It occasionally surprises people to learn that I have periods of time where I am, basically, absent from the world.
That is, I have times when my energy level is so low that I pretty much withdraw from the world, and do everything I can to stay out of pretty much anything.
I usually don’t feel up to much during these periods. I don’t write posts, I don’t answer emails, I don’t talk on the phone. When I go out to run an errand, I usually do’t even engage in my regular banter with the clerks, as I’m just not up for any kind of human contact.
It is tiring, fatiguing, exhausting.
This also happens frequently when the weather turns — storms moving in bring out the pains and annoyances of a fleshy form that has endured a great many degrees of violence in its life. The release of a storm, for me, is almost cathartic, as the pressures and pains shift away with a suddenness that is divine.
This is the one time when my will over my flesh is allowed to be weak, when my drive is let be quiet. It isn’t burnout, which I long feared it would be, so mch as it is simply me being tired, and each year I get tired a little more and a little deeper and I am not burned out, I just don’t have the fire to do it.
Fastest way to get me out of it? This funk I fall into? Shopping trip. I feel guilty saying that. I am aware, as well, that I am supposed to feel guilty saying that. Women who use shopping therapy are vain and all the bad things is what the messages that come to me say.
The balance is that for me, shopping is exciting because I get to look for stuff that other people take for granted. One of the people I have taken it onto myself for some damn fool reason to slowly disassemble is a 10% woman (her income places her in the top 10 percent of people) who probably has no clue what it is like and couldn’t successfully live on 400 bucks a month.
I have to admit, well, that I don’t do it very well either.
I get by through the purchase of food. It is my luxury item. I have the internet, and that is a cost I sometimes go to great lengths to justify, because in the end, it is something I could live without, although I would be disconnected from the things around me.
I do not get to go see movies. For me, a movie is what is on netflix and hulu and crackle and amazon and iTunes. The reason I have an iPad is because my friends got together and bought me one. And most of them don’t have one themselves.
Or didn’t. The value I have for mine has shown itself, and so a few more have shown up — and all of them as gifts or winnings.
I have lived on this basically having nothing for a very long time. Longer than any other time in my life that I can think of. It makes me acutely aware that other people have a source of income higher than mine.
I do not get TANF. Food stamps, that is. I have a job, and that job doesn’t pay me, and their system is not set up for people to have jobs that do not pay them, so I never qualify.
I do not have medicaid. The state of Arizona’s program is acronym’d AHCCCS, and referred to as Access. I have outstanding debts to hospitals of around 6 grand from January that are new and that I cannot pay because I don’t have health care.
I do not own a car. I do not have insurance of any sort. My personal bills are low. I have the internet and this server. I have Netflix and Hulu. And I am about to reduce my netflix costs because I can’t afford those bills.
I get to go shopping very, very rarely. I do not window shop anymore. Window shopping depresses me. Nearly all my clothing is a gift. I love it, but still…
I do not get federal or state assistance. I get my money from what some people call a “sugar daddy”. He is a boyfriend, who reads this blog when he can. He lives in a different state.
I get 400 a month.
I spend that money to help other trans people for the most part. I get great personal joy out of cooking for others. I am very good at feeding people for damn near nothing, lol.
I buy books once in a while, and music. When I am feeling particularly good. When I can easily justify the expense and when I have the will and strength to simply do without something.
I have learned a great deal about formularies. The ins and outs, and that allows me to keep my uninsured costs for prescriptions down. But I can also say that if I were to be on medication for any kind of depression, I couldn’t afford it.
My teeth are bad.I am, truly, afraid to smile in public. I do. It is a reaction for me that is ingrained and deep and I always see the eyes flicker to my teeth and and I keep it inside until later that day and then I have my little moment.
Because I work on behalf of people who have it worse than I do.
For all the self pity and personal failures of pride I speak of above, I know perfectly well that I am in a much better position than many. I limit my drugs to beer once in a great while, to nicotine and caffiene, to sugar and chocolate.
When I went to DC, it was on the dime of other people. I cannot afford these trips. Ask yourself how others do. Truly. How does someone get the money to attend things?
I know a great many trans people who actively seek to get on disability because they are trans. It is a street legend, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people believe that’s the case. It also amazes me how many people think that 600 bucks a month is better than what they have right now.
I am not, as a note, really all that greedy, personally.
I would be *more* than satisfied by the median income. Way more, lol.
I would be thrilled with 1000 a month. That’s around 1200 a month before taxes. It is right around 15k a year. I could use more to live on, but that would be fine. I don’t have really fancy tastes or desires or wants. I *can* have them, but I don’t.
I turned down a job last year.
It paid a lot of money.
I regret that decision every day. Making it tore something out of me.
I do not regret the basis for that decision. I have work to do that is unfinished. I must finish it. Somehow, someway, it must be completed. I am not up for it on some days, and others I am. THe work seems monumental, the goal appears beyond me.
And yet, I am also someone who has fought on many levels in many ways for a very long time. I know how to run my numbers, how to make my plans. I had a mother that was a bookkeeper, and I used to lament that I didn’t pay attention, and now I see I paid far more attention than I realized.
I walk a fine line in this job. I see that there is, in fact, a difference between the way that those who choose to do this work and those whom they help live. I see that difference is not just money, but a good portion of it is.
I do not have to be many different things to many different people, and I do not try to be such, either. I am, by default, because I am living on that edge between being those I serve and those I work with.
There are days when I quietly wish I had the emotional and intellectual capability of doing sex work. It would improve my financial situation. Dramatically.
I do not.
I planned and I have worked, and I have struggled, and here I am now, and I am looking at the most ambitious thing I have ever done in my life as it is now. I have done things that were far more difficult. I have done things that involved far more money. I have never been this ambitious.
And part of it stems from the being oh so very tired of being so very, very poor all the time. This work that I do now, this effort I am engaged in, it matters so very much to what I can do about being poor all the time.
Because I need to be independent. I am tired of being dependent on others.
None of whom seem to think I am all that dependent on them, lol.
There are easier ways for me to do this. I have never been particularly fond of the easy way of doing anything. Except setting up blogs. Those I really like the easy way.
But so long as there are those who are trans that are struggling even harder than I am, I cannot justify doing things the easy way.
I have tied my success to the community. I have tied my hopes to it, my dreams to it, my future to it.
I am invested in a positive outcome. I have written a check that, one way or another, my body is going to cash.
Today I was supposed to ask others for money.
But today I want nothing to do with others.
Tomorrow I likely will, once again. Today I want to sleep.
Today I want to be with my sister, as my niece is being born.
Today I want to go shopping.
It is a fine line between today, and tomorrow.
between now, and later.
And I will keep walking it for now.
Even if I’d much rather be in Belize again…