So, I don’t usually use blog posts to explicitly ask readers for donations. But I’m doing that tonight because in the span of 2 months, I’ve had to use money for a laptop repair ($300+), a car repair (~$370), and as of tonight, a car tow (~$130) and repair that I don’t yet have the bill for. These numbers are pretty extreme, for me.
As regular readers know, I don’t have a house. I have a car. That car is my house. (Legally speaking, I’m a vagrant.) For most folks, rent is the most expensive part of their budget. That’s true for me, too. It’s just that, for me, “rent” means “car insurance.” Since I’m kind of a cyborg, I also have a cell phone bill, and these two expenses combined are what I think of as “rent.”
I’ve done a lot more than I used to think possible to distance myself from the need to use money. To large extent, it’s worked. A huge chunk of my food comes from others’ waste, and another huge chunk of it comes from gift cards from readers like you. Most of my “cash on hand” also comes from donations, often for the utility software I make available such as Tumblr Crosspostr or the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer. (I also used to be on food stamps, but those were cut.)
I’ve been jobless for over four years now, and homeless for more than three. And yet, it’s in that time—the time when I’ve been jobless and homeless—that I’ve been at my most impactful, in areas ranging from sexual violence prevention to seed saving and food justice. I bring this up not to justify my existence (I don’t have to justify existing), but to remind you that having a job is totally unrelated to doing meaningful work. Telling jobs and bosses to go fuck themselves has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in terms of my personal productivity, and in terms of my positive impact on society.
I hope that’s as inspiring to you as it feels to me, because living in a world where people are treated first and foremost like humans instead of line items is a Big Fucking Deal to me. And getting rid of money is a necessary step towards that world.
But taking the path less traveled doesn’t make me independent of others. No one’s really completely independent anyway. What it makes me, then, is simply a lot more aware of the ways in which I am dependent on other people. And then my car breaks down for the second time in that many months while I’m hundreds of miles away from anyone I know and, well, #UghCapitalism.
Boo! In 2mos, 1 computer meltdown, 2 car breakdowns. This time: snapped Serpentine belt. :( X your fingers that's it! pic.twitter.com/2O80vX9svp
— maymay (@maymaymx) August 12, 2014
What everyone intuitively knows but most people don’t acknowledge is that we use money to outsource the work of having human relationships. If I stayed put in this area long enough to make some friends, eventually someone might help me get the parts and fix my car. Or I could ditch the car, go back to hitchhiking, relying solely on the kindness and curiosity of strangers. And if I can’t get the money to fix my car, then maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’m pretty resourceful. Look, I’ll probably be just fine.
But if I’m going to get my car fixed, which I’d like to do so that I can continue focusing on coding instead of where my next ride is coming from, and if I’m going to get it fixed any time in the near future, which I’d like to do so that I can keep a commitment to someone I care about further up the coast, I’ve got to use money to do that. I’m lucky that I can dip into my bank account—something a lot of people don’t even have. But that’s money I would have otherwise spent primarily on things like gas or food.
I’m not really asking for your help because I can’t live without it. I probably can. But your donations make it possible for me to not merely survive, but to create; to focus on projects, ideas, and resources that make our world a better place. If you think what I’ve been doing is valuable, I need your help to continue spending my time and energy on that work. And if you think I’ve done a lot on my own, just imagine what I can accomplish with your help.
So, if you’ve appreciated any of the essays on my blogs, or if you’ve been using any code I wrote, and you’ve been on the fence about whether to donate, please do. There is no such thing as “just” a small donation. And given the past two months of expensive equipment failures, now is a time when even small donations will really make a difference.