Be not afraid of your life.
Really that’s the time that I woke up, my body refusing to go back to sleep, unable to let go of the creepy dream (another day, another blog). But then my mind began its race, more of a caged gerbil in a spinning wheel than anything that might actually get me somewhere. Sometimes I wake up, for no discernible reason, and find myself locked into that same horrifying thought:
I am going into credit card debt and I have absolutely no way to get out.
My new job pays $8 an hour. My last job, with a 4 month hiatus in between, paid $12.60. I was unbelievably relieved to have gotten a job at all. My last job was comparable to my job as a substitute teacher, making $85 a day. When I was subbing, I had marveled that I actually made about half of what a real teacher made.
Sometimes I marvel that teachers make so little in comparison to other educated professionals, all nasty joking (those that can’t do, teach) aside.
My neighbor (late sixties, early seventies; no job history that I’ve ever heard of, a true housewife, married to a man that does odd jobs and may or may not have ever worked a good job in his life) has often complained how teachers make so much money. Which is true?
I guess it depends on your perspective.
Since I only work 21 hours per week, as a children’s librarian, I make about $168 a week, or $672 a month, and theoretically just over $8,000 a year.
The poverty line is around $19,000.
As the single parent of 2 beautiful daughters, I find it unfathomable that I could somehow squeeze another job in there. It’s not the hours, it’s the timing. Who’s going to hire me to work only 2 weekdays each week? I want to be home in the evenings and on weekends. That’s when I need to be a parent.
Even if I find that mythical job, it’ll likely pay only about what I make as a librarian (as anything that isn’t full time and works around another job is likely to be). What I need is a full time job, with benefits. Real librarians make good money--when they can find work.
My car payment is $325 a month. My student loan is $197. (Housing is monetarily free--nothing is truly free--since I live with family.)
Now, without even taking out taxes, I am down to $150 each month. Oh, don’t forget my big spender Ex, throwing in $93 per month in child support. He works as a prison guard (I hope your wheels are turning and you are now wondering why he pays so little).
That’s money for luxury items such as:
- TOILET PAPER
- GAS to go to work
- CAR INSURANCE (legally required)
- DOCTOR VISITS
- NEW GLASSES FOR EACH OF MY KIDS
I can already hear the naysayers: Just get a job, Shannon. Suck it up. What. . .do you think live OWES you something?
Amazingly, I have tried. I’ve put in the effort. I’ve sent out resumes (I cringe at the thought of the cost of all that postage, paper, envelopes, and beyond, all that time). I’ve educated myself. What did I forget? Where did I go wrong?
And which is more important, not putting food on my credit card or buying my daughter a new pair of shoes (maybe I could bind her feet so that they stop growing)? Are those luxuries, or necessities? Don’t good parents provide for their children? Isn’t it my job to provide, no matter what, even if it means working during the only hours I could possibly see them?
And in the back of my mind, I think to myself: when will I write?
Oh, to dream.
I keep thinking, maybe I should go back to subbing. It might take up to a month to be (re)approved by the school board (are my clearances up to date? that’s another $100 for all 3). But then, what if I get an grad assistantship (already applied for) next spring (working, one class at a time, on my Master’s in Library Science)? It’d just be a waste of time and money to put my name back on the sub list. I know from experience that my local school district fulfills their daily sub needs by having the secretary call them on the phone, and if you don’t work full time as a sub, you are the last to be called. In fact, I might not get called at all.
Should I try waitressing again? I often made between $10 and $15 an hour doing that (if I refused to work during the day and only on weekends). Could I do that to myself again? Do I have it in me, physically and emotionally? I honestly don’t know. I’m a lot older now.
I don’t have an answer to any of these questions. For now, I can only lie there, dollar bills floating through my mind, symbols of what I owe. It terrifies me. It wakes me up. It keeps me awake.