From Friday at 2:00 pm until Sunday at 3:00 when Cheryl had to leave for the ferry, I had 49 hours to deal with an onslaught of emails regarding postcards. Thank you those who have passed on names and those who are still putting up notices on message boards, I still welcome more names for the Postcard Project.
In the end, with all the new names coming in (58 in one 24 hours period), and with the people from our previous list I wanted to do as well, we did 81 postcards; each person had their likes and other details noted, the 'just right' postcard matched (until 5:00 a.m. and after on Friday night/Saturday morning, continued on Saturday upon getting up), then rubber stamped, left to dry and stickered. Then a return address label applied, an address label created and stamps placed. The Postcard Project currently sends to six continents and one subcontinent, and everyone who has donated a postcard, a stamp, a sticker, $5 or an address is part of that. I, with the help of Cheryl and Linda pick each postcard. I write each postcard. I go to bed last. Because these people trusted me. I will NOT let them down. On Saturday/Sunday morning I went to sleep after 7:00 am when the last 15 postcards were just a matter of grit your teeth and force the shoulder to move, the ribs to breathe. I had to take three times my painkiller and two times my sedative to sleep and then I was up again. Not one person was left behind.
This time of year is difficult for many people, we can feel a bit like this, alone in a town, where everyone else has homes or friends or family and we are just, out there, alone. This picture reminds me of Cardiff because it took about six months, as I moved in late fall, and it was cloudy and rainy, then rainy and cloudy, then snowing and finally one day….the sun shone! And I thought, “Wow, this place actually looks decent!” And then the clouds came in and everything looked grey and slate again. So I know it can be hard for people, the combo of weather and everyone busy with family and friends, but me (and others).
Now, of the people who sent emails for postcards, there was a significant percentage who felt this was a total scam, and acted like royal jerks. Some deliberately insulted, some refused to give any name to address the postcard, some refused to give any details, some were abusive: I was a scam artist, I was a twist on the 14 million dollars to give you from Africa (if only you give me your bank details and name and address), or I was going to sell them Viagra. Not ONE of these was left behind, these were the people who I stayed up until 7:00 am, who I groaned in pain over. Why? Because these were the people more than any that needed to believe. No, not in Santa Claus, but in the idea that people could act for other reasons than to hurt, to exploit, to swindle, to deceive. I am fragile now physically, and will take a few days to recover. But when the ferry left, not one was left behind, in fact I asked Cheryl and she agreed to take them to the post office to be picked up for sorting tonight, so they can get to these people this week. Many people were lovely. But some, yes not so nice, and I could have been offended, but instead I realized that they had been hurt so often, they didn’t know how to care or even risk letting someone care about them. Now THOSE are the people who need me. And of the others, the ones who gave only addresses or one liners, which of them would be the ones who sat at home getting no post, no messages. I didn’t know, but if there was a way to make sure they didn’t feel the world had forgotten them, I was going to get it there (with the help of Linda and Cheryl!).
It is, I have found, quite hard to help. A friend of mine tried to put on a dinner for the homeless a few weeks ago but found that not a SINGLE church would let them use any areas. The friend said it was different than last year, like the patience or the caring had run out. She pressed on and found a place. But I know from myself, and from times when I have wanted to help how hard it is sometimes to get into it. There are many organizations created to help, or to assist ‘certain people’ in ‘certain ways.’ But after creation and bylaws and rules and people deciding who is the "right" certain people, groups aren’t always there to help EVERY person, and it can be hard to break through with, “But I just want to make this situation better!” I have been rejected by two crisis hotlines because they didn’t take anyone with mood disorders. Rejected by Big Sisters’ for orientation. Rejected by a church on assisting at Pride because my beliefs were not “Christian enough.” Which is why I babysat for female asylum seekers going in for free legal consults and visited people I knew from a friend or a friend of a friend in hospital.
I got an email today which told me that a group that I joined as a disabled person had without my consent withheld my membership for over six months and now I was being given notice to decide if I ‘really’ wanted to be a member. The person who made that decision was AB. I paid money, but it had been kept (unknown by me) and now, the AB section wanted to know if I was REALLY ready to make that commitment. It was a membership which would have automatically entitled me to two other memberships, and grants and assisted funding I was told. And this was kept from me…..because I was being ‘helped’ by having a ‘trial’ period without knowing it. So I can easily understand how hard it can be to fight through for my friend to give food to someone homeless.
I did not want a single one of those 81 people (a new record which will NOT be broken, since I am currently a bit broken and can’t speak correctly; I had a TIA and kept on anyway) to have to be told or decided, ‘not enough for you.’ I fought for them, as I could. And I got more names already to work on. Please remember this week that there are students who are heading home for the ‘holidays’ which might be great and might not, and there might be students for whom, there is no where to go. In the UK, as a grad student, I squatted in an unheated flat and then once a week I splurged on a dive of a Bed and Breakfast which offered a shower. When first homeless as I tried to find a place so Linda could come over, I went to the YWCA and the City council. I was told that I needed to register and after six months of being homeless, I could be helped with a room. No joke. I didn’t “qualify” for homeless yet. Haha. I have spent a night on the streets of Toronto at temp of –20. No joke. Not too safe.
Okay, on to lighter topics, which is cat girls! The other day some people wanted to know what I thought they might look like as a Cat Girl, so here they are: They have the hand over the mouth to keep the lungs warm (always important) and the shawl for (what are shawls for, I just use hoodies, but maybe the shawl is a fashion statement too!)….keeping warm. And the cleaning uniform because they are a doer; just because you have a disability doesn’t change who you are, sometimes it highlights it. And they are a doer, a lot of people with disabilities are. From getting degrees to putting out books to doing crafts and knitting or making sure I have all my toes due to socks, there are a LOT of doers!
And here is my welcome to winter and probably a UK or Euro Catgirl, who is off to find some mulled wine (or Glowwine! - warm wine sold at train stations, or Xmas festivals - yum!). She has on her scarf (I got mine in Italy!), and is ready to meet the cold, except her thighs which seem cold proof! Still, go British Cat-girl, who I hope is Irish or Welsh since I love the accent and has a name like Gwendolyn. And of course, THIS is what I want to come home to; my very own Linda in a frisky mood (too much Glow-wine!) with our own cats. Except for the minor realities of a owner who won’t allow cats (Booo!) and me in a hospital bed, I’m keeping the dream alive. She makes a very nice cat girl with her ears and her...um....assets!
I wanted to just say again about David and his work to help the cats of Kyoto. He estimates that “I'm sure with our work this year we have prevented births of 1000s of kittens who would have been homeless” not only through adoption but his catch, neuter and release program. I am sure that without David there would be many more kittens who died, without protection, without food or simply dumped. He has a page which lists ways to help, from a donation (you can even sponsor a specific cat), to helping translate (English to Japanese or back), to buying a T-shirt, sending cat toys, or cat food.
I mention the cat site because it is easy to say, “let’s save all the homeless first” and as a person who was homeless three times in my life, I sure wished someone had saved me! But that is a complicated issue, and while we work on that, there is no reason not to love cats. I do, and David does, out of his own house and pocket, and time is how he loves them. Maybe I should be giving food instead of postcards but postcards are what I know so that is what I give. David learned about the Postcard Project and has already donated postcards and is, beyond his OWN Japan Cat Project, collecting postcards for the Postcard Project too. So can I ask that if you chose to donate, whether it be a cat toy, or to buy a t-shirt, can you let him know that Elizabeth from the Postcard Project told you about him (as he has a hard time tracking all the people). I ask this because I said how much a difference my readers have made on me. And I want him to remember you too. He and I have been emailing so I think if you mention me, he will remember. And maybe you and he can email? I don’t know, but I want him to know that you are the type of person who makes a difference in people’s lives (at the very least mine and his).
I have to go now, and try to rest. But this is me again as a cat girl (the non-neurotic kind), the kind who loves cherry blossoms and the night sky and who sometimes learns a bit to act and not react. This weekend I learned that caring about people who are abusive, is like caring about a cat who has been abused, and abandoned. These cats, they claw at you because they are too scared from experience to let you hug them. You just have to care and give them the chance to heal at their own pace.
4 hours ago