Things people have said to me recently:
"You look tired."
"You should take some time, you know. Some time to rest."
"You should sleep more."
"You have to take care of yourself."
At the end of the day, I do look tired. Why shouldn't I look tired? I am, after all, working two essentially full-time jobs: I get up at 5am every day to travel from my suburban home into San Francisco, where I put in an eight-hour day before repeating the commute in reverse, and spending the evening writing, editing, and trying to stay on top of my frankly horrifying inbox. When all my must-do items are checked off the list, I collapse on the couch with my cats, and watch mindless television to power down my brain. And then the next day, I do it all over again. On the weekends, I either write like my shoes are on fire, or go to conventions, where I have a lovely time, as long as I don't think too hard about how much catching up I'm going to have to do later.
Why do I do this? Why am I working two jobs, with a massive commute in the middle? It's not because I particularly need the money. I know how to make a pound of hamburger last for a week; it's not pretty, but I can do it. I may like to buy books and toys when the cash is coming in, but I do pretty well with amusing myself on what I have then the cash isn't there. So what's the big deal here?
The big deal is medical insurance. The big deal is what can happen to you when you don't have it. The big deal is that not everyone has friends who can put together an anthology of massively awesome authors to save them from bankruptcy* when they get sick, as people have a natural tendency to do.
Melissa Mia Hall didn't have the same option. She died last week of a treatable medical condition, because she couldn't afford to go to the doctor. She died alone in the night, of something modern medical technology could easily have fixed. And yes, they would have treated her if she'd gone to the emergency room, but she didn't go, because she knew—as the uninsured always learn, as I learned, when I didn't have insurance—that it would be expensive, and she couldn't afford to risk losing everything.
My mother doesn't have medical insurance. Neither does my youngest sister. I work two jobs because I need to have medical insurance, and because I live in honest fear of the day Rachel calls to tell me that Mom was having pain and didn't say anything, because she knew it would be expensive. And if that sounds overly dramatic, well. Take a look at either of the examples listed above. One woman who sought medical care and would have lost everything without her friends stepping in; one woman who chose to die rather than gamble with the loss of everything she'd worked for.
And that's why I look tired, and why I wish people would stop telling me how tired I look. I know how tired I look. I just don't see where I have any other choice.
(*If you missed this: Ravens in the Library was an anthology project organized to pay the medical bills of SJ "Sooj" Tucker when she got hit out of the blue by an illness that required serious hospital care. You can see my original post on the matter here. Without that book, Sooj would have been in a lot of financial trouble. I think that book saved her life as lived, even as the hospital saved her life as living.)