Uncomfortable

Life is incomprehensible to me.  I learn from my mistakes as I make them, but it sucks to live this way.  You’d think I would have gotten better at it as time went on, but no.

At 16, I traveled to Virginia Beach with a friend, where we decided to stay for the summer, and quickly ran out of the forty bucks between us.  My friend got a waitress job, but I hadn’t found anything yet.  We met a few kids our age, and I hung out with them, smoking pot, while waiting for my friend’s shift to end after midnight.  The police pulled up where me and the two kids were sitting, and one of the kids ran while the cops asked me and this other kid what we were doing and how old we were.  We both said our ages and were promptly hand-cuffed and put into the back of the cruiser, roughly, as though we were resisting, when I asked why I was being hand-cuffed, and was told to ‘shut up’.

I was taken to Tidewater Detention Home, where I was strip searched, and put in a cell, and had no idea what would happen next.  The next day I took a book, or magazine, to my cell, and at roll call, I was told I couldn’t watch TV anymore for violating the rule of not bringing materials into my cell.  I learned the rules by violating them, and I still had no idea why I was there.

It wasn’t until four days later, when I had a court appearance, that I learned I was picked up for loitering and breaking curfew.  LOITERING AND BREAKING CURFEW.  As well as possessing a pipe with pot resin in it.  No pot.  Just resin.  I was told I was never welcome in the state of Virginia again, which was fine with me, but I still felt as though the punishment was ridiculous compared to the ‘crime’.

My son has a sister, whom I dearly love, from his father’s first marriage.  I was out of touch with her for a while but re-connected on Facebook. Unfortunately she felt she was being FB stalked as I liked all her posts, wanting to be a part of her life, however virtual.  I had no idea that was creepy.  I’m the last person on earth who wants to be creepy, but there’s the rub, I guess?

I try to remember that I was born into hell, pretty much.  I experienced domestic violence from day one, being the fifth child of six in a family that was sick from child number one.  I witnessed my mother’s abuse, my siblings abuse, as well as my own – and I became the scapegoat: the one young enough that I might not be as harmed as the rest, but not too young, like my little brother.  I confessed to many things I never did, my older sisters pleading with me to say I did it because the beating was sure to be less for me than my older siblings, but I still got the beating.

I accept that I saved my siblings from worse at times.  I’m grateful if that was true. Unfortunately for me, I never learned how to cope with the rest of my life as well as my brethren.  Had my issues only stemmed from my family of origin, that might have been more manageable for me, but there were several other mitigating abusive circumstances throughout my young life that have made success elusive.

An anti-poverty organization I held a seat on a decade ago sponsored a poverty conference.  I can’t remember the speaker’s full name – Chuck Flugel? (my apologies), but he said that people in poverty will never make it out of poverty.  It’s not going to happen.  I remember how pissed I was at such a pronouncement.  How could he say something like that in a room full of despairing people?  But, he was right.  I’ve never made it out of poverty, and most people I’ve ever known in poverty are still there.  Still. there.

We had a vote to increase the salary of our Executive Director that year, and I had to recuse myself from voting because I thought $80,000 a year was appropriate, and they wanted to increase it to $90,000.  The board spoke of how they might lose the director to another company who would pay more, and I thought that if the director left the organization for that, then they were better off.  It was astounding to me that several board members were upset with me for not wanting to authorize the pay increase, but I was looking at the big picture.  Why was the director there?  If salary was the reason, then the director was better off looking for a higher paying position.  $80,000 a year was an incredible amount in my mind, and that was in the mid-1990’s!

Finding work I can do has been a life-long struggle.  Two years ago, before a surgery that left me with a paralyzed arm for nearly a year, I had found a job that seemed pretty good, but the repetitious nature of data-entry precipitated my need for surgery, and I can’t do that kind of job anymore.  C’est la vie, right?

So, chin up!  Keep looking.  Keep striving.  Keep a happy face, baby, because nobody likes a downer.

And the irony is, I do.  It’s my nature to hope.  Maybe it’s all of our nature to hope.  Is that what was left in Pandora’s box?  It’s both the chain-lock and the key.

Like many, I’m a sucker believing that I might hit it big, so play the lottery when I can.  What’s a dollar or two when millions stand to be gained?  What’s a dollar or two a month over a year – a couple of gallons of milk, or bread, or other necessities.  Those millions have never been realized, and yet, people do win the lottery, pretty consistently.

It’s easy to believe that some ‘god’ directs all that, but what an asshole god that would be.

Nah, it’s just my insane desire for a miracle to lift me out of poverty.

So, the uncomfortable truth is that I’m fucked.  I have to do the best I can with what I have, and keep hoping, but do my best to stop being a sucker, for love or for money.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

For What It’s Worth

I understand this makes me an insensitive cretin, but I wish collections would be taken up for those of us in dire need, but not having some dread disease.  It seems that’s the only time people are willing to help – even a dollar or two – if that’s all they can do.

Terrible diseases and disaster compel people to give, perhaps as a bulwark against ever facing that illness or circumstance themselves, paying it forward, in a sense, or maybe just as a caring human being, but only willing to help when the need is life or death, and not just poverty’s scourge.

Poverty is viewed as self-inflicted, so less worthy of help – especially from a stranger.

Disaster impels us in a way that ‘ordinary’ trouble doesn’t.

Except, I have a friend who has always been there in my darkest hours, offering hope, if not some tangible sustenance, and I’ve been that for her as well, but as both of us have been in deep poverty, we can never offer more than a bandage, even if those stop-gap measures have helped us through many extra-rough patches.

I don’t want a terrible illness, and I wish for those people to get well – and I’m grateful that people give to defray medical costs, or other ease for those sufferers.

A champion is required for me, as it’s seen as gauche to plead on your own behalf.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Stressed

I’ve made some changes that will help my financial situation, even if only moderately.  John Steinbeck wrote in America and Americans: “I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians.  Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist.”  Well, who wants to be the proletariat?  I’d rather have the problems of the wealthy than the problems of the impoverished.  The chances of that happening, while not impossible, get slimmer with each passing year.  Mostly, I’d like to be comfortable, and not have to choose paying utilities vs. eating.

Richard Branson, the entrepreneur extraordinaire was asked at what financial level he felt successful, and his alleged reply was: ‘fifty million’.  I’d feel successful if I still had fifty dollars in my account at the end of a month!  Well, maybe not successful, but certainly less stressed out.

I can also use my local food bank once a month – as long as there’s food – and if worse keeps going to worst, many of my bills will be moot because I’ll be homeless (even though friends have offered their couch if it comes to that)!  I have the library I can connect to the internet with, and I can store stuff with various friends.  At least it’s just me now.  I know my poverty embarrasses my son, but I’m doing the best I can, for me.  And it’s not like I’m not doing anything!  I am working – but it’s a few jobs that are still only part-time, and not enough to afford much more than basics, and I’m also trying to build a life that I want to be in.  My son would like me to stay alive for as long as that’s possible, and that’s my commitment to him, whether or not I want to.

I have to remember that I was a success for a long chunk of time.  I raised a son, who is a good human being.  He had way more than I ever had, and that’s how it should be.  He’s in college, and while I can’t help him financially, he’s getting scholarships, and taking out loans, and at least he’s earning a degree which I hope will help him pay back all his loans quickly.

In the meantime, I have my band, and the rest of the world goes away when I sing – which is one of those gifts I wouldn’t trade for more money but no solace.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.