It’s been a day of bad news. This Friday, my landlord is petitioning the rent board so that he can charge me more money. I could contest it on the grounds that I live in a dive, but it’s easier to contest it on grounds that I’m poor. In the process gathering the proof of my destitution, I found that I’m not getting an increase for 2016 because something something oil prices something. I don’t buy oil or gas, and price inflation due to the mass offshore drilling damages of Hurricane Katrina never leveled back. And the California drought has caused food prices to soar.
To paraphrase Marge Simpson, I can’t afford to eat a diet that has a philosophy.
And a part of my brain, the voices of my parents from my childhood, tells me I deserve this. Much the way FOX News pundits like to talk about lower classes being lazy to justify blaming us for our sorry state. I, too, was raised with a classic middle-American white-bread work ethic that presumed that jobs come easy to the worthy, that paychecks are fair and managers are just, that companies have ethics and economies are stable. I was taught that I could follow my dreams and the opportunities would faithfully come. And if they didn’t or I got fired, that’s all about my lack of character. That’s because I wasn’t willing to work hard or fight the good fight. I was lazy.
The signs were all there that I was somehow deficient. It took a summer woodcutting and hauling rounds of Fir, Jeffery and Tamarack before someone noticed I didn’t exactly shy away from work. But my regard for task, and my distrust of it had already been laid, paved and set in with reinforced concrete.*
A few too many times, my chores at home could not be done to my parents’ satisfaction. A few too many times teachers assigned busywork because they didn’t know what they were supposed to be teaching. A few too many times, adults made contracts with me, and then failed to honor their part, and because I was a kid and they were adults, no-one cared. A few too many times I was assigned by an adversary in authority a task that I was intended to fail, that served no purpose, that was meant to drive me to exhaustion. And it did.
Needless to say, I’m bent and veering to this day.
I need to sleep now.
* My cousin and I cut fifty cords in July, which went up in smoke in the Stanislaus Complex Wildfire. Because tragedy, I guess.