I’m not sure what to call it, but I’m sure that it will come to me as I write this. “Spirals” isn’t quite right. It’s self-reinforcing, though, perpetuating itself because it is and cannot be anything else. No, I haven’t been hit by a bout of depression or anything–I’m just thinking about the fact that, of my friends, none have ever done anything to help me do anything.
Poverty perpetuates itself. That is what I was trying to say.
I totally get why none of my friends would donate to the GoFundMe campaign, and I don’t begrudge them for that. They’re Mississippians, too, which means that they face the same harsh reality that I face: there’s just no money here anyway. In order for them to give me money, they’d have to have money, and they grew up in the same area that I did, faced the same economic despair that I did. Most of them live on their parents’ land, in a trailer on their parents’ land, or in a trailer on their wives’ parents’ land. Less than 1% successfully broke away, and those who did were already safely middle class. I think of the guy I went to school with, with whom I was best friends when we were much younger but drifted apart because I moved closer to atheism and faith is a big deal to him, and how he is now a reporter for ESPN or something. I’m thrilled for him, but that brings something else to my attention.
It’s fair to say that he had a better start than I did–Hell, than most people here did. The circle of friends I had in school all came from similar backgrounds, and I’ve mentioned it before: our parents were on drugs, divorced. Many of us didn’t live with either parent. And so we all rejected the system that had spit upon us.
Many people would here say something like “Oh, you’re blaming the system for everything now? Grow up and take some responsibility!” I’ve heard that refrain often. Never directed at me, though, because until the past few months I’ve never really sat down to think about how all of this came about. It was pointless. I simply went with the hand that I was dealt, and it served no purpose to sit around thinking about how some people were dealt better hands. And I’m still not doing so–the hand I was dealt is irrelevant, because I don’t mean any of this in a personal way. I’m talking more along the fact that it’s borderline impossible to be born to a poor family in a place like this and change those circumstances.
A lot of people grow up with parents who talk about putting back money for college funds. How hilarious. Because I remember when my dad took my sister and me to cash out our savings bonds that were supposed to go to college–all one of them that we each had–and instead used that money on himself. Probably on drugs. It never occurred to me in high school that there would never be a college fund, and it actually might have been helpful if my dad had sat me down at some point and said, “Do you see the way I live? You don’t have to do that. If you apply yourself, if you focus and try to excel, you can break out of this bullshit. But I won’t be able to help you do it. I’m not man enough to help you do it.”
Other people talk about getting $150 allowances from their parents each week while they’re living in dorms in college, and I can’t even fathom what that is like. I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old, specifically because my father couldn’t pay for me, and because I had to pay for myself. Even before that, he had me working outside during the summers at the trailer park at which he was a maintenance guy, putting this shit called “Cool Coating” or something on people’s roofs for $100 a trailer. Of course, he enjoyed a $40 Finders Fee for each one of these.
The last time I did this at all, I had four trailers to do in a single day–$400 for a single day of work. I was 14 years old, and had never even seen that amount of money, much less held it. I was dreaming about finally getting a PlayStation 2, like my cousin had because his parents had bought him one. Just as I’d gotten myself a Playstation X by trading in my Super Nintendo and every single SNES game that I had to Funcoland. I didn’t have a single game for that PlayStationX (there’s a difference between the PSX and PS1). In fact, I didn’t even have a way to connect it to my television, because my television was one of the old CRTs with only coaxial inputs, and the PSX came with composite cables. So there I was, without the SNES that my mother had given me for my birthday the year that the N64 came out, and without any of those games, but I didn’t care. I had the latest and greatest. No games for it, and no way to even connect it to my TV. But I had it.
That was what I wanted: a PlayStation 2 and Final Fantasy X. It looked amazing.
Instead, as we were leaving for the day, my father asked for $140 to pay back his boss for a loan. “I’ll give it back to you Friday,” my dad said. Then, after we left the office, “I also need to borrow $200 so I can get my license plate renewed.” By the time we made it home, I had $60 left–all that remained of the 8 hours I spent standing on roofs in the hot Mississippi sun at 14 years old coating people’s roofs in some coolant. Of course, my dad never paid me back, as I knew he wouldn’t, but it’s not like you can call your father out on things like that, not when you’re 14 and living with him. “Oh, I didn’t know you liked having a roof over your head.” Not to mention that my dad was spiteful in the extreme. “I guess you can buy your own food and start paying rent from now on then!” he would have replied.
There was a period of about a month where he basically made me play the boardgame RISK with him and his girlfriend every single fucking day. While I like RISK (not so much since this experience) and did enjoy playing it occasionally, a friend had loaned me a guitar, and I wanted to be practicing that–since I didn’t have a guitar and couldn’t borrow it indefinitely. That kid, Chris P., is solely the reason I was able to learn to play the guitar, something that I’ve become quite good at and that has saved my life on several occasions.
I also had Final Fantasy IX, I remember, and I badly wanted to play it. I’d gotten it at Wal-Mart for $20 with some of the money I made doing the cooling crap on roofs, because my Disc 3 had stopped working. Funnily enough, this was because I’d let my cousin borrow it. After weeks of trying everything from nail polish remover to toothpaste (yes, toothpaste) to remove the scratches, I accepted that there was no option but to replace the game. And I finally had. So I could finally get back to my quest!
But no. Because everyday I got home from school, ten minutes later my dad got home, and then we had to play that stupid goddamned boardgame for the next six fucking hours. After weeks of this, I decided that I just couldn’t play anymore. We never finished any of the games. We always stopped about five hours in, when it was obvious that my father was going to win, and decided “We’ll finish it tomorrow.” But then tomorrow came, and, rather than finishing, we’d restart the whole fucking thing. That went on for weeks. Seriously, weeks.
It doesn’t take that long to get sick of The Game of Global Domination.
When I said “No, I’m not going to play,” my father flew into a rage. So angry that he could barely speak straight, slurring his words and stuttering about what a “piece of shit” I was, and how I could just take my ass outside and cut the grass. With a weedeater. Because he was never going to buy a lawnmower, and never did buy a mower. His solution was what you’d call the “Cheap Because I Don’t Have To Do It” option of buying a weedeater and pushing responsibility of cutting the yard off onto me. After all, he wasn’t going to get outside with a weedeater to cut a few fucking hundred yards of grass (this was my uncle’s land).
So all that was to say that my father is petty.
But even that experience where my father “borrowed” $340 wasn’t the reason I stopped doing it. No, he would never have allowed that. He needed me to do it so that he could “borrow” *wink-wink* money from me, so under no circumstances would he have allowed me to stop doing it.
Instead, the reason I stopped doing it was that someone offered to pay him in advance, because they needed him to purchase the stuff. Two barrels of the stuff was about $60, if I recall correctly, so he was given $160. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
First, he decided he would “borrow” part of the $100 from me to get various things that he needed. On day three, that $100 was down to $0. So on Day 3, he decided that he would “borrow” from the $60 for the materials, and then “Pay it back on payday.”
Just like he “paid me back,” I’m sure.
So after that, I couldn’t continue doing it, because he had to come up with $60 to buy the materials, and he had to come up with something to pay me. Even he wasn’t a big enough piece of shit to ask me to do it for free.
Shortly after that, he was fired, as one might expect. A tenant complaining to the landlord “Hey, your maintenance guy kinda stole $160 from me” can have that effect, especially since my dad was never qualified to do any sort of maintenance anyway, and had already borrowed $2000 from his boss. That’s right. $2000. For what? Who knows. His car was paid for, and we lived in the one bedroom addition to my uncle’s house. And, at that time, my dad’s rent was a measly $150 a month.
Drugs, I’m sure. You’d be surprised, if you’ve never been down that road, how quickly you can burn money on drugs, especially lortabs at $7 a pop. Hell, there were days that I paid $10/pill. When you’re addicted and desperate, you’ll pay just about anything.
I got sidetracked on Quora arguing with someone who literally argued with my answer to a question while specifically demonstrating the exact mindset that I was talking about. Honestly, you can’t make this shit up:
How in the hell can someone say in one comment that they don’t like direct democracy because they don’t agree with the criteria by which people who disagree on the policy came to their dissenting conclusion, while saying just a moment later that they value liberty? I am reminded of that brilliant passage from Thomas Paine in The Rights of Man:
It takes in a field too vast for their views to explore, and proceeds with a mightiness of reason they cannot keep pace with.
Love me some Thomas Paine.
When I took British Literature in college, I asked the instructor if I could do my term paper on Thomas Paine. This was a class that was largely dedicated to Romantic poetry (the reason that I took the class–I’ve always loved Romantic and Victorian era poetry). To my surprise, he allowed it. So I talked about how Thomas Paine had a better understanding of rights and liberty than most people today, and how he demolished the Pentateuch, as well as the notion that it was written by Moses, in The Age of Reason–after which I later named a song The Age of Aquarius. One of the greatest tragedies of human history is that Thomas Paine’s influence has been so narrow. The Rights of Man, in particular, is a masterpiece of the theories of self-government, and almost no one has read it.
I’m not really out for pity or sympathy when I write things like this, though. A friend of a friend commented this video:
…by saying that he knew I wasn’t after sympathy, and it never occurred to me that someone could feel sympathy over it. I don’t really feel bad or disenfranchised by any of the shit that has happened.
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.
Although, I can’t deny that I’ve been much more focused recently on talking about my past and various things that have happened. But I don’t think it’s sympathy that I’m after–but understanding. The last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me; I’m too proud for that. And why shouldn’t I be proud? I rose from a dirt poor family in the economic despair of Mississippi and put my fucking ass through college.
But there’s no scholarship for me to apply for if I desire to move out of Mississippi and put this college degree to use. And though it’s only an Associate’s Degree, I’ve frequently considered getting my BA, but have ultimately decided against it. There aren’t many more doors that a BA would open that an AAS doesn’t. But I need to get to the doors. And there are no doors here.
I am humbly asking for help to make this happen.