This is my interview with Angel. Angel has a website all about keeping kids safe. Helping kids is really important to her. She has had a very interesting life. Thank you for letting me interview you, Angel.
Where do you live?
I live in Palatine, IL, which is a suburb of Chicago.
What is it like where you live?
In the summer its really, really, really hot, and the mayor tells everyone to stay indoors so they don’t overheat. In the winter its really, really, really cold, and the mayor tells everyone to stay indoors so they don’t freeze! But other than the weather, its pretty neat! We have Lake Michigan, and a lot of other cool things! But sometimes I wish there was more nature here.
I know that you were homeless when you were a kid. What was it like being homeless?
Sometimes it was fun. The other homeless people were nice to me and looked out for me, and that made me feel like I had someplace to belong. Before, I had never felt like I belonged anywhere. On the streets, I always had friends!
I also liked that I could stay up as late as I wanted and go wherever I wanted, because there was nobody to tell me not to!
But it was also bad sometimes. I couldn’t watch TV or play video games like a normal kid. I could never just stay home and sit around inside. I couldn’t own much, because I had to either carry all my stuff with me every day, or hide it somewhere and hope nobody stole it! Also, I was really, really tired a lot, because when I tried to sleep outside, the police were always waking me up and telling me to go away! And I didn’t always have food to eat. Sometimes there were shelters that gave me food… but a few times I stayed in towns with no shelters. Twice, I got really sick from not having enough to eat!
Why did you run away from home?
My parents had a lot of problems and they were ALWAYS fighting, and when they weren’t fighting with each other, they were yelling at ME! I had a lot of problems myself, because I had a learning disorder, and also either ADHD or Aspergers Syndrome (the doctors never did make up their minds about which!) but back then, people didn’t know as much about kids with special needs. The teachers and everyone just thought that I wasn’t trying hard enough. So my parents were always yelling at me to try harder, and saying I was just lazy! Also the other kids at school used to make fun of me because they thought I was weird. So, everywhere I went, it felt like people hated me! The other kids at school, my parents, my teachers, EVERYONE! I was sad and angry and lonely, all the time. When I first ran away, I really thought I could just go find a new town where nobody knew me, find a new family, go to a new school, and start over as a different person. It sort of seemed to work, because on the streets nobody made fun of me and people were usually nice to me… but I wasn’t a new person. I still had a lot of the same problems I always had before.
How did you get the name Angel?
After I had already been homeless for a while, I went to a new town where I was waiting to get into an independent living program for teenagers. I met this old hippie guy named Lenny, who was also homeless. He sort of looked out for me and showed me around the town. Lenny said, the day I got to their town, good things started happening! I was always finding things, like half-full packs of cigarettes (which I gave to him, because I didn’t smoke!) and dollar bills, and random things like that. And because when I was around we always found good places to sleep. Also he said I was different from a lot of the older homeless people because I didn’t drink or smoke, and I didn’t like to just sit around anywhere. I was always getting him to go out and do things, like trying to earn money by picking up tin cans in the park. He would always tell me, “You’re an angel sent to us from Heaven!” I would tell him, “Sure, I’m the Street Angel!” He would sometimes introduce me to people by saying, “This is our angel!” And after a while, people just started calling me Angel!
I know that you have a website about stuff about keeping children safe. Why did you start the website?
I spend a lot of time with kids, because I work with kids with special needs, and I also have a lot of young nieces, nephews and cousins that I help take care of. I think kids are really important, because they’re the newest people in the world, and they’re seeing everything with fresh eyes. But I think when the world has problems, kids suffer the most because they are so young. Some adults make poor decisions… like committing crimes, hurting kids, not taking care of their own kids, making laws that make life harder for certain kids… and it’s the adults making the choices, but the kids have to deal with the consequences. I started my blog about children’s issues to sort of point out how everything effects kids, and to encourage adults to try to help ALL kids.
You wrote a book. What is it like having a book (because I am going to have one soon)?
Its REALLY cool to see your own writing in the form of a book! I self-published my book, which means I have to try to market it myself, and I haven’t had a lot of time or money to try to do that. So only about ten people have read it. This summer I’m going to get an ISBN number for it so I can try to get book stores and libraries to sell it. But I think your book will be way more popular than mine!
What is your favorite color? Why?
Red and purple have been my favorite colors since I was a little kid! I guess because they’re bright, bold, and cheerful.
What is your favorite number in Roman Numerals? Why?
Hmm, Roman numerals really confuse me, so I don’t know them all! I like the Roman Numeral V because it is easy for me to remember! But I also like 400 because it is CD, like the word… and 40 because it is XL, like Extra Large!
What is you favorite word? Why?
My favorite word is “Chaos”. I’m not sure why! I really say it a lot, for some reason. I’m always saying, “What’s this chaos?”
What is the funniest word you have ever heard?
What is your favorite type of whale? Why?
I like Beluga whales because of the song, “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea…” It’s a little kid song, but I love it! I have it on my I-pod.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 21, because I had trouble learning to drive and it just made me nervous. Finally I got it after I moved to Colorado for AmeriCorps… but I still didn’t have a lot of experience driving! Nobody knew that though. One time for part of my job, I was supposed to help drive a van full of teenagers on a field trip to a prison. (It was sort of like a “Scared Straight” program. The vans were those really big, long vans, and I had never driven one, but I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that. So when I got to our meeting place, my supervisor asked me to go out back to the gated, locked lot where all the vans were parked, and drive one up to the front parking lot where the kids and parents were waiting. I thought, “Okay, no big deal, I can do this!” I went and got the van, and backed it out of the parking lot, and everything was going well. Then, when I drove it out through the gate, I crashed into the gate! I was going pretty slowly so the gate didn’t even get dented, but it made a huge noise, and all of the parents and kids were staring at me. I had to back up again and drive through the gate, while everyone watched me! They all had horrified looks on their faces! I wanted to jump out of the van and run away! Then when I got out of the van, one of the parents said, “With all due respect, you’re not driving on this trip, are you?”
What do you think about when you are going to sleep at night?
Sometimes I make up stories in my head, but then I tend to get too excited about them, and stay awake too long. If I think about ANYTHING, my mind starts spinning, and I have trouble sleeping! Now I either listen to music, or listen to podcasts, while I fall asleep, and that helps me calm down enough to actually sleep!