I don’t have enough money for my expenses in May. I’m not talking moisturizer and HBO. I’m talking rent and food. I’m already on Medicaid. That was super hard to admit I needed.
Since I was 35, I haven’t needed a resume. Jobs–research gigs and editing gigs, columns, commentating spots–have shown up when I’ve needed them. My reputation preceded me and for a long time that was a good thing.
In 2017 my NY1 show was cancelled the same week that my gig as the editor of a labor journal ended. I’d held the NY1 job for 6 years. I’d been editing the labor journal for 16 years.
I still had another job–the writer of essays and reviews for Signature Reads.
Then they went out of business.
I was living off my savings, but they weren’t small. I’d received settlements and I still had a dream. My dream was to write and sell a book.
It is still my dream.
But independence has also been my dream. To support myself with money from work I like and care about.
That dream is dying on the vine.
I am humiliated. I am demoralized. I am fucking exhausted from feeling like a beggar who doesn’t have a choice–any choice. I have been offered gigs that then mysteriously dried up. I have commentated with a famous movie star who privately hated grown-up women. I have written for a medium not used by people over age 18. I have reviewed for a baby-boomer site that considered pop culture past David Crosby to be extraneous.
I could not keep those jobs no matter how much I tried.
Today I had to quit my writerspace. It is where I have written most of my book but I cannot afford its rent anymore. I cannot even afford my primary place to live.
Writing this book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It has shaken up so many memories I had not thought I could afford to revisit. My childhood was not a little bit rough. It was Rough.
More than one therapist has said that people with my background generally end up addicted to drugs or as prostitutes.
Unlike a lot of people in my milleau, I do not glamorize prostitution. My great grandmother was forced to turn tricks when her husband left her after she’d emigrated here from Poland, and it hardened her and her line.
I grew up in that energy. It was, as I said, Rough.
I am not addicted to drugs. I have not worked as a prostitute though I have often felt that I have sold myself out in one way or another.
Many people feel that way. It is to some degree the human condition.
But lately I cannot even sell myself out.
I am afraid I will lose my apartment I fought so hard in court to keep. I am afraid I will not be able to take care of Grace. I am afraid I will end up on the streets.
These fears are not invalid. These are the most likely conclusions of the state I’m in right now. Which is so anxious and depressed and foggy that I can barely sleep more than an hour at a time, let alone work on my book. Which is resentful of those with easier lives though I know very well that everyone carries burdens. Which is so depleted that I cannot afford to pay for basic living expenses.
I am healthy. I am smart. I still love and receive love.
My burden is that I am alone and have no money.
I have no safety nets. No one to carry this burden but me. No one whose life will be ruined when I fall through the cracks.
So I’m writing this here.
I cannot move forward into a future I can’t see. My worst fear has always been that my family was right that I am full of shit. That I can’t support myself doing work I care about. That I am a taker who will never make enough to give back.
There are people who help and love me all the time. Who let me cry and pay for meals and check in on me even when I don’t think I am worth checking in on. Right now I feel like I am a black hole in which they are dumping their good will and intentions.
There are also people who’d be fine with my failing. Some are my kin. Some are people I’ve failed. Some are people who just resent my light.
I feel that foul energy all the time.
My old ways of surviving no longer work. This is literal. Because I am not surviving.
I need help.
I need work.
I need help seeking work.
Because I haven’t had to actively seek work in decades, I don’t know where to start. I need advice. I need leads. I need links. I need allies. I need to know where to look for work. How to look for work. What kind of work to seek.
It’s not that different from how I feel about dating but right now I cannot even afford a romantic life. First I need to ensure Grace and I have money for food and shelter.
And once you have the stink of failure, it’s hard to attract anything else. I cannot visualize peace and stability, let alone creative achievement, to save my life. I am 48 and as close to the edge as when I first left my parents’ house.
I don’t just feel like yesterday’s lunch. I feel like an alien. It is hard to feel self-worth when you are broke in a country beset by late-stage capitalism.
I do not wish for money without work. Nor do I wish to work without payment. (It is amazing how often people ask writers and commentators to work for little to no payment.)
I wish to support myself doing work I am equipped to do. Research. Edit. Review. Commentate. Lecture. Report. Intuit. Write.
I wish to keep a roof over my head.
I wish for help.