Wah wah wah, the economy is bad…

Cry me a damn river.

Did it ever occur to you that your house was NEVER worth that much, and that the economic market three years ago simply PRETENDED it was?

Yeah, that’s the reason I never understood economics. I thought it was just that I was an idiot, but it turns out that everyone else who has blind faith in the infinite expansion of value are the real idiots. You’re the ones buying and spending pretend value–I’m just sitting on the sideline wondering how and why.

I’m poor. I have no assets. And you know what?

A very dark side of me is laughing my ass off.

“You’ll feel it soon enough…” is what people have been telling me, but honestly–I make 30% less than I did a year ago, and I’m feeling great.

I’m sorry you lost your mid-level management job and you live in a house that you paid 250% too much for. I’m sorry you can’t afford your massive new vehicle that you don’t need. I’m sorry you can’t afford the fucking gas to feed it.

I’m sorry you’re too proud to get a job shoveling shit. I’m not. Now if only trust funds would take a dive, maybe your sniveling children would learn something from this whole crisis as well.

Am I coming off as bitter? I’m
not at all bitter–I’m not the one mired in debt, after all. Rather, you’re the ones who believed that we could go on pretending that the economy would soar ever skyward. I, on the other hand, have been mumbling warnings for years.

And for all the things we can blame President Bush for–this is NOT one of them. You fools did this to yourselves. This is a punch in the face from reality: no, you are NOT worth as much as you assumed. No, your house is NOT worth as much as you paid. No, your dollar will NOT stretch that far.

Suck it up baby, cause we’re not even near Black Thursday. Not yet, at least…

To spend time and energy the way I learned to spend money

It’s a wonder. In 3 months, I saved $850.
After getting paid about 30% less and paying 20% more rent, I was able to save around $70 a week.

$400 went to back rent and $450 has, so far, gone to saving for my move.

Now how much time could I save if I started writing as efficiently as I spent money in these last three months? I’ve never had as many projects going as now, but I still lull. I can’t keep a streak going.

That’s weakness speaking. That’s laziness, I guess. Like I said, I could apply the same principle of saving money to the principles of writing and prioritizing.

Will kept me doing what I knew was better for me in the long run in terms of money. No fast food. No eating out. A smart person can make the price of one pizza hut order last a slim week when you’re crunched for cash. Small allowances were made. $2 a day discretionary budget.

Then you start saving money. Then you see–despite how meager your savings–progress. It becomes a plant to cultivate. It becomes a game. Save more. Cut the discretionary down from $2 to $1. Then from $1 to nothing. Drink water away from home. That’s ten more dollars a week.

And something else happened too. I started losing weight. I know I’m 6’5″, and 220 doesn’t sound that bad, but it’s around 195 in the right places and 25 in the wrong ones. I have a slim build, so what I ended up with after three years at a desk job and my lazy sedentary habits was about 25 lbs around my mid-section.

$40 is A Chinese take out order and a pizza dinner, or it’s ten days worth of food. Yes, ten days. That’s $120 a month for good, reasonably healthy food. When my budget limited me to fruits, grains, legumes, and an occasional meat entree (a 3 to 8 oz serving once or twice a week), I found I lost 23 pounds in 8 weeks. That’s just under 3 lbs. a week, a little over the recommended maximum rate of healthy weight loss.

But it wasn’t that I wasn’t eating enough. I ate three times a day and ate until I was full. It was that I was finally eating the right thing, and at 24, my metabolism was glad to help me so long as I gave my diet a push in the right direction. On my fruit, grain, legume, and occasional meat diet, I found I slowed my weight loss at about 205, and finally hovered around 200 lbs.

So I learned how to save money, I learned how to eat real food, and I lost the weight I gained as a desk jockey.

Well, I’d say this Jr. Sabbatical is a grand success.

To Die as Rich as Socrates

And for a moment, even the philosophers have that moment of doubt, that recollection–no matter how silly–of the everyman’s worries: Should I be making more money at this point in my life? Is there something special I should have accomplished by this age? Am I perceived as a fool for my wanderings?

To be sure, those doubts still exist. We are still men, and we are still pack creatures. It is in our blood and bones to compare our standings to those of our peers–the ones in our pack that nursed together on the same teets of culture and time.

The doubts of a philosopher doing his job last but for that moment. Under normal circumstances our nomadic tendencies in mind and body don’t allow us to cultivate too much of such nonsense. Money is the simplest of all to bellow a laugh at, many of us having the goal at life’s twilight to “die as rich as Socrates.”

Not such a goal to an everyman, who fears with all his heart the same end as my last prize.

If I come into money, will I spurn it? Of course not, but neither will I attempt to build a private empire which for all concerned is nothing but a sand castle formed with plastic, wood and concrete. I see no use in cultivating such an empire. My empire is, and always has been, what my mind is able to touch. Not control or impose, but touch.

The market school calls me a fool and tells me that such ideas are a quick path to premature mortality, but I disagree. Wealth is anonymous. It is equivalent to fame insomuch as the wealth is held, but rarely does it ever lead to the type of immortality that its keepers had hoped for.

Empires rise and fall, and so too would wealth flow along with the empire that guarantees the wealth’s meaning. Ideas, on the other hand, do not succumb to such charges. Ideas bend without breaking. Ideas change to suit their environment. The only type of wealth with a well cultivated path to immortality is a wealth of ideas. You may pass on money to any of a thousand people and many of them are likely to keep it locked away, more still are likely to lose it without ever having understood the good it can do. Would the same dichotomy of horde and expunge happen with an idea as it would with money? Likely, yes. But less likely.