Forty Nine (Plus a Couple of Weeks)

Random photo dropped in to provide ‘variety’ or some sort of artsy bullshit.

Random photo dropped in to provide ‘variety’ or some sort of artsy bullshit.

One isn’t supposed to compare oneself to anyone else in order to measure one’s own success. Further, life is a constantly developing journey and not some sort of destination which is a measurable destination on the road ahead. The idea of assessing the highs and lows of the recent past is as inherently daft as that of deciding in advance what will take place several months hence with absolute certainty. Pointless is the process of saying if all of that isn’t accomplished /​wasn’t accomplished, one is an abject failure.

Let’s get on with doing all of that, then, shall we?

The last few years have been especially difficult for me on many fronts. The last decade or two have been as well, let’s be honest, but I’m ruminating on the most recent things, as anything more than that will cause me to curl up in a ball and whimper.

I started Atomic Fez Publishing and have met limited success with sales and ‘market penetration,’ despite trying anything I could think of as promotion as well as being very forward-​thinking with eBooks.

My marriage went south owing to a number of things; including my chronic and clinical depression, continued financial failure, lack of employment, lack of initiative, and many other things.

Having moved out on my own — HOORAY! — –the job I have now pays at an insufficient level to cover my most basic of needs. I desperately need dental work done and there is no way that can be had, even were I to go to the dental school that’s part of Vancouver Community College’s downtown campus. I will eventually need clothing /​shoes /​glasses /​a day or so off; yet I cannot save anything to fund those, and any time I am not at work I am not paid (there are no medical benefits, paid sick days or holiday pay). The result of all this is that I feel more free than before, but freedom’s just another word for /​nothing left to lose as the old song goes (shoot me now, I’ve quoted something Kris Kristofferson helped create), and I’m certainly as free as I can be to learn what it’s like to be part of the working population living below the poverty line. Living alone is great but paying the rent is twice as hard; I refuse to share an apartment when I’m nearly half-​a-​century, however.

At the moment I’m looking for a better job. This change in employment took over three years of fairly constant searching and had two false starts before I got this position. While I hope to find something soon, I’m not holding my breath. After a day in the salt mines, it’s tough enough getting the energy together to edit some author’s work that Atomic Fez is going to publish, never mind writing a cover letter trying to convince someone how they simply must hire me and only me!! I may as well just give up altogether, really.

The other obvious solution to this situation is spend less money. I cannot imagine this to be possible. Already I have enacted the following austerity measures:

  • walk to work (instead of driving or transit)
  • least expensive of everything in the way of food
  • no TV service paid for, just the aerial made from a couple of lengths of coathanger¹
    • yes, there’s Netflix, but that’s far cheaper than even going to a movie once a month, and dear God one needs some sort of circus
  • these internets are the only ‘luxury’ I’ve got (unless you count laundry or heat, you evil sadist)
  • no lunch for me; not at work nor any day

Previous careers for me have included stage & screen actor (as well as ‘background performer,’ which is to acting what a Choose Your Own Adventure is to writing), radio/​TV host, retail business owner, photographer, arts journalist, receptionist, print shop employee, and photographer. All of that means I have the exact background required for a roué.

So… now what?

This is where Warren Ellis comes in.

Warren Ellis, photographed by Ellen J Rogers.

Warren Ellis, photographed by Ellen J Rogers.

Before the sound of screaming reaches your ears from the general area of the Thames Delta² — probably employing the the phrase “no don’t use me as a model for anything oh God shut up you really haven’t a clue you idiot” very loudly — let me explain why he is my particular yard-​stick for how am I doing, then, eh?

He’s got a fair reputation as a writer, especially a cult following for his graphic novels in the Transmetropolitan series. He did a long-​ish run for Marvel in the Iron Man series, so that at least one of those films used a couple of plot lines from his writing of “Iron Man Extremis.” One of his little short graphic stories was adapted into the films Red and Red 2, the former of which enabled him to buy his daughter a pony (based on the promise he never expected to fulfill, as the idea of a movie actually being made seemed at the time to be so far-​fetched). He’s done some writing of columns for magazines and things; as well as two slim novels, The Gun Machine being extremely well-​reviewed and I recommend it unreservedly. He’s got some awards.

He’s nearly two years younger than I, and seems to be struggling along to make a go of it the same as anyone, but with the extra joy of trying to do something thinky or at the very least artistic in the same way as myself. In our own circles (mine quite tiny, his larger but not massive) we are known; not ‘KNOWN,’ but ‘known.’ There are a couple of things I am making a guess at which cause I to be alike, but those I’ll keep to myself, as they aren’t my business (nor yours, shut up, stop snooping and go bother a Kardashian). We both have some regard, but it ain’t no big t’ing.

When I read his weekly newsletter – you will subscribe by clicking that – and see the regular day-​to-​day stuff about the work that goes into everything other than the putting words in an entertaining order which is basically 90% of the working day³ of a writer, it seems very very familiar. He’s spending weeks in the house with little contact with humanity, apparently. I’ve been there; oh God, yes.

Anyway, when I see he’s listening to “Europe Endless” (some of Kraftwork’s better stuff) and then says things like…

On which note, I’m out of time and out of strength and really need to sleep. You should get an early night too, tonight. It’s probably going to be a long week, it’s probably going to be a bit weird. But I’m always rooting for you, because you take the time to read this, and that means I owe you. Take care, and I’ll see you next week if I’m not dead.

well, it gives me hope, really. I really need ‘hope’ right now. If he can keep going, then maybe I can too.

If he dies, could someone please point me at someone who might replace him for me?

A large box of ‘hope’ can be sent to the usual address.


¹ yes, really

² his term for that area of Essex in which he resides; I doubt any geographic or cartographic approval has been granted by any organization, or even should be.

³ ‘day’ being a very flexible term covering any amount nearing and often exceeding 24 hours

Music: Dexter Gordon, A Swingin’ Affair [1962; Blue Note Records (BST 84133)]
Book: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis [W.W. Norton & Company, February 2011; ISBN 9780393078190]

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