Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs were not on my radar when I singed the lease for my apartment at Plymouth West.

Weston disclosed that the building has had a problem for ten years and so has the city of Long Beach. I have lived in many Long Beach apartments, stayed at dive and not-so-dive motels, not to mention living on the streets for a year and 3 months without getting my blood sucked by the nasty critters.

Near as I can tell, I was here two weeks when they began attacking me.

I got a nice high-off-the-floor air mattress. When I changed the sheets I noticed little black dots on the sheets and bed. I thought they were fuzz from my socks. Later learned they were dried blood from when the bugs finished feeding. I learned that it can take ten days for the bites to show up.

At first I thought the bites were hives. My dumb luck to have a loud, late-night man living over my head. Man is now in jail, but that is another story for another day. The bites itched like crazy, swelled, nasty red blotches all over my arms, stomach, arm pit, legs. I kept comparing my rash to rashes on the Internet, suffering, trying every kind of itch cream I could find.

When more of the bites appeared, I found even more pictures: Yup, bed bugs. I stripped my air mattress, threw bedding in washer, started cleaning the mattress, going back to laundry room to add fabric softener or to put clothes in dryer. The air mattress has a rim, cleaning under that, flipping the double size mattress on all sides as I worked. One of those flips, I saw a bug scurrying and squashed it with rag in my hand.

I went to office to report it; was asked if I had the bug. Well, no, how would I have it? Later decided I could grab it with Scotch tape if I saw one ~which I did not. monitors were installed in the apartment and that was that.

A man on my floor has a recurring problem with bed bugs. I wondered often why they never installed those monitors in his apartment ~ effective. They emit two scents that attracts the bugs. Then the bugs fall through holes and die. One sent is carbon dioxide ~ something our body produces which attracts the bugs. The other is the mating scent.

I wish that was the end of my bed bug experience story. Alas it happened again; just when I thought it was safe to sleep normally.

My California

The "My California" post was a draft from 2013. Way too long for a blog post, but too lazy to chop it up into bite size pieces. I miss the old Blogger when we could re-date blog posts. Or pre-date as I did often. I used to write a whole bunch of posts in one sitting, but wanted them to be published one a day, so being able to choose a post date (and time) was useful for me.

The end of that old, old post is a neat lead-in to what I have been thinking of doing with my blogs.

I am only just now realizing why people wanted smoking banned in parks and on the beach (and in bars, and everywhere in between.) Smokers are the only drug addicts allowed to smoke at will in public places. Or were once allowed to do so.

I read once that the way to tell the difference between a habit and addiction was to see what happens when you stop doing it. Even knowing that, I still did not get that nicotine was a drug. I am amazed or appalled at myself. How did I not know I was an addict even way back when? Yikes.

My California

My California
"My California" is a collection of short stories published to raise money to benefit the California Arts Council.

The bool states that "Canadians spend $145 per capita every year to fund their arts, Germans $85 and Californians three cents." I liken the state (City, Federal) budget to the home budget. Shelter, food, clothing are first items to be paid out of available income. That would mean a source of income is needed. Thus the tax dollars should be used second to fund creation of jobs and affordable housing. First on the State (Federal, City) budget would be to pay for protection and maintenance: police, fire fighters, water, electric, gas workers, sewage disposal, roads and such. If there is any money left over, either in the home or State budget, it seems keeping family or citizens healthy should come next.

I love art, beauty and nature. Yet funding "the Arts" is like the family spending a limited budget for entertainment purposes, such as seeing a movie or going to Disneyland. If the money is not there, stay home. What is "per capita"? Per person? Each person contributes 3 cents to the Arts per year? If the only taxes citizens pay were State taxes, upping that might be okay. Last I calculated, 1/4 of our earned income is deducted from our paychecks, or we work one day for payroll deductions, not including amounts deducted for health and life insurance and retirement.

Even renters are indirectly paying property taxes. When city's raise those taxes, the cost is passed onto with rent increases. Increase utility bill taxes, water bill expense likewise raises rents. Then there are the other taxes, sales tax, on gasoline, booze and God forbid if one still has the audacity to smoke cigarettes! Best, than, to keep taxes down, and sad, if that includes spending on "the Arts".

Problem with that for me, is the Library might be part of that Arts budget cuts. Teaching music and art in schools has been cut. Library's provide a needed community service. Paying a school teacher to take a year off to write a novel, may/may not enrich the lives of the many. I say let the teacher teach and write his book, nights/weekends. (That teacher lived in Pennsylvania not California, btw.)

The copy of "My California" that I checked out of the library is "A Special Edition Celebrating The Fifth Annual Long Beach Reads One Book". I never participated in the event, which was started to get people reading. I read. Without the enticement.

Speaking of libraries, the Main library is scheduled to be closed on Sundays. That makes little sense to me. People who work Monday to Friday and school-age kids will have to fit a library visit into their Saturday schedules. No branches are open on Sunday. Since the Main has already been closed Mondays, why not Mon/Tue or Thursday/Friday. I say Friday because it is the downtown Farmer's Market day. However, the library itself knows what days are most busy.

By cutting library hours, jobs are being lost. So those elected to take care of the City budget forgot that jobs or income is one of their essential considerations when planning how to allot our tax dollars.

I did not read most of the stories in "My California". I enjoyed the one about Seal Beach and other bits and pieces of writers' personal histories in the state. "Transients in Paradise" by Aimee Liu is basically about Beverly Hills' homeless.

State and City Budget Cuts
Reading about Seal Beach in "My California" I learned that the small town's budget was in trouble a while ago. Their City Council planned parking meters on Main Street which the author said was the beginning of the end of small town atmosphere. I can not say that I noticed the lack of parking meters on Main Street when I used to drive there. In my "good, old, homed days. My PSC, Shad, lives in Seal Beach and he took me there one day for lunch. He parked on Main Street and, again, no recall as to parking meters.

Senator Jenny Propeza authored a bill to ban smoking on state beaches and in state parks. The fine would be $250. but was lowered to $l00. Before the ban could be enforced signs would need to be erected. Okay, there is a place where the State budget is going awry. Yeah, the sign makers and those who contribute to printing of the signs, such as ink makers, get some work. But it is a limited type of income that benefits the few, not the many.

Long Beach had 27 homicides already this year. So now, Ms. Jenny thinks the cops should keep busy handing out tickets to smokers. It was at midnight on a New Years eve that cops went to bars handing out tickets to those violating that new "No Smoking In Bars" ban. Why turn smokers into criminals? Hand a homeless cat a ticket for violating the new ban, and s/he tosses it in the trash along with the other tickets. No money to pay it. Those unpaid tickets go to warrant, the cat gets picked up, sent to jail for a few days. Jails overcrowded, they are quickly released and ticket fines marked "Paid by Time Served". Even if time served was two days.

Bulk of citizens do not care if a homeless cat goes to jail for having the audacity to light up at the beach or a park. Dang, they would not care if a taxpaying citizen went to jail or became homeless because they thought they lived in the U.s.A. Ya know, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Liberty means freedom of choice, not if one's choice is to smoke cigarettes.

Any time citizens lobby the government for things ~ such as getting rid of smokers ~ it costs tax money. New laws always do. Even if it is only to erect signs and pay police/park rangers to enforce the ban. While the police/park rangers are busy with the homeless or smokers, another person is getting robbed, knifed, shot at and/or killed. Smokers or those who earn at least part of their living selling cigarettes are taxed without representation. Boston Tea Party anyone? Of course, smokers are a minority. Yet, I wonder, how many jobs have been lost due to the push to turn cigarette smokers into criminals? Rather to force people to quit smoking.

Go figure, at the same time the State reps are working overtime to rid the state of cigarette smoke, they are working to legalize marijuana as a new way to raise taxes. I do not use, but have long been in favor of decriminalizing pot. It is mostly harmless from nature if no additives are used. But smoke is smoke. If one type of smoke is bad for non-users lungs, so is the other.

She's Back

Looks like my last blog posts were done two years ago.

Lately have been thinking, I need to come here ~ remove the outdated links and such. So here I am.

After Safe Haven helped me get off the streets, my rent was raised, so I moved. Same owners of the new dive apartment complex; living hand to mouth, as theysay. I think I was still blogging, until I had to get rid of cable due to price increases. My oldest daughter took pity on me ~ added me to her Verizon account.

After another rent increase, I had to choose between living in vehicle or selling it. Figured my body was getting too old to sleep out in the cold and sold the vehicle. Do believe I blogged about that fiasco. Was unable to move to a more affordable apartment, Internet had to go. Time passed, another rent increase; no longer recall the math; like maybe $20.00 a week leftover for food and stuff. Rued selling the vehicle.

Paid one month's rent into the increase, before giving my 30-day notice. I called a bunch of HUD Senior Housing apartment complexes. 2-year waiting lists? What, do people start applying before they reach age 62 or 65 as case may be?

At library one day, read local paper rental ads. Walked a block ~ actually walked several blocks in the wrong direction before arriving at Plymouth West. Filled out an app or got one to take home, then returned it. 3 to 6 month waiting list.

What to do? Having not been home to visit since 2006, I packed up stuff, put it is storage, got a Greyhound bus ticket. Just about ready to board the bus when Weston calls to tell me "Your apartment is ready." Huh? What to do? Blah, blah, blah. So it was off to NJ/PA for a few days then back on Greyhound for the return trip.

It was not until after I handed over the check that Weston told me about the bedbugs.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Playing The Hand You're Dealt

Playing The Hand You're Dealt is the title of a novel by Trace Hickman. A wealthy couple volunteered at soup kitchens taking their son with them. They "wanted to teach (him) about life outside the walls of their luxury brownstone."

In a word, the hand life dealt me lately was: bed bugs.

Okay, that is two words, like my name, Mary Alice, meant as one. People have constantly tried to turn my name into, first name, Mary, middle name Alice. Even a Social Security worker who issued me a card saying I was Mary A. Russup. I have taken to writing it as MaryAlice in an effort to make it clearer than writing it in First Name space with dash in Middle Name space.

Anyway we can not say bed or bugs and know one means those nasty little critters that come a creeping while one is sleeping to suck one's blood. And when people ask me my name I usually say Mary, but still annoying when it is related to anything legal.

I have been dealing with this hand and the other one: trying to concentrate on what I am doing or falling to sleep listening to neighbor's loud TV and/or stereo (radio, who knows.) The third issue was less a hand life dealt me and more a result of my own life choices.

What hand has life dealt you? Did you accept it, deal with it or try to change it?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Book of Illusions

Did not finish the novel, The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster. I did not finish reading quite a few books I recently checked out of the library. Perhaps part of the reason is inability to concentrate. As it is this moment; neighbor turned on the whatever. Television I think. Did not anticipate hearing neighbor's noise through concrete block walls. I guess the floor and adjoining ceiling does not provide enough insulation to keep the sound from entering my apartment.

I think it was this novel where a character said there is a difference between a tramp, a hobo and homeless person.  My notes say:

~riding the rails as a Depression hobo.

~when a man has nothing to look forward to, he might as well be dead.

l'homme moyen sensuel

page 35 last dime to a beggar on the street.

Proudhon's dictum all property is theft.

Google Translation tells me the French words mean: the average sensual man.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Nice is a short novel about a nice girl named Grace penned by Jen Sacks. Grace does not like to hurt anyone's feelings and ends up killing a boyfriend rather than hurting him with rejection. She finds this was too easy and kills again. Sam is a professional killer who knows what Grace is doing. They fall into a relationship but can either ever trust the other with their lives?

Cute little story.

"He wasn't dirty enough to be homeless."

A man fell into a river and was "fished out by some homeless guys who were camped nearby. One stole his wallet while he lay unconcious but the others nursed him back to health. Later the man tells Grace he has a story to write about "these homeless people."