Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What, Already?

It's the first day of Summer II. I'm only doing one class this semester, but it's WLIT II, so very dense on the reading. Lighter on the essays. Eh, it's a trade-off.

We went up to Fayetteville yesterday and visited my parents. Also saw Uncle Charger and went to the movies (lots and lots and lots of theaters in Fayetteville, including a massive new stadium theater called the Malco Razorback with a giant fountain in its center, like something out of the Roman Empire, which is where we went). We saw Midnight in Paris, in one of those tiny little auditoriums that seat like 75 people, all of them exactly like us -- i.e. liberals and probably English professors or at least Art History majors who wish they could live in Paris. We all laughed in delight as Gil, our hero, met one of our old friends after the next. My kid, who was sitting next to me, kept leaning over to whisper to me, confirming her guesses about who each person was. And, when the movie was over, she said, wistfully, "Let's move to Paris."

I wish, kid.

Then we left the theater to go out into the blistering 101 degree Arkansas July, blasting sunlight, a huge field-sized parking lot filled with SUVs, to drive down College Avenue, a highway filled with car dealerships, liquor stores, fast-food shops, and strip malls. The closest we'll ever come to Paris is Paris, Arkansas.

Which is, among other reasons, why this solemn little apology for our betters and why it isn't right that they pay their share of running this country really got down my neck this morning. Oh, it's so sad that Mr. and Mrs. Jones can barely make ends meet on $250, 000.00/year -- after, you know, socking away $8000.00/per kid in college savings a year, and investing the maximum amount in their 401(k) accounts, mind you -- they're so poor, what with the high cost of living in Manhattan, they can't afford expensive vaccations, it's tragic.

Though of course if they moved to Texas or Alabama (the horror) they'd have plenty of money, the article adds. But who can actually do that, the article hints.

I can't afford a dentist, much less to sock away $8000.00 for college savings for my kids. ($8000.00/year is my rent.) I don't have a house. I don't put any money in my 401(k). If you don't count TIAA-CREF, I don't have a 401(k) -- and my university puts money in that, I can't afford to match it. I haven't gone anywhere on a vacation, if you don't count the odd trip up to Fayetteville to see a movie, in almost three years now. And mind you, I count myself well off enough, because I can look around me and see my students, who are living on, probably, a fourth of what I make. They're the actual poor. I'm doing all right, even if I feel kind of desperate toward the end of the month (okay, by the third week in the month, usually, these days).

But it's Mr. and Mrs. Jones we're supposed to feel sorry for?

Shit. The idiots who write these articles don't have a clue.

And neither, frankly, sad as I am to say it, does Woody Allen. Move to Paris? Like that's a choice most people in America even have.


zelda1 said...

I know what you mean about poverty being so dang restraining. This will be the first summer since I started graduate school that Mr. Zelda and I haven't been on the verge of starvation and eviction. Fortunately, our landlord, during our more prosperous times, has asked for and been given the rent early, so last summer, when we didn't pay the rent from June through August, he was very patient. But, he was relieved when we paid him. Now, with my new director position and the money that I am earning for that and the better insurance and all of that, well, we are doing much better. In fact, we are actually not changing the way that we have lived: meaning, we are so still trying to be tight with our money as far as buying extra things and all of that so we can get some money saved up again.

Plus, anything that I do that is out of the realm of my position, they pay me huge money. I cannot believe how good almost middle class feels as compared to almost middle poverty.

Hubby and I have actually been doing a lot of things: taking the kids to the zoo, taking the kids to the Clinton Museum; taking the kids to Six Flags.

But, I am reminded at other's not-so-good life when I stand in line at Walmart or Dollar General. It breaks my heart to see so many people having to put food back at the checkout place. When children are with them and it's something for the kids, I buy it. I don't care. I cannot stand to see kids candies getting put back first, then the junk foods, then the milk, then the juice. Man oh man.

Last week, Mr. Zelda and I were behind an older woman and when she didn't have the right amount of money, she actually chose to put her medicine back. I asked the cashier how much she needed and she said fifty dollars. I paid twenty and the woman behind me paid the rest.

Times are going to get better. They just have to. On the bright side, at the Zelda household, we are not as fretful over our future.

Anonymous said...

I hear you.

It's painful wanting so badly to travel to Paris or London or even just go back to LA, when it's a real sacrifice buying a plane ticket for my husband to visit his parents. We can't afford for both of us to go, but his parents are aging and experiencing the kind of health issues that merit annual checking out. We've had ONE pleasure trip in the last 20 years, meaning a trip that wasn't about visiting relatives. We spent a week visiting Boston and Providence 6 years ago because we considered moving east. It was a pilot trip. We didn't move. That would have cost a lot of money and we'd have to be able to sell our house. Didn't happen.

It's a drag being poor. We eat well because we cook fresh food at home (my taco night is so killer we have it the next night too), we have a low cost of living because we are seriously frugal, we own a house that we have equity in even though home values have dropped, and both of our super-compact cars are reliable and were paid off early. I pay off our credit cards every month, and defer my school loan payments because I'm unemployed. My husband makes crap working for a non-profit.

Going to Paris is pure fantasy stuff, depressingly enough, unless I win a lottery jackpot. I buy a ticket when the jackpot seems worthy. Sometimes pure hope is worth the buck.