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America

Living in America – 7 Months In – We Aren’t Who We Were

Well – here we are – still alive and struggling. The USA has been incredibly hard at times, it has forced us to make difficult decisions, it has, frankly speaking, been a disappointment to both my wife and probably more so, to me.

To illustrate this – I should probably tell you where I am. I’m in Portland, Oregon sitting in a hotel room I’m sharing with a stranger – both of us are here for training on how to sell life insurance. This is not where I wanted to be!

The United States is like that though – it smothers your dreams and forces you to become someone else so that you can take care of your family. The combination of my student loans and our forthcoming mandatory family health insurance means that my income from writing and blogging can no longer sustain us. We moved to one of the cheaper places I could find, but even so our monthly needs are barely covered by what I earn – and that’s before health insurance and student loans. The past few months, I’ve been earning an additional $1200 or so buying from estate sales, garage sales, and thrift shops and then reselling on eBay – but $1200 seems to be about the top I can hit with that. Inexplicably, the fees seem to go up exponentially with whatever I earn above that so that I end up with $1200 no matter how much I sell.

The buying and selling has gotten harder too. The dreary economic situation of the majority of people (but hey, the DOW JONES just hit record highs — yeah, whatever) means that there are more pickers, more sellers, and less buyers on eBay than ever before.  Shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers and Storage Wars have led people to overvalue their junk so that when you do actually find something you can sell – it’s usually priced too high for you to earn more than a few dollars on it.

Food is so god-damn expensive that it’s made my wife cry more than once. She got freaked out and took a job at a shitty motel which left me with no time to write or do the eBay thing because I was spending the days watching our 2-year-old – which by the way was awesome except that my earning potential was floored and what she was earning wasn’t even close to what I was no longer earning – and she was stressed out, and our relationship hit an all time low, and her job really really sucked…and I didn’t want to force her to quit but wanted her to see that her job was actually costing us money, destroying our relationship, and stealing the joy from all three of our lives…

We had a total melt down before that became clear – but thankfully, we both saw that what we were doing totally sucked. At one point, it hit me that the only way to make her see the effects was for me to find a real job – something I have worked my whole life to be free of – so, I took three steps backwards and hitched my wagon to a Life Insurance Company – which isn’t so different from back a decade ago when I was a stock broker in Portland. I took the courses, passed my exams, got my license, and here I am – waiting for the final bits before making my millions as a small town life insurance agent.

During that process, my wife realized she was missing out on our little girl’s life and her job was making her miserable – she saw the effects it was having on my ability to work at home and how it was badly affecting our marriage – and thank god – she left that awful place of her own volition with a new understanding of why I’ve always worked so hard to be independent.

By that point though I was already in this process and realizing that the health insurance and student loans were looming in January and my writing and eBay wouldn’t sustain them and us…so, I’ve stayed the course.  The good news is that we weathered our problems and emerged from the other side of the storm with a stronger marriage and a greater understanding of each other. For the first time, I feel like my wife actually gets what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Even when she’s mad, I’m no longer ‘the craziest American’ or ‘the most difficult American’ – she’s seen much worse now – god, I hate what she had to see at that hotel…she gets it now. She understands why I was freaked out about money before we left Morocco and why I never wanted to be tied down to a job. That, if nothing else has made our move to America worthwhile…at the moment, I feel like we have room for our marriage to grow.

But, like everyone else in the USA – money is now a big concern. The states have burned through our savings and at the moment we are living month to month. Life insurance pays on commission with no base salary – so while I’m training – we have to live on what I can squeeze from eBay and blogging.  If I haven’t written regularly, I hope that you, the readers, can understand why now.

Just in case you missed them….here are a few status updates that might fill in some of the holes:

 

Just spent a while reading the reviews that have piled up this year while I’ve been putting our life together in the USA – it’s an interesting experience to see how the world views you. Equally loved and despised from my written words but at the end of the day – probably not at all the way that either side thinks I might be. Although – maybe I’m every bit as despicable and great as both sides seem to indicate – more likely though – I’m just another regular guy doing what he can to take care of the people who count on me and hoping to have a good time doing it.

I’ve failed so far as a novelist and writer. Oh well, not the end of the world. I’ve written books, they weren’t as good as I’d hoped, and now – it’s time to do something else. I’m sure I’ll write more in the future – but I’m done identifying myself as a writer.   Sometimes you have to tell yourself the truth because it’s not fair to expect other people who love and respect you to do that.

I have the sense that I’m no longer a writer. I’m no longer a traveler. I’m no longer a free loader of any kind. I’m no longer a drunk. I’m no longer a free spirit. I’m no longer manic and no longer depressed. I’m no longer a stranger.

I’m just a guy with a license to sell insurance, a wife, and a little girl. I’m a guy with more bills than savings. I’m a guy with no more dreams of seeing the world or finding what I was missing. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be loved or admired by strangers. I don’t want fans. I don’t want escape from reality.

I only want to keep the roof over our heads, fix the car, pay for health insurance, buy some ice cream, and help my little girl to be the best her she can be.

And, once that’s done, I wouldn’t mind moving to a villa on the Turkish Riviera or some Greek vineyard and becoming a better sailor.

I bought a food dehydrator and dried a huge bunch of apples and pears from the neighbors trees. Now I’m drying my first batch of beef jerky. My first batch of homebrew beer was bottled on Friday and should be ready to sample in a couple of weeks.

Since I’m selling life insurance now, my regular name Christopher Damitio is what pops up on the contracts – so it just doesn’t make sense to insist on Vago when it’s so confusing to people. Besides, Christopher is pretty nice.

 

An old woman at the post office today was complaining about the USPS issuing Al Qauida stamps – actually they were Eid stamps – she said “They’re suppossed to commemorate American events and achievements” – I wanted to remind her that millions of Americans are Muslims and to ask her if she thought creating stamps commemorating the carpet bombing of Tokyo or Laos would be good, or maybe the bombed dead civilians in Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. Maybe a stamp celebrating the international arms industry or the exploitation of mineral rich lands…
Then, I swallowed all my bile and smiled. She just kept complaining and talking about how they should celebrate American holidays like Christmas and Easter and I thought about how I wished someone would toss her in a barn and shut the door, crucify her, and then bury her in a cave…actually though – judging by what I hear from most people her age – they are all miserable and the only thing they have to look forward to is dying and knowing they’ve left nothing for their ‘rotten’ kids. Wow….imagine if heaven is filled with her kind….

In the USA there is an undercurrent of dread which is very hard not to tap into and start feeling. It is the reason for the unlikely strength of the prepper, bugout, and survivalist movements. Even those you wouldn’t expect it of are storing food and carrying survival kits in their vehicles. Worse – it’s not actually a feeling of dread as a feeling of excitement and anticipation. A desire for something truly terrible to happen…Nobody says this, but America is collectively manifesting and creating something truly terrible and worse yet – and people won’t tell you this because they don’t know it or want to believe it – but people are looking forward to it. They are preparing for it, dreaming of it, and subconsciously, we all know that somewhere in some basement, laboratory, or compound – someone is engineering it. People want it! There is this sickness here in the land where people have more than anywhere else…when disaster strikes in the USA, people might wear somber faces, but inwardly they will want to be dancing in the streets….it scares the living shit out of me.

This journey I’m on – it’s so easy to get distracted and pulled off track. Sometimes it is as if this world is designed to create the illusions that make you forget your reason for being and that which you truly seek. My desire has always been to live a spiritually centered life and to seek a closer relationship and understanding of that which is called God. I can see why the sidhus would split and go hide on mountaintops to avoid being tempted back into this world of illusion. The tax man, the insurance bill, the visa process, the courts, the water bill, the big tata blonde, the car accident, the hospital bills, the x factor, the latest superhero film, the latest health diet, the bad relationship with parents, the feud between siblings or friends, the loud neighbors – etc etc etc – All of that pulls us away from God, pulls us away from joy, pulls us away from the spiritual life that we all want. My leaving the USA was an attempt to get away from the distractions of this world, going to Hawaii was the same, but the distractions are necessary – we must learn to be centered and loving WITH all of the distractions because that is what this life is. I sometimes feel RAGE at being consumed by the petty day to day illusions that I am forced to contend with – sometimes it turns to DESPAIR, and usually after that – I find myself here – in a moment of CLARITY. Perhaps Vago was a good name for me these past few years , unclear, unfocused, and unable to define myself or my purpose. I won’t be changing my name again, but if I were to do so, I would probably pick Claro, because that is what I want – to see clearly and with purpose. My love and thanks go out to all the friends who have offered support, love, and compassion through these years. My love and understanding go out to those who are stuck in the illusions (as I so often am). We are all on this journey together. May God (whatever name you choose to use for that universal force) help us all and give us clarity, serenity, strength, and wisdom.

 

Finally bought a scale yesterday – I’ve gained around 25 pounds since coming to the USA, for the British friends – that means I’ve increased my weight by nearly 2 stone… time to get on a healthier diet and regular exercise regimen! I’m amazed my clothes still fit me…it must have all gone to my face…lol.