I was talking with a friend today, about the usual - bills, financial woes, the sucky state of the job market, that sort of thing. During the course of the conversation we came to the tentative conclusion that the only way to break free of lower class poverty is to win the lottery. My response to that became this post.
I'd love to win the lottery. Problem is, I never have the dollar to spare to PLAY the lottery. As for paying bills and eating at the same time? You've been nibbling the mushrooms again, haven't you? I'm in a terrified panic because my freaking student loans start going into repayment in August and here it is April with zero jobs and the one job I -might or might not- have is only part-time with no benefits. But even with that, I'll take it. Heck, my husband has been getting extra hours at his job over the past few months but he still only works 30-35 hours, and with all the bills - yeah, and my credit is wrecked because how was I supposed to come up with the roughly 10 grand that insurance didn't cover for all that medical crap when I had the news "Happy Birthday, you have cancer!"? And now, I'm puking my guts out for going-on three days and I don't have a doctor in the area that will touch me unless I suck it up and go to the ER - and then they will demand $200 up front just to see me since it's not my heart and I'm not overtly bleeding out.
I want to know - how do people "make it" in this country? How do people locate and successfully navigate that elusive "ladder to success"? And people need to can the "work hard and you'll succeed" crap, because it simply doesn't work. I work hard. My husband works hard. My friends work hard. And we're foundering. We're dying. And yet we make too much for any sort of public assistance. Too much. We grossed right at 10k last year - combined. So how do these people live who have house payments of over 2k/month along with car payments and insurance and electric and cell phones with internet access. What is the damned secret? We don't even have a television, much less cable or dish or directTV. Our only source of entertainment/splurge is internet access, and honestly, if I didn't need to have it to find work and upload my writing/editing stuff, we wouldn't have that, either. Right now our house phone won't dial long-distance. We can get calls, but to call out we have to go over to my in-law's house. We have power - but our a/c is set at 78. I cook on a single burner hot plate and with a tiny microwave because we can't afford to get gas for an oven and the house isn't set up for an electric range.
Yet I'm thankful. I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head and floors under my feet (even though they are starting to get weak in places). I'm thankful that my husband has a job at all. I'm thankful that we have lights and a refrigerator. I'm thankful that we have a washing machine, because I don't know how I'd scavenge change to do laundry - much less drive the half hour to the nearest laundromat. It doesn't even bother me all that much that the dryer is once again broken. I can hang the clothes outside, no problem - and I'm thankful that I have a little bit of land that allows me to be able to do that. But damnit, there has to be a way to get out of this rut. There must be something I'm overlooking, something I haven't figured out yet, something that will let me have just enough to catch up and stay current. I don't even ask for enough to get ahead - because that would be a freaking pipe-dream. But just enough to be able to pay every bill, every month and have enough for gas and groceries.
Meanwhile, I have this fear that even what little we do have will disappear and we'll be left homeless. I've been homeless. I don't want to go there, ever again. But with every step I take forward, with every bit we accomplish, a half dozen new things go wrong. If you know the secret, please, pass it on, because I know we're not the only ones going through this. I know there are people going through an even harder time. I know we're all in this together, but it sure does feel like we're the ones getting trampled by the masses.
So, yeah, I'd love to win the lottery. I'd love to be able to play the lottery without having to choose between a ticket and a dozen eggs... because the eggs will feed us for a week and that ticket? Well, it's probably nothing but disappointment clothed in false hopes.