I got a letter from the Minnesota unemployment department yesterday.
First of all, the letter was dated March 20, 2020.
I removed it from the mailbox with the day's mail and only the day's mail, because I had taken in the mail from yesterday.
Yesterday was April 17, 2020 am I right?
The letter said I had a chance to resubmit my "base period earnings" to be reconsidered for unemployment.
It said I had until April 15, 2020 to respond by mail to this letter.
Well, everybody's having a hard time figuring out what day it is these days.
So, I circled the date and wrote a little note saying that I received the letter April 17, but that I was responding anyway.
Then I sat down and filled out the response form.
It asked for my earnings from October 2018 through September 2019.
It asked for some proof of these earnings to be enclosed in my return letter.
I decided to write out every single gig I had between those dates, hand written on paper, printed as neatly as possible, like a spreadsheet, with the dates in order and the amount of money made at each gig.
I decided to do it all by $50 an hour which is about accurate on average, so small shows were always $50 and big shows were whatever portion was mine after I split the revenue with the band guys.
I completed this using my past calendar and I verified every date with my website which has all my gigs for the past several years still listed.
I included the address of every venue, and all were legitimate places that could be contacted.
I am a "gig worker" and self-employed so there were no "w2s" or "pay stubs" to work with.
But one thing's for sure, it looks like I worked pretty damn hard.
I have no idea whether they'll accept my proof of employment or not, but it's proof to me.
And as I wrote it all out my mind was racing.
I was on my bed, still in Rob's bathrobe and flannel PJs and wool socks.
I'm still wary of the fever so I've been extra careful again.
But here's what I want to say:
this Virus and our world pandemic have taught me big lessons.
I know there are many many people who feel this way, so hopefully there's a massive shift manifesting right now.
My lesson is something about how that life I was so hell bent on living was not good enough.
I wrote out those gigs, show after show after show, and I remembered every one of them vividly.
And I'm here to tell you that most of those gigs were rewarding but they were a lot of work and a lot of time.
Most of them were the $50 shows, and those shows all took extra hours preparation, of travel and set up, and sound system management, and talking to fans.
Four or five hours at least to make any fifty dollar show work.
I don't have the acclaim, my music doesn't have the respect or acclaim, to warrant better circumstances and better pay.
Not yet anyway.
And this was all a whole year ago or longer..eighteen months ago.
I can say I've evolved quite a bit since then, just naturally by playing those shows and lifting my name.
But this isn't about the money itself.
Money is an indicator of value to other humans.
That's what money is in music.
Money in my hand is money for survival, and that's what the unemployment pay would be.
But the pay I received for the period of October 2018 through September 2019 was $16000.
That's a whole year of playing gigs.
I played shows in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I played in Bremen, Germany.
I played in Grand Marais, I played in Appleton, I played in every little town around Minneapolis, and all over Minneapolis.
I played the Dakota Jazz Club and I played the tiny Finnish Bistro.
I played on street corners downtown Minneapolis for the Downtown Improvement District sponsored busking events.
I carried the merch and the PA system and the guitars and the amps.
I played for people who cared a lot.
I played for people who didn't like me at all.
One thing I'm realizing is that getting by on that little money is not easy.
I didn't even have to pay rent, just utilities, and it's still hard.
That money doesn't include all the donations from fans.
The donations covered the massive expenses during that year of plane travel, motels, gasoline and more gasoline.
That was just my take home pay listed out after paying the band guys their shares.
One of my children got mad at me recently and said I'm embarrassing them by asking for money on social media all the time.
It ain't no way to live.
If you can't be Bob Dylan, what can you be?
I've been noticing that interviewers are asking me the same question a lot.
They ask if I think my career would have been easier if I was a man.
Since they're all asking, I have a strange feeling that they think my career would have been easier if I was a man.
I have no idea, I mean, I'm not so what is there to be done?
But, I have a feeling that something about looking at those twelve months of gigs says to me that if I had been a man it might have been different some how.
Last night I read the beginning of a book called "Women Who Run With Wolves".
There was a passage that talked about how women in our society weren't even able to publish literary works in their own names a hundred years ago..or certainly a hundred and fifty years ago.
The passage said that women carved out places to make their art, even if they had to make it in a closet.
Even if they had to make it for no one.
My eyes fill with tears as I write this even now.
Somewhere between all the lines here, every morning of this never ending daily blog experience, there may be a narrative that is about being female.
I didn't really ever think of it that way.
I didn't want to.
I have never in my life considered myself to be lesser to any man.
Quite to the contrary frankly.
I've been married twice and I live with a man now.
I have a son I adore.
But I have never felt inferior to any man in any way.
What will happen next?
Will I get the unemployment checks every week like the people I know who have worked in restaurants or bars?
They're already getting their checks because they had real jobs.
Get a real job.
Get a real job, take care of yourself, stop asking for money, stop making a fool of yourself, stop embarrassing your family.
Stop writing your overly wordy self indulgent songs.
Stop singing with your not very pleasant singing voice.
Stop playing the guitar in that not very accomplished way that you play.
Stop going around acting like you're such a cool rock star when hardly anybody anywhere has ever even heard of you.
Fuck you all.