Saturday, December 05, 2009

I've Got a Lot of Holiday Cheer... But Here's Some Folks Who Could Use Some

There have been a lot of people hard-up for money this year. And without fail, I found that I could, in fact, afford to give to those really hard up. Not a lot: $10 here, $20 there ($50 in one case, but there was a kid involved!). It's going to continue being rough out there for a long while yet.

A couple months ago, the rug got pulled out from under me when our insurance company pulled a smash and grab and “accidently” revoked our health insurance for three and a half weeks. It was a rough time, and looking rougher as things wound on.

But UHC did eventually fix the issue, J. got a part-time job in addition to his full-time school, and my day job continues to pay for things like $90 a week in groceries and the roof over our heads. If things are a little cold and lean sometimes, it’s because we chose to rent a big old 1850s house that we knew came with a lot of excess utility bills, and I’ve got a lot of student loan debt clawing at me. The good news is that the reason it's clawing at me is because I *can actually afford to start paying on it* now that I paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt. Things are lean because I'm paying off old debt and correctly managing my money. Correctly managing one's money always feels lean to me. Growing up, I thought that being "poor" meant not getting everything you wanted. I have since actually tasted what poor is like, and understand that this is nowhere near that.

It’s been a good year. I’ve done some traveling back at the WA coast to visit family, had a fantastic Florida vacation with J, and continue to enjoy the day job. My biggest complaints right now are that we can’t afford to heat the house above 55 and I have to wait until I’ve saved the money to buy the digital camera I want (been working hard not to rack up that credit card debt again). I mean, c’mon, really? Boo hoo, life is rough because I don’t have a flat screen tv…?


I’m comfortable, just not comfortable enough to stop trying to hustle up writing jobs as they come in, because heating the house and actually saving more than $50 a month would really be nice. Not totally necessary, but nice.

Anyway. There were lots of folks who offered to help me out when the health insurance thing was looking scary. Here are some far more deserving folks for your hard earned dollars this holiday season (they are certainly getting some of mine, and as noted, mine have been a tad lean).

Clarion West

SF/F writing bootcamp. Changed my life. But it’s a bitch to dredge up the money for this. I got lucky, and solicited friends and family, who collectively paid my way to Clarion. Not everybody has that kind of support network to draw from. To be honest, I didn’t think I did either. I begged for money in desperation. I was incredibly lucky folks were so generous. Be one of those generous folks for another writer.

Planned Parenthood
Keep women’s reproductive services easy, convenient, safe, and confidential. Good luck getting that from a lot of women’s clinics these days. PP is constantly under siege, because they do some of the most incredible work. I’ve been a client since I’ve been having sex, and they’ve always been a literal godsend.

This is actually a micro-loans site. I love this idea. Basically, you give small loan amounts of $25+ to entrepreneurs all over the world. Sometimes it takes as little as $100 for a woman to start her own small business in her home village/neighborhood/community/city. And it completely changes their lives. I’m partial toward giving to women entrepreneurs, of course. It’s traditionally harder for women to get the money and support together, and it’s a huge ego/status boost when you become the primary breadwinner. It also means you don’t have to put up with so much crap from men with money. Skip the lattes for a week, and give somebody the ability to support themselves.

And a particular individual
J. is a cancer survivor (two years cancer-free in May). We met a few months after he finished his chemo/radiation combo. I knew going in that there's a chance it can recur, just as he knew about my own chronic illness and those 15 extra years - on average - that I won't have. So this one hit a little close to home. If it hits home for you (or if you’re simply a good soul), please do help her out. Cancer and other long, lingering illnesses take incredible courage, tenacity, and huge amounts of money to surmount (as I know with my own chronic illness, particularly in that first year of recovery/adjustment after four days in the ICU). We all battle dragons, but whether or not we win or lose, there’s a lot of wreckage and rebuilding that needs to take place when all is said and done. $10 to assist in rebuilding lives sure beats downloading an album you don’t need from iTunes.

Paypal address is: johanna_mead AT

Thanks to all.