$22.32 food stamps
5 days 'till payday
I am bored, thumbing through Oprah and Real Simple, half-distracted by child-care co-pays and a formula for exactly how many miles I can drive my car with my tip money from work ($8.52 = 82.5 miles). I skim through the articles featuring all the latest trends I will need to become beautiful and successful and a perfect housekeeper. The largest photo on the page is a plum-colored cashmere sweater. It promises everything. The price listed is $652. Shit. That leaves me out. I guess I'll have to do without........ everything. A few pages later there is a helpful photo-illustrated article with exercises.......... for your shoulders. Fuck. Now I have to have beautiful shoulders too. I begin to ponder my own soft folds, an anatomy lesson in and of itself. I wonder if there may be a shoulder consultant I could schedule between dropping off paperwork at DSHS, finding a babysitter for the kid, and getting to work by 2:30.
My mind starts racing. Who the hell are these people that spend $652 on a cardigan? I think of everyone I know. I picture them buying a cardigan for $652 dollars. I laugh.
I begin to realize the precipice that the majority of us live next to each and every day. No, it's true we're not eking out a life in a landfill, and not to detract from this greater social problem, but I find that what is actually happening right now, in this particular time and place, has never happened before and is rarely, if ever, represented in a truthful way.
I have decided to try to represent this tight rope walk because until we have real examples, how can we ever begin to fill in the truth?
I would like for this blog to become a chronicle of my life, focused mainly on the balancing act at the precipice. No, I haven't fallen into it yet, but every day Americans topple over as a result of a perhaps singular event. Someone becomes ill or injured and can't pay their rent or mortgage, families declare bankruptcy because they were using credit cards to buy groceries, someone becomes unemployed and the foreclosure process avalanches. I believe we are the majority. I believe most people cling perilously close to the edge of what is commonly believed to be "a good quality of life" the definition of which is, always changing, relative and completely personal. I believe we need to reconsider the $652 sweater and develop beautiful shoulders from gardening and swinging an axe. Our concepts about what is important need to change, we need to shift away from how we categorize excess. This process needs to include the consideration of mankind, not just the self.
So I am swinging my axe here, on this blog and raising my glass to the precipice. May it be infinitely more thrilling than a $652 sweater.