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Actually it started with a dinner invitation. A week or so before Occupy WallStreet had taken off I reached out to MinistryOfTruth (Jesse) and Slinkerwink for a dinner in our home town. My intentions were simple - I can't donate much - nor can I spare much time off from teaching children with autism to go volunteer for congressional or activist campaigns anymore. However I could afford a dinner.

Slinkerwink had declined as she had moved outta New York a while ago (sorry I didn't respond but its been crazy) - but Jesse did.

We set a date and stuck to it. Happened to be on the second day of OccupyWallstreet.

I work at a school in lower Manhattan and the protest is literally five blocks from where I work. I called him to meet up and we met down at a little coffee shop. We ended up guarding HankNYC's stuff while his computer charged and headed back over to the site.

The energy was intense even though the crowd was just starting to settle in. Drums, bass, and chanting could be heard through out the small park. Looking around it felt like home. It felt real. It felt as though the protests and spirits of decades long gone had suddenly taken root in this small section of the financial district.

After dropping off Hank's stuff we stayed a bit but our stomachs and lack of dinner motivated us to go to Astoria. MoT is an eloquent, bombastic and downright badass soul. We spent hours ranting and throwing our thoughts out at each other in a complete progressive echo chamber. It felt invigorating. It felt real.

We talked about healthcare, Obama, progressives, and everything under the sun that could be construed to have a liberal pulse. We enjoyed curries, Thai chicken wings, and fried bananas as a desert.

I had made a friend.

Its been hard for me to develop new friendships. When you're worried about rent, food, transportation, work and if you can survive - finding new people to connect with can be difficult. After we were sated with food and willing to move again we departed after a man-hug and vowed that we would return to the protests together tomorrow. I readily agreed and set off home full of a sense of purpose that hadn't experienced in some time.

When I arrived home - That all changed.

Taped upon my door was an eviction notice.

I had known it was coming - Just wasn't sure when. You see I hadn't paid my rent in two months because I choose to pay off my school debt so the school would release my college transcripts to the state so I could get my cert reinstated.

My cert had expired one month into working at my school which they then dropped my salary from 26,000 - to 19,230 dollar. I have over six years experience and am as well versed in behavioral science/ABA as most of clinicians in my field. I've found myself in the position of training teachers and formulating behavioral intervention plans when I'm not paid to do that.

I choose not to pay my rent and put it towards the school so I could keep my job. It worked and my cert has been upgraded to level 3 which is the highest I can go without having a degree. I scrambled, sold most of my electric items including my microwave, Wii, fans, amp, cd player, tv, and raised 1,850 out of the 2,400 I owed.

I thought it would be enough. I sent in the money orders and then contacted the building billing office and they assured me that everything would be fine. You see I've lived in this building for 15 years now. My father started renting for 400 dollars in the 1990's. He moved out and left the place to me and the rent is over 900 dollars now. However on the market - anyone else who moves into the exact same space that I am living in has to pay 1,200 dollars.

I went down to court and argued my case. So far because of the level I have paid the judge ruled in my favor. I thought everything was fine. A few days later my father called me and told me that he received a new notice and that if I didn't fix this soon he would take me off the lease and find someone new to live their. Someone who was able to pay on time. Now my father and I have a complicated relationship as a vast majority of people can say the same. I was stunned that he would do something like that to me. I thought he understood. I thought he knew that I was trying to make a living wage and be able to pull myself up. I know he has medical bills piling up and other stressers in his life but...

I'm poor.

Or the working poor.

I am not the middle class.

Until I can finish putting myself through school I will always be poor. That is a simple reality. Because I have (had) a microwave does not make me rich. Because I can keep my food cold - does not make me rich. Because I can turn on the tv and watch some talking head give equal time to bald face lies - does not make me rich. Because I have a computer that I had to wait two years to save up for - does not make me rich. Just because my step father works for Goldmansacs - does not mean I see a dime of his money.  

I couldn't cry anymore. I didn't want to lose my home. With each year that passes I find the dream of owning a house or even being able to afford to have a family slipping away. This was the moment I decided if I was to lose my apartment, or was on the verge of losing my apartment - then I had nothing left to loose.

It was time.

It was time for me to do something for myself that I have not always been able to do for myself. I needed to take a stand. If I was to miss this now then I couldn't live with myself. With each passing day the wealth inequality grows.

When we stand below Uganda in terms of wealth equality - We have a problem.

When Iran has a more equal system of wealth distribution than the United States then there is something fundamentally wrong with our country.

When the top 400 earners in this country control more wealth then the bottom 80% percent -

We have a problem.

When access to health care is denied because you can't pay -

We have a problem.

When the poor pay the same or if not more in terms of percentage of their income then the wealthiest of our society -

We have a problem.

When we have hundreds of applicants for one job position -

We have a problem.
When Wallstreet executives are still receiving record bonuses for bringing the country to the brink of economic destruction and then rewarded -

We have a problem.

When Corporations have more rights then the individual have have gained "personhood" in the eyes of the law -

We have a problem.

I packed my old boyscout pack and decided to forgo so many of these creature comforts that the rich say we are rich because of.

I decided that this would be my bed for now.

I decided this is where I would wake and find comfort.

I decided this would be my view and that it wasn't only for the rich.

I decided these would be the people I would share this time with - both the young and the old.

I found out progressive Kossacks come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. (Thanks for the drink again)

Living downtown has been surreal. If I lose my home I truly have nothing left to lose. I want to see a day when the American dream is real once more and class mobility is once again a reality. Right now it's not and won't be until we reinstate the Glass-Steagal act and stop the banks from hording the wealth and transferring it only upwards with the help of their corporate and republican/democrats allies.

For now I don't know what tomorrow will bring other than I will continue to live downtown until this is over. Please join me if you are in the area - You can share a drink or a mat - or a game - or a pleasant conversation. I have met more people engaged and more Kossacks than I have ever in the 8 years or so I've been a part of this site.

I can lurk no more.

I can stay in the shadows of inequality no more.

I can hope my voice will be heard.

I know I've made a friend.

We will continue to Occupy Wallstreet.

Originally posted to Tool on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 07:21 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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