Friday, November 14, 2008

Bail Grandma Out!

Imagine my surprise when I found myself agreeing with Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Today’s NY Times (“Chances Dwindle on Bailout Plan for Automakers”) says Henserling believes American automakers should bear responsibility for their failed operations. ‘"They are producing high-cost products that consumers don’t want to buy." He goes on to oversimplify, so I’ll stop here. Anyway, like everyone, I’m more interested in myself.

About myself: I am really, actually a Poet, a Vocation I didn’t choose and never would have chosen, given that, as the song goes, “Ain’t no money in poetry.” I capitalized Vocation to distinguish it from career, a word that always reminds me of careen, as when, “The car went careening off the cliff.”

I can’t help writing poetry. I have also written a great deal of fiction. Not one page of it involves the big D luxuries - diamonds, drug abuse, decadence. My stories are hardly even stories sometimes, since they are explorations of life itself, which does not have any discernible plot except the line drawn from “you’re born” to “you die.” They certainly are not entertainments.

It’s not that the arts communities have not recognized me; it’s just that there really ain’t hardly no money in art, unless you are really good at self-marketing, wheedle your way into the tight circles of nepotism, and get hit by a lightning stroke of sheer good luck

So I find myself here near life’s end without quite enough money to indulge my modest desires: a digital SLR camera, a new pair of sweats, weekly acupuncture treatments, the ability to go out for dinner with a friend and not worry about every dollar. Every penny. And it’s not my fault. I did work when I could, the kind of work a female English major can do. Unfortunately, my pension is based on the kind of salary a woman could make.

GM made stupid products out of sheer stubbornness and disregard for the health of the planet. They thought they could eternally trick consumers, even as Honda and Toyota were ascending stars. Gm (Grandma), on the other hand, has made unsaleable products because, well, I couldn’t help it. We artists are at least as helpless in the grip of our impulses as any frontier capitalist. Probably more.

Therefore it makes perfect sense that if anyone is bailed out, it should be me. And I’m a bargain. I can be bailed out with a single payment far less than the annual salary of one auto executive. And I promise, I will use the money to stimulate the local economy. That’s how generous I am.

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