...tell us to go out and buy!*
Had to return discs 3 & 4 of The Wire this afternoon - disc 5, the *(&^$ season finale, was out at the video store - and watching people shop downtown was interesting. I'd forgotten what it's like not to shop during Christmas when you lack money.
Not that I've ever spent thousands (or even a thousand) on gifts and the like, but I do enjoy buying stuff I think friends and family would like. Except the years when I was working in the bookstore, which is when everyone already knew what they were getting, natch. I feel very out of the social loop, even though none of my friends, with the exception of the parents, are buying diddly this year.
Which isn't to say that I haven't bought Christmas gifts, I did...in October. When things weren't so dire. Anyway, for all of us I bought the box sets of Life On Mars and Afterlife (like Medium, but better), two candles for my mom, and an ornament. Mom bought me two pairs of barrettes, one pair inlaid with some sort of shell. I know that sounds cheap, but internets, they cost $30, y'know? And mom's had some major outlays in the past few months, she might have to borrow money from us to get through the January tax season.
Money is desperately tight. When you balk at paying for a head of iceburg lettuce (people, it's $1.99 a head. A head, for iceburg!!!) you know you've got problems. But, faced with a minumum of $800 a month outgoing on old medical bills alone (haven't paid the OB in 2 months) and then getting physicians or lab charges on top of that plus being unemployed, every little bit helps. I would enjoy eating a vegetable I didn't have to boil**, however. Still, January's outlays include:
$609 - homeowner's insurance for 2008
$250 - July ER bill (down to $2100)
$200 - July hospital stay (down to $1300)
$240 - Nov. L2 scan ($480 w/ 49% uninsured patient discount, normally $1000)
$240 - minimum amount of CC bill
$500 - approx. for Nov-Dec OB visits
$27 - for phone we're not using
$21 - 'leccy for house and fingers crossed the pipes don't freeze this winter
Well hell, it's more than I realized. By about $1000. Maybe Mr Oro will get paid for this latest job (yes, one of the ones he originally quoted for way back in August/Sept and completed in November) in January, that would be nice. Worst comes to worst and we'll be heading back to Scotland to live.
I don't think I could do that at this point.
I don't mean to sound like we're on the verge of bankruptcy or getting Christmas dinner at the food bank, but damn, it's hard to go back to living with small pleasures and no monetary cushion to fall back upon. And by small pleasures, I mean renting dvd's and going out to eat a couple of times a month.
Things will improve, of that I have no doubt. It'll be easier when we move back home and get out of the psychological pressure of living in town with, y'know, stores and shit. Downtown back home is the post office, the church, the meeting house, and the inn. The college is three miles away, the elementary school 2 miles away, the 'corner' store about 4 miles from the center of town. We'll have to spend come cash with the garden and seed stock (I got a thing from Burpee in my email yesterday), but at least that'll be recouped in July.
It is, of course, all worth it in the end. It's just the middling bit that's difficult.
Moving on. For your listening (or reading) pleasure, here's Tom Lehrer's classic A Christmas Carol:
** because frozen veggies are cheaper, that's why.
*** And in honor of Tony Blair's conversion, here's The Vatican Rag: