Familiar Zero


And so begins a fearless and honest inventory of my underearning history, a crucial step if I am to recover from compulsive underearning. I’ve been guided to answer a few simple questions– a few being about 200 and simple being some of the most embarrassing things from my past. But here goes…

I did the first three tonight. As much as possible without incriminating myself or breaking any sacred traditions of any sorts, I’ll share my answers with you.

Question: Write about the money you have borrowed, compulsively spent, stolen, etc.

Oh God, I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to write about this shit! Isn’t there some other possible way I can recover without having to delve into all this old shit, rummaging through my fucking past, looking at all my money shit– my earning (or the lack of it) compulsive spending, debting, and all the rest of it?! We already know it’s a goddamn nightmare! If it wasn’t I wouldn’t be in the fucking mess I’m in, right? I can write whatever I need to write. My blog readers aren’t going to judge me and if they do, I can always pretend that their not. Who am I kidding? Of course there are people who going to judge me. They have solutions of their own for me. They think they know best. They think I should just “get a job, any job.” Maybe their right. Maybe my father was right and I should give up on my dream. Other voice: you don’t have to give up on your dream! Lot’s of artists have to have “b jobs.” What makes you think you’re too good to do that? What makes you think you’re better than they??

I think the new iPhone has a feature where you can block someone’s phone number– I wonder it that works with voices in the head.

Of course some of you will judge me. But I am coming to know freedom on a level that few do. I am learning what it truly feels like to be free because I have so constantly, consistently and relentlessly brought my embarrassing shit to the blog, I’m actually getting desensitized to the embarrassment. It’s actually, it a weird way, killing the shame. This is a good thing. This is going to help me in this next faze of my development. This is going to help earn and earn a lot as the artist God made me to be. So go ahead, judge me. I can see you there like Tom Cruise’s character says in Magnolia, “Silently judging me.” Oh relax! I’m joking with you. Let’s move forward.

I have to do this shit if I’m going to recover so I might as well get started. Every journey started with a step, this one just happens to start out with an embarrassing one: Did I ever steal? Yeah, I stole. I stole a lot. I felt poor and I wanted shit. I was in denial for years and years about that, I probably stole about $100 worth of cash and merchandise from my very first job! (That’s the one where I made $1.50 an hour was only allowed to work an hour a day. I told you about it months ago. My faithful readers will remember.) I’d run my ass off, I mean literally run inside the store, the filthy store I was supposed to be cleaning so they would– so I could justify working more than an our and– oh my God I just remembered there was another young boy who worked on alternate days, who was it, Mark Brown? He died when we were teenagers. God, that’s been so long ago. I think it was Mark Brown that was working on alternating days there. I remember disparaging the job he did to make myself look better. I was just– oh my God, I was already a mess. My very first job. Anyway, without telling the whole story, yeah, I stole from there and in one way or another (even if by not giving my all at a job) stole from every place I ever worked after that. In restaurants it was food and liquor. Never any grand larceny or anything. If I did let myself think about my stealing, I justified it because, after all, none of them paid me enough, right?

That was the stealing part, what about borrowing? Oh my God, have I borrowed! I’ve borrowed tens of thousands. Some of it I paid back. Some, my parents bailed me out. But I “borrowed” from them too. I “borrowed $1000 from my mom to go to EMT school. Did I ever pay that back? Fuck no. I am such a fucking loser. She’s given me so much money in my life. Even now, she’s supporting me financially by buying me all this food, I don’t have any bills to pay living here. I had wanted to take her to Scotland. Look at me! Mooching off my aging and ailing mother. What a winner!

I’ve borrowed from credit card companies and stores from the time I knew what credit was and always, always with disastrous consequences. I have taken more calls from creditors in my life– and ignored even more of them. I borrowed money to go to college and I still haven’t paid that back. When I think about the money I borrowed, I feel like such a complete loser because I either a) never paid it back, or b) had to be downright trapped into paying it back. Have I ever secured a loan and then simply paid it back on time as agreed? Fuck no. God, that makes me sick!

Now to the compulsive spending part: Can’t we just skip over that? Alright, alright! Yeah, in the absence of liquor or a naked man or cheesecake, or maybe in the presence of all three, I will spend some motherfuckin’ money boyee! If it’s there, I wanna spend it. As my dad used to put it, money “burns a hole in my pocket.” Spending money makes me feel good. Buying shit for myself and other people helps to keep my mind off my troubles. The only problem is, if you do that long enough (and Christ knows I have); it begins to become a problem in itself. What do you do when the thing you do to avoid thinking about your problems becomes a problem. Then you’re fucked. I’m fucked. I’ve never had a shit-ton of money– well, actually there have been a couple times when I have a fair amount of money in the past but I blew through it as quickly as I could. Mostly because spending made me feel good but also– and this is an especially embarrassing part to admit– because I’ve just always been so goddamn broke all the time, sometimes I think that’s the only thing that feels natural to me so I’ll spend whatever money I have just to get back to that old familiar “zero.” That’s where I want to hang out. That’s where poor people belong. And something inside me tells me that’s what I am. “Poor people.” We come from poor people and we’re supposed to stay poor people. Isn’t that sad? Those couple of times when I had several thousand in the bank– I literally would give it away to homeless people on the street until I got back to where I knew I belonged: zero. Zero feels familiar. Zero is where I live.

Question: Write about bad checks you have written and the trouble that’s caused you. Since we don’t use checks that much anymore, I can say I probably haven’t actually bounced a check in years. Now that debit cards are the thing and I have overdraft protection, it simply takes the money from my savings to cover the modern version of bad check writing which is using my debit card when there’s not sufficient funds to cover it. That fucks with my savings program because when I, through this bad behavior, steal from my savings (that’s actually what I’m doing) do you think I go back and replace the money in my savings? Hell no! The only way I’ve actually been able to save any is to put in into a CD, which makes it too hard to get to. I reckon I’m going to have to do that with all my savings so I can’t get my grubby little hands on it by swiping that little blue card when there’s no money in checking. Of course there have been the times where there wasn’t even enough in saving to cover my fuck-ups so that sent me into downward financial spiral via “service charges.” Banks loooooove service charges. If you added up all the service charges I’ve ever paid due to my lack of clarity around my books are outright compulsive spending– especially if you go back to the days of check writing, I bet I have paid $5000 in my life in these fucking fees. That makes me very, very angry and I don’t know who I want to kill more, the banks or me.


Question: Talk about never having enough money to take care of yourself humanely.

Holy shit this is me. It’s so sad that this is me. I honestly have gone from having such huge dreams to just wishing I could afford to go to the barber regularly. My underearning has made my life so small. I’ve made so many bad decisions for so many years. Of course my hook, crook, and/or credit over the years (not to mention stealing, “borrowing,” or just letting people take care of me– how embarrassing is that?!) I have managed to get to go and do some things in this world. I don’t want my life to get small– no smaller than it has gotten– and it doesn’t have to if I can just arrest the problem now and start this ship headed in the right direction.

See y’all tomorrow

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