Dressers are Hard

House projects were all on hold this week, as both Professor Furious and I came down with Campus Crud. Please don’t go to school/work sick. This is not elementary school, you do not get a pizza party for your perfect attendance. You just get cursed for your germ spreading ways. Happily, my apathy towards perfect attendance means that I slept it off and bounced back pretty quick, as did the Professor. A couple of years ago I got pneumonia sort of out of the blue in the middle of summer, and my lungs still don’t feel like they’ve recovered completely. If I get sick and don’t take care of it, it very easily becomes a thing of the sort that requires antibiotic shots in my butt. Shots in my butt are my least favorite kind of shots. (Most favorite? Tequila.) So hell yes I am cancelling class and sleeping for two days because I feel a bit sniffly. Ounce of prevention > pound of cure.

(Mini Furious didn’t even sneeze once. Everyone assured me she’d always be deathly ill once she started going to school because she hadn’t been exposed to infection factory that is daycare. Child has been sick about five times in her life. Either she is a mutant, or being exposed to terrible illnesses as a very tiny child is not as good for kids as most people think it is.)

But we’re better now. Which means I can start tackling the things that need doing. Fairly top of the list is buying a dresser. Dressers are expensive, y’all. And surprisingly hard to find. The Craigslist for our area is pretty worthless, as, for some reason, it’s full of listings from Houston. Which is on the other side of the state. Sometimes there’s one from San Antonio, which is only 5 hours or so away. I’ve joined the relevant garage sale groups on Facebook, but still a lack. The thrift stores haven’t had any in. I looked at new ones online, but I feel like a bit of a failure for paying more than about ten dollars for a dresser. It seems like every home blogger I follow is always all, “Look at this fantastic midcentury modern piece I found. Nobody knew what it was, so I got it for a song.” Maybe I’m a bad thrifter. I know a lot of it is patience. And I’m bad at that. In this case, my lack of patience mostly comes from a place of being tired of not being able to put away half of my clothes. Putting things “away” in a laundry basket is getting frustrating. I’m about to drive the hour up to Walmart and buy whatever they happen to have on the shelf.

But it’s not just about feeling like a bad thrifter. It’s feeling like a bad poor person. We spent the last four years on SNAP benefits, aka food stamps. Money has been stupid tight for so long I feel like I should just live with my clothes folded in a laundry basket forever. Eighty dollars on a particleboard set of drawers from Walmart? I can pay bills with that! Or buy groceries. Or not be selfish by buying a thing for myself and buy something for Mini Furious instead. Plus there’s the gas money to even get to Walmart. I’m used to thinking in terms of any trip outside of our normal routine means a big dent in our budget because that’s extra gas money. Gas is for going to work and school, and I have to make sure my grocery trips coincide with one of those things, because making a special trip in the middle of the day is a frivolous waste of gas. Everything that isn’t food and shelter is an unnecessary waste of money. Clothes for myself are a waste, because up to this point I’ve worked from home and as long as I didn’t look too terrible when I took Mini to school, then it was fine. One pair of pants is fine. My tshirts are mostly older than my kid, but they don’t have too many holes, so it’s okay. Clothes without holes are for people who aren’t on food stamps. That’s what society tells me. That’s what people who are my friends tell me when they post things on Facebook about how entitled poor people are. (But of course they tell me I’m different. I’m not like those other poor people.)

Now I can buy groceries without worrying that someone will notice I’m using an EBT card (food stamps work off of a debit card style system now. If you see someone using paper check things, they are on WIC, which has ridiculously precise restrictions on what can and can’t be bought. Extremely stressful to use, and so even though we qualified, I usually didn’t bother with them.), and judge what I’ve got in my cart. The defenses are always at the top of my mind. I know I got too many fresh veggies; I should have grabbed frozen, but I hate the texture and won’t eat them, except for frozen corn. It’s my kid’s birthday, that’s why I’ve got cake mix and frosting and ice cream. We ate a lot of ramen and lentils last week so we could afford steak as a special anniversary dinner this week. I haven’t eaten yet  today and so I grabbed a candy bar to eat before I pick up my kid so I don’t yell at her because I’m hungry and it’s making me angry. Let me explain. I’m a good poor person. But I’m not a poor person anymore. I get to be a person. But that mindset is really hard to shake. That lack of self-esteem is hard to shake. I have money now, but what if I don’t later? What if I buy something nice now, and then later we lose our jobs, and then we’ll have spent that money AND people will see we have something nice and will be angry at us for buying it. “How can they have a phone like that AND be on food stamps?” “You dress too well to be on food stamps.”

So I’ll keep using a laundry basket instead of a dresser until I feel like I deserve drawers, even though it’s something that frustrates me every time I walk into my bedroom. Because in my mind I’m not quite a person yet. And I will never let go of those defenses for the checkout aisle. I may not need them, but somebody else will. I will forever be there to stand up for the person with the EBT card. Because they are a person, no matter what society has to say. I should know, I’m a person now, too.

I’m not sure why I’m still awake. Except I am sure. I want to take my mind off of everything, and keep it off, and the surest way for it to be on is for it to hit my pillow. Boston was terrible. Is terrible. I have to stop looking at the unconfirmed reports coming tonight. Of all the cities, who knew it would be Boston to go up? Its roots are in revolution, yes… but now? And the news outlets playing a deadly game of telephone. Suspects are brown or black with an accent. What sort of accent? It doesn’t matter. So long as their skin is dark and they sound different. It’s not safe to fail the paper bag test, to sound anything but perfect unadorned American. Throw in the explosion in Texas, flooding in Chicago, and riots in Venezuela… there’s entirely too much and I wonder what is next.

So tonight I’ve listened to/half-watched a Dylan Moran stand up special, and Christopher and His Kind on YouTube. I recommend both. Matt Smith is in the second, and it’s a bit distracting. Quite a few of his mannerisms are so Eleven, and there are a couple of remarks about his character never aging.

I ought to go to bed. I have an appointment in the morning. But I’m not tired enough to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, and I’m not sure I can take that.

Derby family is a phrase you hear a lot in the derby world. And it’s true. We’re this big crazy family. And it goes beyond your league. Your team, you league, that’s your immediate family. But head out into the world and meet someone from another league? They’re like a second cousin you’ve never met. It’s pretty awesome.

We hosted a clinic last Sunday. It was a very least minute affair. We weren’t sure if anoyone other than our league would turn up. We weren’t sure our league would turn up. But we had girls, and guys, from all over. Some were from River City Dames of Anarchy, who we bouted with last month. (For our first ever bout! We lost! But only by 39 or so. It was awesome! I was an NSO. This needs its own post.) Where was I? Oh yeah. So these ladies came up, a nearly 3 hour drive, at the last minute, because we said we were doing a cool thing (that started at 8 am btw) and wanted them to be there. And it was honestly good to see them. I didn’t get to chat with them as much as I wanted, but I’m glad they made it. And of course our next league over was there. We’re bouting with them on the 30th for our first ever home bout, and it’s going to be awesome. we’ve skated alongside them in a scrimmage, and last week when their practice space was unavailable, and then at the clinic. And it’s never been “omg we’re fraternizing with the enemy.” More like, omg we get to see you guys! I’m looking forward to our bout on the 30th for all kinds of reasons, but part of it is the after party and hanging out with these derby cousins of ours.

Of course, I realize this is a bit Pollyanna of me. there are leagues who share a city and don’t particularly care for each other. There are teams within leagues that don’t get along. Leagues come and go, because derby is hard. Not the skating part. The skating part is probably the easiest bit of it. Wrangling a bunch of amazing, and headstrong women? Organizing league (or even committee) meetings that work best for the largest number of people? Fundraising events, tracking down sponsors, making sure we’re by the book where it counts… that’s all hard. It’s what I call the dark side of derby. The paperwork. Figuring out how to pay taxes. Applying for our non-profit status. I can barely skate and I’d rather do ridiculous endurance drills than deal with the IRS. It’s hard and it’s stressful.

So what’s the point of this? I’m not taking my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant med. And I’m fine. I’m better than I was when I did nothing but stay at home with Mini Furious all day. I’ve got this amazing crazy family who makes my life so much better than it’s been the last couple of years. I’ve got a support system. I’ve still got therapy appointments on the books through early May, but I’m doing so much better. At the end of night, after the anti-Valentine’s dance we held, the guests were mostly gone, and it was just us and I looked around, and people were playing cards, and talking in little groups and laughing, and it was one of those movie perfect moments. After so much time counting the minutes until we could move away from Minnesota, now I’m a bit sad at the thought of leaving. We can’t stay, there aren’t any jobs for us here, and I’m not sure I could take another Minnesota winter. (At least my lungs can’t. I’m relying on my inhaler in a way I never have before. Hell this is the first time in my life I’ve had a like permanent, always with me inhaler.) But when we find out where we’re moving to, I will be finding the local derby team. It won’t be quite the same as my close knit bunch of rookies, but it will still be derby. And that’s a pretty good start.