Today's entry is 48 hours after a big personal decision. Cumulative rage at the levels of harassment, insult and sometimes active sabotage by assorted persons involved with caring for disabled people in NY State have finally boiled over - when combined with the equation of "the cost of living in Westchester County."
Folks, y'all might remember the great risk of leaping the gap. DSS (Welfare) would divide any advance I get for a novel by the number of months of benefits that payment would cover and cut me off completely for that many months before I could get any benefits. DSS pays $408 in cash monthly benefit. $271 of it goes to housing allotment to pay rent. A search online to find a better apartment in the same price range turned up NO apartments available in Westchester and surrounds within the budget of $950 that the housing agency sets as a cap. This is *without* utilities, phone or food. This is just rent.
A new author advance might pay for one month of living in a dump, after taxes. One month. Fairly tight month at that if the weather's bad, given the dump has baseboard heating and is structured so that with its large windowed Western exposure in summers it's a literal oven, I lost about a month to heat exhaustion. The agency takes $271 out of that Welfare check, I get the rest, and the hospital pays the electric bill or I would be living in the dump without power. The previous apartment the agency subsidized, they paid electric out of the housing allotment.
I was invited to move South again to live with my family of choice, repeatedly Kitten and VandalHeart suggested moving down with them. I held out up here because up here no matter how rotten they are, there *are* social services.
Then I started to get closer to getting paid.
I had planned that if Welfare cut me I'd stick to the housing agency contract and not get thrown out, because it's percentage based. If I actually made $408 a month I'd have a lot more takehome out of it than now, with their 30% of income figure. It may have sunk in on them that they might have had to carry me for months and months without anything coming in. I got a letter with a Catch-22 in it demanding that I have to do things I'm not physically capable of and maintain an irrationally high level of cleanliness in my apartment, as well as keep it arranged for the convenience of normally abled people rather than mine. I have arranged storage tubs as endtables and put a lot of things out on bookshelves in easy reach that don't normally go on bookshelves to reduce the amount of time I spend on my feet, especially when I'm laid up. I have some of them stacked by the bed in a good improvised "bed-desk" arrangement that looks weird but DOES allow me to work on my laptop if I have to do a week of bedrest to recover from a health crisis. It worked the last time I had one and I saw no reason to move it - but that was one of the things they listed as "the following issues must be rectified."
Those of you who have families or roommates, would you consider it excessive for them to complain about one small stack of folded clean laundry not yet put away into drawers as "All clothing should be placed in drawers and closet"?
I'm not capable of mopping those floors without buying a couple of weeks of bedrest. While I'm fighting Deadline Due on homework and the book. I do not yet have the promised housekeeping help from the hospital agency.
I got fed up with fighting for what I didn't want and putting up with bullshit - and then Kitten and Vandalheart let me know *why* they could afford to just support me if I wasn't making anything - that when I am earning my share of the joint family household expenses would be in TOTAL - between $200 and $300 and that includes food. (Yes, food is a variable item on that budget and Kitten is a brilliant Cheap-Cook as well as Gourmet Hobbyist). They don't expect me to do housework beyond picking up after myself, which I always do anyway. They don't expect income as long as they see I'm working in my work hours. DUH!
I wouldn't have been able to do it then, back years ago when I was all hung up about my writing. But I now have this crazed goal in my head to try to make my monthly income flat-out from the get go. I'm not moving till at least the beginning of October. More likely a month later. That's not *quite* time enough for early returns - but it means some of the earliest will come back within the month after I've moved. And some e-markets respond quickly.
It started to look - like - I won't necessarily need to care about any of that, down there. So far my batting average on short stories is a sale per ten submissions to paying markets. And topical nonfiction sells a little easier than fiction - it's also just as much fun if it's a topic I enjoy. That means placing two to four pieces a month to become one of the stabler members of the New Orleans Floating Bohemian Underground.
I made a resolution: Submission Mondays, starting now one day a week is scheduled for "sort and rewrite and submit short material from my hard drive." With about 250 short stories and articles, (200 articles, 50 stories) unsold and rough, it will be a while before I've managed to ship them all. While I knock out short material roughs anytime I'm either moved to a topic or like a Daily Exercise. I will just make time for that. Most of all I'm going to get in the habit *before* the move so that by the time I do move I am just used to 'that's what I do on Mondays.' It also puts all the interruptible short activities that take willpower on the same day of the week that I'd deal with bills or anything else to do with the day world.
The cost of living down there is that low. The odds of any kind of job are that scarce too, which is why it's that low. But my income does not rest on getting a job. It rests on strategy in doing the one I can't get fired from.
Resolution posted. :)
Robert and Ari >^..^< (I'm sleeping in a weird position on the floor just to confuse Robert! Look at my fuzzy elbow!)