Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have trouble figuring out if I am rich or poor. Oh, I know I'm rich in the sense that I have my health, my two beautiful children, a job I like, a spouse who has finally, finally learned after 15 years of being together to never ask me if I'm PMS-ing no matter how crabby I am, and a metabolism that lets me eat Nutella straight from the jar.

That's all great, but I'm talking about the REAL way of being rich. You know: money. Which is on my mind at the moment, because David's job is in transition -- in the sense that he might transition to not getting paychecks. The bad news is that this would blow a big hole in our family budget. The good news is that if we need money, we can always pawn the cats. They're worth millions.

Actually, I think David and I are the only two people left who have regular old "jobs." Everybody else seems to be "leveraging synergies" or "aligning and streamlining competitiveness in the global economy." The other day I saw a reference to someone's job that involved "convening thought leaders around the state to strategically recognize the important of cluster industries." I don't even know what cluster industries are. Or wait -- is that a reference to companies that make those chocolate covered peanut clusters? Because I would totally strategically recognize those, and I wouldn't even have to be convened.

If David loses his job, perhaps he can
join the priesthood and support us
that way. All those years of Catholic
school ought to count for something
David may be moving to freelance work, which means we will have to get health insurance through my job instead of his. The good news is that the health insurance at my place of work is excellent, but the bad news is that our premium costs will be an arm and a leg -- more than $10K a year. The trade-off for the high premium costs is that we will pay virtually nothing out of pocket for medical care, which will be helpful when we have to sell a kidney to be able to afford the coverage.

So all those things make me feel poor. Plus the fact that we do not have a big screen television. Granted, in Madison, that might not be all that out of the ordinary, but in normal society we would have a mob at our door with flaming pitchforks if word leaked out. Actually, for years we didn't have a television at all, until one day David told me that he had made an unscheduled stop at Best Buy and had something out in the car that I wouldn't like, something that began with the letter "t" and ended with the letter "v." Do you know how long it took me to figure out what that was? All I could think of was that he had Tel Aviv out in the car.

See the tiny screen this child is
watching? If the parents loved this
child, she'd be watching a much
bigger screen.
We have refused to supersize our television, although to be honest the cost is not really the deciding factor. It's just that if I must be subject to idiocy that is normally shown in television, I prefer to view it on as small a screen as possible. And yes, that goes for Packer games too. (Uh oh. Now I've really pissed off the mob.)

The irony is through feeling poor, we've managed to do pretty well over the years. We own both our cars, don't have any credit card debt, and are within striking distance of paying off the house. (Of course, the cats are mortgaged to the hilt, but we have an excellent rate on our feline equity loan.) We live within our means, which seems to be a rare skill these days.

Even with all this talk of money, I know that money can't replace happiness, a loving family, or a deep sense of satisfaction with how my life has turned out. On the other hand, money can buy Nutella. I'm calling it a wash.

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