2022-12-20 Richmond, VA Everyone who is blathering that Christmas is a time to be happy—shut the f*ck up. If you say that you love winter you are telling a big lie. For at least the last decade, maybe more, Winter is when the looming dog pile of money challenges snowballs into a blizzard. It’s cold. In some years the lights are off so the heat is off. I don’t own a Christmas tree and live alone. I work Christmas Day to avoid loneliness. Scrooge had it right.
Yes, there is a sunrise in the spring when I feel much better. But that’s not now. Now I have a snoring couch slug in my living room who expects me to care for him until next week. He’s set up camp so my TV is streaming Paul Harrell’s 2021 Christmas Special. Around my coffee table in careful marching formation are his Pepsi Wild Cherry empties. He’s added a White Claw Black Cherry twelve-pack this year. The empties are formed up as platoon leaders.
Let’s sing the litany. I owe for my water and trash from two years ago. The bill has climbed to over two grand. I’ve got a court date on my rent. Comcast has sent the cutoff notice to me. The pile of collection notices from cars I’ve bought and loans unpaid is growing. I have two Google Fi phones. One is off for non-payment and the other will be cut off tomorrow.
Let It Blizzard
I use one of those phones for work. With it off I can’t work. And then last Saturday the car I rent from Lyft FlexDrive got t-boned. So I have no car with which to work, my work phone is about to be cut off for non-payment, and you want me to be happy.
I ain’t happy. Once again I’m on the “things look bleak” side of “things look bleak and then . . .” But then things work out, right? Not there yet and stop being so nice. The weather won’t even cooperate. Instead of a normal winter, white Christmas Richmond’s forecast is for cold rain. Fits my mood.
Yeah. “The Big Lie” is a talking point for both the reds and the blues. I’m not that stupid. And no, not running for 1500 words on how Cheetoh Satan’s big lie is that he won in 2020. Nor am I listing out a bajillion lies of Pecunia Pera Homo Brandonus. Politics is its own shitshow run by whores, pimps, thieves con artists, and other reprobates. I do angry well enough all by myself. I don’t need help.
But . . . Jesus Isn’t a Big Lie
Right. The REASON FOR THE SEASON!!! I know. I was raised in the church so leave me alone. But since you raised the topic—what’s your narration of the birth of the King? I’ll go first. It wasn’t a happy thing. God tries from Eve all the way through to the New Testament to get His people to follow his laws and keep his commandments. His people do some of the time. There are periods of blessing in the story. But those periods get brief notice in the Old Testament. The other times tho . . . God spends a lot of words cajoling, scolding, demanding, and unleashing wrath to try to get His people to behave. He destroys Israel and subjugates it to the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and others.
By the time an angel appears to Mary God has only one thing left—forgiveness. He must become the final sacrifice that will defeat sin and death. Those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life by His martyrdom. So . . . did it work? Did we behave? No. We still don’t behave. We still need His mercy and grace.
WHITE PRIVILEGE!!! BOUGIE!!! Shut up. Shut the Fuck Up! The WTF is the latest generation of Maoists who believe that blaming and codependency will bring about a post-apocalyptic utopia. It won’t. Anyway, whatever. None of that does anything for my bills or my mood.
Mary and Joseph
Two po’ folk. Too poor to afford the “or”. Joseph is a maker. We still fight over whether he was a carpenter or a stone mason. Back then it was common to be a bit of both. Moving on. Mary is engaged to Joseph. We can assume there is a wedding planned. Then Mary gets pregnant. Her story? It was God that fucked her. Uh-huh. It’s a balmy 75°F in hell where pigs have wings.
End of engagement. Mary is no longer a virgin and the whole “God did it” story is crazy. The angel Gabriel did it? That’s not any less crazy. Anyhoo. Gabriel tells Mary that her baby is Jesus and he will be King of the Jews. Even crazier. Not only that, but Elizabeth is also pregnant with John.
Caesar Augustus decreed that there should be a census so everyone had to return to their birth city to be registered. Joseph, of the lineage of King David, went to Bethlehem with his fiance Mary. Yes, by that time they’d worked it out and Joseph didn’t dump her. It’s a blog post and I limit myself to 1500 words so if you wanted the whole narrative, sorry.
A Big Lie—No Trouble
For me, that has been a big lie. That somehow we can achieve the life of Riley. No trouble, no strife, misery begone. If anything, it is through misery and strife that happiness comes. Hard work is its own reward. An athlete, in competition, is miserable as fuck. Soldiers at war suffer horribly. Women? Name a sincere man who would volunteer for the suck that women endure. Yet women do it gladly.
My Dad tried. He wished his son would finish a STEM degree, meet someone while in college, graduate and marry, and follow in his Mid-Century American Dream footsteps. My family has been troubled all the way back to 1145 AD. We vacillate between my Dad’s hope of a pedestrian and serene life in the middle-class majority and wild hares like myself. Because he succeeded at achieving Mid-Century middle-class life I enjoyed enough comfort to contemplate bushwhacking my way through a road of my own making.
So here I am near retirement age alone, destitute and desperate. One more year where December rolls around and causes me fear and loathing. Crucial bills are due in a week and a half and I’m nowhere near having the money needed. Yes, it’s always money with me. Money is blood to me. Money means I can be assured of getting essential needs met. Yes, yes, Matthew 10:9-10, “Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.” Somehow anxiety over this bedevils me.
The Crash Wasn’t a Big Lie
I started writing this three days after someone t-boned my work car. I went from ruminating on what I needed to do that day and that weekend to keep the bills paid to being out of work in a few seconds. The car was scheduled to be replaced on Monday. The wreck was Saturday. Lyft now says I can’t rent from them until I return the car. But I did, kind of. Their tow company took the car to Ashland for repair.
Everything has been reported properly, paperwork done, my part in this is over. But now what. What am I supposed to do for money? First I get beaten up by three Uber passengers and accused of asking for sex by a female rider. I survive that and run over a curb in a different Lyft Flex Drive last summer. I didn’t pay for the insurance Lyft offers so I owed my part of the cost of the damage. My friend Nat paid that and sold me his old Camry. I survived to get back to work and try again to dig my way out of destitution. All was well until last Saturday.
My favorite definition of addiction is “continuing a behavior in spite of escalating negative consequences.” Am I addicted to driving for a living? I can’t say. I do feel stuck and powerless. Driving for a living is a problem. So . . . maybe.
Where is the Bottom?
Every winter, every time things get this bad, I fear worse. In 1995 I’d met my son’s Mom, been to jail because of a fight with her, and didn’t have a job. I was a newly graduated English Literature major who knew how to drive a cab and do clerical work. Career options? Teach or starve. I chose to starve and the Empress was pissed. She married a loser.
Twenty-seven years later I know how to do three things–yell at the radio, drive for a rideshare service, and code websites. Yelling at the radio in this space and on Substack doesn’t pay. Driving for Lyft is problematic. Coding websites? I’d rather have a hot poker shoved up my ass.
So I don’t know if this is the bottom or what’s next. A big winter storm is moving through. it’s a big, cold rain event for us. Other parts of the country got tons of snow. My buddy lives in Tennesee where the storm hit pretty hard. He left the heat off before coming up here. So his pipes may freeze if he doesn’t get back home soon. He left this morning.
My buddy is naive in entertaining ways. He drove up here to help me enjoy Christmas and pick up the replacement work car. Double fail. Last night he brought home raw pork loin ribs from Kroger. Because I can cook anything right? Yeah . . . no. Ribs need a spice rub and sauce. They also need a smoker and time. His idea was to bring home the ribs and have them for dinner in thirty minutes.
I learn of this after getting back from an eight-delivery run in my Camry. That’s good, right? Yeah . . . but . . . the Camry has a rubbing noise coming from the left front. Yesterday I also smelled burning rubber. So the fear of losing a tire overtook me. My fallback from driving for Lyft was deliveries using the Camry. No Camry, no deliveries. No deliveries no income.
Last thing. It’s Christmas Eve as I finish writing this. It was 8°F last night. My pipes are nearly frozen. I don’t have hot water because of this. My house is heated with six baseboard electric heaters. They can’t keep up. My kitchen thermometer says it’s 51°F in here. Brrrr! Merry fricking HanaKwanzaXMas, y’all. You can read stuff on Anxiety here.