Right now I’m reading a book by George Orwell called Burmese Days. I’m still only like 40 pages in, so a lot needs to happen, but so far it’s about British Colonialism and there are a lot of parallels to modern day America (or the whole world). From a class perspective, the way those in power treat the poor and the workers has been a constant throughout history.
That’s apropos of nothing, really. I would go get the book and pull out some quotes that I find meaningful but it’s all the way out in my car and I don’t have the energy to dedicate two or three minutes to standing up from where I’m sitting. Plus I have to, like, walk all the way outside, and then back inside, and back to my chair. So that ain’t happening.
There is stuff to write about, whether it’s the continuation of the NBA season starting up at the end of next month, NFL news, or the ongoing labor war in MLB. I could also write about how much of the economy has opened back up in the last month, with (surprise surprise) COVID cases rising (again) all over the country. I don’t know why it’s so hard for state governments to implement their citizens to wear masks, but I guess it all goes back to the contempt the rich and powerful have for ordinary people.
I’m doing fine. I went back to work last month, and the money has been good at the casino I work at. I think at the beginning people were just so happy to be able to get out of their houses and do something, and while I would rather still be in quarantine collecting unemployment money it is nice to be back and feeling like I’m making some contribution to society. I was anxious at the start, but it didn’t take long to make bargains with myself and understand that I’m either going to get it or I’m not going to get it (if I haven’t already had it).
And I can’t help but feel good about myself ever since I paid off my credit cards. Money is kind of a pain in the ass in the sense that it’s so necessary, but it’s also one of my favorite things in the world because it’s virtually the only means to getting where I want to go. It sounds sort of defeatist that over the last handful of years I’ve felt trapped by my debt. It reminds me of something one of my high school teachers said when I was a sophomore, that “when you are poor you work for your money; when you are rich your money works for you.”
I am not a rich man — far from it, as you could guess — but being debt-free over the last month or so has for the first time in a long time made me seriously start looking to the future. Accounting for a couple credit card payments every month was never back-breaking, though it was definitely a roadblock. Carrying no debt automatically keeps money in my pocket, and thus compounds onto what I already have. The math on that is quite simple.
Now I’m starting to look at houses to buy, and suddenly I have found a path for what the best-case scenario could look like as I get older. I see this image of owning a house, earning some money in my 30’s, then taking a crack at starting my own business in my 40’s. And if that goes well, all I want is a nice secluded ranch sitting on like fives acres in an obscure state like Montana or some shit, owning a couple horses, and just fucking off in peace for the rest of my life.
That would probably sound like a goofy setup for anyone that knows me. After all I’m a city boy from Southern California. But I think the fact that I’ve spent virtually my whole life here, and had my fun, makes me want to do something completely opposite. I know in the meantime I’m pretty much married to SoCal, being that my career is here and there’s nowhere else in the country where I could do what I do and be able to earn a good living. But it’s something to shoot for, at least.
For most of my adult life I’ve had to be a chameleon, working for tips in the customer service industry. I’ve at times had to hold my tongue about my political beliefs to all the dumbass Donald Trump supporters who are in their 70’s and just watch Fox News all day. I have to keep myself on a leash because I don’t get paid to fully express myself.
But I’m in my comfort zone when I’m able to think and say what I want, whether it’s around my family or sitting in front of a computer and writing. So I rather like the idea of being off somewhere by myself, or with my wife and/or family, where money gives me the freedom to live the way I want to live.
In the meantime, I can’t remember the last time I have been so at peace with myself. I didn’t come from a poor family, but money was never not an issue for us. That’s why I left the apartment I was living in a few years ago, to come back and help my family. And after about a year of lobbying both my brothers to do what I do, and become a table games dealer, they took me up on it and began going to dealer school.
But then I faced a new challenge, one where my mom and I had to handle all the finances for a year and a half. There were definitely some low points, but we managed just fine. I mean we never had to resort to what many Americans are forced to deal with, and drive for Uber or Postmates, but I guess that goes back to the point about not knowing what it’s like to really struggle. Our struggle was wondering whether or not we would have to pay a bill here and there by using a credit card. It wasn’t a necessity to take drastic measures.
Inevitably my older brother got a dealing job, which took much of the pressure off. So now everything — at least as it pertains to my life, selfishly — revolves around when my younger brother gets a dealing job of his own. Once he does that, I am more or less free to be on my way.
And once I am able to leave, I’ll go get a house and have my dad move in with me. I take a lot of flack from friends and coworkers about being a Bernie Sanders supporter, as if all I want is free stuff (which I do!), but one of my major draws to him was about expanding Social Security benefits so my dad could live in dignity. Right now he gets a couple thousand bucks every month, but after a $1,300 apartment payment, medical insurance, food and groceries, a cell phone, and so on, he doesn’t get to enjoy much money at the end of the month. He’s basically spending his retirement benefits, that he paid into his whole life, on necessities.
My dad is in a rough spot, and I feel for his plight. If it wasn’t for me, his only son that still visits him and communicates with him, he’s told me he doesn’t know what he would have to live for. So it’s always been my idea — and I’ve written about it before — that whenever I ultimately move out I would bring him along with me. Living with my right-wing Trump-supporting dad isn’t the sexiest idea I could come up with, but I feel like it’s the least I could do for putting a roof over my head and food on the table for the first 20-something years of my life.
And how great of a feeling must it be for him, someone who has had to scrap and claw for the last few years since my mom left him, to go from having nobody around to having me, to go from having a confined space in an apartment to a house, and to go from spending his Social Security money on basic needs to things he actually wants? It’s something he can only dream on right now, but I’m pretty fucking pumped to make it a reality for him.
He wants to end up in Montana, where his sister lives. So I told him he can live with me for however long it takes him to save enough money to move all of his shit out there. I don’t know if that means a year or 18 months or whatever, but I want him to get there. I think it’s easier said that done, because moving is a bitch in general and because I think once he starts living with me he’ll not really want to leave, but who am I to give him a hard deadline and tell him he needs to get the fuck out? I’m not going to do that.
I just picture a scenario where he is going to get the house to himself for five days out of the week, when I’ll be at work, so he can stretch his legs out a bit and we can argue about sports and politics when I get home. I picture him being able to pinch off a couple hundred dollars every month to play slots at one of the casinos out in the desert. And overall, I just picture my dad getting to be a happy dude, being able to hang out with his son on a regular basis, and not having to worry about money or healthcare or any of the shit he’s had to fret about over the last few years.
I’m aware that part of the reason I want to help him is from selfishness. I know it will make me feel good to give him some peace. But I’m also just really excited for him. He was never a perfect dad or great husband and many of the memories I have of him are more negative than positive. In many of the ways my mom was always there for me he was not. That’s probably not how he sees it in his head, but I can only go off my own experiences and the fact that neither of my brothers have much interest in talking to him.
But he’s also just a different kind of dude. He isn’t capable of being anything other than what he already is. I’ve had problems with that in the past, but I don’t hold it against him anymore. Whether we have good visits or bad, I always tell him I love him before I leave. And I’m definitely not going to let him forget how much I love and appreciate him in the days ahead when we are living together again.
I don’t know what’s made me veer off during this blog, but I’m not mad about it. I just like those who have made an impact on me to know that they matter. And for better or worse I can’t think of many who have made that sort of impact than my own father.