc.  And the children were crying as well.  Yes, she brought the 2 year old and 3 year old to court.  Because spending a day in county court and dealing with The Landlord’s emotional outbursts is clearly in their best interest.

After threatening The Landlord with a Contempt of Court arrest and giving her a chance to compose herself in a conference room (it didn’t work), the judge reset the hearing for a date three weeks in the future and told The Landlord she would need to arrange for a babysitter that day.

She left the courtroom in histrionics.  The only words we spoke were “I do” as we were being sworn in.   That’s seriously as far as it went before she lost control of herself.  The highlights of the very abbreviated legal proceeding were: 1) the obviously fake letter The Landlord tried to pass off as a demand from CPS that we vacate for the sake of the children, and 2) The Landlord’s offer to get the lower court judge (whose ruling we are appealing) on the phone so he can explain to the current judge why she should rule against us.

Since The Landlord left in her private vehicle and we rely on public transportation, she got home much faster than we did.  In fact, we were just getting on the bus outside of the court building when we received a call from a roommate.  The Landlord had already arrived at the house AND HAD CALLED THE WATER COMPANY ONTO THE PROPERTY TO DISCONNECT THE WATER SERVICE.

Obviously we’re not dealing with a person who is in her right mind.  So our attorney contacted The Landlord and let her know what the legal ramifications for disconnecting utility services would be.  Well, some of them, anyway.

So we are basically in a holding pattern until the second week of March, at the absolute earliest.

Some people are undoubtedly wondering why we are proceeding with this court case rather than vacating.  A few people have asked me outright and several more have implied that they don’t understand our motivation.  I’m quite certain that The Landlord herself can’t fathom why we are still here.

It’s multifaceted, really, but quite simple.

First, I’ve recently learned that life (generally) and people (specifically) will kick me around for as long as I allow them to.   Bad things WILL keep happening to me until I stand my ground.

Second, we are citizens of the United States and the State of Texas.   We have rights.   The Landlord can add statements like “You have no rights according to the state of Texas” and “This is legal” and “I have written this with the advice of a landlord-tenant lawyer I have hired”   to her written notices all she wants, but the fact is that we are ALL protected by the laws of this state, including the Texas Property Code.

Third, we haven’t done anything wrong.  Most people aren’t accustomed to hearing the word “eviction” thrown around unless the tenant has done something WRONG.  Therefore, there must be some reason why we deserve this.  We must owe her money, we must have breached the agreement, etc.  EXCEPT THAT WE DON’T.  We do not owe her a dime.  The aforementioned Texas Property Code provides specific protection against retaliatory actions, and this is a clear case of retaliation.

Fourth, the next time she wants to treat another human being the way she has treated me, I want her to think again.   I want her to understand that legal agreements, written OR oral, cannot be dispersed with because she no longer likes the person she made the agreement with or can’t trust that person to lie for her.  I want her to understand that nobody has to do anything she says just because she says it; there is a legal process and there should never be any expectation that any tenant would ever “VACATE RIGHT NOW, TODAY!!!!”  just because she said to do so.

It’s not that I love living in this house so much that I can’t stand to part with it.  And I actually don’t derive any enjoyment whatsoever from the protracted battle with The Landlord.  Frankly, both the sight and sound of her make my stomach turn and I look forward with great anticipation to the day we move away from her.  But her actions have  been unreasonable, immoral, and illegal.

I would have responded quite differently if she’d approached this in a way that … well … made any sense whatsoever.   But I will not ever respond favorably to screaming, threats, intimidation, harassment, theft, assault, and retaliation.

She’s Going To Harass Herself Into Jail

So this morning we opened our window. It’s nice outside.

And what do we hear? The Landlord screaming at the mail carrier. He had mail for me and she was screaming that we “weren’t here” and to leave it with her.

Luckily, the window was open and we heard this delightful exchange, so Tim was able to go outside and retrieve it from the mail carrier.

Mail fraud is a federal offense. Mail carriers are pretty reliable witnesses. (Oops.)

A reasonable person might wonder, “why would she want your mail?” And honestly, I don’t know the answer.

I do know that I’ve received exactly two pieces of mail in the last month, and I normally receive several per week. I’ve suspected that she’s been stealing our mail for quite some time — why else would I suddenly stop receiving it? And when I lived next door in her house, I would see stacks of mail piling up for tenants who lived in this house.

But until today, I didn’t have any proof that she has been stealing MY mail.

It would probably be a good idea for all of the mail she’s accumulated for residents of this house to materialize in our mail box immediately.

The Ongoing Saga Of My Despicable Landlord’s Continued Harassment (Latest Update Includes ASSAULT!)

I haven’t written much about the crazy landlord/housing situation lately because it has been too depressing for words. But ultimately, keeping it to myself only helps her… So here we go:

We went to JP Court on January 17 to officially “answer” her eviction suit. It went terribly. We later learned that the judge was himself a landlord of 50+ properties and was very biased toward landlords. The Landlord lied repeatedly under oath (which I think is perjury, right?), and he didn’t draw attention to it at all.

The eviction suit alleged that we owed her $58 for “rent” and that we hadn’t paid our security deposit. We didn’t owe her $58 (that’s a charge she made up), and we admittedly had not paid the security deposit. Our lease agreement just said the deposit was “to be paid out” and we had an oral agreement that we would start paying on it early this year, as we had multiple financial mishaps in late 2011. This was a common occurrence with her — some of the people that live in her houses have only paid part of the deposit, and some of them haven’t paid any of the deposit at all (and have been here longer than us).

We had not breached any part of any agreement with her. But by the time we got to the courtroom, she had fabricated $1200 worth of nonsense “charges” such as unpaid rent in 2011 and accumulated late fees. We had receipts for the months she alleged we didn’t pay. The judge dismissed those false charges as well as the $58, declaring $0 in damages, but awarding possession of the property to The Landlord on the basis of the unpaid deposit.

We’ve been advised that this is a legally questionable ruling by a notoriously biased judge, and an observer in the courtroom actually followed us out and told us we should file an appeal.

I won’t lie, it was depressing. Deflating, if you will. She filed fraudulent documents with the court and the judge said “so what?” It doesn’t get worse than that.

Legally, we had five days from the court date to either accept the ruling and vacate or file an appeal. We intended to appeal — of course — but the law and process is definitely skewed in the favor of homeowners and landlords. They are statistically more likely to be voters, and thus able to influence policy. Renters don’t typically band together or voice their opinion until something has already gone awry.

So it took a little time to get our ducks in a row.

The day after the court hearing, which happened to be a Wednesday, I returned from a physical therapy appointment to find a note on the door. The Landlord was demanding that $300 be paid to her, the “plaintiff” by us, the “defendants”, immediately — “per the court order.” But the court ruling, which we have a copy of, AWARDED HER $0.

It turned out that while we were gone, The Landlord’s Daughter came into the house to “collect” the $300. When one of The Roommates encountered her, she quickly left. I kind of wonder why The Landlord told her that she was entitled to $300, why anyone thought we would hand over $300, and how she got into the house in the first place. (I’d like to state again that I don’t have anything personal against The Daughter. I see this situation as being caused by The Landlord.)

Of course, we did not rush over to The Landlord’s house to give her $300. So later in the day, when the wheelchair bus arrived to take us to a meeting, The Landlord rushed out and started screaming. She screamed at us about giving her $300, screamed about how I had “made a fool of myself” in court and needed to “SHUT UP!”, and screamed at The Roommate for helping me get down the stairs.

I am rather ashamed to say that I screamed back. It wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of Christlike behavior.

In trying to give an accurate description of all of the nonsense that has happened in the last week, I actually find myself overwhelmed.

I left a handwritten note on our front door stating that the court awarded her $0 so therefore I am not giving her $300, and that if she enters the house I will call the police and she will be arrested for trespassing.

We came back home to find a very strange and uncharacteristic note on the front door. It was all caps but a very small print, probably a font size 7 or so (as compared to her usual 18-20 point “shouting” font) and it said “FINE. YOU WIN. I’M NOT COMING OVER.”

And after that, it was quiet for a few days. I’m certain she interrogated The Roommates about our activities because it’s in her nature to do so. She simply can’t leave anything alone. And we were on guard, because there’s no possible way that she was sincere about giving up. Why? Because she has too much to lose by losing.

We filed the appeal on Monday. Later that day, at home, someone started lurking around our window and making a bunch of noise. It was two black guys, one of whom I was pretty sure was married to The Daughter (and is the father of one of her children). They went on the roof, talked loudly outside, and basically made a racket intended to make us nervous.

It worked for a while. Then I decided that anyone who wanted to intimidate me could go straight to hell, so I went into the kitchen and made pitchers of Kool-Aid and iced tea. Enough with the hiding.

While we were in the kitchen/dining room area, one of the guys beat on the sliding glass door loudly. Tim opened the door and the guy walked in and announced (loudly) that his name was Michael and that he was “doing maintenance.” He asked if our air conditioner was working, and we said that it was (although we haven’t been using it much since it’s JANUARY). He wanted to know what our names were, if anyone else was home, and which bedroom we stayed in.

Curious questions for a “maintenance man,” right?

He wanted to check out the vents in our room. Tim told him that was unnecessary, as the city had just inspected the house a week or two ago. He didn’t care for that response, and went outside shortly thereafter.

Tim went outside to smoke a cigarette, and Michael was still out there. He asked Tim if we keep the gate locked, and if we keep the garage locked, because “there are a lot of dangerous drug dealers around here and they get violent.”

That’s quite a statement. The song lyrics “this ain’t my first rodeo” come to mind. Because, wow, having lived a moderately rough life, I HAVE NEVER HEARD A VEILED THREAT BEFORE. /sarcasm

I’d also like to point out that, logically speaking, it is generally crackheads (“drug users”) that get violent. “Drug dealers” are conducting a business; doing commerce, if you will. Any drug dealer worth his crystal isn’t going to go around threatening people and committing petty crimes because he has business interests to protect. A wasted crackhead, on the other hand… does stupid stuff on the spur of the moment.

Speaking of stupid stuff on the spur of the moment…

The Landlord sent a note over here stating “MAINTENANCE MEN: THEY WILL BE IN AND OUT TO MAKE REPAIRS PERIODICALLY. CONSIDER THIS AN OFFICIAL NOTICE.” The point of this was that her goons, who were by no means “maintenance men,” would be coming and going at will. She did this because the last time the police came, they told her she had to make an appointment and give the tenants notice before anyone could enter the house — either her or any contractors she might hire.

Surprise, surprise… Around noon, the “maintenance men” showed up with a note from the landlord. It said that her washer, dryer, and refrigerator are “inoperable” and that the “maintenance men” would be removing our appliances and taking them to her house, as well as the microwave and can opener. It also included a statement that she would be turning off the cable and “no one can put it back on.” The Roommates were invited to do laundry at her house “any time of day or night” and store their food in her refrigerator. In fact, she specifically said they could do laundry at her house “for free.” HER GENEROSITY OVERWHELMS ME.

The point of this activity was to remove our (mine and Tim’s) access to the appliances — I assume to make us miserable and hasten our exit from the house.

THIS IS POSSIBLY THE CRAZIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE, AS WELL AS THE MOST BLATANT HARASSMENT IMAGINABLE.

So we called the police. Michael the Maintenance Man got into something of a dispute with one of the roommates while we were on the phone with the police. When they heard the commotion, the dispatcher quickly got officers out here.

When the officers arrived, the “maintenance men” had removed the dryer and taken it onto The Landlord’s property. They had taken all of the food out of our refrigerator and unplugged it, but the police stopped them from removing it.

According to the police, we were absolutely not required to let the “maintenance men” in, regardless of The Landlord’s notice, which didn’t meet the legal criteria for anything we’d be required to comply with. In fact, we’re not required to let anyone in and the police have specifically advised all of us not to do so under any circumstances.

The police took it all in for sure — they got to see a dispute between The Landlord and one of the roommates, as well as the “maintenance men” scurrying to find something “maintenanc-y” to do (raking leaves and messing with the water meter). They couldn’t make them bring the dryer BACK because of quirks in the law, but advised us as to our rights with regards to pursuing that issue.

No sooner had the police left than The Landlord showed up on the front porch, demanding entry. She wanted to talk to one of the roommates. Tim told her the roommate was probably outside, and she started to leave… Then she turned and screamed at him, “Are you happy? ARE YOU HAPPY NOW??” And… she hit him.

At this point, the “maintenance men” got in their vehicle and left. It was probably a wise thing for them to do.

We called the police again and reported that The Landlord had hit Tim. He submitted a written statement to the police and now she will be “hit” with a criminal charge for assault.

It’s like she just can’t help herself, can’t stop herself from making senseless mistakes. She’s out of control… or, more accurately, she is controlled by anger. That’s a dangerous thing.

This situation is just absolutely bizarre. Everyone recommends that we move — and THEY ARE RIGHT. Of course we should move. I’d love nothing in the world more. But if we had the resources to up and move on the spot, we probably wouldn’t be renting a room from The Landlord in the first place. We’d have our own apartment and would not be dealing with such difficulties.

But we don’t have the kind of resources that would permit us to up and move with 3 days’ notice or anything of the sort. We don’t have a vehicle. Our credit is beyond help. We don’t have cosigners or helpers or anything like that. We don’t even have FURNITURE.

Even if I found a place quickly that would accept us with all our bumps and bruises, we wouldn’t have so much as a bed to sleep on.

This is a drastically bad situation and I find myself questioning God in ways that frankly make me a little uncomfortable. I’m not naive enough to believe that God will straighten out every situation to work in my favor. I understand that sometimes it is not His will for “everything to be okay.” Sometimes we are intended to struggle for a variety of reasons. To build character, to test faith, to test strength, to bring out the best in people (and hopefully not the worst), to compel others to behave in Christlike ways, to draw attention to injustice… The list goes on and on and on.

But I’m feeling like Job right now. And I’m tired.

The clock is ticking and we’re all miserable and something’s got to give.

But it would be a mistake to ever think I am giving up.

Some More Stuff About My Life

I spent most of my life believing in nothing at all.

There was no God. There was certainly no Satan. There were no “kind spirits” or demons. No angels. No soul mates. Probably not any ghosts, either.

It fit with my analysis of life, which essentially was that agonizing over the “whys” and “hows” of human existence was both unnecessary and boring. We humans were here on Earth and we may as well make the best of it.

At the best of times, I considered myself a humanist. In fact, I even filled out the online form to become an ordained minister in the Church of Spiritual Humanism.

People who didn’t understand would assume that atheism meant some type of devil worship. I usually didn’t bother to break it down and explain that “theist” meant belief in at least one deity and “atheist” meant lack of belief in deities. Those who thought I was a devil worshiper who dined on infants were entitled to think so without any correction from me. Those who thought I did believe in the Christian God and was just “mad at him” were also entitled to that opinion.

It was a lot simpler than that for me. There could not possibly be a God. The whole thing just seemed completely ludicrous; a coping mechanism of sentient beings who lacked a scientific understanding of their own origins.

Now, as a Christian, I am similarly disinterested in explaining the “hows” or “whys” of the conversion. I don’t feel the need to explain myself or convince people that I’m “really” a Christian now.

In fact, I don’t find myself in a position where I am required to explain much of anything to anyone. Those who would disbelieve or criticize “that whole Christian thing” have weeded themselves out of my life.

Why am I saying any of this? I’m not sure, really. I guess because I joined a church today. Like for real, the way grown-ups with a commitment to God and community do. And… it didn’t happen by taking the path of least resistance. This was a hard thing, and it seems like every obstacle imaginable has been thrown in my path.

I swear, a year ago, if someone had either implied or directly stated that “the Evil one” was making an organized effort to disrupt my life, I’d have laughed.

But it’s happening. And I’ll keep on fighting it until I break down or fall down, because I’ve got to.

I am trying to make a decision about this blog. It’s become… certainly something other than what I had intended or would ever want it to be.

Before I met Tim, not a single person in my “real life” knew about my blog or that I even kept one. That was how I liked it. Now everyone on the planet knows about it, including people that I’d rather not have know the ins and outs of my daily life. *ESPECIALLY* those people, as they make up about 80 percent of my hits.

There is no going back to the golden age of anonymity.

So here’s my yearly disclaimer: For the handful of you that are so clever as to have “found” my blog and believe you’re getting some sort of special insight into my life that I’m unaware you’ve got… Think again.

And for the friends who remain? Thanks for remaining. It’s been a hell of a year.

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