Saturday, March 07, 2009

Uncomfortably Numb

I wish I could allow anger to fuel my writing passionately and prolifically, the way that anger fuels Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers to score 40+ points in a basketball game. Because I am angry and not a little frustrated at my current state of affairs. You see, I'm one of the millions of people dramatically affected by what's been going on in our nation's economy. Two months ago, I was laid off from a job that paid me less than $500 a week basically delivering packages and media-related items for one of the world's largest film studios( who I shall leave nameless, though they just recently made over $1 billion on the biggest hit movie of last year, which shall also go nameless). In the interim of those two months, I have had to contend with an unemployment office that has basically left me in the dark as to when I might receive my benefit checks, even after numerous phone and email attempts; having to seek alternative work whereever I might be able to find it(after about a month, I did finally manage to find a part-time job as a non-emergency medical shuttle driver); needless to say, also contend with the fact that my bills were going to have to be delayed or put off and that rent would have to be paid incrementally as I somehow managed to scrounge and scramble to cobble together enough money to put towards it; and also, along with my wife(who I'm supporting while she's in cosmetology school), have to apply for food stamps and accept donated food from a local food bank. And all this, after being laid off a year ago, for nearly five months, from the same job due to the WGA strike(which, as a writer who initially supported them in principle, seemed to me to be especially ironic!).

So, yes, I'm angry. I'm angry, because at 44 years of age and looking back at my life and the promise I believe I had both before I entered college and after I graduated, I certainly did not see myself here(which, I'm sure, is a sentiment I share with a lot of people in probably not dissimilar positions, though that's no consolation). I look back at a lot of poor choices and mediocre jobs; on avenues of opportunities that I should have pursued and now regret that I didn't. I also find myself wavering in belief in a God that I know has seen me through a lot of these things, both good and bad. I know that I have been blessed by moments of grace, especially during my college years, that left me with little doubt that there was someone watching over me who was more than just merely benevolent, but was and seemed ever-present. Even now, I have, on occasion, experienced not dissimilar moments of grace as well. But the little doubt has grown exponentially in spite thereof, which I try to fight against and find myself failing miserably--which scares me, because as I became an adult, I became constantly of the mind that believing in God was akin to believing in breathing and that the alternative was unthinkable. And I am, wondering if God still watches and listens, even in spite of myself.

I want so much in my life and out of my life that I can't see straight. I still harbor the goal and dream of being a successful writer. Of being able to provide my family a comfortable and suitable home and bills that are paid in full and on time. Being able to travel to see family and friends at will or take a vacation or two. Again, I wish that knowing that there are other people out there with similar dreams and goals and aspirations were a consolation to me, but unfortunately, it is not, though I do hope that they are able to see their dreams realized, as do I. And, lest I forget to mention, that I am also angry at those who profited on the dreams of millions of struggling and working people only to turn around now and ask us to support them being bailed out, mostly with money that was taken out that now we could ill-afford to live without(not to mention the fact that they blame us for this mess we're in!). And yet, when someone comes along to say that I'm going to try to fix this mess, that I want to do something about it so that everyone benefits, and then actually does it, they want to be the first ones to shoot that person down and claim failure even before they've enacted their attempt at rescue. It's like telling a firefighter--'no, thank you, sir, I'd rather you didn't go in and save my burning house; I'm waiting for someone better to come along to do it.' Give me a f$&@%#' break!

I'm not looking for a sunny resolution. And I'm not even sure what getting back to normal is or if I even want that. As a black man, I still celebrate the fact that this nation justly and rightly elected a black man to be president, even though that celebration is tempered with everything that I just wrote above. My mother and older sister continue to tell me to 'stay encouraged', and, as I've said, that continues to become increasingly hard to do. But I will try and I will continue to fight and kick and scream my way through my life, for however much longer I'm given to do so. Becaue the alternative... is unthinkable. 'Nuff said.

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