I’m sad. I’m just feeling a little sad today. I shouldn’t be. After all, it’s day seven of NaNoWriMo and I’m averaging about 2,000 words a day. I’m healthy. The weather hasn’t gotten awful yet. But my birthday is two weeks from today and I’m thinking about money and how stressful the lack of it can be. My birthday month is my time to take stock of my life. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, November is always my month of introspection and for the most part, that introspection is positive and hopeful. But today, it’s making me sad. It seems whenever we almost get to a point where we can relax about money, something happens to take the security away again.
This month, our vet said it was time to switch our dog to a heavier medication. We did, but it costs a lot more than we expected to spend this month. She also wants us to have two of his teeth pulled because they are infected and causing him to have trouble eating. But she wants 1400 dollars to do it, something we don’t have, no matter what we do.
I found out that the college for which I teach is dropping me from five classes to three. That’s a cut in pay equivalent to our mortgage payment each month. Our plan had been to start saving money this month to try to make up for that loss in January, but then there was the increased insurance payment and the vet bills.
I planned to apply for membership in the Canadian Writer’s Union, but with an unexpected 150.00 fee for the classes I’m taking in January for my doctoral degree, I’ve had to put it off, most likely indefinitely with the cut in pay coming.
I feel guilty every day for not finding a way to pay the vet to take care of my dog’s teeth- then I remind myself that I’m wearing a prosthetic in my mouth that replaces two teeth that had to come out after a botched root canal. A prosthetic that slices the inside of my mouth to pieces because it’s gotten raggedy over the five years I’ve been wearing this six hundred dollar piece of plastic that was supposed to be a six month fix until I could get implants.
I was talking with a close friend who has been trying to just work down her credit debt. She was just at a spot where they were going to be able to pay everything this month with regular money and boom – an unexpected vet bill. A flat tire. A dead battery in the car. They get to a point where they are *almost* okay and something happens. I don’t think they’re the only ones. If you’re reading this, you probably have the same problem. Maybe not a car battery or a vet bill, but something.
I hear you. I’m feeling sad today. Sad because between teaching, running the writing academy, running my Patreon, going to school, and writing, I work probably around sixty hours a week. Sad because my wife works a decent paying, full-time job but we still can’t afford to buy, not the luxuries, but the basic necessities. Sad because when it comes to something getting the back seat, it is always my writing because it is the one thing I’m doing right now that isn’t making me any money. I should stress that my wife is super supportive and would never ask me to sacrifice my writing or any chance to enter contests, market my work. After all, she’s the one who convinced me to enter the Writer’s Digest self-published book awards – a hefty 110 dollar entry fee. (Granted, it warranted me 1000.00 when I won, but still)
I’m 49 this month and I thought I’d have this financial stuff all figured out by now. I mean, I thought I’d be going to Europe for my fiftieth birthday but I’m still trying to figure out how to get to Albuquerque in July. I thought I’d have all my credit debt paid off by now. I thought I’d have my teeth fixed. I thought I’d have, if not six months, at least two months worth of salary in the bank, the way my father always told me I should.
Instead, we’re debating what bill to skip paying so we can put gas in the van and drive an hour and twenty minutes away to get insulin for the diabetic dog.
I’m not unique and I’m not poor. My wife and I live in a house with a yard. We have a vehicle and though it isn’t paid off, it is in pretty good shape and gets us where we need to go. We aren’t hungry. We might be eating more beans and potatoes than fresh greens and organic fruits, but we aren’t hungry. In fact, right now, I’m eating a smoothie with some homemade granola. I have coffee and clean water. Other than my mouth, I’m in good health, but if I DO get sick, I live in a country where every person has healthcare. I can donate money when a friend is in need. I can give to the local (and some far away) animal shelters. I can donate a few dollars to the campaign of a woman I support. I can send a food delivery to a friend whose depression is making her unable to cook. I can and have recently bought a bike and, despite having to give up my desire to join the Canadian Writer’s Union, I was able to pay that unexpected 150 dollar fee to my university. I’m not suffering. I’m actually very lucky.
In a lot of ways, I feel guilty about complaining about money, so I don’t, mostly. I know people are worse off than I am. I know A LOT of people are worse off than I am. And I’m not in the position to help very many of them. Money can be so damaging, especially a lack of money. I’m in a better place now than a lot of people. Hell, I’m in a better place now than I’ve been for most of my life. But for today, just for today, I’m sad. And that’s okay.
And for those of you who are in the same position, or worse, I just want you to know I understand. I understand the way the worry can feel oppressive. I understand the guilt when you have to choose one thing over the other and even if you know you made the right decision, you still hate having to make it. Posts come across your timeline and you want to donate to all of them and you can’t. You want to have a break from cooking and just order a fucking pizza, but you bought a package of socks the other day and you don’t have any money in the account until the end of the month.
Oh, my friends and family. You aren’t alone. And it’s okay to be unhappy about it. Not every day, but sometimes. Tomorrow, I’ll be happy again. I’ll be introspective again and I’ll focus on something good and positive. Tomorrow will be a good day. But for today, I’m just going to have my feels.
And that’s okay.