35. James Is Painfully Poor

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Friends.

I am broke. I know I already wrote a blog about being broke. But I have learned more things. Also, I have significantly less money than last time I claimed I was broke. Now, I am not homeless. So I am not the brokest. You are NOT broke and have no right to whining, “Waaaaaaaah, I have no moneyyyyy” [a la Lucille Ball meets some bimbo from the Jersey Shore] if you are any of the following:

1) You have a savings account in which you actually save.
2) You know what savings account is.
3) Your savings account has more than $96.
4) You can afford to go out to eat at least once a week.
5) You have no debt (student loans, credit card, Pokemon cards, whatev).
6) You have a sugar daddy or something of the like that purchases you things regularly.
7) You have an allowance.
8) Your parents bail you out.
9) You take taxi rides.
10) You drop off your laundry.

Now. Some people live like this and claim that they are not broke. They may be just as foolish as the people who don’t live like this yet claim that they are broke.

Here’s how you may know you are poor:

1) You are on food stamps.
2) You steal large amounts of napkins from food stands because you can’t afford paper towels. (Thanks for teaching me that, Steph 😉 )
3) It takes you 2+ hours to commute because you can’t afford a taxi.
4) You owe your parents money… and it will take you surely more than a year to pay them back.
5) You have filed for one or more deferrals for your student loans>
6) You can’t financially afford to have your own room.
7) You take Greyhounds or Megabuses (Megabussi??) instead of planes.
8) When you take a plane, you can’t afford to check a bag.
9) When taking the Greyhound, your bag exceeds the weight limit yet you can’t afford to pay the extra fee so you either try to load it into the bus on your own or you set it down and run onto the bus and hide so they can’t charge you and then you realize how ridiculous it is for a 6-foot-3 man to hide on an empty bus so you instead hide by…putting up your hood…
10) When you go out to eat, you don’t look for what you want; you look for what is cheapest on the menu.
11) Your savings account is empty out of necessity.
12) You spend on credit.
13) You thank Whoever-Is-Listening that your NEW credit card has a limited time of 0% APR. (Literally. On your knees and thank that Bitch in the sky.) [#sacriligeous #blashpemy #jesuslovesjokes #andtanningbeds]
14) You re-wear dirty clothes, because you can’t afford the laundromat (in terms of sacrificing money and time).
15) You only call people outside of your cellular network plan when the minutes are free and you text in the meantime.

Alright. I’m a rude bitch. You get the point. But if you don’t, here it is:

BEING POOR SUCKS. It sucks. It blows. And every time I think that, I have to remind myself, “I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what I love, I’mdoingwhatIlove, whatIlovelovelove.” And everyone says, “This is the life you chose.” Or sometimes people say, “Money can’t buy you happiness,” but honestly those people have never been poor. Am I f*cking RIGHT, LADIES?!?! I mean, really. It can’t? Can it not?! Let me tell you something:

I borrowed $1400 from my parents so I could afford this new apartment that I am still unsure of whether or not I can afford. I have thus far paid back my parents $365. Wee! I have not started paying a single cent of my student loans. Not one. Yes, I am aware that interest in currently accruing. Well. It can do whatever it wants. My student loan interest could get gay-married for all I care! Cuz I don’t care! I don’t! I would rather sit on the bus next to someone who I am pretty sure will rob me or kiss me on the cheek (without permission) than shell out the cash to take a taxi. I sniff the armpits of my dirty clothes to make sure that they SMELL dirty before I put them in my laundry basket. If it smells like food, eh, you can just spray it with cologne. Body odor? Well, it depends on the severity of the stench. And when I DO go to the laundromat, I shove as much clothing as I can into the smallest possible dryer (because it’s the cheapest). I would rather not wash my hair every day so I could reuse the hair product that I put in it yesterday, but now I’m seeing a cosmetologist and my hair gets nasty dandruff cocaine-like flakes when I don’t wash it regularly. DAMN. When someone asks if I want to go out to eat, I PRAY that they want to go to 2 Bros. where I can purchase dollar slices of pizza. My gym costs $10 per month. THANK GOD. I can’t sacrifice that because I’m nervous my lack of endorphins will lead to nasty, nasty poverty-induced moods. BUT. My gym hands out free pizza once a month. And Jesus-In-Heav’n, after my workout today, I ate not one, BUT TWO pieces of free Domino’s pizza. My B’way Body was MAAAAAAAAAD but my wallet was OH-SO-McHappy! I unplug all my appliances when I am not using them to save money on electricity. I don’t go to bars. A drink is like $7 and it tastes like nail polish remover… (to be specific, it tastes like the bad-tasting nail polish remover, not like Jessica Simpsons edible line of nail polish remover… [that’s a joke…although I did once eat some of Jessica Simpson’s line of edible lotion and it gave me a massive tummy ache… but that’s really beside the point… I would say it’s even further than beside the point; it’s literally MILES to the point…which will be coming back to you in 3…2…1…]). My savings account has $96. I don’t have a steady job so I can audition. I don’t know how I’m gonna make next months rent. (Hopefully I can use my security deposit from my last apartment… if I ever get it…) I recently lost my EBT benefits and I NEED them back. I need them. I can’t afford food without them. My room smells but I just put on cologne and hand lotion and leave the door open and someone with yummy-smelling farts comes in and blesses my room. I get all my music from the library. I apply for the benefits cards at every place I spend money: Pinkberry, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, Starbucks, Subway, AirTran, you name it! Because I NEED that money to come back to me, Lord. I try to only spend my credit card that gets me points that I can one day turn back into money. I try to never spend cash so I can be EARNING from the money that I spend. I wouldn’t be able to afford plane tickets without credit cards.

Woof. You get the point. And I know that halfway through this blog my mother will call me and tell me that she will give me money. But I will kindly refuse her. Because I am 23 years-old damnit. I am an adult. My parents couldn’t be better parents. But perhaps I could be a better son. And for me, that starts by taking care of me, because that indirectly leads to taking care of them.

Being poor is not romantic. It just isn’t. I’d like to believe it is, because I watch too many god damn movies. It’s not. It really isn’t. Getting judged my countless checkout clerks at grocery stores for using my EBT card: not fun. Turning down plans because I can’t afford it: not fun. Listen, I know it could be worse. Of course it could. And I’m sure– nay, I am POSITIVE that rich people have problems, too. But holy fuck, I wish they could live a single day in my shoes so they would stop whining about their silly trifles. (And I’m sure people below my income level feel the exact same way about me.)

But I have talked to people who make more money than me. I have talked to people who make at least 13x more than me. And you know what they say: “Money doesn’t make me happy.” And that’s coming from people who really can afford happiness. Financially. But fuck it, if money really doesn’t make people happy then maybe it’s time to stop waiting for a cash flow to smile.

You know what I think the real cause of unhappiness is? Variables. When I see people talking about what made them unhappy that day or the other day or the day before that other day, I think to myself, ‘Damn, this hoe has too many variables in the equation of happiness.’ Think about this: what has to go right in your day to make you happy? Maybe the subway has to come on time, there needs to be a seat on the subway, there needs to be space on the subway, you need to accomplish everything on your to-do list, you need people to say the right thing to you even though they have no idea what the right thing is, your internet needs to be working, the weather needs to be perfect, you need to have a friend to hang out with. That’s SO MANY VARIABLES! All of those things need to go right for you to be happy? Damn, when you ARE happy, it’s like a freakin’ miracle. BUT: chances are that you lack the gratitude to enjoy that miraculous happiness. Because I think gratitude is the cure to the blues. Or the everyday crabbiness. (Disclaimer: I am talking about ordinary unhappiness; NOT clinical depression or anything related to medically treatable mental health issues. DIS.CLAIM.ER.)

Yes, it would be nice to get everything you want, to get all those awesome things…and the money things, too. But let’s be honest, it’s a pipe dream. Tain’t gon’ happen. The events that get you down probably won’t go away. Like my poverty. (My father thinks I’m gonna be rich but I know better.) I’m gonna be poor for a while. And that is something I could change if I adjusted my career path, but the sacrifice is too great; I did not move to New York City to be financially comfortable; I moved here to follow my f*ckin’ dreams. And while being financially stable is a dream, it is not the dream. THE dream is to move people with my art. To cause a critical change to their fundamental being that makes them more human. And it’s hard to remember that. Because for a lot of people around me, money is the dream. The dream. But that’s not for me. Because I know it won’t make me happy.

Someone once told me, “I wish you would let things roll off your back more.” And I took that advice to heart. I bumped my head today. But I thought, “Thank God I’m not bleeding! I really like this shirt!”

I cried today. Because I felt like my journey was wrong. I compared my journey to someone else’s around me. And this friend isn’t even on the same career path as mine. But I just felt like I was failing compared to that person. And worse, I felt like they agreed. And I thought to myself, ‘What if my path doesn’t lead to redemption?’

But you can’t compare your path to anyone else’s but your own. Don’t judge yourself, because I PROMISE you other people will do that for you. But f*ck them. They don’t get you. They’re not on your path, and you’re not on theirs. So there’s no way they could understand. All that matters is this: “Am I better off today than I was yesterday? Have I progressed compared to yesterday? Or one year ago? Or five?”

Toni Colette delivered pizza.

DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. Following your dreams isn’t easy, but if you keep with it you will have a hell of a story to tell at the end of your life. There’s no shame in being poor. Think of the sacrifice you’re making and the rewards of that sacrifice. You will have your redemption. Don’t quit before you get there. Be someone who your children will be proud to call Dad. Or Mom. And remember: your parents ARE proud of you. If you’re happy, they’re proud. I mean, my mom was probably proud when I drew landscapes for her in kindergarten… and I can barely draw a stick person so I can’t imagine that “landscape” looking like anything more than a skidmark on a page. (And by skidmark, I’m definitely inferring that I shit on my page intended for artwork.)

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh. Because the Universe is telling you joke after joke after joke and it’s just waiting for you to laugh. So pull that stick out of your ass (unless that’s how you get your jollies) and LAUGH, GOD DAMNIT. Because THIS SHIT IS RICH, JESUS. It is RICH.

I may be poor of pocket but I am rich of SASS, BETCHES!

If you haven’t laughed once, imagine the sound of a queef in a quiet study hall. If you are not 5 years-old and that did not make you laugh, “A man walked into a bar. ‘Ow,’ he said. And then he died on unrelated causes. The laughed. Heartless bitch.” If that impromptu, absurd joke didn’t make you laugh THEN I DON’T KNOW. Convince someone to do the cinnamon challenge! Try to fart quietly into a toilet! Play the Penis game! But mostly, try the farting thing. And then imagine how stupid your face looks.

OK. Now as a non-sequitur, HERE’S A PICTURE OF MY ROOM:

Are you super turned on? I know I am. And here, I decorated my wall on a down day:

TADA!

Ok recap:
1) Money can’t buy you happiness.
2) Let things roll off your back; decrease the Sadness Variables.
3) Practice gratitude.
4) Queefs and farts are the composition of hilarity.

“A lot of times things don’t go the way that you planned them, okay? That happens- for a lot of us out there. But let me tell you something! You pick up the hallehula hoop and you put it back around your waist. And you work the hallehula hoop!”
~Shangela from Rupaul’s Drag Race

#DON’TGIVEUP

JAMES

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2 responses »

  1. You know stealing is my specialty! 😉

    FYI: Everyone at the quarter-life crisis time feels this way! Hell, I feel this way at the start of the winter season: the end of the year when I look back and start thinking about what I’ve accomplished in the year. Most of the time I feel it’s not much because I’m comparing my life to others my age and more successful around me (FUCK, Gaga is 2 years older than I!) Or I look at my little who works in the Senate and my bestie who’s in grad school and I think … I’m currently interning, working my ass off and not making any money.

    But Joel says something in his sermons: when runners on the track run, they look straight ahead and not at who’s to their right or left. They concentrate on running their own race because comparing themselves to others isn’t going to help them run faster … or as you and I might say … WIN!

    Run your own race, boo. (She said hypocritically … do as I say not as I do.) Love you!

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