This is an LJ community auction to benefit theotoky.
The first time I met theotoky, who I originally knew from online, we had lunch in cafe in Union Square. Towards the end of the meal her cellphone rang, and as she answered it I watched her shrink and cringe away from me and everyone until she was half hiding under the table at the cafe we were at.
The caller was her then husband. "He just worries about me," she said.
A year later she called me at work and asked if we could meet for lunch. We sat in an Au Bon Pain in midtown as she told me her husband was abusive -- verbally, physically and sexually. She'd been working full-time to pay for him to get his degree and well, you get the idea. She wanted to leave. She was afraid he'd kill her cats. We made a plan, and Maria got out, although among other things she had to declare bankruptcy along the way. This was well over a decade ago.
Since then, Maria's moved across the continent and back, and we've kept in touch through all of it -- a second husband, step-kids, a dramatic European lover. Today she's happily single and living near where she grew up. She's returned to her dancing and singing and guitar playing, and she's finally reentered school to get the degree she couldn't when she was supporting the abuser.
Maria's studying Ontology as a core discipline of Informatics. It’s kinda like Philosophy and Computer Science got together and had a baby (more info here: http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/ontologies.htm). Right now she has a GPA of 4.0 in her major and 3.92 overall and only has one more semester of coursework to get her BA in Philosophy (with concentration on Ontology). Afterwards she plans to work in Media Informatics as a researcher and consultant in Toronto.
Here's the thing, though. Until recently Maria was being given low interest loans by her partner in a relationship that has recently amicably ended. But Maria is still paying those loans back, can't afford her last semester on her own and can't get student loans because of that previously mention bankruptcy (note: there may be a lead on this now, but we're not counting on this happening, and I'd like Maria to get a little extra good in the world for a change).
It costs approximately $5000 for her last semester (breakdown: $296.51 per credit hour, $1200 health insurance fee, and money for books, transportation and misc. fees). She's already working full time in a chiropractor’s office and part time as a guitar teacher to pay her living expenses.
I have known Maria for most of my adult life. We've supported each other through a lot of shit and she is, on some level, one of those who got away -- not just because I had a crush on her when we first met, but because she's always been too far away for us to quite be the friends we should have been. That doesn't mean, however, that I wouldn't do anything for her, because Maria's one of two women who taught me that through small acts of problem solving any of us can, in fact, change the world.
I want Maria to graduate because she's earned it, and if I had the cash lying around for her tuition, I'd give it, free and clear.
But I don't. What I do have is you guys, and the Internet.
So Maria and I are launching an online auction on her behalf. From now until 7/15 you can post items to bid on (bidding itself will run from 7/15 - 7/30). Fanfiction, books, art, crafts, tutoring -- whatever you can think of. Auction winners will send the amount for the item won to Maria's paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and send proof of it to the offerer, and then get their cool item. You all know how this works! Please make sure to mark any donations as a gift in Paypal. Everything from good wishes to signal boosts to leads on scholarships to donations are deeply appreciated.
ETA: So far $2,000 has been raised. A second round of auctions stretching until 8/8 at 11:59pm EST is now underway.
Maria is also committed to being transparent in this. If you need to see scans of her tuition bills or enrollment or whatever, she's game. When I asked her how much of her story I could tell to get this done she said "do whatever you have to."
So here it is. Maria's been on this road for over a decade. Help her graduate.
P.S. If by some miracle more than $5,000 is raised Maria would like, with the permission of those donating, to give any extra funds to the Ten Lives Club. They helped save her beloved cat Henry back in 2006/2007. Henry was instrumental to Maria getting away from her abuser and getting the life she wanted.