Tuesday, November 29, 2011

hard economic times (lyn)

I haven’t made any real money since I lost my job in 2006.  Since then, I have gone through much of my retirement savings, and all my day-to-day savings.  My mom has been helping with my health insurance payments, as I wouldn’t be able to afford them on my own.  I have tried to start two businesses. I have applied for all sorts of jobs online.  I will take anything, but nothing is offered.  The economy is horrible, and I am an example of a well-educated baby boomer who once made a lot of money, had a prestige job, travelled to exotic places, took vacations, and regularly dined at fine restaurants.  My life today is very different.  I worry about money all the time, and though I have cut back tremendously, I still spend more than I should.  It is an awful way to live.  My future provides no security.

Yesterday I meet a friend (I’ll call Q) I haven’t seen in a long time.  We are seeing a screening.  I rarely eat out anymore, and since she doesn’t suggest a lunch before, we just meet at the theater.  Q’s husband works on his own as a highly educated medical professional.  He is very smart; you would never want to play him in a game of Jeopardy.  Q is also a business professional with a history of well-paying jobs at top companies. Their kids are recent college graduates.  I have known Q for a long time…over half my lifetime.  She and her husband have always been very casual about the way they communicate bad news.  A few years ago I am talking to Q and she tells me she was in an accident…no big deal.  Her husband grabs the phone and explains that Q’s accident involved her getting hit by a car, dragged, and almost killed.  She suffered broken bones and other complications.  She is fine now, but it took several surgeries to be pieced back together.

So last night, just before the movie is to start, I ask Q how her consulting business is coming along.  “Not that well,” she says.  Then, without any drama, she tells me that between her and her husband they have gone through their retirement funds; have only $5,000 left; and will probably need to sell their beautiful home.  The lights then dim and the movie starts.

I come home and have the same dinner as last night:  half the spinach and feta-filled turkey burger that I bought at Agata yesterday (it was huge; that’s why I could spread its consumption over two nights) on a brioche roll and 15 Pringle lights.  $10 for two meals.  My motivation to eat the same meal two nights in a row is driven less by money than by calories and convenience.  I am not programmed well for spending less.  

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