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Mad as hell and not going to take it….

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‪Our story became front page news on The Record yesterday, June 22, but I wonder if we’re even truly on the radar of the politicians who are playing political hot potato with people’s lives. The story, http://www.newwestrecord.ca/news/fighting-for-future-renters-in-the-city-1.20734114#sthash.bbP1rCFY.uxfs‬ shows the photo of Peggy Casey and below chronicles the timeline of how this particular renoviction went down. Oh yes, eviction due to renovations, a palatable term that politicians and developers prefer use to describe what is really going on, but let’s call a spade a spade. People are being displaced from their homes for profit, plain and simple. I’m sure cities would prefer buildings with aesthetically appeal lining their city blocks. I’d like to live in one, an affordable one, wouldn’t we all? There’s renovations to suites that could and should have been done for the tenants living here, but that didn’t happen. Instead these buildings were allowed to age out with cosmetic changes made to the exteriors.

Meanwhile we get caught in the middle. I’ve lived here 5 years.  I’m making some noise, seeking out my options, searching for resources, trying to make something happen all while trying to find a home for myself and my cat. This is beyond easier said than done. It seems a lost cause but that’s not going to stop me. In the latest city of many that has allowed those with money to determine the future face of all our communities, a renter with a low income doesn’t count. At least that is the way it feels, but more than that, our governments have demonstrated that this is true by simply turning their backs on us or shrugging their shoulders at a problem that needs shoulders and will put into it. Our local MLA is sympathetic but her hands are tied. For starters BC doesn’t even have a proper government yet. Even if there was the will there is always the endless consultations, studies and reports that tell all of us what we already know. I would bargain those people being paid very well to consult, study and report on the situation aren’t being put out of their homes. 

I walk through my neighbourhood and I can almost see all the low rises being “renovated”. Where will those people go? Don’t kid yourself. We’re not just fighting, we’re fighting for our lives here.

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Anatomy of a renoviction or as The Record calls it….

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This is what a renoviction does…

Letter to the editor of The Record published Thursday, June 15, 2017

I am gutted, as I’m sure everyone in my building is. I feel sick about what I am going to do about an affordable home in the very near future. I got a niggling feeling when I saw the assortment of SUVs drive up to park and deposit occupants who then appeared to be thoughtfully mulling over the bones of my neat and modest 3 storey apartment building here in New Westminster. This small building of 54 homes is where Frank lives. His mobility is restricted to a wheelchair and he just went through a fight with cancer. It is the home of several families with small children. There are families whose children have grown from small to tall here. There’s a young pregnant woman who was hoping to make a home here for her soon-to-be child. We are a group of seniors, immigrants, people with disabilities and the working poor. We are all people of low incomes. Like me, they probably thought they were lucky to land a decent affordable apartment. There are people who have lived in this building 20 years or more. Our compassionate manager, who always asked me how I was doing, like the rest of us, is being put out of the building as well. We had found home. We hung pictures, placed furniture just so and made our spaces cozy and comfortable. Now we’ll have to dismantle it all. 

Our building used to be called Westcourt Manor, but it isn’t anymore. The awning was stripped of its name and address, leaving only a partial awning baring a gaping maw of fluorescent bulbs with lighting so bright it shines into the apartments across the street. The new owners (theM1group) so arrogant they apparently don’t care about the lives of those tenants either.

So I watched as those people took photos and made notes on clipboards. Awhile later we received word our building had been sold. Life went on but it was clear something suspicious was happening. I noticed the two giant trees suddenly had “protection fences” erected around them with placards citing 2 municipal bylaws that I now know have to do with protecting the trees during construction. A couple of suites became vacant and weren’t fixed or rented. The landscaping that was once so lovingly tended began to become neglected, the grass growing long and unruly branches of gangly shrubs reach for sun. Weeds are beginning to thrive and it all suffers from lack of water.

 When we were suddenly instructed to pay our rent to a numbered company, 322 Apartments inc., alarm bells went off and with good reason. We’ve became just another real estate acquisition and for us it signalled the beginning of the end. A little googling revealed that the new owner boasts an inventory of shiny new and very expensive freshly renovated properties. Nice if you can afford them, but none of us can. We simply can’t. We now live in a nameless building that’s slated for renoviction (or as they so nicely put it “eviction due to renovation”) because that’s what they do, and they’re proud of it.

This all happened in a matter of months. On June 3, 2017, a gloomy Saturday, I got a notice through my mail slot informing me that the new owners were just waiting on the city permits that will grant them the power to evict me from my home. They’ve already done just that to my neighbours upstairs. The other shoe has definitely dropped.

Talk about picking on the little guy. All of us are vulnerable tenants whose rights are being trampled upon. We’ve all been displaced with literally nowhere to go in the city we call home. Bureaucrats ushered this through with lightning fast speed, apparently rubber stamping this project through with little to no consideration for what it will do to the local community much less all of the individuals affected. This does not serve the greater good. 

My body vibrates with an unfettered rage. It’s wrong on so many levels. Where are the checks and balances? What happened to decency and humanity? We’ve all been scrambling to make some arrangements. There is a very real probability some of us will find themselves couch-surfing, homeless, until something comes along, and probably not in our community. We’re hoping to share information so that we can all help one another through this. That’s the way proper society works.

I’m sure more developers are eyeing up the plentiful stock of other affordable New Westminster buildings that just could use superficial sprucing up. These companies are not asking tenants to leave for a few months so we can come back at the same affordable rents. They could do renos around us, for us, but they don’t want low income tenants. They want tenants who will gladly pay the seemingly cheap “market” rents of New Westminster. Rents that have been pushed up into the stratospheric thanks to a real estate market allowed to spiral out of control. There is absolutely no calculation of the human cost nor thought given to the fact that low income tenants are being displaced so companies may profit in this way. 

How is it that in a city where change occurs at a much slower and considered pace that a solid building of 54 and truly affordable suites of rental stock are allowed to become unaffordable for the average resident of New West? 

With other developments it would appear the intent has to be clearly indicated to the community but for some reason this protocol is ignored in the case of a renoviction. It’s the dirty little secret that no one discovers until it can’t be hidden any longer; almost as if the aim of it is to catch the residents off guard. It smacks of an almost punitive nature. This practice was clearly on the City’s radar. After all this is a prescient and very real threat to the vulnerable in our city. It was only in 2016 a resolution was made to specifically address this issue and yet here it is, happening just like that. And back here at 322 it didn’t take long from the time of the sale for the first eviction notices to be issued. ABC,123 and easy peazy just like that it was done. 

When necessity is the mother of…

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I am being pushed into activism. I’m OK with it, but I confess it’s never been a “me” thing. I have always thought the little guy needed more of a voice but I only used to watch in chagrin when yet again as Goliath put the screws to David. There seemed to be a torpor within our government and a social collective that seemed to stand idly by time and time again. There’d be that “treehugger” that would literally stick neck and limb out to voice what no one else would. Government would use their political might to shut that voice up but didn’t seem to do anything to protect the rights of those and that. 

It seems it all comes to the bottom line. Whatever happened to building a citizenry and society that included all of those and treated all of those equally? We’re not even going to break it down into particular issues. We all know what they are. Rights are being clawed away or denied outright still and always and nothing ever gets done. Do it the right and polite way and no one even notices. Make a stink and people dismiss you. So dear citizenry, how do you suggest a person proceeds. There is so much riding on everything, our heads our swivelling trying to keep up, but that’s because it was allowed to devolve into a society where the almighty buck really does rule the day.

I can’t sit idly by anymore. I am going to pick up the mantle and run as fast as I can with what I have. It may not be much. I’m a follower not a leader. I don’t even know how activism is done. Is that ridiculous or what? I’ve grown a bit of a voice lately. Sure, it’s mostly beaking off on #twitter or a strongly worded email trying to get a product replaced but so what, that’s a start right? Call me a shit disturber, call me a harpy, call me what you will. I am not going away. 

The fall

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I don’t remember the fall itself. I remember the panic of feeling myself unable to stop it but I was unconscious for the ambulance ride and delivery to emergency. When I came to I found myself on a bed not really aware of what had happened. I knew that my body had betrayed me but it was more an unfortunate case of being unable to stop momentum when I’d stepped on my shoelace. The last thing I remember is leaving to go home to feed my cat and to gratefully slide between the sheets of my bed…

There was a friend was there with me and I knew she should be at home as well, miles away with her boyfriend. I have the usual impression I do while in emergency on the occasions I’ve been before. I’m sure it’s the impressions of a lot of people do when they visit the emergency ward. It’s that of feeling being ignored and somehow less a human being because you happen to find yourself there. I did get some perfunctory if almost downright rude help but my major wound was taken care of, nothing fancy. No ice or cleaning, nothing to soothe the scrapes. I get it though, resources are slim. After a time–five hours or so–I was sent on my way, shooed out into the cold to find myself a cab to take me home. I arrived home to a very hungry cat and that bed I so craved and climbed in, but not before I survey the damage; scrapes, swelling, stitches. Luckily for me my teeth are intact (again unlike my pride). My glasses took the brunt of the damage. I would once again find myself having to throw myself on the mercy of my local optician to get the lens fixed.

The next day as I was squeezing blood out of my clothing and taking an Advil hoping to aid with the swelling and residual pain, it was driven home that a cat can’t feed you or baby you and that’s really what I wanted. I wanted somebody to fuss over me and tell me” it would be OK, or anything….It’s not the first time I felt this way annd I’m sure it certainly won’t be the last. But that lonely feeling that feeling when you feel truly alone doesn’t feel very good. I just wanted one of my nearby friends who’d witnessed the fall to come over with some chicken soup or buzz at my door and offer to make me tea without me asking, but they didn’t. I couldn’t help feeling abandoned when I needed. It stung almost as deeply as the tears streaming over my split lip. If there’s ever a moment when you realize you’re mostly alone, this was one of them.

 

tussles with tech

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iMac.JPG

imac circa……old

Right now I am having a lot of problems with my iPhone. Well the problem doesn’t really lie with the chunk of hardware itself, rather it is this whole iCloud library and iCloud music business.

I pride myself on being able to figure out these issues with some troubleshooting and patience, but this has me clenching my teeth and making me want to go android. Seriously. It feels like every day I need to search the vast www for something resembling an answer and all that happens is that I trip over endless irrelevant forums. I don’t want forums. I’ll tell you why. It seems these are just places where every one tosses their opinions into the ring, sometimes stooping to insult the asker of the question. A quick trip over to the official Apple page of that subject provides a pithy short and rather obvious solution that really doesn’t answer the question.

The iCloud thing is really baffling and frustrating me. I delete a photo, it pops up somewhere else. Over and over again. I want a photo and it disappears. In populating my iTunes (again, because it completely crapped out), I couldn’t add my own music from CD’s I’d purchased and not only that it seemed I wasn’t allowed to add some music I’ld purchased from iTunes! I got a message saying something like “the itunes music could not be added to iPhone 5c”. Huh? So I went searching for an answer. Needless to say, I am trying to figure it out on my own. I already painstakingly went through all my music and added the appropriate genre and created smartlists. That took two days. Somewhere in the midst of that I thought my computer was toast, and I had to bring it back from the brink. This happening after a recent update. Now, unfortunately I may have to restore my phone, because of course I am having syncing issues and that is the only suggestion that really makes sense to me. It’s not really a big deal but it is an annoyance, and I’ll have to reinstall apps and arrange them the way I like and so on.

I have spent the equivalent of weeks on various and sundry problems. I’m okay with that because it seems that’s part and parcel of technology. I’ve always accepted that as part of the package, but right now it just seems it’s a constant. Will it be better if I get the iPhone 6 or will that present its own set of problems. I guess we’ll see.

oh, the things i do

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let me just say that i’m not crazy. i do however, get rather rabid around certain things and  just won’t let go. dog with a bone. lately it is recycling foodscraps in particular. my building is supposed to be participating in this program and have a bin out behind my building, but for some reason they won’t do it. the management company that runs my little 3 story walkup are already paying for it, so i don’t know what the reasoning is behind it.

it just sort of happened. one day i was cooking and had chopped up some veggies and i simply balked at throwing them in the garbage. next thing i knew i had pulled out a plastic container with a screwtop lid on it and started putting my compostables into it. when that was full, i got a freezer bag with a double zip and started filling that up. i have no idea how far this is going to go. it certainly is messing whatever aesthetic there is in my kitchen. it sits on my other recycling bin looking completely out of place.

kitchencorner

so now they need a place to go. i have been scoping out the neighbourhood for a bin. i know a friend has one not too far away, and i asked him to lend me the container since he chooses not to recycle his foodscraps and it’s not in use. he deems that it would be too stinky an undertaking. i’m more of the mind that he’s lazy, but it is his perogative.

this is mine, so i keep looking. it doesn’t matter where i go, there is the clear reality that i will be toting stinky containers around with me once they are empty, so this is why i’m looking for one closer. point is, i’m becoming incredibly principled around this. and steadfast. it’s something that happens to me. sometimes it works out in my favour, but more often than not it blows up in my face, or in this case, possibly stinks up my small living space to no end.

there’s a part of me that reckons that if i hold out long enough, bug the city to bug the management company, maybe i’ll will out and they’ll put that g.d. bin out there and i can simplify the situation. i’d rather not trek my food waste around the neighbourhood to surreptitiously dispose of it under the cover of darkness, or boldly in the harsh light of day, proudly, i might add.

i wish i were this determined when it came to exercise or other parts of my life i seek to change, but right now, this is it.

days like this….

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I am going to start writing about this. I don’t know why I haven’t before. This is the journey I have been on for a couple of years. A bunch of medical professionals started muddling about, since I sought help, making the past few months particularly wretched. Perhaps I’ve been too fatigued to lift my arms, or maybe my vision was blurred while inspiration struck but I just didn’t set anything down. I am so frustrated, and writing is the only way I know how to deal with it. Pull the words out of my head and put them out there so I can look at them and make sense of the feelings. If it’s at all possible.

I got off the bus after my last appointment and bumped into a friend. I was heading to a local greasy spoon to push down my anger and sorrow with a basket of fries. The appointment hadn’t gone so well, which is to say that my doctor simply stared at me and provided no input, nothing. I didn’t expect him to get off his stool and come over and hug me but the least he could have done is take my blood pressure, which is part of the problem as far as the professionals are concerned. He logged my symptoms, again, which I find unnecessary because they’ve not changed and are a matter of record. So I tell him again that I’m dizzy, my vision is blurred, my balance is precarious, in varying degrees every day in chunks of the day. I can’t work with this going on. if I am able to leave my apartment for necessities I feel vulnerable. I am accustomed to being strong, long strides taking me to my destination. Now I have to be mindful. If I am not careful my body could suddenly list right or left and I could fall, just like that, even if I am feeling almost normal.

Perched on his stool he told me the echogram I just had indicated a PEF shunt, a hole in my heart. He didn’t tell me if this was worrying or significant, he just put it out there. He left the room and came back with a piece of paper he thrust into my hands. I’m being referred to a cardiologist. Then he left the room again, appointment over. I was left there holding the piece of paper and my coat, gobsmacked.  So when I came upon my friend, the feelings were roiling around inside, but  we exchanged pleasantries, and talked for a minute. However, I couldn’t contain myself and began to cry and then my frustration really got the better of me and I howled and yanked my hat off and stormed off up the street. Then I stopped, remembering my friend but there was so much exasperation left, as I tried to articulate a bit further, I utterly lost it, simply shouting as loud as I could falling to my knees. You have to understand, this is completely out of character. I don’t cause scenes. I simply don’t. This process over the past few months has simply gotten the better of me. I feel like the reason for what appears to be disinterest in my health situation is that they are simply stumped. Whatever it is, it is incredibly disheartening.

My friend picked me off the ground and put me in his car, and then got my fries for me. What is it they say about friends? Well it’s good to have them, that’s for sure. The fries didn’t give me any fresh perspective, but for a few minutes I forgot about everything as I salted (yes I did) and peppered them and gobbled them down.

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