More and more I wonder whether I can parlay my own socioeconomic and sexual marginalization into something more than futile pathos. In the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions celibacy is upheld as a personal sacrifice enabling an increase in holiness, the premise being that without attachments to children, wives, mistresses, and the like, a priest or religious is freed to pursue a life of principle and virtue that ongoing entanglements with loved ones and their self-interests would obstruct. Notwithstanding the venality and cynicism that can corrupt a church, there is some real wisdom to this stance. This has little to do with what a church happens to be using its celibate clergy to accomplish at any given moment, which could well be vulgar or disordered as all hell. The Catholic Church as an institution has gotten itself into a gobsmacking succession of scandals over the centuries, but much of what these scandals demonstrate about the Church is that its priests and bishops fail to live up to the wisdom that they preach, not that the wisdom itself is bogus. One of the goals of priestly and religious celibacy, even if it’s rarely presented so coherently, is to help the consecrated avoid getting weighed down by the worldly prejudices, self-interests, and peer pressure of those around them. The point is to keep these ministers, scholars, and contemplatives from ending up with wives who insist on moving to a “good school district” or a “good neighborhood” with no consideration of the costs. Or maybe it’s about keeping a nun from falling under the sway of an unscrupulous socially climbing husband who can’t help using her as a prop to manipulate his fellow frauds and hustlers.
I’d be thrilled to discover that I’m using my own recurrent celibacy and social isolation to any such good end. Through my most grievous fault, etc., ad nauseam. I pick some fruit when I can, so there’s that, and it’s probably just for financial reasons that I’m not picking fruit this very week, since the fruitboy job market has looked more or less good this season in the Pacific Northwest. Alternately, assuming that I really am called to the law, the infestation of rentiers at American law schools has become truly extreme since my college years, if not earlier, and there’s no doubt at all that these institutional parasites would be dislodged from their host institutions if the applicant pool dried up to nothing. Probably not much more than a third of the viable applicant pool boycotting all the rent-seeking law schools would force all the shysters who have lodged themselves in the legal academy in order to plunder it onto public assistance, where they belong. So maybe there’s some hope. On the other hand, tanking a few of the most obviously bottomfeeding law schools, like Thomas Jefferson, isn’t nearly enough. Nursing has its own abundant problems, and this time I’m not talking about Charles Cullen and sexy male nurse Lynn Majors. I have an ear to the ground on what’s wrong with nursing today, and with American medical care in general, and it’s ever so much worse than a one-off serial murderer in scrubs flying under the radar for a few years now and then. Maybe I should write the latest book about it. Maybe I should write a book about Northside Juice and the Shady Blues, or about the better sorts of Mounties sexually harassing one another and selling cocaine to the home baking crowd in Kamloops. Honestly, any of that would be less depressing.
What the fuck am I doing here? Sometimes I have no idea. Even thinking about this sort of thing presents the risk of falling into a quagmire of Mr. Rogers McTouchy McFeely self-esteem-whoring. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor to try committing less suicide than the rest of Pittsburgh. Now that’s a town that could use some hotep. Latimore, you still have work to do. You know what’s scary, though? Everything I’ve written in this essay so far feels focused compared to my life in general. As they say, one can’t even.
If I have a calling, it must be to something more than just straddling the utterly incompatible cultures that I’ve come to inhabit. Regarding the Insurance Schmuck and his cronies, Joe Dirtbag, the Family Shrew, Pot-o-Shit Friend, Mixups in my Mind, and Psychotarp as vectors of my own cultural enrichment would feel like extreme douchebaggery. Besides, this half-Faulknerian, half-Fitzgeraldian drama would be much more entertaining if I were reading about it. Instead I’m repeatedly living it. I’m codependent with a bunch of pushy yuppies who would still regard me as something of a loser available for use as their foil if I made anything less than about $30,000 in a job that they find prestigious or $60,000 in something they consider menial, and at the same time I’m invested in a farm that the principal is allowing it to turn into a gigantic pile of shit and rats’ nests in furtherance of his own ego.
This is a yawning cultural gap. It makes the bad feeling between workaday Mexicans and workaday Americans look like child’s play. I’m frequently in close contact with people at both of these extremes, and I can hardly fathom what spiritual sicknesses drive either of them. That’s how deranged I find both of these cohorts, looking in on them from the sidelines. Among the yuppies, I’m dealing with Type A’s who would sooner exhaust themselves at work than settle for $60k in reliable annual earnings, are unduly fixated on stupid Veblen goods and assume against all evidence that I am as well, and either can’t or won’t recognize that their FIRE sector jobs are less tangibly productive than I am in a single day in the fields. Among the hippies, I’m dealing with a filthy old geezer who doesn’t regard a winery full of rats and piles of their shit as something that absolutely has to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Understanding these situations is theoretically the first step to resolving them, but I don’t know how the hell to put theory into action. So far, the main result is my ongoing distress and fatigue at the realization that I’m surrounded by all these arrogant dipshits and can’t figure out how to reason or scare any decency into them when they need some. I’m repeatedly caught in the crossfire between two wildly divergent groups, both of which are behaving atrociously. One needs to indiscriminately brag about being self-made men who own late-model Mercedes, and the other needs to brag about being a self-made man with the inalienable agorist right to illegally charge rent on an unplumbed shack full of rat and human waste. Experiencing these cultures isn’t an adventure; it’s a bunch of excruciating bullshit that I shouldn’t have to endure and that most people wouldn’t tolerate in the first place. Frankly, both of these cultures suck ass and should not exist.
The other nightmare I keep facing, of course, is that I don’t seem to have a prayer of making a living from my involvement with either of these crowds. These people I know in the FIRE sector, a few of them prone to real shitbaggery, swear by networking, but they’ll clam up and give me the hairy eyeball for being uncouth if I bluntly ask any of them to set me up with some kind of job. I doubt I’d be able to parlay my relationship with them into minimum wage one day a week. Mind you, they know how to look out for Number One; that’s why they’re in FIRE and not in some line of work of actual, provable value to society. Hell, that’s the main reason why I went into environmental consulting and didn’t bolt outright any of the times I found that my work life had turned into a quagmire of shit for no discernible good reason. But I’ve never really found it distasteful to socialize with people I believe to be parasitic mercenaries in their work lives; what I object to is getting badgered into going along with someone’s self-justifying bullshit about how he’s basically doing the work of the Lord. Ditzy communications majors I can tolerate, but that I can barely abide.
Maybe the salient question is how much I must listen to these self-dealers and, worse, flagrant cult-following bullshit artists insinuate that I’m the crazy one for trying to live in truth. Wow Much havel Sucz solidarnosc Very walesa. Or, for that matter, a shambling rural deadbeat and fraud whom I’ve had grounds to sue for years. Joe Dirtbag gets to not pay me because apprenticeship opportunity/unpaid internships, not discharge his fiduciary responsibilities to his investors because reasons (not having been sued yet among them, I suppose), and offer me a cluttered hall full of rat shit for accommodations because it’s all good, man. When push comes to shove, he admits (although so far not to me) that, yeah, he’s broke. Great job, asswipe; how about informing me of this because I control an investment and it materially affects the viability of the farm, and also my prospects of ever squeezing a dollar of payroll income out of this operation for all the work I’ve done? Being embarrassed about one’s own personal and business insolvency doesn’t make nondisclosure to stakeholders anything other than fraud. Here’s something eerie: both Joe Dirtbag and the Insurance Schmuck are disturbingly reminiscent of Donald Trump, but they both seem to regard Trump as an unconscionable over-the-top fraud. JD’s behavior vis-a-vis the farm is extremely reminiscent of the Donald.
This shit keeps coming into my life, and I don’t know how to excise it without also excising a part of myself. I can viscerally understand why people return to abusive lovers (although not so much violent ones, since Joe Dirtbag’s menacing behavior immediately throws me into a stance of one false move and I sic cops on your ass). Sometimes I try to take to heart advice to be less sensitive to this sort of behavior, but then I recall that I’ve watched the Insurance Schmuck alienate probably a dozen mostly solid friends in real time and been credibly told that Joe Dirtbag has alienated everyone at the farm who’s worth jack shit for agriculture except for me (sort of) and the Ragin’ Canajun. As I’ve explained before, I consider Joe Dirtbag an object lesson in why Amish communities shun their miscreants. Some people are just so charmingly manipulative that they need to be marginalized by sworn, implacable consensus. I wish this worked better for us English.
In fairness, the Insurance Schmuck’s abusive behavior is more nuanced. E.g., I’ve never had reason to believe that it has come close to business fraud. What I’m still trying to figure out is what the fuck can be done about the broader yuppie project that he’s joined. We’ve had thirty-five or forty years of crescendoing yuppie aggression. Christopher Lasch was right: these fuckers are trying to secede from everyone else. If they’re forced to pay lip service to us, they will, but otherwise, they’ll continue to shit on us for not getting with the program.
Hence the high-decibel moral panic over Po’ Whitey and the demon smack, and the one in the eighties about Po’ Darky and the crackpipe. Junkies are probative of what, exactly? That a country of thirty-odd million attracts a few hundred or a few thousand junkies to the Low Track? That Kevin Williamson is superior to Appalachia, which he dislikes? That wasn’t no white people up in this motherfucker before heroin? (Camden, of course.) It’s too bad it couldn’t be better white people, I used to figure, although the junkies are probably anything but racist around other friends of the dope. (Sactown West End represent! Voluntary integration, m’cracka.) Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go cruising for bad dope sets like a fucking moron. I’ve never touched that shit; donating blood or getting blood drawn for lab work is needles enough for me. But I have to wonder about mandarins from cokehead circles in the big cities spending so much time shitting on the dispossessed native working class of this country for its drug problem and having so little to say about certain SoCal cholos and their ethnic cleansing problem, itself probably not a movement of great sobriety. Straight outta Compton the black man goes. Looking back on my time on the edge of Eureka’s westside tweaker ghetto, and my very occasional encounters with tweakers in Medford, I realize that I was never personally aware of more than a few dozen losers making asses or minor criminal nuisances of themselves at a given time. I say this as someone who has always regarded the northwest and far northeast sides of Eureka as majorly fucked up.
Notice that this moral panic concerns the poors. I’ve known some high bougies with serious drug problems. One of the first friends I made at Dickinson, the daughter of a US Attorney, I think she told me, got sauced to the fifth circle of hell and barred from campus during our first semester. I found her profile on LinkedIn a few months ago and was thrilled to see that she had apparently sobered up and looked twenty years younger than when I knew her. (Fuck, I sure don’t look any younger.) Shit, look at Rob Ford. That guy knew how to get fucked up, partner. Look, I’m against drug abuse, and I’m definitely against rural squalor and dysfunction, but any RCMP public information sergeant who hooks Kamloops up with that righteous white powder is a moral improvement on Kevin Williamson shitting on the entire eastern half of Kentucky for being backwards and insufficiently down with Jesus. Buckley please. Some think-tanker who acts like he looks down on the rest of his own high school class complaining about dissolute poors in flyover country in a magazine founded by one of the most notorious toffs on this side of the Atlantic won’t get anyone off the H Train, or the #TrumpTrain. Just some unfriendly, unsolicited #TeshTips for the condescending. You’ve probably heard stories about midcentury noblesse oblige. What we get in its stead these days are anti-drug sermons and lectures to go west, young man from the latest Buckley buggers.
Last night the CBS Evening News showed some poor bastard in Massachusetts (Arlington, IIRC) home-grilling and shooting up heroin, then going into rehab, then his brother crying about how he was shooting up heroin or some shit. Yeah, we get the point. What the Cathedral doesn’t show in these segments is articulate, coherent, sober people who have no idea when they’ll find work again. We’ve been legion since at least late 2008. Something like five million Americans dropped completely off the aggregate payroll in 2009, and it wasn’t to take a gap year in Europe. What this country needs is more of Sunday morning I’m too tired to go to church, but I thank God for the work, and less of OMG you don’t have a job what’s wrong with you. Also less of why haven’t you gone to graduate school yet because I want to keep prestigious friends, not field hands and supermarket baggers. Counterpoint: have you looked at American graduate schools lately, or at the job prospects of their new alumni? I’m sick of rearguing this shit with yuppies who never have a positive reason for me to go to grad school that doesn’t make me want to barf.
I’m also sick of pretending to be able to make ends meet to ward off humiliating interrogations from people who make at $80k or more and have stable jobs and permanent housing. Uh, yeah, I’m less solvent than y’all. What the hell else did you expect? Must I regress to resposting Facebook memes about what it’s like to be broke? Would that even get through to people who post about #yachtlife without a hint of irony? Realize that this puts me in the position of siding with meme-mongering contacts who either act like idiots on Facebook or are certifiable idiots on account of the barely literate IM exchanges that they’ve had with friends of mine (“girl who doesnt puffer the dragon….correction pop drop and lock it when shes sober”).
Point of clarification: these comments were from the racist white sperg at Temple, whom I’ve never met, about his need for a sober girlfriend who’s got rhythm. When I say that he needs to hire a black hooker, I say so with cause. In words of rapper psy whoop whoop sexy ladies compliment. This dude makes the dorky, frumpy, muumuu-clad lady caller who followed me into the student union with a man-dork friend’s help and stared at me and three friends point-blank for five minutes straight look smoother than Leon Bridges. Man-Dork was wearing a safari hat and enjoyed trench coats in cold weather, so we’re using a low bar here. That shit was fucked up, but it wasn’t evil. Making fun of the less well-off is.
Facebook meme-havers be like bitch I broke. Add your own graphics, because in summation, bitch I concur, and your lips are movin’. Nah, forget diamond earrings. I’m just trying to work out a clear enough budget to know whether or not I’ll be able to afford commuting and car maintenance costs when I head back west. It’s a miracle that I’m still on good terms with anyone in the top quartile of anything around here, because it isn’t just Meghan Trainor’s submissive boyfriends who are here to deny-ny-ny the Fourth Turning.