Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hitting the Wall

     Well, I guess this is it, then.
     It won't even be worth putting the air conditioner in the bedroom window because, barring a miracle, it looks as if we'll be evicted during the summer.
     I'm sorry I was such a burden and a constant aggravation to my regular and former readers as well as the one-timers who surf in once and leave. It seems if I stay in any one person's life long enough, I wind up alienating them for a bewilderingly eclectic variety of reasons. Why should the political blogosphere of which I've been a part for going on a decade be any exception?
     Yesterday, I'd made a direct appeal to 129 current and former contributors to Pottersville over the years whom I thought would be the likeliest to help us out this month. With one exception, everyone had ignored my plea. The public appeals I've been making here and on Twitter this past week have hardly been more successful. And it seems we've lost our second, and final, big benefactor, someone who's been more than generous with us these past couple of years. And, without that particular person, we are truly screwed.
     So it looks as if we've finally hit that dreaded wall. It's not as if I didn't know this day would come. It's a miracle that people hadn't turned their backs on us sooner. And you have to try to understand how much I'd cringe inwardly, if not outwardly, every time I'd made a public or private appeal. I know what it's like: My middling acts of charity in the past have earned me more begs from those same organizations as well as having my contact information sold to other charity organizations so it seems as if I've been put on everyone's hit list. Feeding stray dogs and all.
     But I would not have been such a pain in the ass if I didn't have a fiancee and a cat to worry about. The prospect of living in a shelter is one no one ever relishes. I know- I've been there twice before. But even if there was a shelter in our locality (and there isn't), I still have Popeye to worry about. I know of nobody who can take him in.
     I defy you to tell me you would've done things differently if you were in my place, if you had someone completely dependent on you to satisfy their every need because you said over five years ago that you could do it then failed to establish self-sufficiency.
     Neither Mrs. JP nor I lost our last jobs through any fault of our own. We didn't want to live on food stamps these past three plus years nor have our applications for the Affordable Care Act get lost in a bureaucratic maze of paperwork months after submitting them. And it's not our fault we're both in our mid-late 50's and that no one in this youth-obsessed country wants to hire people our age.
     Yet, regardless of my having a girlfriend and a cat to care for and the tremendous pressure I live with day in and day out to keep this household running and viable, to keep the lights and gas on, food in the pantry, the car on the road, keeping a roof over our heads, I still haven't the right to make my problems yours.
     And for that, you have my deepest and most profound apologies. These past five plus years, applications and resumes have been dropping into the black hole of apathy and ageism. I haven't sold a single copy of any of my books in over a month. Literary agents and editors still treat me as if I'm a gnat in their ear and I've finally reached the point where I can say with absolute authority that I am now officially expendable and I've reached the end of my value to anybody and anything like a once-used Kleenex.
     I don't know how this happened. Piss poor prior planning, as Mrs. JP says, doesn't explain it all because who knew we'd live in a country where once a person hits 50 they stand virtually zero chance of getting a job or that credit background checks would become standard in the hiring process? My Dad told me years ago if I worked hard and paid cash for everything and didn't live beyond my means, I'd be OK and I believed him. Why shouldn't I have? He was my Dad.
     As contentious as our relationship has been these past 34 years or so, I began thinking about what had happened to him in the early 90's, when Digital had laid him off. He'd been with them for 15 years then got fired after rising to the level of Project Manager. He'd put 20 honorable years in the USAF then went right to work for DEC. He'd done everything he was supposed to do, was trained to do, and he got a swift kick in the ass when Ken Olsen decided to call it quits and sell out to Intel.
     Then, in an inverse revelation in that Harry Chapin song, I realized I'd turned into my father. We were both failures and after playing by the rules that had been drummed into our heads when we were young men. So I wrote to him last year and told him that. He didn't answer me back, of course, but I still wanted to let him know that he'd sent me out into the world in 1978 with sound ideas and advice. It's the world that's no longer sound.
     So, bottom line, I don't know where we'll end up after this summer but where ever that is and if I never find my way online again, please know that I have each and every one of you in my thoughts (some a little more than others and you know who you are). I am so sorry to have to been a burden on you these past five years. And I wouldn't have too regularly dumped my problems in your laps if I didn't have extraordinary responsibilities to others to fulfill with so little to honor them with.


At June 22, 2014 at 1:17 PM, Anonymous Shared Humanity said...

I wish I could help. I've been unemployed for 5 years myself, also in my late 50's. I know I've always enjoyed your comments on sites when I ran into you. I still have internet but I also go to the public library sometimes to visit my favorite websites. You should as well.

Take care.

At June 22, 2014 at 1:31 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Thanks but as I'd pointed out over five years ago, access at the local library is limited, restricted to one hour a day, their computers are outdated and you have to get put on a list and wait your turn. If we wind up living out of our car, at least we can park in front of the local cafe and use their wifi or, if we have a few bucks to spare, actually walk in like real people.

At June 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM, Anonymous Crane-Station said...

Hello, wanted to tell you that we are very sorry to see this, and we do not know you but we understand because we also have a site, and we also struggle as well.

Our power bill, for example, has been too high for us to pay recently- as high or higher than our rent due to gouging- and we thought recently we were going to have to shut down our website. We have been eating from dumpsters for a number of years. We also believe that, right now it is likely that any number of sites across the internet are struggling for a variety of reasons and so there is no need for you to apologize. You have done nothing wrong, please do not give up on writing all togehter.

If you can hold on to your computer, please investigate WiFi spots in your area. For the cost of drinks, or courtesy meals, for example, there may be a fast-food place that is able to accommodate, for a bit longer than the one-hour library limit, depending on the seating, the hours and the customers- at times those seats are empty. Good luck to you.

At June 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Wow. Just when you thought you've hit rock-bottom...

Dumpster diving (wouldn't Rush love to see everyone in the bottom 40% do that?) is something to which we've yet to resort, although it's a given that once we lose our housing, we'll also lose our food stamps. You need an address and they will find out once we're evicted. A few years ago, I made a total of $600 driving around for a couple weekends with a sign on top of my car and they found out about it weeks later and passed along the usual threats of fines, termination of benefits, jail time, etc.

I don't know why we don't replace the clowns at the SEC with the people at the Department of Transitional Assistance and have them regulate Wall Street instead of us.

At June 22, 2014 at 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could help you financially. If i had the money, I would do it, absolutely.

You may have all ready tried applying for retail jobs. I know the pay and hours can be awful, to start, especially. But we have found in our area that certain stores will hire older workers. There are stores like Sears, Lowes, and some other big box stores who prefer some older, more experienced, more dependable workers. My husband is working in retail and he says they even hired a guy in his 90s who wanted to work a day or two a week. I highly recommend applying at Lowes for instance as you will notice a good number of their employees are in their 40s and 5os. Many used to own or work at a private business but are at Home Depot or Lowes because of the benefit package and other perks like paid sick and vacation.

But having said that, I am sure you tried the retail route. We just found some jobs like that have less age discrimination than jobs in some companies and agencies. I believe if you are over 55, you can try contacting your county Area Agency on Aging who may be of some help or at least refer you to some private agencies ( I did not know they existed until I found a few for my friend) who can often help you with one months rent or perhaps pay an electric bill that is overdue. It is all temporary help but it can buy you one more month.

At June 22, 2014 at 7:41 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...


Thank you for the suggestions.The problem is (and this is a failing of the social safety net), the system forces you to game it and anything you make in the way of declared income is automatically deducted from your SNAP benefits. If I took on a minimum wage job, it would be almost literally be the death of us, especially if my hours were under 40 a week.

I'd submitted six applications/resumes this Sunday for mostly QC jobs I'd found on Craigslist so we'll see how that works out.

At June 23, 2014 at 12:14 AM, Blogger MJ said...

True - Our state job office has an older worker program that I just became eligible for. Also - I just bought your book, so that is One this month.
Catch you on the flip side.

At June 23, 2014 at 12:23 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Thanks, MJ. Which one?

Are you male or female, btw?

At June 23, 2014 at 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of suggestions and maybe even some tips. Contact your local AARP they have a senior working program. As far as your food stamps go, at least in MO if you have an address where you'll get your mail i.e. a friends house or someone with a residence, you can still get your FS. A friend of mine who was homeless used my physical addy as his address to get his FS.
One other thought or bit of info there is a site called GoFundMe. Lots of people put up pages there. You might look into some of the crowdfunding sites for some cash.
Believe me I know how you feel. Sean and I just moved a couple of months ago and I'm still digging out of that hole.

Kathy Grisham

At June 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM, Blogger MJ said...

American Zen - it is in the mail, they say. The story sounds like it'll speak to my vintage. See you have all 5-star reviews at Amazon. So I guess what you sell makes your readers very happy.
Female, why?

At June 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Oh, then you must've bought the Create Space edition, which is formatted much better than the Kindle version.

I was asking because I'm hoping the gay sex scene in Chapter 6 doesn't put you off, although almost everything happens off the page.

At June 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM, Blogger MJ said...

I got a paperback as I have no Kindle. Also, too, it probably won't put me off. Have been reading Jenny Trout's take down of FSOG lately, with no noticeable put-off reaction.
I would have thought religious affiliation would be a better predictor of put off reaction than gender... Although that might be a better predictor of hiding place.

At June 24, 2014 at 10:33 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

On Amazon and elsewhere, I'd tagged and marketed American Zen as an LGBT-themed novel, on account of the heavy homosexual/bisexual element. There are no gratuitous sex scenes and Chapter 6, in which Mike and JoJo make love for the first time as teens, is more sweet and revealing than anything. It's a vitally important chapter to remember as it continues much later in the book in what I think is a nice emotional crescendo.

At June 24, 2014 at 7:51 PM, Blogger MJ said...

I gotta admit that I never noticed the tag - or the rainbow on the cover. I just trust your writing from reading your blog.

At June 24, 2014 at 9:34 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I designed the cover, with a little Photoshopping help from my Sis Alicia Morgan. I felt the LGBT rainbow guitar tells you everything you need to know about American Zen.


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