help

When It Crashes

Things are about to get very difficult for us.

I’m near the end of my Ph.D. studies.  What should be a time of, if not hope, at least anticipation is a period of constant dread, because of two things I’ve learned.

My supervisor is, in all likelihood, signing the form he has to deliver to the Department of Biology indicating what his financial contribution to me next semester is going to be, and everything he’s said to me since the beginning of last semester says that that amount is about to drop from about $6300 to $0.  He has “incentivized” me to get my degree this semester by hanging the specter of his half of my salary no longer showing up in my bank accounts if I take any longer than that, because the stress of homelessness and lapsed prescriptions somehow does not get between scientists and their work.  I won’t know until he tells me, or I ask the department what he sent them.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the latest development.

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Colorado Adventures

For the last month, my friends and I have been trying to rally support for a friend of ours that due to unfortunate circumstances, was left temporarily homeless. In that time we had been working hard to help her find a place to live, preferably somewhere where we could keep her child in the same school.

It can be hard going for single moms who make their money on the internet to find a place to live. Especially in an area that prides itself on being a good school district. Our attempts were met with ridiculous compromises, like having to raise a full year’s rent up front. Or prove that you make three times the rent in an area that charges nearly 15 hundred dollars a month.

If you don’t have a car, the search becomes even more difficult as you have to factor in bus times that it takes to get from one place to the next, and getting home in time for the school bus.

The situation was further complicated however, when in the midst of running errands, her wallet disappeared along with her ID.  It was too much, and suddenly a difficult situation seemed impossible. Unwilling to see my friend and her son struggle more than they already had, and empowered by help from both my friends and our mutual friends, I undertook a sudden trip to Colorado. With my car and ID, I could help her get set up.

Essentially at 3 pm on a Monday I decided to drive down from Ottawa, to Colorado, and by 6pm that evening I was on the road. All spread out, the drive took three days, through Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, before reaching Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. All told it came out to about three days of driving, with a stop for each night.

What do you do when you are alone on the road for three days? In my case, I spent a lot of time listening and singing along to music, doing math in my head to figure out how far I am from a location based on my speed using fractions, and thinking about how to develop my blog.

The drive down was a bit frantic, what with this being my first time in this area of the US, not having a lot of money, and trying to race the clock to get to Colorado before my friend’s hotel reservation ran out. Not having access to my meds, meant that I was eating almost nothing thanks to nausea.

The drive was mostly uneventful and I made it to Colorado, where I proceeded to spend the next several days running errands with my friend while her son was at school. We went to the DMV, looked at several different apartments, and more.

No matter how hard you try, there are not many ways to avoid spending money when you don’t have a place of your own. Unless you can afford to stay in a hotel with a suite, most of them don’t have facilities to cook. You are stuck relying on restaurants, though in some cases you might have access to a microwave. Even at weekly rates, the cost of the room is high, putting an added burden on finances stretched to their limit. It adds up, and by the end of that time, both my friend and I were completely out of money, and at least in my case, a little overdrawn as well.

I finally got enough money to start heading back home yesterday. I made it to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where I stopped for the night. It wasn’t until I set up my computer and decided to get some dinner, when I realized that my wallet was gone.

Imagine that: You are in a foreign country and all of your money and bank cards just disappear. You can’t replace your cards easily, it can take weeks to send them to you. In the meantime, you have no way to buy food, and you certainly can’t afford to stay in a hotel that long. In that one moment, I felt for a second just a hint of what my friend must have been feeling for the past month. I spent the night with my Crohn’s punishing me for the stress I was under. I got almost no sleep, and spent more time in the bathroom than in the bed. Even when in bed, I couldn’t sleep, unable to feel warm no matter what I did.

In the wee hours of the morning, I came up with a temporary plan. I would see about extending my stay a day, hoping they had my information on file enough not to require my card, then find a bank. With luck, they would make it possible for someone to wire me some money to get me home.

I was saved when morning came, someone had handed in my wallet to the front desk. A sleepless night however makes me a hazard on the road, and so I am delayed another day.

In the meantime however, my good friend was banned from Facebook for complaining about men after her experience, something which puts her new found stability at risk. If you can, please consider donating to her GoFundMe.