Life is Expensive
Looking better than usual, with it’s fresh coating of free bark. Free bark laid over free cardboard, because regular weed barrier costs money. How effective the cardboard will be at weed stifling, remains to be seen. I laid it on pretty thick, (as is my way – HA!) to increase its smothering potential.
Ugly Garden has been a labor of love for coming up on a year now. Maybe, you’ve been following along with our journey. Here’s a recap: Her beds are built with free wood, mulched with bartered goat poop, full of plants I raised from seed, because seeds are infinitely cheaper than starts. Our fancy free bark is held in place with borders constructed from a friend’s bricks and wood from torn apart pallets. We fertilize her with vermicompost that we make, rather our worms do. In the future, we will use chicken poop from our compost bins constructed from… you guessed it! More free pallets. Getting the picture here? Lots of free. Lots of cheap.
I’m using Ugly Garden as an illustration. An in-progress-as-we-speak example that life is expensive. All that painstaking cheap and free slowed down our progress considerably and challenged even my wily resourcefulness. Despite all that, we had to spend money. On lumber, wire fencing, top soil, paint, and miscellaneous hardware. All required to bring this garden together. Maybe there was more I could have done to get these things cheap/free. Instead I saved my pennies for a few months to fund those purchases. Then I spent more than my targeted savings account contained, and had to pinch some more pennies.
All this in an effort to be more self sufficient. To lower our grocery bill. To eat locally. To walk the Conscientious Consumerism, I am all to eager to talk. Admirable goals. Choices toward a meaningful life, just like the tagline up there says. It all costs money.
There were layoffs at work this week. They’ve been looming on the horizon for a few months. I’ve been to that rodeo before, and met the whole affair with a nauseous combination of hope and dread. As much as I’d love to do something different, to walk away with another fat severance package, and break free from my Corporate Servitude once and for all, (I mean it this time) it would be a huge change. Another huge change, after years of huge change. I talk a good game, sure. But, in real life, shit costs money. Even shit worth doing, like Ugly Gardens, it’s expensive.
If I struggle now as a well funded serf with a cushy emergency fund to fall back on, how will I do in considerably reduced circumstances? When struggling to do big project like major garden expansion on the cheap is an option, not a necessity. What happens to my somewhat chronic grocery budget overages then? There is a whole ‘nother walk to walk here, if I ever hope to make that once and for all escape.
Are there compromises I am not willing to make? Ideals I can’t let go? Are those ideals worth additional years of soul sucking employment?
Is it the part of the country I live in? Can I ever hope to significantly lower my cost of living in expensive Seattle?
Thus far all my efforts to lower that over head (gardens, cars, refinancing) have either a) resulted in a heap of up front cost (Hi again, Ugly Garden) or b) been eaten up by existing responsibilities (Hola, Vet Bills). That’s not going to change. Cars get crashed. The Husband’s employment ebbs and flows. Drains get clogged. Houses get broken into. And every now and then a girl just wants to buy stuff. Life happens, and I’m going to say it again, life is expensive.
You are probably noting questions here. Not answers. If I think about it rationally, I know I’ve done ‘reduced circumstances‘ before. Less money, same expenses. I hustled my way through it and survived…or something. In actuality, I battled (yes, physically battled) to keep this expensive life afloat. I can look back now and say I survived. I can say we would have even made it. But, would I consciously choose that again? Or if delivered the news that that’s what I’ve got, could I take it in stride? View it as an opportunity? And not the end of the world as we know it.
Am I powerless against my expensive life? At least to some degree? As long as I’ve got too many dogs, and those pesky ideals, should I just embrace my Corporate Overlords? Or does it really matter how much money I make? Could I compensate for less money with more time? Would choosing less money really mean more time? It certainly didn’t before.
Just when I get all eager beaver for a layoff to roll my way, I remind myself that it wouldn’t be all entrepreneurial sunlight. The grass, she’s not greener. There are tons of unanswered questions. Questions I’m not sure I want to answer. Hard Questions. Uncomfortable Questions. Questions I probably haven’t even thought of. Question, which maybe can only be answered if the opportunity arises.
While I seem to have dodged the bullet/missed the golden ticket during this round of Fortune 500 Musical Chairs, I’m still a little insecure in my seat. Too many metaphors there. Last time, I waited for the this to happen to me. This time, I’m answering all the questions I can beforehand. I’m acknowledging my expensive life. Even if I can’t fix it.