I write poetry and end in the middle of a line. I write a blog post and end 50 words before I said I would. I write and don’t revise, don’t even check the spelling, this is what 25 and out of school looks like (at least its one example).

In October, I set out to write one poem and one blog post every day. I set out to exercise every day. I have failed already, but I didn’t realize I could fail so much until April. April is kicking my ass. My walking buddy has told me that I need to learn to be okay with failure, but I am strenuously avoiding it. Maybe by the end of the month, I’ll accept that I need to figure this out.

This is all just to say there will be more failure before I’m back on track. I am away at camp next weekend, so I’ll be missing at least one post. I’d originally thought to write one, still, old-school and on paper while away, but I’ve given up that dream a week in advance. Right now, I’m just hoping to get a moment to myself while I’m away, and to get my head back in the game before I go. I’m also trying to let go of failing my morning pages at camp (chances of waking up before my campers? Unlikely).

It’s the middle of the night (for me) here and I’m thinking about next week. I’m not in the moment, and I don’t have the words to express what is in-the-moment-happening, which is nothing really, because nothing really happens at eleven o’clock at night. I haven’t made my word count. I haven’t made a point. Strangers on the internet can see this. I think I’ll end here.

I set out today with the intention of balancing my accounts. I figured if I did it more often, I wouldn’t be so off base (~30-40 dollars) at the end of each month. But I didn’t really get that far. Instead, I got far enough to know that I spent not-quite twice what I’ve earned so far this month. The usual suspects are involved: a carried over car payment, health and car insurance being wonky, rent, etc. People often say to watch out for the “latte” factor, but it isn’t the occasional cup of tea for $2.50 that’s really killing me. It’s the stuff I can’t get by without—insurance, rent. And I’m not saying that I don’t want those things (after tonight’s practice, I’m definitely glad to have insurance even if I don’t need to use it) but I am saying that those are the things that will push me into the red this month—not lattes, not even my last outrageous grocery bender.

And it is times like these when I wonder, doubt even, about my usual anti-consumerist screeds. I don’t really believe that my consumption is the problem here (though realistically I didn’t need both bottles of wine, if we want to get technical). The real problem is that I work part-time for low pay. So maybe what I need to do (instead of beating myself up over lattes) is remember the real enemy: low wages, and focus my energy on fixing that problem instead.

The thing about job-hunting is that it is like a second job (maybe a part time job) on top of your regular money-making job. So it is really hard to come home from a day of working and find the energy to keep working.

So I remind myself that changing the status quo is difficult. It is sometimes painful. It is definitely less pleasant than watching Game of Thrones or reading a book or any of the other things I would rather be doing with my time. And I remind myself that the first unionists went through much worse to organize. (Yes, I liken my struggle to find satisfying work with that of Eugene Debs’ mission to develop decent working conditions. I am sure if he was alive he would have nothing objectionable to say about this). And when I really have nothing else, I remind myself of what the Lorax would say. “Unless people like you care a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” True for the trees, true for my life, Lorax.

I hold out hope that one day I’ll be in a position where I’m content, happy with what’s happening and life can continue on its merry way without cover letters or resumes. Nothing so far has indicated that this is the case, so I suppose it is good to keep my skills in good practice.

I went to the grocery store across the street yesterday for a bottle of wine (which is also the reason I didn’t post blog or a poem yesterday) and ended up buying two bottles of wine, a six-pack of beer, vegetables for a salad, potatoes, crackers, rice cakes, two kinds of cheese, peanut butter, strawberries, and dried cranberries. It ended up being one of the more expensive grocery trips I’ve made in a long time and I went with no plan, no intention of how each ingredient would be used fully. Nope. Just a hunger or rather a thirst.

Ideally, frugal grocery shopping is well planned. Amy Dacyzn wrote about her price book, a system Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin recommend as well. Most frugal gurus do. I don’t have a price book. It seems like a PIA. I know which grocery store is the cheapest (it was not the one I went to yesterday) so that’s where I usually shop. If there is a particularly good deal, I’ll stock up, but I don’t clip coupons and I don’t really watch the prices too closely (especially when hungry/thirsty). I buy the staples that we always use, and usually manage to avoid everything else. It works, more or less, except for the random splurge here or there. Right now, it’s here.

Bonus pro-tip: when you set out to write a blog, have some more ideas so that you don’t end up just writing about your most recent grocery trip. That is really, really boring. Unfortunately, I did not learn this lesson before I set out on this already-failed quest to write something about money every day for a year, so here I am, writing about groceries. And here you are: suffering through it with me.

This whole “learning how to be happy/suck at things” has me feeling a little bit vulnerable. So I’ve been trying to be gentle with myself, while still not going crazy in the spending department (wouldn’t want to add financially vulnerable on top of everything else). A lot of times, I’ve seen advice about taking care of yourself that falls a little bit out of my price range right now. Like massages. I love massages. They’re not something I’m going to pay for right now. So I’ve been trying to take care of myself while still taking care of my wallet. These are just some suggestions that I’ve tried the last couple of days.

• The beach. I guess this is only inexpensive if you live on a coast, but I think you can safely substitute “outdoors” for “beach” in this instance. It’s nice to be outside in the sunshine (vitamin D for the win), and it feels extra nice if you go during your usual business hours. Cost: gas
• Good Snacks. I’ve been on a “rice cakes with pb and banana” kick lately. I’m out right now, but I’ll probably pick up more tomorrow. Other good snacks (for me) include Trader Joe’s horseradish/cheddar chips. Chips with guac. Good smoothies (I’ve had a couple of those lately too).
• Rest. Obviously eight hours of sleep will help, but it can also help just to hang out and rest. Don’t do anything. Just sit on the couch. Maybe read (that is a big maybe). Listen to music. That’s it. Take it easy.

I go back to work tomorrow (horrible, I know) but I’m going to try to keep up this gentleness regime. I still haven’t figured out how to suck at things, but being nice to myself should be good practice when I finally get around to that part (like next year or never).

There are days, today was one of them, when life seems absolutely perfect. My day began with poetry, the workshop I take met this morning, warmed up our brains. A quick lunch (goat cheese, crackers, grapes) and I carried on with more poetry before switching to job applications. I didn’t intend to, but after awhile the poem I was working on slowed down, and I found myself on a job website looking at postings. It didn’t feel like a chore, just something I was interested in at the time.

I think I could be content like this (I can imagine it anyway, not sure if it would play out well on a regular basis) with a little talking in the morning, then a little writing, a tiny bit of something responsible mid-afternoon, and then a walk with my friend. I forgot about trying to “be an adult” today. I didn’t worry too much about impressing someone, even as I was writing a cover letter. I felt easy and relaxed, not pressured to find an answer right away.

Tomorrow is set up to be similar. A little writing in the morning, then maybe a trip to the beach. I’d like to see the ocean, maybe get a little bit of sun. It’s a good way of being, this present-in-the-moment thing. I don’t expect it to last forever (maybe not even the rest of the night), but I’ll try to enjoy it while I have it. Maybe this way when everything seems high pressure and stressful later, I’ll have something to fall back on this way—the memory of a good class, a good walk, a day at the beach. Maybe this is what Julia Cameron means when she talks about filling the well.

I went for a walk with a friend this afternoon, and we talked a little bit about the Brené Brown book I read recently, The Gifts of Imperfection. She suggested that maybe on my quest for happiness, I might need to become okay with not being good at everything. In fact, I might need to embrace suckiness and occasional loserdom. In this way, I might figure out what I actually care about, as opposed to just caring about being good at everything.

So I’ve thought about it. And I am okay with not being good at golf and bowling.

Obviously, this idea requires a little more percolation.

There are a lot of negatives in this next sentence so bear with me: I am not okay with being a bad girlfriend, a bad daughter, a bad sister. I am not okay with being bad at roller derby. I don’t have to be the best; I just have to get an ‘A’ (eventually). I am not really okay with being an unsuccessful writer, though maybe for now I can live with it. I am not okay with being bad at things I am paid to do. Honestly, everything after Fam gets a little iffy.

What this tells me is that I don’t know myself very well. What I want. What I don’t care about. It’s not a perfect question, but it tells me that I need to know a little bit more, something that the lists and goals aren’t telling me.

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