Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Income's Broken

"Of course I’d love to go. You know that. It’s just that I can't afford to. You know I'm on a fixed income."

"Really? How did you fix it, because mine is broken to Hell?" And with the gas hikes it seems more like devastated.

"Robbie, you know what I mean. I only get so much to live on a month."

"And mine fluctuates?"

The term "fixed income" was invented by old people who didn't want to visit their distant families. It's also become the legalized form of panhandling. "Can you buy this medicine for me? I'm on a fixed income.” I'm on a fixed income as well and I have three times the amount of mouths to feed, clothe and purchase expensive game systems for. I can't help it; I hate those two words. You would think it was a positive term. When something is fixed that means it works. Yet, those two words are used as a negative all the time by people who need an excuse to get out of something such as donating to those men in the funny hats outside of Wal-Mart.

If they have a fixed income, mine is reduced. And with multiple kids it gets reduced more and more the older they get. My youngest is a senior and I need to take a mortgage out on the house I rent to pay for all of the extra accouterments that seem to go with it. Was it this expensive when I graduated? I still think with some creative Sharpie shadings, last year's unused Christmas cards will work as Graduation announcements.

Only CEOs, movie stars, and politicians are on an unfixed income. Of course, that's because they're getting their money from all of us on fixed incomes. We save our pennies so that they can have our dollars. And really, is any of it necessary? I understand that sometimes it's a matter of quality and taste. There are certain foods the girls refuse to get in any other way than name brand. Teri refuses anything but Diet Coke and Char has to have Hellman's. Me? I don't care as long as I get fed. And jeans are jeans to me. I just don't want them falling down. How kids believe it convenient to walk around holding their britches up with one hand and text with the other I'll never understand. Your ass really isn't worth looking at and I don't particularly care for your style of boxers. Try something in rubber ducky.

My income is fixed; it's the utilities that keep fluctuating, especially when the boys insist on forty minute showers. I just don't get it. I have more hair and more body and yet, I can get out in five minutes. Furthermore, no one seems to be able to turn lights out or televisions off. The house is pretty dummy proof. Flip the switch and lights and ceiling fans turn off. Easy, but not doable.

Everyone has a fixed income. The problem is living within that fixed income. As Mom would say, "You have champagne tastes with a beer budget.” And not even good beer! Still, I don't require much and what I do require doesn't demand money. I'm surrounded by a committed and loving family of unique individuals who sees the adventure in every new day and grasp it tight with eager hands. Furthermore, I am encircled by the craziest, most loyal group of friends I could have ever asked for and they take me just as I am. I don't worry if they're going to be there tomorrow if I don't agree with them. Without a doubt they'll be there, sometimes making breakfast. We even agree sometimes!

I have a back porch where I can sit and enjoy whatever shows God wants to give me, whether a beautiful breezy day or a thunderstorm that shakes the shingles or even a red shoulder hawk making lazy circles in the afternoon sky. There's a beach close by that I can explore or just lay on the ever-changing constant shore. My shelves are loaded with books that carry me away into new worlds and new adventures. And there's coffee, lots of coffee.

I have what I need and within my fixed income I am content. That is the secret. I don't worry about fancy game systems, the latest gizmo or even seeing the latest movie. There's nothing wrong with those things and sure I'd like them, but I'm satisfied without them. For what it costs for the girls and me to go see a movie, I can buy some steaks and fire up the grill and have a night of fun with the kids. I'll remember that more than whatever Sandra Bullock is doing on the magic screen.

Money is important for without it life is barely survivable. But it is not all important. My income is fixed, but so are my desires.

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