Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rich Monsters and Poor Bugs

The wealthy business leaders and the powerful politicians respond to the jobless, disabled, elderly, and poor: "If it's sympathy you're looking for, look it up in the dictionary. You'll find it between 'shit' and syphilis'."

My life has been no more tragic, dysfunctional, depressing, or horrific than any wealthy celebrity that you'd see spilling their guts out on CNN's Piers Morgan show, or those we'd see on the "E" Channel, Showbiz Tonight, or one of those cheesy and tasteless reality shows. The only difference is, I'm poor; but they have the finances to help see them through their dire times and cope with their problems and broken hearts. I rely on inner circumspection, food stamps, and the charity of someone else to help me cope through my "difficulties".

And although money can't buy you love, it can provide one with some companionship, even if it means being used for your money (much like buying "friends"). Unless you were lucky enough to meet that perfect person (a soul-mate) before becoming unemployed during the Great Recession (or didn't break up because of this country's economic collapse), a single man like myself can't get dressed up and go to the local bar to pick up a fellow lounge lizard for a night of casual sex, any more than I can go to the local church on a Sunday morning to meet a "nice girl", because besides being broke, I no longer have a car to go anywhere anymore. It was towed away. Now I'm broke and stranded.

Old rich fat guys might be lonely, but too often I see them surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women 30 years younger than them - - - or married to a much younger gold-digging beauty queen. But without a job or a million-dollar inheritance, I should be so lucky. But then again, I think I'd prefer to live without that kind of companionship.

Being unemployed doesn't just mean being lonely. It also means being isolated because you no longer have the means to engage in activities with co-workers, friends, and family members. In the beginning you might have somewhat while keeping your eye on the bottom line of your checkbook, but you quickly become a financial drag or a hindrance to others. Your finances puts limitations on you. One ends up spending more and more time alone at home watching TV, rarely getting the emails and phone calls you once did. You become forgotten and excluded from everyone else's plans. Nobody calls to invite me out for a beer with them any more, and rarely does anyone even answer my emails (except for an ocassional fellow 99er). I gave up calling anybody, and I no longer expect them to call me either.

I can no longer afford to go shopping anymore, and since being unemployed for the last three years, I'm slowly seeing my clothing turn into rags. I have holes in my socks and underwear that once would have been replaced with a quick trip to Wal-Mart. But with no discretionary cash and no car, I live with what I have. If something breaks, it doesn't get fixed or the bridge on my guitar.

The world and technology is passing me by, as I can no longer buy the latest gizmos. My shoes are hand-me-downs. I sometimes sit on the front porch early in the morning and watch the neighbors driving to work. I hear about the unemployed on TV being referred to as a statistics, rather than real suffering people. To millions of Americans, the Great Recession is really a Great Depression...something that their parents or grand-parents had to once endure. They never imagined in a million years that it would also happen to them; after all, wasn't that supposed to be ancient history that we read about in our history books at school?

I know of the monotony of prison life or house arrest, never going anywhere or doing anything except for those things which I can separate into unfamiliar tasks, falsely creating a difference in the similarities between the days. Think of the movie Groundhog Day, and desperately trying to rearrange the routine of your days to provide some kind of variety in your daily life to keep from getting "cabin fever". I often lose count of the day of the week and date, and I never need an alarm clock to wake me up for work in the mornings. I sleep all times of the day and night, never knowing when I'll be awake. 

I know the isolation of being deserted on a tiny island, far away from humanity and civilization, even though I live among others as an invisible man. My lack of human contact has sharpened my writing skills as I've notice my speaking skills and social skills have declined as my inter-action other real people has dwindled. Some extra money in my pocket could have at least kept me on a barstool as babbling idiot at a local bar. As an unemployed man, besides being just lazy, I've also been accused by Republican politicians of being a drunk too.

I sometimes torture myself, fantasizing about having the money of a Wall Street banker, having the freedom to buy anything I wanted, eating anything I craved, being with any woman I desired, driving any car I wished, and traveling anywhere in the world I wanted, doing anything I wanted, and when I wanted. To be a rich god with goddesses like Charlie Sheen. Then I'd quickly awaken from my foolish reverie to look down to see a toenail protruding from my sock. Pathetic. There was a time not too long ago when I once thought I was pretty "cool", when really I was just a fool. Now I realize that I'm just an old pathetic poor fool who now has to beg for food stamps and healthcare.

It's not just being unemployed that depresses me, but it's also the stigma of unemployment. As someone who once endured the insults posted on the internet, I no longer pay much attention to them anymore. Maybe I got used to it or just stopped caring. Maybe I've become accustomed to my devalued self-worth and self-esteem, the new "norm", and can more easily accept the barbs and put-downs from others. Unemployment has ripped my identity from me, something I once associated with my work and valued as a part of my persona. But looking ahead, I never see myself driving to another job again. I fear what will become of me and what awaits me in my future. I feel anxiety all the time. Sometimes a feel as though I'm on the verge of tears. I pity myself too much. I fear the Abyss. I fear death.

I had hung my hopes as my last best chance for survival on Social Security disability, but the claim was rejected after 6 long months of waiting and wondering. Now I have nothing but another 8 to12 months of wondering some more after I filed my appeal. What will 3 (going on 4) years of unemployment and isolation and poverty turn me into? How much more broken as a person will I be? I wonder, what will my clothes/rags look like by then?

My hair has grown to almost shoulder- length, and has gotten a lot more gray - but why bother paying for haircuts if I can't afford to? I occasionally take scissors to trim around my ears and forehead, to keep the hair out of my face. Soon I'll need to tie the back into a ponytail. I might shave once a week to save on razors. Not too long ago, I was a pretty clean-cut guy. I can almost imagine how I would have looked by now if I had been living on the streets these past 6 months.

Rich celebrities don't suffer the same way poor people suffer. They have private and exclusive retreats to rehab at, and have the cash to pamper their most basic needs and desires, which can be a good distraction from the hell of poverty. I could never pity a wealthy person for their woes, even their most severe illnesses, because I know there are poor people all over the world who are much worse off than I am that have the same exact problems, but will suffer so much more without the gold-plated healthcare and special treatment that rich people get. Rich people get painkillers for their physical pain, poor people must endure the suffering.

I don't envy a wealthy celebrity, for they are like alien creatures to me, not normal humans, but more like a different species. I feel the same way about them as they do about people like me. To me, they are rich monsters, just as to them I'm a poor bug to be squashed. That's why I could never feel empathy, sympathy, or pity for them at all, nor they for me.

But of course, if I had the choice, I'd much rather be a spoiled. pampered, and wealthily celebrity, rather than living in the hell I do. And poor people could mock me, I wouldn't care, they could all eat cake.

And despite what that shrink on Fox News says: no, collecting unemployment insurance benefits last year didn't make me depressed. It's the lack of cash in my pockets today that makes me the most depressed. I suspect that the Fox News shrink probably Googled his name and saw the article I posted about him. But he was too damn cheap to donate a lousy $1 to my PayPal account on this blog. So it's people like HIM that caused my depression, not the unemployment insurance checks that I once received over a year ago...when I once believed I might some day work again (Boo-hoo! Poor me!)

Where I live in Las Vegas, in July of 2011 the unemployment rate just went up to 13.8%, so I imagine that the REAL unemployment rate must be closer to 1 out of 5 people, so there are plenty of other people to pity besides myself.

Before I reached rock bottom and was just a few days away from almost becoming a homeless man last January, if I had ever complained to by father about my woes and the unfairness of life, he would always tell me, "If it's sympathy you're looking for, look it up in the dictionary. You'll find it between 'shit' and syphilis'." That was his way of telling me that pity was a useless thing to offer anyone, and not to expect any from him. You see, he was one of those people who grew up during The Great Depression.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

1 comment:

  1. Bud,
    A great post as always!! Everything that you write relates exactly to how I feel....the loneliness and isolation...not feeling like you belong anymore...yet everyday on the news, all you hear is about some poor rich Ahole, i.e. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan etc...I felt bad about Amy Winehouse, for a short while until I thought about you, me and all of us 99ers, underemployed, etc. Like you, if a fellow 99er had not come to my aid, I would be on the street. My 20 year old car is giving me some problems so until I get it fixed, I wont even be able to make the weekly trip to the library (free). No one calls me either cuz they know that I have no money nor do they even send an email to inquire about me. I am not only invisible to the fed govt but to the entire world. Peace..