Tag Archives: Poor

Improvisation and Coffee Tables

I Think It's Dried Out

I could make a coffee table out of a piece of driftwood. I could turn old, discarded pallets into a headboard. I could sew fabric remnants into a dress. People say I have talent. That I’m creative and good at the things I do. But, I could do so much more. The things I make would be far better if I could just afford the materials that go into them.

“I could make that necklace…but, I don’t have $10.00 to buy the supplies.”

“I could make that felt phone case in 15 minutes…but, it would take sewing supplies that I can’t afford.”

“I could make that…”

“But, I don’t have…But, I can’t afford…But, I would need…But, I can’t get…I can’t get…I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…”

I try to improvise and make my own tools. Sometimes, it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. It’s frustrating, defeating, and embarrassing. I work for hours, only to have the project fall apart. So, I put away my shitty tools, clean up whatever mess I made, wash the glue off my fingers, and wait for the disappointment to go away.

I think about giving it all up. Never picking up a paintbrush, a needle, or a hot glue gun again. But, I keep trying because it’s the only thing I can do. I work until I get it done, until I get it right. And, if I can’t do it without some random, expensive thing, I file the project away in my mind and I wait. I know I’ll make my pallet headboard. I‘ll make that felt phone case. I’ll make that damn bracelet someday.

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Yes, This is a Thing that Happens

Where the Hell is the Key to This Thing

Just last year, after fighting for an associate’s degree and then fighting the job market, I landed a job with insurance. It was the first time I had insurance in 16 years. My various illnesses then became so bad that I could no longer work. I lost the job and the insurance that came with it.

I tried to collect the private disability insurance that I had paid for every week, but because I had signed the policy in December of 2013, before the new healthcare laws went into effect, the pre-existing clause was still legal. After months of going back and forth with the insurance company. Running around getting medical records, sending them papers from my former employer, after signing a piece of paper that gave them access to any and all medical records that have ever been collected on me, they told me they came to the conclusion that I was indeed disabled, but they wouldn’t pay because of a technicality. Essentially, they made me run around and wait five months to tell me something that they should have said in five seconds.

After my disability was denied, I tried to apply for insurance through the exchange, but because I qualified for Medicaid, they would not let me buy a policy. Apparently, if a person qualifies for Medicaid, they have to apply for and then be denied it before they can buy an insurance policy on the exchange. It can take up to six months to get a decision from Medicaid. Also, and here’s the really fun part, in my case the Medicaid decision is attached to my Social Security Disability claim, which could take a year and a half before it’s settled. I am suicidal and physically ill, and I can’t get insurance, for up to a year and a half. It doesn’t matter that I’m willing to pay for a private policy. It doesn’t matter that my conditions can not wait for a year and a half.

I looked for something I could do in the meantime, but there was nothing. There is no coverage available for people stuck between Medicaid and the exchange. This is the system that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens? This is what we came up with? And people wonder why I feel hopeless all the time.

Frozen Fish Sticks Aren’t Funny

Tasty Apples

My stomach was trying to eat itself, my legs wobbled, my head spun. My parents were asleep, and I wasn’t allowed to use the stove. No cereal. No bread. No peanut butter, leftovers, nothing that didn’t require cooking, and there wasn’t much of that either. I found a box of frozen fish sticks, sat on the kitchen floor, and ate them one by one. They tasted awful, shards of ice mixed with frosted breading, but I was so hungry I kept eating them.

When my parents found out about my fish stick feast, they laughed and laughed. They told my grandparents who also laughed. My goodness, it was so funny that a little child would up and eat half a box of fish sticks straight out of the freezer. They didn’t realize that I never got enough to eat. They didn’t know that my little body ached from the lack of food. They didn’t know that the tomato soup they’d fed me a few days ago was the last thing I ate.

I told my grandma there wasn’t any food at our house. She went over and looked through are kitchen. Sure enough, hardly any food. She yelled at my dad about not providing for his children. She called my mom names. When she left, my dad beat me. He screamed that I would get far worse if I ever told anyone else about things that happened in our house. I kept my mouth shut for many years after that.

Get Back Down There, Worm!

Less Than a Worm

I’m at the bottom, and I’m afraid I always will be. It doesn’t matter how hard I work to climb up, I’m always forced back down. I fall, I get up, I climb. I fall, I get up, I climb. A rising and falling tide, a perfect cycle of failure. It’s happened a hundred times too many, I’m afraid. Cynicism and suicidal ideation are my reaction to everything now. I will lay  in this filth until I break, and when that happens I will kill myself.

I’m making excuses for my personal failure in life, yes? I have a defeatist attitude, yes? I deserve everything I get, or don’t get, yes? I’m weak, yes? I’m stupid, yes? I’m worthless. Yes. I believe I am.

Gourmet Goop

Maybe if We Deep Fry Them

Thinking that someone won’t want to work because they are provided financial assistance is like thinking that people won’t make homemade meals because they can have TV dinners. Sure, a few people will be happy to eat nothing but microwaved mystery meat with a side of goop, but most people will still want home cooked meals. Most people will joyfully pick up those pots and pans, turn on that stove, peel those potatoes, kneed that dough, and savor every moment of the glorious meal they prepared themselves.

The Cat Pee Sauna

What Smells Like Windex

The smell of cat piss was awe-inspiring. It wasn’t just a hint of ammonia in the air. It wasn’t just a smell coming from the litter box. No, this was a smell that made you question reality. It was a living smell, a sticky ooze moving over your skin. It greeted you the second you walked within five feet of the house. If you ventured inside, it jumped on you like an excited puppy. It licked your face and rubbed against your clothes, leaving its scent behind.

When the weather turned hot and humid, the house became a piss fueled sauna. The only escape was my mom’s bedroom, where a small air conditioner sat in the window. It supplied us with fresh, cool air while we slept and ate. It was an oasis where we hid ourselves away from the foul world we lived in.

Little Debris

Rainbow on the Rugs

When I was a young girl, I remember crawling on my hands and knees across the living room floor. I was picking up little bits and pieces of the debris that covered the carpet. We didn’t have a working vacuum cleaner, but I wanted that floor clean. I moved with the slow determination of a glacier. I was unstoppable, my little hands clearing away life’s rubble.

I stood panting in the middle of the room, surveying my work. My knees were gray and scratched. My hands were streaked with dust, my fingernails were black. My body was coated in a glaze of sweat and cat hair, but all that mattered was the floor looked clean.