Friday, March 13, 2009

Austerity Budget

Soooo... money is tight. And I hate it. But that's how it is. What with THE ECONOMY and all the CHOICES we've made (the vacation that, in hindsight, probably wasn't such a great idea... the four-dollar lattes, the $60 dinners, the choice (last year) to leave all our money in the market and let it roll.

I'm all about learning from mistakes, about "everything has a reason" and I know, as Scarlett Ohara knew, that tomorrow is another day. There will always be a new choice to make; everything has its season... I know all the blah-blah-blah.

But sometimes, things get to a point where...
you know what I mean: I'll bet even the Dalai Lama has to remind himself, now and then, that life is impermanent and that all things --the good and the bad-- will pass.

Anyway, we've been cutting back. Like last night, we had leftovers--that I made out of leftovers from the night before. Which is okay--and a demonstration of how frugual and innovative I can be. It's just that, I really really want it to be different.

I'm not asking for great wealth. I have no need to sit on a heap of gold or drive a Rolls Royce or live in a castle (though wouldn't that be fun!) I just want to go about my business: Making stuff out of other stuff; writing about beauty and light. I just want to live without this pinch of concern that seems, lately, always there... this question: When will the next check come in? and the other one, How are we are going to pay the tuition? The rent? The health insurance?

We make so much money. We really do. This is not a poor family. This is a middle-class, even upper middle class family I'm talking about. But with two kids in college (three, if you count me) and the cost of living...

Oh, I know we'll turn it around. We're innovators--good at inventing new solutions. We are masters of synchronicity, capable of pulling rabbits out of hats and, as I said, making pretty good soup out of turkey bolognese sauce, curried lentils and roast vegetables.

And I have to admit it's been a certain kind of fun (or funny) to calculate exactly how much it costs to take a bath; to go around the house unplugging appliances each night while reminiscing about how, just a year ago, we were living (and I say this metaphorically) with all of the lights ablaze.

We can still afford to see a movie now and then. I even ordered popcorn last weekend at the Jacob Burns Center, our local "art house," where we saw "Two Lovers". And when the Harvard graduate behind the snack counter asked, "Want butter on that?" I told him, "Sure, what the hell!" in a way that I hoped was both reassuring and not the least bit condescending. I mean, we're all in this together.

Still, sometimes, when all the bills come due the same week and my husband, an architect, doesn't have any new clients and my paycheck is still a week and a half away; when we have to gamble that we probably won't get too sick this month or that maybe, the landlord will let us slide (again), it kinda makes me want to say, "Fiddle-dee-dee!" and invest in a bottle of Cabernet.

And I know you don't want to talk about this-- I know that you come here for stories about angels and transformation. I know that it's not good to affirm negativity or add energy to the things that we don't want in our lives. It's just that sometimes, on "one of those days" when it feels as if the boat has slipped just a little bit lower in the water (in spite of all our frantic bailing) it can help to stop and name things as they really are.

It can help to say: This is our current reality: this is how things are, right now, right here. That's how, as we are all, quite sensibly, buying lottery tickets and stocking up on canned goods and bottled water, we define the TRUE starting point : The place from which we will launch the solar-powered houseboats that we will be inspired, by this crisis, to invent.

1 comment:

Priscilla said...

It is different to feel the low thrum of anxiety, isn't it? But so much opportunity too, as you say at the end: the solar power waiting to happen, along with all the other ecofriendly accommodations we'll be making (I hope). Thanks for the blog.