Patreon, Arts Heroes & Venmo – Why They Cannot Help Me Breathe

Many years ago, I stood in the back of my family’s pizza shop, where the shop meets the laundry room, and where I usually stand while my Dad makes the sauce. His body had a stillness that I know signals something is not right, and that I should probably not pose myself as a mannequin so that when he turns around he doesn’t do a double take – usually it is hilarious. I could tell from his body, and how he was positioned, today was not the day. He turned around and told me that they gave custody to my ex husband.

My heart sunk. I was building an organization here in Ambridge  –  The American Bridges Cultural Trust. I was performing for a living. I was getting my life in order, slowly. I did not see this coming. His words had the tint of one who doesn’t believe what they are saying yet says them anyway when he told me – it’s because of how you acted in court, with the crying and the saying you were abused.

I stood there in disbelief. My world shattered into a million more shards than it had been shattered when I got the divorce papers backstage at The Byham Theater during the run of Cats I was doing in 2006.

That’s where I will stop. Because this is not a woe is me. I’ve since rebuilt my life 12 times over, because people have called me names and talked about me behind my back, some my very own flesh and blood, and there is nothing like someone telling you that you can’t do something to propel you up from the bottom of a pit. Trust me, I am a professional pit climber. I know which direction is up.

Thing is, I’m tired. There comes a point when you have made so many comebacks, that it then becomes a question of why is this happening again. What is the pattern. You say, am I truly the problem ? Finally you realize, no, you are not the problem. The people you are listening to are the problem, and you let them go. You wish them peace and you let them go, and you no longer settle for the, excuse my French, the bullshit they have been serving you with whipped cream on top. That’s not pumpkin pie, my dear. That’s shit, with whipped cream on top.

For the past three months, over three months, I have been physically ill in a way that I have never been ill. My peak flow readings only go up to 390 at the highest, and that is on 40 mg of Prednisone. It does not take a Medical Professional to realize that something is not right with my breathing. My first covid test came back negative. There was a point where I was lying on the couch here in my apartment, and I could not move, I felt like I was going to die. At that point, yes, I should have gone to the hospital. I did not because I knew, with my asthma, as soon as I went into that hospital, I would be hooked up to machines. With Medicaid, my life was truly in the hands of The Medical System. Whether I lived or died was up to a person in a room who was going to decide how much my life was worth, and that is how much effort would be put into my recovery. That is what happened to both of my grandparents several years prior.  I watched my Mother lose both of her parents within months of each other, as state insurance dictated how long they lived. Was I going to the hospital on Medicaid? Not this Medicaid. No way, no how. I’ve been there before, and I know what it is like to be treated like what Americans think those who are on Medicaid are –  degenerate.

That is not the truth. In fact, the truth is, I pay into my Medicaid. I am on MAWD. I qualify for Workers Disability because of the PTSD that I suffer from, among a few other disorders including Adrenal Hyperplasia and Sjogrens Disease. I am sharing this publically, because the stigma needs to end today, and it will not end until the conversation begins. I remember as a child an Uncle of mine ridiculing people who were on welfare and state assistance. I held off as long as I could, being a single mother, because I did not want to face the shame that I would fall under when I “took” from people like him and others who paid for “the poor.”

I am here to tell you, that on a $13.25 / hour job, on Medical Assistance, I still paid $49 per month for my healthcare. I also still got the Workplace Dental and Vision, because I was able, and those premiums were not through the roof, like my employer’s Medical was, completely astronomical.

Now, because Walmart does not pay Covid leave, and the virus may have been out of my system before I was tested, in fact, the bottom of my quest lab results say, just because you tested negative does not mean you do not have covid, now, I have no dental or vision. Walmart said they would pay $200 till 2021, but one day, they just changed their minds. I am unable to get in contact with Sedgwick, their insurance carrier.

I applied for unemployment on July 28. It is now October 15th.

Today, I heard that the cast of Hamilton is getting back together to fundraise for Joe Biden’s campaign. I also was told that my Non Profit’s mission and vision is unclear, and that it is difficult for donors to want to give to a non profit without a clear vision and mission.

My vision and mission are to end abuse. I am a theatermaker. I have been making theater without any money since I left walmart. My last day was July 5th. My words, my tweets, my facebook posts, my instagrams, my tiktoks –  They are all measurable with metrics that show their reach and who they have reached. One need not reach millions, only the ones that should be doing their jobs. I have.

I have done this with nothing. Well, almost nothing. My Father has been kind enough to feed me and throw me $40 here and there for toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Also, there have been some very, very kind individuals who have made contributions to the continuance of my education as an artist in such grand ways that as I write this, I am in tears. I am not going to name them right here, because I know they are not the kind of people that do such things because they want the recognition, they do so, because they are good people who do things like this, because they want the theater to continue and grow. It is because of them, that at 1:00 am, I am up, writing, when I did not think I had anything in me to write.

I am cooped up here in this rooftop apartment, like a post modern, Italian punk Anne Frank, and I’ve gotten this far with almost nothing, I shall say. Imagine what I could do if I had money. Imagine the good change I could bring if I could actually get something accomplished, like stream effectively, or type a script in Final Draft.

I’m not going to ask you to support me via Patreon, or Venmo or Cash App.

I’m just going to tell you that I am tired. Very tired. I don’t eat shit pie with whipped cream. I don’t eat Pumpkin, either. Just send cash. Also, to the Doctor who told me before I went for my Chest X-Rays at Allegheny Health Network, that I shouldn’t be surprised if all of my labwork and x-rays come back negative and it is just “acid reflux,” please don’t be surprised when you receive a letter from an attorney, as I assure you, the pain in my chest and how I cannot breathe, is not acid reflux.


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