Penniless and Perfect

i'm waiting for butter to come up to room temperature. this is what happens when i decide to make an impromptu chocolate chip cookie cake as a surprise for my bf. i have to do all kinds of things like set the butter in front of a hot air duct or holding it in my hands to gradually take the freezer chill off. the good news is, i have time for a quick blog which is probably a good thing because i've got something to talk about that's got nothing to do with food.

what stuff do you hate in your life? maybe hate is too strong of a word - what things do you wish you could leave behind forever?

i'd like to leave behind any obligations that require money - car payments, rent, insurance, cell phone, clothes, entertainment, etc. i'm not saying it's possible because how could anyone live without a car or a cell phone or clothes? and who wants to give up movies, tv, electronic gadgets, and internet?

but sometimes i imagine a world without any of that stuff. all i really need for life is food, water, shelter, and of course love. i would grow my own food, build my own shelter, and care for those close to me. and with those basics, i would be as happy as i am today - maybe even more happy because i wouldn't have to worry about money or any of the complications it brings. in fact, i'd be free to concentrate on building relationships without the distraction of internet, tv, radio, and billboards.

i guess there might be some stuff i'd regret leaving behind. no more long-distance traveling (no car), no more remote relationships (no phone), no more popping pills to bring down blood pressure and lower cholesterol from too many processed foods and transfats, no more tap water (no more chemical treatment plants to remove all the garbage dumped into the water supply), and i'd be busy from dawn to dusk tending crops, repairing shelters, and gathering firewood.

but then, what's so bad about any of that? maybe i'd die at 50 from exhaustion and lack of medical care, but then maybe i'd be healthier because i'd be eating food directly from nature and actively exercising most hours of the day. maybe i'd die from an infected cut or a batch of botulism. but i'd rather be dead after 30 years than worry about money for 100.

i don't really have a choice - none of us individually do. money is a big deal and it drives and defines our lives. today, even if you wanted to abandon money, you'd need money to do it. where can you live? where can you grow food? where can you build a shelter? without money, you can't even get back to the basics.

so why am i babbling on about money and talking like some kind of antiestablishment nutjob?

my bf just got offered a job in a field he really enjoys but at a significant pay cut. but i want him to take the job. to hell with finances, to hell with money, to hell with "more money = better life". we both feel trapped by obligations and commitments that require money - mortgage, car payments, insurance, health care premiums, cable bill, etc. but what's the point of living a life bound to money? that's not a life i'm willing to accept. it's not a life anyone should accept.

so in the end, my bf is going to take the job (if he decides it's what he really wants), even if i have to force him to make the call. in the end, i'd rather have less money, less conveniences, and a clunker car than be controlled by money or let money dictate life choices. i'm not being a martyr and not being dramatic. just saying - wouldn't life be amazing without money?


  1. Hear hear!

    Look, I like a lot of the things money can buy. I like my car, I like to eat out, I like the internet, I like good beer.

    But I also don't mind that my car is 11 years old. I don't mind that though I eat out, I don't go shopping unless I absolutely have to (fuckin jeans wearing out and shit ...). I don't mind not having cable (in fact, I prefer it). I don't mind having used furniture, used dishes, used t-shirts as trade-offs.

    It's a form of privilege to be able to talk about taking a pay cut at all, and we should remember that; some people work jobs much worse than anything you or I or your bf of my husband have ever worked because they absolutely HAVE to, or their families will literally go hungry. I think it's important to remember that -- some people don't have the option of a pay cut, to make themselves happy or for any other reason. I'd like to live in a society that would never allow that situation to exist for any of its citizens (and I'd be willing to pay and to sacrifice to see it happen). But until that day comes, I think it's important to remember as we talk about these things that some people don't have the luxury of talking about these things.

    BUT, that having been said, it's absolutely true that money is not as important as most people believe. IF you have a roof over your head, IF you have healthy food to eat, IF you have a basic level of comfort: warm house, soft bed, dry socks, kitty litter, and enough place settings to have friends over ... then that should be enough. And if you want a little extra luxury -- a weekend trip, an antique gravy boat, a good bottle of wine -- that's up to you, that's your balance of priorities to work out. But nothing's worth your unhappiness. No amount of unnecessary THINGS is worth sacrificing your happiness -- and, ergo, the happiness of your family -- for.

    It so happens that earlier today, someone I know on FB posted that they had decided to leave their job; the money was good, they were nervous about losing their benefits, but they just weren't happy, and they'd finally decided it wasn't worth it. They said they wanted to do something that made them happy, something that they thought actually mattered to the world. I totally congratulated them.

    Imagine if everyone refused to work unless they thought the work was important, and doing it made them happy? The world would be a much different, and I think much better, place.

  2. cheers for your very last paragraph - agree completely. actually, i agree w/ pretty much everything in your comment, just have to point out that while the idyllic world where money has no place and everyone has what they need may NEVER come to fruition, i think we have to recognize the possibility of of a different reality in order to ever attain or work towards that reality.

    in my idyllic reality, strong, mostly self-sufficient communities would provide for those physically or mentally unable to care for themselves. and the members of these communities would be responsible, self-controlled humans focused on the greater good instead of personal gain or gratification. and putting it that sounds a lot like a community living out of idyllic love instead of an obsession with money or more, more, more.

    i know i'm privileged and having the time to imagine an idyllic world is just yet another manifestation of that privilege - but i'd give up all that privilege right now for that idyllic reality. to hell w/ pay cuts - take it all away! give me a plot of land, give me a strong loving community, give me real work and i'll never ask for another ipod, v6 engine, or abercrombie fleece.

    wow, that got me passionate. now what to do with all that passion...

  3. I would settle for an economic reordering around the local. I mean, look, is Pittsburgh going to have its own iPod factory? No. Does that necessarily make shipping iPods into Pittsburgh from somewhere else bad? No, because many things just cannot, because of resources and climate and number of available workers, be made here. BUT. What about clothes? Why isn't there a shop where people weave cloth, make designs, cut and sex cloth, and sell clothing? And I don't mean like, high-end hipster fashion, I just mean like, pants. Shirts. Why aren't there places like this in every town in America? Why aren't there carpenters in Pittsburgh making Pittsburghers chairs, cabinets, tables, window frames, spoons ... and carpenters in Morgantown making such things for Morgantowners, and carpenters in Ithaca making such things for ... Itha ... cites? Ithacaners? Anyway. Why isn't most of my food from the surrounding area? Can Pittsburgh grown avocados? No. I'll ship in an avocado. But no one in America should ever have to buy a potato, tomato, bunch of kale, carrot, or any other vegetable that grows well at all of this country's latitudes that comes from farther than 20 miles away. It doesn't make sense! Instead of centralizing and mechanizing the production of necessities, if every community large enough to -- and that would be most -- was growing its own food and making its own necessities and even many of its own luxuries, EVERYONE could have real, satisfying work, and it WOULDN'T cost more, because one, shipping would be nill, and two, everyone would be earning more because they had REAL JOBS, not some Wal-mart bullshit. And then larger communities would also have the workforce to also specialize in and produce some things that can't be made everywhere -- medicine, avocados, iPods. We don't have to return to the pre-industrial era -- I'd be bad at that -- but WHY don't we set up our own local economies to support most of our needs and wants? There are 350,000 people in Pittsburgh, about a million in the county total, and that is plenty of people to support a million people in almost all the goods they need that can conceivably be produced here.

    Shit, we've got Google, maybe we could make our own iPods, too.


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