I keep thinking to myself, “One day, I won’t have to eat oatmeal twice a day, I will be able to afford to drive to town AND get a haircut, and if my tooth hurts I can afford a visit to the dentist’s, instead of my current cure of chewing with the opposite of my mouth and avoiding blackberry jam.”
I keep proving myself wrong. It seems every year, at least one month uncovers a new and exciting layer of poverty previously unexplored. Every time I think I can’t possibly get any poorer, my pickup breaks down and the job leads are all cul-de-sacs. I used to really freak out, balancing my checkbook twice a day and biting my nails over how it didn’t look possible to survive.
I’ve since learned that survival and paying one’s bills are two different propositions. I will survive regardless how much money I make or don’t make. I have plenty of clothes, a place to stay, a running vehicle, a wood stove, a Bible, quality makeup, a computer on indefinite loan from Dad, and the ability to choose to be happy.
Since running and sit-ups are free, I’ve also decided to choose to get a six-pack stomach. I can’t afford to eat out and recreational shopping is not an option, so I might as well get ripped. I may suffer through another month of poverty, but I shall do so on firmly toned calf muscles.
I used to panic and think, “I can’t afford food! I’m going to die!” then eat a bunch of salty pretzels and drink water to make myself feel full. Now, I’m like, “Oh, this again?” and buy my healthy food, then eat normal-person portions, and get by just fine. Americans eat too much anyway, so my poverty rations are probably just healthy to most folks. Running out of money is one heck of a weight -loss plan.
I’ve come up with several activities to pass the time and improve myself, all free to the general public. Operating a computer mouse with your non-dominant hand is a good one, as is brushing your teeth. Pretty much doing anything with your non-dominant hand is difficult and rumored to make you smarter. It’s also frustrating, so maybe don’t try it if you’re having a low self-esteem day.
Push-ups and crunches are a healthy way to kill half an hour, or five minutes if you’re on my kind of workout schedule. I’m still in the “psyching up” phase of “getting ripped.” You can’t rush greatness.
I think a reality show called “Extreme Poverty” would be a big hit. The producers could give contestants an obscenely low amount of money, say minimum wage, and check in once a week to see who was saving sandwhich baggies, using spaghetti water to starch their shirts, or drinking vodka because it was hopeless anyway.
Just kidding about that last part! I would never sit around drinking vodka in utter despair. I’m more of a gin person. I’m reminded of the hysterically funny Pat McManus, who wrote about being so poor as a child that when the Great Depression hit, his mother yelled, “Let the good times roll!” When we’re too broke to pay attention, at least we can laugh about it 🙂