Monday, November 01, 2004

Birthday Begging

No, this doesn't have anything to do with that PayPal button up there. That just got added because several people have told me they often contribute to blogs they like, and so I thought, hey, I'm not getting paid for the things I write for money, so why not? After all, if all 100 of the people who read this blog regularly sent me €300 apiece all at once, I could move! I might also add some Google Smart Ads, but first I'd like to figure out just how tiny the click-through rate is. And, given that I'm involved with two books coming out this month and another one next April, I might also offer people the chance to buy them through Amazon or Powell's or something on an associate program.

But that, as the Germans say, is future music.

Right now, I'm trying to cope with the oh-so-predictable pre-birthday depression, which has been on me like a soggy blanket for the past few days.

Some of this is due to having been completely broke for the past five days, waking up to 14 cents in my pocket and nothing in my bank account. However, I had a notice in my mailbox on Saturday that there was something needing my signature up at the post office, and sure enough, a nice International Money Order for over €200 was there. Hey, money orders are already paid for, so this could be instantly negotiable, I thought, and headed to my bank. I carefully explained to them that I needed this cashed immediately, but would put half of it in my account. The woman couldn't understand the words International Money Order and had to talk to a colleague. Then she came back, typed a bunch of stuff into the computer, walked away to pick up a printout, came back and told me the money was in my account. "So what about the money I need now?" I asked. "Oh, it takes three days for foreign checks to clear." "That wasn't a check. It was a money order." "It was a check. You'll have your money in three days. Next!"

Fortunately someone loaned me a very little bit to make it through til then, but boy, was I steamed.

And it was totally congruent with everything else going around in my head. I mean, tomorrow, Nov. 2, I turn 56. I find myself not the slightest bit improved from last year at this time: still writing small articles for tiny amounts of money, although when I get the chance, I'm writing better stuff than ever. Still behind in the rent -- eight months -- and every cent I make goes to the landlord, the phone company, the power company, or the grocery store, in about that order. I'm having to realize that I'm going to spend the rest of my life alone, since women tend not to want to form relationships with men who can't support themselves at the age of 56, and who can blame them? There might be yet another female psychopath with a substance abuse problem come along, as there was earlier this year, but I hope this time I can see the danger before it hits. And because so much of my life is spent in the hunter-gatherer mode, as it is right now (it took me four hours to deal with this money order thing today!), the leisure to dream is absent. I'm trying to stay focused on moving to France, on the idea that two well-paying articles back-to-back would clear up the whole back rent situation, but that would mean finding an outlet or outlets that actually honor their commitments. I'm hoping against all logic that a break will come that will allow me to finally get back into living a real life again. I'm not too optimistic, but consider the alternative.

So that's the pre-birthday depression.

Now for the begging.

I was born on Nov. 2, 1948. That day is famous for having produced one of the most famous headlines in history, the Chicago Tribune's DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN blooper. (Well, actually the headline came out on the 3rd). But it was, like this one is, a very close election. Neither party stooped to the filthy tactics the Republicans have made their trademark over the past decade back then, since politics was a game of, if not gentlemen, at least people with minimal ethics.

Once again, my birthday falls on Election Day. Now, I've already voted absentee, and with luck Deutsche Post and the USPS have gotten the oversized envelope to the Travis County Courthouse in Austin. But, as an American living overseas, it is particularly important to me that the junta that seized power in 2000 be defeated. Even ignoring the horrible cost to the United States in soldier deaths, out of control debt, environmental disaster, media censorship and Big Brother-like spying that four more years would bring, it would literally endanger every American living outside the country. I don't need to repeat the cliches about how the Bush Administration squandered the outpouring of sympathy the world had after 9/11, but I do get tired of having to explain to people over here that I'm no more like the Bush crowd than they themselves are like Nazis. (That always gets a swift intake of breath, at the least, and usually a defensive "Well, I never implied that..." remark afterwards). I get tired of people making the assumption that I'm of a mind to be arrogant and pushy, that more than a small number of Americans actually think like the junta, or that anyone who identifies as a Texan (as I usually do, with even less justification than Dubyah himself) has to be One Of Them.

So I'm hereby asking for presents. Or one big present.

If you're American, you know what it is. Now go do your best to deliver it, okay? Thanks.

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