At long last, the various personal crises of the past few months have stabilized and settled down enough that I have the time – and the confidence things won’t change too much again in the next 24 hours – to pass along an update on our various triumphs and woes (and more woes) of recent months.
I’ve fallen far behind in personal communications with all of you who’ve expressed support and concern, for which I apologize. While I keep digging my way out of that hole, here’s a more general update for you all.
When we last left off, my 55th birthday in November found me, effectively, sick, homeless, and dangerously broke. A number of you were incredibly generous, financially and otherwise. My profound thanks for all of you who’ve helped us get through this incredibly difficult period in our lives. Special thanks to Bill Bradburd, Tim Morley, Ian Hagemann, and Gyan Davies for really going above and beyond on some logistical matters. But everyone’s support has helped. And now it’s spring (yay!), and we think renewal, and stability, is finally at hand.
The bad news is that this winter, quite a few additional things went south after that appeal in November. (If this is too much dull detail, just skip to the “Where We Are Now” bit.) In no particular order:
Housing: There have been two separate apartments, one in Seattle’s University District and one on Capitol Hill, where we signed leases (in August and November 2014 respectively) and then found that my fiance, Revel, was unable to stay there due to developing multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), a new complication to her multiple sclerosis. We successfully transferred the U-District lease to a new tenant (finally!) in December. But the Capitol Hill place that we were so hopeful about at my birthday turned out to be even more toxic than the first place (mold, solvents, and other contaminants) – even though Revel lived without any problems in the same building years ago. It’s now so dangerous, in fact, that among other things, it makes Revel’s breathing extremely difficult when she’s exposed to the apartment or to anything or anyone that’s recently been in contact with it, to the point that we lost several thousand dollars in furniture we could no longer use just because it sat in that waste site. The management, moreover, turned out to be staggeringly negligent and (in my opinion) malicious – I won’t bore you with the stories, but landlords in Seattle right now really do seem to believe they can get away with anything. Finally, out of both principle and necessity, we wound up refusing to pay rent last month – the place truly is uninhabitable, they evicted us, and it’ll all likely wind up in court.
The good news is that last month we also signed a lease on another place which is much more promising. It’s a small but extremely affordable unit in a building downtown run by the Pike Place PDA. We’re optimistic Revel can live there, but even if she can’t, I will. The building manager has worked with us over the past month to address Revel’s needs, and we’re preparing the apartment now with the hope of moving in by month’s end. (In fact, we were all set to do so last weekend when the apartment suddenly was awash in very strong – and toxic – paint fumes. Management can’t explain it, and we’re trying to clera it out. Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s been another.) We’re still optimistic it’ll work out – and finally getting a stable place we can live, after seven months of couch-surfing and homelessness, would go a long way to helping with our other problems.
Meantime, huge thanks to Bill Bradburd and his family. His daughters and their mother are in Australia for the winter (summer there!) visiting family, so they’re graciously letting Revel and I stay in a basement room in their absence. It’s been workable enough that we’ve got a stable place to sleep while we prepare the new place, and, if need be, temporarily find a separate place for Revel.
And – thanks to all of the other folks who’ve either offered ideas or a place for us to stay. It was hard for us to follow up because of Revel’s lack of mobility in recent months (that’s the next section…), but just knowing that those options were out there was a huge comfort as we worked to find a safe place for her to recover.
Health: Happily, my kidney issues of last fall have stabilized. Unhappily, doctors still don’t know why a constellation of other symptoms (weight loss and loss of balance being the two most noticeable) have been plaguing me for the last 16 months. Just yesterday I had what I believe is my fifth MRI in the last year looking for what they thought might be one of a family of rare, aggressive, and hard-to-diagnose cancers that match my symptoms, but we seem to have mostly eliminated that possibility. That’s good – and my energy has actually gotten much better this year – but the symptoms are still unexplained and worrisome.
Meanwhile, Revel underwent intravenous steroid treatments in December for an MS inflamation in her brain. It hit her hard, to the point where she spent most of the following month confined to bed. Happily, in recent weeks she’s been steadily healing and getting her strength back; the plantar fasciitis that’s been plaguing her foot for months, making it hard to stand on, also seems to finally be improving. She’s remarkable.
But, again, we keep getting hit – in two cases literally – with little things. Twice now, in December and February, we were in car accidents where I was OK but Revel got the worst of it – the first when someone backed into our parked car in a parking lot, the second when a driver ran a red light downtown and hit us in the intersection. There was also the severe allergic reaction to an escaped hamster – you can’t make this stuff up – and a host of lesser maladies. We cope, but it’s freakin’ exhausting.
Money: You have no idea how important the donations many of you sent were to us. It enabled us to get health care, health insurance, and prescriptions covered (Medicare Part D donut holes suck!); stay current so far on bills; put down the modest rent and deposit on the new downtown apartment; and, of course, stay safely housed and fed during a serious health crisis. The love and concern you all expressed has been deeply humbling and moving. I’ll be paying these gestures forward for the rest of my life.
Where We Are Now: Alas, financially we’re close but not quite there yet, and I need to ask for help one more time. Getting the new apartment in particular exhausted the last of our money, and dealing with the logistics of all this (not to mention my own health issues) has constrained my ability to work more with the candidates and writing projects that have offered me jobs or contracts. I’ve continued to be active in the community, with candidates, and with media work – most notably a new recurring column in Real Change – but I’d like be able to take on paying work. That requires moving into permanent housing, which requires money…it’s a Catch 22 you can help us solve.
I’ll be working more shortly regardless, but in the meantime we have some last pressing expenses we can’t meet. We’ll have rent, health insurance, and other bills coming up at month’s end. A lot of the furniture and housewares that we moved to previous apartments are now toxic for Revel and can’t be used by us, so we’ll need to replace them as we can. And, we need to consolidate our storage units and actually move into our new place. There’s a fair amount of furniture (not to mention books, music, housewares, etc.) that we can’t keep but that some of you might want. So we need to figure all of that out. In short, we could use money, muscle, and a day in the next two weeks or so to have a spring cleaning [out] and moving party!
Our most immediate need, though, is money – I literally, as of tonight, have less than $100 in cash and credit to last the next couple of weeks. More will be coming in soon enough, but in the meantime my best guess is that we need a minimum of an extra $2000, and more likely $4000, to bridge that gap and allow us to finally, after five long months, have a stable and permanent place to live. That, in turn, allows us both to focus on what we do best: manage our health and engage in the media, political, and nonprofit activism that sustains us and helps give back to the community.
If you can help (or help again!) financially, my PayPal account – which also takes credit cards – is here. Use the “send” tab and enter my e-mail as geovparrish(at)gmail(dot)com.
If you want to mail something, my mailing address is PO Box 85541, Seattle WA 98145. If you help out with our move or with other resources, please give me a call or text: 206-719-6947. And once again, feel free to pass this update and appeal on to others. Your help and concern have done more than you can imagine to help us weather this remarkable cascade of events – and reaffirm our faith in community and the possibilities for a better world. Thanks!
With love and appreciation, Geov.