DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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May 20

“It is consciousness that sets all limits of life, if there are any limits.” – Eric Butterworth


While poverty consciousness is definitely a low vibration on David Hawkins’s scale, impatience can be treacherous, as Simon and I witnessed recentlywith my grandmother Bonnie, who is in her late 70’s.

Bonnie is also a spiritual seeker, who can talk about any subject with alacrity. Married and divorced twice, she’s been super independent up to this point, living by herself. Inhales coffee, cigarettes and whiskey. Can cook a mean salmon dinner. Skinny as a toothpick.

For a lot of the time Simon was unemployed, he would go to Bonnie’s house for coffee, the occasional cigarette, and to discuss spiritual topics. They would engage in existential conversations reminiscent of My Dinner with Andre. And, then he would come home and vent about how she loves to argue and play devil’s advocate, and how he needs to start hanging out with younger people. Then, another elderly friend of ours would call and invite him to play ping pong at the Senior Center and he would be all over it.

One of the most endearing things about Simon is his youthful spirit. The elderly ladies adore him. One even invited him to become a dance instructor on a cruise ship. He politely declined, out of fear that all the elderly cougars aboard might descend on him in a feeding frenzy, with nowhere for him to escape but overboard.

But, I digress. Back to Bonnie. She’s been living in the same condo in Newport Beach for more than a decade. One day recently, the sewers got backed up, and the tenants of all the condos had to move out temporarily while the problem was fixed. Their homeowners’ insurance paid for them to stay in a hotel for a few weeks. Bonnie started out at a hotel on the beach side of Pacific Coast Highway, but then decided to move to a hotel a few blocks away, so she wouldn’t have to cross PCH on foot, which can be very dangerous.

One day she accidentally got locked out by the maid. Instead of waiting until the hotel owners came back from lunch a few hours later, she decided to try to break into her own room by climbing through the window. At age 80! She removed the screen, climbed up on the ledge and almost made it, until she lost her balance and fell inside the room.

Luckily, Simon was on his way to visit her at the exact same time, and found her a few minutes later, sitting up, in shock, from the fall. He called 911 and she was whisked to the emergency room, where it was revealed that she broke her hip. She stayed in the hospital long enough to get hip surgery, which went extremely well, considering her age, and then they sent her to a convalescent home for a few weeks to recover.

In the meantime, with no residents occupying her condo building, the management group tried to exploit the situation, deciding this would be the perfect time to renovate the condos. They told Bonnie and the other tenants that they were raising the rent because of “future” upgrades and that if these tenants couldn’t pay the new rent by a certain time, that they had to move out permanently. While Bonnie’s condo would not be ideal for her to move back into anyway, because of the stairs, it seems the management took advantage of a situation that the tenants had absolutely no control over, while they were already physically removed from the premises. As it will be difficult for her to afford the new rent, she may have to move for the third time in about a month – all because of a series of unfortunate events.

I wish I had a house with a spare room that I could move her into but have enough on my plate right now trying to support myself and Simon.



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