I don’t need to make a big thing about this. I could do that, because I can make a big thing out of anything.
I could tell you the story, for example, of the early twenties aged person I met at Thanksgiving this year who’s studying corporate law for no good goddamned reason. When I asked him why, he said this exact quote, I swear, “I kind of like contracts, so…”. He kind of likes contracts. So he’s making it his life’s work. My impulse was to take him by the lapels, wrestle him to the floor, and sit on his chest till he promised me he’d think about what in this life might make him happy beyond a goddamned paycheck, and then realign to walk in that direction. I could have done it, too! He’s a scrawny thing, still growing into his man-ness. But, I stuffed my mouth full of brussel sprouts instead. I swallowed some rising tears that crawled up my throat when I thought of all the smart young people like him, following the money with no thought to personal, spiritual gratification or social contribution, and how this pattern has ruined generations of minds and spirits.
I could tell you the story of how a friend of the family, when referring to the job of her school aged son’s friend’s mom, mouthed the word “nanny” to me across the table like it was an epithet. I guess she thought it might somehow be rude to clue her son into the fact that his friend was, by all accounts, poor. That by mouthing the word to me, she was somehow being considerate or sensitive.
But I won’t get into all that! Because here’s what I really want to say.
I have 5 jobs right now, and I still can’t pay my rent on time. My weekdays are full of work and travel to work and rescheduling one work thing for another. I work a lot to make almost no money. I don’t have health insurance. There’s a whole lot that we’d like to do, that we don’t do, because we can’t afford it. I have a hundred thousand dollar education, and I’m doing work that in many cases could be done (though maybe not as well) by someone still in high school.
The old corporate salary would be nice. Health insurance…my god, it would be sublime. I’d love to do some shopping. Like, hit it hard, for real. My favorite lingerie company emailed me to launch their new line of silky, lacy things the other day. I actually (literally) salivated, and filled a faux digi-cart with $700 of things I couldn’t afford, then just closed the tab. The car has needed work for about six months. I would love to get a haircut and re-up on my fancy curly specialty products. I also need a new winter coat, and I might have to just squeeze into my old one for another season and hope the zipper holds out.
I can hardly remember being this content in all my adult life.
It’s Sunday night, and I feel happy right now, as opposed to the many Sundays I spent practically in mourning over a Saturday behind me; in tears, dreading the coming week. I like every single one of my jobs, and I’m looking forward to my hectic, unrelenting, low paying week.
I’m not saying that I’d like to keep going at this pace – working harder for less – forever. I have passions to pursue and certainly some very concrete goals I’d like to meet. If my days continue to look like this five years from now, I doubt my blog posts about it will be as positive. But for today, my today, my December the fourth two thousand and eleven, I feel pretty good. Better than I felt when I was wearing brand new lacy unders, but was just another replaceable moving part in someone else’s machine. I’m not ashamed, when compared to former classmates or colleagues, to admit that I’m wearing last winter’s boots and a coat from five years ago. I really don’t give a shit about whatever the thing is that might make someone, somewhere, want to mouth my situation across a table because saying it out loud would appear gauche.
What I have now is better. Not in a making-the-best-of-it way. It is actually, in reality, better than I what I had before. I’m certain (and hopeful) that there’s better, still, out there. Don’t get me wrong. But for today, things are just fine. Things are really very nice.