First, thank you to Mike Rogers for helping me attend Netroots Nation.
Second, NN what were you thinking going to the Rio hotel? There were around 2000 participants there with multiple ways of accessing the net but there was a ridiculous amount of money involved in having access in our rooms and most of the time there was no access.
I won't go into the gory details but it took a modern miracle to get regular access to the net. At a net convention.
Third, the rooms may have been cheap but getting into the hotel took some money in the bank. When I tried to check into my prepaid room, the hotel tried to extract $200 from my checking account as a deposit. I don't have $200 in my account.
Since I am sure they mistook me for a rock star in my Hawaiian shirt and presumed that I was going to trash the room, they tried to take my money and were not going to allow me to check in if I didn't have the money. In rooms that had been paid for already.
So I did what any activist dyke would do - I burst into tears.
That did it, the guy I was dealing with ran into the back to get the manager. They did take $50 but could someone have researched this and the technology issue before signing a contract with the hotel?
In a town like Vegas, with so much money changing hands, it is no wonder that people don't understand poverty. Well, at least this part of Vegas. Some of my colleagues are struggling the same way I am: no job, losing cars, losing places to live. We had to find the cheap places to eat in the hotel because going in a cab to another place to eat doesn't make the math work nor does one get fed.
Thankfully lunches were free. Mike Rogers did a nice hostess turn, providing us with breakfast a couple of times. Our LGBT community is incredibly generous also, offering to buy me meals on numerous occasions. I am really grateful to see the humanity in our movement, to look at each other with compassion and feed the hungry.
My roommate, the fabulous Dr Jillian Weiss, was such a rock for me throughout the conference, helping me through the hard patches when lack of resources were staring me in the face. I felt so vulnerable, what the hell I was doing there? Then she would offer a hug, a kind word and laugh out loud at one of my jokes and I would be able to push on.
But... here it comes. One morning we were having a breakfast soiree at Mike's pad and Rep Jared Polis joined us. I introduced myself as a former member of the DNC, the only Latina lesbian to ever address a Presidential convention. I am unemployed and part of the 99ers - people who have used 99 weeks of unemployment and whose safety net is gone. My income is $200 of food stamps a month.
He said that I must be happy they passed unemployment extensions last week.
"No, I am not included in that group, we still have nothing."
Congressman Polis: "Well, there are campaign jobs coming up."
Me: "No, look at my hair. People like me, my age, don't get hired for campaign jobs."
Jared Polis: "Well, dye your hair."
Me: "That takes money. I don't have money."
Polis: "Well, you can get something cheap at the drug store."
Me: "No, I don't have any money."
Polis: "Okay, well, good luck."
As he backed away from me to talk to others at the soiree, I couldn't help but wonder what will happen to us who are sinking fast.
Maybe the answer is in the hair dye section of the Walgreen's.