Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Girl's Guide to Homelessness (copy)

As I read Brianna Karp’s memoir, The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness, I am struck by her understanding of the word homeless. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines homeless as having no home or permanent place of residence. Karp owns a recreational vehicle (RV) that was bequeathed to her from her dad’s estate. She also owns a truck to haul the RV from Wal-Mart parking lot to Wal-Mart parking lot.

Technically, Karp has a home. She has a roof over her head. She has shelter from the elements. She is able to place her stuff such as books, toiletries and food within its rooms. She can lock the door and drive away for supplies. She is drawing unemployment and blogs on her own laptop during the day at Starbucks.

One could argue that the RV is not a permanent place because she moves it around. How many of your friends have sold their homes and moved into an RV to see the world? They see the RV as a home. They take showers in another location possibly, but still call the tin-can home.
Now, I admit, I am only a third of the way through the book. She may end up spending a night or two on a park bench and for that I will take back everything I said, but somehow I doubt it.

Karp is part of an elite group if she is truly homeless. She states on her blog by the same name as the book, “I am an educated woman with stable employment and residence history. I have never done drugs. I am not mentally ill. I am a career executive assistant – coherent, opinionated, poised, and capable. If you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn’t have assumed that I lived in a parking lot. In short, I was just like you – except without the convenience of a permanent address.”

I bounced my ideas off a co-worker who is also reading the book and she said, “But I like her.” I like her, too! Heck, I love someone that pulls herself up by the boot straps. Karp was sexually abused by her father and physically and mentally abused by her mother. She deserves better.

I just get an uneasy feeling knowing Karp will profit from the book. Why shouldn’t she? She did write it while homeless and looking for a job. Read that last sentence ironically. What about those truly homeless who need our support? What will happen to uneducated minds that might see her choice as an alternative to everyday life? Is this really something one wants to glamorize?

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