Space, Time, Money

There is seldom any controversy in my household, since I live alone, with three cats for companions. But this is why, when there are disagreements with others in my life – even disagreements that live entirely in my head, never seeing the light of day – my tiny apartment becomes integral to my need for refuge and respite. In the same way, though, living in such a small space provides its own challenges. For someone who likes to share so much of herself in writing, in person I guard my space jealously. I don’t think clearly without a great deal of alone time. It’s hard to work out your problems when other people are on top of you, all day, every day. At this point in my life, I find it hard to believe that I’d ever be able to share my personal living space with another human being again (at least, any living space possible on my current meagre budget…maybe if I had a mansion, or at least two big apartments, side by side).

These were the thoughts taken into account last week, when I asked the boyfriend to give me some space. Not “we’re breaking up” space, or “stay out of my business” space, just literal SPACE. The ability to come home to my apartment in the evening, tired from work, without finding another human already here, watching TV, when I need silence and a hot shower to recover from my day. The knowledge that when I fall asleep at night, I can angle my body across the bed, and the only thing that might wake me up is a cat walking across my face (This is Isabel, every time. The cat has no shame.). An understanding that I can wake up at 7am and turn on every light in the house, even bang the pots and pans if I feel the need, no keeping my noises in check to avoid upsetting anyone. The ability to make every single choice in my space for myself, with no internal checks to make sure I wouldn’t be hurting/disappointing/irritating/in any way affecting another human being. Not feeling judged or inadequate about anything I choose to do, from cooking to reading romance novels to letting the floor go without vacuuming for way too long. Just living life on my terms, and getting to forego the exhaustion of constantly weighing my actions against the needs of others, even in a space that should be 100% my own, and free of judgment (but is not, of course, because I’m still in it).

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my finances. My freelancing job has dried up. I was having a hard time working 8 to 10 hours a day at my hotel job, a trip to the gym, a walk home, then fitting in freelance work on top of all that, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t need the extra income. Munky’s illness over Mardi Gras ensured that I started out March $500 in the hole, and I had an unexpected bill come in yesterday, as well. To be honest, adopting Charlie last summer was the first step in creating my current budget woes – all those checkups and shots and getting fixed, plus the little sprained leg when he first came my way. I love all of these cats, but they’ve really pushed me. Let’s not even consider what will happen as Isabel gets older. But it’s not all their fault. My biggest spending area has always been eating. Let’s not sugarcoat it. I have an addiction, and I keep it fed and fat and sassy. It has to stop. I’ve spent the last couple of days working and reworking my budget, trying to figure out how to make things work right now. I had a nightmare last night that the landlord raised my rent by $50, which in reality is the only padding I have at the end of each month. I woke up in a cold sweat.

On Monday I’ll talk to my manager about picking up some front desk shifts, even though I don’t know if I have the stamina for a full week of my regular job (which also regularly includes some overtime hours) plus 16 to 24 more hours standing at the front desk, smiling at all of those people overwrought from countless hours of travel, needy in ways I’ve yet to intuit, demanding a level of coddling that goes above and beyond everything I’ve previously known about hospitality. And this is assuming he can fit me in there; I don’t know if there are even any shift possibilities.

I don’t have the option of quitting my job to find something that pays better. For the first time in years, I really enjoy what I do. And I love working for Marriott; it’s a great company. All I need to do is hang in there, and eventually raises and promotions will come, and I’ll be fine. Just have to find a way to survive in the meantime.

In a weird way, this is going to be very good for me. It will help with the compulsive eating, as it’s hard to binge eat when you don’t have the money for food. I can make my budget stretch – eggs for the morning (free bacon at work), a crockpot of curry for my lunches, salads for dinner. I’m not sure how I’ll pay the donation at my Refuge Recovery meeting tomorrow night, but I might scrounge up change in the couch cushions and just explain I’m in a tight spot. My biggest worry in this particular moment is that I started getting a cold a few days ago, and at first it felt like nothing, but today I woke up with chest congestion and a deep, rattling cough and what seems to be a sinus headache. I’ve resolved to walk to the Dollar General at the end of the Bywater to see if they have any discounted medicine in the sale aisle. I also need to pick up some eggs, diced tomatoes, and coconut milk for the curry. I seem to remember that their canned good prices are pretty cheap. Much more of a savings than the food co-op, that’s a guarantee. Nothing organic, and probably everything low quality, but such is life.

In other news, it’s Day 18 of the social media detox, and I’m not going back to Facebook. It’s weirdly both an anxiety-machine and an anesthetic. I’ve gotten more reading done in the last three months than in all of last year, and my anxiety levels are significantly diminished. I’m talking to less people on a daily basis, without Facebook to encourage some conversations, but when I do talk to people, there is purpose and fullness. It is real.

I’ve also had some great one-on-one interactions with friends in the last week; it gives me hope for perhaps having a life in the future. I re-joined Meetup.com, and found two groups of outdoor enthusiasts who hike and camp, go birdwatching, etc. in Louisiana. I don’t have the money to participate much at the moment (still missing some basic equipment for backpacking trips), but it makes me excited to think that I could start shaping my life to include more of my interests, and finding friends who enjoy the same things I do. Maybe I wouldn’t have to try so hard or worry so much about fitting in. Which is really a funny statement to write, because my solution to worrying about fitting in has always been to just forgo it, entirely. Anyway, that’s a thought for another blog post.

One of my girlfriends told me the other day that she’s planning to sell her condo and buy a house, preferably a double shotgun so she can rent out the other side. She told me that I was the first person who popped into her head, and she wanted me to be her tenant if she finds a place that she can afford to buy and I can afford to rent. I told her where I am right now, budget-wise, and that I’m happy to pay with additional elbow grease as she gets the house fixed up. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now, and I think we’d work really well together in a landlord/renter situation, sharing two sides of the same house. So I’m excited about that, even though it’s probably months away. Now to just cross my fingers that my rent here doesn’t go up $50 in the meantime…

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