Just finished your essay "Welcome to Middle-Class Lockdown." The intellectual brain is still processing. The feeling part of my mind identifies with much of your imagery and descriptions. Whatever I have been longing for belongs to that more collective part that feels deeply about something (a lot of things) you have described. How to get off the merry-go-round seems to become the task.
I support myself as a housepainter. In a material way I am sliding backward. Only the well-heeled can hire me -- not working folk. The well-heeled are really beginning to frighten me. What I do for them is no comfort, not even respected for the skill or physical challenge to perform the work. I am just the purveyor of "more stuff," more content to fill the context of the lives they script. Sadly, in the "lockdown" it still takes a shit-pot of dollars just to keep the house warm and lit, insured and the taxes paid. Truth is, I do not know how I let it happen, how I bought in to it. What am I trying to say? Shit. Your writing touches me deeply and is provocative. Live long and well -- by your own rules.
In the long run I think the only way to get off the American imperlialst driven money wheel is to escape the US commodity fetishist culture completely by getting outside the country. It is easy for a man approaching geezerhood to say that. I do understand that it is not an option for most people, whose lives are deeply invested in the system because it is the only one they know and the only one they have, especially those with families and working people who are one payday away from losing it all. But also those people who think they are well educated and worldly, but have never shit in an outhouse, killed a chicken, or had hookworm, and therefore have no idea what shit, blood and mercy and flesh is in its full glory. Americans are fortunate in the short term and vastly unfortunate at the same time in the long term.
I guess the good news is that it takes a while for an empire to fall apart -- or be destroyed by fascists. The next generation has some brave choices to make, worse than I ever had to make. They will have to stand up and fight oppression within their own country and their very homes, the ones they will never own, and within their lives and minds which will give them no rest at night, no matter hiow much they can carry the weight of the lie in daylight.
But first, I think everything will have to fall completely apart. Awfully apart. Maybe not. I hope not. But it takes a lot to get comfortable citizens of an empire to give up Doritos, Starbucks and the silly belief that their sweet lard asses amount to more than worm food in the eyes of god, who also happens to love worms, perhaps even more than man because worms behave according to the rules of nature that he wrote. Gaia and goddess freaks may interpret this as the goddess' will, or whatever. It's all the same cosmic song to which man has lost the tune.
Anyway, as I always say in my essays, any kindred spirit is welcome at anyplace I find on the planet. Especially if you bring rum and beautiful women, songs, guitars and tales of rebel glory.
Right now though, I am looking at ways to approach some kind of good fight an aging hippie of a literary bent can conduct within the country. Which leaves me with the same problem as you: all the fucking money it takes for working folks just to have a warm place to shit in this country. That is the terrorism the totalist capitalist state exercises over you and me. Meanwhile, illiterate Indians along Monkey River in Belize tonight sleep well, smootch their wives, yell at the dogs to shut up and close their eyes as the stars hurl above thm -- every cell in their body at least traveling in the direction of sleep and peace, which exists for no man but settles on some few fortunate humans in this, man's final age, at least once a day.
I'm giving America until the next elections. My wife, who loves our home and our community here, as do I, (fuck, I was born here) is working through her issues about leaving. Just because I will does not mean she has to. She has family who caught the whole middle class ride at the right time and who would never understand her leaving "the greatest country on earth." I was lucky enough to have a fundamentalist family from whom I had to separate myself early in life in order to even have a friggin life. Anyhoo ... like the old bluesman Furry Lewis said to me: "Things is what they is, son."
Speaking of house painting and home remodeling and repair, etc., I have always had a personal problem hiring people to do what a blue collar son such as myself should well do for himself. For example, I could never hire a housecleaner. Thus, when my lungs and my back got so bad I could no longer do these things, I was in a fix.
The solution was in hiring people with whom I could established a mutual need for one another in this world. So five years ago we established a relationship with a construction guy getting off alcohol. He became like one of the family, and even though he has been through a bout with cocaine since then, we are still family and I get more than a paint job or a cabinet or a staircase when he works here. I get the friendship of a good man, a sideways son actually, fighting a good fight. And he gets my undying support love and respect.
I dunno how all the big crash is gonna shake down or even when, but there is no reason not to reestablish the human framework in our relationships now -- whether in Belize, or Winchester VA -- or both.
Ah, but I have rambled.