About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wild Card, 2006. Winner of "best oral sex scene" - Scarlet Magazine. Amanda's Young Men, 2009. Excerpted in Scarlet Magazine; Juicy Bits. Sarah's Education, 2009. Hit the #1 spots on Amazon.co.uk adult fiction & adult romance best seller lists. Jade Magazine bestowed the best cover art, 2009 award on Sarah's Education. "Get Up, Stand Up!" which appeared in The Cougar Book (Logical-Lust) won me the title 'Story Teller of the Year 2011' at The Erotic Awards, London, UK. Sarah's Education took the #3 spot on a list of the 30 most titillating titles of all time, as reported in English Daily Mail ;Female; Nov. 12, 2012. Debutante, a petite novel for e-publisher Imprint Mischief, (Harper-Collins) pubbed in 2012. I tutor writing students and am a member of the WGC. D.M. Thomas said: Madeline Moore writes great sex without metaphor and that's not easy to do. Kris Saknussemm said: You're a good egg, Madeline Moore. I am a good egg who writes great sex without metaphor! Yippee!

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Poverty Grind

My ver$ion of a grief memoir would include the denial of more than a death, although death, all by its lonesome, is a major player in provoking the unconscious, self-protective, irksomeness of the process of denial.
In my case, Michael’s death was a harbinger of my financial nightmare. The fact that I ignored that for as long as possible, no matter how irksome that fact is, makes me happy.

After I saw that he was dead I went home and suffered for awhile and so on. It wasn’t until I decided to consider following his death with my own that I looked at my life, now that he wasn’t in it any more. (Well, first, as those of you who know me already know, I tagged the as yet unwrapped Christmas gifts so my mourners would know which gift was for whom, and threw all the sex toys down the chute)

At that point I looked at my present situation and concluded that it would take the rest of my life to dig myself out of the mess. If I hurried I could still catch up to Michael. (This turns out to be a very common thought for the bereaved to have.) But there was the cat and Brill’s final semester, which I imagined might be negatively impacted by my death. I called Mary T.

I coasted along on the money I had and the money people gave me until Deluxoid came with me to see a rather soppy social worker and said, “What about my friend?” and after that, Megamensch came along and after that, applications and more worker-types and government money and HALLELUJAH rent-geared-to-income-housing.

All the paperwork and double-speak and signing away my secrecy was overwhelming but the assistance has been much appreciated. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t realize that when my rent went down, my government assistance would dwindle, too. That’s where the denial thing gets irksome.

I moved into my new neighbourhood a year ago. We are two small apartment buildings (total of ab out 14 apartments) squatting amidst half-million-minimum brick homes in a stately part of town. But there is “our” neighbourhood and “their” neighbourhood. Happy, friendly, two-income young families are very friendly on the street but when it comes down to it, they align with the owner of the buildings, not the people who rent from him.

My rent is so low a monkey could cover it but August’s rent wiped me out. I’m the only person in either building with cable TV (and a two-year contract for it.) Oops. I didn’t listen to my friend’s poverty lessons, although I’ve put all her money-saving tips into effect now that money has finally become an issue.
January 1, 2015, a year into my bereavement, I understood. This place may not have been a slum when I moved in (or maybe it was and I just didn’t see it because my apartment is so adorable and we had a beautiful garden!) but it certainly is well on its way, now. I wouldn’t give it more than another year, if the water pipes and the windows hold up. The Lord of the Land has been a slum lord for years and my building, stone though it may be, succumbs.

I’m much more calculating now that I have very little to add up and lots to subtract. There’s no public transportation in this quiet town so getting around is a problem. I no longer take cabs anywhere. The new neighbour who is already moving out is a lonely Newfie so she’ll do anything in exchange for a little mindless conversation. I get rides and then pay her off with a cup of coffee and a (bored) ear to bend.

Basically, I trade my time for favours. I suppose I could say, I barter my time for transportation. Either way if it’s not a new behaviour (and when it comes down to it aren’t we all trading our time for $$ on some level?) it’s now stark.

Poverty is absolutely grinding. The relentless concern, the stealthy manoeuvers, the serious adjustment of the mindset, these things are akin to gears that must keep in motion no matter how loudly they protest. It’s imperative to keep on top of everything because one slide can mean disaster.

Hydroelectricity and water bills are the Achilles’ heel for many, including me. I didn’t see this cost coming my way because I was floating on a sea of relief.

When I fought my landlord for heat and cajoled the hoarder next door to do the same she demurred. “You weren’t born poor so you don’t understand,” she said. She gave me another pair of her hand knit socks and went home to hide under the quilts.

She was my best neighbour, besides the ex-cop who kept an eye on things. They’re both gone, now. She fled and left her neighbours with a mountain of stuff to sift through, which created unending drama for fall of us, especially me, the keeper of the key. As such, I am the prime suspect in the case of the missing Mix Master. I am not amused and I am no longer keeper of the key.

His exit is much quieter, but he is missed. My building is silent but the other one (and even more so, the drug-dealing apartment block that shares its parking lot) get louder by the month. Hot August nights drew the drunks out into the muggy air and there’s a lot of ‘em. They like my lawn.

Neighbours knock on my door every day. One even drops himself, shirtless, into a chair while I’m sitting in my stoop, smoking and talking on the phone. I’m unnerved, frankly, by the assumptions of my fellow renters. Have I joined a commune?

I’m not even particularly nice to them, even when they’ve paid for my time with gas and wheels. I don’t want to explain what I do. It should be enough that I’ve told them: I’m a writer. I often work at night. I teach, too. I shall have to elucidate: Just because I’m home, even if I’m having a smoke in my stoop (I’ve been ordered not to smoke in my apartment, although it isn’t on my lease) doesn’t mean I want company. But they forget. They don’t even necessarily know my name but they don’t mind hanging out in my yard. I’m flummoxed.

The Lord of Slum Shire shows up whenever an apartment is vacated, which is to say, monthly. Presently he’s not-dealing with a steady stream of clean cold water spewing from a faucet into my tub. It’s literally money down the drain but he doesn’t care because he doesn’t know he’ll be partially liable for my water bill when it arrives, two months from now. He forgets that I have “my guys” too, and one of them is a city inspector.

Now I turn off the power bars off when I’m not using them and shower at night. I eat more vegetables and a lot less meat. Every pack of smokes I buy breaks my bank as much as my heart. I can’t afford to smoke. I can’t really afford to have a pet, either. But I do smoke. I do have a cat. Bad Mad. It grinds a girl down.

Deluxoid hung my Mexican mirror and said, “Here’s your lipstick mirror!” We happily freshened our lipstick. When I pointed it out to the carnie and my Grief Gal they both insisted I rename it my “self-affirmation mirror.” I protested. They pressed the point. I mightily protested! “If you want a self-actualization mirror, hang one up. This is my mirror and it’s a lipstick mirror!”
Goddam it I’m not going to be bossed by women again. I’ve no more interest in that than being bossed by men. I followed most of the rules all of my life and look where it’s gotten me.

Nobody gets to tell me what to do. I made this bed and I’m sleeping in it (although my Dad bought me my actual bed.) Get that sharp edge of defiance? That comes from poverty, too. Don’t mess with me. I may not have been born poor but I’m getting the hang of it now.

Is a lipstick mirror an act of defiance? I don’t care. There’s more than one way out of my situation and I’d be a fool not to consider all the angles. I’m a woman, alone, under reduced circumstances. I think war paint is a good idea.

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