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My Crazy Dream!

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Cancer was the last straw!

Hi, I'm Sam. My goal is to change careers by January 1st, 2017. People change careers all the time, right? So what's special about mine? That's where the cancer comes in. My plan is to make $2,000/mo from my comedy in about a year's time, to replace my income from disability. Brace yourself, there's a Lifetime movie ahead. :P (Or if you already know you want to help go here.)

I first heard about autism around the time I started cartooning in 2006. Like my life, my early cartoons were rough, but I loved it. Every time someone laughed at my jokes, it gave me the strength to keep going between work and other responsibilities. A year later I had an autism diagnosis. It was a blessing, because knowing why my life had gone so badly off the rails helped me start putting it back on track.

A few years later in 2009, my wife Tiffany and I moved back to Dallas to be near my three kids. There we discovered that their mother had developed aggressive early-onset Alzheimer's. That may be the most conflicted I've ever felt... imagine all the crap your ex put you through and then hearing that they're dying? After a few months it was obvious she wouldn't take our advice and get medical help and since I love my kids, Tiffany and I stepped in and the court awarded me custody in 2011. A year later in 2012 I received disability for my autism. Times were tough, but we had each other and we were weathering the storm together.

A year later in 2013, I found myself in the hospital with a blood-glucose of 580 and doctors concerned I would slip into a diabetic coma. This happened literally a month before we spent every penny the family had to buy a house in Ohio and moved across country because we were priced out of the market in Dallas (and at the time drowning in bills renting a house large enough for the six of us). The thing that makes me laugh is the bragging rights we get for moving into a house with no heat in the middle of the worst blizzard in Ohio in the previous thirty-seven years! :P

Our family left to right: my mother-in-law Carol, my younger daughter Calli (class of 2017), my wife Tiffany and myself (Sam), my son Nick (class of 2020), my older daughter Alex (class of 2014).

Tiger Nest Monastery, Bhutan - Fantastic view for the price! But internet is spotty, groceries are hell, and if you move there, your kids will never let you hear the end of it
Of course when you need a minimum 4-bed house that's not spitting distance from a Himalayan monastery for less than $60k, your house needs repairs... And for about a year after that, we had to pay for all my insulin and diabetic supplies out of pocket until I could enroll in Medicare prescription coverage. Since the disability income was far too small to pay the $11k we needed between insulin and major heating and plumbing repairs, I took some extra contract work to make ends meet. We read that SSDI allows a 36-month "trial working period," and thought we had plenty of time to get over the rough patch.

Ohio reviewed my disability a few months later and decided the trial work period was already exhausted in under 18 months. At first I thought, "I'm not sure why they think I own a time machine... there's no DeLorean or police box in my garage." :P Apparently the documents we read were poorly worded (shocking, right?) and the trial work period is only nine months. Luckily for us, there's a 36-month "extended period of eligibility" and long-story short I still receive payments for about another year (as long as I don't earn too much) and then there's another review.

The truth is I never intended to stay on disability, I just haven't reached my career change goals yet. If in a year I'm still not earning enough and the review goes poorly, we could be financially stranded for a while. I'd rather not put all my eggs in that basket.

That's when the cancer happened... on my birthday. :P

I take comfort in knowing that I handled the cancer the way any responsible adult does:

I FREAKED OUT!
(This isn't me... my manboobs are manlier.)

When I calmed down a bit and thought it through, I realized that life is giving me a choice. Between April and November this year I've already published over sixty-three pages of an ongoing comedy story -- that's three issues of a standard American comic, at an average of two pages per week (three in recent weeks).

Two time machines I don't own. D'oh!
So my options are:

A) Go back to the same old rat race full-time: plod miserably away at a job I don't believe in to make someone else rich.

B) Follow my dreams of earning a living with my comedy. Work hard and make every day count!

So that's where I am and like I said, since I don't own a time-machine, I have to start playing the cards I've been dealt now, not next week. I'm not sure exactly why the cancer was the last straw. It's not like I didn't already have plenty of reasons between the autism, the diabetes and the clock already running out on my disability. One way or another, I have to meet my goal to pay my medical bills and support my family.

Especially with the autism, every job is a risk and life is telling me to take a leap of faith.

So I'm betting it all on a job I love! :)

How can you help?

I know making $2,000/mo from my comedy in the next year is an abitious goal. I've already overcome diabetes, and I know I can beat the cancer. If I can beat all those medical hurdles, I can handle a career change, even an ambitious one. :D So my promise is that I'll put in 40 hours a week making you laugh, and I'm asking that you help me reach my goal! Do you love an underdog? Do you want to help? Here's what you can do!

It's already working! The pledges on our Patreon nearly DOUBLED in the first week after announcing this as my goal for 2016! And we passed our third benchmark goal of covering the $43/mo in Diabetes supplies not covered by my Medicare. I'm here for you, to make you laugh and brighten your day and all of you have been here for me. We'll get there together. Your support means the world to me!

UPDATE: We didn't make the goal by the end of 2016, but we made progress and we reevaluated our goal and made this a five year plan ending in 2020. At the end of the first year, we published a Year In Review with lots of great wins! For more, you can see all our monthly progress reports on our Patreon.

Stay awesome, Hooligans!

P.S. Thanks for reading my story. Now you can check out the latest story, or you can start at the beginning.