|From the "Undercurrent" album|
I wish I am the woman in this picture. Floating, with no care in the world, in middle of a body of water, hopefully warm, and lost in my own thoughts... positive thoughts... with dreams and whatnot....
But alas, I do not have positive thoughts but rather worries in its place.
"You are now a grown-up" uttered by a friend. I had vented my frustration with bills, mortgage, taxes and more that I have to pay and I barely have a stable job (the woes of living as a contractor) so I am winging it every four months. I pondered aloud how anybody can do it and stay above the poverty line and have a decent lifestyle?
Mind you, I do not aim to have a life of luxuries-- I am not materialistic at all (I am more into sentimental values) and I am totally fine with shopping at Goodwill and thrifty stores.
I define a "decent lifestyle" by its affordability to pay insurance, healthcare, a nice used car, mortgage timely, and being able to raise children with a solid roof over our heads. And with some money leftover to buy nice clothes from non-thrifty stores occasionally.
That is a decent lifestyle to me.
How could I achieve that "decent" lifestyle if I have the government harassing me (I loathe SSI), the utilities bills fluctuating at the corporation's whim, and essential house projects (such as updating a 60-year-old plumbing system) to pay off?
Right now I am pinching my pennies while holding my dignity as a vegetarian who prefers to support local businesses and farmer's markets while resisting the sirens of Wal-Mart and other cheap big-box stores.
I am grateful that I am not alone in this appeared-to-be sinking boat-- I do have my partner who does help out with the expenses. We bought the house together. We prepared for the projects costs. We know what was coming-- half of it, anyway.
Of course, the other half are the surprises-- the lovable car I brought all way from California is beginning to show its age and it is not worthwhile to maintain when its value is at zero according to Kelly's Blue Book. What happens when it has a heart attack in middle of my trip to a job? I can bike... but not to a faraway places that will take 3 hours to cycle (but one hour by metro!).
Dental insurance-- whoops, I lost a tooth-- didn't realize our teeth will fall apart at age of 25. Thought those dental comedies only happen to the folks who went over the hill. Dammit, now what to do?
I do not do well with "what-ifs" and worst scenarios. I am thrifty and I like to spend wisely. I am a healthy female with nice set of teeth (alas that one cracked tooth that you can't see if I smile!) and I do not plan to pop out babies anytime soon, I have a nice master's degree and a nice small house-- now why are you all screwing me over?
I am not even rich so stop grubbing away my money!
(Note: I was below poverty line in year 2009 while in graduate school.)
If it is not the corporation, it is the government that is grubbing my money too. Taxes, oh how you make my life a hell.
And yet, I won't see a penny back from those Medicaid and Social Security taxes-- I am confident that by the time I hit retirement, there is no government programs to support me and I am all on my own (anarchy, anybody?). So they should let us paying less taxes because they know that we are pretty much screwed and should take pity on us the young generation. Time to open up a ROTH account and mark the days until the government shuts down....
And of course, I can't leave out that infamous SSI overpayment-- every Deaf person got bit by SSI's overpayment bug. It happens when you report the government that you, a disabled person, have a job (a miracle, defying all odds!). Repeatedly. And they still mail you the disability pity check. You give up and proceed to work like a real adult. Years later, you got slapped with a big "YOU OWE US, BITCH" bill from the government berating you for not telling them about your new (which is by now old) job. You go "WTF?" and eventually concede to pay off your overpayment-- with a scowl on your face as you write your monthly checks, of course.
So with all of costs piling up, you begin wondering how much does it cost for an American young Deaf person to live in America living the American Dream????