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2ndClassCitizenPundit On February - 23 - 2011

BudgetPOV is a proposed series on making ends meet in these troubled times (especially since the “ends” seem to be hacked off and cauterized).

This, the first article in the series, is concerned with the most important facet of living frugally: a person’s attitudes about having to live this way.

Thank you for your forebearance.

 

Hello, me. This is me speaking.

As I embark on beginning a series of articles about surviving this economic travesty, I find myself writing a few things that it is important to discuss with you. I hope you have the sense to listen.

You are not a failure. You did not cause this mess. You did not work for Wells Fargo for very long, and even if you had, you wouldn’t have influenced corporate decisions from your position.

It isn’t your fault. No matter how much injustice and inequality you see, you want to take responsibility for things beyond your control. I admire how you try to take responsibility for helping to change things for the better, but you can not have responsibility for the cause. You never had that authority.

You are not a pessimist, you are an idealist, and there is nothing wrong with that. You are not cynical, you are wounded. It hurts you to see your ideals and principles violated on a daily basis.

But that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

Now is not the time to give up, as you have often contemplated. You have people who depend on you, and far more who value your existence and presence. You have dreams, although you joke about them having you arrested for stalking, and they are worthwhile. You have fans eagerly awaiting the release of yoru novels.

At one time, you had dreams; don’t let them go! I know, you set yourself a goal of getting a Hugo or Nebula Award before you reached 30. That has passed you by, but you still have years left ahead of you.

And you have hard times ahead of you. I know that it seems that every time things get a little better, something goes wrong. Stop waiting for things to go wrong! They will whether or not you wat for it. Just lead your life and let the bad times take care of themselves.

There are those who will tell you that it is not possible to be too proud, but they have never been too broke or too hungry. They have never lived in the back of a van, shivering in a desert winter morning chill. They have never had to drive pell-mell to find out where the hospital transferred their partner. They have never stood and cried at the injustice done to a close friend or family member, an injustice that could not be corrected in any way.

But enough of that.

You have hard choices to make, and pride is not going to let you make those choices. You have to balance the needs of two family members who have important health issues to keep track of, keeping a roof over their heads, keeping them fed with food that won’t make things worse, and continuing to fight for those dreams.

You are going to have to make hard choices over which food items to forego, which errands to run with limited gas, which necessities are really luxuries according to the current budget, etc. You are going to contemplate going without health care and prescriptions. You are going to consider walking, even as far as five miles away or more, to save money.  You will contemplate crime. You will wonder if prison is all that bad, and you will tell yourself that you won’t get caught. And then you will admit you know better.

You are going to worry incessantly about leaving them alone while you work out of town. You are going to worry about their somewhat fragile emotional states conflicting with each other, arguments, complaints, gripes, and ultimatums. You will worry about bills, causes, issues, emergencies, crises, upsets…

You are going to wonder if the van can go another month without new brakes or transmission work. Every creak, groan, squeal, grind, or revving sound is going to leave you wondering how much longer until it falls apart. You are going to try to figure out a way to keep driving on expired plates and registration, and wonder if it is safe to cancel the insurance. And you know you’re not that stupid.

You are going to lay awake nights wondering what you did to deserve this. You are going to wonder if giving up as a writer is the best thing to do. You are going to picture packing up all that material and shoving it into storage. You’re not that stupid, either.

You will get past this.

You will make the best decisions you can make, with the resources at hand. You will do everything in your power to make sure your family survives intact.

And it will get better. This economy can not last forever like this. A lot of things will change, and the economy will as well, and the standard of living in this country will improve.

You might make choices you are not proud of. You may make sacrifices that make you feel small and useless.

But you are the head of your household, and there are things you need to do. And you will do them, because your family is the most important thing in the world to you.

Before you is an opportunity. You believe that leading by example is the most effective method of leadership. Your experiences, your tolerance, your acceptance, and your compassion will help others to get through this as well.

You can show others in this situation that it is okay to survive. That while other people judge them as being too poor or making the wrong choices, those choices still have to be made. This is not a case of the ends justifying the means, as you (and others like you) fear, but a case of the ends (in other words, this economy) forcing the means to survive.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it is not fair, just, or equitable.

It just is.

So get on with it.

 

Note: The next item in this series will be regarding feeding your family. I may have to break it up for publication.

 

Written by 2ndClassCitizenPundit

45 year old gay man, ordained minister, veteran, writer, living in Vancouver WA (previously Palm Springs) About the time you assume I am serious, I will post something humorous or snarky; about the time you assume I am a clown, I will hit you with rational thought - don't assume. Read what I write, not what you think I write.

18 Responses so far.

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  1. Abbyrose86 says:

    What is so sad is that WE, American’s, so often define ourselves by what is or as the case maybe what is NOT in our bank accounts. I know I have been guilty of this myself.

    Money or the lack thereof, makes us feel worthless. It’s a sad commentary on our society and what we value. Many times these feelings are subconscious in nature…and don’t really manifest themselves until we are without adequate funds.

    I’ve been struggling with depression for the last 3 years, over my personal circumstances and it’s been hard at times, to see my own value as a human being as I have been indoctrinated (just like everyone else) to looking at my value through the eyes of financial glasses.

    Sometimes, its a real struggle, to remember WHAT really matters and what value one really has, in a society that is obsessed with economic success.

    I look forward to reading and contributing to the rest of this series.

    There is much we can do, to change our paradigms on this subject…we just have to find the will to do it and sharing of information and stories, may help us actually find that will. :)

    • Well, we are taught (right or wrong) that as adults, and especially heads of household, that we must have a decent job and be good providers.

      If anything disturbs that, we begin to wonder what is wrong with us.

      Literally, *anything*.

      If we have a fight with a partner or other family, we blame ourselves for not being understanding or tolerant or forgiving “enough”.

      We don’t earn “enough”. We don’t get promotions “enough”. We don’t learn or remember “enough”.

      I have to wonder if the American Dream has somehow become a neurosis. We aim higher, further. We drive ourselves forward without regard to our health. And when we don’t get to our goals on a certain timeframe or in a certain manner, it isn’t “enough”. And we are not “good enough”.

      I am a firm believer in aiming past your goal in order to reach your goal (because we are human and often fall short).

      It may also be that there are too many people setting impractical goals. I know quite a few people who have done that, in a vicious cycle of setting expectations too high.

      Thanks for your support, Abby, and everyone else as well.

      • Artist50 says:

        It sounds like you’re having a very hard go of it right now. One thing I tried to teach my children who aren’t a whole lot younger than you is, happiness is wanting less -- not having more. In your situation it sounds like you are in survival mode so that philosophy doesn’t even help. During the great depression and WWII there was shared sacrifice. My mother used to talk about it and being poor didn’t have the effect it has today on your self worth. Many people didn’t have money but they were bright and felt that times would get better. There’s something different going now. I think some people have lost hope.

        Ten years ago I went through a divorce at age 50 after 32 years of marriage and literally started with nothing. I felt stigmatized for being a failure and for my poverty. I went through a depression until I dusted myself off and decided I had to make a life for myself. All I can tell you is my life did get better. I’m in a fairly good place financially and I have a great job where I am sort of semi-retired that I intend to do for many more years. I now live in the same city that my sons do and I have 3 grandkids under three years old. I’m happier than I ever thought possible. It hasn’t been an easy ten years but I made it! I will pray for your same good fortune, just hang in there.

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        I tend to agree…we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and life in general. It’s almost like we set ourselves up for this ‘failure’.

        {Sigh}

        At the end of the day though, the reality IS, none of this really matters. I’ve written about it before, but regardless of ones status or station in life, in the end (while on one’s death bed) very few wish to have more time to amass more wealth…most wish they had more time to actually LIVE and LOVE.

        Perhaps our priorities are seriously askew and we need to LEARN to live and love, BEFORE we obsess about gaining wealth or maybe in lieu of gaining of wealth and stuff.

        It seems to me, from your writings..that you have already learned that lesson…what a great gift.

        • The only thoughts about my deathbed at this point are that I want someone else to be there (I have had many friends who died alone), and I would like to “live on” in the memories of others, hopefully in a positive way.

  2. Sabreen60 says:

    My mother died when I was 13. I came home from school and she had dropped dead from a heart attack. No warning or sickness. It was devastating. It’s still devastating. But it taught me that some awful shit can happen to you in this thing we call life.

    You are definitely not alone. Some of us experienced what you write about years ago -- long before this economic downturn. I did and thankfully I survived. What I have learned in my almost 62 years is if you live long enough more shit WILL happen. It’s life. We struggle. Your struggle may not be my struggle -- but we all struggle. So many cliches that ‘old folks’ use to say -- roll with punches -- it’s not how you get knocked down, it’s how you get up are true.

    You have put into words what so many of us feel in our hearts. But you know what? There are many, many days that I absolutely love this life. Even though my husband has had a heart attack and a stroke. He’s back at work. He never gave up and neither did I. Oh, it was tough. Unbelievably tough, but once again we made it through. Roll with the punches. You do what you can and enjoy this life as much as you can for as long as you. And helping others makes your heart glow.

    I have felt like a second class citizen for most of my life. Truth be told there are times when I still do. It comes with being a minority, I think.

    • Sabreen, you are right. There are many moments (hours, days, weeks) when I feel I am darned lucky to have this life.

      it makes hard choices a little easier at times. But a hard-scrabble lifestyle can be stressful.

    • jkkFL says:

      Sabreen,
      Said it to2ccp- and will say it to you:
      You are Not a second class citizen, or second class anything else.
      You are bright, articulate, and hopefully a friend- in spite of the fact that you said ‘more shit Will happen’!
      I’m up to my eyebrows already, and I don’t swim very well..
      Here, you are a respected and valued voice- nothing less.

      ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

      • Sabreen60 says:

        Thank you, jkkFL. I appreciate that and I feel that here. But -- (there shouldn’t be a but) in the real world (I think I’m realist) you know and I know the truth.

        I have quote on at the bottom of my email:

        “Getting old is not for sissies” -- Bette Davis (who happens to be my all time favorite actress).

        Yep, shit happens and if you live long enough more shit happens. Obviously, some people get away with having less shit than others, but life ain’t fair.

        • BigDogMom says:

          Sabreen, love Bette Davis! Great quote!

          Since I’m not a minority, I won’t even presume that I know what you have experienced in your lifetime, that would disingenuous on my part.

          All I do know about you is how and what you write, and I like it. You are smart and a very good writer able to convey you feeling and opinions in a articulate manner. So don’t underestimate yourself, that’s not an easy thing to do.

          It would be great if all of us were judged like we are judged here, behind this wall of anonymity called the Internet, for the words we use and the actions we take, in the real world.

          But that’s not our reality today, all we can hope and work towards that day when MLK’s dream will come true…

          Yes, shit happens, it’s what you do with that shit that matters…(in my best BD voice), just don’t be dumping your shit on me, because I’ll fling it right back at you! 😆

        • jkkFL says:

          ::sigh::
          Life isn’t fair, getting old Isn’t for sissies, and shit just keeps coming!
          Life looks pretty daunting in print!!
          It’s good to have friends to help keep it in perspective.

          ” alt=”Smiley” border=”0″ />

          • Sabreen60 says:

            “It’s good to have friends to help keep it in perspective.”

            Yes it is ! And family -- at least SOME family members. You know the old saying, “You can pick your friends, but not your family”. Geez, why am I adding a negative to everything today? I’m going to eat some chocolate.

            • BigDogMom says:

              Sabreen, you want a good perspective on life…take a family member, like a sister, with you when you go for a new pair of glasses!

              I believe my sisters, all three of them, live for and thrive on being able to make fun of me at any chance they get…you would think after 50 yrs. that they would have gotten over that!

  3. jkkFL says:

    2ccp- First, I have an issue with your sock! (I know-piling on!)
    You are not a second class Anything- consider fixing that.

    You put into print the fragments of conversation we have all had with ourselves, on an ongoing basis.
    Now, when we find ourselves in that ‘mode’, we have a ready-reference of common sense modifications we can refer to, and use to edit our self-mutilating thoughts.
    Now we have some perspective to push us out of our isolation, and guilt.
    Write on.. :)
    Deepest gratitude.

    • It’s just a username, jkkFL. It says no more and no less than any other name would.

      But I am glad that the gist of this piece was understood. I was unsure of whether this would be a good way to start out, but in writing the Food article, I found myself making some of the points too often and it was distracting.

      And the format just kind of threw itself at me.

  4. BigDogMom says:

    2ndclass you have truly expressed what is going on in the minds of millions of people effected by this economic down turn. Down turn? More like fucking economic devastation for some of us.

    Your writing is exceptional, I’m overwhelmed by emotion. I feel that you have delved deep into my life and mind…Many of us have had these conversations with ourselves and had to make these decisions, our backs against the wall, you have captured that with this post.

    Last spring, before my business picked up again, I was down to one client. My husband, our only breadwinner at the time, who’s business had also slowed down considerably to where we were barely making it, had to go in for heart surgery, I was faced with the same tough choices as you and many others.

    Will we have to sell our house to survive? Could we even sell it in this market? What’s more important, food or medicine for my husband? How the heck am I going to pay the bills, let alone the $25,000 we owe the hospital? Why am I not getting clients? Is it me? It must be me, I suck at what I’m doing…spiralling deeper and deeper into depression, all the while worrying if my beloved husband, my soul mate, is going to live.

    I too have stayed awake at night wondering, worrying, my mind reeling with scenarios of what if, or if I did this…always in the back of my mind, waiting for the next shoe to drop, that would totally devastate us financially or loose my husband. Yelling at God, “What the Fuck else, what the Fuck else are you going to put on my plate, it’s full, there’s no room left!” They say God only gives you what you can handle, well if that is the case, at that point in my life, I was fucking superwoman!

    This went on until one day I snapped, I said no more, and let it all go. It is what it is and I started cleaning out my house just in case we had to put it on the market…this is when my whole outlook changed.

    I realized then, that all this material shit that I had accumulated over the last 20 yrs or so and that living in this nice house didn’t amount to a hill of beans with out my husband and dog in it.

    Since this past November, things have picked up for us, my husband’s and my business are doing better. We are still behind financially, but are able to keep the roof over our head and eat and my husband and dog are at my side…that’s all that matters to me these days, the rest of it is all fluff.

    • Thanks BDM. I am glad things are going better for you.

      By the way, I am planning to do an article on caring for pets on a budget as well, and would be glad for any suggestions you have.

      In fact, I am wondering if I should start a listserv newsletter or something of that nature, to collect ideas and share others.

      • whyisthis41 says:

        Hi,

        I hope I did not miss your listserv newsletter…I would love to be included.

        You have written an incredibly astute observation about what the real world is really about. Thank you!!!


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