Monday, November 12, 2012
Demographic of One
In response to comments on my last post, and previous ones as well, let me say that I am never looking for answers or suggestions when I describe the deeper realities of my life. More, I'm using the blog as a vehicle to express to the world what's so for me, how it is, the "this is it" of my life.
More specific to last Saturday's post, please know that I am not isolated, I'm not deeply depressed or sad. I do spend quality time occasionally with various friends and it's frequently at my suggestion. And I'm not fishing for invitations to holiday events. The reality is, I prefer to be alone. One doesn't spend as much time alone as I have in my life without having cultivated a preference for it, for all the reasons you can imagine. But that does not negate the fact that I AM alone in the world, without family or a close-knit circle of friends. And that's just what's so.
I also have limitations on what I'm able to do, insofar as doing things with others goes. And this segues to today's post, my realization that I am a demographic of one.
I live at the poverty level. Actually I think my annual income, which is entirely from Social Security, is about $500 more than the government's stated poverty level. Like that makes a difference. I have come to this place in life with only a tiny amount (read: under $4000) in savings. I won't use any of that money for month to month living expenses because I have NO way to recoup it. It's there for a major emergency -- like work on my car if it needs it, moving expenses if I ever have to move again, vet expenses for BeeGee if something happens to him.
After rent (which includes utilities, and which increases annually), my monthly stipend leaves me $500. That has to cover phone/internet, gas, food (I only get $16 a month in food stamps), semi-annual auto insurance (the cheapest insurance in CA for this good, never-had-an-accident, senior driver who only drives 3500 miles annually is $460 a year), cat food and supplies, computer supplies (printer cartridges and annual virus protection), art supplies (what few things I buy anymore), the occasional art book I purchase, household and personal care supplies. I have nothing left over at the end of the month. Or if I do, it's because I've put off buying things I need until the next month.
I also don't have (and wouldn't, if I could) any of the supposed conveniences of modern living ~ TV, cable or satellite, cellphone, iPad, iPod, et al. The only publication I subscribe to is a Buddhist magazine. I can hardly even afford to rent a movie once in a while, or I won't until the end of my income-month (which is mid- calendar month). I don't have or do anything that is extraneous to basic living.
I live in a tiny 2-room apartment that is under 300 square feet. It also serves as my studio. I have no kitchen table and no bedroom. I eat most meals sitting cross-legged on the couch; my bed is a folding foam mattress that I make up in the living room/front room each night after I've moved the ottoman out of the way.
I have no medical insurance. In 15 months I'll qualify for MediCare. If you're in the States, you know the free MediCare only covers hospitalization. I'm hoping I'll qualify for Medicaid (California's MediCal program) for MediCare Part B, which covers doctor visits etc. But still, and Thank God, I am in excellent health save a few aches and pains, and I almost never go to the doctor, and anyway I go to the community clinic or see the chiropractor...and I never take drugs.
So, about being that demographic ~ personally, I know no one who's situation is like mine. I am unique among everyone I know, both online and in the flesh. Nothing/no one behind me, nothing below me (except for the amorphous and almost non-existent social safety net in this country), little to live on...but also, nothing to speak of required of me these days, which is a blessing.
I don't engage in idle fantasies of travel or money, nor do I have dreams or magical thinking or flights of fancy about all the things I wish/hope life will bestow upon me. Because that's all bullshit. Some of us are destined to get to a place in life where what we have is what we have. And thinking differently isn't going to make anything different.
The only thing to do is embrace reality. Which I do, and which I'm always in the process of doing even more successfully.
So, not only am I a demographic of one, I am also a folk hero in my own life. Living as well as I can given my circumstances, which include certain limitations on the physical plane. I also have gifts for which I am bountifully grateful ~ excellent health, a strong spirit, a liberal, open mind. And everything, intrinsically, for me to be happy. Which I am.
If you'd like to make a "donation" to help this near-starving artist, I've got a great collection of Art Quilts available on my Sales Blog. In return for your "donation," you'll get a unique piece of art.