Linda Walther Tirado, or “KillerMartinis,” has received over $50,000 in donations after she wrote an essay about her thoughts regarding poverty.
The blog post, posted on her Gawker profile page, was titled “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts.”
In it, Tirado discusses poverty and how it affects people, making herself the main example.
“Rest is a luxury for the rich,” she wrote. “I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full courseload, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 1230AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork.
“Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll [mess] my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.”
In her post she explores how when she was pregnant she was living on food stamps and in a weekly motel, with a minifridge and a microwave, and how the closest Planned Parenthood to her is several hours away.
She also explores fast food (“convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences”); depression (“You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever.”); and poor financial decisions (“I make a lot … None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing?”)
Tirado now says that her life has changed drastically as a result of her post going viral and her getting the tens of thousands of dollars in donations on gofundme. “I have more money to work with than I have ever had at a time in my adult life,” she said.
She has quit her second job to work on becoming healthy and seeing her kids more, and she has also received a book offer and is writing a book proposal.
“I have decided to do the thing properly,” she wrote. “I am taking the month of December and following the orders of people who have offered advice: doctors, nutritionists, lawyers, financial advisors, trainers, beauticians. They will teach me what I need to know in order to make this transition into a new part of life without [messing] it up too hard, and I am taking advice from any and all corners.”
What will she do with the money? She said she’ll spend some doing research that she wouldn’t be able to do even with a book advance, “like staying in Louisville for two weeks to talk to people all over the income scale about stratification and what it’s meant for them.” She added that it is possible she will give money to people who she runs across that need it, including paying bills for some of her friends.
“I cannot find words to tell you how completely my life has turned around in the last week,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity. I will not waste it. Thank you, so much, for being a part of it, because I can do good things. And now I have the chance to. That means everything.”
Many people responding to the post on various websites, including her page and Twitter, have congratulated her for her success and encouraged her book writing.
“Although I don’t agree completely with everything you said in your essay, I am happy to see that you have received such a positive response,” said Tina Shang. “If you opened some eyes to what its like to live in poverty then you have achieved something great already. . I do hope that you will do good things in the future with your good fortune here. Keep the momentum going, and become a voice for the marginalized an impoverished.”
“I tried to read the piece aloud to my wife,” said Temy Beal. “About halfway through I broke down and sobbed. Rarely have I seen someone write so correctly about how it feels to be poor. I was born poor as dirt as my parents before me and theirs before them and I will die so as did they. It is the knowing that nothing will ever really change for me that is hardest when I think of it, and makes me grateful for the sweet release of oblivion, whenever that may come. I wish you success with your book. :)”
At the same time, some criticized Tirado for continuing to raise the fundraising goal on gofundme and accused her of tricking people into donating money.
“I read your piece and quite enjoyed it, however it became tainted once I came to this page,” said Ashley Salyer. “Why do you keep increasing your goal amount? Have you even begun to write? I was poor growing up and in my early adult life, and now I am considered ‘middle class’ because I have busted my butt by couponing, searching for deals on every purchase I make, and keeping a very strict budget for my family. You have raised more than what my “middle class” family makes in a year, so why is it that you need more? I am a writer myself and I know that the amount of money you have raised already should buy you plenty of time to finish a book on this topic, and with all of the publicity you have received you should have no problem with publishing. You have been blessed already. Don’t be greedy.”