Saturday, October 25, 2008

Where do I begin?

It has been an... interesting week, to say the least.

I'm not sure where to start. So many times during the past week I was going to start writing about something of interest, but then something else happened and then I'd think, hey, that sounds interesting too, maybe I'll write about that instead.

Where do I begin? I've begun this blog a thousand times in my head. Both good and bad things have happened to me this week. I won't say which weighs on my mind more, good or bad - you can guess for yourself!

Well, first, I did a portrait of my good friend Nora for her birthday. Happy birthday, Nora! Yay, Nora! Yay, art! I love it when my artwork pleases someone and makes a difference in their lives.

On Wednesday morning, Lenny and I went to speak to a class at the YMCA Academy. The kids were all very inquisitive and great!

I spoke about what it's like to have a disability in Ontario, Canada. When you're on ODSP, I explained, you're trapped forever in poverty with no hope of escape. You only receive a small monthly amount, and then, if you get anything extra from other sources, which is rare, it's counted against you the following month. So, you can never get ahead, let alone choose a better place to live.

I also told the class how Direct Funding works, how only 700 people with disabilities in Ontario can receive this specialized funding. Despite the fact that most 24 hour attendant services are shown to be abusive (this is why I got out of them!) and that thousands of people are on the waiting list for Direct Funding so that they can choose and hire their own personal assistants, the Ministry of Health has put a cap securely on this type of funding. Seven hundred people in Ontario, and that's all. Unless someone dies or goes off the program, no one else can get Direct Funding.

Like I said, the kids were very inquisitive, and they asked what they could to do to help me, and people like me. I suggested that they write to the Ministry of Health and to their Member of Parliament outlining the aforementioned problems. I also asked them to spread this information amongst their families and peers. Ignorance, I said to them, is our biggest problen.

I felt good about talking to the class. It was a small but positive step in the quest for better services for people with disabilities.

I also felt good when I received an email this past week for an order of my note cards. Hell, I felt awesome! The guy said that he was from Australia and that he wanted to buy $2,000 worth of cards from me. I didn't think that this sounded too suspicious - I mean, people are supposed to find my website and buy my artwork, aren't they? I thought that maybe he owned several stores in Australia, which could explain the large order.

I was so good, paying close attention to detail so that my customer would be happy and satisfied. I counted my cards to see if I had enough for the order, I went to the postoffice to find out exactly how much it would cost to ship the cards, I sent him a detailed invoice and directed him to my Paypal account.

The beginning of financial independence was within my sights, and I was so incredibly happy! And then, it all came down like a house of cards. It was a scam - a nasty, mean-spirited scam! I knew it as soon as he asked me to pay for the shipping. And then, Rob looked up scams like this, and there was this guy's name, big as life and twice as ugly!

What's wrong with people?????????? Here I am trying to make the world a better place, and there's jerks like this guy trying to scam people out of their hard earned money! Jeez!

As Roy from The IT Crowd would say, "People: what a bunch of bastards!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Laid Plans ...........

So, tonight was supposed to be Aaron's big party before he has his operation to remove the tumours from his bladder. Yes, well, it didn't go exactly as planned. I'm upset about it, but not too upset because I'm a bit drunk and a bit high on pot chocolate, and this numbs the pain and the fury.

On Wednesday, with Lenny's assistance, I called the administrator of my building and asked if I could rent the common room for Sunday (today) for Aaron's party. She said sure, no problem, she'd tentatively book the room for me. I'd have to pay $25.00 for the rent on the room, she said, and $50.00 for insurance (just in case I left the room in a mess), and I reluctantly said yes. She then said that I needed to fill out a form too. So, on Thursday, I went to the administration office with my cheques and asked for the form I was supposed to fill out. All I got were blank stares. The head person was out to lunch, and they didn't think there was any form for rental of the common room. I knew better than they, and so, came back on Friday and filled out the form.

I thought everything was set. I bought chips, dip, candy and pop for the party. Many, many invitations were sent out. I was prepared, I was on the ball!

Unfortunately, the management of this building wasn't.

At 6:30pm we went to look for the superintendant to open the room. I had booked the room for 7pm, but we needed to set up. The superintendant is new, so I didn't have her phone number, but somebody told me which apartment she lives in. We went to her apartment and knocked on the door, but there was no response.

Concerned about our guests arriving and not knowing where to go, we went back down to the lobby, let people in and explained the situation. We all sat in the lobby and Lenny and I kept checking the locked door. Then after 7pm, we went back upstairs to try again to find the super. Unfortunately we realized our mistake, we had been knocking on the wrong door. We saw a note posted to a different apartment door, saying that the super was off for the day. However, the note directed us to the apartment of the assistant superintendant. We phoned the "emergency contact" numbers listed for the assistant super, but there was no response at either number, nor was there any response at his door. We left multiple messages (I wonder what would happen if there was a real emergency) but he never answered or returned our calls.

Frustrated beyond belief, we took the party to my apartment, but nobody could stand the heat which we have no ability to control. Once they shut off the air conditioning, this building heats up like an oven. We went to a nearby bar, leaving signs to direct any party guests that way and called the building administration "ratfaces".

At the bar, we had a good time and I think that Aaron enjoyed himself. Still, I feel angry about the events of the evening. I want my money back and justice done!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Changes, Both Good and Bad

So, Rob got his new sofa and I got a whole new apartment... sort of. It took 4 days of rearranging of furniture, cleaning and mopping, and throwing out junk, but now it looks spectacular! It looks the neatest that it's probably ever been. I'm so happy!

That was a good change in my life. There were a couple of not-so-good changes that happened at the St Lawrence Market this past weekend. Minor things, sure, but they still annoyed me just the same.

First of all, they had removed all of the tables and chairs which used to be across from my cart. People used to sit and eat there and chat with me. It was nice talking with people. Sometimes they became regulars, and because of this, this even produced sales for the surrounding vendors and me. Now, the New Zealand vendors have expanded their domain and put 4 large glass cases showcasing their jewellery, replacing the tables and chairs. Disappointing, sure, but not a huge deal....

And then, there's a new vendor who sits on my left side. She says she knows me and I vaguely recollect chatting with her maybe one year ago. Well anyway, I sure won't forget her now. She was big, loud and pushy. She came in way after the vendors to my right and I had set up and started telling us we had to move over because she did not have enough space. Before we had time to digest this request, she promply grabbed my cart and moved it herself. Two things will automatically piss me off, one, taking my food without asking, and two, touching my stuff without asking. I am generous and reasonable, except for when this happens.

Well anyway, this topic is called "Changes, Both Good and Bad," so I have more good changes too. I've heard through the grapevine that Tobias House is finally reprimanding and punishing its employees for their inappropriate behavior. Its employees are being suspended and its clients are finally being listened to. Although I would never consider going back to Tobias House for its services (or to any other attendant service for that matter) because I love, love, love having Direct Funding and being able to choose who works for me, I am overjoyed with this new development and hopefully other attendant services will follow suit.

Another positive development has been the anti-poverty group formed recently by ARCH and Studies in Disabilities. I've been to 3 meetings so far that they've hosted, and they seem to have a lot of ideas and enthusiasm. Admittedly, I was rather disappointed that more people with disabilities didn't come to the latter 2 meetings and that the goal this group has set to "End Poverty" is 2010. In my humble opinion, 2010 is way too far in the future! ODSP and Welfare need to be raised to a living wage now not in 2 years! People need more money to pay their rent and buy nutritious food.

Yes, I'm frustrated... but it is a start, I suppose.