Were we poor?

I remember growing up there were a bunch of things I wanted I wouldn’t let my parents get me because we were “poor”.  This came to mind when I bought two boxes of Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, something I, honestly, had never tried before my mom was demoing them at her store last week.  I remember seeing the commercials on television as a kid, and how they were billed as being so much better than PopTarts (my favorite food group as a kid), but being told we couldn’t afford them.  I bought the two boxes of them, not because I wanted to try them and have a tasty breakfast, but because they were on sale.

Still have that poor mindset, I guess.  I don’t think it will ever go away.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget being homeless.  I had money, and ate well, I just couldn’t afford to have a roof over my head other than the one provided by Denny’s, Waffle House, or anything else open in the dead of night.

I was never homeless as a kid, though, only as an adult.  As a kid I never had to skip a meal, or put water on my cereal (Mom was much too proud for that.  No milk?  Eat it dry!), or sleep in a shelter.  But there were many things we didn’t have.  Conversations with others about growing up poor have yielded mixed results.  Some people grew up like I did, where they weren’t deprived of a home or basic nutrients, but beans & rice were a normal meal, and Mom (or Dad, or Gramma or whoever) would cook Depression Era meals that were meant to last for a few days, if not the entire week.  Hell, one town we lived in, many people only used the car on Sundays, even when gas was less than $1/gal.  I remember kids I went to school with who’s only meal was the free lunch they got.

But I didn’t really know we were poor.  I’m still not sure.  I’m fairly certain we were, but not like those other people I spoke to who had to go catch their dinner.  A friends mom grew up cleaning and cooking the squirrels her brothers brought home.  Someone else I know, who’s maybe 21 at the time of this writing, grew up catching chickens and pigs.  I don’t know where he caught him, and if you had a farm in Florida and were missing chickens and pigs on a regular basis, I have not idea where they went, sorry.

So I’ve wondered now, for years, if we were really poor.  My dad was never paid in potatoes, although he did work for a company for almost two years that never paid him.  I didn’t go hungry.  I had a home.  So, even if I did grow up poor, I grew up right.  I guess that’s all that matters.

Doctor’s offices sometimes suck

So I hurt my back opening the dishwasher on January 7. Rather embarrassing, if I do say so myself. Earned me the wondrous nickname of “Powder Puff”.

I had to use my dad’s wheely walker (the kind with the basket attachment and the seat) because I couldn’t even stand up on my own, let alone walk. That was around 11:30 am. Mom got out of work around 4 so I had her take me to the urgent care place when she got out (Dad doesn’t do the best in these kinds of situations which, combined with how well I handle being on the receiving end of medical care, made me think this was for the best, which it was), at which point I was, thankfully, able to walk with just a cane.

I continued having to use the cane the next day (27 and using a cane…I really am an old man!) when I spent time with a friend, which was needed and I am eternally grateful for. Went back to the doc on the 22nd because they told me to come back in 10-14 days. In between all of that, I was walking because they told me to not be sedentary.

Walking rather sucked. My hip felt like it was going to go out from under me and the pain, at times, was almost unbearable (not from the level of pain, I should say, but from the type of pain). I told the doc this. He said, “Well, let’s x-ray your hip just to make sure you don’t have a fracture.”

Sure enough, no fracture. So now, not having any idea what’s wrong with my body, I’m completely freaking out. He calms me down by telling me it could just be from hurting my back, that a nerve may be pinched in there somewhere, sending faulty signals to my brain that something’s wrong with my hip, or cutting off signals FROM my hip, either way.

Okay, so I’m placated by that. They refer me to this clinic place that does pain management, physical therapy, MRIs…basically an all in one for what I need.  The only thing that stuck out to me was when he said, “We refer all of our worker’s comp there.”  Did they only take worker’s comp?  Hmmm…

So there was this mystery, and I was given the job of solving it.  I called on Monday, they said they’d call me back in about an hour or so.  That was around 10:30 or 11 am.  I called back at 4pm, not having heard back.  “I still haven’t heard anything, I’m hoping to hear back in the morning.”

I called them, again, on Wednesday or Thursday (this week as just jumbled itself all together) and was told I’d hear back after lunch from them, but they still hadn’t heard from their corporate office.  Cut to today when I finally get fed up with it and call the original doc’s office.

Thankfully they were completely awesome and within 30 minutes had referred me to a new doctor and are faxing over all of my information to them.  It’s only taken 3 weeks, but maybe I’ll find out just what’s wrong with me and can get it taken care of.

What’s happening on the work front, however, is a completely different post entirely.

Being an Adult = Being Boring

I remember the first time I saw Star Wars.  It was awesome.  My dad read the intro to me because I couldn’t read that fast yet.  I didn’t ask how the cars were able to fly or how the ship was able to travel through space.  I didn’t ponder the plausibility of laser guns and explosions in vacuums, either.  I simply sat back and enjoyed the ride.

When we’d watch Star Trek, I never asked where the mouths of the Tribbles were, I just knew that they weren’t supposed to be fed.  I never wondered how the Silver Hawks were able to glide/fly through space when there wasn’t any wings.

I simply accepted this wondrous, fictional world created for my entertainment.  There was no conversation on the physics of Star Trek/Star Wars, or anything else, for that matter.  Just simple, unadulterated entertainment.

So why is it that, as an adult, I picked up Neuromancer by William Gibson and had to read the first three paragraphs four or five times before I was finally able to let go enough to slip into the story.  I almost gave up on it (after throwing it across the room) because it didn’t explain anything about where or when it was set.  It didn’t tell me about the world it was in.

I got so frustrated I started yelling about it to my roommate, who then asked, “Did anyone ever need to explain Star Wars to you?”

“Well, no.”

“Ok, then.  Pretend that book is Star Wars.”

And then it clicked.

We, as adults, are so rooted into our world of numbers, bills, paychecks, school choices, and, simply, caught up in life in general, we’ve forgotten how much fun it can be to simply sit back and imagine.  Some people, be they actors, writers, mimes, whatever, are able to let go in this way.

I think the rest of us can learn from those adults, and the children surrounding us, a very simple lesson:

Don’t be so serious, let go, and have fun.  This is our only chance.  Do it right.