Alrite, I'm ready to write about this. It's taken me a minute ... and frankly, as AWESOME as you all are ... I can't HANDLE all of the emails and messages re: the attack. I adore it, you all are INCREDIBLY kind ... but I'm just processing it and INCREDIBLY ready to release all of it.
I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I just so happen to be a people magnet. Period end of sentence.
No ownership ... nada.
This is going to be an emotional post but, again, rather than go there - I'd rather play the most ABSURDLY inappropriate song ever than something deeply sappy and truly reflective of my emotions. It's my skull laceration and I won't cry if I don't want to!
Technically speaking my body did hit the floor ... but no. I want ABSURD ...
Or Adele. This works.
So, on Thursday morning I had a 9:30 appointment with a duderino from the District Attorney's office. See, when you're a victim of attack in the state of California helps you out with medical bills, lost wages, and even assist you in providing counseling.
Did I mention that this was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT COVERED BY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA???
No BS ... literally. 100%. covered.
See, I don't have insurance. So this attack was not only a scary thing on an emotional level, but a logical one of - oh holy shit, I'm now in the hospital this bill isn't going to be fun.
Both of my parental units work in insurance - my dad is a corporate lawyer for 'em, and my mom is a writer with a SUPER gnarly niche business where she writes the marketing pieces for all of the pamphlets and anything you've ever gotten from an insurance company. She has an INSANELY successful little niche that she started when she was 25 because she had two little kids and a husband that she wanted to be around for.
Her business grew and grew and grew ... but either way, BOTH of my parents know a ton about insurance and always told me that the people that benefit from our health care system are the super rich that can afford the great coverage and the extremely poor that literally have nothing because they are covered by the government.
I always remembered that, filed it away in the back of my head - but as anyone that has a startup knows, the head is the last to be fed. I have my first fulltime employee - to keep her, I need to be able to pay her bills. (And trust writing her a check for her salary versus being able to even get my car back was LITERALLY the most painful thing ever.)
Bottom line: This site is my soul. I will see it through til the day I die. It's my thing! The reason why I'm alive. I made a promise to give myself to this website 100% when I started my journey and very literally if I die in the process - so be it. It sure beats the first 24 years of my life where I was dead mentally.
Insurance is an EXTREME luxury for someone like me. I make enough to keep my apartment, put beer in my belly, and eat a steady diet of spaghetti - but other than that everything has to go back into the site in one capacity or another.
But again, remembering what my parents always taught me growing up - not only was I low income enough to qualify for some of these programs, but not having insurance was also an insurance policy in and of itself since again it was supposed to be covered by the government.
All good on a theoretical basis, but SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME when everything happened.
My phone rang off the hook in the days after the attack.
Not only do detectives reach out to you, but also this fucker's probation officer (since he was on probation from something that happened last year, as well as the fact that when he hit me he was also wanted for some other felony).
It was nuts; I tried keeping cool about the whole thing, but my head in and of itself was still throbbing from the concussion and my general sense of what "was" and "was not" was skewed greatly.
<tangent> Dudes, I had to go and get some twine at CVS for our live stage show (next one is on the 24th!!) and I couldn't figure out how much twine I was going to need, so I wound up buying two. Lemme break that down one more time - I only needed prolly a foot or less of twine, but because I was literally still SO out of it, I bought TWO and am now the proud owner of over 40 feet of twine. My brain couldn't process the right amount. So weird. </tangent>
My brain had definitely left the building at that point.
The next few days were still shaky. I slept a lot, had extreme mood swings, could absolutely not focus on a single work task ... it was horrible.
Later that week, it was time to take out the staples. The doctor in the ER told me I needed to keep them in for a week then see a doctor again to take them out.
See a doctor again? I thought. Do you have ANY idea how much money THIS visit is going to cost me? Let alone ANOTHER one??
Um, doctor - I said sheepishly. I have no insurance. Do you have any suggestions on clinics or anything?
Try the Venice Family Clinic he said, or worst case scenario you can always come back here - we can't refuse to treat someone.
Yeah yeah yeah, I thought. Anything with the words FREE or CLINIC in it sound right about where my budget is, so lemme just deal with this myself.
When Friday came around I did what any good nerd would do when faced with a problem like this - I turned to the internet!!
I then asked my twitter buds if anyone had ever taken their own staples out before, and if this was a painful process or not. See, I wasn't sure if they had some sort of jagged edge at the bottom - or if it was a straight pull up. I could handle a straight pull up but anything jagged was going to risk infecting the laceration, and I'm risky - but not fucking stupid.
Twitter was 50/50 on what I should do. Logic told me to figure out my finances (since again, I'm SURE the government would cover it somehow), but I couldn't stop my curiosity.
One of the staples was pretty loose, so I thought - fine, I'll just try this one.
I went into the bathroom, grabbed my pair of super heavy duty tweezers, parted my hair - and with one very quick pull up I. screamed. like. a. banshee.
That was not only the dumbest thing I have ever tried to do in my life, but also the MOST PAINFUL.
Staples should be removed only by a doctor. Period end of sentence.
I am glad I tried just to kill the curious cat in the room, but out of all of the things I have done in my life - that was ABSOLUTELY the dumbest.
I went back into my bedroom and started sobbing. I couldn't take the staples out myself, (or at least not without some tequila), couldn't afford to go back to the hospital ... I KNEW the government was supposed to have programs for people like me - but how the hell do I apply for them? Where do I even start to look?
I DIDN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING WRONG IN THIS SCENARIOOOOOOOO!!! WHY WAS I HAVING TO DEAL WITH SO MUCH??
I called my parents non-stop, every day. I was so scared going through this process, so scared knowing what to do, and so scared being out in California - which is home to me - but thousands of miles away from my parents who were supposed to kiss my boo boo and make it all better.
I didn't talk to them about the bills, I figured I would just have to deal with it and put on my big girl pants and do some research.
Then this past Monday I got a call from the District Attorney's office. The staples were three days overdue at that point, and I had been researching all morning clinics. I let the call go to voicemail.
Hi Jennifer, I'm XXX with the District Attorney's office. We run a program here called the California Victim Compensation and Government Claim Board, and we hear you've been a victim of assault, and we'd like to offer you assistance in paying your bills.
I listened to the voicemail, and genuinely wondered ... God? Did you actually hear me? Have my prayers been answered? (ps. I'm an atheist with buddhist leanings)
I immediately called the duderino right back, and scheduled an appointment for this past Thursday.
9:30 work for you, he asked?
In the morning??????????
Ugh, fine. See, one of the perks of running your own business is that I no longer have to get up at the ass crack of dawn everyday. Given, you work WAY more hours than any other job - but the whole morning commute thing is no longer.
So as nervous as I was for whatever was ahead of me on Thursday - I knew I could deal with it.
What I couldn't deal with however, was the waking up and actually being required to function before 9am.
OOOOHHHH deaaaarrrr gooooddddd ... I thought.
I am just SO not a morning person, and a LEGIT zombie for at least an hour once I'm awake - so I had to allocate that into my time allowance since I had to FUNCTION while with the DA's office.
My roomie, as perky as a peach, asked what I was doing up so early as she was getting ready for work - and I angrily replied, I can't fucking BELIEVE I not only have to deal with this, but that I have to get up early as well.
No bueno, I said as I slammed the door getting on my bike, and riding it over to the police station in Hollywood.
As I was getting off of my bike a meter maid approached me asking where my helmet was?
Are you really doing this right now, I thought locking up my bike to the post.
I don't say this to lecture, (THEN WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS, I THOUGHT), but rather as someone who rides a bike and sees a lot of accidents. People are so distracted now a days that you can't be too careful.
I smiled, genuinely not even being awake enough to care, and also knowing that he was being incredibly kind and I should really get a helmet (especially after just suffering a concussion).
So, that happened.
I then walked into the police station and went to the main front desk thingie to ask where I had to go.
The officer pointed back, and said - wait in there until you are called.
No - hi, how are you?? Nada?
All courtesy went out the door walking into the station apparently.
Shesh, here I was thinking I was the only one rocking a pair of cranky pants.
I then went inside the waiting room, in the main back "detective" area.
It's an INCREDIBLY small space, and there at the time were about 15 people waiting. From a rabbi, to a handful of prostitutes, it was LITERALLY the scariest waiting room I have ever been in.
Most of the people there had questions about their charges, this wasn't like the holding area to go into prison, but it SURE AS FUCK LOOKED LIKE IT!!!
I then started tweeting out my findings as my hands were literally shaking. Anger fueled me even more at this point as AGAIN I couldn't believe I had to see this side of the law, and fucking deal with all of this shit.
Jennifer Fry-el. Called the clerk.
Free-ul, I corrected.
The glare of the clerk made me regret my decision, but I got buzzed in and was greeted by the victim's compensation duderino.
We then went over everything. He apologized, and thanked me for being brave enough to even come and meet with him.
Brave? I thought. Oh fuck no, I need my bills P-A-I-D.
Exactly how much is covered in this program, I inquired. Do I pay a percentage and then hope I can sue the guy in civil court? what's up here?
Then came the greatest sentence I have ever heard come out of someone's mouth ...
"You are covered up to 65,000 dollars in your medical bills, plus loss of wages, plus we can help assist you through the court process and in finding a counselor."
Wait, I said - you mean one. hundred. percent? I'm not out a dime?
No, you're the victim of an attack. If you had insurance you'd have to pay, but because you don't and you don't make a lot of money nor have been convicted of a felony - you qualify.
Those are the three qualifications?
Amazing!!! How is this program funded? Strictly through the government, or private benefactors?
Through the government.
He then took all of my info, told me what to expect on court on Tuesday (first court date is this Tuesday the 14th), and even offered to have someone sit with me in court and explain the process.
This is GREAT! I said as I hugged him so UNBELIEVABLY excited that I was no longer confused nor alone in this process.
This is an amazing program you offer, please understand you are doing INCREDIBLE things for people. This has been one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me - this assistance is invaluable. I'm going to tell EVERYONE about this program.
Thank you, he said. That's why we do outreach though, not a lot of people know we're here to help, or think it's some sort of scam.
I then popped back on my bike, more excited than ever that I was going to get a grip on this situation by not only being provided with such great assistance, but a series of next doable actions in the process.
Having a fund of 65K that I could tap into as well meant I could also go back to Cedars to get my staples out. My first bill was only a grand, plus whatever the Dr. is going to charge - but I knew it couldn't be more than 5K and even then ... I'm still covered.
STAPLES ARE COMING OUT TODAY!!!! I screamed so freaking EXCITED riding my bike down Sunset en route back home.
As I got further west, I realized just how close I was to the hair salon where the attack happened, and I had yet to thank the people for saving my life.
Now is the time to do this, I thought. I have a better "grip" on the situation - all will be okay, but I have to right things on a karmic level by giving back.
I wasn't sure what to give people for saving your life. While vodka did have a degree of jest to it, it didn't seem appropriate. Flowers are kinda lame, and you never know who's allergic to those sort of things ... CHOCOLATE I thought! With Valentines day so close as well, this wasn't going to be a difficult thing to find.
I rode my bike over to Ralphs on Sunset (the one across the street from the salon), and after a solid 20 minutes of debating which piece said, THANK YOU, more than the rest - I settled on some Lindor truffles, and a card.
I thanked them for saving my life, I thanked them for my friends, for my family, even for you all.
I couldn't stop crying while I was writing it out at the cash register at Ralphs. The woman looked at me like I was insane, you're partially right - I thought, but this is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to write.
There are NO words large enough to thank people for saving your life. These people not only picked me up from the ground, but they actually WENT AFTER THE GUY!!!!!!!
People don't do things like that. Studies have been done saying that if you're ever assaulted and need help yell FIRE, not "help" because people genuinely won't respond.
I crossed the street, staring down at the sidewalk where the attack took place.
This is heavy, I thought.
I opened the door - the salon was popping with about 10 or 15 people in there.
How can I help you, greeted the old Russian duderino.
Hi - I say, trying to say my name, but immediately becoming overwhelmed with the salon having VIVID flashbacks to the attack.
Unable to say my name, I start crying.
The asian lady over by the nail section comes over and gives me a big hug - YOU'RE THE GIRL!!!!!! YOU'RE ALIVE!! WE WERE ALL SO WORRIED ABOUT YOU!!
I then muster up the strength and say, thank you for saving my life.
I don't ...
I become literally hysterical at this point. Like not a "pretty girl" cry - this was some baby seal type shit.
One of the guys comes forward and says - I chased after him for you, he hit you so hard.
I walk over to hug him, still sobbing - but forget that he's Russian, and they're not exactly "hugging" kind of people. I started to put my arm around him and then realized omg omg omg he's not hugging me back. This is weird.
Fuck it, I thought - just keep on crying.
What happened? I asked.
You saw who did this, he said.
Yeah - when we grabbed you from the ground you pointed at him. You couldn't speak, but we asked who did this to you ... and you pointed at him.
Shocked, I had a flashback of everything realizing that he was right.
OMG OMG OMG!! I DID see who did this!!!
I start crying more.
We then chased/ followed him down the street while we were on the phone with the cops he went inside this liquor store and stole some things.
Wait, he robbed a liquor store after he hit me?
Yeah!!! We were screaming for the cops on the phone telling them to hurry up! We weren't going to let him out of our sight, but we were afraid he was going to hurt one of us if we actually physically apprehended him.
After he robbed the liquor store though he not only had us chasing after him, but the store's security guard.
When we got to Hollywood and Highland the cops finally showed up with their guns drawn and got him.
I had a client at the time, but he was great and I finished his haircut when everything was over.
I continued to sob thinking how brave the Russians were in saving me. Both the men AND women, for going after him helping out some random person that they had never met before, nor wondered if they would ever see again.
The kindness of others in this moment shook me to my core.
This also explains though why his bail was set at 1.075 million dollars. He was not only on probation, had a felony warrant already out for his arrest, but he robbed the store, and attacked me within the same hour.
The guy is a fucking nut job.
The salon owners reassured me that I would know who it was when I saw him.
You saw everything, he reassured me. You might not remember it immediately, but it will come back. Just stay strong.
Do you know what he hit me with, I pressed on.
We're not sure. It had to be something small - so most likely a brick since he was able to knock you out with one swift hit; there are a bunch of loose ones outside the salon.
Thank you, thank you so much for everything. I go to court on Tuesday, and will know more as it unfolds - but thank you so so much for getting this guy.
Our pleasure, they all said.
I was prepared to offer them with some social media or website assistance since they did save my life, but I was so drained and so out of it - I couldn't.
I then crossed the street back over to the Ralphs and sat by my bike sobbing.
Hit. With. A. Brick. flashed across my mind.
I was absolutely hysterical at that point with complete disregard that this was at 10am and I was crying outside of a grocery store.
I then texted my dating coach @datingcoachb letting him know that I wasn't going to make our session that afternoon since I was so upset.
I just need to get into a better headspace, right now it's shakey, but would appreciate another appointment time.
He replied back, and the rescheduling happened. I thanked him for understanding, and biked back to the house gathering my macbook pro and charger, placing them in my backpack preparing for what might be a long afternoon at Cedars.
STAPLES YOU ARE COMING OUT!!!! I thought.
If I am going to have an emotionally overwhelming day I am going to go big or go home and get ALL of this shit over and done with.
I hopped on the city bus over to Cedars and on the way got a text from the guy I've been seeing.
YES YES YES!!! I texted back!! Oh for the love of everything good in this world, I need something to get my mind off of everything.
I would absolutely adore adore adore that - I typed.
Great! See you around 8.
My tears were then replaced with a smile. I'm not alone in this process I thought, but I have to allow people to get close to me, and allow people "in" to help.
The victim's fund duderino was right, I was brave - but not for showing up, but rather allowing so much help to come into my life emotionally, physically, and financially.
This is a big moment for me in personal growth, I thought. Here I am pretending to be this tough broad, but I'm a softie like everyone else - just with an extra bit of life experience and confidence in myself that even when the SHIT hits the fan, I always always always know what to do next, and can survive.
The staples then came out ...
And to my UNBELIEVABLE delight I got to keep them!!
I haven't decided what I'm going to do with them just yet - but your suggestions on Facebook were FABULOUS!!!
A few hours later my date picked me up and took me to dinner. When he walked through the door of my apartment I got the Biggest. Hug. Ever. which was all that I needed.
I was SO proud of myself for allowing someone to get close to me- allowing them to see me like this - and to even MORE of my delight, we didn't talk about anything that had happened in the day. I briefly mentioned that things were progressing and that I had court Tuesday, but we instead basked in the awesomeness that West Hollywood dining had to offer, and spent the night wondering if that woman at the table next to us that was SUPER drunk was on a reality show.
She certainly looked familiar, but you never know in this town.
Things just happen in life and situations can be really hard to deal with - but you. have. to. learn. to. deal. I'm okay, a bit rattled, but if nothing else this experience has opened my eyes even more to the kindness of others and the awesomeness of allowing yourself to get close to people.
The physical/emotional chapter in this case is closed - next up, is court.
And mothafucka, you are going DOOWWNNN!!!! =)