Even in California, the way of the moocher is fraught with anxiety: there are so many benefits, so little time.
Ever since my partner died and only left me memories, I have been struggling to keep my stuff, my identity ... and my sanity: the last 20 months' journey has been a series of puddles and potholes, not deep enough to suck me in completely, but not too healthy either. Month after month eviction has loomed and month after month I've sought surcease through agencies and charities. I've navigated through a plethora of acronyms and eligibility questionnaires.
Now I'm navigating for two.
I met Chris nine months ago at a bar on the evening of my 65th birthday and noticed something immediately: we fit. He lives in Sacramento, and with only one exception, has commuted to my side every weekend. By Christmas we made the leap from "boyfriend" to "partner" and have not looked back since. Hell, we must look forward, we're too much in love to have any other choice!
Chris works part-time at a job that belies the fact that he has Asperger's Syndrome: he works retail - at a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Yeah, the behemoth bookstore chain that just announced a future of massive closures. His hours have been cut considerably (8-12 hours per week). Like other products of The Great Recession, he works to keep his medical benefits.
And he worries about me.
Acronym, Acronym, Who's Got The Acronym?
America is awash with helpful acronyms - organizations, charities and government agencies with three to five capital letters, all recognizable, but at the same time, confusing in what they actually do, and in California, it is common to run into AEF, SFAF, SSI, SSA, SDI, SSDI, ADAP, CCSF, ALRP, IHSS and AHP to name a few (especially if you are HIV+, which we both are). These supplement other organizations and agencies like Healthy San Francisco, Shanti, Open Hand, Medicare, Medi-Cal, San Francisco Tenant's Union, and ... well, you get the idea.
The morass of benefits contingent on this and that, the eligibility requirements, the confusion all make for a frustrating existence while wondering if you'll be able to make it to the end of the month. Don't get me wrong, you needn't get out the waaaambulance: whining is not the style of people truly in need of services and benefits. Searching for advice and foraging for ideas are too tiring to whine about. We're here, we need to avail ourselves of benefits and services to survive. Get over it.
Of course, we are the 47% Mitt Romney complained about during his Presidential bid. We are the losers and loafers Romney's Republicans and Tea Partiers warned the country against. It makes no difference that I was a publisher and broadcaster for years, the recipient of a Jefferson Award for community service, or that Chris has been working steadily for the past thirteen years at the same Barnes & Noble. We are moochers. We are taking what is not rightfully ours. We are a drag on the economy. We have no right to ask for anything, let alone expect it.
What do you think?