Monday, February 11, 2013

Broke

Well it's official. I'm broke.

I think it's important to point that I am consciously choosing to say that I am broke, not poor.  This is actually thanks to this article from The Nation about how 'Girls' and 'Shameless' highlight the difference between being poor and being broke, and please don't let all the venting I'm about to do obscure the fact that I feel fortunate that I get to "choose" to say that I'm broke, not poor. To be honest, though, at this particularly moment, the line is quite fine.

Yesterday all of my frustration about my situation came to a head, as I began prepping to list my engagement ring from my now-over, straight-person marraige on Ebay, and began looking around my room for other things I can sell because I realized yesterday in a panic that with this new student loan payment that starts today (WOOHOO, GRADUATE SCHOOL!) I now can't actually afford the dog walker that I have to pay again starting next week because I share custody of my lovely dog with my asshole ex-husband who has a big yard that my lovely dog can run and play in, and who does not have to pay a dog walker to let said lovely dog out once a day. The irony of this is not lost on me. I try not think too much about the absurdity of the fact that my former husband, who makes beaucoup bucks, does NOT HAVE TO PAY A DOG WALKER (and has a living situation much nicer, ostensibly, for my dog), while I, with an advanced degree, live in a tiny apartment, do not have a nice yard for my dog, and CANNOT AFFORD A DOG WALKER BUT HAVE TO HAVE ONE. So, this train of thought is what led to me having a panicked, angry crying fit yesterday.

Fun. (oh, congrats on the Grammy win, btw.)

So yeah. I'm really stressed out, pals.  The cost of my rent, my gas bill, my cell phone bill, my internet bill, ONE of my student loan bills (just got a "Loan Debt Burden" forbearance for the other, cripplingly large one. That felt good, let me tell ya) and making minimum payments on all of my credit card debt leaves me with no money left. You have noticed that I did not list anything fun, like liquor or a night out, on that list. You may have also noticed that I did not list...you know, groceries. It's not good, people.

And the thing that's really getting me about all of this? I have done everything by the book, pretty much. With the exception of leaving my on-paper-perfect marriage. Which, if you've been paying attention, we all know was also the Right Thing to Do. I just obtained a pretty impressive (on paper) degree. I HAVE a fuckin' salaried job, for christ's sake.  But I also lived for almost 2 years primarily on credit, because I had just left a man who was almost completely providing for me financially. This was clearly a no good, very bad strategy. It was also my only option, save leaving NY and moving back to the south to live in my parents' house. So, I hope no one will fault me for not choosing option B.

Except that sometimes? I fault me for not choosing option B. And for living on my own. And for relying on those credit cards. And for buying all those drinks at all those bars, and all that takeout, and all those bottles of wine over the past 2 years.  And for having my own apartment for the past 2 years.  This is a luxury that I clearly cannot afford. And yet, here I am, with a lease with my name on it and a teeny 1-bdr to call my own.  I'm 31. I feel like I should get to live by myself, but also, who am I to think I deserve to live by myself? It's breaking my back financially. And so I feel like an idiot for holding on so tightly to that "need."  Yesterday I spoke with my dad on the phone, and he said, "half-joking" (his words) that I could "always move back down to <insert state here> and easily find a job. And the cost of living is so much lower!" This immediately made me feel angry, stupid, and completely...like that's what I should have done, 2 years ago. But then I would feel like I had given up.  I've wanted to be here since I was 14. I am a New Yorker, I'm not a Southerner. I'm just not. I finally got here, and I got here by myself. I "made it," didn't I??  How could I just...leave? When my life is here? My friends are here. My girlfriend, who I love so so much and am so thankful for, is here. How could I ever do that??

Maybe I should have done that.

And then there's the fact that, with all of this, I do have my own apartment, I do have a job. I do have an education.  I do have a loving girlfriend who is buying the groceries for both of us. I know that I am in a much better situation than a lot of people. I am lucky in many ways. But I also feel ashamed. And so very weighed down.

Anyway, the results of the newly released Stress in America survey don't surprise me one bit: people ages 18-33 are more stressed than any other living generation.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

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