My life has been one big lurching from crisis to catastrophe over the past two years.  My mother has inoperable cancer in her lungs and brain, and on her spine.  “Inoperable” doesn’t necessarily mean “Terminal,” but every hospitalization is a cause for alarm.  Every phone call from my father that starts, “Um, your mother…” is a cause for worry; in the past two years, I have had to grieve multiple times, because I thought death had come to claim my mother.  Thankfully, she has pulled through every time, and that’s largely due to the treatment she receives at Sloan Kettering in New York City.  Still, it has been a constant emotional roller coaster.  Her illness will never go into remission, but there are bright spots where she is healthier than in other moments, and that breeds false hope.  And if one thing is certain, false hope is always shattered.

My mother’s health issues haven’t been the only thing distracting me.  The economy went into recession years ago, and because of a host of personal health problems of my own (Undiagnosed Adult ADHD and severe sleep apnea) my professional life suffered greatly.  I went from teaching freshman writing part time at Rutgers and a few community colleges to working at WalMart full time.  I will not begrudge (much!) WalMart.  They were there when I desperately needed a job with stability.  Even during my productive years of adjuncting in college, I always complained about the constant spells of unemployment.  WalMart employed me year round, and the company even taught me some much needed lessons in how to be assertive and organized.

However, Mr. Sam’s Empire was not the panacea I so dearly wanted.  I eventually stopped teaching altogether, but my financial problems countinued to mount.  Over the last year, I have had to fight Chase Home Finance and diferent lender on four separate occasions regarding “intent to foreclose” notices on my home.  Keep in mind that my wife and I, like so many other people in this country, tried to file for a loan modification under President Obama’s “Making Homes Affordable Plan.”  Nearly a year has passed, and I’m still getting threats in the mail, and my mortgage hasn’t been modified.  Hell, I had to pull my father out of retirement, give him a power-of-attorney, and unleash him on the banks.  Shakespeare once said “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”  I agree with that.   However, I must add, “Hell hath no fury like a retired Federal employee who knows bureacracy all too well.”  Jenny and I are lucky I have my father as a reasource.  If he wasn’t there there, and if he didn’t offer his services as a pitbull, I would have lost my home many months ago, like so many other home owner who have been crushed in this recession.

The truth is, I have been barely scraping by the last two years.  It got to the point where, between 9 hours at a WalMart store and marathon days on the phone with my mortgage lender and/or HUD — not to mention constantly grieving over my mother’s illness — that I have largely stopped writing, and my ability to edit has trickled down to “barely.”  I thought I could manage, but you know, if you look at what I have done, the answer to that is a resounding “no.”

Recently, I received a slightly annoyed email from an writer and an editor I greatly admire.  Unfortunately, I do believe that I have a history of annoying the hell out of him.    His causes for concern were completely justified, and I would understand if he did not want to work with me ever again.  Hell, being a “professional” means you can separate the stink of your personal life with how you can interact with other professionals.  Apparently, I have yet to really learn this lesson.  By default, that makes me far less than “Professional.”  That just makes me one guy who feels overwhelmed by nearly everything and hasn’t yet found a proper way to cope.

There is light at the end of this tunnel.  As much as I feel constantly crushed by circumstance, there are new opportunities ahead of me.  I recently asked for a demotion at WalMart.  I am staying there to keep my discount card, and to have an escape route if the prospect of self employment implodes after a few months.  But, basically, I am now a freelance writer, and my chief client is Demand Studios.  Basically, I write “How To” articles for eHow.com.   There are people in freelance writing who will frown upon this, and they will vent spleen all over the place about how providing content to web content mills is not true freelancing.  These people like to use words like, “Word slut” and “prostitute” because it’s Demand Studios, and not thumbing through a Writer’s Market, crafting query letters, and writing for magazines.  To those people, I honestly have to say, “Go fuck yourselves.”  I honestly apologize if my making more than WalMart wages is an affront to your morality.  A man and his wife have to eat and pay their bills.   Also, it helps to pay my mortgage on time — it gives the banks less reason to take my home from me.  This is why I’m more than happy to to write a string of articles about how to change wiper blades on a car.

The other truth is this.  Writing for Demand Studios pays a lot better than anything I ever did from 2000 to 2009.  Yes, that means that eHow articles are far more profitable than trying to scrap together part time college work.  eHow is better than WalMart.  In short, eHow will allow me to stop being miserable about money all the time, and now I can persue, with renewed, stronger vigor, the editing and writing projects I have dreamed of in the last two year.s

 

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