“Happy Easter, Pagan.”

So, yes, I did call my dad today to wish him a happy Easter.  And he called the recalcitrant brother who called me to tease me about it.

"Well, he knows you don’t go to church now, doesn’t he?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Ha ha."

—–

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What It Takes to Be Middle Class

I don’t think I’m going to buy a house right now.


It’s fun to think about it, don’t get me wrong.  And all week I was thinking about how nice it’d be to get into some place where the house payment is cheaper than our rent and then there’d actually be a little wiggle room in our budget.


“Our” budget…


Heh.


*****


Yesterday I did my taxes and then the Butcher’s.  The Butcher needed his money to go into my bank account because he doesn’t have a bank account any more.  So, I did all that electronic routing shit.


It also meant that we had to have a frank, brief, but unpleasant talk about the state of our household finances.  Because, you see, I now know what the Butcher made last year.  And it was not that much less than I made when I first moved here.


Granted, I needed him to move down here too, so that I could stay, and I racked up an enormous amount of credit card debt.  So, maybe the amount of money he’s making isn’t so shockingly huge.


*****


Every poor financial decision I’ve made in my life… I don’t even want to call them poor… let’s just say that every financial decision I’ve made in my life has been for the express purpose of catapulting me into the lower middle class.  You may wonder, how much does it cost to catapult yourself from upper lower class to lower middle class.


America, I have an answer for you.


$56,000.


I’m sure that $56,000 is not the only answer, nor the right answer, but that’s what I’m going to pay for the privilege of sitting behind a desk instead of working at Walmart, not counting interest.


$56,000 and a brother.


$56,000 to pay for college and grad school and that ill-fated disaster to New York and a washer and a dryer and car repairs and upkeep and clothes appropriate for work and groceries I had to put on the credit card because we didn’t have the money to buy them.


$56,000 to end up on a sunny dead end in between the interstate and the railroad tracks knowing there are much worse places to be stuck.


*****


The most enduring American superstition is that if you work really hard, you can make it.  You can rise up out of whatever crappy circumstances you’re in and be somebody.


And there are enough cases–proof of the veracity of the superstition–in which this is true.  There’s always someone you can point to and say “Look, he sold rocks to old people in the projects instead of crack to addicts and he was able to make enough money to buy his mom a house” or whatever.


Well, here’s another truth.  If you sign where people who seem to know what it takes to move on up tell you to sign when they tell you to sign there, you can acquire for yourself a stupidly large debt you’ll never get out from under.


The funny thing is, when I drive around and see that you can buy a $500,000 townhome with no money down, I think huge amounts of debt that are never going away may actually be the hallmark of the typical American.


*****


And, you know, I’ve paid off a substantial chunk of that $56,000.  So, I feel good about that.


So, as usual, it’s a post full of a lot of mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I just can’t buy a house until I finish paying off the credit cards.  The nice side benefit to this is that I sat down last night and figured that I could do that in about three and a half years.  By that time, I’ll have the car almost paid off, as well, which means the only debt I’ll have is my student loan.  So, things are moving in the right direction.  Finally.


On the other hand, middle America, there had damn well better be some perks to being middle class or I’m going to be furious that I spent all this money and heartache to get there.


Bring on the class privilege!