I know there was technically never a part one to this post, but this is a more personal (or clearly personal) follow-up to my review of issues one through six of Gail Simone’s The Movement and also a request for help.
My review of The Movement seems to have gone over quite well and it truly brightened my day to have Gail read and share it and to see other people enjoy it as well and to see such positive site stat results, which are still having residual effects. I have not been able to write on my blog like I had planned when I originally started, so all of that is really encouraging and validating in terms of both my writing and my idea to start my blog. At the same time, it is discouraging or at least a little joy-dimming to be reminded of the planned posts I have not written and the new ideas I have that I do not know when or if I will get to them. So, I want to share a little about why the coolness I had and have planned (including a post on Wonder Woman, both in terms of her supposed “trickiness” and both Grant Morrison’s upcoming project itself and reactions to it) is having trouble happening.
This is difficult to start because of how much I value (and need) my privacy and the various mixes of biases, scrutiny, and policing that can occur when people share information or, worse (at least in the minds of some people), share information and also ask for help. But that is part of the problem and it is important to discuss, although that is not my main aim here. However, there is no such thing as a “good” poor person (or a “good” anyone else) because ‘all’ poor people (and all other “[category]” people) are ‘people’ and deserving of respect and care and life is really darned complex and nuanced and policing is unfair and unkind. So, please keep that in mind in general and at all times, including when you’re deriving humour from something (I add that specification because of the people I saw laughing and sharing joking infographics online about the government shutdown and how it makes no difference because the government doesn’t do anything anyways, when WIC was shut down completely and other services were pared down or shut down as well, including ones related to housing).
Now, on to why I have not been able to blog like I have wanted to and why I (and my partner) need help.
The economy is terrible. The job market is terrible. It was terrible when I spent much of last year job hunting (and also researching and writing proposals for edited collections and then researching and writing two manuscripts, both of which are still stuck in various phases of not-yet-published and which I will get scant if any royalties from whenever they are finally released and have little of the relevancy they originally did, which is part of where my blog impetus came from) and I at least had both a BA and a MAS (and still have both personal and governmental loans related to those looming over me) going for me and was, as people critical of those who are unemployed and otherwise low-income are fond of suggesting to everyone (because, of course, people without a job just aren’t trying hard enough and that’s why they don’t have jobs), applying for any and everything I could. Even though it was inadvisable with my particular health needs and limits and I had already exacerbated certain problems with the jobs I had held previously. Even though I never wanted to work in certain employment sectors again or start to enter them (again, largely for health-related reasons). And that did not even matter.
With the way our society talks about people who are unemployed, who are low income, who are on public assistance (plus those with health concerns and limits), I was making myself ill by not letting myself have part of the day for self care or even for writing many times (publish or die is even harder when you have no university affiliation (even the specific department and program I had graduated with my MAS from would not hire me because they wanted a PhD and only a PhD, even though I was one of the first graduates from their one of a kind graduate program)), but I felt that was what I had to do. And it made no difference.
I can remember earlier on, when I was first starting post-secondary education and even further forward on, when I got called back about every job I applied for and quite often got it. Part of that was the economy and another was the type of work and the type of people they looked for as a result, namely people they could easily exploit (although also once I noticed after hiring that the person hiring seemed to have composed the most recent employees almost entirely of girls who looked generally similar to me, which was … unsettling and to me further underscores the false distinctions people make between types of work they view as legitimate and illegitimate, especially in terms of how people are treated on the job). But even with that, last year was markedly different. Hearing back at all was rare, especially to express interest in having me interview but even in terms of getting a rejection notice so I would know not to keep waiting. And I finally only got hired near the end of the year, by a company not originating in the US (and thus operating with a different business methodology), in the context of part-time, telecommuting work.
It was such a relief to finally be hired, although some people did not and still do not view my job as “counting” or as “real” work, and it was especially a relief because it is actually well suited to my specific health concerns and limits and the way I need to operate to best take care of myself. That has been compromised somewhat and increasingly so because of what has turned into not a very good year at all, where I can take no self care days at all (and am somewhat limited in what I can do on those days due to finances and other concerns) and am incredibly stressed by the days when there is no work available or not as much as needed/planned (and I am running into a rough patch like that right now) because I am the only reason that the rent is getting paid and that the power and internet stay on (or get turned back on) and that other smaller expenses are also dealt with (crying from stress and strain and health problems is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you feel guilty using up something that costs money, like toilet paper).
But now that is not enough, or, rather, cannot pass as enough much longer. Which brings me to the way this year has progressed and why, even though our society feels rather strongly that it is wrong for someone who is drowning to ask for someone else to throw them a life preserver or, even worse, ask with help getting back to dry land or somewhere else where they are safe from drowning, I am going to ask anyways and to hope from the best, both in terms of no one being cruel to and policing me and to people helping us out.
I will not be discussing the circumstances surrounding my partner’s dismissal from his work, since he is still actively looking for work (and unlike me does not have the benefit of a degree, since he took the loan on the car out so he could go back and complete his AA and the school dropped the ball on their end and then he lost his job) and the company and parties involved are still very much around so discussing what happened is ‘not’ a safe idea, but, in brief, my partner was fired “with cause” near the end of January and then pleasantly surprised by being given his severance pay after all (which I will not speculate on either, but it is probably safe to say it was to placate him/apologize for what happened). He is delightfully budget minded (or at least I find his spreadsheets and such cute – and, no, no euphemism intended there) but even with scrupulous budgeting and stretching things as far as they can go, severance pay can only last so long. And because he was fired “with cause” (and possibly also because of his receipt of severance pay, because I have known people in my state to run into problems due to that reason) he was not able to qualify for unemployment pay once he had taken his savings and severance as far as they could go.
Hopefully it is clear how negative that is (and I am ‘certain’ there are people reading this who know very well how negative it can be and I do ‘not’ like those who talk as if those they are talking about are not in the audience, which was part of my impetus in proposing for and then speaking at Comics Arts Conference Wondercon back in March), but it becomes even more so because qualifying for unemployment pay is required in order to qualify for unemployment insurance on an auto loan. And based on phone calls earlier today (or at least earlier today when I’m writing this portion of the post), it seems we are ‘very’ close to losing the car. I simply do not make enough money, even when pushing myself further than I should (in order to cover rent, power, internet, gas, a monthly pay phone card because my partner’s account with his phone service was closed and he ‘needs’ to be able to make and receive calls to potential employers, etc) to be able to help with that particular problem and already do not know how I will be able to pay this month’s and the past two month’s worth of car and renter’s insurance once I receive my credit card bill next month. And, again, my partner was not able to qualify for unemployment, so the suggestions he got today from the loan company are useless because he cannot qualify for the unemployment insurance necessary to save the car.
It is incredibly demoralizing to be unemployed for so long and to receive so very few responses and to be met with no success even without the financial concerns and even without a partner who is helping you out (and thus wielding their own set of stresses). And it is also difficult because running on fumes for so long, contrary to people who think that low-income people and especially those with bad credit ratings are lazy, reckless freeloaders (actual sentiment of a comment I read this morning on an article reporting a potential law in the Senate that would prevent employers from discriminating against potential employees based on their credit ratings), means that you have to start letting credit card bills pass by without even the minimum payment (and likely have been using them to pay for things like food and toiletries and gas), may have to float utilities for a month or two and end up paying fees for lateness and possibly also to have services reconnected, and reach a point where you cannot make payments on car loans or phone contracts.
And also, even without banks pulling questionable behaviour (which they did repeatedly in fact do, making payments on my partner’s credit card with the same bank as his checking and savings accounts when there wasn’t enough money in it for that and then deducting that amount along with fees for the “problem” from his checking account, so that it accrued a negative balance and was eventually closed out, so he owes them money ‘and’ may not be able to have an account with them again), you are likely to have your bank account closed out. And after a certain point and given the conditions of the closing, that can poison you with other banks so that you simply cannot open a new checking account elsewhere at all or only can with very specific, severe restrictions that make it difficult to operate normally. That makes it difficult enough with “regular” jobs, but with ones like the one I have and that my partner may have to try for and hopefully get, you ‘need’ to have a working checking account for them to transfer payments to as a condition of employment.
Not having a working credit card also makes life extremely difficult and it can be very difficult to build back up good credit and even to get to a place where you can (and the minimum payments also keep increasing the longer you are unable to pay, to the point of reaching the high hundreds in some cases). And operating with one working credit card (mine) is better than none but it also requires a great deal of care and is also only workable for so long. And it still does not solve the bank account issue, or the lack of income, or the expenses of job hunting (two interviews with long drives for two different positions with a company this month that result is nothing but an eventual message to say they had both been filled and an extra half tank in gas costs for this month), or the now ‘severe’ danger of losing the car, which is extremely important for both job hunting and increasing the likelihood of being hired on (with a car, you can respond more quickly to calls asking for a same day interview and based on my experiences of bias (against me) in the past, employers favour people with both drivers licenses and cars because they believe they can be counted upon more to be timely than those who do not drive and/or do not have a car) as well as for things like being able to get and transport groceries and take care of other necessaries, especially with my specific needs, limits, and concerns. And also for things like being able to go somewhere where we can enjoy a nice walk, one of the few things we can still manage (since it only costs the amount of gas it takes to get there and back) and which makes me happy and which I can manage depending on how my joints (and other health related matters) are doing that day.
I won’t even mention being able to go to the Comics Arts Conference at Wondercon at all because that does not happen til mid April and right now I am too stressed and too worried and too concerned about simply surviving to be able to look forward to something and think positively, even though presenting at the one this year was such a wonderful and validating experience for me (especially being able to drive there instead of fly and having my partner with me – much lower spoon cost to me that way, as well as financial cost) and I love being able to use the little bit of leverage/legitimacy that being accepted to present at it gives me in order to mix up what is being talked about and by who (the one this year was on BDSM and Batman and the one in April will be on Catwoman and sex work if my proposal is accepted and I can make it somehow).
So, this has ended up quite long, although I do not know whether it is long enough and has said enough in order to convince anyone to help us, but I hope it has at least given some more background on why I appreciate the existence of The Movement so much, why it is important to think and consider before you speak about or to lower-income and unemployed people, and why laws such as the proposed one about credit rating-related employment discrimination are important. And also why a blog called Capes and Whips hasn’t quite delivered on its title yet.
It was very difficult for me to write this, both in terms of thinking and deciding and working up the courage to write it and to ask for financial help and also just writing it in terms of the time, energy, and physical requirements, and I am truly, deeply frightened and do ‘not’ want to lose the car (amongst many other scary financial/life concerns), but I also know my blog plans not coming through means I am not well known or well exposed and thus am not likely to receive much, if any, help. So I am going to start the funding goal at just $200. Even with the fee deducted by the fundraising service, this will let me pay the bill due by December 28th from the other bank in our area that offers checking accounts (meaning the one I hope(d) he’d be able to get a checking account with when he finally has a job and has paid off the previous bank) that my partner has a credit card with and which they have said they will report him for if they do not receive the specified payment in time. And hopefully I can also get the $20 phone card my partner needs by the last day of the month so that he has the necessary phone service for job hunting for January.
I picked the fundraising site I did because (besides the fact that the donations count as gifts and thus should hopefully not hurt me in terms of public assistance qualification, since I am the only one with a working banking account and thus the only one able to receive the funds) there are no fundraising deadlines and the payments are deposited as you go, both beneficial when I am asking for help so close to Christmas and to the end of the year and when there is a critical bill due in what is now nine more days (I haven’t had the spoons or time to manage this post til today) as well as bigger, pressing concerns (namely, the car). I also picked it because the particular constraints and strain we are under mean that I am not able to offer incentives, as is typical (or required?) on Indiegogo, and I also do not feel comfortable in promising a certain amount of posts by me when I am chronically low on spoons and also still have to work.
I can say, though, that a lessening of the strain I am under will make it more likely that I can post and post what I view as “bigger” posts (such as my long planned post on Wonder Woman where I will have to re-locate, re-read, and reference a lot of links and online discussions, as well as other information) and that my partner can do more of the fun stuff that he really enjoys and finds personally fulfilling, such as his audio production of the Green Lantern Holiday Special that Giancarlo Volpe did as a series of tweets last winter or the Rubber Dalek song he wrote and recorded in response to a piece of art someone did and posted online.
Mostly, though, I would simply like someone to throw us a life preserver and maybe even help us get to shore and also for people to not be like one commenter I saw online, who was essentially upset that The Movement allowed poor people to be main characters and showed “depressing” content (basically meaning showed people who are not socioeconomically well off). Especially right now, comics are ‘full’ of “depressing” content. It just tends to be (and I think this is where the person was making their mental distinction) in the form of knockdown drag out battles between superheroes and super powered or otherwise “larger than life” super villains and not in the form of disadvantaged people and the difficulties they face (including, as happens in The Movement and in real life, the police).
So, thank you for reading and for being kind and if you can and are willing, please donate. And if not, still thank you. It’s been a rough year for a lot of people and simply listening and being kind means a lot.