Eventually, all the franchises end up in space.
Well, I guess it’s time I gave the talk…
If you’re sort of new to my writing, me, and/ or the ranty blog, you probably don’t know that I went through a very solid bout of poverty on my path to becoming a semi-successful writer. I’d been making an okay living in the film industry, and when I moved to freelance journalism it was a little tighter but still livable. Then the economy crumbled in 2008 and the magazine I did most of my writing for started to flounder. Paychecks started to lag, and I pretty much had to blackmail the publisher for three of them (never got my last one). I had a few unexpected-but-completely-normal expenses (car repairs, a sick cat, a lost filling).
And then after about a year and a half of this… I had nothing.
And to be clear, I mean, nothing. Savings completely gone. Credit cards maxed out. My partner and I lived right at the federal poverty line for almost three years. 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 (go libraries!), and while we were there we’d steal a roll or three of toilet paper (sorry, libraries). We didn’t turn the heat on for two winters in a row. Hell, for one assignment I had to beg an editor to loan me gas money so I could drive to a screening he’d asked me to cover.
Three years like that. Three. Years. Constantly stressed. Constantly feeling like crap.
Especially at the holidays.
The holiday season’s the worst when you’re poor. You can’t afford to buy gifts for family or friends. You can’t afford to travel. Hell, there were times we got invited to nice Christmas parties and had to skip them because we couldn’t afford to park where they were being held (friggin’ LA). Being poor at the holidays means you end up feeling isolated at a time when people are supposed to be coming together.
And I ended up feeling guilty about it, too. I spent time stressing about if maybe there was something else I could’ve done with my at the time floundering career. About the people I loved who it felt like I was neglecting. About what people thought about me, being so poor I couldn’t even get something for my significant other or my family.
Being poor means feeling like that all the time. Pretty much from mid-November to mid January. Nothing but guilt and dread and shame and self-doubt.
Being poor at the holidays absolutely sucks.
Now, all that said… I’m in a better position these days, 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, send me a message at PeterClines101@yahoo.com . I’ve got maybe a dozen random books, 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 to request it, but please understand I can’t promise anything, sorry (I have what I have). I’ll send them out for as long as the books last or December 11th-ish (for shipping reasons), whichever comes first.
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 and shamed at the holidays.
Again, this is for those of you who need some help getting gifts for others. The people cutting back on everything, pulling unemployment, and feeling like crap because they can’t afford holiday gifts for family or friends. This isn’t so you can recommend someone in a bad spot who might like a book. You could do that for them. Seriously, go buy them a book. And buy locally! Support your local bookstores
Also—almost every year two or three folks offer to help out with this. Thanks so much for the thought, but you don’t need to do this for me. You can go be fantastic people all on your own. I guarantee, there’s a toy bank or food bank or some kind of program within ten miles of you right now that could really use some help. And you could be the person to give that help.
And finally, I’m doing this on the honor system, so if you’re just trying to save some cash or score an autographed book from my limited supply… well, 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 feed you to a squale because of it.
So… Happy Holidays.