The holidays are almost over . Thank God. This year is almost over . Thank God. Things can only get better. They can't get any worse. Since my rent went up in July every month has been a magic act. Every month I managed to pull a rabbit out of my hat and survive. I wish I could write about something else but I can't. It's the only thing that I'm concerned about. Finances. Money.
I want to go to the movies. But I can't. I want to go out to dinner but I can't. I can take living alone because I've done it so long now it's almost a religion. I can take getting older because its ridiculous and a waste of time to rail against a natural process. As long as I go to the gym and never become a size 16 again, I'll be alright. I had three cats for fourteen years and they all died within eleven months. I got over it. I got a dog. Right now she's doing her favorite thing in the world; chewing on a sock.
Even with all my careful calculating, I still spent close to two hundred dollars. I didn't even have to leave the neighborhood, everything I bought, I bought on Montague Street. First I went out on an exploratory mission. I didn't bring money. I priced everything. Then I went back out with money. But its not just the gift giving, its the gift wrapping. Transportation. Food. I told family and friends, don't buy me anything, I can't reciprocate. It killed me to say that. I didn't enjoy getting presents because the joy is in giving. It really is. I do believe this. I cooked dinner for a friend with a new baby, that was good. But expensive!
I wrestled with the idea of staying home and sitting out the holiday. But staying home would've been so lonely. Did I really want to do that to myself? But could I really afford to buy anyone anything? In the end I compromised. I traveled to family in Westchester. I bought small things and wrapped them in bright silver paper, with tiny silver gift cards. One must travel bearing gifts. One cannot travel empty handed. Nor did I return home empty handed. But my heart felt empty when I got home. I thought about my credit card balances. I wished I could blow them up.
I hate worrying about money. Its demoralizing. My strategy for survival has been; do what I can to get through each day. Pay whatever I can to whomever I can. After that--- I put it out of my mind. How else can you survive? Recently I went out one night and had a brownie and two glasses of white wine. That helped, too. Since last summer, I have sent out at least 100 formal job applications and twice that many from online sources like Craig's List. Part time work, full time work. I applied to academia, to management, and then in December, retail. But nothing.
I've thought you've got to get a roommate, a boyfriend. A boyfriend would solve everything. Wouldn't it? Oh yes. Let him be tall and handsome and rich! I don't want a boyfriend. I don't know why. It's not going to part of my economic survival plan. I'm in this alone. This is not what I want to write about. It's not pithy or smart. It's not gossipy or fun. I toyed with the idea of writing about how God has become stranger than fiction in the 21st century. I toyed with the idea of writing about what it felt like to spend a night in a thirteen year old girl's bedroom, surrounded by lipstick, pictures and perfume. But in the end, my fingers itched to type these words:
I AM BROKE.
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