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

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January 15

“True imagination is not fanciful daydreaming; it is fire from heaven.” – Ernest Holmes


Today is my birthday and I am doubly blessed, culinary-wise.

First, I treat myself to a luscious, warm peanut butter cookie with the prize of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup in the middle, straight from J C Beans Coffee House in Dana Point. These are the best cookies in the world. They even have a drive-thru since they are a coffee bean’s throw away from a drive-thru Starbucks. The competition of capitalism at its best. So, I pull into the drive-thru and order my favorite cookie and then I drive to a harbor overlook, turn up the heat in my car, and let this deliciousness melt in my mouth.

For dinner, it’s a treat from my uncle. Bless his generous heart, he gifted me with “some money to go out with Simon and have a nice birthday dinner.”

So, in the midst of all the angst about what we will do when our lease is up, my uncle, in the midst of his own angst, which at least seems to be subsiding, has provided us a temporary reprieve – an opportunity to spend a night out with good food and wine and, with some due diligence, a venue for dancing.

So, I make a reservation at this Italian joint down the street, which I’ve never been to, but have heard that it’s good. It even has a postage stamp of a dance floor.

I’m looking forward to a night of taking our minds off of everything that’s been going on and just enjoying the present. And, then for some reason, this is precisely the night that Simon proceeds to have a meltdown, at the restaurant, right before dinner is served. Perfect timing!

Wait, I just caught myself here. Do we actually pick when we have meltdowns? No! They just happen when they are triggered by something. And, we all get triggered, just like I did recently at my uncle’s house. Tonight, it was Simon.

This is the confluence of events that prompted his meltdown: he hadn’t eaten in hours. He said he got busy and he tends to use that as an excuse not to eat. Then, when we get to the restaurant, even though I had made a reservation far in advance, they seat us in this hybrid, inside/outside area of the restaurant. It’s sort of hard to explain , this area. It is covered, so it’s inside. But the walls are bare, concrete slabs, with a concrete floor, like an airplane hangar, so it’s freezing. It’s like the restaurant added this area on as an afterthought, and it has all the charm of a meat locker. There is a very nice outdoor, heated patio, but that was already full by the time we got there.

So, they stick us here, in the meat locker, devoid of any aesthetics or heat, and Simon proceeds to start ripping the restaurant to shreds with a diatribe that ends in him getting up in a huff and walking out.

So, there I am, all by lonesome, freezing, on my birthday.

I’m almost ready to walk out myself when, miraculously, the food comes. The meal is by no means stellar. It is below average, but it’s piping hot and smells somewhat good and I’ve already been drinking some wine, so it’s nice to have some food to accompany it.

I steel myself by declaring that at least I will enjoy my own birthday dinner. So, I dig in. A few forkfuls later, Simon returns. He had gone outside to have a smoke and cool his engines, and when he sees the food, he digs in too.

We don’t talk at all during dinner. “What a lovely, memorable birthday,” I’m thinking, “Just get through it. This is more a test of endurance than a celebration.”

But, somehow, magically, the evening is saved, when we go inside after dinner and sit at the bar and listen to the band. Eventually, we start dancing, something that has always brought us closer together, as Simon is well-skilled in this arena.

So, the dancing acts as a balm, giving me a shred of romantic contentment, for at least a few hours.

Back at home, later that evening, I thank Spirit for its benevolent energy that enabled the evening to be salvaged. I thank my uncle for his continued generosity and thoughtfulness. I also thank Spirit for my life and all my blessings. And, I pray that we are in a better place financially on my birthday next year.


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