Nothing but blue skies do I see

My mom knows exactly how to put me in a bad mood, and often does. She disapproves of every decision I've made in life, from dropping out of high school to living ten miles from her now, instead of next door.

In my writing, I've often complained about her, so maybe she's my reverse-muse. But you know what else she is? A pretty good mom, a lot of the time.

Here I am, and she's half what made me. 

Sometimes Mom is funny in a good-natured way, and when she's not making me mental, sometimes she's just plain nice. I love her like a mom, she loves me like a son, and that's pretty terrific, sometimes.

A while back I texted her that I'm having no luck finding work, and that making the rent for June might be impossible. Usually I wouldn't open up to Mom about a personal problem, because if we're both still alive in ten years, she'll be needling me about the time I was broke in 2024. Only reason I mentioned my poverty to her, was as preamble to asking for a loan. 

But I didn't have to ask. Mom texted back, "How much is your rent? I can help for a while. PLEASE let me know. I mean it."

This was a few weeks ago. There was still enough time that, if I found work, I'd have a paycheck by month's end, so I answered that I greatly appreciated the offer, and I might take her up on it if things got desperate. 

Hadn't mentioned it again and neither did she, but time has run out and I'm still unemployed. So it was a wonderful surprise yesterday afternoon, when the mailman brought a check for $1,000, from my mom. That'll pay the rent with a few hundred left over, so the urgent emergency at the end of next week has been averted.

I texted thanks and very much meant it, and ended with, "Thanks again, and I *will* pay it back," complete with a smiley-face.

She texted back, "The check was a gift, not a loan," but I'm still going to pay it back. Or at least I'll buy her breakfast at our every breakfast for the rest of her life.

Really and truly, what a great mom I've got.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

There's more optimism on the horizon, and wow, this is big.

For reasons that boil down to my own stupidity and stubbornness, I've never applied for Social Security. 

It'll be demeaning. ... Bureaucracies make me want to stab someone. ... And anyway, I'm working and don't need it. ...

But nobody's hiring me, and when they do the job is so awful it literally, physically makes me sick.

My siblings and half a dozen friends — a few of them right here on these pages — have urged me to wise up and apply for Social Security, so I've finally started the process. 

The ssa.gov website was just what I expected — nothing but frustration — so I called Social Security to make an in-person appointment. After waiting three hours on hold, a very nice and competent lady helped me through the first steps of the labyrinth.

As we talked on the phone, I asked what my monthly payment would be. For 1/3 of my life, I worked under the table and filed no tax returns, so I wasn't expecting much. My best hope was that SocSec might pay a few hundred bucks monthly — enough to help with the rent, but certainly not enough to pay it.

The lady on the phone pushed a few buttons, asked a few questions, and answered with a figure that made my dentures fall out, and I don't even have dentures. The number she quoted might not be enough for a lot of people, but I live cheap and always have — it would be enough for me to retire, and never work again.

I've never had the money or brains to plan for retirement. Always figured I'd keep working until I physically couldn't work, and then become either homeless or a ward of the state. 

So this is the impossible come true.

Pessimistic me, I'll issue my own disclaimers: The lady on the phone might've been wrong. Maybe my years of not filing will disqualify me. Getting 'approved' will take months, there will certainly be glitches and problems, and I won't see an actual check for months after that, so I'm still looking for work.

But even the glimpse of maybe not having to work is a supernova sunrise.

Can't hardly find words to convey it.

When I was a kid, it was school. When I grew up, it became work. For the entirety of my life, even on days off and vacations, there's been the fact, like a slow-growing cancer, that soon I gotta be back to a place I hate. Even during my recent months in the recliner when I was hardly looking for work, the fact of needing work loomed over me, and of course, it still does.

The absence of that feeling would be intensely liberating, something I'd never imagined, never allowed myself to even daydream about, but...

Today I'm daydreaming, that some months into the future, maybe life will be about living instead of working?


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  1. Glad to hear the Social Security is coming along. You don't want be 70 years old looking at want ads, then trying to make a *good impression* on some clown you can't stand.

    1. And I, sir, am glad that you're glad. I still need to make a good impression on some schmucks soon, but it'll be the last time, I hope to hell.


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