getting high and getting by.

I'm broke. Like all-four pants pockets pulled out poor. Like my polka-dot bindle is very light. Like I owe thousands so I tense up every time my government-issue ZTE phone rings. Yet, as if to keep the dream of the middle class alive, I've held onto my oversized television and car and iPhone and DVD collection and Beats headphones and gaming systemsss and computersss even though I should sell them to save my credit rating; if I give up what enriches my life, it's like erasing the good times. It's hard living through feast and famine; you don't think to stuff a few extra tofurkey drumsticks into a Tupperware when your belly's full; I'm more grasshopper than ant. I'd rather be jumping around, singing a song with my legs than be a Scroogey piss-ant.

Of course this "economic anxiety" is all privilege; my sister covers my share of the rent sometimes; my brother started co-owning a house at my age; my stress could be erased with a phone call to my parents. But I can't call. Because something in me is proud, or ashamed, more than likely both. For all the work I've done on myself, I still reflexively lie when asked a tough question that requires a vulnerable answer. I put the armor up around my finances, among other subjects. I've tried to break through my tin suit by writing out specifics on this website. I still avoid because it feels like picking a fight with an ocean, but it's worse; debt is an immovable human institution designed to subjugate the poor. I avoid and do laundry & the dishes and smoke cannabis and play video games and refresh Twitter and, when I'm lucky, work just enough to keep the thought away of opening up a banking app to see just how fucked I am. I will buy entertainment when I need relief from the stress of unpaid debts I am even less able to pay because I have a new video game, or gift, or pizza, or cooking set. Even though I'm aware the first step through grief is denial, it doesn't make taking the next step easier. It's hard to manage or sort out, it's all one big plate of spaghetti spilled out on a white couch. In addition, I'm at the mercy of my chemistry, hoping for a sustained release of serotonin enough to get me from my messy couch and into a bank office to ask vulnerable questions with tough answers.

I am thankful and lucky for moments like these when I wake up from a good rest and am able to work through the hard shit, write blog posts to solidify this particular, interesting moment of my life, but there's a sweet triumph in the haze of unambitious times. The years that pass in this sleepy town, not progressing any particular agenda, just breathing, staying alive, being in my body, high as fuck. There is a joy in relieving yourself of the fight to give meaning to each long day for a few weeks. Enough time has passed me over, however, to feel like I'm losing the reins on the design of my life; I've given up that power to others, my boss, my landlord, my debt-collectors. To simply be an in-the-moment phone-off hedonist indulging his unproductive non-creative pleasures, to string enough of these present moments together, is to give up a purposeful future. I can't be a dishwasher forever; I have to become a comedian someday.

Adam Papes