Just in time for my birthday, I've given myself the gift that keeps on giving: guilt.
I'm again in a position of feeling torn between being a responsible adult and chasing my dreams. But unlike the other times I've written about this, this time it's more directly a matter of resources.
Y'see, not long ago I bought a bulk order of my book so I could distribute the copies - or who knows, maybe even sell them - to try to drum up a little bit more attention. Even if I just get one (positive) review on Amazon.com, it would be worth it. So I spent some money and wound up with a giant box of copies of I Need a Job.
The problem is, that same week, I got several massive bills from the hospital(s) following Lulabelle's prolonged stay(s). And by "massive," I don't mean, "Ouch, looks like we'll have to tighten our belts for a couple of months." I mean, "This will change all aspects of my life for the next seven to ten years while I struggle to repay a crippling medical debt."
We're talking half of my annual salary here. That kind of massive.
I've already put in calls to all the different organizations involved in the billing to try to get the cost down. Right now we're just crossing our fingers and waiting to hear good news. No matter what happens, we're still going to be stuck with a pretty bad bill, but if we're lucky it'll be downgraded from "sell the house and rethink your life" to "looks like you're eating more ramen for a year."
I would go through the whole, long, stupid - incredibly stupid - story, but... well, I'm not sure how much of this I'm at liberty to say online, nor do I know how interested you are in reading about it. It's a twisted tale full of bad decisions and insane bureaucracy at every turn, and I've been powerless for most of it. But here's the key points:
1) The American healthcare system is just plain ridiculous. The fact that I've worked in the position I have for the last five years and still haven't had practical coverage for my family is a testament to its failures. I can't believe anybody out there actually likes the way we handle things. You've either got to be rich or an idiot.
2) The public insurance exchange is simultaneously a shining beacon of hope as it was the only way we were able to get insurance in the first place, and also one of the most ridiculous, Sisyphean webs of bad grammar, poor communication, complicated instructions, shitty web design, and frustration I've ever been trapped in.
3) All that being said, the instigating cause of all of this actually isn't government- or policy-related at all. The first domino that fell is just a really, really huge batch of Stupid. I wish I could write publicly about it, but I'd better bite my tongue lest I make things even worse for myself. Suffice to say that it is a uniquely stupid and tragic story. Did I mention stupid? Because it's soooooo fucking stupid. The kind of arbitrary crap that I will never, ever, ever forgive certain people for. You know who you are. You know what you did.
Anyway, my point in bringing all this up is that I've just directly put my writing up against my family and prioritized my writing. It's... not a good feeling.
Stephanie has been supportive of the decision, so it's not like there's any fighting going on. (Yet.) And Lulabelle is too tiny to care about much besides being fed. So my family is as on board as they can be. Yet I can't shake my shame. The couple hundred bucks I spent on those books could've gone toward the first month of repayment.
I guess what I'm saying is, please buy my book. I could really use a few more sales right now to justify this. Or at least to break even.