It’s The Least Wonderful Time Of My Year

Sure, it’s only the ides of December, but for those of you who are still fortunate enough to have a regular job your 2023, for all intents and purposes, is wrapping up today.  And you don’t even have to be part of the workforce to pick up on the clues.  The year-end review columns and special sections of what few newspapers and magazines still publish are dropping, the final episodes of whatever qualified as fall TV are coming and going, and all around me I hear people making plans for well-deserved extended Christmas breaks to be around loved ones in person.

For me, since in spite of some recent flirtations, my faith still nets out as Jewish, my holiday season officially ended last night, my much-tarnished childhood menorah ablaze with one last night with all of the candles burning in a row as the songs we once sang happily around it would proclaim.  But as of this writing, those flames are out, and, for me, the darkness of yet another truly lonely and isolated holiday season is here.

And since I know a couple of recurring payments hit today, and, in spite of some alleged progress maddeningly I’m still awaiting some sort of gig to stay afloat, amidst mounting pressure from those who were at one point willing to help me but now have progressed to the point where they literally can’t wait to curtail it, I’m feeling especially dark, because in a 31-day month I know damn well that I’ve got a couple of weeks where I’m literally scrambling for pennies and seeking out whatever I can glean at a food pantry or some other place where “take what you need” is offered up.  More than a few meals, albeit not the healthiest ones I usually scarf down, that I eat toward the end of the month come from such resources, and that’s pretty much been how it’s gone down for me in 2023.

Sure, I intuitively know I’ve fared better than some.  I’m exceptionally aware an awful lot of people I know lost their jobs this year, particularly those in media who work for larger companies where impossible goals resulted in knee-jerk reactions to gut large chunks of critical thinkers who are perceived as expendable by executives slavishly devoted to a Sisyphusian task of trying to make budget, all the while making far less informed decisions that more often that not are proven to be wrong.  And I’m even more aware than I knew far too many people that didn’t make it out of 2023 alive; some having at least lived long, productive lives; others who didn’t even live to see middle age and have left behind devastated families and friends.  But those survivors do have each other, literally and figuratively, to lean on.

Me?  I can barely afford gas, let alone travel.  I’m grateful that I even got 15 minutes of a FaceTime call with my loved ones, where I was yet again reminded of a pending deadline to address my dumpster fire of self-sustinence.  Not that any invitation to actually see any of them in person has been extended, mind you.

Plenty of alleged friends whose lives are far too busy to even pick up a phone might place this musing in the category of “self-destructive”.  After all, someone of my intellect and experience shouldn’t be so transparent and open.  Social media postings, I am told, should be nothing more than positive news, congratulatory thumbs ups and occasionally snarky, dopey pop culture references.

But that’s not the world I live in.  You try being publicly Jewish these days in a city like Los Angeles.  This is a representative sample of how Jews in this city are these days–desperate, tone-deaf disrupters who have reached their own breaking points pleading for peace, yet can’t even show the despair of their faces because, even after three years and countless amounts of evidence to the contrary, still insist on covering their mouths with utterly worthless and ineffective diapers.  My temple has all but eschewed public worship since October 7th, once again plunging us into a virtual world where isolation is deemed a necessity.

And, for me, it’s a reminder of when things were truly at their darkest.  When I myself nearly died four Christmases ago, with supposed loved ones actually rooting for me not to make it.  The last time I heard from one of them, I was left an endearing voicemail that all but prayed for it to finally happen in the coming months.  But at least that person chooses to try and make contact.  That’s far too much for an awful lot of others to even find the time to do.  Most days, aside from one special friend and that supposed business partner, the only calls I get are labeled “spam risk” and from the many creditors who I owe vast amounts of money to.  Needless to say, I don’t return those, and those spam risks are typically connected to non-working numbers.

I do hear often from people–or at least bots–that I’ve applied to for jobs that a project has closed or that “they went in another direction”.  In the last few weeks, that’s been a constant.  Even the occasional consulting calls, for which I never fail to go through the exhaustively thorough vetting process to be sure I’m not a board member or an elected officer of a company, have dried up of late.   2023 was also a year where I was “karened” by two rideshare companies whose appeal policy is limited to the simple question “do you have any dashcam video that disproves what a customer alleges or not?”  I didn’t.  Both banned me.

I also was told by two different political campaigns that my efforts aside from monetary contributions weren’t needed.  I do seem to get a ton of requests–texts, e-mails and even voicemails–from our esteemed president, our brilliant and qualified vice president, a number of local officials seeking office and even a few trying to oust the likes of Lauren Boebert for me to cough up a few bucks and help them out, since, of course, they’re all acting in my best interest.  And G-d forbid I dare even try to think that Joe Biden isn’t worthy of sainthood, lest that set off yet another crazed friend once again.  This week alone, my social media footprint was littered with this obsessive apologist’s insistence that my brain has been poisoned because I somehow don’t agree with their assessment that Biden is single-handedly keeping Naziism from making a comeback.  I already wrote about that at length, but that still doesn’t stop this person’s assault on my opinions.

Yes, I am eternally grateful from the support of the scant few of any of you reading this.  One, in particular, is especially revered, and the fact yet another holiday season will pass without a chance to hug this special person causes me perhaps the greatest sadness of all. Others of you may have reached the point where you’re fed up with my bitching and what you perceive as soliciting.  Were my reality not as crushing as it is, I’d be in lockstep with your opinions, and more days than not, I really don’t feel about myself than you might.

But for better or worse, I’ve always been a bottom line person.  I have seen false hope destroy companies and far too many career paths, at times even my own.  And right now, my bottom line has bottomed out.    And since it seems most of the working world is gearing up for an extended holiday, so too will this space do the same.

If the spirit moves me, or if somehow things turn around via a Christmas miracle, there may be some original musings in the next fortnight.  But to keep pace with the rest of the world, I’ll also be dropping a liberal amount of “best of” musings from both this site and TheDoubleOvertime.com, ones that I think are worthy of a second look and might offer a bit more hope and insight than I’m capable of offering now.  That may be the best way I can think of to keep those candles burning a bit longer.

It pains me to remind those of you that have made it this far how you might be able to help in return, but I also know where I stand at that dreaded mid-month point.  So here comes that link again.  I’ll pray you might be inspired to click on it, and at least amplify if somehow contributing isn’t possible.

And for those of you who somehow still haven’t gotten around to even returning a phone call, an e-mail, a text or some combination thereof simply to just have coffee, know this: I’m still waiting, and I’m somehow still hopeful you might just surprise me.  Maybe even offer me a job.  So my holiday can be at least as enjoyable as yours, and a little bit less lonely.

Merry Christmas to all, etc. etc.

Until next time…

Fundraiser by Steven Leblang : Steve Leblang (gofundme.com)

 

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