slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. ((default))
I'm going to be terribly crass and talk about money in specific terms. Some shit has converged this past week to make me realize that if broke people keep quiet about how broke we actually are the people who have a little bit of money will never know what being broke actually means.

Nigel makes $9 an hour at his temp factory job. The past couple weeks he has gotten about 38 hours a week and brought home paychecks of about $260.

It used to be he would work about 45 hours a week--sometimes up to 50--but then the tsunami hit Japan and it turns out factories don't run well without any parts to assemble. Things seem to be picking up again; they're not making him spend most of his time cleaning his work station rather than doing his actual job anymore, for instance. When he was getting more hours, he was bringing home between $350 and $400 a week, it seemed like.

I make $7.40 an hour and I usually work between 8 and 16 hours a week. My paychecks are usually between $45 and $90.

Between the two of us, we have made, I would say, about $1430 in the last month.

We pay $565 for rent, $150 or so for car insurance, $150 or so for the cable/internets/phone, $50 or so for electric, $30 or so for gas. That's the gas bill, not the gas we put in our cars, which is probably another $100 or so, depending on what the gas prices do. We spend $142 on my Ritalin prescription. I'm trying to get back on the generic, so that should go down, but the idiot Dr. New talked over me while I was explaining this to him and wrote the script for Ritalin LA but in the generic name, because he's too much of a dumbass to listen to a patient who tells him Ritalin LA doesn't have a generic because it's under patent until 2015. We should save about $100 on that when I get him to listen and write it for Ritalin SR instead.

We spend about $450 a month, give or take, on food and other groceries (things like toilet paper, deodorant, and sandwich baggies).

So our total monthly expenses, before you factor in anything like, say, my needing a summer work wardrobe or Nigel's brakes leaking all over the place and making his engine smoke, are about $1640.

When Nigel was getting more hours at work, we could cover that. This month we can't, quite. We're $210 in the hole.

My dad helps us out when we need it. We're lucky to have that.

The other day I mentioned to my boss that we were looking for a house to rent that would be cheaper than what we're paying here. (We're hoping to check out a place on Tuesday that's $395 a month; that plus my cheaper prescription would mean we could start paying something on Nigel's student loans every month.) My boss mentioned that there was a house in her neighborhood with a for rent sign on it, and drew me a little map. Today we went to check it out.

My boss lives on a lake. The house that she was talking about has lake frontage.

I mean, it's not for rent anymore, the sign wasn't there when we drove by. Someone snapped it up. But for damn sure we cannot afford to rent waterfront property.

People do not know how anyone lives who is not at least as well-off as them. They tend to assume you just can't do it.

When we were filing bankruptcy we had to do this online budget counseling thing that involved a live chat with an actual person, who recommended that we cancel our cable and save that $150. We didn't waste our time and energy trying to explain to him that that bill includes our phone and internet, not just cable, or that we are under contract and would incur a fee (that we can't pay) for canceling. It is not worth it to try to tell people that shit.

When I talk about this, I get accused of "playing the poverty card" and/or "making everything about being poor". But when you are poor, everything is about being poor. You can't make any plans or decisions without your state of broke-assedness being the number one consideration.

Like: I haven't registered for fall classes yet, even though I know what I want to take, because the community college I attend requires payment in full within 24 hours of registration and I don't have $1000 to give them for 12 credits.

Well, I do have $1000, but that money has to go to bills.

Last semester my dad paid them and then I gave him the money when the financial aid came in. I bet he would do it again but I don't want to ask him for it.

He has also told me he'll pay for me to get my teeth cleaned. I don't want to let him do it. I need to go to the dentist but I don't know if anyone can understand, not having been in this situation, the crushing, cringing guilt that fills you when someone who should have been able to stop supporting you ten years ago has to pay for you to do something that you need, but don't really need. He just paid for Nigel to get his brakes fixed, after all.

We didn't really need that, either. We don't really need two cars. It just makes things easier.

I keep thinking there has to be a way we could get by with less but everything I think of comes down to getting rid of just all entertainment, and we're so depressed already.

I shouldn't have bought fresh beef to make sandwiches tomorrow. Fuck. I'm so sick of hot dogs but Ball Parks are only 99ยข for a pack of eight. If we eat utter shit we can probably save $100, maybe even $200 a month. But we eat such shit already. I'm getting a little nauseated thinking about eating worse than we do.

You guys, I am so tired of being poor.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Dropped Nigel off at work. Downloaded some free cross stitch patterns and took a nap. Washed hair. Filled out job application. Went to MRS appointment. Put gas in car. Picked Nigel up from work, where he insisted on taking me to Pizza Hut for going to my appointment--he had planned to do so yesterday after I went to the motivational group, because I hadn't wanted to go when we got up because I wasn't feeling well and also because the person who runs it does a lot of victim-blaming and talks about Jesus and food addiction more than this Wolf prefers to deal with, and in fact for these very reasons I did not go yesterday. Yesterday I took a day off from everything and sat on my arse because I really did not feel good.

But today I went to my appointment, and got to go to Pizza Hut.

Worked on the stocking I am cross stitching for Nigel. I didn't finish it in time for Christmas, obviously; I found the box it was in while organizing the craft closet and so I thought I had better pick it up again if I'm going to finish it in time for this Christmas.

Attempted to watch the first episode of Torchwood. Failed. Just cannot get into it. Gave it the old college try, but it's just not my thing. Not really into secret government agency dealing with aliens at the best of times, unless it's silly, and really the episode suffered from far too much Exposition Fairy. I think I got through about half an hour of it before I was just like, meh, fuck it.

Read some K/S fanfic. Watched The Emperor's New Groove if by "watched" you mean "sat in front of and listened to while cross stitching" and I do.

Realized that two of the pairs of jeans that I think of as fitting me really don't, so I effectively only have one pair of jeans.

Spent a bunch of time researching a container garden I will not have it together to plant this year, financially or otherwise. Partly because we haven't decided yet if we want to renew our lease or if we will try to move. Partly because I can't afford to be buying a bunch of pots and dirt, especially since there is other shit around the house that needs done first. It's all very well to say it's more cost-effective in the long run to grow, for instance, my own strawberries, but in reality that's only true if the food stamps pay for the pots, dirt and strawberry plants, which they don't.

Missed raid because the internet keeps failing and I thought I would be in bed long before now. Just cannot seem to feel like going to sleep. Possibly will turn lights down, listen to soothing music, make chamomile tea.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Y'all, my dad gave me some cash for food until the food stamps came through, like, literally the day before the food stamps came through, and since my ass1 has expanded beyond the comfortable proportions of all my currently-owned pants, and I am a size 14-16 woman wearing a size 10 winter coat, I am taking the cash shopping.

I am currently planning The Route. Along The Route are stationed five or six consignment and thrift shops in town, through which I will make my circuitous way looking for The Coat and some pants, on the way to the street the mall is on, where I will also find TJ Maxx. TJ Maxx will hopefully have a coat in my size for cheap if I can't find one at the thrift/consignment shops. Then, if all else fails, there is Sears and JCPenney clearance. And if that fails me, I will stalk the eBay women's outerwear section for a while longer.

Why, you might ask, do I not just go buy a coat at Walmart? Well, because I'm picky. Among relevant aspects of my pickiness in this instance are my distaste for synthetic parkas and color-blocked windbreaker-looking winter coats and preference for something classic and mid-thigh-to-knee-length in at least a wool blend2, and my insistence that any coat I buy actually be long enough in the arms, which usually means tall sizes.

Tall sizes are a huge dilemma for me, y'all. I have these obnoxiously long arms and legs3, but I also have this obnoxiously short waist.4 But then I also have these obnoxiously enormous breasts. And so the combination of all this means that I wind up buying tall sizes in things like shirts and coats, and because of The Tits, the waist falls in the right place in the front, but about 4" lower in the back. I just have to suck it up until I become more proficient with my sewing machine and can make this stuff myself.

Tall sizes in pants are not nearly as problematic. The problem I have in pants is that they never have enough ass depth, including the Right Fit ones, and the back waist is always lower than the front waist. I have this problem with pants, too, if my UK and anglophile peeps follow me.

Wolfie has a bubble butt, or what may variously be known as "badonkadonk" and/or "I like big butts and I cannot lie" and/or "fat-bottomed girls, you make the rocking world go round".

Meanwhile, in each store, I am going to comb through the lingerie section and see if there are any cheap and/or clearance bras in my size. I ordered two from eBay, noticed the seller was in Hong Kong and shipping takes 12-30 business days, and have been waiting a week for a shipping notice; I need something now. I can't be waiting around. My band size has gone up to 32, and I can only stand to wear my 30s for about three hours before sharp, horrific pain blooms in a bright line around my underbust. Also they make that sort of little ridge of back fat, like a reverse muffin top, sticking out from the bottom edge of the band, which is considered unsightly under clothing and, while it shouldn't matter because that kind of thing is bullshit, will plant the subconscious idea in the heads of potential interviewers that I am not "put together" or whatever. Also also, the band tries to crawl down to a thinner part of my rib cage and takes support with it, so I am standing hunched over like my grandmother again.5

Bright side: this means I'm a 32DDD/E(UK)/F(US) instead of a 30F(UK)/G(US), and stores like Macy's actually carry a few bras in my size. Which means I can try bras on before I actually purchase them, maybe, and not have to pay return shipping when most of them don't fit.6

Meanwhile, also, I have to buy new makeup. I could not give less of a shit about makeup, y'all, and would be perfectly happy with the dusty little tubes and compacts in the old makeup box I bought in college, but when I did an Interview Makeup test run, my face broke out and my eyes were stinging for three days. Also the texture of it all was just bad news. That shit is A) expired, B) contaminated with badness and bacteria or C) both.

Which makes sense since the newest items were the ones I bought for my wedding a year and a half ago. And I couldn't actually find that stuff. Supposedly you're supposed to buy new makeup every 6 months or something? Yeah. Bad badness.

Anyway. I have about $200 to do all this. I need a winter coat, that's priority #1, because I can't be going around in one that's two sizes too small. I need one pair of jeans. I can wear the same pair all week and then wear the ones that don't fit while I'm doing the laundry, I'm all right with that, but if I could find two for cheap I would be really happy. If I see interview clothes on the clearance rack that look amazing on me and are under $15 per garment, I'll pick them up, but it's not a priority, because that's one of the things MRS7 can help me with once I get through their orientation process. And I need to get makeup, probably including stupid foundation, which is a pain in the ass to buy because the palest shade8 is always optimized for natural redheads, who tend to have warm undertones. Mine are cool. Maybe I will just skip it.

Oh, and I need to get a new purse. One that my stuff actually fits in without bulging out, and that has a shorter drop than the one I have so it will sit on the shelf of my hip without the straps falling off my shoulder. I can't carry a purse that hangs down alongside my hip, it's uncomfortable; I have a nice purse gap area between my arm and waist that works, but to have something against my hip I have to stick my elbow out funny and it just doesn't work.

Anyway, after that Nigel and I may be going to the movies, if we can find anything on that we're willing to see. Which is pretty doubtful. White America is all het up over Avatar right now and you know I'm not going to see that. Of course Sherlock Holmes is already gone, fuck you Carmike. I kind of want to see Daybreakers, but Nigel doesn't.

Anyway. Hopefully I will find all of the stuff I need. Probably I will find some of the stuff I need. If I can't find any of it I will be sad.

1. Well, really the discomfort is in the gut area when I sit down, but since Fashion Bug no longer carries the Right Fit jeans I like, any new pants I buy are going to be way too big in the waist anyway, and it is also true that I'm wearing pants for a 40.5" hip while having a 43.5" hip.
2. And I don't mean 90% poly 10% wool. That shit will not stand. I live in Michigan; I need something that will actually keep me warm.
3. Like everyone else in my mom's family. Although it may actually be due to my joint condition.
4. Apparently the rule of thumb is that average-waisted women can fit two hand-widths between the bottom of their tits and their natural waist. I can barely fit one hand-width, and I have tiny hands.
5. My paternal grandmother, the short Italian one with enormous breasts. Which is where I think I get my enormous breasts and short torso, especially the latter if my long limbs are joint-condition-related.
6. And most of them won't, because the current bra sizing system takes into account only ribcage circumference and breast volume, not breast depth or width or height, so I have to find not only the right size but a cut and style that fits.
7. Michigan Rehabilitation Services helps people with disabilities find appropriate employment.
8. Women at the other end of the shade spectrum have an even harder time, because I have seen the darkest shade of foundation most companies make and half the black women I know are darker than that. Dear makeup companies: clue. Get one.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
New Year's resolutions. Well, I have by turns embraced and spurned them in the past; they have never served me particularly well, but part of that, I'm sure, is that I have been resolving too ambitiously. Baby steps, people. Baby steps to the baby steps or this Wolf's ADHD takes one look and gets overwhelmed. Then I spend the whole year with my paws in my generously furry ears going "La la la la la I can't hear you! Gonna read this fanfic instead."

This year, however, there is a bunch of shit I need to get on the stick about, and if I don't, the consequences are gonna be more dire than "oops I spent all year fucking off playing video games."

So. A Resolution Exhorting the Wolf to Get Her Shit Together, Get Off Her Tail and Get Shit Done.

WHEREAS, The Wolf and her intrepid Nigel are broke as shit and need to pay their fucking rent; and

WHEREAS, The Wolf's Nigel has a rare form of muscular dystrophy seen in fewer than 1 in 15,000 people, which causes him a metric fuckload of trouble every which way he turns, no matter what kind of a job it is he's trying to do; and

WHEREAS, The Wolf types 95 fucking words per minute and is the Organization Queen while at work; and

WHEREAS, The Wolf has three years of retail experience and an ability to make excellent snap decisions to keep the team moving; and

WHEREAS, The Wolf has current access to her monthly Ritalin prescription; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Wolf will take her fucking medication not fewer than six days out of every seven; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Wolf will get either one full-time job or two part-time ones, or will resume attending school on a full-time schedule.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Welcome to yet another new recurring feature here at the Wolfcave! Come along with me as I explain how to behave like a halfway decent human being. This series will probably cover all kinds of stuff, from how to treat women like people to today's lesson: how not to patronize the shit out of poor people as if your middle-class ass has clue one what it's like to be poor!

Today we will examine several douchebag statements and learn some alternative statements that acknowledge the existence and humanity of poor people.

Douchebag Statement #1
"If the United States had public health care, you would have fewer choices about going to the doctor!"

This is a douchebag statement because it assumes that everyone listening to you is rich enough to afford and/or has a good enough job to be able to access the kind of health care where there is a choice about going to the doctor at all. In essence, what this statement actually means is that rich people might have fewer choices under a public system. Douchebags rarely say what they actually mean: it exposes them for what they are. They like the plausible deniability of not actually coming out and saying they only care about rich people.

Contrary to popular douchebag belief, many Americans have shitty health insurance and can only see a doctor they hate and/or a doctor whose office is a long way away from where they live and/or a shitty doctor who doesn't know how to diagnose and treat the problems that they actually have. These Americans will at worst have the same number of choices about their health care under the public system. Some of them may even be able to go to different doctors than the ones they have now, and may like them better.

Meanwhile, there is another group of often-overlooked-by-douchebags Americans, and those are the Americans who have either no health insurance at all or have extremely limited coverage--for instance, women who have to choose between the Medicaid that covers birth control and women's reproductive health and the Medicaid that covers everything else. These Americans, and in particular the ones who currently have no health insurance, will in fact have more choices under the public option: they will be able, as they are currently unable, to choose to go to the doctor at all.

So instead, say...
"If the United States had public health care, people who now cannot go to the doctor when they're sick would be able to do so."

Douchebag Statement #2
"If poor people didn't want to live off the government, they would work hard and get better jobs."

This is a douchebag statement because it betrays a very douchey willful misunderstanding of what it is actually like to be poor. Poor people often work two and three different jobs, most of them hard physical labor, to make a fraction of what a rich person makes working one job sitting behind a desk (and going out to lunch, and taking expensive business trips, and all the other things rich people do that are euphemistically known as "work"). In other words, poor people often work much harder than rich people, for much less pay, with no benefits.

Poor people are usually unable to get better jobs than what they have; they can't afford to take the time off from work to study and acquire the credentials to get a job sitting behind a desk, and they can't afford the fancy clothes rich people call "professional" that would make them look right at a rich-people job interview. They also cannot afford the fancy hair cuts, and poor women cannot afford the fancy makeup and accessories that rich women are expected to wear in order to be considered well-groomed, to look organized and "put together".

Poor people cannot afford these things because all their money is going to their bills. Poor people have to pay their bills just like everyone else, or else they end up homeless, and then douchebags tell them they should quit drinking and doing drugs because apparently everyone wants to hire someone with no address or phone number or shower as long as that person is not actually high, and because apparently being homeless is such a cake walk and so full of joy and laughter that everyone can stand to do it without being as high as they can manage to get so they don't just walk in front of a bus.

So poor people have to pay their rent, and they have to pay their electric and gas and water bills, and they have to buy food for themselves and any children they have, and they have to buy clothing and shoes and soap and toilet paper, all of which adds up. Rich people have to pay bills too, but rich people have a lot more money coming in than what they actually need to spend to survive, and so they have what is called "disposable income" and "savings". These are foreign concepts to poor people. All the money poor people make goes to their basic needs so that they can stay alive.

Some poor people do get help from the government. The government will give poor people food stamps if they can prove that they don't make enough money to pay all their bills and buy food at the same time. Keep in mind, these are people working maybe twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours a day--if they can get a job or jobs that will give them that many hours--and at the end of the month the money going out is more than the money coming in. If they can show the government that they only make enough to cover their bills, the government will help them pay for other things, like food and sometimes a car to get to work and diapers for their children. But the government doesn't take into account all the bills. For instance, the government doesn't care if poor peope can afford to put gas in their cars, or pay their car insurance: those bills don't count. Only heat, water, electricity, rent and phone bills count for government assistance. Transportation is something rich people take for granted, but poor people can't afford to.

Many poor people resent having to ask the government for help. They feel they should be able to provide for themselves and their families, and that they are failures because they work so hard and never get anywhere. If you contribute to this undeserved feeling of worthlessness and self-hatred, and promulgate the idea that it is poor people's fault and not that of the inequitable system that they can barely make enough money to survive, you are being a douchebag.

So instead, say...
"It really sucks that poor people have to work harder just to survive than rich people work to be able to buy big houses, take fancy vacations and go to expensive parties."

Douchebag Statement #3
"If they are so poor, they shouldn't spend their money on unnecessary entertainment like cable, the internet and video games."

This is a douchebag statement because you are presuming that you have the right to decide what other people should or should not do. In reality, this is not a right that you have; each person gets to make hir own decisions.

Additionally, it is fallacious to characterize entertainment as unnecessary. Human beings need entertainment and stress relief, or it will affect their mental and physical health. Furthermore, being poor is a lot more depressing and stressful than being rich: rich people may have to worry about whether their company is going to fold, but poor people worry about whether they will have enough food to eat to survive and whether they will continue to have a safe place to sleep.

So instead, say...
"It is none of my business how poor people choose to spend their hard-earned money."

I hope you have learned something today. Please join us again next time for more tips on how not to be a complete douchebag. Thank you and good night!
slythwolf: (BULLSHIT)
Fuck off, everyone who ever makes noises about poor Roman Polanski has been punished enough because there are a bunch of countries he hasn't been able to travel to for 30 years.

FUCK YOU.

Fuck you and your privileged bullshit. The vast majority of human beings will never travel to any of these countries. The vast majority of human beings will never travel at all. They are too fucking poor.

I myself am privileged to have been to two countries apart from the one in which I live. Roman Polanski has been to many more countries than I can ever hope to travel to. OMG! There are places he can't go!

That list of places ought to include "everywhere outside of the prison in which he is serving his well-deserved sentence for raping a child", but I digress.

Even apart from the fact that Roman Polanski, far from being "forced" into "exile", chose to flee the country--which was a crime, in addition to being by way of him choosing to move out--the very idea that not being able to travel to every country in the world is sufficient punishment for raping a child is a grave fucking insult to the vast majority of people.

OMG! He has had to live like a slightly less rich person than he actually is! Perish the fucking thought!

My god, we can't have people being forced (*cough*choosing*cough*) to live as if they're poor, I mean, it's not like the billions of poor people already are forced to live that way, or is it that y'all are saying poor people aren't really people? I'm having trouble with this. Is this supposed to be that old argument about poor people being morally inferior and deserving everything we get? Because it's a pretty round-about way of saying it, but I can get there from here if I try. Roman Polanski raped a child --> has to live like he's poorer than he is --> poor people have it even worse than Roman Polanski --> poor people must really be evil douchebags.

But! But! But! the masses cry.

But! Her mom was a bitch!

Who the fuck cares? My mom can be a bitch sometimes too, doesn't mean my rapist had a right to rape me.

But! She was thirteen and that's practically old enough!

A) No it isn't and B) she didn't consent anyway.

But! He didn't know how old she was!

A) It was his responsibility as a grown fucking adult to make sure anyone he wanted to fuck was old enough to consent and B) he for goddamn sure knew she wasn't consenting, the reason being, he heard her when she kept saying "no".

But! It's been so long!

True, it has been kind of a long time, you're right about that. So what we should do is, any time anyone does anything really really evil and sick, we should regard it as perfectly okay as long as that person can avoid paying any consequences for their actions for a certain number of years afterward. For instance, the Nazis that never got caught at Nuremburg, those guys--if they're still alive--can totally come to my poker night now! They're decent guys, and it was a long time ago, right? Oh wait.

Now, some crimes do have a statute of limitations, but I'm pretty sure that applies in cases where the cops couldn't figure out who did it and/or didn't have enough evidence to prosecute within a certain window. This guy was not only convicted, he was convicted because he pled guilty.

Then he ran away because he's not only a child rapist, he's a fucking coward. Yeah, I said it.

But! (Yes, there is another but. I got distracted by that one.) But! The victim doesn't want to have to deal with all this bullshit anymore!

Well, yeah. Obviously. But the bullshit in question may in fact be the media scrutiny she and her family will be under for who knows how long now, the fact that half the press is talking about her the way rape victims are always talked about, and indeed everyone saying Roman Polanski is such a great and talented guy who made a little slip one time by accidentally deciding to rape a child which really isn't that bad anyway because [see above re: how rape victims are always talked about].

I think I have to stop ranting about this for a while. I'm pretty worked up. If any of you are entertaining the idea that maybe I'd never heard of Roman Polanski until very recently, and maybe I didn't know what the hell he had done until about half an hour ago, you would be right.

It doesn't actually take very long to figure out that someone who raped a child ought to receive just punishment, it turns out.

The Plan

Aug. 12th, 2009 11:55 am
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Nigel is going to work for USA Truck. They will sponsor him for a three-week training course to get his CDL, which will be in Indiana and which he will pass. He's an excellent driver--he's never been in an accident or had a ticket for the ten years he's been on the road, which is more than I can say. For his first year of employment they will take $45 out of each week's paycheck to cover part of their investment. After that, in addition to not having the $45 taken out, he will get a raise for having a year of experience. He will start out making about $15k a year more than he was at the place he just got fired from*, and after 90 days will have medical coverage for both of us, stock options, and a 401(k). After the first year he will also have access to dental, life insurance and paid vacation, and will be making almost half again as much, if he works all the time.

If he can save up enough to buy his own truck after a few years, he'll be able to make almost three times as much, and though he'd have to cover his own maintenance, it would still be more than if he's using one of theirs.

For these next few years, he'll be away a lot, and we'll both be sad about that. But our bills will be paid and we'll be able to put money by for the future. It will mean I can get the kind of job I'd actually enjoy, instead of whatever shit work comes along. And it will mean I won't have to worry about how I'll afford things like clothing that fits and books and dice and curtains and things for the apartment.

It will mean I'll have to get a dog. Either I'll hold off on the job front until the winter for housetraining purposes and will get one of my sister's pug puppies in October, or I'll get a job before then and will adopt an adult dog from a shelter. I will need someone to talk to and to remind me to stick to a routine and someone to be responsible for. And after the first few months, when I might occasionally like to ride along with Nigel in the truck, I have confidence that [livejournal.com profile] aprilmayinjune could apartment-sit and be an excellent substitute dog mom.

If I can get something thirty-five hours a week making minimum wage, that'll be another $900 a month. Some of it will go into our mutual savings, and some of it will go into my own fun, things like yarn and fabric and going to the movies. But some of it will go into another savings account, and when his paid vacation comes, I'll take him somewhere nice.

His training will start on the 24th if they can get him into it or the 31st if they can't. My dad will have to help us out with bills for the next couple months--after which he won't have to pay for our car insurance anymore, because we'll be able to cover it ourselves. We'll pay off Nigel's credit cards. We'll get him a cell phone so I can call him. In six months his student loans will come due and we'll be able to pay those.

This will be a good place for him to work. He has a family friend who drives for Snyder who said USA Truck is one of the best companies and that he himself is thinking about switching over.

It's going to be weird. It's going to be like having a long-term relationship, like living alone and having a boyfriend I see sometimes. But I figure, there are tons of people whose spouses are in the military, and are gone a lot longer at a time than Nigel will be, and with a lot less assurance that they'll be safe while they're away, and who get to talk to them less. And they manage.

So will we.

*Additionally, he'll be in a much safer working environment. This is a company that cares about safety, and he won't have to worry about getting electrocuted on the job like at the other place.

A Thought

Jun. 5th, 2009 08:11 am
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
It's not just that the people who are basically enslaved in sweatshops are paid so little and treated so badly; it's that we, as a culture, pay the people who sell garments orders of magnitude more than the people who create them, even those retail workers like I myself was who make minimum wage and can't pay their rent. And that's just--I don't even know how many ways that's backwards.

Also

May. 29th, 2009 10:37 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
When someone complains that your class privilege is showing when you describe a $50 garment as "affordable", and you defensively snap back that your job "didn't fall into your lap", guess what that sounds like?

It sounds like "poor people are lazy".

So, fuck you.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
As an addendum to the previous post: Do not tell poor people they're wrong about any of the following.

- which foods are the cheapest in their area
- which foods they can afford
- that prepackaged foods are more expensive than cooking from scratch (because they're not, if you buy the super cheap stuff that's barely food at all, which is what you have to do when you're poor)
- what they "should" be eating (unless you are prepared to buy it for them)

You know what? I eat meat when I can get it. I eat cheese, I drink milk, I eat eggs. I knit with wool and even--gasp!--silk. And I'll keep on doing all of it. I fucking dare you to stop me.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Food stamps do not pay for gas. When you live on the other side of the town from the grocery store, it often does not matter whether you have money on the food card or not, if you can't afford to get to the store.

Wal-Mart in Michigan does not have good produce. Meijer does, when that particular fruit or vegetable is in season in Michigan.

If I have to fucking post every time I eat something, instead of just when I'm excited because I get to have something good for once, to "prove" to you that I'm not just wantonly eating meat all the time, that's what I'm going to fucking do.

It would not matter if you did want to avoid animal products, and it would not matter if you could theoretically cook your own stuff, if:
- you can't get most of the ingredients for the vegan recipes you can find online
- you don't have enough cookware to actually cook something for reals more than once or twice a week
- you don't have enough room in your kitchen to spread out things to mix anyway
- legumes make your IBS flare up
- you're hypoglycemic, so yes, you do need all that protein everyone keeps saying Americans eat too much of
- your refrigerator either freezes produce solid (so that it turns to mush when it thaws) or somehow makes it rot--within 24 hours

If a poor person tells you someone she knows was exercising middle-class privilege by telling her there was no reason good enough to eat animal products, when she is actually too poor to avoid them, that person is not complaining about vegetarians. She is complaining about classism.

And yes, I do believe it's just as bad to kill plants. And no, you do not get to "call bullshit". Who are we to decide only our biological kingdom counts as "alive"? Fuck that.

I am part of a species that evolved to be omnivorous. Because I can eat plant matter, some people contend I should only eat plant matter, and that it's unethical for me to eat other animals.

You know what's unethical? Factory farms. You know who can't afford to buy free-range animal products? Poor people.

I can't believe I have to spell this out for people: I am a Slytherin. That means I can acknowledge that something isn't necessarily ethical, but do it anyway, because it's necessary.

It's also not necessarily ethical for me or you to use the internet when billions of people can't. We do it anyway. That's not even necessary. It's just fun.

Everyone gets to decide for hirself what hir ethical and moral boundaries are. The part that pisses me off is when you start trying to impose that on other people, especially when the choice you're making is one you only have because you're privileged to have it.

And in a related story, yes, from my perspective, your job did "fall into your lap". I and mine have worked just as hard as you and yours. It doesn't matter if you worked for your job; in a world where working hard is only enough if you're white, middle class, and don't have any disabilities, it's still a privilege.

In an unrelated story, however, UP was awesome. See it. I was all worried because in the previews it looked like there were no female characters; I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll just say that that isn't the case.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
In the previous post, I alluded to things I can afford to buy. This was misleading; I can't actually afford to buy anything, but there are things I buy anyway because, for example, going through life without toilet paper does not bear thinking about.

Meanwhile, Nigel has another interview on Tuesday in Battle Creek area. Please Flying Spaghetti Monster let him get this job, or I don't know what we'll do.

That's another lie: I know exactly what we'll do. We'll keep living hand-to-mouth until our landlord cashes the past few months' rent checks, at which point our bank account will be in the red and we will start pawning our earthly possessions to stave off eviction as long as possible. After which we will be homeless.

There is a limited window of time in which one or both of us can get a job elsewhere and we'll still be able to make the move. Then we'll have to rely on jobs around here, and there aren't any; if the economy doesn't turn around by the end of the summer, there won't be any. And then it will be too late.

I think people on the internet think I am joking when I plead: Does anyone have a job for me? Anything, anything at all? I am absolutely serious.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Called the number to check the food stamp balance. And you know what? Some law or other has been passed so they upped our monthly allowance. We used to get $298 a month. Last week we ran the balance down to $0.

Today we have $367 on the card.

So. Awesome.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Let's talk about the FreeCreditReport.com guy.

When we first met the FreeCreditReport.com guy (hereafter known as "FCR guy" because I'm too lazy to type all that out), I wasn't disposed to hate him. I found him whiny and annoying, and his insistence that he and the rest of his unwashed, unoriginal band should have better jobs than to perform and also seat people at a pirate-themed fish restaurant1, but I supposed I could see where he was coming from. After all, I have bad credit, and having bad credit flat-out sucks.

But let me tell you something about having bad credit. If you have it, you know it. You remember whatever it was you did to ruin your credit, and you remember it primarily because of the legions of bill collectors who call you every day to remind you. So as the rest of FCR guy's commercials came out, I found myself hating him more and more; how could he not know his credit was bad? I could sort of understand the first time, if he's a complete dumbass and/or an entitled prick who expects not to have to pay any consequences for his actions, but how could he keep insisting he didn't know?

It seems to me like this was the order of the commercials: FCR guy works at fish restaurant; FCR guy gets married and whines about his wife's credit; FCR guy tries to buy a car and doesn't get a sufficiently manly one; FCR guy has to sell his car and can't get a sufficiently cool-looking bike2; FCR guy has to move to the Renaissance Faire3 because people there won't judge him for having bad credit.

So let's move on to commercial #2: FCR guy gets married. His "dream girl" has bad credit, so they have to live at her parents' house. Because apparently, while her credit is so bad they "can't get a loan for a respectable home", they also can't get an apartment, because it doesn't look like they could afford rent. Let me explain. As far as I know at this point, FCR guy still works at the fish restaurant, okay? Those places don't pay a hell of a lot. And the wife seems to be a housewife, as I'll discuss in a bit. But where was he living before they got married? She couldn't just move into his one-bedroom with him? Or were he and his crappy band roommates? Well, I have to tell you, I would rather have a dude move into my parents' basement with me than move in with him and his smelly band, but it looks like she didn't have a choice, since the band is sprawled all over their stuff anyway. Meanwhile, here's FCR guy and the band passive-aggressively4 complaining about her credit when just last week his credit was so bad he had to work at a fish restaurant5, sitting there sprawled all over the furniture and blocking her path and glaring at her while she tries to do his laundry. I don't think he cares that she's doing all the housework while he sits on his ass, though, because that's the function of a wife. That's why you get one; like getting a humidifier so your house isn't dry, you get a wife so your stuff isn't dirty.

No mention is made of the wife in any of the rest of the commercials. I think she kicked his ass out, and good on her.

In commercial #3, FCR guy tries to buy a car and can't get a fancy one. Now, okay, let's think about this. You couldn't get a job. You couldn't get a mortgage. You couldn't get an apartment. You now decide you're going to buy a brand-new car, and you somehow "didn't know" your "credit was whack"6 even though you just spent two commercials telling us it was (okay, in the second one it was "your wife's credit", whatever). Did you also not know you didn't have the money to afford payments on a brand-new vehicle? Because I did. Your dumb ass is broke. You work at a fish restaurant. Unless you also own the restaurant, you don't have the kind of income to be paying for all this shit that you would like to buy. And you know what, I'd like to buy a house and a brand-new car too, but I know I can't, so I don't try. You know what could help you pay for a better car? Pawning your instruments and all your bullshit unnecessary speakers. Your band sucks anyway.

And stop making that smarmy asshole face. You're pissing people off.

In commercial #4, FCR guy has had to sell his car because he couldn't afford gas for it (what a surprise) and has purchased a bike. He then spends the entire commercial complaining about what looks to me to be a perfectly serviceable bicycle. It's not, you know, some fancy racing bike or a thousand-dollar yuppie off-road mountain bike or anything, but why the fuck does he need that when the purpose of his bike is to get him to and from the fish restaurant and the grocery store? His bike is clean, it's not rusted out, it's not broken in any way, and it's not excessively dorky. What the fuck is he complaining about that for?

Commercial #5 sees our intrepid hero moving to the Renaissance Faire to get away from people's prejudice against him, I guess, for having bad credit. Let's break this down.

A) You cannot "move" to the Renaissance Faire. Faire is seasonal, #1, and #2, most Faires are a weekend thing. You can stay in the staff camping area if you get in early enough and you work there, but I have a hard time believing anyone hired FCR guy's shitty band to set up in the middle of the path to block foot traffic and insult everyone who's there because they enjoy it.

B) Nobody was prejudiced against you for having bad credit, FCR guy. First of all, you didn't have to tell anybody about it. And secondly, people don't like you because you're a whiny entitled asshole. People don't like to be passive-aggressively sung about while they're standing right in front of you, and they don't like to listen to you whine constantly about your problems when they have their own. Other people are poor too. Suck it up and stop trying to pretend to be middle class when you know you're not. (Middle-class people do not work at fish restaurants unless they are still in school or, as I may have mentioned, they own the restaurant.)

C) People at Faire are going to be "prejudiced" against you too, pretty damn soon, because you're whining at them about how much their hobby sucks. Stop being an asshole and maybe you'd make some friends.

D) Those are not "wool" tights. Those are cotton-lycra. Yes, some of us can tell.

In conclusion: Shut the fuck up, FreeCreditReport.com guy.

1. Some of us would really like to have a job at all, FCR guy, and also, it's probably not the best idea to passive-aggressively complain about tourists right in front of them if you depend on their money for survival.
2. Can someone tell me what the fuck was wrong with the bike he had? It worked, didn't it?
3. I...don't know.
4. Seriously, FCR guy, cut it out with the passive-aggressive bullshit.
5. I don't think it's the wife's credit that was the problem, is what I'm telling you. I have a hard time believing he's not just blaming her for his problems. Like, seriously, the entire rest of the commercial series is all about how shitty his credit is but suddenly when it comes time to get a mortgage and they can't it becomes her fault? No.
6. "Whack"? Seriously? Is he kidding me with this shit?
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
The other day I found myself saying to Nigel, "I almost wish that topless bar had come in a couple of years ago. I would definitely have been able to get a job there."

In other news, I have found a better virtual makeover website and am in the process of making a pic of (close to) my new haircut in the red that I want, so I can post it and show you guys. Stay tuned for that.

Result!

Feb. 11th, 2009 03:04 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Nigel has a test at 9:00 on the 24th to be admitted into the apprenticeship program at his dad's plumbers and pipe-fitters union. The apprenticeship will be, on average, full-time; he'll probably work about 2/3 of the time, but he'll be working 60 hours a week during that time. It starts at $18 an hour. If he gets this job, we'll be moving, but we'd be able to afford for me to stay home and:

- take care of one or two puppies1
- work on my sewing and knitting with an eye to starting my business at some point
- do whatever the fuck I wanted, basically

The area we'd be moving to is one of the areas in Michigan where you can get a really nice house for about $30-40k right now. We're talking 2000 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, in a decent neighborhood with a large yard. We could live in an apartment for 6 months to save up a down payment and then buy a house. We could fence in the yard and get a puppy/ies. We could have a real kitchen, with a working dishwasher. We could have our own washer and dryer. Eventually we would buy a new bed, and decent furniture.

I could start buying books and movies and music again. I could buy more yarn, more fabric, I could start putting together the materials for some of the projects I'm planning for "someday" that are way too expensive to even contemplate right now.

We could go out sometimes. We could buy each other gifts again. We could have vacations. The two of us could go and visit my mom, his grandmother, we could go to Pennsic in a couple years.

I am the first to admit my marriage hasn't been perfect so far. We have both been snappy with each other about stupid shit and we have both started fights that didn't really need to be fought, and we don't always fight fair. But a lot of that comes from the stress of being so poor. If we had a little more money, we'd be able to have fun together--more than we do now--and if we lived in a larger city (which we'd be moving to), there'd be more stuff for us to do for free as well. I've been saying this whole time that what breaks up most people is money, that if we can get through this we'll be golden. Keep your fingers crossed for us. We need this.

(You know, or we need the job in Westland that he has applied for, or something full-time for me, wherever.)

1. We're thinking about getting two, because then as they become adults and I start doing more stuff away from home they can play with each other and not get lonely. We're thinking about only getting one, because dealing with two puppy potty schedules may be too much.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Tonight an anonymouse posted a comment at my JF, as quoted below.

I have followed your journal for a while, and I wanted to finally say how much I respect and admire you for managing so well in a difficult financial situation. Your posts give me a lot to think about.


I was going to reply to the comment itself, but I decided I want everyone who reads any of my mirrors to hear what I have to say about this.

My situation is not special or unique. In 2005, 12.6% of Americans lived in poverty. I'm sure that figure is up now that we're in a recession and record numbers of Americans are on food stamps. My state, Michigan's, unemployment rate is 10%. One in ten adults in Michigan who is able to work can't find a job. More than one in ten Americans lives in a household like mine. For Americans under the age of 18--for minor children--that number is one in five. For latin@s of any age, it's one in five. For black people it's one in four.

The poverty line for a family of 2 in the 48 continental states is $14,000 a year, which many Americans--possibly most--believe isn't enough for one person to live on. My family of 2 makes between $6,000 and $8,000 a year. Many, many other families are in this same boat.

Don't respect or admire me for managing this. You could do it too. When your other option is to starve to death, you manage. Everyone can survive on this little money. But I don't recommend it.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
It seems the Plan has worked even better than we anticipated.

Yesterday we got our new food stamp money for the month. Today I called to check the card balance and it is about $105 over what the monthly allotment is. We have $105 left over from last month. Can you guess what that means?

If you guessed "Wolfie is going to buy some tasty food that is neither tuna casserole nor alphabet soup," you win.

In other news, I'm writing Sky High fic. I have a rough draft of some gen but no title; after that I want to write some Warren/Will because I am a shameless slash fangirl. So stay tuned for that.

The Plan

Jan. 19th, 2009 10:25 am
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
We get $298 a month from the food stamps.1 That gives us, at the upper limit, $1.65 per person per meal, and that's if we don't have any between-meal snacks, which I think you'll all agree is simply too much to ask for. The plan is to spend less than $1.50 per person per meal, and even less than that when possible; my macaroni and cheese recipe qualifies at about $1.33 per person per meal, if you eat just that for dinner which we often do because it's so damn tasty. Store brand alphabet soup is about 76 cents and works out great for lunch. We cannot afford to make meals that consist of two cheeseburgers, and we cannot afford to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. We can do stews and chili in the crock pot. We're going to have to start watching the sale fliers and buying meat when it's cheap; Meijer periodically has good sales on pork loins and you can have the butcher cut that up for you so you can package boneless pork chops individually and stick them in your freezer, things of that nature. There is also a church-run food bank here in town that puts out a monthly "menu" and you pay, like, $30 for a crapload of food, including for example a chicken and a couple pounds of round steak, as well as a bunch of vegetables and things. I have to pick up the menu for next month when it comes out so we can decide whether we want to do that; they will give us Christian pamphlets but fuck, I think we're secure enough in our atheism to be able to handle that, and it's worth it to get good food for cheap. And this place does take food stamps.

But so anyway: the plan is to make a game of it, see how little we can spend on each meal and still feel like we're surviving, and try to keep a little extra on the food card every month. That way, by the time our anniversary rolls around in June, we'll have enough to make a really nice dinner.

In a related story we took our pop cans in yesterday and made $11.50, which is coming with me to the airport on Wednesday so I can pick up snacks between flights if necessary.

1. For those of you privileged enough not to know it, food stamps are not actually stamps anymore. The government issues you a card that works like a debit card but only for things classified as food in the store you're shopping in, so that at Meijer it will cover protein and energy bars because they're in the international food aisle, but Walmart keeps those in its pharmacy so they count as vitamins or something. It doesn't cover alcohol or anything you have to pay sales tax on, which seems to mean you can't use your food card to buy those rotisserie chickens Meijer and Walmart have, and you can't use it to order cakes from the store bakery, but you can get the ready-made cakes that they have already stamped with bar codes and stuff. It also does not cover things like toilet paper2, which my mom thinks it should; technically they have cash assistance for that, but you pretty much can't get it unless you have kids. Every month, usually on the 9th, the government puts money on your card, in an amount determined by your caseworker based on what your family is eligible to receive. When it's gone, it's gone, and you have to buy food out of your pocket.
2. Which we're almost out of, and are being very careful not to use any more than necessary; we've got two rolls left that aren't on the holder, and we can't buy more until Friday.3 We also can't buy more tampons, of which I only have three left, so hopefully when I slap the new Patch on my ass this afternoon (after I pick it up from the pharmacy) that will cut my period off pretty quickly.
3. Well, we could, but it would cost us $37.50 more than the price on the tag thanks to overdraft fees, and if we kept doing that eventually we'd go to jail.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Yesterday at about 12:30 in the afternoon I took two loaves of challah out of my oven. They were glossy mahogany in color, fragrant and sweet and made of absolute win.

At 8:30 this morning I ate the heel of the second loaf. This is because challah has a lifespan and, as Nigel and I have proven, that lifespan is 20 hours per person per loaf. There were two loaves and two of us and now our challah is all gone.

In a related story, all day yesterday my apartment was toasty warm. For the previous few days I had had to crank the thermostat up to about 85 degrees to get the apartment up to 69, because our windows are not properly insulated. I had planned, Thursday, to go and pick up some of that plastic indoor window stuff and install it, but the trouble with that was that at 9 that morning a nice woman from the bank called me and let me know our account is deep, deep in the hole.

I have ADHD and I'm fairly sure he does too and that's what I think the reason is that we haven't been keeping track of our spending on paper anywhere, or balancing our checkbook or anything. And because we haven't been doing that, we weren't prepared when, on Tuesday of this week, our landlord cashed three rent checks at once. That's $1320. If we had been balancing our checkbook, we would have known long ago that we didn't actually have the money the online account statement said we had, because our landlord hadn't taken out rent for three months. We'd have spent less on Christmas, we wouldn't be playing Wrath of the Lich King right now, Nigel would have bought his schoolbooks with his refund money, and I would have gone to Goodwill to get pants that fit. There are probably a lot of ways we could have been cutting down if we'd known how badly we needed to, including Nigel's occasional (read: almost weekly) fast food lunches and Hot 'N Ready pizzas because he "feels depressed" when we are on food stamps and should be using the free money to buy cheap food.

Incidentally, the three months of rent in question were August, September and October, so theoretically November, December and January still stand to come out. So really we're $1320 deeper in the hole than the bank says.

So because of all this, we can't spend any money at all until next Friday when the student loan refund comes. I can't purchase window insulation or send a friend the gift I knitted for her baby; we can't afford to do much of anything, really, and I need a job now more urgently than ever. Nigel may also have to get a second one.

So there is going to be a lot less snack food and junk food and frozen microwaveable dinners in this apartment, and a lot more baking from scratch. Baking from scratch is cheap and it warms up the apartment; bread is filling and you can use it to round out store-brand condensed soup and spaghettios. Everybody wins.

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