The light that goes out. And on.

There are those strange moments where the universe sends you a sign, and you are actually there, staring at the sign, reading it correctly, and you get it.

And last night, Jared and I met in the kitchen with sad faces to look into our fridge. We’ve been eating Reeses Pieces breakfast cereal and a weeks worth of cheap Chinese for .. a week, half out of apathy for “shopping” and half out of “pay day.. is coming” itis. The sad little fridge that sings when it’s empty (no lie, it makes this high pitched wavering yowl when not weighted down) gave up the ghost. Rather, as we were deciding between eating the Brita filter and lettuce soup (it got pushed to the back.. behind a baking soda box.. that’s how poor the produce is.. it was tiny..) the light bulb burnt out, and our “choices” were plunged into darkness.

We’re not poor. As a composite we’re a student and a teacher who rely mostly on the luck of living in an economy that was, until recently, fairly booming. But listening to the news,  day after day, watching the job cuts roll into our little province that could, and did, and is slowly not – it’s frightening. Summer has always been my time to act like a squirrel, acquiring as many jobs as I  can and socking away all the money I make for the winter when I’m back in school. Now I’m going into work, watching vacancies slowly being turned into more work for the few and no promise for the many, holding my breath. The “help wanted” signs are becoming fewer and fewer, and brainstorming summer job possibilities now goes like this –

Andrea- Chipendale dancer?

Jared – I don’t think they’d take you to be honest. It’s the last bastion of sexism.

Andrea – *silence*

Jared – Oh…I get it.

We’ve got a spending/shopping moratorium in place as I watch accounts get smaller, bills get bigger (can we talk about energy deregulation for a minute here…) and opportunities get narrower. It’s a funny thing – we’re both really good at saving money (yes, finally I learned how to do that), but once it’s saved, you become so protective of it. You want it to stay in your tiny little savings account, untouched by plans for shoes, dresses and trips. The things you want or need require increasingly serious deliberation when they have to come from The Savings Account. The twenty dollars you move from your chequing account to your Savings Account is the same silly electronic twenty dollars, but it just seems to have more weight as it sits there, quietly protecting you in Savings.

 We are so lucky for the support network we have, parents and friends who offer always, and we don’t run the risk of being evicted or defaulting on loans yet, we don’t have a car, and we lucked out in an outrageous market into getting an apartment that we love, that is beautiful and warm and only takes about a third of our incomes to pay for. We are so incredibly lucky in what we get offered, the opportunities and jobs.

But can we talk about guilt here? About learning to scale back, about still lusting after things that you totally don’t need at ALL? Like a trip to California? Or art supplies, or a new book, or damn Reeses Pieces cereal? Can we talk about how as an educated woman I should know better, should be able to do better than shrug my shoulders and tip my hat to capitalism and an endless culture of wanton lust for thingsthat I know better than to sink, literally, into?

Right now, we have luck. Kind and generous families, somewhat secure jobs and so far, in two years, only one panicky time where we looked at each other and I cried and then we had more luck. We are also figuring out with due expedience, as we listen to the news on the radio each morning before we get up – this luck is just that. Luck. Here’s to horseshoes.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The light that goes out. And on.

  1. Even though I hate squirrels, I loved your comparison to them…and my fridge makes awful noises too. It’s in my dorm room, practically next to my bed. Sometimes I hate it.

  2. Mister and I have been talking about this, Manitoba’s economy is really strong still so he’s thinking about trying to fit a job change in between now and the economic crash that’s probably headed our way.

    It’s definitely an odd time, and we’re defensive savers too. We just freed up some money for me to supplement my closet with non-vintage clothes and it was like pulling teeth for both of us.

  3. Jud

    I understand the pain of cutting back. Our dishwasher gave up the ghost last week. I have tampered with it, replaced some parts, but no luck. The battle of shelling out the cash for a new one vs. teaching Little One the lost art of hand washing and towel drying dishes is one that I am waging on the home front. So far the score is dishwasher -2, a new chore for Little One -1.

  4. I hear you about economic slowdown in this province, it’s been complete insanity to watch the help wanted signs disappear from the windows and hold onto each other as friends get laid off.

    I’m getting better at saving too. I just dedicated my entire raise towards RRSPs, to be pulled directly from my account every month so I can’t even imagine spending it.

  5. Money’s eating me alive these days. And by ‘these days’ I mean ‘my entire adult life’. I’m terrible with money, though I don’t understand how since I think I’m about as spendy as most people I know, if not slightly less so. It’s the little things that add up, for me. Buying coffee on the way to work instead of remembering half & half for the stuff we get for free, buying that extra fancy martini at dinner, paying for a cab instead of taking the bus to the airport, etc.

    A lot of my spending is also guilt-related. “Oh, I can’t show up to my friend’s house empty-handed… and I shouldn’t buy the cheapest wine, that’s tacky… and oh, I should send a birthday card to so-and-so because she sent one to me… and…”

    I just need a sugar daddy. Or mama.

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