I am now writing every novel as if it will be the last one that I ever write. So it is with my current work-in-progress, When the Captain Came Calling. It is a story that comes before my best novel, Snow Babies, already written and published, but was actually formed in my head and in my libretto long before I began putting Snow Babies down on the page. It is a good novel, but not the best I have ever written. I am very near to completing it.
But, unfortunately, I am also very near to completing my whole life. Pain is a constant reminder that my health is so poor, that each new day could easily literally be my last.
The IRS is trying their best to help me on towards the grave.
While I am currently dealing with the tax burden from 2018, they dug up another unpaid bill from 2017, a late-payment penalty they forgot to tell me about last December. More than $200 dollars worth. I am flatter than broke.
So, I am forced to Uber drive once more. Yesterday and today I picked up fares again for the first time in the last ten months. And I am not really well enough to do it. The curse is heavy.
But this grumpy old man ain’t quite dead yet.
One more novel to finish, and maybe another one after that.’
There are a lot of kids out there in the world who are gifted with musical talent. I find that searching them out and listening to them on YouTube is a valid way to cure… or at least curtail depression.
Wow. Energy, creativity, charm… cuteness! Kids possess a magic power to never understand when something is impossible. Harnessing that power can take you all the way to the moon and back.
If you think I turned to this subject because I was feeling down and depressed this morning, well, you’d be right. But am I still depressed after filling up on this sort of kid music?
Not a chance. The world is a better place now because of their sweet music.
Spring has sproinged on us, and springy-sproinged hard. We have had a wet March and a wet April so far. Pollen is heavy in the air to a record degree, and guilty of making my head ache blisteringly for the third day in a row.
I will also have to take a while recovering from my tax headache. I owed money again either because the overworked retirement system representatives didn’t figure the withholding tax correctly… again, or because Trump’s tax-cut bill required more money from pensioners and poor people… again. Either way, I have no emergency funds in the bank once again, one of the perils of bankruptcy and a source of headaches..
Another of the perils of bankruptcy is the lovely way the court treats me, sending me letters in the mail that suggest they are about to drop their bankruptcy order and allow creditors to swoop in and skeletonize my bank account like piranhas, just as they do to James Franciscus in that crappy man-eating-fish movie of the seventies. (Piranhas, not creditors, I mean, though the differences are small,) The skeletonization will strip meat off the bones of my financial health for about ten months at this point. And why are they suggesting such a personal Armageddon for Mickey? Because mortgage-payment-verification paperwork wasn’t confirmed for two days. Now there is another plan-adjustment hearing scheduled for the end of May. My lawyer says it is all routine. Don’t worry. But I still worry that I have tastier flesh on my bones than James Franciscus had on his in the seventies. (Never let it be said that Mickey doesn’t know how to flog a simile to death!)
So, I could potentially starve to death in the coming months, have my bank account skeletonized, and have my head explode from allergies. Somehow I must deserve all of that, right? And, meanwhile, Trump has survived the Mueller Report with the help of his criminal friends. He may even get re-elected to the Presidency, because there is no accounting for voter stupidity.
It is a springtime full of various headaches, and they have all got me down.
Of late I have been rather obsessed with the coming darkness. Death. Ragnarok. Mass extinction of all life on Earth. My own situation as a pessimist quickly approaching the end of my own personal life has probably colored my obsession to a very large degree. And I should point out, my own prognosis is not going to change for the better. I do not have the financial power to prevent the problems I already have using modern effective healthcare. I am personally doomed. But even though the whole world seems easily as doomed by climate change, that doesn’t mean everyone shares my sad fate. There are potential solutions to the problem that only require the people who do have the financial power to fix it to decide that life on Earth has more value than their personal wealth and privilege. (Uh-oh… there’s a dependence on goodness where it seems like none actually exists.)
I often turn to science and books by very smart people to give me ideas that comfort me and give me hope. I recently did some binging on YouTube’s Answers With Joe. He does an excellent job of providing answers to things that worry me underpinned with scientific facts.
I have been worried about the environment from the times in high school science class when we learned about Paul Ehrlich and his book The Population Bomb.
Then we were learning about how the overpopulation of the Earth and its attendant need to produce food for all those people threatened massive famine, resource scarcity, and eventual extinction for humans. It was pointed out that, at the time in the 1970s, we were using chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the fields in Iowa to increase yields that would not only pollute the water and air in Iowa, but would eventually make its way through the watershed system into the oceans where it would overstimulate the algae and create an ocean environment throughout the world devoid of oxygen, fish, and all other lifeforms. I could see the threat and the validity of the science that Ehrlich had done.
I learned, over time, that population stresses do not necessarily cause extinction events in a matter of decades. The 1980s came and went and we were not extinct, despite eight years of Ronny Ray-gun, the jelly-bean president, and massive success in increasing food production. As Joe does an excellent job of explaining in the video above which you didn’t watch, population problems proved at least partially self-correcting. Families generally slowed their growth rate as health and wealth improved and made them more productive, more intelligent, and better able to support the heavy layer of living people that now covered the Earth.
Recently I became obsessively and pessimistically concerned with the dire predictions of environmental scientist Guy McPherson. I do recognize that his work reflects the extremist point of view among climate scientists, but ;there are a number of facts that he presents that are irrefutable in the same way as the arguments of… Paul Ehrlich.
In the second video above that you also didn’t watch, Joe explains how the problem of greenhouse gasses can be undone by renewable energy, carbon capture and air-scrubbers, and the search for viable products made from CO2, helping to reverse greenhouse gasses. He also explains how chemical cooling of the atmosphere and actual planetary weather control are possible. Technology already exists to solve the climate problem. The only drawback is that somebody has to pay for it. And the people in control of that kind of financial power are all entitled low-down greedy bastards that would rather build massive survival bunkers in the Ozarks than pay for the rest of us to survive. So, there is hope, which comes not with a grain of salt, but with a giant’s saltshaker filled with rock salt. Still, it isn’t time for all of you to give up. Just me. I am the one most completely doomed.
I recently learned from the eye doctor that I may be at the doorstep of glaucoma, a disease that darkened my grandmother Beyer’s vision and connection to the light.
I am doing some serious editing now on my completed manuscript, Sing Sad Songs. There is serious foreshadowing going on in this novel. I think I mentioned once or twice before that I only rarely write a comic young adult novel without having some important character dying at the end. Death and dying and going blind are all on my mind.
News on the global warming front is increasingly bleak. Temperatures are rising faster than predicted. The date cited for the end of life on Earth is now 2030 (possibly within the scope of my lifetime if I get luckier than I have been on past health issues). The outlook is bleak and getting bleaker. Soon there has to be an absolutely miraculous technological or cultural revolution to help the optimists prove themselves right, a thing that they are totally not good at.
The government seems increasingly incapable of helping with anything, even though some of us are paying increasingly large tax bills that we can’t afford. (I do realize some of you who are not on a fixed income actually got a small benefit from Republican tax cuts. Did that solve your financial problems?) It increasingly looks like the corrupt clown show currently in charge is blowing themselves up. We stand to get a whole new government soon that is marginally better at best. So, we are, as a society, marching forward into the darkness with neo-fascist, goose-stepping zeal.
I am not saying that I have no hope. My grandmother got help and never went completely blind. There are breakthroughs happening all the time in science and sociology. But the darkness in my personal future is growing ever closer. And I have less and less control over its advance.
Being retired is a total pain in the Biblical word for donkey. I thought I would be challenged with nothing to do and probably die from lack of challenge as so many do who find their identity in their profession. I was a public school teacher. I loved being a public school teacher. I lived for the challenge of working with kids, especially trying to teach them to write well. And then my health began to betray me, and I was forced to retire.
In this country, loss of a job that defines who you are makes you basically worthless. Republicans will tell you that you go from being a “maker” into being a “taker”, and takers are basically parasites.
So, now I am a parasite, a blight on society, a “taker”. Decent hard-working people shouldn’t have to put up with a burden on society like me.
“If you don’t work, you shouldn’t be allowed to eat,” they self-righteously tell me.
“So, if I’m too ill to stand in front of a class all day, I should starve to death?”
“No, of course not! Don’t dramatize! You just need to do something else.”
So, I haven’t just sat back and enjoyed my pension which I worked 31 years to get. I have done things. I rebuilt the siding on the back wall of the house. I repaired all the cracks in the pool twice (once getting it back into shape for swimming, and then fixed only to be forced by the city to remove the pool because I couldn’t spend $9,000+ to bring the 1970 electrical system up to code.) I am now re-setting the bricks in the retaining wall.
I also took up driving for Uber to earn extra money. I needed extra money because hospitalizations cost me so much money I had to take out a bankruptcy which I will be paying off for the next five years while supervised by a State-appointed executor. And then a lovely Texas motorist bashed my car in the driver’s-side door costing me car-repair money (because insurance can’t be expected to pay everything) and leaving me unable to get well enough to return to driving for at least five months (up to the present day).
I have at no point had money enough to go on vacations or do the recreational activities that other retired seniors get to do (at least the rich white ones with lots of investment money and property). I haven’t been well enough even to be a substitute teacher (which I loved doing back in 2006-2007 when I was well enough and between teaching jobs). So what can I do with all my “free time”? Besides deal with aches and illness without the medicine I can’t afford, I mean?
Well, I did start out in life with a passion for writing and drawing. I am living proof you can’t even make pocket change for indulging those passions unless you’re as lucky as former teacher Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes. But I have the time and the incurable obsession.
I began the most creative and productive period of my life by writing eight YA novels. I have two more well into the writing of the first draft. I also re-started work on my graphic novel which takes lots of time when you have arthritic hands to draw with. And I have been blogging practically every day.
So, since I retired I have basically been doing nothing. Well, nothing for the greater good and advancing the fortunes of mankind as a whole as my Republican friends who criticize me for being a “taker” on the dole apparently do with their retirements.
I have published my eighth novel in the last six years. Sure, it is through mostly self-publishing of novels that no one but me has ever read. Catch a Falling Star and Snow Babies both had a professional editor, one who had worked for Harcourt and one who worked for PDMI. Magical Miss Morgan has had a proofreader who made numerous stupid-mistake errors that I had to change back to the original meticulously by hand. But all three of those novels won an award or were finalists in a young adult novel contest. I do have reason to believe I am a competent writer and better even then some who have achieved commercial success.
But what is the real reason that I am so intent on producing the maximum amount of creative work possible in this decade? Well, to be coldly objective, I am a diabetic who cannot currently afford insulin. I have been betrayed by the for-profit healthcare system that treats me as a source of unending profit. I am like a laying hen in the chicken house, giving my eggs of effort away to a farmer who means to eat my very children if time and circumstance allows. I am the victim of six incurable diseases and conditions that I got most likely as a result of exposure to toxic farm chemicals in the early 70’s. I am also a cancer survivor from a malignant melanoma in 1983, and for three years now I have not been able to get the preventative cancer tests I am supposed to be receiving every year for the rest of my life. My prostate could very well be cancerous as I write this. If that is so, it will kill me unawares, because I don’t even want to know about having a disease I can’t possibly afford to fight all over again.’
So, the basic reason I am going through the most productive and creative period of my entire life is because I have a great rage to create before I die and I could be dying as soon as tonight. All of the countless stories in my head clamoring to be written down before it is too late cry out to me desperately for my immediate attention.
I will, then, continue to write stories and draw cartoons and other Paffoonies for as long as I am still able, and possibly even afterward. I have, after all, threatened repeatedly to become a ghostwriter after I die. And, yes, I understand when you scream at my essay that that is not what a ghostwriter is. But if a woman can channel the ghost of Franz Schubert and finish his unfinished symphony…(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Brown_(spiritualist))
—then I should also be able to tell my stories from beyond the grave. I have been percolating them in my head and writing and drawing them in whole or in part since 1974. I have too much time and too many daydreams wrapped up in them to let it all just evaporate into the ether. In summation, I am claiming stupidly that my novels, crack-brained and wacky as they are, are somehow destined to exist, either because of me or in spite of me. So just be happy that I write what I write, for there is an art to being Mickey, and I am the one artist and writer who is the best Mickey possible if truly there ever was a real Mickey.