NOTE: The post below is so obsolete relative to my current situation that I’m tempted to take it down to avoid confusion, but people tell me it’s an important post so I’m going to leave it. But do note the date: March 25th of 2009. I don’t feel “mad as hell” much these days, so I don’t want anyone to think I am.
Oh, and that novel I mention below that I wrote but never published? I’ve since published it.
Man, folks, I’m so sorry to follow up one serious post with a second serious post. I swear I’ll be funnier next time. But I promised that I was going to come out from behind the curtain a bit and act like a real person. I promised I would say what’s on my mind.
And the fact is that right now I am so incredibly pissed off, and afraid, and generally on the edge of my seat because I feel like something is supposed to happen — is in fact overdue to happen — but it just won’t. I’m so frustrated.
Let me tell you my deep, dark secret.
I am in such an incredibly shitty financial situation right now. It’s like a bottomless pit, and the only way out of it is to become exactly the person I’m supposed to be in the first place. Which is ironic, and appropriate, and really irritating because it’s just not happening. Or rather, it’s happening, but too slowly. Or rather, maybe it’s happening pretty quickly, but I just don’t know because the whole “becoming” process is still very young.
But the point is that every month I pay the bills, and every month I scrap for jobs doing stuff I don’t even like doing (okay, don’t get me wrong… it’s good work, but it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing) and every month I have this giant monster at my heels that demands this huge sum of money in addition to the regular bills.
Called real estate.
I own a bunch of real estate in Cleveland. It’s not bad for what it is, but I bought it for too much and bought it too fast then the market fell like a brick and I’ve got all of this shit that keeps being vacant and keeps needing repairs and keeps scaring the living shit out of me. Every month, I have to write a check to cover the shortfall. Never do the rents totally cover the expenses. I can’t sell it right now, and some of it I’d have to pay to get rid of. I feel like I got screwed by a fast-talking agent, but who signed the paperwork? Me, that’s who.
I got myself into this, and the only way out is to become the writer I always said I’d become. Really.
And a little bit of backstory on that:
Nine years ago, working a job that was stealing my soul, I started having panic attacks. While I was in the midst of what used to be the most frightening months of my life, I started writing a novel about the college life I had been missing. It was called The Bialy Pimps and was about a revolt in a bagel deli. (You know, something we can all relate to. And by the way, a “bialy” is a type of bagel.)
This never did get published. I want to publish it still someday, but for now, I just sort of “have it.” (It’s actually still awesome. I just read some of it yesterday and laughed my ass off.)
But anyway, while I was writing it, I thought, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” My dad played psychologist and told me that great art comes from pain. I don’t know if my novel was great art, but it was pretty fucking funny and was born during a lot of pain.
I finished the book. Got out of the job. And then, I couldn’t write anymore. Seriously; I tried several more times to write SOMETHING, ANYTHING creative. Short stories. Countless attempts at second novels. Nothing would come, because I had gotten comfortable in a new routine, writing nonfiction magazine articles and building websites. My dad kept bothering me to keep trying to write. I tried but couldn’t. Eventually I gave up.
And I had been so certain I was supposed to be a writer. I had it all figured out; I would picture it in my head and think of how my days would go and it all felt so right. It would be so, so awesome. There was this shitty little TV show on at the time that nobody saw and that only lasted like three episodes called Stark Raving Mad. It starred Tony Shaloub as an obsessive-compulsive writer (maybe it was the inspiration for Monk?) and there was this one episode where his assistant or whoever screwed up his OCD routine and he was like “NO, first I get the paper THEN I buy my muffin THEN a cup of coffee THEN I lick the lamppost and THEN I write” or some shit. And it’s not like I’m all OCD but it struck something in me and I thought, “I could see myself having that routine. Minus the lamppost.”
But, no. The creative writing wouldn’t come. I kept writing articles and building websites.
Then I bought this real estate. Then it got bad. Then worse. And then the economy collapsed. This fucking economy that I keep trying to tell myself doesn’t need to be happening happened, and things got a LOT worse.
I remember sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, and it’s not like I’m all religious, but I do believe in God, and I said, “What should I do?” Not like a plea of desperation or whatever but like maybe he’d give me a nudge. And what came into my mind was this: I realized I had all of these old newsletters I used to email out that were just sitting there, and I realized that I had the novel, and it was like, “I should start a blog. I should try to make a living selling and using what I have.”
That was about six months ago. I’ve got some readers, and it’s cool, and I’m making connections, and that’s cool. But I still don’t make money being Johnny B. online, and still I do these websites and I still write magazine articles, and every month I fight to make enough money doing it… and every month, I have to write that fucking check for my failing real estate empire. And it’s often a large check.
And then I panic for a while.
I was paying the bills today and something snapped. It dawned on me that I’ve had it. That I’m not going to take it anymore. It dawned on me that I’m so tired, so terribly, terribly tired. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of worrying all the time. I’m tired of doing my regular job and prospecting for even more regular job work as well as writing this blog and trying to make money online and trying to network and be funny and wait for something to go, and work and work and work, and worry and worry and worry.
I’m not despairing here. I don’t do despair, or at least, I don’t do it for long. I get pissed. And right now, I’m so pissed that it has to be this way. I’m so, so pissed at this current situation and am going to find a way to change it if it kills me. I’m going to find a way to be the writer I’m supposed to be, making my living being funny and interesting and creative. I’m going to do it, somehow, some way… and I’m going to do it so well that I’m going to buy my way out of this mess I’m in.
I’m so, so mad.
I fucking hate real estate. HATE it. Eventually I’ll write a book that they’ll stock next to Robert Kiyosaki’s books, and it will be called Why Real Estate is a Big Fat Ugly Whore That Should Be Beaten With a Club and the subhead will be Not That Whores Should Be Beaten With Clubs, but Real Estate is Such a Giant Whore That I’ll Make an Exception, and Also it Should be Drowned in Lye.
I hate being afraid to get the mail. I hate seeing email from certain people (property managers, insurance people) and being afraid to open it. I hate that I’m nervous when my wife goes downstairs into her office because that’s where she does the paperwork and pays the business bills. I hate these stupid little Post-Its she sticks on things to tell me how much extra money the fucking real estate business needs this month. I hate thinking about houses. I hate thinking about taxes, bills, money in general; I hate it when I see a real estate book on my shelf and I hate how I cringe when I’m playing this Bingo-like game with my son and the “house” tile comes up. I hate envelopes in the mail, and particularly the ripping sound of mail being opened. I hate credit cards, lines of credits, and banks. I hate this pile of shit on my floor that I’m supposed to get around to handling. I hate the city offices, the water department, the electric company… all of it.
I hate that my solution so far is to go out and stump for more of this work that I don’t want to do. I hate that to solve the problem in the short term, I seek more of what I shouldn’t be doing with my life.
I hate going in to see my kids at night and feeling bad when I see them lying peacefully asleep, because I worry every day that it’s all going to fall apart.
I HATE IT. I HATE FEELING LIKE A VICTIM.
And I know I’m not the only one. I think this is the emotion of the times: Fear. Like a giant test of faith. Like something that will serve us if we can just heed its message and act. If we’ll just take this fucking economy by the balls and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
This is all a very long-winded way of saying that this is WHY I’m working with Naomi of IttyBiz. Because halfway through writing this post, I realized that it sounded familiar.
It sounded like her page about Online Business School. Which was my very, very first contact with Naomi. Someone (I think it might have been @kt_writes on Twitter? Not sure) linked to that page and said, “I’m not ashamed to say this made me cry.” So I read it. And became an IttyBiz fan. And bought the Online Business School product. And am using it now. And you will watch me as I use it, which is the reason for all of this recent turbulence around here.
Somehow, some way, I’m going to make my living writing and doing fun shit online. Because I’m too mad to let anything else continue.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’re mad. If so, I feel your pain – oh, do I feel it. Maybe you’ll try to do what I’m doing. Maybe you’ll follow along, and we’ll see just how well it all works.