“In this world, it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich” – Fortune cookie 12/14/12
February 6, 1981
I really should start trying to live within my means.
I mean, my bank statement says I have $27.30 cents left in my account, when mere days ago, it said $500.
What an illusion.
In the last several days I have spent without real consideration to where it went or how fast. The relief of a job merely an addition to my usual poverty.
I had books to buy, and old bills to pay, and I’m also in debt to my girl friend Susan, and now the rent is due – again.
The professor we call “Dr. Chief” at school tells me I have a future in writing, and claims it is “tight and accurate,” and talks to me as a literary equal as uneducated a I am – a ninth grade drop out who faked my way through the GED so I could go to college to learn more about how to write.
And I haven’t even shown him what I write for myself.
I wonder what he would say and if he would like it?
Yesterday, Andy, Mary Kay and Chief sat down together in the college cafeteria where Mary Kay – laughing – asked if I talked about anything else but writing.
Maybe I’m just too enthusiastic, needing to know how to turn that enthusiasm into cash -- $27.30 doesn’t buy a lot in the way of futures, and unless I find a way to inflate my account, I might wither away from malnutrition.
I guess I should eat less at taverns (and stuff fewer bills in the g-strings of go go dancers) and learn how to make more money.
Sure, I just got a job making donuts. I hate the job, and I hate donuts. I much preferred working in rock and roll, but that paid peanuts, too, and left me picking up the pieces of potential suicide groupies who didn’t get to go home with the musician they wanted and got stuck with me.
But even with a steady pay check, I tend to think I have more money than I really have, especially when I have to bust my ass to get it.
I’ve just taken on too much.
I write a lot and read out a lot, but don’t have enough on paper to save me from the grind of manual labor. Everything is school, work, school, work, school, work and in between a few hours of precious sleep.
Maybe the poet Gray was write in his church yard elegy in that we spend our lives in constant struggle with the elements and in the end we only manage to get the rent paid, gas in the car with nearly no time left in which to create.
I even dream donuts, even though this semester my writing has exploded, my forms have molded into something worth reading, and if I can find the time, I might even find a way to get myself published.
This is quite a change from last year when nearly everything I wrote felt like crap.
Yet isn’t that why I came to school, to find inspiration?
Maybe I’ll end up okay after all. It is hard to tell.
Don’t laugh. It’s hard to tell how far I’ve come or how far I still have to go. I’m pretty sure I’ve made progress. But how do I know when I get to the top, I won’t just fall down the other side?
How do I know if I have the strength to climb up again?
How do I know if I’ll end up anywhere or just become one of Gray’s gravestones of people who could have been?
With $27.30 cents in my bank account, I know one thing for certain – I’m not there yet.