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

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May 14

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” - Elbert Hubbard

So, let me elaborate a little more about Simon. When he moved in, he had no job, no bank account, no health insurance, no car insurance, no cell phone. He had no bank account because his ex-wife, who cheated on him and did a lot of other horrible stuff, and ostensibly did not need the money, was still demanding child support, causing the state to just take it out of his bank account. So, he simply got rid of his bank account. Made sense to me when he first told me. He had no health insurance since he did not buy any privately when he was laid off. He had let his car insurance slide. And, he had shut off his iPhone to save money.

He was a ginormous tabula rasa, living totally under the radar. He had made good money before getting laid off, but after applying to a wide spectrum of jobs and getting nothing, he simply gave up.

He grew up in Ireland, so he started drinking coffee when he was around six and smoking cigarettes when he was about 10. He’s still addicted to both. Thanks British Isles! The caffeine tends to make him manic and jumpy. At least the nicotine calms him down.

He grew up experiencing poverty consciousness, which is not just a fleeting feeling of lack and limitation. It is something so embedded, typically starting in childhood, that it can permeate our thoughts and beliefs long after we’ve moved on from the specific situation where it first was imprinted, usually by our parents. Simon continues to exhibit this tendency at times, blaming it on his mom, who raised him and his siblings as a single mom, after his dad died when he was a child. When his mom used to give him spending money for class field trips, he would do whatever he could to spend the least amount possible, so he could bring the rest back for her, even though she didn’t explicitly ask him to do that. He just felt deep down inside that she really needed the money.

Poverty consciousness manifests in our relationship with Simon being able to go without things I consider basic necessities for what seems like eons to me, which is fine if he’s living by himself or with other guys. But being a girl, I need basic necessities and feel entitled to at least have toilet paper on a regular basis. This contrast has been a difficult adjustment for me, but I’m trying to see the positive – instead of rushing out whenever I run out of something, especially if it’s something that can wait, like cosmetics or hair care products, I just wait patiently for enough disposable income to pay for it, instead of lamenting the lack of it and perhaps buying it before I pay an imminent bill.

But Simon is so wealthy in other ways: he is a fabulous cook, a magnificent gardener, a handyman for all sorts of things around the house, a true Renaissance man. He has taught himself so many things -- either the old-fashioned way by reading books or the modern way by Googling whatever he wants to learn. He even taught himself how to cast iron.

His true talent? Talking. He is the The Great Pontificator. Or TGP for short. Remember the little kid from the Jerry Maguire movie who was constantly spewing random bits of trivia? Well, my boyfriend is like this little kid, all grown up, with even more info stuffed into his brain, and now launching into full-blown diatribes. Did I mention I love him dearly?

He’s a combination of Jeff Spicoli meets The Big Lebowski meets Wayne Dyer. He’s familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the writings of Melchizedek. Instead of smoking pot to relax, he puts on headphones, surfs the Internet, and listens to podcasts on topics like astral projections, OBE’s (out-of-body-experiences) and the like. Then in the mornings, when he’s not surfing the waves (at least he does this kind of surfing as a counterpoint to the Internet surfing), he verbally downloads to me everything he heard on the podcasts the night before, while I’m eating breakfast. While it’s not quite my cup of tea, it’s very entertaining.

He waxes poetic on spiritual issues all the time. We’ll be talking about something mundane, and he’ll get this look in his eye and then say something like “Even though it seems like we’re just having this conversation, I created this, and the you that you think you are and the me that I think I am are really one. We’re one consciousness and we’ve chosen to take on these bodies as physical forms.” I really do get what he’s talking about, but I would also understand it in about five words or less.

I’ve essentially come to terms with the fact that he may never hold a full-time job again, as frustrating as that is. My main complaint is that he gave up on the job search too soon. When I got laid off the first time, I sent out more than 100 applications and inquiries and was lucky enough to land a part-time job within 10 weeks. I barely got to enjoy “fun-employment” at all. Luckily, it was during the summer, so I did get to take a mini-vacation up the West Coast.

Simon, on the other hand, is more of a wait-and-see, let-it-come-to-me kind of guy. Being spiritual like me, he does set intentions, but his apparent lack of action, while he just sits back and waits for things to manifest can frustrate the hell out of me. He will, and has waited, until the very last minute to manifest something. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. While I have complete faith in the Universe, I like to do my part as well – maybe a little too much effort sometimes, but at least I feel like I’m doing something. I guess our yin and yang approaches complement each other in theory. In reality, it’s a totally different ball of wax.

The positive side is that once Simon does get a job, he is a very industrious worker bee, as I’ve seen in the past. So, I just have to be patient and keep the faith that something will materialize for him in the near future.

The irony is that I can barely support myself financially, having lived paycheck to paycheck my entire life. That’s what I get for becoming a journalist -- but being curious in other people and their stories, interviewing, writing and editing are my God-given skills, so I gotta use them.

When Simon’s unemployment ran out and I invited him to move in with me, I was definitely operating under the illusion that “Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence,” as H.L. Mencken so pithily proclaimed. When I really think about it, it’s beyond laughable that here we are, living together, trying to survive on my meager salary.

Being a smoker, he has tried to kick the habit a few times. He recently joined Nicotine Anonymous. It seems to be helping, as now he only smokes puffs instead of the whole cigarettes. But I’m still subsidizing his smoking habit, although I told him it’s only because he shares his food stamps card. Seriously, this is what’s my life has come to. Bartering for food.

No, seriously, when he first moved in, I tried to get him to quit. But even though he wanted to, he couldn’t bring himself to quit cold turkey, and was so grumpy when he wasn’t smoking, that I realized it had to be something he did of his own volition. Every now and then, his volition kicks in, and then kicks out again.

But as I learned from experience, most of the time I would rather deal with him smoking, which he mostly does outside, than the resulting grumpiness when he’s trying to quit.

So, as I’m engaged in seated spinal twist during my yoga practice tonight, I try to see things from a different perspective. What I end up seeing is a cigarette butt on the floor near the outside patio. Aaargh! What would Patanjali do in this scenario? I take a deep breath and twist the other way and I see a petal from a rose Simon plucked the other day. So, I focus on that instead.

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