Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#12 Reason Having No Money Sucks

I haven't worked since March of this year. I was gainfully employeed as a teacher, and then as a nanny up until my mom died March 25, which is when my world kinda sorta fell apart. Went into Depression Mode and stayed there, under the covers, for about a month. Would climb out and get showered and dressed, but then something would trigger a  memory of my mom ~ big things, like seeing women out in public with their moms; little things, like passing the Little Debbie display at Price Chopper, as my mom loved her some oatmeal creme pies ~ and then I was back to the bed and not brushing my teeth. You know you're at the edge of your sanity when you stop brushing your teeth.
No work? No money. Well, none of my own. Thank God I am married to a wonderful and generous man who is gainfully employed and has allowed me as much grieving time as I needed (and continue to need). Without my own paycheck, though, I feel very much like an adolescent holding her hand out for movie money, or for lunch money to get together with the girls.
Since March, since no paycheck, I have given up lots of material goods, purchases that I never really needed, now that I come to think about it, but sure as hell wanted. I used to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. My generosity soared. Lots of gifts for the children and for friends. Lots of dinners out. I had Olive Garden's menu memorized. Lots of clothing and shoes bought. Daughter wanted a $200 pair of Uggs? Her third pair? OK.
Look: I am not a brat. I did have the money, and I did spend it, but I donated a lot of money, too. I bought food for local food pantries. I paid for dozens of Starbucks purchases for cars that were behind me in line. I bought classroom gifts that students "bought" with good behavior tickets I'd handed out during the week. I took donuts into school, and full-size birthday cakes and gallons of ice cream when a student had a birthday.  And I bought a shit-ton of books; I was a regular at Borders before it closed (I am still sad about this~) and then I turned to Barnes and Noble and, eventually,, although I am ashamed to admit that mail-order approach, considering amazon's one BIG reason Borders shut down.
I bought new-release books, both fiction and non-fiction; I bought enormous coffee table books; I bought poetry anthology books, both hardcover and trade fiction; I bought home design books; I bought anyone's memoir or autobiography. I bought cookbooks. I bought little gift books, you've seen 'em, the lilliputian quotation books meant for teachers, or for women, or for mothers. If it was published, I bought it. And if I bought it, read it, and loved it (Garth Stein's Racing in the Rain, for example ~), I bought half a dozen more copies and gave those away.
And now, now that I have no extra money, I have had to stop buying books.
It hurts. My withdrawal from Barnes and Noble is painful: I am an alcoholic who must stay away from the pub.
How to compensate? I go to the library. A lot, like three times a week. Am I reading that many books every week? No, but I am a book junkie; I get my fix by perusing the shelves and carrying as many books to checkout as my arms can hold. Then I bring them home and set them on my dining room table, artfully arranged, and I get a euphoric sense of possibility just having them there. That's what books do for me: they promise a future for me that would be different if I did not have them.
How does anyone NOT read? There's so much to be learned and to be considered, so much to be absorbed.
Books think for me. Wish I'd been the first to claim that. However, attribution goes to Charles Lamb, Essays of Ella, (1823), which I know because I got it out of a book I own called The Quotable Book Lover.
One more quote, before I leave this post:
"Books must be the axe to break the frozen sea inside me." ~ Kafka (1883-1924)

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