Friday, November 13, 2020

Black Friday VIII – Black Friday the 13th

I do this every year, but I figured with everything going on in 2020 some folks might need some good news a little early. Plus, with the way the post office is going... well, I figured giving everyone an extra two weeks wouldn’t be bad, either.

That said, I’d like to take this almost-holiday Friday the thirteenth to offer you a little hope. With some depressing facts as a lead-in.

If you’re new to the ranty blog or to me and my writing in general, you may not know that I had a prolonged bout of poverty during my path to becoming a writer. I’d been doing okay in the film industry, and then was doing okay as a freelance journalist, but when the economy crumbled in 2008, the magazine I did most of my writing for started to flounder. Within two years lagging paychecks and a few fairly mundane surprise expenses (car repairs, a sick cat, a lost filling) had emptied my savings and maxed out my credit cards.

I had nothing.

And to be clear, I mean, nothing. My partner and I lived right at the poverty line from 2009 till about mid-2012. In Los Angeles. We shopped pretty much exclusively at the 99¢ Store. Our phone got shut off. We had no internet at home, so we used the library’s wifi for everything, and while we were there we’d “borrow” a roll or three of toilet paper, tucked away in our bags. We didn’t turn the heat on for two winters in a row. I missed out on potential work (and meeting some Hollywood legends) because I couldn’t afford gas anywhere (which didn’t help things). Hell, for one assignment I had to beg one of my editors to loan me gas money so I could drive to a screening.

Three. Years. Like that. Constantly stressed. Constantly feeling like crap.

Especially at the holidays.

The holidays are awful when you’re poor because you feel isolated at a time when people are supposed to be coming together. You can’t afford to travel. You can’t afford to buy gifts for family or friends. Hell, there were times I couldn’t go to a couple nice Christmas parties because we couldn’t afford to park there (friggin’ LA).

And you feel guilty about it. You spend time stressing about if maybe there was something else you could’ve done. About the people you love who you feel like you’re neglecting. About what people think about you, being so poor you can’t even get something for your significant other or your family. 

It’s that feeling all the time. Pretty much from mid-November to mid January. Guilt and dread and shame and self-doubt. Yay! Why don’t we ever hear that holiday song?

Being poor at the holidays absolutely sucks. Believe me, I know. The past seven years have been good to me, but I still get that twist deep in my gut when the credit card reader makes the angry buzz instead of a beep.

All that said... these days I’m in a better position, and I owe a good part of that to all of you. Because for some reason you like these odd stories I tell. And if I can help some of you avoid feeling miserable this holiday season, I’d like to do it.

So here’s the deal. If you’re in that bad place right now, where you can’t afford to give gifts to your family or friends, shoot me a note at my old PeterClines101@yahoo.com address. I’ve still got fifteen or sixteen random books saved from last year (when nobody took me up on this), and I might be able to scrounge up two or three more if need be. I’ll scribble in one and mail it out to you (postage is on me, too). I’ll even throw in wrapping paper if you need it. If you know your gift-target would like a specific book, feel free toask, but I can’t promise anything, sorry (I have what I have). I’ll send them out for as long as the books last.

It’s not much, I know. But it’ll be a gift you can give someone. And maybe you can feel a little less stressed at the holidays.

Again, this is for those of you who need some help getting gifts for others. The people pulling unemployment (or not!), cutting back on everything, and feeling like crap because they can’t afford holiday gifts for family or friends.  It’s not so you can recommend someone in a bad spot who might like a book. You could do that for them—go buy them a book. And buy locally! Support your local bookstores! And comic shops! And toy stores! And state that could flip the Senate (a gift that will keep on giving).

I’m also doing this on the honor system, so if you’re just trying to save some cash or score an autographed book... I won’t be able to stop you. Just know you’re a truly selfish, deplorable person and you’re taking away what might’ve been someone’s only bright moment this season. And Krampus will probably feed you to a squale.

So... Happy Holidays.

8 comments:

  1. This is awesome. My dad died in 2010 after having cancer for 10 years, During the last few years I took care of my mom and my brother who had an addiction problem. One of the things I remember clearly from those times was the look on my dads face when he knew we were struggling to make ends meet and had no way to have a proper Christmas dinner of give gifts to each other. It would have been awesome to be able to give him a book to read during those long days in bed. So even though I don't need you to send me anything since my luck changed a few years ago, Still want to say thank you for this. We definitely need more of this in the world. Happy holidays

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    1. I'm so very sorry to hear about your dad. I can't imagine how miserable that must've been, on so many levels.

      Glad to hear things are better for you now.

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  2. I remember in my early twenties my girlfriend (my now wife) , her son and me were so poor our friends got a local church to get us groceries and Christmas presents. Luckily now I'm now my mid 30s and able to afford warhammer models on a weekly basis without worrying about food, gas or that feeling of dread when your check engine light comes on. Thank you for giving back in your own way. Your audiobooks have given my family great joy during long road trips. Hopefully someday I'll get you to sign a few of my books and talk warhammer in person.

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  3. You are a good person. I know this will make someone very happy.

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  4. I think (maybe) that some people who might want to take you up on the offer are a bit embarrassed about admitting that they're in that bad of a position. Anyway - you're a good guy for making the offer. And yes, I'm giving a little gift this year to a certain state.

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    1. It's something I've considered since I started doing this (I remember those days) and I'm sure it's a factor for some folks. It's why I've always tried to make it as private as possible.

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  5. Way to up the Classy Move stakes, sir... I'll keep reading your stories for as long as you're willing to share them ☺️

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  6. Way to up the Classy Move stakes, sir... I'll keep reading your stories for as long as you're willing to share them ☺️

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