the currency of life

let’s talk about money.

as of this moment, i have $3.24 in my checking account. payday is two days from now, and while i have enough food in my fridge to see me through, none of it is especially appetizing (budget gourmet, anyone?).

my car is running solely on fumes. i may have enough cigarettes till then if i conserve. i really need a new pair of work shoes, i’m seriously low on toilet paper, and my cell phone bill is way overdue.

there is nothing that gets me more stressed out than money woes. you’d think i would be used to it by now. my parents were quite poor when i was growing up, and almost all of my clothes were handmade or hand-me-downs. i’ve had a string of minimum wage jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck. i had to sell all my stuff once when i was fired, and couldn’t afford rent or food. multiple temp jobs without health insurance have taken their toll on my finances. not to mention paying off school loans, credit card debt, and being the frustrated owner of a car that seems to find a new way to break down every month.

couple all of this with a bad head for math, and you’ve got a fiscal disaster in the making. and while i’ve got a job now that pays me more than i’ve ever been paid before, i still can’t seem to save a penny.

it makes me crazy. it screws me up. it takes on a life of its own, becoming a monster of national debt proportions, destroying my options, confining me to an ever-shrinking cell of constant worry where the rations get smaller every day and my freedom recedes into the distance. so this morning when i woke up, my funk was blue and my heart was heavy.

and then i read the paper.

item 1: a disabled man was found sealed in the back of a car by police officers. he was stuck in there for hours in record high heat while his caregiver (who works for the good life, inc. – ironic, yes?) had lunch with his girlfriend. this elderly gentleman is unable to feed or clothe himself. he doesn’t have speech capability, and cannot move. the caregiver, who is currently suspended without pay pending an investigation, said he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.

item 2: 11 disabled children were found locked in cages by sheriff’s deputies in wakeman, ohio. the cages were less than 3 feet high, and rigged with alarms. one child said he had been caged for 3 years. their parents are the adoptive or foster guardians for all of them, and have been receiving thousands of dollars of government funds a month for their care. they have stated that they caged them on the advice of a psychiatrist. although the children were sent to the hospital to be examined, the parents have yet to be charged with child abuse.

item 3: 40 dead bodies were discovered in a flooded-out hospital in new orleans by relief workers. under pressure from the public to determine the cause of death, hospital spokespeople have released a statement that supposes some of them died before katrina hit, and others perished from unrelated causes. there is currently an inquest underway, as officials do not believe this explanation; however, they have been unable to come up with any answers as of yet, as much of the city is still underwater and an eyewitness or any possible evidence seems to have been swept away.

 holy hell.

suddenly i don’t care that my bank account has flatlined. i look at the polish on my toes and the netflix dvd to be returned, feeling like a louse, a lout, a lug of the worst degree. i’ve got a frickin’ bike, it wouldn’t kill me to take a time-out from smoking (the opposite, in fact), i’ve got twenty-something pairs of shoes in my closet, a roll of paper towels, and a land line. i’m the friggin’ queen of the world compared to these people, and i have the nerve to whine about my sorry life?

these people can’t defend themselves. they have no power, no recourse, no freedom. they are placed at the whim of others, of fate, of the vagaries of life itself.

money? it’s just a symbol, one that most people (myself included) poorly understand. the real currency of life is the ability to act.

i consider my ass duly handed to me.

tonight i will feast on budget gourmet.

tomorrow… who knows what life will throw at me?

but whatever it is, i know i have the freedom, the will, the ability to do something – anything – about it.

ain’t life grand?

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