DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

All Rights Reserved ©

June 6

Congratulations. Today is your day. You’re off to great places. You’re off and away. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss


So, it’s back to work after the magical ride with the dolphins yesterday. I feel the enthusiasm of Dr. Seuss’s words, but my Chevy, Melba, is not feeling quite so enthusiastic.

I’ve taken to calling her Melba because of all the times I thought she was toast. For all you young whippersnappers who didn’t grow up with Melba Toast, here’s the lowdown, paraphrased from Wikipedia: Melba Toast is named after Dame Nellie Melba, aka Helen Porter Mitchell, an Australian opera singer. Melba Toast reportedly originated in the late 1890’s when Dame Melba got sick and one of her BFF’s, French chef Auguste Escoffier, created it in her honor. Escoffier was so taken with Dame Melba that he didn’t just stop at toast. He skipped the main course entirely and leapt right to dessert, creating the Peach Melba in homage to her as well. But the guy who actually named it Melba Toast? None other than Cesar Ritz, the Swiss hotelier and founder of all the Ritz hotels and the origin of the word “ritzy.” Who knew?! (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

But, I digress. And, I’m getting hungry.

So, there I was… on the Toll Road that takes me from south OC to my job in central OC. Despite the recession, the Toll Road is somehow still teeming with Mercedes, Jaguars and other luxury cars. In contrast, Melba is huffing and puffing her way up and down these hills like The Little Engine That Could. And, as she was climbing one of the hills, she completely conked out, even though there was still enough gas in the tank. I was gobsmacked – I could not figure out what happened.

Luckily, I was able to get her over to the shoulder of the Toll Road, where I sat until the tow truck came, feeling the speed of all the cars racing up and down the hills in their mad dash to get to work. Their speed made my car shake like a blender making margaritas. Mmm, margaritas. Maybe I’ll have one tonight.

The problem, as revealed to me when the tow truck driver arrived, was that there was so little gas in the tank that Melba couldn’t muster the strength to go uphill, so she just gave up completely.

This incident made me think of Simon, and all the other people affected by this recession, who are probably feeling just like Melba right now – out of energy, deflated, depressed, not able to muster the strength to go on. I felt an incredible surge of compassion well up inside of me, and I sat there and cried: For Simon, for myself, for everyone who wants more out of life, who wants to get somewhere else, but isn’t sure just how to get there. I set an intention that I find the way to carve out even more free time for my writing projects so I can liberate myself from having to rely on the vagaries of the job market and work for others once and for all. I released this intention and felt myself recalibrating, feeling at least a little closer, in spirit, to where I want to be.

It also reminded me of an article I recently read about the under-employed, also known as shadow employees – who are either freelancers or work part-time, and are therefore subject to the vagaries of their employer regarding their schedules. They might be scheduled to work 10 hours a week as a hostess, but only be needed one or two hours on any given week. This makes it almost impossible to raise a family and pay the bills, as you never know exactly what your schedule will be or how much money you will be making week-in and week-out. The article noted that there are more of these shadow employees than ever before – a direct result of the recession, since employers have been resisting hiring back full-time workers, even as the economy improves. Not surprising then that underemployment is linked to lower self-esteem, higher alcohol use, and increased rates of depression, according to a policy statement published by The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, entitled The Psychological Consequences of Unemployment, researched by Deborah Belle and Heather E. Bullock.

I am drawn out of these thoughts by the arrival of the two truck. After the driver filled up my tank enough to get to the nearest gas station, I thanked him profusely and set back out to get to work. See, here’s the irony – when something prevents me from getting to work, I want to get it resolved ASAP, so I can get to work. But as soon as I get to work, I can’t wait to leave. Eight hours is, and always has been, for me, way too long of a work day. Excruciatingly long, in fact.

Later that evening, Simon and I drove around to ferret out the cheapest gas, so we could fill up Simon’s tank. I thought I was naughty with waiting until the last minute to fill up my car, but Simon pushes the gas envelope even more, and then only puts in a few dollars at a time. I try to at least put in $15 at a time. I can’t even remember the last time I had enough money to fill up the whole tank.

Both of us have been pushing our cars to the limit in pursuit of the cheapest gas available, which most of the time is not on the exact route you’re driving on the day you need it. So, here’s the constant conundrum: Is it worth it to get gas that’s a little pricier but more convenient or to spend more time and gas to find even cheaper gas It’s sort of semi-fun when you do go out of your way and find really cheap gas, like I did once on Highway 1 in San Clemente. I really, really, really want a hybrid as my next car – both for the environment and for my wallet.

So, tonight at home, Simon and I made a joint commitment to being more proactive about making sure we have more than enough gas at all times, after what happened with Melba this morning.

As I’m engaged in shoulderstand during my yoga practice, staring up at the ceiling, I’m overcome with gratitude that I even have a car. I thank the Universe for my blessings.


Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.