The Cheese Grates It:
I honestly hate writing about myself, which is why I deviated from a recent prompt and made it an alternate reality of a character instead. However, at the moment I feel the need to share a few things about me and why I continue writing even though I long ago took the dream of becoming a renowned author out in the back alley and shot it.
I recently received criticism of my work being merely a conversation between two talking heads. Well, I guess that's what it is. Often when I'm doing my writing, I've finished working a shift delivering food in rush-hour traffic to nickel-and-diming customers who think that fifty cents is an appropriate tip. Hint: fifty cents was a crap tip back in 1986, when I was delivering pizzas. All told, I average about ten dollars an hour.
My financial situation is precarious. I need to set aside $1000 to get the water pump in the car I prefer to make deliveries in fixed. The whole time I'm driving I'm hoping that something doesn't happen to my personal car.
I know the conventional wisdom is "just get another job," but that isn't as simple as it sounds. This is literally about the only work I can do at this point.
My physical situation is far from good. I used to be able to work physically demanding jobs, but my diabetes has deteriorated to the point where I have problematic activity intolerance. When standing for long periods of time, I tend to become weak, dizzy, and confused.
"Aha, clerical work!" many of you will say.
Sadly, not so much. My brain is stupid, and when I work the kinds of hours where clerical work tends to be done, I become depressed to the point of non-functional. I've tried to do this numerous times in my rather long life, and the result has always been the same. Clearly, I was not made for life on this planet.
A year ago, I lost a reasonably well-paying job where I was making approximately $40,000 a year. I was working as a homecare nurse. My diabetes was getting worse and I was very sick with a severe respiratory infection. The company reasoned that I could continue working because the patient I was working with was the one I'd contracted the infection from, therefore, they believed, I couldn't re-infect him.
I was fired from that job because I fell asleep during my shift. This was not a light drowse where one wakes when one's chin contacts their chest. This was a deep, dark, dreamless, sleep-of-the-dead kind of sleep. There is a pretty good likelihood that I had a TIA at that point. I don't remember falling asleep, but I was asleep for about 20 minutes. I woke to see the patient's father sitting on the patient's bed, glaring at me. I didn't hear him come downstairs or into the room. I left and was fired the next day.
I worked briefly for another homecare agency with a patient I'd worked with previously. This patient ended up in the hospital and never came out. The agency never found me another case. At that point, I tried working as a rideshare driver. An idiot stoner kid backed into the rental car I was using. Lyft took so long to resolve the claim that I wasn't able to drive for a month. The rental car agency never reimbursed me for the unused week on the vehicle. I was out $1000.
I tried going back into long-term care, but found myself physically unable to keep up with the demands of the job. I became weak and confused when my blood sugar dropped and I was unable to take a break. Long-term care does not tend to allow for breaks for its employees.
I then tried working for yet another homecare agency and discovered that I could no longer handle the physically demanding part of the job.
I worked delivering groceries for a while and ended up with a permanent injury to the median nerve in my left arm. This service promised delivery within the hour. Instead, I would often be greeted by an angry customer demanding to know why their order was three hours late. Customer service never contacted them. They let the driver deal with the unhappy customer. I had severe calf cramps because of having to climb stairs multiple times during the shift. The injury to my arm came about because of having to carry heavy loads throughout the shift. There is now permanent numbness in my left hand. At least I no longer endure agonizing pain in my left upper arm, which I did for about a month.
My anxiety levels are through the roof. I browbeat myself into going to work. Most days I wish I'd just die. Conversely, I have night terrors where I wake up with my heart pounding, thinking "please don't let me die like this."
Antidepressants, the darlings of the psych industry, don't work on me. They make me manic and psychotic. Benzodiazepenes, another darling of the psych industry, have a paradoxical effect. They tend to make my heart race and to cause panic attacks. The exceptions are Xanax, which has a heavy sedative effect and then makes me suicidal, and Valium, which makes me stupid. I mean really stupid, like two plus two equals three or something stupid.
To counter my raging insomnia, I take a low dose of thc plus cbd. It works better than Valium (see thick as a brick stupid) and better than drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta, which cause me to sleepwalk and do things like pee on my car tire at 3 AM. I was given a medical marijuana card for the horrifying pain in my arm and to help with my glaucoma. What I use is actually recreational edibles and tea, which has a lesser potency than medical grade marijuana. It doesn't get me high. It acts as a mild sedative and has none of the crap side effects of pharmaceutical medications. However, there are certain jobs I can't even think of applying for at this point because of my use of a very low dose of thc for a medical problem. They'd be fine with it if I were fucking my head with Ambien, which makes me do weird shit and wake up tired, but a tiny amount of THC makes me a non-functional hop-head, apparently.
This was my response to the person who decried my writing as being merely a conversation between a pair of talking heads:
I take it from your other criticisms that "quite interesting" means "I hate it." That's cool and all.
The words weren't randomly bolded. It was to keep up with the Wordle prompt, to remember that we had used the words.
Honestly, I'm kind of brain damaged and stupid. I work at a menial job earning about minimum wage. I write when I can if for no other reason than to keep some aspect of what I believe myself to truly be alive. With a little help from my friends I am able to do this.
Maybe I'm fated to just be a giant talking head, much like the Face of Boe in Dr. Who.
Sorry my work didn't meet your exacting standards.
I probably won't participate in this particular prompt again. Really, the only reason I do is as an exercise in constraining my word count because I tend to be overly verbose in my so-called writing.
Note: the bolded words were my bad. I forgot that most people on the Weekend Writing Warriors prompt would not also be using the Wordle prompt.
Honestly, the shitty writing would also be my bad. Gem and Tempest aren't to blame. They were only trying to support me.
The truth is, I feel like killing myself most of the time and already would have if it weren't for the fact that my son seems to still need my help. Here are some things I don't need to hear regarding that statement:
"Go to the emergency room."
If I went to the emergency room every time I experienced suicide ideation, I'd have to live there.
It doesn't work. I could probably benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, but county mental health doesn't tend to provide that. County mental health gives you counselors who frustrate you to no end because they are used to dealing with people who have severe psychosis. I only have psychosis when I take antidepressants or prescription pain medications. County mental health counselors are no help to people who see the reality around them all too clearly and know there's nothing they can do to extract themselves from the steaming pile of suck that is reality. So, they write stories involving talking heads because it soothes them for a moment to do so.
"Get on medication."
See "that shit makes me manic and psychotic." Except for Prozac, which left me emotionally flatlined, staring at my arm, and thinking to myself "maybe I should cut my arm to see if I can still feel anything." This wasn't the normal, self-loathing drive to self-injure that I've dealt with all my life. This was a case of wondering if I could still feel anything at all.
Sorry, folks. Pat answers don't work on me. I'm special like that.
Actually, I'm not particularly special. There are a lot of people that the pat answers don't work for.
I have a lot of thoughts about how society could improve to make sure everyone has a decent quality of life. One of them involves not treating the working class like shit. Most people in the working class aren't "less intelligent" or even less educated than people in white collar jobs, and, even if they were, why should they be treated like shit?
We need universal health care so people like me can stop playing the shitty balancing game of having to keep my earnings under $800 a month so I don't lose Medicaid.
We need a universal stipend. The idea that people would stop working if they were receiving a stipend is erroneous. Most people want to work in some capacity.
In any case, I probably won't officially participate in the Weekend Writing Warriors prompt again. It seems to be a place that isn't for people like me: people for whom writing is a survival tool.
And now, I guess I'll get ready to get out there and get nickel-and-dimed to death once again. Perhaps there will be more from the talking heads who are my characters later. Color yourself oh so lucky.
~The Cheese Hath Grated It~