I’ve never been cagey about the financial situation here at Casa de Linguini. In a way I’ve been trying to get away from being defined by our bankruptcy and foreclosure because we are so much more than that.
However, unless you’ve got a never-ending fountain of money at your disposal, finances pretty much set the ground rules by which you are required to live. It determines where you live, what you wear and how you spend your spare time; it determines the media to which you have access and, as I’ve come to find out the hard way, it determines how you are treated by total strangers.
This last is a puzzling phenomenon because the entire economic collapse could be summed up by saying that what we were determining as “valuable” was really an illusion, whether it’s a hedge fund manager’s promises of investment returns, Porsche’s assurance that buying their car will make you look successful or Oil of Olay hinting that if you slap on their lotion you’ll get your youth back.
So you’d think we’d know a thing or two about books and their covers, but that would require deeper thought than deciding which media source to go to for our daily dose of stereotyping.
I digress (I’m sure everyone is sick to death of my nattering on about the influence of television).
My point is, I’m very transparent about the fact that our finances are excruciatingly tight. I’m not a stupid person. I am, on occasion, rather witty. I am educated through my own means and well-read. I am honest and strong. I’m a really good mom and have the compassionate, empathetic, hard-working sons to prove it. I’m a fiercely loyal spouse, which I shouldn’t have had to prove.
But I’m still poor as a church mouse.
So I’m not Successful.
No, no. I’m not fishing for validation here…I’m trying to make a point.
I keep reading of financial predictions and the economic goals and all I keep hearing is that we all want to get back to the way it was.
Let me tell you about “back the way it was.” We were very wealthy then, as I recall. But our kids weren’t “done” yet and I required Dirtman to run interference for me whenever we had “contact” with the outside world (there was a two-year period during which I did not answer the phone – ever). Our marriage had faced what most would have considered "challenges," but that were, in fact, the kind of noble sufferings that made us sort of admirable martyrs; certainly nothing embarrassing that would cause our sensibilities to come into question.
Back then, we were considered “successful.” I’m not going to tell you how successful; but – trust me – we were on every non-profit’s direct mailing list.
Do we really want to go back to that measure of success? Cash value? Bernie Madoff was worth quite a bit – was he successful? (Yes, I know. The skeptic in my brain wants to yell back, “Yeah – if he hadn’t gotten caught!”)
I rather hoped all these economic woes would have taught us something about what constitutes success.
And so I repeat: I’m not a stupid person. I am, on occasion, rather witty. I am educated through my own means and well-read. I am honest and strong. I’m a really good mom and have the compassionate, empathetic, hard-working sons to prove it. I’m a fiercely loyal spouse, which I shouldn’t have had to prove.
And – I insist – I am a success.