Friday, March 30, 2007

Pound notes, loose change, bad checks, anything

I wish I had a lot more money.

Don't get me wrong. I don't look at us as poor or flat broke. I just wish that our balance of incoming vs. outgoing cash wasn't as close as it is. I wish the incoming dollars outnumbered the outgoing.

It didn't used to be this way. When we lived in the old house, we had a much smaller mortgage and were both earning what we basically earn now. I haven't had a raise in a while... and with Doug quitting half (more like 1/3 now that the hours are showing themselves to be more than he anticipated) his job, it just feels tight.

It always feels tight when Doug starts doing our taxes, and I start thinking about summer camp for the kids.

But we lived in a tiny house where we were tripping over one another, and now we have a great big old cool house and it's a much better place. I suppose that is the exchange right there. Living in a dumpy little piece of crap house or a huge giant colonial and having all the privacy I want.

In the old house, right now Geoff would be behind me doing what he's doing now. He wouldn't be able to do it as loudly. He wouldn't be having nearly as much fun.

He's playing Guitar Hero. Down in the pink room, with the speakers cranked up. It's like he's on another planet, he's so far from here.

I'm paying a premium for peaceful living I guess. The mortgage is twice what it was on the old house. And the peace at least twice as much so it's good.

But because my mortgage is twice what it is, I need to curtail my spending and not do all the things I've grown very used to doing. There are a lot of things that I put on the credit card that I'm slowly paying off. I should be paying faster, which means placing more money in that amount line on my checks or the field for online pay. But I can't quite yet. There isn't quite enough money, and then if someone uses the bank card for gas or groceries, the checks might bounce and that's not good.

I had my eye on that really nice Bridgestone bike that I told you about the other day. After getting a check from Cateringman for the site redesign and looking at all our money, I realized that I still couldn't swing it. I had to tell the guy this week that there was no way I could pay cash for it. The guy was sad, because he turned away three other inquiries... but he understood.

It broke my heart because it was an awesome bike. I felt that it was THE bike for me. Not just some random piece of shit from someone's garage. Way super nice, and totally sweet ride. And he was nice. So not only did I disappoint myself by letting my heart commit to something it shouldn't have, I disappointed him and that makes me more sad than I could have imagined.

Sometimes I put my heart in front of my wallet and let the money trickle through to other sources. Instead of putting my brain in front of the opening to serve as a more efficient filter.

I did the same with the Guster tickets. I shouldn't have bought for both nights, but now that I have them, I'm not giving them up! I just have too many. I bought 6 for both nights, and now it seems that at least 3 of the Friday night tickets will go unused.

(If you're interested in Guster at the Opera House on April 20th, let me know. It'll be me and Jess and Crystal from the discussion boards, and if I don't bring Geoff on Friday night, I'll have 3. If I do bring Geoff, I'll have 2. Drop me a line.)

The other day they announced a Guster show at Hampton Beach, which is 1/2 hour north of me up in NH. I almost called immediately to get tickets. I had to honestly STOP myself, and say "You DO NOT have the money for this. Knock it off!"

And I hate this feeling. The feeling of denying myself things that I want.

I've always thought of Lent (which we are in right now, if you're not one familiar with the Christian seasonal calendar) as a period of time for doing something for others. Being kinder and exercising more giving. Instead of practicing acts of asceticism like giving up chocolate.

The doing and being are very Protestant acts during the Lenten season. I was taught in youth group and in college that we lift others first, above us, we commit a greater, stronger act. It was better to be a human doing than a human being.

Denial of our Epicurean side and emotional self-flagellation by giving up chocolate or giving up smoking, swearing, red meat... these things were meaningless compared to doing something for another. An outward and visible sacrifice of time, effort and money have become the norm for a lot of people during this time of the year. Be. Do. Exist. Help. And get closer to God.

Right now though, I'm incredibly aware of self-denial, putting aside my wants, and waiting. I'm not doing these things FOR a Lenten sacrifice... I just have to or they'll foreclose my house.

I'm not sure that fear of foreclosure is the same as an act that brings one closer to enlightenment and God and understanding the sacrifice of Easter... but it serves its unintended purpose in the end, I'm sure.

Most of my money wishes surround this house. There is a huge list of improvements, changes, adaptations and accessories I'd like to get for us. I don't have the time to list them out here, but I should, so I can keep track of when and if these things come to fruition.

Wishing that I had more money is a bad thing. Because wishes like that, as we learned when I was pregnant with Geoff, usually result in something going wrong. Like the Monkey's Paw almost. My wishes don't usually work out well. If I wish for more money, that would mean someone's life would have to end and they'd be leaving Doug and me large sums. I'd get what I want, but in the end... dude. Sadness.

So I revise my opening statement. I don't wish for more money (lest it put family members in danger...). What I wish for instead is less of a desire for more money, and a stronger backbone.

Hopefully the universe heard that.

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