She told me she doesn’t expect me to ever make any money. Her love for me isn’t about that. That’s what she told me during one of our rides from the train station last week. She desperately wants me to let go of the feeling of failure that burns into the pit of my chest until my stomach hurts.
“You’re a brilliant man,” she says. “I just want you to write.”
But I don’t just write. I mean, I write plenty, sure, but I also teach at this local university, because I have to bring money into this home. I have to. It’s a matter of my mental health.
And that’s my point right there. I don’t mind teaching, but I hate that shitty need to make as much money as possible, that shitty drive to make more and more money. And I hate when people do ugly things to make tons of money, and then act like they really made that cash because they’re so much smarter, or more talented than you are. You just didn’t try hard enough to do ugly, degrading shit to get ahead, they say. But don’t worry, they can teach you! Unless you’re just deficient in some way.
Seriously? Fuck off. I’d rather drop the whole game, instead, to be honest. I’d rather find some way to barter with people more and use money less, join a food co-op to keep costs down, move to a cheaper apartment that’s closer to mass transit. Less driving. Less gas. Less worry about the car dropping dead.
In fact, now that I write about it, I would gladly do whatever it takes—simplify, simplify, simplify—just to escape from the tossing and turning, all night, no sleep, wide awake and exhausted and running numbers in my head, groping for creative ways to manauever not enough cash.
If I can just convince the electric company to give me one more week, I can call them, charm them, and then I could keep them from repossessing the car until our next paycheck, end of next week. Is there any way I can set up a payment now to go through on payday? I’ll have to ask them. I’m sure they can do that. Why wouldn’t they do that? It might be time to cash in that bucket of change.
Meanwhile, my good friend, Matt, was living without electricity for three months before he finally got evicted. He lost his job because his company completely collapsed with the economy. He managed to hang on to his rat infested apartment—somehow—for three years.
When the eviction finally caught up with him, he lived in a motel for an entire Spring. He played underground poker, every night, to pay the motel bill, buy some gas and food.
His luck ran out in early Summer. He was removed from the motel, at which time he relocated to my couch for a few weeks.
He looked like he’d been through a war when he showed up at my apartment. He was carrying his clothes in a black garbage bag.
“Hey, dude… what’s up? Listen… remember when you used to say I could crash on your couch if I ever…”
I told him to shut up and get his ass inside.
He never applied for any public assistance, food stamps or welfare or housing assistance, despite my constant goading. Eventually he drove to Florida to crash with family, a cosuin or something. And, eventually, he wandered back to New Jersey—drifitng as a means of survival. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I don’t hear from Matt much anymore. I think he finally let the cell phone go for good.
There must be a lot of people like Matt wandering around the United States these days. Nomadic survivors who at least find a way to maintain their sanity, traveling from couch to couch, like Matt did/does.
What a lonely thought.
Anyway, at the very least, what Luz said during that car ride was absolutely correct. Matt, and those who have it so much worse, the millions of people in this country who are flat on their backs—these people aren’t losers or failures any more than I am.
The underemployed, the unemployed, and the homeless—we’re all refugees of our economic system, do people understand that? Can anyone glean that from inside the social fog of the mainstream media bubble? We are the battered survivors of the economic collapse that many in our country still refuse to acknowledge with critical honesty.
But a lot of people are ready to talk about it. And I’m certainly going to keep talking about it, growing increasingly louder as this crisis rages on. I’m tired of waiting for the fortunate to wake up to the suffering all around them. And I really don’t care who doesn’t like me anymore.
This is the new normal. American capitalism failed. That’s a fact. And we’re likely heading for another massive failure. We have to start dealing with that, bracing for that, preparing ourselves, collectively, for the worst that can happen.
In short, we have to get organized.
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