Friday, February 15, 2008

My So-Called Life

Allow me, dear friends and well-wishers, to avert my eyes from the election, school shootings (now an established American genre), and kindred madness, and speak about my present state and the plans I have for the near future. If you are relatively new to the Perrin Experience, I wear this site on my sleeve, hiding very little about myself and the competing voices in my raging skull. Today's sleeve is marked from the sore shoulder down to the swollen wrist. Just a head's up.

I receive a lot of mail from people who believe I lead a care-free, glam existence. After all, I write what I want, when I want; I have a book deal with another possibly on the horizon; I've experienced numerous scenes and have known or met my share of the semi-famous and infamous; I've done many things that most people never get to do. All true. But the bottom line reality isn't as exciting as all that.

Since moving to Michigan nearly nine years ago (88 years in human time), I've had to start from scratch, literally creating a new life from the smoldering debris of my final days in New York. Many of you newer visitors probably haven't read the piece I wrote about this transition, so if you need deeper background, here it is. You Red State Son vets already know that story, so let's cut to the current chase.

Michigan's economy is shit. The worst in the nation. Michiganders aren't the nicest people in the best of times, but these days, many are openly sullen and very pissed off. It's a depressing, dour environment, and there's no relief in sight. For the past seven years, I've worked as a janitor for a small cleaning company, since there are no writing jobs for me here. I've performed blue collar work at various times in my life, so I'm no stranger to physical labor (an upside: my hands are so rough and calloused that if the Khmer Rouge ever comes to power, I'm spared from execution). I'm not crazy about living in Michigan -- in fact, I'm pretty fucking sick of it -- and cleaning up after heavy-set cubicle slaves who stave off their sadness and anger by eating all day long and trashing the bathrooms long ago lost its charm. Still, it's paying work, and me and mine need the bread.

Yesterday, out of the blue, my company informed me that I was demoted. My hours have been cut, and more cutting may follow. It's the economy, I'm told. So, not only must I continue to beautify the corporate prison I'm responsible for, I must do so for shit wages. Clearly, this is a sign that my cleaning days are numbered -- which is fine by me, but there's nothing here to replace it, nothing that pays anything, that is.

Remember kids: Go to college and get a degree. Don't be like your Uncle Dennis who barely got out of high school and hasn't seen a classroom since.

Quick aside about my company. It's run by Birchers. Not Birch-like people with quirky views about the world, but actual, honest to Krishna, card-carrying members of the John Birch Society. When you walk into their offices, you're met with signs that scream U.S OUT OF THE U.N.! and JOSEPH MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT! Various pamphlets and magazines are strewn about, all explaining the numerous plots by international communism and its corporate global mechanism to enslave decent, hard-working Americans, and turn them into cogs for the Chinese, who really run the world. One of my bosses told me with a straight face that in the near future, China will militarily invade the United States, and that this epic battle was predicted by George Washington, who apparently had a vision of yellow hordes swarming the future homeland.

"Well, they couldn't do much worse than our current rulers," was my reply. "Maybe we'll finally get decent Chinese food in Michigan."

There's much more to say about these people, who I find fascinating, even though they're squeezing me dry. Now that I think of it, they might be a front for the Chinese Global Conspiracy. They do protest a bit too much about it. It'll all be in the memoir.

Not long ago, a fairly well-known liberal who likes my writing while strongly disagreeing with most of my opinions, suggested that I go easy on the Dems, especially in an election year. If I was more Ezra Klein and less Alex Cockburn, he said, I could get steady writing work with some leading liberal outlets. "You're an excellent stylist and funny," he added. "But you trash those who could do you favors."

I suppose he's right. I do know some of the libs who make a living boosting the Dems and lauding contemporary American liberalism, whatever the hell that might be. But sisters and brothers, do you honestly see me writing the kind of mush you read in the American Prospect, The Nation, New Republic, and Salon? I can write in many different styles, and am a quick study when engaged in literary impressions, but I've tasted too much freedom to go back to the hack work I performed long ago. The downside to this is that by speaking my mind, I don't get steady writing jobs. My book deal is a pittance, basically gas money and maybe dinner for four at Applebee's. That's it. I'm essentially writing it for free, though I'm assured that once it appears, I'll get all kinds of speaking and debate gigs. I've heard this dirge before. We'll see.

One new feature that's soon to come will be original video content, featuring yours truly as host and narrator. These are gonna be humorous, absurdist shorts that I'll post here, at YouTube, and perhaps at Huffington Post (and no, I don't get paid there, either). I'm looking to branch out in several directions, but this will take time. I have a few irons near the fire, but nothing definite. So it goes. If you wish to help me, there's the PayPal button to the right. If you have writing work, whether essays or gag writing, I'm available. If you need a funny speaker for an event, look no further. I'm ready to blow this pop stand, for a reasonable fee, of course. A girl has to, umm, eat.