#MNR: BETTER DAYS
I’m just about broke to the letter. It can’t get any worse, shit can only get better.
I’m trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. It’s hard to be legit and still pay the rent.
Makaveli the Don
1865 PANTHER PRIDE.
I know that a portion of our readership comes from my fellow attendees and alumni from Virginia Union University. It’s so hard to be a Panther, yet we mastered the navigation. A lot of my folk have had successful careers that have afforded them with a good life, financially speaking. I’m certain there are other readers who are successful yet never attended 1500 North Lombardy St. Big ups to y’all. I salute all y’all grinds. This isn’t for y’all.
I am a career underachiever. I’ll admit it. Plenty of people had the highest of hopes for me in 2000 when I graduated from VUU. Shit, I had high-level expectations for myself. However, I allowed personal tragedy to jade my view of reality. I chose to forsake the many virtues that were instilled in me from birth. I, feeling defeated by life, chose to go the street route. I had my time. I was up heavy, then lost it all.
Ever since the day my apartment #2C at 1400 Jesup Avenue in the Highbridge section of #BXNYC was raided in 2010, I’ve been on a more righteous path. I’ve sought to make up for a lost decade. In that time, I’ve published four works of fiction (my ultimate dream) and have had a respected career as an educator and child care provider. I am proud of my accomplishments in the classroom as a one-to-one, my in-home tutor and behaviorist work, and my time as a counselor and program coordinator in recreation, summer camps and childcare centers. I’ve made a decent living in the process, though far from what a life simulation in 2000 would have projected my earnings to be at this point.
I have only myself to blame for all my shortcomings. I cannot blame the white man, daddy issues or life for my position in the rat race. I chose to travel down perilous avenues. I chose to give up on my career prospects during the shaky job market in the immediate period following 9.11.2001 instead of doubling down on my work ethic during tough times. If I would have listened to Shareon I’d be near retirement as a teacher and would probably have at least one professional degree. The stark reality is that I am not. I don’t have much to show in terms of liquidity or overall assets. I’m not speaking out of shame. One thing I’ve always been able to do is confront my demons face to face. I know what I am not. This isn’t a pity party. I’m merely prefacing the true topic of discussion for absolute context.
I can’t speak for anyone else because I don’t know anyone’s personal finances, but I can damn sure speak for myself. When I think about my current situation, I think back about two decades ago. I was in my brother Papa Smurf’s crib in Jeff. He, like many NYCHA residents, had a rodent issue. One day when I got to the crib, I noticed he had a sink full of running water in the kitchen. I also noticed that there was an uninvited guest in the diving pool of water. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll call him Jerry. Jerry wasn’t drowned. He was far from deceased; rather, his little body was literally fighting for dear life, treading water, with only his little rodent nose above sea level. I watched him fight for a couple of minutes before diverting my attention to the cheeba session that was finna take place. Jerry was probably dead within minutes, but his life wasn’t in vain. I think about Jerry whenever I’m in deep waters. That MF had death on his little mouse shoulder, but he kept fighting. The will to survive refused to let him relent.
Aight y’all. Here’s the point. I’m under more pressure than a fat lady in the choir stand’s girdle during Sunday morning service. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING has increased in price, from groceries to haircuts to health insurance. Unfortunately, my earnings have not increased. The COVID economic fallout has carved a gigantic scarlet B (for broke) into my chest area to the immediate left of my taco meat. Medical issues and their subsequent bills from a year and some change ago have also been an anchor attached to my ankle while I try to Jerry myself out of the sea of calamity. There’s more money going out than there is coming in. I’m exceedingly thankful for my A-1 credit score and the diverse lines of credit I possess. If it weren’t for credit and “paying a little sum’n on it” (and there’s a whole lot of “it”) every month, I’d be dead in similar figurative waters as the ones where Jerry met his fate. I truly feel like Mic Geronimo felt in “Shit’s Real.”
My pockets are suffering, but I truly feel it can’t get any worse. Of course, I know it can, but I feel the way I feel because of my faith. This isn’t my first rodeo on the back of tough times. But just like my brother Mr. 10 will quickly tell you, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” I’m built for however long this train ride is, even if it’s from 207th St. in Manhattan to Rockaway Park Beach in Q-borough. For the unlearned, that is the beginning/end and end/beginning of the longest single train route of NYC MTA, the A train. It’s long AF (two hours and change), yet only one fare. I’m built to last. For now, it’s all about treading water and preparing myself for opportunity. I’m set to start an A-1 summer gig that may parlay into a full-time position, but I’m not at all content. I have an interview with an Autism center next week that would be a definite financial upgrade from my current salary. I’m prepared to do whatever I have to do until my financial crisis improves. The pen is still my greatest weapon, and it’s quite active. I still perform freelance copy editing and I am available for freelance writing opportunities. It takes more than a single hustle for most to make it nowadays.
Whether or not others are willing to admit it, a lot of folks are suffering [like me] in this current time. Many are worse off than I am. It’s not always easy to admit struggle or shortcomings, but there are usually telltale signs that someone is going through it. Check in on your loved ones. Don’t assume that their situation is all good. They may be teetering on the brink of financial and/or emotional crisis. Pride often comes before the fall, but sometimes they occur simultaneously. Catch them before they fall. We are one.
We gon make it, I swear my nigga.
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