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

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May 10

“No matter how much good you are experiencing today, expect greater good tomorrow.” – Ernest Holmes

When I first moved to Orange County from the East Coast, I was shocked and awed by the abundance and enormity of the chain grocery stores. They were some of the biggest stores I had ever encountered and their shelves were filled to the max with so many options for so many things that if someone from communist Russia had ever walked into one of them, they would have thought they were in Capitalist Heaven.

Not just that, but everything is enormous here in OC. There are huge strip malls and shopping malls – one is actually named Fashion Island – all over the place, as well as huge, boxy super Wal-Marts and super Targets and Super Everything. Plus, there are more restaurants and bars in closer proximity than I have ever witnessed. I couldn’t believe that everyone here didn’t weigh 500 pounds with the uber-abundance of food, drinks and groceries.

Luckily, that’s not the case. There are a lot of fit, healthy people here, thankfully, and tons of gyms, yoga and Pilates studios, not to mention tons of open space, parks and beaches.

So, today, Simon and I went on a field trip to visit the Holy Grail for foodies – a new Whole Foods that just opened in Laguna Niguel. It’s housed in a beautiful, new building bedecked with enticing goodies of all sorts, mostly natural and healthy and non-GMO. We are like two kids in a candy store, eyes wide open, jaws dropped, salivating. We can’t afford much, but that’s OK. It’s more about being in this environment. And, I only had a few basics on my list. One of them was oatmeal. I found this great brand of instant oatmeal with awesome ingredients like quinoa and amaranth. To boot, I had a coupon for $1.50 off one box, which would have made it completely manageable. But having to rely on Simon for his food stamps, he dragged me to the bulk bins and tried to sell me on the merits of bin oats, which I had never tried before.

So, I acquiesce. What’s a girl without her own food stamps to do? They might not have amaranth or quinoa, but, hey, I can live with that. So, I got some instant, bin oats and he got some steel cut, bin oats.

I always thought Food Stamps were for the really down-and-out – you know like the ones Nick Nolte personified in that movie about Beverly Hills. That was until my very white-collar boyfriend started getting them after his unemployment ran out. What a godsend. But sometimes they can be a source of conflict, like the time when we were at the grocery store and I wanted to buy some organic apples, but Simon had a fit at how much they cost. I protested about how they are worth it, quality-wise. But we ended up having a row at the supermarket, right at the checkout line, of course. Simon then proceeded to toss my organic produce out of the cart in a fit of pique.

After we got home though, the negotiations started. “Remember those organic apples I wouldn’t buy with my food stamps?” he says. “Well, I’ll go back and get them if you give me some money for cigarettes.” I consider the offer for a moment. “Deal!” I say.

I’m a sucker for organic produce.

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