April is the Cruelest Month, redux
"Jesus fucking Christ, when does it ever end with this guy?"I've held off as long as I could from making either a private or serious public appeal for help. But our rent is due in another 17 days and other bills, as always, follow. We're getting a very slight break as I'd paid off the last of my yearly auto insurance premiums early and don't have to worry about renewing until June 24th. With spring here, I've turned off my gas heat, although it's still cold in the morning here in central Massachusetts. Thank goodness the car's running well so there are no repairs on the horizon.
But the rent is always $650 a month and always due on the first. Living in the same place for over four years does not give me a grace period because my landlord still has to make his mortgage payments and he was very quick to bandy the word "eviction" around on the one time I was late (when the DOR seized my assets back in 2011).
And I'll be frank with you: Blogging for me these days has been an onerous task and I'd love nothing more than to chuck it all and leave the punditry to those who've already been anointed by the Powers That Be and for the last 8 plus years have refused to accept me into the fold. It's a thankless, dirty business in which you knock yourself out to provide fresh content to your readership, vet and double vet your sources and try to reach hearts and minds. It requires more mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical energy than non-bloggers think and the amount of time it requires to source, write and proofread a substantial blog post (such as yesterday's, "Den of Thieves"), is horrendous. Lately, the payback has been minimal and now Pottersville gets about 200-250 hits a day on average, half of that from people looking for porn or doing image searches. Average time of engagement has been under 30 seconds per visitor.
As much as I can tell, there may be three major reasons for this, perhaps four: People are turning from me in droves perhaps because of my ceaseless criticism of the current administration, a cynicism that is shared by many more than myself. This has made me enemies from many on the progressive side. It could also be that those who were once my readers have tired of my constant money problems and begs for money, which, after almost exactly four years, is understandable.
And, as I'd posited last year in another major post, perhaps it's because political blogging's becoming passe since the Bush administration came to an end. The outrage on the left during the Bush years has since been transferred to the right during the Obama years and progressive political blogging's not as relevant as it used to be. Or it's been folded slowly but surely into the MSM.
But, to be brutally honest with you, the only reason, or the main reason why Pottersville is still getting updated is because I've found myself in the uncomfortable position of finding it my only source of income. I turned 54 last January, look every minute my age, and am finding it harder to even get interviews much less a job. Having no dental insurance in over a decade, gingivitis has cost me more than a couple of teeth and the gaps in my mouth are probably what's cost me countless jobs. Then there's my age and the fact I've been out of work for almost four years. Despite the perpetually high unemployment rate and increased competitiveness, the typical hiring manager now asks me, "Why have you been out of work all this time? What have you been doing?"
Tempting as it is to say, "It's because of hiring managers like you who are looking for people who walk on water as they deign to give interviews for jobs paying minimum wage or just over minimum", obviously I cannot tell them the truth. And if you were me, could you bring yourself to tell them, "I've been living on the kindness of strangers like Blanche Dubois as a liberal blogger?"
But I have a fiancee and a cat (who lately had a medical emergency that cost us over $300) to care for besides myself. Barb's been with me for nearly four years and I never would've asked her to come up here and live with me if I could see four years down the road and see the unceasing skein of failure that characterizes each and every day of my life. She's plainly hitched her wagon to a falling star but my disabled fiancee loves me and is sticking by me through thick and thin and I have to try to continue doing the right thing by her. That's why, like Susie Madrak and perhaps several others, I blog now strictly for whatever little money it still earns me. It does not get me TV appearances or book deals or staff positions on Media Matters or the Huff Po. For four years, we've been clinging to life on donations such as those given us by kind folks such as you.
I didn't ask for this to happen to me. I didn't lose my last fulltime job four years ago through any fault of my own and during the six years I worked there, I had no idea what was going on between 2003 and 2009. Being a blogger I knew the unemployment statistics. But to become one of them is another thing entirely and now we're a country in which college grads are fighting each other over jobs slinging hash at McDonald's or stocking shelves at Wally World. And things aren't getting easier.
Before people began tiring of us, the money we got in years past kept us comfortable sometimes for up to two months or more at a time. But the money's not there any more and the number of reliable donors has shrunk to a very small handful.
All my life, I just tried to do the right thing or what I imagined to be the right things. I got up every morning and went to work, took care of my kids or stepkids, tried my damnedest to stay caught up on my bills, not go out of my way to hurt people, stay away from gambling or drug and alcohol abuse and take care of my own the best I could. But it's obvious the system is rigged against suckers like me and the American dream has become a pipe dream, a wistful fantasy like the crow's vision of heaven in Animal Farm to keep the proles from rioting.
I'd like to think of myself as a good, compassionate human being who nonetheless admits he's done some questionable things in his life but has the moral fiber to make amends as best he can. And I have more than just myself to worry about. I live in a part of the state of Massachusetts in which there are no shelters and we would have to leave most of our belongings behind in the event of eviction since we cannot afford storage much less rent and have just the one car. We have no free clinics to which I could take Barb to get her problems addressed and treated and there's no safety net on any front for people in our predicament. And if we get evicted, what will become of our cat? He means the world to us. He's the kid Barb and I couldn't have.
And the damnable thing is I cannot even make a vague promise when this neverending litany of failure and rejection will even end. For unknowable reasons, since my layoff in 2009, I've become the most unemployable man in America. I've even lowered my standards (and self-respect) and have been forced to register with 9 different temp agencies that have netted me precisely one interview in those four years. They no longer put people to work like in the old days. Nowadays, they're paper pushers who forward along resumes to HR directors who 12 years ago weren't allowed to interview temp workers but now have first refusal rights.
I'm sure several of you will gloss over this before reading it knowing it's another beg for money and I couldn't blame you. I get begs all the time by email, snail mail and phone by people who bought my contact information because I bought a magazine subscription in palmier times or cold-called me looking for a donation. I have a keen sense of how irritating I've been. It's possible that I've even had my email address blocked by people who are tired of my problems and would prefer to never hear from me again. Once again, I cannot blame them. But to have worse luck than me you'd have to blow up a mirror factory.
As I keep saying, I'm not bullshitting you and hoarding money I don't need for a rainy day. I have a faithful, if misguided fiancee to worry about as well as a cat. It's a terrifying prospect being me.
But if you have a Facebook page, please tell others about our plight and direct them to Pottersville. If you're on Twitter, Google+ or any social networking site, please do the same. Whether or not you can help financially, you can surely spread the word. I'm not hoping this will go viral as so many other campaigns have but I'm forced, as always, to think only weeks or a month ahead of time. This is what it's like to live under constant financial insecurity. This is Bush's and Obama's America and I simply did not ask for this to happen to us.
If I have failed to reach you with these heartfelt words, then I apologize and will just chalk it up to my failure as a writer and a fellow human being to make you understand the increasingly intense state of terror I'm living under. I have less than $200 in the bank, nothing in Paypal, no health insurance and the food stamps we've been on for two years is the only thing keeping body and soul together. That and a small group of remaining donors I could fit into a phone booth.