Life Makes Shit Hard

Hello frands.

I’m currently ass deep in feels and stress so…stuff.

I’m trying to find us a new place to live and it is so frustrating. If you’re new, I live in Seattle and the housing here is plentiful but expensive. I have some deal breaker things aside from affordability and I found a few places that are perfect but, weren’t good.

One of them is in North Seattle, not far from a spot I lived in before. Now, I like the neighborhood. Pretty, quiet, library, grocery and whatnot close by. HOwever, last time I lived there every morning when I got off the bus after work, someone would watch and wait for me and call the police.

Think about that, this was before cops were shooting Black folks because they are afraid of us and I still had months of terror. One of the times I was stopped by the police who were called, I broke down in tears because I had to go to the bathroom, I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. The cop told me to get off the bus somewhere else. I was followed, I had men throw garbage at me from a car while yelling racial epithets. The idea of living there again makes me feel panicky.

BUT, the one place I found has all the things I need. It is in my budget (as in, is about as much as I’m paying now) there are two different buses, it is flat, the store is close by and it has laundry close by and is accessible for my partner. Technically, it’d be great but the idea of living in such a White neighborhood, especially in a nice building in a nice area is terrifying to me.

I know where I want to live. But, in order to do so I’m going to have to add at least 25% to my income to even qualify. Because, that is a thing here these days.

I’ve been on several (six at last count) waitlists for affordable housing the oldest listing is 6 years, the newest is 2. So shit is not great.

The worst part of this for me however is dealing with the classism and racism and knowing how much my anxiety is going to be triggered because I’m trying so hard to take care of my family and everything- shit is hard. I am shit scared I won’t be able to give us a better quality of life and for my partner in particular that’s gonna be a problem.

I’ve mathed shit out and in order to provide the base level of comfort, safety and quality of life I’d like to give my partner I need to make the equivalent of another 900$ per month, or better 7$ more an hour than I make now.

All that said, y’all.

I’m trying.

Things I’ve done to help myself out:

  • Rebudgeted my Patreon money.  I also have some plans to expand my offerings there so I can make more cash.
  • I am on four waitlists for income restricted apartments.
  • Put off buying a new bed/any purchase over 100$.
  • Hustlin

I’m working.

The other thing that’s on my mind is that really when we do move we’re gonna have to essentially start over. We desperately need a new bed, I’ve literally had my mattress and box spring for 18 years and they were not quality to begin with. We need new pots and pans, most of ours were cheap and are on their last legs.

We both need to toss pretty much all of our basic clothing items. Underwear, socks, jeans, bras for me and start over because our shit is so raggedy.

This is where poverty really feels hopeless.

Currently via Patreon I make (I’m lowballing to account for declined cards) about 220$ extra a month. I could try to hustle more freelance writing work though, I’m really terrible at it and make probably about another 250 or so. Most of the regular work I’ve found has been contract based and I won’t rely on that because I’ve been burned.

I’m at the point where I’ve sacrificed a lot. My personal comfort, my personal quality of life, the quality of food I eat, how much I eat, so much and I’m only able to get a tiny bit ahead. And then something (not a huge deal to most) happens and I’m fucked.

I’m questioning my refusal to work the way I did in my 20s. Work and grind and forget writing or pleasure of having a quality of life.

I’m questioning other choices I’ve made like whether or not to go into industries I hate and don’t feel welcome in.

Often at night when I’m trying to go to sleep and my brain hamsters get turnt the fuck up, I find myself analyzing and remembering a lot of things. I think, fuck I spent 75$ on bras four (shit FOUR) years ago, shouldn’t have done that. I spent 15$ on thrifted Danskos in 2014. I bought food I bought the menstrual pads I like rather than the ones that were 3$ less.

I know for me this is mainly an indication of my stress levels. When I’m not so stressed out I don’t do this.

I am not sure how I’m going to make this happen.

I don’t know what to do but, I’m going to do whatever I have to.

Thoughts on Poverty

I’ve been checking/redoing our household budget. I know there is a rent increase coming in February and I don’t foresee an income increase.

Y’all.

Going strictly by calculators of how much one is “supposed” to pay to live, I “overspend” (a site actually said that) on life. By life I mean rent, bills for stuff like trash collection, medications, you know actually staying alive.

For my “fun” budget I include our good internet, both of our cell plans (mine with recently upgraded data), sometimes stuff like socks, underwear, etc

I’ve done a lot of the things they tell us poor folks to do in order to save and yank ourselves up by our bootstraps. My entertainment budget is less than 20$ a month. We don’t really go out. I know how to budget and stick to it.

I’ve been doing this my whole adult life.

Lately, I keep going over my math. I’m trying to figure out how much more income I actually need in order to make us at least comfortable, and then I realize I don’t know what comfortable is.

Currently I’m able to pay my bills on time, have our Netflix, get a fancy coffee once a week or so, I am able to save up for X months for skincare or make up or bath stuff. We can get the good Thai food (cheap and tasty) in our neighborhood sometimes, sometimes if the stars align I can buy the type of food I like to eat for lunch instead of what fits the budget.

What would better look like?

In the context of say, living. What would be better? I can hardly picture it and that bothers me.

Let’s talk about places to live.

Right now all I can think about for a place to live is that I know I can afford to pay the rent. That’s where we live.

I wonder what it would feel like to choose a place because it contributed to our quality of life? Or because it has the stuff I desperately want in an apartment AND I can afford it AND it is in a nice place and I don’t have to complain about it being pitch black in the stairwell or deal with randomly left behind cleaning/construction shit or climb 6 flights of stairs.

I want to visualize these things because every little bit help and some woo might help me. But, all the visualizations do is make me sad.

I get embarrassed because I look at say a couch, a decent couch that I think looks comfy and instantly, I am like yeah no. I instantly wonder how many things from my Etsy shop, things I need to sell, how many donations it would take and how I could spend that money on medication, food, phone bills etc.

This is also one of the things about being a poor person, I don’t see discussed often enough. the emotional toll.

As recently as a month ago I was looking at mattresses. We need a new bed. Desperately. The one we have is about 15 years old and was not good to start with. I had a panic attack. A really bad one. I didn’t know how much they are supposed to cost, I couldn’t really tell what a good one would be, then there was the wallop of guilt because we need one so badly.

If you’ve been here for a bit you know my partner is disabled and I know for a fact that a better bed would help him be in less pain and the despair and guilt I feel over not being able to provide that is just overwhelming sometimes. The days when I can’t pay for his medication to be reupped or when I realize that if I MADE/HAD more money I could afford better food and ALL I could do-it hurts.

I often have to ask my friends if X price is a good one for pants or shoes or whatever and I’m always embarrassed. I’m almost 40 and I don’t know how much a “good” pair of pants should cost.

Just lately this has been weighing very heavily on me.

I had a meltdown because I waited 20 minutes too long to check out of Kmart online on Black friday and the pants I needed were gone.

These are the reasons I do so many little hustles. Bing rewards, Swagbucks (referral link), InboxDollars,  Shopstyle, and why I have the Amazon Store (aside from it fulfills my weird dream to have an everything Shannon Likes store) . Logically, I know that none of these things will pay for me to get my teeth fixed, or keep partner and me in socks and underwear but it soothes some of my poor folks shame.

Another way I’ve been trying to deal with this is that I started a fundraiser. I know a lot of folks frown on crowdfunding but I really just need the little boost. So far things have gone better than I thought they would.See it here. Please share the link, we need it.

At the end here, I want to put this into the universe.

Give me an economic break Universe. Let me win one of the grants I applied for, let some rich, bored person see my gofundme and throw money at it, let something change and please let me stop feeling so ashamed and embarrassed.

Thanks for reading.

 

Real Talk on my Mind.

It is coming to that time of year when I need to restock a bunch of stuff, such as but not limited to:

  • Drawers for the household
  • Socks for the household
  • 1/2 pairs of pants. Not leggings but other pants.
  • Night time moisturizer.
  • Skin serum (I like vit c/hyaluranic acid ones, we’ll talk about that later)
  • Mascara
  • Pillows for self and partner
  • Underpants for partner
  • Tights
  • Various website costs

Stuff I need but not for survival:

  • New mid weight coat, preferably hooded, rain resistent and not wool. Longer than booty length.
  • Basic wardrobe shit, tees, cardigans, tanks.
  • Few more multi season dresses.
  • Three bras, two regular one sports so I can get my fitness on without pulling a titty.
  • More leggings, printed ones.
  • ONe or two pairs of platform shoes.

Stuff that I’m just going to HAVE to get probably sooner than later:

  • New higher end phone. I have a low end smart phone that isn’t very old but is on the verge of death.
  • A tablet for writing on the go.
  • Some stuff with my teeth is gonna be about 1K in total.
  • etc

Currently between my Amazon affiliate, Patreon and  bit of other stuff I’ve got our regular stuff pretty well covered, including Uniballer’s medication, but I haven’t been able to get traction to feel okay spending on the other necessary stuff.

I made an error in calculating and had myself a good panic attack the other day.

Then I redid it and had one of those woke poor folks moments where I realized such a relatively small amount could set us ahead enough to live comfortably, I just sort of had to shake my head.

I went a step further and added up a slightly larger amount and y’all, being a poor person and trying to better yourself with two pennies when you need a dollar is such a terrible thing. I’m trying really hard not to be discouraged. I already feel fairly ground down, worn out. I’m still doing my arty shit, but, it feels terrible.

Yes, I could try a fundraiser but, those make me feel kinda terrible. I will likely reopen my teespring shop and try some other stuff.

There’s no conclusion here, just some real shit.

Being poor is terrible and so stessful.

If you are having this problem right now, I feel you. And I see you. We’ll make it.

When Poor Kid Feels Do Me Right

These are from my Twitter stream yesterday-

I put these on storify for easy reading.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of financial anxiety. I can’t say that it’s reasonable levels of anxiety, but to be honest, this is pretty much the last frontier in terms of things that just Fuck Me Up.
For some extra background, I’ll talk about some of where this particular trauma response comes from.
I’m sure we’ve all heard these supposed ways that we poor folks can save 1000$ dollars a year or whatever shit. These ideas are based on the premise that if we just stop spending “frivolously” we’d have savings.
Even way back when in the mid90s when yours truly was a baby adult trying to figure shit out, I was told that sort of thing. Back then I think the highest paying job I had was about 6.25$ an hour.
Right and I bought it. Even back then. I’d learned to budget in school and my budgets typically were basics, rent first, no cell phone back then so everything after rent (even then I had to pay gentrification prices which is a whole other thing) took up about 75$ of my checks. I spent most of the rest of my checks on things like bus passes, feeding myself (usually the dollar menu at Wendy’s. I could eat to stay alive for 2$ a day it wasn’t okay), and the few vices I had.
At that time my main vices were smoking, appetite suppressant pills (for the energy and to save money on food, I vividly recall mathing that out and finding that it was cheaper to do that rather than eat, also a whole other post) and I really loved to do one day every three weeks or so where I splurged. Usually I’d take five dollars, get a very good coffee and go prowl my favorite used book store for hours until I found the perfect book for under 1.50.
Back then I was deeply committed to trying to financially better myself. I took odd jobs, I stripped under the radar, I worked some other not really above board jobs. What I didn’t understand back then was that even when I was doing stuff under the table, normally it did not work out in my favor. For some jobs, the taxes were enough to pretty much negate my ability to save, etc.
Even then I had the low key understanding of how problematic a lot of these savings schemes are. I didn’t have the language, but I got it.
Most of the ideas and plans for savings I see assume a LOT of things such as but not limited to:
  • You have X amount of dollars you spend every day on “frivolities”
  • You drive.
  • You can afford in the most technical sense (as in having 2.5-3 times your rent in income) to live where you do.

Now a lot of the language around these things is very paternalistic and designed to induce guilt if you as a poor person ever treat yourself to “frivololities”

All of us poor folks have heard it. I got it a lot while I was writing for XOJane because obviously I can’t actually be poor if I ever have a nice thing (a Clarisonic), I waste money because I like makeup, I waste money because sometimes I want a beer or a slurpee, I’m terrible because I “encouraged” poor folks buy themselves things if they want to.

I bring this up because I believed it. Up through my early 30s, I still in my heart believed that my poverty was because I was too ignorant to make good choices, that I was somehow morally inferior to other people. I internalized the things I was taught from childhood up, that mingled together to fuck up my self esteem. It caused me to really spend a lot of time feeling like a shit person because I couldn’t afford things, I couldn’t “stick” to a savings plan, I couldn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps out of poverty.

All of this created a cycle of terror, self hatred, shame and panic that became really vicious. I devalued a lot of the poor folks skills I have/had. My ducks ass tight budgets, my ability to even pre-internet access find ALL them deals, my ability to barter, ways I learned to live a better quality of life while being in poverty. It wasn’t good enough.

Looking back over the years, I’ve endured some financial fuckery. Being stolen from, having a landlord go SUPER mega slumlord and rook me out of about 5K, being rooked out of 3-4.5K in shitty dental work. Things that were huge and ruined my entire life.

Fast forward to right now.

I have done a lot of work on this. I have spent so much time reteaching myself and figuring out what I actually believe.

Thus lately I’ve been struggling. I have a deep desire to improve the quality of the life my partner and I are living. We need some stuff and haven’t been able to afford all of it and it sent me into a bit of a shame spiral.SO I was doing that thing, the obsessive balance checking, the self loathing because there was personal self-care stuff I needed, shame because I also need some other stuff like pants and shoes.

But the silver lining is that after my obsessive checking and budgeting, I realized today that we’re 100% on target this month and last month. There has been a dip in my side hustle income through not much fault of my own, but, damn it we’re doing the damn thing.

I am able to plan for my partner’s birthday, we are eating good, satisfying food, I got partner new pants and supplied with his preferred medications.

AND today I realized that I have a little bit of enough mad money to get a new pair of walking shoes and maybe some facial masks.

I realized today that holy fucking shit I am DOING THE DAMN THING. No, I can’t afford to buy name brand shoes, I can’t afford to move  and I’m still living in poverty, but I am not living in miserable poverty.

There’s less coming in but life is good.

That is huge.

Okay, if you struggle with this sort of thing, y’all- it can get better. If I can learn to not abuse myself and let myself live a better quality of life because I fucking deserve it, not because I’ve “earned” it..you can too.

I leave y’all with this.

didthething

Image is a gold star with the text “Congratulations” on top and on bottom “you did the thing”

I love y’all. The next post I’m gonna have some natural hair struggle bus updates, soon another wig review and I’ll give some beginner hair care tips I wish someone had given me.

 

 

[<a href=”//storify.com/Weebeasty/poor-kid-feels” target=”_blank”>View the story “Poor Kid Feels” on Storify</a>]

The Shape of a Dream Life.

In a lot of the work I do on myself as a human, one of the questions I struggle with the most is picturing or visualizing what my dream life would be.

Where in my dreams (not the huge, impossible I won the lotto dreams the maybe attainable kind) would I live?

How would my home look?

What would I do with my time?

What sorts of things might I buy when the fancy struck?

What would I eat?

The main thing that makes this type of exercise about these things in particular so hard for me is that emotionally I still feel like a person in a dangerous place financially. This is something I’ve been working on constantly for a decade.

Often, I feel like my progress in understanding and dealing with my own poverty trauma gets only so far and something happens that just destroys my sense of progression and well being. Whether it’s an unexpectedly large bill, recently a change in how frequently I get paid sent me into a tailspin of panic and terror. And here is where I feel like the problems come in with my visualizations.

Prior to my most recent meltdown, I had a pretty good handle on things. Our budget was working out pretty well, bills getting paid etc etc. The change meant we had to change when/how we can pay bills because while there’s the same amount of money available, when it is available has changed.

My quest for nesting that I’d been on previously kind of fizzled out.

I have a hard time buying pretty things for the house when I feel that kind of oh shit what are we going to do for X number of days between paychecks?

That is the magic place I get stuck. How can I invest in making (assuming we don’t move or aren’t priced out) a better quality of life and creating a home, no I’m talking capital H home, Home when there’s this other shit?

All that said, I’m going to try.

I think for me the first sign of that Dream is the ability to eat what I want when I want. What I mean by that is not having to plan, say getting teriyaki or getting the supplies to have this type of food available to me at work or whatever.

food

[Photo of a white paper plate with some crackers, pea pods, turkey slices and cheddar cheese]

Logically, I realize this is not fancy food. Emotionally, this was a fancy food week. I went to the store before work and picked up a bag of fresh peas, a box of Ritz crackers, sharp cheddar cheese (sidenote: I discovered I can eat it without gut bomb side effects YAY), and a pack of that fancy deli sliced turkey. Normally my food budget for a week of food for work is about 10$. Granted, that ten dollars doesn’t usually leave me sated and feeling good. For those ten bucks I get fuel.

In the Good Life (what we’ll call it) I could eat that way when I want.

As far as purchasing goes, I’d like to feel what it is like not to plan out a purchase like a military strike. For me if it is over 10$ it takes planning. I want to feel some sense of spontaneity without the sense of panic or impending doom. DOOM.

I’ll give you an example. With the nice weather happening, I realized I needed new day to day flats. My feet have been a problem for a few years and I’ve sworn off of cheap flats in favor of decent ones. My process for this went roughly as follows:

  • Recognized need for shoes.
  • Felt terrible about not wearing shoes that hurt my feet, don’t fit properly, are worn out.
  • Felt further terrible about feeling terrible.
  • Start over.
  • Price “comfortable” flats.
  • Check budget.
  • Recheck budget.
  • Plan out for shoes in 6 weeks.
  • Change mind because 50$ no.
  • Stress poop.
  • Start over.
  • Feel stupid for doing all this.
  • Feel worse for being anxious about fucking shoes.

I did that for about two weeks and did not get shoes.

My partner wanted to take me to the fancy walking shoes store. The kind of spot that has Danskos, Clarks etc. Expensive ass shoes. I have some thrifted Danskos I like, but that aren’t super comfy for day to day wear. And I balked. Instead, I bought some pretty okay shoes on ebay and called it a day. That’s the thing I’d like not to have in The Good life.

That is the thing. Really that is the theme of what would happen in my Good Life.

This is the aftermath of poverty and the trauma that comes with it. This is also a result of living in the greater Seattle area and the wildfire of gentrification.

The confluence of my cost of living skyrocketing, my pay being delivered differently, etc. really triggers all of this and I’m working hard on it.

For right now I’m concentrating on keeping my anxiety levels around bill paying and rent and fear down.

I’m still nesting at home. I’ve been working on creating an altar for my, uh, spiritual woos. It’s slow going, it’s hard as fuck but I’m doing it and that is what feels good.