Help Me I’m Poor!

After a splendid weekend home a couple weeks back, full of overly sugared donuts and ghost adventures, I came back to the Yoop feeling refreshed and content. Until work the next day when my boss walked into my classroom to tell me they were cutting my hours. Indefinitely. As I blinked rapidly trying to process the fact that I was being let go, (even though it wasn’t me personally, it was mass budget cuts all around) which has never happened to me, I felt a sinking dread over how I would survive.

I wasn’t so much worried about the finding a new job thing, I can always manage that, I mean, have you met me? My personality is delightful. No, it wasn’t that. It was that of all the jobs I do that aren’t full-time writing gigs, this had been one of my favorites as it involved working with kids. Sure some of them are less than darling, like this one particularly sassy girl pointing out the other day, rather snottily I might add, that I had a hole in my leggings. (Reference the title of my blog if you’re confused why I had a hole in my leggings. Also I forgot they were the holey pair when I put them on. And the hole was small and in no way revealing anything indecent). When I said I forgot there was a hole and not much I could do now, she rolled her eyes and asked why I hadn’t gone home to change. As my face began to get hot with annoyance, I told her to go back to playing tag and not worry about the state of my clothing as it was none of her concern.

So yeah, all kids can’t be Shirley Temples, but the way I feel about kids is the way I feel about life, and that is that they are remarkable and if there happens to be one or two sour ones in the mix, well isn’t that just how life goes?  After only about half a day of grave concern over the state of my life and already very grim finances with losing the best paying of my three jobs, I concluded that this had to be my a-ha moment. It had to be. God never just takes things away from me without it leading me to where I rightfully belong. So I thought it’d be rather un-trusting of me to start assuming now that God didn’t have a plan, even if I was at a loss as to what that plan entailed.

Of course, just because I had my a-ha moment of that’s it, this is my sign! Stop working jobs that aren’t your art and really go after it! Within a matter of days, the high of my a-ha moment had worn off. And on the heels of the now plummeting high came my dreaded nemesis, Anxiety. I was in the throes of an anxiety attack eating 100 Grand after 100 Grand (the candy bar, obviously. If I had real 100 Grands I would not be in this conundrum now would I?) leftover from our 1920’s party as a futile attempt at therapy while staring hopelessly at my Idea Notebook.

The candy bar therapy wasn’t really working. Shocker. Food just doesn’t soothe me like it used to. I considered day-drinking. Hemingway, my hero, would totally give his nod of approval to that. But all that was leftover from the party was gin, champagne and beer… Okay, so that actually is a really fine selection. Call me a snob but if I am going to day drink I really feel like it ought to be wine. I mean the hard stuff just scares me a little and drinking beer mid-day, well it seems a smidge more on the alcoholic side than the classy angsty artist side.

So day-drinking was out. I tried soul-therapy then. I went to the library and checked out A Moveable Feast and sat rapt and moved by Hemingway’s prose while it drizzled outside. But still, the anxiety would not leave me, the dirty rotten bastard. I stared out at the vastness of Superior and tried to pinpoint the furthest reaches of the lake. I wanted to be at that place. I suddenly had latched onto my other self-soothing technique which is complete and utter crazed denial accompanied by the urge to flee.

Whenever this happens in my life, (the urge to flee) which truly is often, I always seem to be at a crossroads financially. Okay, fine, I am always at a crossroads financially! (Like today when I cashed in my coin jar for gas money. I thought there was only about $8 in there, hoped for $12 but was blown away when my grand total back was $20.71. Make it rain!) But it is not because I am irresponsible. Au contraire. All my bills are paid on or ahead of time and in hefty sums. It’s just that I really love Dave Ramsey and want to be debt free, so I put everything I make toward my debt and nothing ever goes into savings. Ever. If it does, it is immediately taken out to be put toward said debt, because being debt-free to me equates my being able to finally run away and join the circus. And honestly if I had a dime for every time I threatened to run away and join the circus, well my debt would be paid off and I would be unencumbered to ride the rails and maybe elephants too.

Alas I knew what I had in my checking, savings and on my credit cards and all of it combined wouldn’t even give me a full tank of gas to find the edge of the Lake, much less a free pass to join the circus. I morosely packed up Hemingway, feeling worse somehow and went home. At this point, my sister Kirst who had been feeling much the same as I had—riddled with anxiety that is—and I began to chat. I told her how I needed, no really needed to run away. I felt manic and crazed and like I was losing my a-ha moment. I told her I read about someone else’s a-ha moment on Oprah and how the woman had gotten laid off, was in debt and overweight and how she figured it all out. And wasn’t I in the same boat? Laid off? Check. In debt? Double check. Overweight? Yeah, okay that too.

What’s my a-ha supposed to be? I proclaimed. Now is the time! These are what a-ha’s are for! And I am especially primed because I have all these extra forces and obstacles against me which make the a-ha even better! Bankers are always getting laid off and then admitting their true calling of opening a donut shop and then they wax on and on about how it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

This was supposed to by my grand a-ha and I was already fucking it up because I didn’t know what the fuck to do with my a-ha. My mind was all over the place. And amidst this ranting and raving where Kirst was ranting and raving back at me with her own need for her own a-ha because she was still working at Beef-A-Roo, what I refer to as La Beef, her fast food burger joint job, while having her own dreams of fashion grandeur, we realized we were screaming our dreams at each other at the top of our lungs and asking each other if we were crazy, admitting, truly, yes we were and then saying we would run away, we would run away, dammit and go find our fucking a-ha’s!

And then we were laughing while we were screaming. Laughing so hard and yelling so hard that we were crying and writhing around on our chairs, because we couldn’t sit still with our dreams or our want for them or our pure idiocy in wrangling them to us. And the crying was not out of sadness, but crying out of unbridled hysteria that we truly were insane and we got each other’s needs for more. Something more that we couldn’t even yet name or find but knew deep in our souls we needed, enough to cry and scream over.

And then we calmed down. And our anxiety, at least for the moment, had run off with our laughter and tears. We didn’t yet have a complete plan, or a concrete idea of what to do with our newfound a-ha’s, but we knew something was looming and that if we didn’t at least acknowledge it, Kirst would continue unfulfilled work at La Beef while dreaming of the fashion forward of the East and West, while I continued to use running off with the circus to escape the bonds of the normal as my easy out for not going after my dreams with gusto.

So with very little money at hand and not much in the way of prospects, Kirst and I both are holding fast to our hope in the a-ha moment, in its beautiful certainty that change could be lurking right around the corner. If we accept that a-ha, yes, life could be different if we are just a little bit unafraid. Unafraid of being broke, being laid off, leaving town, getting uncomfortable, failure, success, dreaming too big, dreaming too small, or not recognizing an a-ha when it’s slapping you right across the face.

 

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The Kind of Girl I Wish I Was

There is the kind of girl I wish I was and the kind of girl I actually am.

I wish I was the kind of girl who read The New Yorker. What I read is a lot of Martha Stewart Living. And Archie Comics. And Sedaris. I never pick up a newspaper unless the picture on the front is of a far off place, and doesn’t include guns. If I do pick up a newspaper, I immediately find the section with the far off places or the columnists who don’t write about politics. The rest of the paper I save to use as window cleaner as it smears less than paper towel.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked NPR. I will not listen to a single bit of talk on the radio, including a commercial… even if I am in my driveway. I will still persistently channel surf until I find music. Any form of talk radio, or radio host having a conversation on air instantly brings to mind ways in which I would like to off myself rather than be listening to talking on a radio while trapped in a car. Talk radio of any kind, about terrorists, mayoral candidates or even dating makes me so panicked and agitated that I nearly break out in hives and then promptly inform/threaten the driver of the car that I may die from having to listen to speculations of ebola taking over the U.S. Or has it already? I wouldn’t know. I don’t read the news or listen to NPR.

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked Words with Friends. Except I actually don’t, as Words with Friends is Scrabble’s ugly step-sister and why would I play Words with Friends with you when I have about ten copies of Scrabble sitting here in my home waiting to be played accompanied by a cup of Joe and my notorious bad temper if I lose?

I wish I was the kind of girl who liked getting up super early in the morning to do productive things before work, i.e. make my lunch, eat breakfast, maybe work out, put on mascara, go and sip coffee near the lake, really be wild and crazy and not wear my hair in a bun… But every morning I hit snooze for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and then am shocked that I have to leave my bed. Then I spend an inordinately long time sitting and pouting that I have to be up before I’m ready. Once I finally realize I have all of ten minutes to get dressed, do my hair, mascara, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and get to work on time, I am a crazed lunatic trying to squeeze in time to put on my favorite rings and find extra bobby pins and throw a can of tuna—and wait a can opener—in my bag before running out the door, where I still waste more time hooking up my iPod for my seven minute drive to work so I can listen to my latest download on repeat to set my mood for the day. And then no matter what good intentions I had about being put together, having breakfast or lunch, or being on time, I still am somewhat disheveled, eat cough drops for breakfast, and am never on time while trying not to cringe or explain that I didn’t oversleep per se, I just can’t believe where the time goes in the morning.

I wish I was the kind of girl who gave non-bearded men a chance. Oh wait, no I don’t. If loving beards is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. *Fellas: Grow a beard. Buy a flannel. Oh and know your way around a forest or a power tool. I mean honestly, it’s not asking a lot.

I wish I was the kind of girl who knew a thing about how to do my makeup or my hair. I also wish I cared about either of these even one iota. Instead I am the kind of girl who finds the store Ulta to be more intimidating than a trip to the dentist. The likelihood of my paying $18 for anything that is going to be smeared onto my face to supposedly give me a sun-kissed glow is the same likelihood that I would pay $18 for a toothpick. It’s never going to happen.

I wish I was the kind of girl who didn’t eat dessert for breakfast. Who could go a day without fantasies of living in tree houses, riding the rails of Russia, or lumberjacks sweeping me off my feet by insisting I own a sled dog team. But I am just not that kind of girl, nor will I ever be. I won’t be the kind of girl who works out before work, or learns to do my makeup or even plans that well for breakfast but instead plans my Trans-Siberian Railroad getaway.

I guess there is just no use in trying to change what God so intricately put together: A somewhat disheveled, morning loathing, news avoiding, non NPR supporting dreamer and poor-planner with a beard fetish and a sweet tooth. Hey there are worse things to be right?  Like ISIS. See! I am not completely out of the loop.

Underwear Woes

I am neurotic. I like my things organized and color-coated and everything down to a paper clip to have a home. So naturally I fold my underwear and then stack them neatly on top of all the underwear I hate and loathe entirely but keep around as back-up reserves in case. I like to never have to get to my reserves and I rarely do. But the other day it happened. I tore apart my underwear basket in a panic wondering where all my good Hanes were. Well they weren’t clean and freshly pressed in my underwear basket that was for sure.

As I located a girly floral lace pair reserved for when I have a boyfriend (beginning stages only) I stared in dismay and hatred at the flimsy cotton and lace combo. Is there anything worse than having to resort to your back-up underwear, I thought to myself. No. The answer was a resounding no. There isn’t a damn thing worse.

I put on the dreaded fancy underwear and went about my day.

Now that was a few days ago and I have since done laundry and re-washed all my beloved boyshort Hanes in solid colors with loads of fabric to cover every ounce of my fupa and then-some. Ah happy days are here again.

But today it hit me as I was looking over my underwear supply. It has gotten low somehow. I think some were lost. One pair was slipped off recently when I decided on a whim to take a dip in Lake Michigan on my way home to visit my parents. Still having a long drive to go I put the wet undies behind my seat. I then made the mistake of letting my dad borrow my car.

Here’s the thing about my dad. When I was young and not as hip as I am now, I used to have all sorts of useless shit in my car. I had a fur steering wheel cover, fuzzy dice (don’t you dare judge me) and to top it off all my stations were pre-set to gangsta rap—this was my only form of rebellion in high school, since I spent my free time babysitting and attempting to write romance novels (now you can judge me). When my dad would use my car, he took everything off, including my twelve dozen keychains, bringing it all in the house and leaving it on the counter. He also changed all my rap stations to conservative talk radio.

He did this every time.

Since then I have gotten rid of all things faux-fur related and no longer have pre-sets pertaining to 50 Cent. The last time my father drove my car however, he took my 26.2 and I love Mountains bumper stickers off. He claimed they fell off in the car wash. I knew better.

This time I noticed my usual pile of things Dad found in my car that he found to be unnecessary piled on the counter. But I also noticed that my wet underwear were missing from behind my seat. I knew my dad had done something with these because it pains him greatly to have anything in his car—or mine—besides George Jones CD’s and a large styrofoam cup of diet pop.

I didn’t want to be down one pair of my beloved boyshorts but I couldn’t bear to ask my father what he’d done with my overly large underwear that are made to look like mens boxers. I didn’t want him thinking they were a guys because umm yikes, I don’t want my dad thinking of that ever. But worse, I didn’t want him knowing that those were mine and truly they could easily be misconstrued as mens. I counted it as a loss and said nothing.

So the conundrum I had today was this, I am dangerously low on my Hanes boyshorts. I am also dangerously low on fundage. And Hanes used to offer these splendid underwear in three-packs, but now they can only be purchased in a two-pack, those sly bastards. When I found this out, I was in such a hot rage I almost wrote to them as I was already pained paying $9.99 for three pairs and now I would only get two?! Five dollars a piece for underwear? Who do you take me for, Hanes? A Kardashian?

I mean they really have me over a barrel here, because they are my favorite and I have never loved any underwear so much, but obviously if I am buying my underwear in a plastic package at Target I am not then going home to drink Cristal. I can barely afford coffee, man.

My point with all this ranting over underwear is this simple fact: When did buying a two-pack of Hanes become a luxury I can’t afford?