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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Randomness...

  • The first few days of my new job were beyond quiet, but I got my "trial by fire" day yesterday!  It was a super busy, weird day that I had to get through blindly, but I survived!!!  Totally diggin' the fact that the head MD thinks I "rock", too. :D
  • Speaking of work, I still can't get over the fact that I have a job!!!!!!!!!!!!!  *does a Snoopy happy dance*
  • Overheard on light rail this morning: "Kid, I'm not gay, but if I was... if I WAS!  You wouldn't be able to run away.  Mm, mm, mm."  (And a Happy New Year to you, too?)
  • Seriously in love with my two "big" Christmas presents from me mum: a gorgeous antique amethyst cross and this super-swank zebra-print overnighter w/red accents.  All my presents were pretty awesome, but these two were beyond amazing!  As is my mama.  :)
  • Can't believe this year - and this decade - is almost over.  Most of it was absolute shit, but there were some pretty awesome moments in it, too.  I'll look back at both fondly, knowing the awesome bits were awesome and the crappy bits made me stronger. 
  • So it looks like I may be spending NYE alone, which is completely unfun!  New Year's Eve is one of my 3 favorite holidays (Halloween & my birthday being the other two), and I need to get out and flip the bird to 2010!!!  But if I can't, I have an even better, more economical plan for my New Year's Eve: a complete top-to-bottom cleaning/purging of my apartment.  I did that several years ago and woke up the next day feeling completely renewed & refreshed, which is something I really need to feel.  Yeah... I think that might not be a bad plan if I can't go out & play.  Only this year, I'm adding champagne.  ;)
  • Amazing how something like having a job can make such a difference in one's life.  I know I keep going back to this, but I just can't help it.  My negative stress level is decreasing exponentially, so much so that this pair of jeans is now officially falling off my hips and I'll be able to jump into the next size down very soon.  Am I the only person on Earth who loses weight when she's not stressed? 
  • I have a funny feeling that 2011 might rock.  I'll be kicking it off with Interpol and enjoying more IFBC in the summer.  Not much else planned so far except for the book writing, but that's sure to keep me busy, too!  Definitely looking forward to what this new year brings... they say that odd numbered years are generally more lucky than the evens, so let's see what happens!
Happy New Year, everyone!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Money vs. Morals

Because of the many health issues I had this year, I missed some work during the last few weeks of my last temp job.  And as a temp, when you don't work you don't get paid.  And when you don't get paid, you stress out and continue to get sick.  It's a vicious cycle that I'm sure many folks are dealing with right now, and it's not pretty at all.  I was so desperate for money that I started selling everything else I didn't sell the first time I found myself without a job (and I'm continuing to sell stuff until I'm all caught up on my rent &  utilities).  Things I swore I would never sell because they were gifts or hard-earned tokens of happiness that I'd get for myself when I could afford a more normal life.  I just didn't know another way to get quick money right now.... at least not without compromising my morals and everything I stand for (my Lord, I hate ending sentences w/dangling prepositions...).

Anyway, I have this friend who is sort of like the little devil that sits on one shoulder in older (better than today's) cartoons.  She has made quite a business for herself as a "personal escort" and rakes in quite a ton of cold, hard cash.  She started this last year after getting fired from our old company and is apparently living quite a wonderful life filled with money and tons of material things.  She keeps trying to convince me that this is the way to my financial freedom.  "Kimberly, it will change your life!" she tells me.  "You'll never be broke again.  You'll be able to pay your bills AND go shopping!"  But I always turn her down.  Selling sex for money just isn't in my daily M.O., you know?

Still, I get texts from her regularly, checking in to see if I've changed my mind about running my own "business".  And I must admit, after reading her website and what she charges, the offer is tempting.  Things like $350/hr or $900/2 hrs of "GFE" fun (which I learned through some online searching means "girlfriend experience") stand out to someone like me, who is in danger of being evicted if backed up rent isn't caught up by January.  She goes on lavish, luxurious, international trips; she offers girl-on-girl action for $2K or more for one evening.  She is ROLLING in it because of what she's willing to do.

But at what cost???  Are my morals so easily bought and sold by the lure of ridiculous amounts of easy cash that I won't be able to account for legally when tax-time comes?

NO!!!!!

I'm definitely hurting for money and still very close to becoming homeless, even with the new job (it takes forever to get paid, let alone caught up!), but I just can't lower myself to the levels that have been offered to me.  Sure, I'm trying to sell my mind in different ways by offering blogging gigs, recipe development, etc. in order to make ends meet right now, but that's not my entire person, my womanhood, my integrity.  Some may argue that those things are one in the same, but I do not.  Am I wrong?  Where exactly is the line drawn between providing a service and providing a "service"?  Maybe there isn't a line, and if there is it is most definitely blurred.

I value myself and my body.  I know I need money but I think I have many other things to offer the world than cheap and easy sex.  Sex is everywhere, and a lot of times you can get it for free.  Personally, I've never understood the need to charge for something so readily available and accessible.  My mind, on the other hand, that's another story.  That's something unique and exclusive, the kind of thing whose power you can't find just anywhere.  With my mind and knowledge I help people; with sex, my friend does not.  Sure, she may rake in a ton of cash that way, but for what?  For something anyone can do for free, and without the awful addition of knowing you sold that basest of needs for money.  "I cried the entire time my first night," she told me, "because I just couldn't stand myself."

I won't go into all the psychological and social ramifications that something like this is sure to cause, because they're pretty self-explanatory.  Suffice it to say that someone like me, who suffers from some pretty low self-esteem issues to begin with, would feel even lower than usual if that were my source of income.  I'd also become Captain Paranoia, wondering where exactly one would put all that cash, not to mention when exactly the Feds would come asking for their cut ("Don't you ever worry about getting audited?" I've asked my friend before. "No. I spend it too fast to put it away."  Ack).  If someone like my friend couldn't even stand herself after the first night, I can't begin to imagine what I'd feel like.  Then there are all the other issues, like personal safety, physical safety....... nononono.  I couldn't never do it.  No matter how incredibly desperate I may be.

So now, in my second week at my new job, I think to myself: thank GAWD I have my priorities straight.  Yes, these past couple of months - nay, this whole year has been terribly difficult on me and on a lot of others.  I have a good, steady job with kick-ass benefits now, but I am still struggling and will have to do so for a good two or three months.  You just don't bounce back from this sort of thing just because you get an offer letter in the mail.  I've had to go without more than I'm already used to doing: not just selling my possessions but having to isolate myself away from anything fun with my friends because everything, even a cup of coffee, costs money.  I've been sick with stress and frustration, upset at not being able to move forward in my life; in short, things have really sucked! 

But despite all this, I knew that I was made of something stronger, something that would not take me down a road that I would never want to travel, something that kept me from having to sell myself just to make ends meet.  I'll sell my stuff and I'll sell my knowledge; the stuff I can always replace, and the knowledge just keeps coming with each day I spend on this Earth.  But my pride?  My morals?  My inegrity?  How could I possibly sell those, no matter how shitty finances are?  How, when there are assistance programs for people in dire straits?  How, when offers of shelter have been made to me, in case of eviction (though that's still something I hope to avoid, as that stays on your record 7 whole years...)?  How, when I there are menial jobs, telecommuting gigs, and eBay to get you through those scariest of times? 

I know I don't have human children, another "escort" acquaintance's excuse for "doing whatever it takes".  But my own life and the lives of my feline children are just as valuable in my eyes, and I think that "whatever it takes" can be defined in less..... controversial terms.  I'm not going to judge my friend or those who feel they need to sell sex to make ends meet; everyone's circumstances are different, and they're entitled to make their own choices.  I just know that for me, it's not worth it.  There are better opportunities out there, and though they may take a lot of time & effort to find, it's worth the wait.  And the peace of mind.
Monday, December 13, 2010

The Yard Sale

So I've been MIA from Kimberland for awhile.  Not because I had nothing to say or anything, but because I just found it difficult to say it.  The stress & depression that shrouded me over these past few months because of not having a job or any real income to ensure basic needs like shelter were beyond overwhelming.  And as hard as it was to muster up the good humor to write a relatively non-depressing PGEW post, it was 500x harder to write here.  I would have dragged everyone down.  I would have made it impossible to want to deal with me anymore.

Things are still pretty bad: I can't pay December's rent until the 30th, I'm living on borrowed time with my utility companies, hoping that they don't cut me off anytime soon, and my foot is broken, making maneuvering through life all that harder.  But things are looking up.  Slowly but surely, life seems to be turning around... and for the better, for once.  It's scary and cool all at the same time.  I was finally hired for a full-time, permanent position at an agency I will actually feel happy about contributing to; I am working with a legitimate lit agent in the hopes of getting a book published in the next couple of years; and I finally, for the first time in about a year, feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  It's going to be a long journey toward that light, but I have an end point now, and that feels good.

To make it possible to have things like a light rail pass to get to said job, as well as a phone to receive calls from it, I had a yard sale this past weekend.  Actually, it was a yard/bake sale, since that had worked fairly well for my mom & me this summer.  People love food, especially when they're shopping (hence the food court at the mall), so it only seemed natural to combine the two.  The holiday season gave me a better excuse to tempt my customers with homemade treats, and they were quite well-received.  Always a great thing to experience if you're a cook or baker, like me.

The yard sale itself was a success, too.  Not just because I sold a lot more stuff than I did this summer (much better crowds, only two low-ballers and no unruly children ruining everything), but because I met some really cool people.  See, that's my favorite thing about yard sales: the people.  Sure, you have the aforementioned evil low-ballers, who want diamond rings for a penny and think you're a raging bitch for having the nerve to say "no" to their "negotiations" (I'm looking at you, cheapskate who wanted the nice set of glasses for $1).  But when those people aren't present or, at the very least, kept to a bare minimum at your sale, you're able to encounter the cool folks; the ones who have interesting spirits, great souls, and some of the best conversations to offer anyone (and the hot boys who embody all three of these).  My sale on Saturday was full of all of these amazing people, some of whom showed me kindnesses that I never expected to be so fortunate to receive...
  • My friend, Suzanne, who had just stopped by for moral support, actually ended up setting up most of my sale for me!  Dealing with a broken foot and a migraine made it very difficult for me to maneuver around all the muddy terrain of our front yard.  And those early birds!!!  I barely had one box out and I had like 10 people tossing stuff all over the place.  It was so wonderful to have an extra pair of hands helping to set up all my stuff.  Not to mention how awesome she was about pimping out my baked goods.  :)
  • My neighbor, Monika, and one of her friends whom I'd never even met at that point, graciously donated a ton of stuff for me to sell.  Not for their own profit, but just to help me & my cause (the cause being enough light rail fare to get me to my new job)!  It was incredibly generous of them and those extra goods did end up bringing in some much needed cash.
  • A local PGEW reader & fan decided to stop by to shop & chat, which is always awesome.  I love, love, LOVE meeting my fans, since it gives me a way to put a real face to all the comments I get on the blog.  But not only did Karla buy a few things and keep me company for a bit, she also brought me homemade goodies!  Two loaves of homemade bread (one fresh out of the oven... nom...), some warm fuzzy socks, and a delciously fresh, cucumber-scented soap were my first Christmas gifts of the season, and all because what I do on PGEW seems to resonate with others.  They're thanking me for telling my story; with bread & fuzzy socks, no less!  Just reinforces how much I love doing what I do...
  • One random yard-saler ended up being an awesome conversationalist & cookbook enthusiast who eagerly bought some of my old cookbooks and asked where he could unload some of his (offer still stands to bring 'em here, sir!).  After some chit chat and purchases, he asked if I liked bread.  Why, yes, as a matter of fact, even though I don't eat it that often.  He had me hobble over to his minivan, opened the back door and revealed about five giant bags filled with loaves and loaves of delicious bread!  Apparently, The Bread Store in Downtown Sac literally throws away their day-old breads & pastries (shame, shame, shame), and this fellow collects those day-olds and takes them to different churches and shelters to be distributed to the needy.  Since he had about 70 loaves of bread, he let me have a few (hello, mini sourdough bowls!!!), and without even blinking, I ended up with plenty of the barest bare bones staple of all. 
In the middle of all this awesome giving, I sold, sold and sold some more, finally getting rid of a lot of the stuff my mom & I had brought up from her storage unit to help her pare down her bills.  I couldn't believe that I was able to get rid of so much stuff, and it was by far the best yard sale I've ever put on (and there have been several)!  I was set to get that light rail pass and pay my phone bill.  Score!

But it wasn't all about me that day.  As I watched people peruse the goods and helped them bag up their cookies and liqueur balls, I noticed a guy on a bike passing by every once in awhile.  Back and forth he rode, slowing down to look at the sale, particularly the baked goods.  Towards the end of the day, he finally stopped and asked how much the steam cleaner was.  I had the feeling he wasn't really all that interested in it, but he kept up the pretense of browsing for a bit while I studied him.  Tall and slender, about 50 or so, he looked like he was once a very handsome fellow, before whatever life circumstances had led him to this obviously transient state.  He wasn't dirty or unkempt or anything; he didn't look like a lush or druggie, either.  But he had a large bag of cans & bottles to be taken to the recycling center later, as well as a basket full of books.  And he just looked... sad.  Like the life had been sucked out of him and now he was barely going through the motions of existing.  It made me wonder what could have possibly caused this fellow to end up this way.  Then I mentally kicked myself for such a stupid thing, since I was having a yard sale specifically for the purpose of not ending up there.  Some people don't really understand this, but there are so many people who are just one paycheck away from having to collect cans & bottles for something close to a "living".  And those who have no paychecks have yard sales. 

I noticed he was eyeing the baked goods again, so I sort of tested the waters and asked if anything looked good.  "Ohhh, man...  everything looks good.  But I don't really have any money right now.  Haven't gotten paid yet," he added, patting his large bag of recyclables. 

It was nearing the end of the sale and I'd had a terrific day, much better than I had expected.  I had another tray of cookies cooling on a rack inside, so.....

"How about you take the rest of these for the road?  It'll save me some clean-up and a few calories," I joked.
"Really?  All of those?"  There were only four cookies left.
"Yes!  You'll really be helping me out."
"Okay."  As I bagged his cookies, his eyes drifted to the bottles of water I'd been selling.  "Think I can have some water, too?"
"Of course!"  I'd bought the flat for like $3 at Safeway earlier that morning.  One bottle wasn't going to hurt anyone. 

He took his bag of cookies and ate one right away.  Then he opened up his bottle of water and drank about 3/4 of it in two huge gulps.  "I didn't realize how thirsty I was," he said with a weak grin.  "That really hit the spot.  Thank you.  God Bless you.  Now I've got to go get paid."

I gave him another bottle of water and the rest of the brownie bites "for the road" and watched him ride away, happily drinking his water. 

At that point, I seriously wanted to cry, because I have felt that way before.  Maybe not thirst-wise (I drink too much water for that to happen), but definitely in hunger and need/want for other things.  I've been dealing with it for the better part of the last 2 years, and it's not fun at all.  But as difficult as things have been, I've also been extremely fortunate to have others help me through this truly shitty time.  Friends, coworkers, family, complete strangers....... whether it's bread or light rail fare or pet care, I've been incredibly lucky to have experienced the true kindness and generosity of others, and it's helped tremendously.  But I've always felt a little guilty at accepting the help, even though I know I've needed it.  I hate asking for help and putting myself out there like that, especially when I always feel like I have to pay it back, fully knowing that I might not be able to anytime soon. 

Fortunately, the man on the bike stopped by my Yard Sale and helped me realize that it's okay not to pay it back; paying it forward is just as good, if not better.  I know it was just some cookies and water, but to him it was a feast.  And knowing that I could help brighten someone's day even in that small way is more rewarding than all the little yard sale successes I've had and will ever have again.

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Kimberly A. Morales
singer. writer. artist. champagne taste, 2 buck chuck budget. good cook. kooky. chocoholic. patron saint of cats. talker. listener. thinker. sometimes to a fault.
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