The economy sucks and I live with my mom. I just had the good fortune to leave my job as a police reporter in a crime-infested cesspool, in a state affectionately referred to by its residents as “The Buckle on the Bible Belt.” Normally a high crime rate and the authorities’ penchant for locking everyone up would equate to job security. But the local Powers That Be didn’t approve of my total coverage approach to journalism (John, we need you to stop writing about it every time we shoot someone). After being diagnosed with several mental illnesses and high cholesterol, I packed my laptops into my Yaris and moved back to Albuquerque to search for any kind of anonymous hack work with which to pay the bills (and smack dab in the middle of a recession—my nervous breakdowns have impeccable timing). Since I have no money and no prospects, I have moved back into my mom’s house. Normally I would sooner gargle Drano than even consider such a regression, but economic necessity has prevailed. My wife accompanied me. She was none too pleased at first, but it was either Mom’s house or histrionic Sister’s house (I have recently taken to diagnosing everyone with personality disorders; it can’t be just me). A lack of choices on my wife’s part seems to have worked out in my favor (sinister laughter).The house is small, two bedrooms, and there’s me, wifey, mom, stepfather, stepbrother once a week, two dogs, three cats and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, five chickens. Because there is no work and we left a mortgage in the Midwest, we don’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. Space considerations have forced us to modify the tiny dwelling somewhat. We jammed an armoire into a doorway, creating a crude, apartment-like living space on one side of the house. This arrangement has left the wife and me with a semblance of privacy, though I am often jarred awake by the elders and their morning oatmeal, which involves the deafening clanging of every pot, pan and Dutch oven in the house. My stepfather has emphysema and is connected to an oxygen machine. The umbilical cord stretches throughout the house and I often trip over it while lost in one of my internal dialogues. I fear serious injury lurks in the not-to-distant future. The house has one television (my parents are not well-evolved). Wifey likes the E! network. Mom likes “CSI.” Stepfather likes MSNBC. I like Sam Peckinpah (no one ever wants to watch Bloody Sam). We need our own place. Unfortunately, I had the bright idea back in 2004 to become a print journalist. Trying to get on at a newspaper right now is like trying to sell bagels in Tehran. Since my chosen profession seems to be going the way of wacky movie terrorists, I have had to rethink some of my positions regarding the writing profession. I have dropped my normally unassailable personal standards and applied for public relations jobs, technical writing and even (gasp) television, but no one is calling. It’s like they know all those things I said, and wrote, about them. Hopefully, the bad economy will cause a dramatic increase in crime, which will necessitate more police reporters. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s sitting around waiting for someone to get shot so I can write about it. It’s my calling. Until that day comes, my name is John and I live at home with my mom.
John Bear is a former Alibi freelancer who moved to Oklahoma to be a police reporter and now, luckily for us, has returned.