Tag Archives: family

Tired: Adventures in Off-the-Grid Living

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe my daily state of affairs after beginning my foray into off-the-grid living. I go to sleep tired and I wake up tired, nearly every muscle in my body aching and my back in excruciating pain. There isn’t much difference now that spring has finally arrived compared to before we lost our power. It’s a little cooler in the mornings and a little warmer in the afternoons and a little darker inside when we don’t have the generator running.

Each day water has to be drawn from the well to water the animals, flush the toilets and wash dishes, clothing in as well as ourselves. In all honestly, it’s really a farm, not just a few animals: chickens, pigs, rabbits, cats, ferrets, parakeets, a green anole, and a hedgehog. We draw 30 to 40 gallons from the well every day and store it in 5-gallon buckets.

We are working towards a set-up with solar and wind power that will be offset with the occasional use of the small generator that we have. All these things take A LOT of money, though, and we’re not exactly rolling in cash.

My depression isn’t as prevalent as it has been, so I suppose I could consider going off the grid a blessing in surprise. The stress of worrying about paying an outrageous and borderline criminal electric bill is gone. I also happen to have seven tiny month old baby bunnies that keep me company when I feel upset. It’s really hard to have a bad day when you have tiny fur rockets running around you, or sitting on your shoulder like a parrot.

I do worry about the winter that we’re going to have this year, and I hope and pray that before it starts to hit we are completely prepared for it. This is going to mean stockpiling a lot of wood to burn in the wood-burning stove. I’ve been looking into wall heaters that use propane as well but it seems everyone is giving away firewood for free and free is about what we can afford right now.

The truck is finally running and back on the road, but I still need to put a new front driveshaft in it and it needs a new muffler. Within hours of passing state inspection the patch that I had put on the muffler blew off. This really didn’t surprise me much as the hole was bigger than my fist, I just couldn’t afford to replace the muffler.
I had hoped that this year would be a lot better than last year, but that’s not really been the case so far. I know I’m only ¼ of the way into 2016, but I sure as hell hope it gets better…a lot better.

Without: A Journey in Living “Off the Grid” (The Beginning)

Off the grid is a term often used to describe a style of living without being connected to utilities provided by a business, corporation or co-op. There are a lot of people in the United States and elsewhere in the world that live in this manner, some by choice and others not so much. When you live and grow up in a country like the United States, it is expected that you have things such as electricity, running water whenever you turn the tap on, and even cable television and internet.

In some cases, it is expected to have central heat and air, with air conditioning units and wood burning stoves or kerosene heaters being considered nearly barbaric and long out dated.

If you turn the water faucet on at my house no water will come out. If you flip the light switch on you will still be standing in darkness after the sun goes down. My cooking is done on a barbecue grill and an outdoor propane powered cookstove. The heat in the house is done with the help of a wood burning stove. My family lives completely off the grid.

 

In the middle of February the electric co-op that we had power through shut our power off without notice and refused to turn it back on unless we paid something to the tune of over $2000. This wasn’t the first time they did something like this, back around Thanksgiving they did the exact same thing. I’m sure I’ve written about both events, and the fact that the co-op has never sent us a bill with any regularity but because of laws passed that make corporations more valuable than people, people suffer.

So as a result of the co-op being the wonderful little assclowns that they are, my family has had to go off the grid. We are lucky enough to have a well, and are capable enough to draw water from the well to provide our animals, plants and ourselves with the water that we need. We have a gas powered generator now to power our computers and lights in the evenings for a while. We will be powering a well pump as soon as I can get it installed.

We’ve talked about changing over to solar power, but we don’t have the money for the set ups. We’re struggling enough as it is, and buying the generator wiped out what little savings we had.

There are times, more now than ever before, that I want to just give up. I don’t want to get up in the morning because I’m tired of the struggle. I have to keep reminding myself that there are people, and animals that depend on me to get out of bed and muddle through to day.

I’d like to start a gofundme account to raise the money for a whole house generator or a solar array, but that has never worked in the past. I don’t know enough people to make something like that work. Once again I’m reminded of how much of an outcast I am because of my disability. I have no friends or family to turn to for help. So I have to go at it alone.

I blame society for my difficulty interacting with it, but that’s a story for another time. The light will begin fading soon, lunch break is over and I have work that must be done before nightfall.

 

Playing Catch-up

Where do I begin? This last month and a half has been beyond hectic. This year was supposed to be better than last and yet it has already begun to descend into a spiral of negativity. I’ve been struggling with depression from the start of the year and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

From the start, I’ve been battling with a school district that wants to receive extra funding for having a child that is ASD in their system but refuses to place that child in a classroom where they will excel. Even after writing the Virginia Department of Education nothing has gotten done except the school district threatening me for keeping my son home and out of an environment that has caused him to begin self-stimulatory behavior again and stop eating. They kept threatening to call the truancy officer every time the school was called or talked to about trying to get my son a placement. The thing that really pisses me off is the fact they refused to do any testing until he was enrolled and attending their school which is against the law.

When it began evident to me that the school wasn’t going to do anything except tell me that all the diagnosis from the doctor were wrong and he was fine in normal class I removed him from school and begin to homeschool him once again. I’m not happy with this but it is better to homeschool him than allow him to become so out of control and lost because of the teacher’s inability to control their classroom than just look for social groups for him to be involved in.

Just as I finally thought that things were going to get better I came home one afternoon (Friday to be exact) to find that the power company had shut off the electricity. They have never sent us a bill on time or with any regularity, and every bill that we have received from them (whether past due or not) has always been marked for immediate disconnection. I know I’ve written about this in the past. This time, when we called them, we were told it wasn’t their fault we didn’t get the bill and that unless we paid them somewhere around $1300 plus another deposit of $1200 and a reconnect fee, they weren’t going to turn us back on.

Fuck you Southside Electric Co-op.

It would cost less to buy a whole house generator than to reconnect power with this company so they can just shut it off on whim yet again. We don’t even have that kind of money. We’re struggling enough as it is.

So once again, we have no electricity, which means drawing water from the well manually, using the woodstove for heat, and using candles and flashlights for light when it gets dark. No power means that when my Chromebook that I’m writing on runs out of charge I have to hunt down a library or other place where I can charge it.

We are looking for a generator, but honestly, they are expensive and we’d still have the expense of the gasoline or propane to run them. Using solar panels would be a much better idea, but we don’t have enough money for an array.

So we are stuck without power, our truck is still not roadworthy and I’m fighting the urge to slit my wrists so that I don’t have to wake up every morning to this hellish nightmare in which no one gives a shit.

I also expect to lose my phone before too much longer as well which means I’ll have to hike to a library to use internet and keep up with the world.

I think the saddest and most frustrating part about all this bullshit that is going on is that fact that I am living a third-world lifestyle in a first world country. Everyone brags on America and how great it is, but it’s a lie. It’s great if you have the money to buy it’s greatness. If you have the money to buy politicians, and corporations, then yes, America is fantastic.

However, if you don’t, it’s shit.

It’s a bunch of lies that we are fed as children to encourage a sense of elitism so we can convince our children that going to war to “defend America” is a fan-fucking-tastic idea.

But it’s all a lie.

There’s nothing great about this country anymore.

It’s corrupt country that people try to rule with their own misconstrued religions.

Not so different that the countries we’re fighting against after all…

 

Razor’s Edge

I’m depressed. I know this and yet there is nothing that I can do to drag myself from the darkness. Each passing day I sink deeper and I’m left wondering why I even bother anymore. Some nights when I go to sleep I pray that I don’t wake up in the morning so the pain will end. So I don’t have to feel this torment any longer. I keep catching myself wondering if I should leave in the middle of the night, just wander into the cold dark night and let death take me into its seemingly warmer grip.

I can’t go see my doctor for help. Each and every time I have visited my doctor the answer has always been either A) antibiotics or B) we don’t treat that here but if your problem continues we’ll send you somewhere else. Somewhere else, i.e. my therapist doesn’t understand why my doctor can’t or rather won’t help. So I’m left being shoved back and forth with no one wanting to help me. This just adds to the depression.

I was managing, not doing so well but managing until my best friend disappeared. It’s funny how someone can say a cat is their best friend, but Jack was. He went missing around Christmas and I haven’t seen him since. No shelters have him, animal control doesn’t pick up stray cats, and no one has seen him. It’s like Jack just disappeared into the darkness. Disappearing is what I want to do. I know people probably think I’m crazy, but I don’t connect with people.

I can’t.

That’s part of the problem too.

Each time I get the courage to reach out and make a friend they end up brushing me off like I’m nothing. So I feel like a total failure. I can’t keep a friend for longer than a few months. I have people on my Facebook as friends, but they don’t know me. I don’t think any of them know my favorite color (red and purple), band (Disturbed), author (Edgar Allen Poe), my favorite animals (fox, rabbit, hawk), or anything really about me other than what I’ve given them in my profile. So really they aren’t my friends. I don’t talk to any of them except in passing on comments every now and then. If I disappeared tomorrow, I doubt any of them would notice. They would simply carry on with their lives and not even miss a step.

I am a ghost. At least, that’s how I feel. I move throughout this world never being noticed or important to anyone. I’m a failure.

I want to die. I want to end the loneliness.

I want to end the hurt that my parents and siblings continuously cause me.

I want to end being used like a tool.

I AM A HUMAN BEING.

I want to feel worth.

I want to be important.

I want to have value beyond what other people think that they can get out of me.

I’m tired of pretending my life isn’t falling apart. It’s never not been falling apart.

I’m tired of putting on a happy face when I’m dying.

I am tired of waking up so tired and worn out that I have to drag myself from bed to feed my chickens. I lie to myself every morning, if I don’t feed them, they’ll die. They need me. They don’t really. There are other people that would feed them.

But I need that little happiness every morning of seeing these birds running to me. I can pretend that they are running to me because they love me, not because they see me as a source of food. I can pretend they are excited to see me because they like my company. Those little lies are the only reason I haven’t slit my wrists in the bathtub.

I don’t even trust myself to shower alone anymore, I have my wife shower with me.
I don’t trust myself. I’m too damaged. I’m too broken. While some broken things can be fixed, there are others than cannot…and I am the other.  

Reflection

I will be glad when 2015 is over, this has been the worse year of my life by far. The entire year I’ve spent dealing with one clusterfuck after another, and the day before Christmas was just hell. I am depressed and have to keep reminding myself what I have to live for. I found out just how alone I was really was this year and that I really don’t have any friends, just people that wanted to use me for whatever they could get from me.

The first half of the year was rough, but I had hoped that it would get better. It really hasn’t gotten any better.

I tried my best to get a support group for the transgender community going that would encompass anyone that considered themselves to be transgender. The few people that were interested were interested in the clinics that I wanted to set up after incorporating into a non-profit, but no one wanted to help or do any work towards those goals.  

The few so-called friends that I had at the beginning of the year showed their true colors this year. It was okay for me to always drive into Richmond or further to see them or hang out with them, but they could never be bothered to come to my place. When I mentioned this to them it was always “well you’re so far away”. I’m so far, yet I can drive to them but not the other way around?

What hurt the most though is when I was told by my so-called best friend that he didn’t have the time to be my friend. Yet he had the time to abandon his daughter at her last music recital of the year to drive to Washington DC for a dinner.

So I’m left with only the people I occasionally talk to on Facebook as my friends. I can’t begin to tell you how lonely that is. I haven’t gone out since June, even before then really if you want to count going out as doing something “adultish”. Twice this year I thought we were going to lose our house. A little voice in the back of my head kept whispering ‘back to the streets for you, you incompetent dumbass’.

I’ve been given a “pre-diagnosis” of ASD, but I still, after nearly nine months, can’t find a doctor that is willing to give me a formal diagnosis because I’m an adult, and I should have had that diagnosis before now. Should have. Story of my life, there is a lot of things I should have had access to as a child but I didn’t so now I have to face life as an adult that can’t take care of himself.

I’ve been trying to get disability since June, I was told by the lawyer my insurance company contracted it would take no more that six months. Well here we are in December and the worker for my case isn’t going to decide whether or not to send me to “one of their doctors” until January. So much for six months.

I can’t work. Being around people gives me two things; panic attacks and thoughts of suicide. I feel like a total failure. The one thing I’m supposed to be able to do I can’t.

Of course in May my SUV was vandalized because I spoke on local television about being transgender. Nothing happened to the person that vandalized my truck, in fact they are most likely still walking around Amelia County free as anyone else and rather proud of the hatred they perpetrated on me and my family just because I’m different than them.

Then I was profiled by police not once but twice because of the equality stickers on the back of my SUV. This was when I was using my SUV as a ‘Farm Use’ vehicle and had the corresponding tags on it. Both times the officers didn’t know the laws and threaten me and my wife. This has contributed to worsening panic attacks every time I see a police car now. Even if I’m doing nothing wrong I start panicking when I see flashing lights or a squad car. The current climate with police getting away with murder, literally, doesn’t help at all either.

I thought that things were going to get better when I got back in touch with my parents after two years of not talking. They didn’t like the fact that I being transitioning and kicked me, my wife and our two children out of the house that my wife and I put the down payment on. We had lived there less than two months.

I thought that my relationship with my parents could truly be mended and we could all be a family again. I guess that was just wishful thinking on my part. My parents allowed my brother to treat me, my wife and my two children like trash. He yelled at us, called me a fat lesbian, a stupid bitch, a faggot, queer, and nearly every other slang for LGBT that he could think of, and my parent’s response was for me to just ignore it. They even gave him and his wife a house! Can you believe that?! A fucking house, when they took mine from me.

I tried to look past all of that though. I really did. Then my mother deleted me from her Facebook friends, because my liberal posts make her pissed off and she was tired of being pissed off. It hurt, and it spoke volumes as to where I stand in their lives. To me it said I had no place in their life. They support my brother who refuses to work. He is in no way disabled, he just refused to work. He had his gamer friends raise almost $10,000 to send him to Vietnam to meet the woman that became his wife. He didn’t work for it, and yet I’m the bad person in my parent’s eyes.

To make my year even worse, I wasn’t able to give my kids what I wanted to get them for Christmas, well…Yule. I was barely able to scrounge up $60 bucks for both of their presents. Thirty dollars each…And it makes me loathe myself just that much more. I know what it is like going back to school and seeing all the great things all the other kids got for Christmas, while you got nothing.

See, my parents decided that they didn’t want to do Christmas any more. My mother claimed it was because she didn’t want to see us disappointed when we didn’t get what we wanted, but the last Christmas I remember with them I was so happy because I got a guitar. The only thing that I had been wanting all year because at that time I idolized Garth Brooks and wanted to play guitar like he did. I was devastated after Christmas though, because my guitar had a fault in it and the neck snapped off, it was supposed to be replaced but never was…

So I know that feeling, I know what it’s like to be made fun of because your family doesn’t celebrate the coolest kid holiday of the year.

Even as I sit here writing this, I’m fighting back tears because I don’t want that embarasment, that torment for my children.

Then on Christmas eve, I find out that my truck is broken down to the point where it can’t be driven. I need about $1200 worth of parts to get it road worthy so it can pass inspection next month and I don’t have it. So now we’re stranded almost twenty miles from the nearest town with no way to get food or supplies.

I want to give up so badly.

I want this pain, this lonliness, this life to end.

I can’t even get started into the bullshit I’m going through with my mother-in-law. I am grateful that we are able to stay with her, but after two years I feel more like a slave and inconvience than a son-in-law.

It all adds to the pain, and I don’t know how much longer I can handle it.

If next year doesn’t get better…it may be my last.

 

Bitter Cold-Truth

We haven’t had electricity since Thursday when our electric company disreguarded a verbal agreement we had, refused to give us twenty-four hours and shut our power off. They claimed they would turn us back on but first we had to pay them nearly $400.00 and fork out a $1200 deposit. We have never not paid our electric bill, since we moved into the house in March of last year, we have always paid even when the electric company screwed up the billing address and didn’t send us our bill on time, or when they jumped our electric bill from barely $150 a month to well over $600. We weren’t the only people that they have done this to, we’re just the unlucky ones struggling as it is to pay the $150 bill when they dropped new increases on us after the deregulation of electric companies in Virginia.

The weather the past two days has reached below freezing both days and the only thing keeping us warm is the large firepit we dug out front during the spring and the heater in my truck. Though if I’m going to be completely honest, only half of the heater in my truck works. The blower motor for the front of the vehicle doesn’t work so it doesn’t actually blow heat in the front of the truck. We charge our phones and my Chromebook in the truck as well. However when night falls and we have to return inside the darkened house our spirits sink.

This is not how I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with my wife and two children until about three hours ago we didn’t even have a turkey.

I know when this Thursday rolls around I’ll see posts of how everyone on my friend’s list spending time with their family and gourging themselves on food while getting ready to go shopping for Black Friday and my family and I will be gathering wood for a fire, drawing water up from our well and cooking our meal over hot coals from our firepit.

This is the bitter cold truth that I wake up to each and every morning now.

Admist all of this I am still struggling to find doctors that diagnosis ASD in adults, trying to enroll our youngest in public schools, fight for SSI, and deal with depression so bad that I struggle to keep going. The only thing I can tell myself is if I give up, my children and wife will be worse off than they already are.

My wife is disabled and cannot use the chainsaw to drop trees for firewood, or chop wood with an ax. She doesn’t even have a driver’s license, and our oldest son is still too young for his. I am the only one in the family with a license and therefore, the only one able to drive back and forth to the store.

How would they be able to make it if I gave up? If I was selfish and ended my own suffering and left them alone…I can’t do that to them, my pain is nothing compared to what they would be left with.

So I keep going.

It’s really the only thing I can do. I focus on one task at a time; one item on our to do list and keep working towards something better. Though I don’t feel like anything is going to get better anytime soon.

I’m cold and tired all the time now, it’s like the dampness has settled into my bones and will refuse to leave until the spring of next year and warmer weather.
I just have to keep going.

Lost

I feel so incredibly lost right now. My Ford Explorer is still broken after replacing not only a CV axle on the driver’s side, but also a ball joint; for those that don’t speak “mechanic” it’s a pain in the ass to do either and really more money than I have to be throwing into a vehicle. This leaves me stranded in Texas with upcoming doctor’s appointments not only for myself but also for my son.

Just because I’m not having enough of a hard time the cosmos decided that I needed more to deal with in the form of our family/farm dog getting hit by a car; most likely because someone saw a pitbull and thought that the evil dog needed to die. She survived but she will now need surgery to relocate her elbow that was dislocated, more money we don’t have. What we had saved up to get home on went into fixing the explorer, which of course didn’t work.

While I’m not on the streets in Texas there are times when I feel like that would have been a better choice. My brother and father are acting hostile towards me on an almost constant basis, and I don’t know how much longer I can stand this before I break.

With each passing day I feel more and more used by people that I was supposed to be able to trust; friends, I’ve come to detest that word almost more than any other word in the English language. I don’t feel like I have anyone that I can turn to for help, or really anyone that gives a damn about what happens to me.

I don’t really know what I’m going to do, or really what I can do from here. I am beginning to feel  like I don’t have any choices other than the one that would end my existence; more and more I’m feeling backed into a corner and at a loss for everything.
I feel like if I wasn’t around, things would be easier…