[TW: Domestic Violence/Abuse, Depression, Self-Harm]
TL ; DR: You don’t really care, do you? This is another all-too-common story of a writer and freelancer who has been bankrupted by clients who delay or outright refuse to honor their contracts and pay in a timely fashion. As a result they are about to lose their home, and become functionally homeless, a ward of the state, and separated from their two loving cats.
REAL LIFE HORROR STORY: HAPPY HALLOWEEN
Let this serve both as a cautionary tale, and as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. For we never know, really, the struggles another is going through, but everyone we meet can be silently suffering.
For months, hell, even maybe years, if we are keeping it real, and certainly since the spring of 2015, life has been one series of calamities followed by another set of circumstances that like a pro wrestler does a diving elbow drop onto the heap that is my life.
And for the first time in my life, I’ve been reduced to living in extreme poverty, missed many a meal, forgone all the creature comforts that many of us take for granted. Having done so, in near silence. Partly out of shame, mostly out of pride. Defiance in the face of societal pressure and shame is second nature to a queer activist from the 80s.
On occasion I’ve reached out to family and friends, been the recipient of their overwhelming generosity and support. Without them, this post wouldn’t even be possible. All the while, feeling blessed, because each of them has their own struggles. There is some guilt as well, because by helping me, it would seem their situation may have also been worsened.
This is the cycle of poverty in America. One can hardly help a drowning man, if they might pull you under as well. While 2016 seems particularly marred with tragedy, shock and awe, outrage 24/7, an election cycle that seems to opened up the gates of hell, and proves that the devil really does have a twisted sense of humor, and all alongside just the day-to-day grievances we were going to encounter. It almost seems completely banal to be in the throes of financial & emotional ruin at this moment when so much of the world is going to shit.
It is considered polite to tell a person in dire circumstances to keep their chin up. Another thing altogether to then display it prominently so the next blow lands right across your jawbone. When you pick yourself up from that one, and dust yourself off, then the kicks come, this time in the gut.
This abusive relationship that I’ve been in with poverty has taken a toll. Twisted everything in my world into an endless cycle that simply perpetuates itself. There is rarely a blessing that doesn’t end up quickly falling into an abyss of diminishing returns.
Yet in spite of all that, I remain optimistic. Episodes or bouts with depression have been very brief, usually direct grief over a particularly great loss. As long as I had a roof over my head, wifi/internet connection, plenty of coffee and some smokes, then there always seemed to be hope. That was until last week. My home of twenty years, the one I’ve been able to live my fullest truth in, the one that has seen me come into myself, has been sold.
No need to tell ((you)) New Yawkers that the dearth of affordable housing is very real. That after two decades here, and the endless gentrification and disney-fication of my beloved city, it has gotten worse. That the NYC of today hardly seems possible for a young(-ish) artist to come here today seems like death by slow suicide. Yet perhaps today they all just wanna be Internet Famous, and Vine stars. As we all know how that story goes when #RIPVine happens, and suddenly the platform under which you had supported yourself falls through.
These aren’t the fist-shaking get off my lawn ruminations of an old codger, this is based on the youth that I’ve had to interview and sublet to, during the past few years to stay afloat. Ones I’ve lived with as I interrogated them about their plans, hopes & dreams, and then seen the day-to-day realities of up close. This is a cogent sociological analysis of the current economies and struggles that we all face.
To those of you raising kids, building careers, and perpetually moving onwards & upwards in a climate where you get less and pay more. BLESS YOU. You are the real heroes, and tales will be told someday of how you made it through, and are still doing worse than your parents. [Around the time they eliminate social security and we are then put out to pasture]
This is one person’s story, mine, but it is near universal in how a generation (X) is being squeezed out of relevance by two brash and loud bookends. Between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials there hardly seems any room to think about the generation leading the charge, building on what little was left, trying to school a petulant youth, and finding on either end — by our parents or now our “peers” that we ‘just don’t get it.’
This violent erasure and gaslighting, which of course ties into the trope that we are “apathetic” which has plagued us since the 80s, seems to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Or they’ve simply turned it into hagiography as a way of taking credit for shit they didn’t do. *stares dead into the camera and rolls eyes*
Yeah, I’m looking at both generations when I say that, you know who you are. I’d probably be completely dull not to be depressed given the downward spiral the last few years has offered. That the thought of suicide has on rare occasion presented itself, but been as quickly been shirked off, replaced instead with an Eyeore sigh, and “WHY BOTHER?”
Life can at times be so trying, the ever narrowing choices so perilous, that the thought of not living, without struggle, without having to decide if you want to eat or keep the lights on seems like a respite. We can ask too much of humans and oversell the idea of our ‘resilience’ and for marginalized communities especially, often do more harm than good, by perpetuating these aphorisms which are supposed to help us stay on the positive “energies” and fake our way into success. Sometimes a dose of the truth is often harder to muster, but easier in the long run.
When are the times of greatest release? It is at times, raging against it — turning that into activism. Or ignoring it all together, as an act of selfcare. Which means, if you’ve known me long, I do not suffer fools gladly, nor do I countenance to the idea that I must be polite & mannered, when the world, and even some of you (unintentionally) hold views that I am less-than, a ‘lifestyle choice,’ or not in keeping with the laws of your G*d. That to keep you from perpetuating the casual homophobia (just as deadly as casual variety of racism) in support of systemic white patriarchal mysoginistic cis-heteronormative capitalist bullshit paradigm is a very debilitating process.
*raises fist in air — loud & proud*
Fuck that. So what have I done, and how did I get here? This is a circumstance of being the only person alive (or one of a handful) who believes in my talent. That while a “job” that many of you wish & hope for me may ultimately be a death sentence. A “real job” a few have said to me. As if writing wasn’t as back-breaking and worthy enough of a living wage. That we have devalued not just writers, but all the creative endeavors to a point that hormone raging teens with a cellphone are exploited for their free labor or abilities to go viral, entertaining us, and going broke at the same time. You think because you (and everyone else) posts pithy bon mots as status updates, take pictures of stuff with your iPhone, or otherwise share with the world things that get clicks and likes, it all seems “easy.” (speaking at general, but if the shoe fits, lace that bitch right on up, and wear it to the ball betch 😐 )
Further, five years ago, I took a great risk. Struck out on my own* with an idea whose time had come (which if you know me was actually five years ahead of the curve), and something unique and found nowhere else. Ideas, analysis, and more backbreaking work, that nary a single person has complimented me on, nor taken even the most casual interest in. Yet there will be a whole chapter on what happens when you “follow your dream” and people treat you like you have broken into a Broadway Show Tune a la The Wiz. And many chapters on the ongoing struggles.
So far a rough outline looks like this: (not in chronological order)
- Preface [FYI: This post]
- Trick or Treat? A Real American Horror Story
- What Do You Do?
- Kindness of Stangers
- Push Meet Shove
- Things Not to Say to…
- NYC: Now & Then
- Life of a Writer
- Your Favorite Boogeyman
- Everything// Happens for a Reason // Must Change
- Ode to Brevity
- How Can I Help You?
- Living Like Little House on the Prairie
So the premise is that if I’ve written my way into poverty, that the only way to alleviate that will be to write my way out of it. As such, I’m hoping that by making this appeal, and using this space, and other social media platforms, that a crisis of epic proportions can be averted and transitioning into whatever stage comes next will not include me living on the street.
NoFundMe: The idea of profiting off of other people’s pain & misfortune is personally repellent. This isn’t to say that those who have done it, are bad, but that the idea is anathema to me. So if you’d like to pay me for these words, others I’ve written, things previously blogged about, or something you’d like me to write in the future — please consider paying me via Square by clicking on the image below:
My most immediate needs is a cash infusion, to the tune of $500, which if everyone who follows this blog donated just $1 for any joys it has brought you, would actually go a long way to continuing it. If (which is more likely) only 50 of you were able to sponsor this blog for $10, or maybe only 20 were able to spare $25. This would be a one-time appeal.
Also visit How Can I Help You? for an updated and hierarchical list of the ongoing needs. Most cost nothing at all.
The cost of writing even this volume of words, when one is living in extreme poverty is akin to running a marathon without a drop of water. That in order to not have such words be in the service of something while necessary is wholly selfish.