Set in the frighteningly near future of 2040, The Ferment is an audio drama about a college student who gets caught up in an anti-fascist rebellion as the United States of America dissolves into disparate regional countries with closed borders and diminished freedoms.

Thanks to spring break, I found myself with the time to pull the project forward from its back burner and make significant progress on the characters and story details. It’s proving a timely outlet for my economic and political angst.

I imagined this project as a fictional podcast prequel to a feature screenplay set in one of the new “rehabilitation” camps (Comfort Stations or ComStats) where homeless “nomads” are incarcerated until they can potentially be reintegrated into society as productive consumers contributors. I still hope to get this screenplay written as well, but as the prequel will be much cheaper to produce, why not get it written first.

Due to an overloaded work schedule the past couple of years after grad school, I’ve hardly managed to produce more than a handful of poems even as several script projects are burning holes in my brain demanding attention. My work schedule continues to shift. I’ve been looking for summer work as I move into the second half of this semester teaching five classes as an adjunct at three different schools. I pray to continue making teaching sustainable but after six years of structuring part-time jobs around adjunct contracts, I’m starting to wonder if a full-time professor position is an impossible dream.

After leaving the newspaper in 2016 and then going back to school in 2017, I gave myself until age 50 to figure out how to manage the rest of my life. It’s a month before my 51st birthday and the future is less clear than it’s ever been. I’m overwhelmed with fear of poverty and exhaustion and chronic underemployment. The only thing I know for sure is that regardless of what forks lie ahead, I have to save time to work on my art. I love teaching and helping other people to find their voices and speak their truths, but I cannot allow the brutality of American capitalism to determine my worth. What’s the point of fighting to survive if my soul is lost in the process?

Collage art by Alicia Grega. March 9, 2023.