State of the Economy

This morning S had to drink a small bottle of gross stuff that delivered fifty grams of glucose to her bloodstream in one quick punch. She said it tasted something like bug-juice, only a lot sweeter. After chugging it down she went off to the midwives to get a blood test for gestational diabetes. We await the results.

I was concerned that the rush of sugar might make her feel weird, or nauseous, or light-headed, and I urged her to take a cab. She pooh-poohed me, arguing that the subway was faster and safer and that I had an exaggerated idea about how the drink was going to affect her, which I did, it really didn’t bother her much at all. But ultimately she thought that a cab was a waste of money.

In our relationship as a whole, and the pregnancy in particular, we argue the most about money. (He writes, listening to the president talking about the government’s budget crisis on television.) She didn’t want to go on an expensive honeymoon because she thought we couldn’t afford it. I waged a long campaign, wooing her to agree to a more extravagant vacation than we’ve ever had. More recently, I won her blessing on a belated boy’s night out to celebrate the baby and our marriage. While she hasn’t gone to get a massage even though she would love to have one, because it feels like “frivolous spending.”

I’ve encouraged her to get a rub-down every few weeks. “What’s a couple of hundred bucks over the course of a few months?” I argue. We live frugally on a day to day basis, why not spend money on things that bring you deep pleasure — going out to the theater, or seeing a concert, or getting a massage.

These are all frou-frou past times, I know, but I’m also the one bleeding a thousand dollars a month for an MFA (the most impractical degree ever), digging himself deeper into debt with loans (I still haven’t paid off the ones from college), and who seems to have developed an allergy for anything like a paycheck (I haven’t worked in 2 years). Sure, my tutoring brings in good pocket money, but there’s no long term interest in tutoring on my part, and come the fall I’m excited about being a parent, not about finding any sort of part-time work to help make ends meet. The idea that my writing might become financially viable, that I might sell my novel or write essays for my favorite publications, is a pipe-dream. I’m the most selfish of spenders right now, bleeding money, motivated only by what I want to do (rather than what I should or need to do), and urging others to do the same, as long as it isn’t irresponsible (though many might say that I am being irresponsible).

For now, I spend most of my days scribbling away, and my nights at home, regenerating and quiet (and saving money), testing the mettle of one of America’s most fundamental myths: that if you work hard enough, sweating away on what you love, no matter what else others may think or how financially viable it is, good things will come. It’s happened before in my life, I think. It can’t be wasted work. It can’t be.

But still I’m twisted between bourgeois “carpe diem” ideals and the good ole’ working class thriftiness I was raised with. As always, the middle path is hard to find.


1 Response to “State of the Economy”

  1. 1 Aimee February 10, 2009 at 5:12 am

    I SOOO feel you on most of that. Pretty much all but the part where you have a pregnant wife. I’ve been trying to relax more here re: money, just b/c I don’t want it to always be an unpleasant, stressful issue. Since I know it will ALWAYS be an issue in my life b/c of my life choices. But I guess something about living on the government’s tab makes it easier to spend money now! I was just thinking out loud to my sister, “maybe if I have enough money left over near the end of my stay I should pay for a flight to bring a friend to Korea, just for fun.” She said, “are you crazy?? I would think that you’d sock away any extra funds in your retirement account!” I guess just the fact that I’m not obsessed w/how little money I have in my retirement acct is a good sign.

    A friend told me that being a woman of extremes is what he loves about me and also finds maddening. But like you said, finding the middle road is HARD!

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