One Woman’s Fight to Rejoin the Middle Class
by Rick Newman
May 24, 2011
A few months after losing her administrative job in the summer of 2008, 23-year-old Brianna Karp got rid of her furniture, a beloved piano, and most of her books so she could move back in with her parents. When that didn’t work out, she moved into an old trailer a relative had left her, settling into an informal homeless community in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Brea, Calif. By the summer of 2009, she was living without electricity, regular showers, home-cooked food, and most basic conveniences. …” [read full story here]
Well, may I please have something with which to wipe away the tears?
First of all, it’s tempting to say that her plight is merely karmic punishment for dying her hair an egregiously unnatural color. Little wonder her own parents kicked her to the curb.
But on a more serious note: when asked what she misses the most, she relied: “Playing with my dog in the back yard. … He’s a Neopolitan mastiff. He’s really big.” So, as our finances were going down the toilet, we were indulging in an unnecessarily over-sized (speaking of unnatural) mutt that eats more than your average family in India and could eat any number of American families out of house and home? OK, that makes sense . . .
The writer of this puff-piece glosses over the particulars of Karp’s job loss, something a real journalist might’ve pursued. It turns out, according to folks who know her personally, that she routinely called in “sick” at least once a week. Sick of working a real job, I’d say — I guess she needed more time to play with her dog.
Here’s the real kicker, though. Asked what her lowest moment has been, she said:
Going through a breakup with my fiance. It ended badly with me waiting for him at a train station, abandoned in the snow in a blizzard. We met on Twitter. He was my first follower. He lived in Scotland and … got laid off. He couldn’t support the house he was living in. … And he wasn’t close with his family. So he put everything into a suitcase and ended up homeless. Then he started a website about homeless people, and discovered my blog.
We visited each other and made plans to get married. I scraped up enough money to visit him in Scotland — surprise him … . I got a surprise of my own. There was a woman staying in his house. I was shocked. … So I stayed in a little hotel … spent all my money, and after a couple of days, they both packed their bags and left. The only contact with him since then was a two-line email saying, basically, “I can’t explain.”
Well, I can certainly explain: she’s obviously an idiot with a total lack of any sound instincts for managing her financial affairs. I mean, here she is making the very pragmatic and intelligent decision to stabilize her situation by marrying another homeless person whom she met via Twitter (coincidentally, also kicked to the curb by his parents), and then spending what little money she had to go meet him in Scotland? REALLY?!
“… waiting for him at a train station, abandoned in the snow in a blizzard.” How . . . melodramatic. I’m surprised she didn’t tell us that he tied her to the railroad tracks. Now THAT would make for a truly classic version of the damsel-in-distress.
Oh, by the way, she tells us that she inherited that old trailer from a relative who committed suicide earlier that same year. Hmm … how convenient for her. That’s quite a family she’s got there, isn’t it? I was unaware that Wal-Mart is willing to let homeless people camp out in dilapidated trailers rent-free in their parking lots. I know California is a bit more, well, loosey-goosey than most places, but that nonetheless strains belief.
And speaking of truth versus fiction, that brings me to a theory suggested by several who’ve read this story, one connected to yet another, even more remarkable element of this grand saga. It turns out that Ms. Karp, who like so many others these days feels compelled to share her pathetic story and make a public display of what, in a more dignified era, used to be considered an embarrassment best kept private, has actually managed to garner a contract to write a book (which I won’t dignify by naming here, lest I give it free and unmerited publicity) and even collected an advance for it (which, of course, is all gone). It’s too bad that Oprah is off the air — she just LOVES victimology narratives depicting plucky women overcoming the challenges of life’s hard knocks and smiling through the tears (and, naturally, telling the entire world ALL about it).
Many have theorized that the entire thing is a scam, designed to get a publisher on board and sell books to a reading public with a regrettable taste for such self-indulgent, self-pitying, self-serving drekk. I’ll admit that I’m willing to entertain this hypothesis. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a creatively unscrupulous writer-wannabe with nothing worthwhile to write about has concocted a phoney-baloney story starring him/herself.
One of the most infamous instances was the case of Stephen Glass, a journalist who perpetrated serial fraud over a three-year period at The New Republic from 1995 to 1998. As detailed by Wikipedia, Glass fabricated quotations, sources, and even entire events in articles he wrote for that magazine and others. After being fired from TNR, his deceitful career was dramatized in the film Shattered Glass. Of course, rather than slink away like anyone blessed with a conscience and sense of shame might do, Glass trumpeted his repellant story in The Fabulist, a 2003 novel whose protagonist is named … Stephen Glass.
Or consider the example of James Frey and his book A Million Little Pieces. As The Smoking Gun points out, it was a complete flim-flam by this “author,” who wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw “wanted in three states.” Unsurprisingly, it thoroughly hoodwinked Oprah and her entire staff of professional bleeding-hearts (who seem almost childish in their credulity about such things).
One blogger, taking a somewhat different perspective, has objected to the way in which Ms. Karp has trivialized the issue of homelessness and distracted attention from those who really are enduring this situation, as opposed to professional dilettantes like this silly woman, who is evidently slumming and expecting to get paid for it. Read Edward Carney’s very articulate and well thought-out post here on his excellent blog “Breaking Point.”
Surely, this latest won’t be the last such “story.”