Thursday, September 25, 2014

Confronting a big societal taboo

Money is the last taboo. I am going to be covering topics like this and dating and sex. I have silenced myself for years because I felt I couldn't write about the things that absorb most of my attention. If you are uncomfortable with these topics, feel free to stop reading now. 

I have led a very privileged life for most of it. What has been eye-opening to me has been the discovery that before I was really poor-- and I define this as having to play a game I call "bill roulette" every month: Do I pay the electric bill or buy groceries and insulin?-- before I experienced this firsthand, I admit that I enjoyed my privilege. The eye-opening part is how much that I thought I would always have it. Ah, hubris. You get me every time.

This month has been bad because I haven't gotten my first paycheck for teaching yet. And because I am teaching, I am earning less at JCP. So anyway, my mom helps out a lot with groceries and this month we got hit particularly hard, so her money ran out last weekend. I had put money into my household account for electricity, but I moved that into my groceries account. So, my mom's cable got shut off. 

Quel disastre. I am not even kidding.  All and any attempts to get my mother to do word puzzles, read, crochet, jigsaw puzzles-- something besides watch tv-- have failed. So, not having cable is a pretty huge deal. I got out my cornucopia of other activities and asked her just to hold on til Tuesday.
Nope. She called my uncle this morning and asked him to pay the cable bill, and then she called me and told me my uncle wants to know what is going on. 

I don't know. I have three jobs and I can't make my monthly bills. I am stretched pretty thin right now, so I don't know that a fourth job is feasible.

So, I feel like a pretty big fuckup. Where did I make the wrong turn? Marrying at 22? Staying home with my kids for 7 years and no income? Staying in Missouri? Two divorces? Taking 6 months off to take care of my dad and not working and watching my client emails dry up? I went to college and got a master's degree. I foolishly thought for most of my life that I would always be privileged. I am glad I'm not. I am a humbler person for it. But I don't want my mom and kids to suffer for it.


  1. Have definitely been in a similar circumstance....These days we make it work pretty well. But in my teenage years our family went through some rough stuff. Amazing how it changes your world view when you've been treated like trash. It makes me pretty intolerant to rants about "lazy poor people". It's hard work not having enough money...I've never been more down trodden or scraped the bottom of the barrel more.

  2. Spot on, sister! I am just beginning to realize to meaning of being spoiled and the meaning of impoverished. Excuse me now while I go get dressed to be a cashier. Love you!