I remember when I was living with my mother, I was filling out section 8 applications outside new York city because section 8 is closed in the tri-state area. I so badly wanted my own space.
I was going to use my little income and live in public housing, mind you I can’t navigate Manhattan I was going to move to Cohoes New York with my daughter. These are the things that worry me about my future.
I live in the south Bronx now and I can barely make it around. I don’t know up from down. Where I was living was easy, I had all buses and trains flowing on either end of my residence and it was the upper west side.
I had 733 a month which I was used to blowing on clothes and my cell phone bill. With out landish ideas of turning my poetry into songs for the wildly famous Bad Boy entertainment. I grew a small infatuation with Diddy aka Sean John Combs and thought if I applied myself I could be a writer for Combs enterprises.
I spent my money and I was broke by the second week of pay day which is on the first of every month from social security administration. I didn’t worry about laundry which I had to pay for and I had my food stamps aka snap in place for a budget of 3 people which included myself and my two children. My mother wasn’t charging my rent for the master bedroom I shared with my daughter. I don’t know how I got by. I smoke cigarettes, but so did my mother. I would bum cigarettes off her when I didn’t have any more, but I felt that I was doing the right thing by having snap I was putting food on the table. But I was also trying to keep up with the Jones.
A childhood friend of mine manage with her mental health diagnosed schitoaffective she married and had two children. Moved to north Carolina and then settled in Jersey City. She has a tiny two bedroom apartment, only difference is that she was getting SSD, social security disability, and child support, and with SSD your children get a check also. She was getting 800 per child for child support, mean while I was going to family court to try and get child support for my son from his father, and from my daughter’s father whom I’m still married to.
I had my son when I was 16 years old. My first high school boyfriend was his father. My parents picked up the tab on financials like diapers and formula, clothes and child care so I could finish high school.
I landed my first job at Barnes and nobles bookstore with another childhood friend of mine. While she was getting paid 350 dollars a week working the children’s department, I was in the history department on the weekends making 101 dollars a week. I took the job so I could get experience working, but soon quit the job when I landed a job with Godiva chocolates.
I couldn’t work the hours needed at Barnes and nobles for the children’s department because it was full time, and my mother worked full time so did my step father. They where paying a puruvian woman to care for my son inside our apartment and the hours requested from Barnes and nobles was the evening shift 3:30 on to closing. My shift on the weekends was 8 am to 4 pm.
I never really finished college. I got accepted to Buffalo state University F.I.T for merchandising and LaGuardia community college I ended up going to LaGuardia community college which is located in long island city. My best friend at the time, the one who worked at Barnes and nobles with me transferred from BMCC to LaGuardia just so I wouldn’t be alone. She was majoring in hospitality, I was majoring in liberal arts.
I had to start my day early during the week because the baby sitter was there in the morning at 7:30 am. My first class was at 8:45 am. My dad had me on a grant that paid for college from his job at Cornell University, but it didn’t cover books. I was taking math , English and critical thinking. My friend was taking English, sociology and calculus.
College didn’t last too long because I flunked out my first semester. I never gravitated towards the college experience. My friend decided to give up college and continue her JOBS waitressing and Barnes and nobles.
My job at Godiva chocolates was fantastic but I still found a way to quit. By then my son was already getting ready to go Pre-K and so I was a stay at home parent. I hadn’t applied for welfare yet until my son’s father hit me with court paper for visitation of his son. I never denied him the right to see his son but I did tell him that he couldn’t see him until he started paying child support.
We had to go to court, my father got me a lawyer to fight for child support and he got his visitation but I couldn’t be around. It had to be my mother and his mother with him and visitation was once a month. Child support was 25 dollars.
While I was going through this I was getting an allowance from my mother and she told me I should try school again, so I applied for beauty school. It was on 34th Street, in the heart of Manhattan. LIBS. My mother paid out of pocket because she made too much income for me to get financial aid. I was still a minor at 20 years old, and she was head of household.
I met a Japanese girl named Seiko who was staying in an SRO (single room occupancy) on a visa to attend beauty school. She was 21.
I wasn’t really that good in hairstyling but I tried my hardest to Excell because when I was a little girl all I wanted to be was a beautician.
I got my temporary license but never got my license because you needed a live person for the state exam. I couldn’t find someone who would let me cut their hair in a 30 degree hair cut,so I never made it farther then working for Supercuts as the receptionist. I wasn’t making good money their either I was working 3 days a week and making 125 dollars very two weeks at 7.25 an hour.
By then my son was in school and so during the week when I wasn’t at work I was trying to keep up with my childhood friends who worked and maintained themselves.
I did everything first, lost my virginity first got pregnant first and started smoking weed first. I was the bad apple out of the bunch. So during the week when I wasn’t at work I was at home on my desk top writing poetry and trying to find ways online to get my poetry noticed and smoking weed, and that’s when I found blackplant.com and what used to be migente.com it was the day of social media. Myspace wasn’t that popular yet, but I was on both black plant and migente and so where my childhood friends.
The reason why My sons father and I where no longer together was because he cheated on me with another girl and I found out about it and confronted him about it. But by the time my son was born, our relationship was over already. He couldn’t take me being pregnant and stopped coming to see me.
He was there for the birth of his son. And these are some of the pictures that are left behind in a photo album someplace in the apartment that I used to share with my mother.
And so when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, my mother forced me to get married or she was going to kick me out because no only did I put up an argument for him to stay with us before I got pregnant I had no money and nowhere to go. Was I hearing voices? No I wasn’t, but I was exibiting signs of depression and bipolar disorder, with what my father called self medicating with the weed. I hadn’t hit my low point yet.
“Take your baby and move into a shelter” but Aaron (my son) is staying with me. This was when William, my boyfriend turned hisband, at the time moved in and then moved back to Pennsylvania because he lost his job. Then he moved in with us when I found out I was pregnant. My mother forced the issue and gave me the bottom line. But before the pregnancy, and before he moved in, I had enrolled at Mandell school of allied health on 59th street , for medical assistant.
I met Monroe who soon became my boyfriend and I was doing poorly in the classes and couldn’t keep up with the course work. Monroe was a student at Mandell also and he was a veteran, slightly older then me he was also married an ex coke head living in a men’s shelter on 28 the street.
I got pregnant and quickly had an abortion which Medicaid paid for. Because by the time I finished the program I was the other woman in his still on going relationship with his wife. Monroe was still married but separated but that didn’t stop him for going to visit his wife on weekends.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I got married. My husband was working for New York sports club right down the block on Broadway, and I was pregnant at home doing laundry and cooking dinner, but we barely had enough money to get me maternity clothes, and his dream of being a personal trainer/dj to techno music would be on hold because he was only brining in 350 dollars every two weeks. Was getting snap and cash assistance from welfare but the cash assistance was only 64 dollars every two weeks and my husband smoked weed also. It didn’t dawn on me that the bills where getting paid by my mother like electricity and cable TV.
I put my school debt on deferment and it bought me some time. By the time my daughter was three I was hospitalized in the psych ward at st.lukes hospital on 114th and Amsterdam ave.
I could go into depth but I was diagnosed bipolar and put on medication. I was in the hospital for two weeks. After which I was in outpatient psychiatric treatment. I had to see a therapist and a psychologist.
I now think about it how would I maintained in Cohoes New york? I only know Manhattan. And now that I have to live in the south Bronx off the 4 train I am learning to travel around on my own away from Manhattan. I would have lost my daughter to the foster care system in a short time. I have to say that my kids are better off with my parents but I’m not ok, because when I was kicked out with nothing but the clothes on my back, I never went to path, which is intake for the homeless. I stayed on the street . I was with out a roof over my head for nearly 3 months.
I first stayed in a hotel called the days inn on west 94th street. I had gotten a deposit of 2500 from child support form my daughter’s father, my husband who was in Pennsylvania. He had abandoned me when my daughter was 6 weeks old. My mother picked up the tab for diapers and clothes where hand me downs from other moms in the building and eventually my mother picked up the tab on everything except child care. By the time my daughter was 6 I was on ssi. But before that I was on an allowance of 100 a month from my mother. I had my snap in place.
Ssi isn’t good money. It’s a payment once a month for people who cannot work due to mental health or some form of disability. I never had that much money to begin with so when I was awarded I had a case manager already because I had already been in the hospital 3 times. I had to go to court to get approved. I applied and was turned down so I had to appeal which took a year. So for a year I was on medication that made me gain weight and I was an at home parent. My son was in Junior high and my daughter was barely out of diapers.
By the time she started school I was in debt with student loans. My mother was paying it off for me but I deferred again and went back to school for cosmetology, empire beauty school. I was determined to set the record straight and live a normal life. I was using my little bit of money to pay for after school for my daughter while I was in school again.
By the time I graduated empire beauty school I was in debt and I was able to get my license. This time around the state was using mannequins for the practical. Shortly after getting my license, I started working for the dry bar salon upper west side location on 72nd street and Broadway.
After much training I got an email from the manager saying I wasn’t good enough for dry bar and I had bad comments from customers reviews, And I needed to go back to training like back to school training. So I resigned my position. I was only getting paid 9 dollars an hour and I was part time.
I had my SSI to fall back on. So when acs had me thrown out of the apartment I lost my SSI because I didn’t have an address anymore. All the credit cards I have out are now in default and my student loans are also. I have no way of paying them back. I was receiving student loan forgiveness which meant because I was a recipient of SSI I didn’t have to pay back my student loans. I lost that as well.
When I was out on the street living in Central park and stealing food from Duane Reade people where literally handing me money. But I did get into some trouble landing me in Central bookings. I was locked up for 24 hours for shop lifting and let out on my own recognitence.
I was sitting across the street from the time Warner shops in Trump plaza when the cops stopped me and called EMS. They took me to the hospital where I was admitted to the psych ward. I was in the psych ward for two months . The person they called was my father and he had to come to the hospital so I could get discharged only I wasn’t going home. I was going to Franklin woman’s a