reminder of what I have

2007 has been a disappointing year for me, for various reasons beyond my control. A year of rejections, failures, unexpected expenses and medical dramas. I’m calling it, in my mind, a year of learning experiences and character strengthening.

The one thing I have been able to control is my own body–namely, how much I eat and how much I exercise. (And I know that’s the seed of anorexia: focusing on controlling your own body when you feel powerless to control anything else. But don’t worry; I’m very, very far from that.) So I’ve failed at increasing my income this year, but I succeeded at decreasing my weight.

So I need new clothes. And I’m broke. And I have a whole wardrobe of clothing that doesn’t fit me anymore. So I thought I’d have a garage sale. But I couldn’t, because my neighborhood association won’t let us. And no one else I knew could get it together to have one… and selling clothes on eBay or Craigslist is too much work for too little money… But I was hoarding these bags of too-big clothes, thinking I’d sell them one way or another and then use the money to buy new clothes.

And then, the other day, my friend Letty, who works for the local women’s shelter, called me up. I was walking around the clearance dress racks at Macy’s when she called, in fact. She said, “Do you still have those clothes that are too big for you?”

I said yes. She said, “Would you consider donating them to the shelter? They just called me and said they desperately need clothes in that size.”

I said uh, yeah, I guess, maybe. She said, “You don’t have to give them all of it. They just really need work clothes and underwear.”

I said, “Underwear? Y’all take underwear? I was just gonna throw mine away. I never donate underwear because that’s kind of weird, you know? I mean, who wants old underwear?”

She said, “Well, sometimes women who come to the shelter have just been raped. So their underwear gets cut off of them when they’re being examined. And, you know, we have clothes to give them, but we don’t always have underwear–especially in the bigger sizes. So, you know, they just come to us…”

And I said okay, and I went home and got all the clothes together. And I went through my underwear drawer and pulled out the stuff that was fit to give away, and I tried not to think about how horrible it would be to have your underwear cut off, and then to move to a new place, full of strangers, with borrowed clothes and no underwear on your body. Or to try to start a new life with nothing but borrowed clothes, or literally no clothes at all. Not a wardrobe full of things that are a little too big, not a closet full of things you’re a little bit tired of, but literally nothing.

Houston Area Women’s Shelter needs larger sized work clothing and underwear, y’all. Especially sizes 20 and up. And winter coats. And toilettries. And diapers. And everything, all this stuff we take for granted.

winter storage

I gave Letty the clothes and then we had lunch, and we talked about a lot of stuff. I’ve known Letty since Kindergarten, and we don’t have lunch as often as we should, but when we do, we always end up discussing massive things. Because we are massive-issue-discussing friends. Which is good. It unblocks our minds.

One of the things we talked about was fear of poverty versus the ennui of middle class existence. Most people educated in America know of middle class ennui, because we read about it. It’s like, the prevailing experience of our literary canon, right? So I knew about it, but I didn’t really understand it until I became middle class.

I just bought a house, and Letty’s agonizing over whether or not to buy a house, and we both see now what it is–a huge financial commitment to a lifestyle you’re not sure you want to live for the life of your mortgage. And, if you fail (foreclose), then you aren’t just a failure–you’re a failure with worthless credit. Marked for life.

And Letty’s been wanting to go to grad school, but says she’s afraid to be broke. AKA poor. (I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this. Letty, tell me if you mind and I’ll delete.)

Assuming everyone reading this has a little money, and therefore access to a computer and time to read this entry: Did you grow up poor? If so, then you know what it means to be afraid of returning to poverty. Did you grow up rich or middle class? If so, know that all your friends who grew up poor and scratched their way up are secretly, desperately afraid to turn poor again.

So I understood what Letty was saying, on the house count and on the grad school count. And I told her that, even though having a house makes me completely broke (AKA land-poor), I don’t mind because this time, I’m controlling my poverty. This time, I look at my budget and make conscious decisions. There’s no shame in being broke–in eating ramen noodles, buying thrift store clothes–if I’ve made the decision to do so in order to hold on to my house. And, if I decide to sell my house and go back to renting, it’ll be a slight failure, but again, something I controlled.

So… yeah.

It’s winter now in Houston, finally. And it’s the holidays. That means that, all over town, people who grew up poor are experiencing PTSD, and coping with it in various ways. Turning the heat up high. Not turning the heat up at all. Spending lots of money at the mall. Not spending money at all. Clinging to family. Avoiding family. Reliving old habits and trying to make sense of them. Creating new habits and trying to move on.

I turned up our heat a little today, because I think it’s worth paying to be warm. I’ve been taking things out of storage–things people gave me that were kind of a pain to store all summer when we lived in an apartment. Tea pot. Coffee press. Warm slippers. Sweaters and coats.

And you know what? I’m glad I have these things, and people who love me enough to give them. And I’m especially glad that I have this little snail-shell house. Meaning it’s heavy on my back, but it holds all the things that we need. In all senses of those words.

DJ Drama

Last night we went to local club Rich’s to see Felix da Housecat. Because he always puts on a good show, and Rich’s is our favorite venue. And, guess what? Felix wasn’t there. There was a hand-written sign on the register saying he was in the hospital, and that cover would be free, and that our pre-purchased tickets would be good for when Felix rescheduled.

I hope he isn’t really hospital-worthy sick. I hope he just felt like flaking. But if he’s really sick, I hope he gets well soon.

The opening act DJs did their best to make it up to us. They did a pretty good job.

After Rich’s, we went to South Beach. South Beach is one of Houston’s premier gay clubs. The reason we go there is JD Arnold. JD Arnold is, pretty much, Houston’s best DJ. He used to work at Rich’s for years and years and years. Then he went to South Beach (which is, incidentally, the phoenix risen from the literal ashes of hate-crime-ruined Heaven, as some of you will remember).

And then, JD Arnold left South Beach, apparently. Recently, I think. Because he was there last time we went, several months ago, and now he’s not.

“What happened to JD Arnold?” I asked the door guys.

“Who?” they said. “Who is that?

“Hey, what happened to JD Arnold?” I asked a bartender who was running around.

Who?” he said, just like the caterpillar with the hookah in Alice in Wonderland.

A bunch of employees gathered together, then, and complained about some customer hitting on or failing to hit upon one of their number. I was kind of tipsy, so I said it again. “Hey, you guys, what happened to JD Arnold?”

They looked at each other, made faces, rolled eyes, and said in a haughty chorus, “Who?

Then I got it. “Y’all are mad at him, aren’t you? Y’all are, like, never saying his name in this club again?” They lifted eyebrows and scattered like feathers on the wind.

I still don’t know what happened. South Beach hasn’t updated their web site, either.

Last month we went to see DJ Sasha at Bar Rio. I know none of y’all listen to the music I listen to, and y’all probably just mentally blip over my long descriptions of the DJ shows. But, if you’ve read this far, know that in my fantasies of a post-lottery-winning wedding, I’m wearing a fuchsia silk cheongsam with embroidered peonies, and Sasha is DJing our reception. Got me?

A man called Spooky opened up that night, and he did very well. He’s an older guy, looks like an extra on a Lord of the Rings set, in t-shirt and jeans. Not ranking on his looks at all–just saying he didn’t look like you might expect a DJ to look. But he played like a mofo, so we loved him with all our hearts, right at that moment.

Then Sasha came out, and I was so, so excited, and I was right up there in the front where I could breathe his air…

… and he played this set that he later described as minimalist (in response to complaints, I think), but which I would describe as easy-listening techno. And I was sad, and disappointed. And I respect that he wants to try new stuff, and that he may be chilling out as he gets older, but, dude…
don’t come to a dance club and play undanceable music.

Now I’m thinking JD Arnold will have to play at my wedding. If anyone can find him. If he hasn’t been run out of Houston by the local velvet mafia, I mean.

crafting, baby

I painted a bunch of paintings–commercial interior dec stuff like they teach you to do on Trading Spaces–and they came out nice, and I’m happy. And it felt good to make stuff off the top of my head, with no pressure.

Try some crafting today. Start a holiday tradition. Put your dinette set in storage and make your family a crafting room. Let the cat help by stepping all over your drying canvases. (Because, of course, mine did. Thanks, Starbuck!)

Okay, that’s all. More later. Thanks for listening.

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Posted in Christmas, domestic, fantasies, Houston, Letty, psychobabble, vanity, venting on 11/24/2007 09:35 pm

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