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Author Topic: What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back  (Read 1649 times)

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Offline JR Gabbard

  • Member
  • Posts: 283
  • Union Jacks
What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back
« on: July 23, 2007, 11:55:37 PM »
Hello everybody!

  I'd like to answer the second question first.  I keep coming back to these boards because you are all wonderful human beings, and it shows in your writing.  As I read the posts here, I see my own troubles and joys through all of your eyes.  I read the posts, and I remember that I am not the only one dealing with AIDS in all its horror and, at times, glory.  (Read the thread about what the virus gave you in return for what you lost)

   I also keep coming back because y'all crack me up.  Seriously.  I always find one or two (or 50) posts that absolutely leave me rolling on the floor, with tears in my eyes and gasping for breath I'm laughing so hard.  There's a high concentration of outstanding wit in here--and some are truly sick (them's my favorites--no names, though.  That would be rude)

   So, if I'm not posting, its because I don't have anything to add, or because I have something going on in the brick-and-mortar world that keeps me away.

   Which leads me to my first question, which I shall now answer second.  What have I been up to?  Returning to work.

   In my case, this is no simple task.  Because in my chosen profession, someone at my level of experience is expected to work a 60 hour week under very stressful conditions.  Not gonna work for me.  An added complication is that I took the oath (to support and defend blah blah blah) and made my application for Social Security Disability in the same month.  Not really an auspicious beginning.

   So in order to do this, I have had to break the mold.  I had to open my own office, and figure out a way to get experience, and keep the doors open (and the bills paid).  My first step was to contact the Dept. of Rehabilitation (CA) to see if they had any support to offer.  They suggested that I apply to SSA for money to open my office as a small business.  But, Rehab did pay for some really hot advanced skills classes (in trial advocacy, which is what I really want to do), that have gone a long way in making up for my odd career progression. 

   SSA gave me some money, but not enough due to a completely lame SSA worker's stupidity (bitter?  Not), but I anticipate having that problem solved soon.  Even if I don't, I have developed a work-around, which I shall describe anon.  But with what they did give me I was able to open a bare-bones office in my apartment--phone (Vonage, which saves my butt on long distance) an all-in-one fax, copier .... some software and malpractice insurance.

   So, my plan was to develop useful skills.  That is, skills useful to people with HIV.  I figured out that for me, this means housing, disability and some family law (permenancy planning mostly, or what shall we do with the kids when we're gone?)  Of these, I already knew housing and disability so I decided to focus on family law.  I found a training program with the local bar association, that would lead to court appointments (I would get assigned to the case by the court).  To make that one work, though, I absolutely needed the SSA help.  When it didn't materialize, I had to put those plans on the back burner.  They are still there.

   I decided to put housing back on the table first.  I started volunteering with a project at the courthouse, helping tenants settle their eviction cases.  I've been doing that every Wednesday for about a year now and I love it.  I also am asked (frequently now) if I will take a case to trial if we aren't able to settle it.  This came about because of the fabulous skills classes I mentioned earlier.  They know I can do it now.  Incidentally, if I were working for someone else, I would never be allowed to do this.  Most of my peers have never seen the inside of a trial court.  I've been there (damn, I stopped counting) many times.  Including this morning.  Like I said, I have had to break the mold.

   In addition to the work with our local bar, I put myself on the AIDS Legal Referral Panel (ALRP), asking for tenant cases.  They sent a few, but I have found that I can help out more through the courthouse panel.  The folks at the courthouse project know my status, and they try to steer the positive clients my way (there is usually a note in the file, cause it matters).  I always come out to these clients, and it always makes a positive difference.  For them it means--maybe there is hope.  For me--your on the right track, boy.  Keep going.

   As an aside, I have not come out to the folks at ALRP.  I shouldn't have to, since I was once a client, but they remain clueless.  Go figure.

   I started noticing something about all the clients that ALRP sent me.  In addition to their other problems, they have all needed to get onto Social Security.  I learned how to do that when I worked at PRC (a local ASO), so I added that to my practice too.  I actually really enjoy these cases, because I have so much in common with the clients.  I've said it before--there is a cool synergy when positive people get together.

   So, that's where I am.  Where am I going?  As soon as I jog loose some seed money from SSA, I will buy a laptop, projector and screen (have slides, will travel) mostly for trial presentations, but I also plan to put together some lectures on various AIDS law related topics.  Then I'll have to find someone to listen to them.

   I also have a website now.  I plan to take more SSA cases--HIV only--and use the site as a contact point.  Right now only in California, but there's no reason I can't take these cases from all over the country.  No jurisdiction problem because Social Security doesn't require a license (although it helps).  Not much content on the website yet.  Give me time.

   And a blog.  The link can be found in my signature.  I just made a new post today, on health insurance and HIV'ers.  Please stop by, and leave a comment if you'd like.  Just a word about the blog:  I was taught that there are three things you don't discuss in polite society--money, religion, and politics.  This latest post has money and politics.  These topics run the risk of starting flame wars.  That's why I'm posting them there, and not here.  I want to preserve the peace and tranquility we all enjoy on these boards.

   So that's it.  You're all caught up.  For everyone who is coming to SF for AMG, I cannot wait to meet you all face to face.  You are coming to my neighborhood.  Literally.  I live 4 blocks from the hotel.  See ya soon!!!

It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah!

L. Cohen

Offline emeraldize

  • Member
  • Posts: 3,398
Re: What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2007, 12:16:17 AM »

What an uplifting post!!!!!!!.
I would be relieved, if a client, to have such counsel.
Wishing you continued success.


Offline Robert

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,658
Re: What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 12:51:35 AM »

"...who ya gonna call..."


Offline aztecan

  • Member
  • Posts: 5,517
  • 32 years positive, 60 years a pain in the butt
Re: What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 01:35:52 AM »
Hey JR,

Great post about a great sequence of events in your life!

I think what you're doing is fantastic. Keep up the good work - I mean that literally.


"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline david25luvit

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,409
  • Member since March 2005
Re: What I've been up to, and why I keep coming back
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2007, 07:59:11 AM »
A Big Thumbs Up Good Buddy...........
Truly an inspiration to us all.
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........


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