A Trip to Bountiful

IMG_4100As the year comes to an end – according to my calendar that the Patriarchy gave me and that I use all the time every day – the MSM does its yearly vomit of fake reflection to provide pretend news to distract us from our own personal reflection as well as using up leftover stock images of kids and animals and J lo.  We get the inevitable year in pictures.  One is always of some woman crying over something (as long as she is not a Palestinian crying over a Zionist attack), we get a panda bear or other fluffy beasty that Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom said would be extinct in 2020 (what is Animal Planet going to do for content in a few years?), an old proud person of colour who is in poverty but we know has character because the picture is in black and white and we know this person isn’t one of those people….

(voice drops) you know….

(voice drops even lower) those bad guys I see on cops….

We get a few snaps of proud solders returning to their families after some time killing other people’s families, someone kissing another person, and whatever aftermath from whatever natural disaster Motherfucking Nature has given us — which in this last year was a bumper crop of All Holy Hell.  A picture of America being all Americanesque and some Ethnic People with a long Traditionofmusicandfood.

IMG_4047We have the Year in Review, the WoManPersonThing of the Year, the best/worst films, commercials, cat video, pussy snatch shot from a celebrity, American Idol outtakes, etc..  Media sources know no one is listening to anything so they replay reruns to fill up the time between commercials, and I’m talking to you Colbert, or stuff together a highlights show and yes, I am talking to you Terry Gross.  The MSM make all kinds of predictions.  Angels are coming to America!!!!!  Big Foot Will Be Found!!!! Thank you Daily National Examiner Inquirer Weekly World News.  Stocks are going to tank-recover-tank or just keep tanking and recovering like this past year.  We will get or not get out of our national recession which was over in 2009 anyway…. officially….  The media make their Oscar(tm) predictions.  Political predictions as to what bag of shit will run against the current asshole.  Some writers have been posting forecasts about when the Shit will finally hit the Fan and this time, for reals, the fan and shit will be large enough for more than a few divergent bloggers to notice but Mr. and Ms. and Miss Fatasseveryone will notice too and we can laugh at them because for years they’ve made fun of us for writing about Doom and…..

And it is in this spirit, that this blogger will also crap down the neckhole of the year what we just tore the head off of and do a little year in review, but on a personal scale since I was at the center of exactly no tsunami or wild fire or banking scandal.  Nor own the rights to really cool photos.  And I don’t have many rock star friends.  And I can’t afford drugs for a VH1 Behind the Music.  So, my reflection is of a small private chunk of the known universe as a year in review is:

  • January – March, 2011.  Got up and worked in social services (10 months prior was education).  All social programs were being cut back.  Workers of 20 years frog-walked to the door. My rental property was trashed by the tenants who refused to pay rent for the final three months they were there.  They also painted several walls black.  Worked my job, paid by bills.  Restored the apartment on every weekend, taking a literal ton of trash to the dump
  • April – June, 2011. Switched jobs to get out of social services and finally work for The Man.  Along with the old social workers being put out to the curb and the Board trying to get The Poors to pay for being poor.  A new Executive Director was shipped in to make about $150,000 while starting social workers only took in $27,000.  My new job with The Man gave me a %5 increase.  After 6 years of a flat wage this now puts me at what I would have been making four years ago had I had a yearly COL of living increase (social security averages 3.5% COL).
  • July – October, 2011.  Learned completely new position and product line.  Restored apartment every weekend so I could rent it out.  Finally got a new tenant but had to lower rent on that unit by 12% because economy is so soft.  Got up and worked my job.  Paid my bills.
  • November, 2011.  Paid first heating bill of the season on the rental property.  Current rents just about cover expenses, so I pay out of pocket heat, common electric, water and waste charges, and trash removal.  Checking account hit negative 400 by the end of the month.  I create a day-by-day budget that tracks how much I can spend on coffee, tea, and other incidentals like…. food.
  • December, 2011. Following budget.  Checking account as of tonight $3.65.  Savings account $7.50

IMG_4414As I write this, I await my paycheque to automatically go into my account.  This will pay my final bills for another piece of a month.  I couldn’t sleep very well last night wondering what payments would hit my account and how many fees from Bank of America would I get ($35 an overdraft and then perhaps other fees).  And… I’m not alone.

Four years after Obama and my life looks exactly like what it always has.  Except that then I was one step ahead of total broke-ass-bitch-ass-punk-ass, but today I am less than a breath away from being totally broke.  So, what has Hope and Change done?  Nothing for my personal life that I live every day all the time.  And I am not alone.

So many personal friends are in the same situation. Changing jobs, working for the same money they made right after college.  Change the names and places and they have the same rant as I   When I read blogs or comments on articles they reflect frustration at our current political and economic situation, and tell stories about living on the edge or having just fallen over that edge.  They blame themselves, they blame others, they blame the system or The Man, but they always express the central thought that things cannot continue this way.  They do not express hope that things will change.  It is often a resignation and a mute castrated anger, the anger of an invalid that they can’t get out of bed and strangle their home attendant for being such an asshole.  As I reflect on this year.  I continue to live with room mates, but now its up to five.  I have a property about an hundred mile away but now it’s worth 50K less than I gave the bank.  I rented out most of it, but collect 14% less overall.  I pay to heat the building for my tenants so they can walk about in tee shirts in the middle of winter while I put on extra sweaters in my room in the city.  My car has 284,000 miles and a ticking lifter.  It is a gift from my mom because she doesn’t trust driving it any more.  My clothes are, in the words of Slim Shady, “ain’t about shit.”  Those I had dry cleaned have been over at the laundry and will remain there until I have money to pay for them.  I reflect that I have enjoyed no stability.  I’ve had four jobs in the past six years and moved five times. I have a Masters degree and student loans that were sold to Chase then to Citibank, and now rest for the moment with Frannie Mae, the same institution involved in billions of dollars worth of scandals.  And here I am…. looking at 40.  Wow.  Nice.  Suckadick.

But, I have it better than so many others.  I read about people with crushing student loans who are on welfare.  I hear about people going without medical treatment because it was a “prior condition.” A friend of mine got their physical check up rejected because the insurance company claimed it was a “prior condition.”  He was like, what condition, life?  I know that the social service cut backs continue in the city and hurt my former colleagues who have put in their entire lives to help The Poors but are now looking increasingly like The Poors.   I know rich people are working hard to make certain child-care centers located in the ghetto pay for themselves by charging people in and around the ghetto while cutting salaries of staff that already make 1/3 what a Board of Education teacher makes yet have to have ALL the certifications and continuing education requirements.  The Riches want The Poors to cover the costs of the destitute.  And at least I’m not in the Projects.  Or a child growing up in these strange times, having only known a nation at war.

I look back on the year and wonder.

Look back on four years and wonder.

Look back ten years and wonder.

Or maybe it’s look back in anger.

I traveled for Chrichunkwanzdawleidsolstuswinterholidaymass to visit my sister who lives out in the middle of nowhere with her two kids and a husband who had his drivers license taken away by the state because he missed a payment on child support for children from a previous marriage.  He cannot drive to work.  When my sister complained to the judge about this, the judge said for her to figure it out.  It has been almost three years and in three months, he can again drive a truck for the gas company.  On the drive out there I saw long stretches of American wilderness broken up only by strip malls, clusters of McMansions, huge megaplex gas stations, and of course, the multi-lane highways that seem to grow a breakdown lane or two every year.  The region is a countryside of exhausted farms and worn out individuals.  The dairy farms faced Get Big or Get Out ™ some years ago.  Many family-owned farms closed or failed.  The land looks spent and is carved into many gravel pits and plots marked by NO TRESSPASSING signs (the amount of signs directly proportional to the desirability of said property).  Most fields have become overgrown just in the past few years.  The shrubs have not yet taken over.  The sticker bushes are bountiful  Most of the huge barns are just about to fall down or have fallen into heaps exposing lumber that took five hundred years to grow into timbers that size to be wasted.  It looks like the Hudson Valley IMG_4107in the early 1980s when farming just died, except there is no large city to feed off of in sight.  The tannery is closed for the past three years.  It sits rotting.  Last year some drunk redneck fell into a sludge tank and drowned.  The family sued and got paid.  Flipping burgers, trading papers, or suing each other is the only way to make money these days.  And that’s not only my opinion, it’s also Warren Buffett’s.  Houses are falling apart, but brand new pick up trucks are parked in the yard.  Junk yards.  Junk in the yards.  Of course, the gas companies are coming in to economically save the day, and poison the water.  Workers are shipped in from far away.  Payments to larger land owners while smaller land owners get the run off.  One small land owner bought property to raise cows.  However, they didn’t know that they don’t own the mineral rights.  The former owner, some dude in Florida that bought and sold a lot of property in the past ten years, must have known something was up, since no one who bought from him owns the minerals under “their” land.  So the organic cows will have to be organic plus mining fluid run off.  Rents are driven up by the outside workers making it harder for the locals, most of whom rent since they can’t buy the land anymore since vacation properties have raised even the most worthless land to restrictive prices.  The house my sister used to rent, a small crap two bedroom is for sale for $80,000.00.  One third of what I originally paid for an entire mixed use property on a Main Street in a Catskill Mountain village.  Someone will buy that property from out of town and either live in it a few weekends or rent it out at a price enough to cover the new higher mortgage.  And I reflected on all this on the long drive there and back again to the tune of the clicking ticking lifter.

In this next year, I will again return to weekly blogging.  I will continue to comment on Doom and Peakeveryfuckingthing.  I will also attempt to get some more primary sources and personal stories that I hear from people that I know rather than shitting about shit I read since we all can read the same shit and after a while, hyperlinks are so 2000&9.

I don’t plan on writing any film reviews – yes, I am taking to you JHK – but I may review a book or two….  I will continue to flaunt literary norms. Use fuck a lot and “fuck-a-lot.” Write run-on sentences.  Or fragments. and generally not proofread my shti.  Capitalize Nouns and Createcompoundwords.  I’ll just stay above zero in my bank account.  I’ll eat Raman noodles.  Live with whatever many room mates.  Maybe my car will die before it gets warm again.  Maybe I will have to take a loan to pay the heating bill.  I don’t expect my life to change much in 2012.

Actually, I expect everything to change.

6 thoughts on “A Trip to Bountiful

  1. Another interesting piece of writing, part cri de coeur, part catharsis, part economic Dark Night of the Soul. Have you thought about getting into free lance journalism? It’s got to pay more than this landlord gig you’ve got going. You’ve got 2 degrees and a facility with the english language. Could you not parlay that into supplementing your income in some way, a way that does not compromise yourself. Surely you can write for money without selling out to ” the Man.” I was just watching an interview with Chris Hedges. The guy publishes a book every year, it seems like. He too is passionate about whats wrong with America, and he gets paid to point it out. Maybe you just need to find your niche, perhaps somewhere between Hedges and Kunstler. The other day I finished Steve King’s On Writing. His first book, Carrie, was rejected ten times. The eleventh time it was picked up, and the rest, is history. You’ve got something to say, and the skill to say it. Think about it.

    • Thanks for the good words. I am trying a new tactic in my writing so that I don’t just fall into ranty-mc-rant-rantville. So, I do plan on working on more details and less naked opinion and see where this takes my rather experimental blog. CH is very impressive person and quite prolific. I’m actually working on a book on education that I am hoping to have a first draft of by summer. A black comedy based on my professional experiences and research in education. If writing about the broken system can’t seem to fix it, perhaps laughing at it may. It’s at least more fun. Than crying. Unless it’s crying into one’s beer.

      • Good stuff. Having a plan is half the battle. Good luck for 2012, and with the book too. Cheers, till the next time.

  2. Well said. I think that every person in my crazed meta micro chasm of the world (which as you know differs much from yours) would agree with the sentiment 100%. Keep writing. We’re reading (or at least Chris Paleo and I are).

  3. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS.

    I don’t know why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting the same RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    • Nope. Just You. Great blog, my best part is ” Before going to Chicken, ensure your passport is applicable not less than six several days outdoors your stay.” I have been to Chicken, AK and loved the several days outdoor that I stay of the six. Please send me traffic since I could use a new car.

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