Friday, September 21, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I was paid today. I was paid for two weeks worth of work. The work for these two weeks put me in contact with people from all over the world, taught me how to do my job better, forced me to learn about history far outside of my field, took place at (what I consider) reasonable hours, and did not at all feel like “work.” The paycheck itself – for two weeks of work – was more than I made in six weeks, exactly a year ago.
Today is also my mother’s birthday. I called and left her a message in which I sang the Happy Birthday song for her (the Beatles’ birthday song would have been too painful given my complete inability to sing, whereas everyone expects “Happy Birthday” to be off key). When I hung up, I suddenly realized that I could now afford to send her not just a birthday card, not just a fancy birthday card, but an actual present. (I know the perfect one, and I’m going out to get it this weekend.) This felt wonderful.
Exactly a year ago, I was so poor and unhappy. The work was so dull and I was making so little that part of the trade-off of living on the New England coast included many of the benefits that make you want to live on the New England coast. Indeed, they included many of the daily necessities of life. Like food.
One night, as I chatted with My Human on the phone, I casually mentioned that I was sick of Ramen Noodles.** “How many times have you had them?” he asked. He thought that I was being silly, letting my aversion to cooking overwhelm my dietary needs. “This is the sixth day in a row,” I told him. “Why?” he asked. “Well, they were twelve for $3.00 at the dollar store,” I said. “Don’t you put anything in them?” he asked. “No,” I said, “Can’t afford to.”
That weekend, when I went to visit him, he cleaned out his refrigerator for me. Frozen dinners for which he had lost his taste, frozen chili and spaghetti sauce left over, excess cereal, along with new groceries that he added to his own at the store, like juice and fruit, all went home with me. He also handed me a wad of cash. “I cannot have my girlfriend eating only Ramen Noodles all week,” he said. “No one should have to do it. If I can help you, I will.” That’s why he didn’t fight me when a better paying job took me away from him. He knew why I had to go.
My family knew my situation, too. They also knew that I was desperately trying to get out of it. My brothers offered money, which they never do. Some of my old friends did, too. I refused. I refused my dad’s offer, too; but he sent me one of his credit cards. “Use it,” he ordered. “Don’t drive on bald tires. Don’t eat Ramen Noodles.”
They helped me to survive until I got that better paying job. Neither were rich, but they had more than I did, and they couldn’t stand to see me in that condition, no matter how much I protested that they weren’t responsible for me or the stupid choices I had made to get myself into that condition. They helped, right when I needed help more than I could let myself admit. I was so lucky.
I paid back My Human, and I’m still paying back my dad (he doesn’t want to deposit my checks, so I set up automatic payment on that card that I had used!); but I writing those checks made me so happy. The past two months ended up tight because of the move; but the paychecks are arriving. Now, I want to be in the position to help them, and the other people whom I care about, when they are in need. I feel a responsibility to have enough extra on hand to help out a friend in need, to pass this gift on. I felt that a year ago, when the relief of the new job (my last job) was in sight. This morning reminded me of that responsibility. I have been so grateful for the help from these people in my life, and the best way that I can think of to show that gratitude is to follow their example.
*I always hate that the means of realizing one's own good fortune comes in contrast to someone else's bad fortune. The same goes for those terrible "learning experiences" in which one learns a lesson only through some series of poor choices or horrible events.
**For the record, I actually do find Ramen Noodles to be a tasty meal from time-to-time, just not for six days in a row, when my only other meals included Diet Coke, coffee, and a granola bar.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Yes, I'm still here, even after a month of silence. What a month, too! Packing up until the movers knocked on the door. A drive from the middle of nowhere to the Zoo --- and a trip to the actual zoo to see pandas. Stops at historic sites. Two weeks of "orientation" that could easily be titles "studies in the uses and mis-uses of PowerPoint" (mostly the mis-uses). Preparing for classes. Beginning classes. Searching for a new nest. Finding a new nest so high in a building that I will need gargoyles for company. Awaiting the arrival of my stuff to move into that gargoyle nest.
Oh, and getting lots of sleep. Lots of sleep. Moving seems to bring out my inner Rip Van Winkle.
In any case, when I think about where I was a year ago and compare that to where I am now, I am amazed. My income, square footage, and satisfaction have all more than doubled. Throw in a sassy-magical-gay-minority-pet-best friend and a bland love interest, and you have a Lifetime for Women movie. A-fucking-mazing!
Now, time to get back into the blogging groove!