Sunday, November 13, 2011

I think talking about money is important.

So after covering the checks I have already written for Occupy I have ~$32,000 sitting in my bank account.  Do you know how much money I have to pay this month for various expenses?  I owe $17,000 on credit cards.  That will be paid off this month.  I still haven't paid property taxes or the mortgage or the domestic help or my therapy.  That's another $9,000.  This is an unusually expensive month.  Our income is settling in to about $8,000 per month.  I am waiting to write checks for $17,650.  That means that on the 30th of this month, if I succeed in giving all the money away, I will only have around $6,000 in cash.  We have months that cost $15,000 on a fairly regular basis.  We pay for a lot of things.

People who know me know that having a large financial cushion is kind of a ridiculous driving force for me.  It's unhealthy.  I grew up in a kind of poverty I honestly don't like thinking about.  But holy fucking shit is my life different now.

That money was originally earmarked to pay off the Disney timeshare.  I bought the timeshare when I realized it was only took four trips of the kind Sarah likes for her birthday to pay off the investment and we really do want to be at Disneyland every year...  I bought it for Sarah and me.  Noah wasn't thrilled.  Noah is not interested in spending that much time at Disneyland, thankyouverymuch.  He'll go.  But not every year.

I have done Disneyland with Sarah enough times that it is worth it to me to buy the time share.  Do you know why?  Mostly because she is disabled.  It is hard for her to expend the energy to travel long distances, sometimes even with motor devices.  If we are in an apartment that is just a few yards away from an entrance she can afford the spoons to rest in the middle of the day and really enjoy evening stuff.  It feels loving to be at Disneyland with Sarah.  She appreciates it the same way my mom does.  Just sitting on a bench with a book while people walk by makes her happy.  Disneyland is a place to just sit and feel joy.

So I bought a fucking Disney time share and I feel like a privileged asshole.  I feel strangely embarrassed that I bought this stupid thing.  What a dumb fuck am I, right?  Only dumb fucks buy time shares.  It's a racket.  Geez.  What a fucking waste of money.  A number of people have told me off for this.

Do you know how many weeks of joy this has already brought me?  Sarah and I get to dream about future vacations.  They are paid for.  I will have to pay for park tickets and gas to drive there.  Otherwise we can cook in the apartment and it's not any more expensive than being at home.  Really.

It's financed at 10% and I'm pissed off with myself for continuing to carry that debt.  I wanted it paid off in a year.  Err, that hasn't happened.  Other things keep coming up.  Like getting my heart Occupied.  Why is this so fucking important?  Because people matter.  We need a William Wallace.  We need someone to step up.  This is a Revolution.  Hell, we need everyone to step up.  What can you go do, today, tomorrow, and the next day to make the world a better place?  Stop sitting in your house whining about your problems.

Says the whiny blogger who has barely left the house in months.  Cause Jesus Christ, if anyone should stop whining it's me.  My life is the fantasy.  My life is the mythical American Dream in all of the particulars.  Oh, except that pesky PTSD shit.  How do I fix me so that I can enjoy the American Dream?

Well, I'm writing.  I think good will come from it.  I think that is one of the gifts that was given to me in this lifetime.  I can give people things to think about.  They won't always agree with me, probably rarely.  But I want them to get to the point where they say, "Ok, I guess I can see why you feel the way you do."  That's what I fucking want.  I don't need to have other people agree with me.  I need them to understand WHY I am different.  Why my opinion is different.  Because maybe that will ripple.  Maybe other people who have different opinions are ok too.  Can we stop beating the shit out of political parties?  What is the fucking point?  Grow up you stupid babies.

People are people.  I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican.  I kind of hate you all equally.  And don't get me started on how I feel about socialists.  Or the members of my own, Libertarian party.  I feel pretty embarrassed to be associated with them.  Good grief.  But it is the closest to what I believe.

I'm getting away from the point.  When my heart was Occupied my priorities shifted.  Noah is never going to want to stay home with me while working a part time job.  He doesn't want to.  Ok.  The dramatic need to lower our monthly expenses so that can happen... doesn't really need to happen.  If it takes longer and I pay more interest in the time share, that will be ok.  Really.  I can deal having to "tighten my belt".  We are part of the 99%.  In order to maintain all the insurances folks consider necessary we have more than $6,000 of our income promised before it arrives.  It's $8,000.  We have months where we put $17,000 on the credit card.  You do the math.  No really, that's going to require some belt tightening.  But I don't exactly feel like I can complain about that.

And I have the money to spend.  Occupy needs it more than I need to be able to have the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.  The fact that I can preplan 50 years of vacations means that my life is already as good as it needs to be.

The reason I feel I need to give the money is because people need a spark of hope.  They need to see things being done.  I can't be the William Wallace for this movement.  I really kind of wish I could.  But that's not my story.  I'm trying to bait other people.  I'm trying to push them to expand their dreams.  Whoever is going to be the firebrand to lead this Revolution, (s)he will not have much money to start with.  But there will be so much hunger.  So many dreams.  That person will say, "Yes give me your money so I can change the world."  I hope.  I really hope.

In the meantime I took my family to a park clean up day in Oakland the Occupy folks organized.  I have marched.  I sit in the encampment and eat lunch and talk to the people who live there as I feel I can emotionally.  I think my next clean up day should be in Fremont.  I think that I'm about out of spoons for driving to Oakland.

I think maybe I should just open my front door and walk out it.  I think I should Occupy the space I am in.  Why am I trying so hard to give this money to Oakland?  Why am I beating people over the head asking them to please please please take the money?  Why don't I start my own fucking occupation.  Hm.  It's an idea.  What would I do if I occupied Fremont?  Hmm.  I would start putting up notices for neighborhood clean up days.  I'll be surprised if I'm the only one out there.  This is a small town in the middle of a big urban sprawl.

I've been surprised by how many of my neighbors have lived here for more than twenty years and they don't know any of their neighbors.  There is so much hostility and fear and isolation here.  Why?  I feel sad saying that I sat at the local diner and listened to the waitress be casually racist with the other customers.  Despite the fact that I actually know a fair number of people in Fremont... I don't see them.  Pretty much ever.  If you live in Fremont and you are "interesting" you spend your life in your car trying to get anywhere but here.

I'm getting tired of this attitude.  Fremont is beneath people.  I've done it too.  I spent the first many years of our marriage being fucking pissed off living in this fucking house in fucking Fremont.  This is one of the lowest socio-economic areas.  Not the lowest, by any stretch.  This is more like what I grew up with. My friends keep telling me to move to Alameda.  I really don't want to.  I'm neither interested in the housing cost increase nor the insularity.  I actually like that my neighborhood is not predominantly white.  But I'm scared here.  This is not really the safe bubble people think of in the bay area.

I'm in the closet.  I can go protest in Oakland and be a radical and a pervert and a queer and whatever.  People here just see me as that nice weird lady.  I'm really polite to people in my neighborhood (uhhh except for the one time I yelled at a guy for wasting water while he was trying to deal with his lawn; long embarrassing story).  I'm getting to know my neighbors very slowly.  Very distantly.  I'm trying to be consistent in my behavior over a long period of time without exposing them to my mood swings.  I can't afford to piss off my neighbors.  Do you know how much pressure that is for me?

How in the hell can I expect my really diverse neighborhood to be thrilled about having a whore who writes about sex on the internet in their neighborhood?  I'm out with the kids all the time.  Aren't they going to start looking at me as if I am dirty if they find out?  Don't I need to hide?

I think it is interesting that my friends think the Occupy movement is about money.  I think it's about pushing for the right to exist and be different and have a different life.  Whatever the fuck that means.  Our entire culture is set up around streamlining people so they can be more and more similar.  I'm not fucking like the folks who grew up in small town Duluth (love you).  And that's more than ok.  It's awesome.  I had different experiences so I got to go off and become a completely different kind of person.  I'm not like the people who grew up in Rotorua, either.  Or London near as I can tell.  I go a lot of places and I meet a lot of people.  I never fit.  Nowhere.

Maybe I need to stop going out into the world trying to find someplace that is right.  I think the Occupy movement is about seeing that something that needs to be changed and doing it.  That will be financial for a lot of people.  But it's also about recognizing that we have abdicated a lot of responsibility to the system.  Any system.  How's that going for folks?  Maybe if we want something we have to just go fucking do it.

I want to feel ok in my town.  I have to live here.  But I can't stay in the closet.  This is horrible.  I'm not much like most of the folks around me.  But I'm not like folks anywhere.  That's ok.  I may not be the right kind of Fremonter, but I'm the right kind of me.  Yeah, it's a stupid stupid little thing I say.  I say it because I hope it's true.  I'm trying to convince myself it is.  It's very hard to believe that who and what I am is ok.  That feels like a lie.  So so so so so so many people tell me that I'm not ok.  Not directly.  Not to my face.  But in the very air I breathe in this culture.  I am so fucking wrong.

The General Strike showed me that I don't feel that way because of the incest.  I feel that way because I am an American.  In fact, that seems to be our national culture.  Anything different is wrong and bad.  People, you need to lighten the fuck up.  Maybe instead of sitting in an encampment in solidarity with people in Oakland I should be organizing a neighborhood group to figure out a way to meet the needs of the people within walking distance of me.  That's a significantly better choice for the planet.

But I will have to do that alone.  I won't be able to throw money at that problem and walk away.  I will have to find the drive and determination to do that.  I will probably mostly be the one doing that, if I think it should happen.  It makes me tired.  I can't do that yet.  I feel like I am failing my human beings.  I feel like every day that I allow children to walk past my house on the way to school who are going hungry and I ignore that I am just as bad as the people who didn't help me.  I have so much rage at all of the people who didn't help me.

Who the fuck am I helping?  I don't know.  I hope that the RV comes through.  That would be something.  I wish I knew where my life was going.  I feel like I am littering the path with burning ambitions.  Things that hurt me that I am not focusing on them exclusively.  You can't focus on a dozen things exclusively.  There isn't enough me for that.

I really hope this movement spreads.  Please people, you can change the world too.  It doesn't actually take money.  It takes the desire to do good.  You'll find a way.  Please? 

1 comment:

  1. Dead on. It's not about money- it's about agency. It's about being able to affect the world around us. In this culture, we're told time and time again that money will buy you the ability to do that- unfortunately, it requires more money than the vast majority of us will ever see, let alone own. Find another way to affect the world, and the system collapses.