Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Black Friday XIV — Santa Takes Manhattan

I know I said I wasn’t going to post much this month, but late November is when I do all my books o' the year posts. Plus, it struck me it might not be a bad thing to do my annual Black Friday offer a little early, what with DeJoy stil in office and all that...

So, what’s the Black Friday offer about, ask all the folks who never click links?

It’s about how being poor at the holidays completely, absolutely sucks.

As some of you know, I’d saved up a little film-industry money before I became a full-time writer. Even so, two or three random-but-normal problems—a sick cat, car repairs, a pay cut at the magazine I wrote for—and wham I was poor. I mean... nothing. Below the poverty line, credit cards maxed out, every paycheck stretched until it was less than gauze.

The phone got shut off. No internet. My partner and I didn’t turn the heat on for three winters in a row. We stole toilet paper from the library. Pretty much everything we ate came from the 99 Cent Store. I was working on an article and frikkin’ Shane Black offered to meet up to talk over coffee and I had to turn him down because I couldn’t afford the gas to get me across the city to where he was. Hell, I didn’t have enough money to buy a coffee. We went through three years of feeling constantly sick with despair, just waiting for the inevitable bill or emergency that’d destroy us.

On a normal day, being poor’s a constant, gut-churning feeling of tension.  Of being painfully aware of what you don’t have and what you can’t do. There are some messed up folks who love to bellow about “nanny states” and “entitlements” but the simple truth is that the vast majority of poor people don’t abuse the system. They’re way too busy just trying to survive with their home, their health, and maybe just a shred of dignity.

This deep-in-your-gut feeling’s even worse at the holidays. So much of the holidays is about giving, and when you’re poor you just... you’ve got nothing to give. It doesn’t matter how much you care about that person, it doesn’t matter how much you want to just feel normal and give them something—anything—to express that.  It doesn’t matter because you’ve got nothing.

And again... you can feel people judging you over it.  At every party or gathering or dinner.  You get judged for being trapped and powerless. Hell, even if they're not judging you, you end up judging yourself, and it just becomes this endless cycle of guilt and resentment and desperation. I hope that none of you reading this are there right now, feeling helpless and sick with despair. Because like I said before, it seriously sucks to be in that position

But if this is where you're at right now—maybe I can help.

If you can’t afford gifts for your friends or family, shoot me a note at ye olde PeterClines101@yahoo.com. I’ve got a little over a dozen books here that I’ll autograph to whoever you want and mail out to you. Or to someone else, if you need it shipped. Most of these are paperbacks of Paradox Bound, but there’s a few Ex-Purgatory and Ex-Isle, too. Think I might even have a few audiobook sets (those big cases of CDs) of different things.  If audiobooks would work better, just say so. You can request a specific book, but I can’t promise anything—it’s just what I’ve got saved up here. I can even gift wrap if you need it (I'm fantastic at wrapping presents, really). 

I’ll send them out to whoever needs them for as long as the books last. Or probably until the 15th, just to make sure you get them on time and have something to give.

So if you need some help this season, please just ask

Again, this is for those of you who need some help getting gifts for others. The people who are pulling unemployment, cutting back on everything, and feeling trapped because they can’t afford gifts.  It’s not so you can recommend someone who might like a free book. You could do that for them, too—go get them a book. They’ll love you for it.

On a related note... whenever I do this folks offer to chip in and help out. I’m good, but I’m willing to bet there’s a toy bank or a gift bank or a food bank or some kind of program within ten or fifteen miles of you right now. You could help out with that. You can go be fantastic people all on your own. You don’t need me.

Finally, I’m also doing this on the honor system, so if you’re just trying to score a  free autographed book... well, I can’t stop you. But let’s be clear—if you do this, you suck. You’re a deplorable person who’s taking a moment of peace and relief away from someone who really needs it this holiday season. Don’t act all surprised when karma kicks you hard in the ass over New Year’s.

Anyway, Happy Holidays. Let me know if I can help out

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