I hate paying taxes. I live in Pittsburgh proper with a 3% income tax, which as local taxes go is steep. But I get trash and recycling pickup for free. That’s the most tangible benefit. Others I don’t see so clearly, apart from all of the construction, all of the time. So tax time is the one time all year you’re gonna hear me piss and moan re: taxes if I don’t get a big enough refund, or worse, have to pay more, which I did, stupid local taxes, stupid Pittsburgh.
But I try not to, the rest of the year at least, because a) of course we need taxes, and b) money is depressing to think about, forever, period, except possibly in the thirty seconds after you realize you’ve won the lottery, but before that swift second hand swings around to the twelve again the dollar firmly falls back into the depressing column.
I’ve recently been pondering a world without money. Like, could we get rid of it, now that we’re as advanced as we are, assuming we are advanced and not, just, the furthest down the timeline we’ve ever been. Could we still have the grocery store, which I consider to be the essential element of metropolitan life. Would we have teachers if we didn’t pay them. Would anyone collect the garbage. Would there still be garbage, or would we stop making things designed to be thrown away.
Would you feed me, if I were hungry? Would I feed you?
Sometimes I see people I judge as the type of person I could never reach. Someone who would never read me, never agree with me on anything, which makes me realize almost everyone in the entire world does not read me, making it a very select group. Which to me implies a certain commonality amongst all you whose eyeballs are drifting in the vicinity of these words. What do you share? What would you have to talk about, if you all found yourselves in a room for a time? The people I see, whom I prejudge probably unfairly but I do, usually appear highly concerned with something I consider entirely trivial. Even to them, even to the person so in-the-moment concerned, I see them obsessing over something and I know they won’t remember this day or this moment ten years, perhaps ten minutes from now, people walking around actively making non-memories. Consuming time, throwing it away. I see in their future a haunting sense of time passing too quickly, a devaluation of their own lives perpetrated by themselves and those they consider close friends, a reliance on fifteen-second sound bytes, the extent of their expertise a critical reception of a commercial before a YouTube video, or the ability to predict how many ‘likes’ a given tweet will receive.
I would do my job for free if they let me come in on my own time, make my own schedule, learn what I want and put myself into the most useful role I could fulfill. I would probably show up ten hours a week, totally uncompensated, to take advantage of the acquisition of knowledge and skills to be found only there. Then I’d go volunteer, except we wouldn’t have to call it that if there were no money, I’d go down to the grocery store and work for a while until I felt justified taking as much food as I’d be looking to take that day, and then I’d go write, and compose, and draw, and play, and love. This would be my everyday, and it would resemble most people’s, except when I felt like doing something different, and except when they did, too.
I hate money. Worst god ever invented.
And the part I hate the most is that I live in a super rich country, so much so that it is our number one crop. Like how people make fun of the midwest, Iowa in particular, for their corn. Cornfed, we say, like an insult usually. We are all moneyfed. The U.S., moneyfed. Ask a member of an agrarian society (polite term for cornfed), somebody you just meet at a party like for the first time, hey, identify yourself, human, they say My name is William and I have this much acreage capable of producing this much corn. Ask an American, hey American, identify yourself, and we say My name is Uncle Sam and this is how much income I can produce based on my age and education.
I am Dave, I am an engineer.
I am Susie, I am a vice-principal.
I am Chester, a molestor, which I only mention because I don’t currently have a paid occupation and it’s far less embarrassing to admit to my unfortunate affection for poking at kiddie wangers than it is to admit I currently don’t accumulate any capital. USA, USA.
Yes but Chester what are you proud of. Susie, what are you fond of doing in your free time. (Hopefully something more uplifting than Chester.) Dave, tell me, do you mean to say you drive trains? Do you captain multi-ton vessels down the iron-guided trails from sea to shining, a passion borne out of a childhood affinity for models of plastic and electric and tin, do you still open the windows on your journeys and breathe in the Oklahoma dust and stale particles of cattle fields and love it, love it, do you breathe old cow shit and love it? Or do you mean you make six figures at a specialty you can’t explain to me in any sort of engaging conversational way, nor would you want to because you spend most of your time trying to forget where you are and the pissant you answer to and your sole source of release is the occasional minor arson, typically a dumpster or sometimes a hay bale, when you can sneak away long enough to make it out to the sticks?
I’m not trying to blame you, Dave, you’ve been presented with a game and you’ve played the game by those rules and you’re winning. Poverty is losing and you’re not in poverty so you’re winning.
All of which is just to say, no, I do not intend to self-publish my novel, because the likelihood of reaching the most people, of being read by the most people, does not come through self-publishing, although that might be the most direct and perhaps the most immediate way, to get what I want, to be read, to communicate. Not to mention I wouldn’t have to charge anything for it. But long-term, I think not. I think finding the right publisher, the right editor, the right agent. That will be the best way. I am an American and we depend on money and I hate that but I would have to get paid enough not to be forced to create money some other way. I hate money but I need it, same as you. Give me enough it to give me my time back. That’s all I want. I had time once. Some people look at school as a preamble to adulthood, which is fair because that is how it’s set up, like a factory, clock in clock out, it puts the knowledge in its skin, but I didn’t look at it like that. Not really. I chose to learn then, I would choose to learn now. I would study. I would take things apart and put them back together. I would learn, and once I’d learned enough to feel the need to share I would share, I would communicate, and not by talking although if I could talk well I would never write, there wouldn’t be a need, but I don’t talk well so I’d write, I’d invent and depict and describe and reveal and show you everything I believe to be true, and you could agree with me or not, you could read me or not, but I suspect a lot of people would, read me, believe me, like you are right now, because what you have in common with what everyone else currently reading this is not actually, I’d wager, something terribly uncommon. Whatever it is, I believe most people do have it. Even if they don’t know it. They have it. They should read me. I could tell them so many things.