I remember all the years of not knowing which bills we could afford to pay on time and which ones would have to be fobbed off until the next pay check, or forever. I hoped we could leave those years behind us. We got a reprieve for over a year, and for that I feel such gratefulness. To know what it feels like to be able to pay all the bills and be able to afford the normal comforts of a modest life without having to look at the bank balance every day. To be able to afford to get the dentistry we need when we need it. To be able to buy light bulbs as they blow out. To have more than one pair of shoes.
I know how to be thankful for these blessings.
Coming back to that tight place – juggling bills from week to week, always two weeks late paying the power and water bills. We don’t even have credit card bills or car payments. Our rent takes up half our income. I imagine this is pretty normal for most Americans. I imagine there are a lot of Americans paying a higher percentage of their income to keep a roof over their heads than we do.
We’re lucky that we’re still able to afford some luxuries like rot-gut wine during the week, beer on weekends (though we shouldn’t because, clearly, we can’t actually afford this), and Philip taking the kid out to share a plate a fries and wings instead of a full meal. There are so many people not able to have these little luxuries. My thoughts are here this weekend, not feeling bitter about tight financial restraints but feeling tired of them.
It’s looking more and more necessary for me to return to looking for a job outside the home. Not gonna lie, it depresses me. I belong at home. I’m a writer. I’m a homesteader. I’m a mom. I’m a mentally ill person who is healthiest when close to home, to my kitchen, my laptop, and to my people.
A close friend has told me about a possible job coming up that I might be qualified for. My friend Sid thinks I would be great in the mental health field and has been suggesting I would be skillful in an advocacy role. This job has yet to be officially posted and maybe when it is I will find that I’m not even qualified to apply, a common problem I encounter. Philip and Max want me to apply. They want me happy but our financial restraints are a big stress on us all so they’d kind of prefer me to step up my efforts for supplementing our income without prostitution.
It doesn’t matter how grateful you are for what you have because you know a billion other people have less – the day to day stress of living hand to mouth and coming up short is stressful and anyone who says otherwise is lying their fucking asses off.
I’m so torn. I’ve just come up with ideas for my Etsy shop, for making things that tie in with my book and for the first time in a long time finding myself excited about sewing but the reality is harsh and firm. At the best of times I’ve sold very little. What makes this time different? Am I being hopeful with no foundation for it?
Going to a job 20+ hours a week means I’ll barely have enough time to parent, do those things I need to do for my mental health, and write. Forget making things to build a nebulous online store.
But to work in mental health, even as an administrative assistant, has its pull too. To serve my tribe in any way is honorable. To do it while also easing my family’s financial strain? I think Philip and Max get instinctually how stupid it would be for me not to at least apply.
I sound pretty sad-sack I suppose. I know what I want, I just don’t know how hard I should hang onto my preferred way of getting there. I don’t know what is the best way forward. I don’t know the best pass to get across the finish line.
This weekend I finally finished putting together and listing my Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit. Tonight, while thinking about other paths forward, I had to stop and recognize that no matter how bad I am at selling my designs and ideas – I can tell you that I’m fucking proud of the products I’ve designed and assembled over the years just as much as I’m proud of the kind of employee I’ve been. I was a great color specialist at Mulberry Neckwear. When I was a shipping manager I put my boots and soul into the job and kicked ass. I loved it. When I made cards and aprons for my own company, Dustpan Alley, I knew the quality was superb and the style notable. When I opened my retail shop I filled it with the best products and other people loved my shop – business was growing steadily (and healthily for retail stores) and could have grown to be successful.
I put 110% into everything I do.
My first aid kits took me a year to plan and design and to assemble. I’m putting one in my own bathroom because it was my own family’s need that inspired them in the first place.
I’m stressed. Super stressed. Anyone who knows me knows this is the usual status quo, more and never-less. Even when I don’t have stressful stimuli affecting me – I have clinical anxiety that’s no joke. Fuck you if you don’t want to GET IT.
I don’t know how we’re going to get through this week until Friday (payday). I don’t know if we’re going to end up with overdrafts in the bank account. I don’t know what will happen after this week. I don’t know if I’ll manage to get my Etsy shop to take off enough to let me stay home. I don’t know if that job listing will end up being a perfect fit and my path diverges in a direction I didn’t plan or expect, again.
I will say that if working away from home means I’m serving, in any capacity, the mentally ill community, there is a poetic beauty in that. A justness, a rightness, a visceral attraction I can’t deny. It would mean I’d have to give up my Etsy shop. I can’t do that and work outside the home too. But if it produced a steady paycheck, there’s beauty in that. And I’d still write. Because I have to write. I need to write.
I haven’t been writing my thoughts out enough lately. I can tell by the longitudinal way I’m getting around to the center of what’s in my mind right now.
I’m throwing seeds into the air. The hot stillness of our late summer isn’t likely to carry them far, but I’m hopeful they’ll land just where they need to. There’s old fight in me for the way I thought my life would and should go, old ideas of the plays I should make and the ones I make out of desperation.
Until a direction is forced, one way or another, I will continue to fill my Etsy shop and work on my ideas for creating dystopian inspired products. If another clear opportunity arises to use what I have to make, create, soothe, fill a void, help my tribe, lift up others – I will give it my fullest attention. Whatever it is.
No matter what I have to do to help my family pay bills – I will continue to write.
The one constant, always, throughout my life, has been writing.
I’m taking this to bed with me tonight.
I’m not scared.
Not more than usual, anyway.