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.

What’s wrong with free?

So I logged into WordPress today, contemplating writing a post about the books I’ve been reading and how much work is a drag on, well, everything, when I noticed the Freshly Pressed page had some things that caught my eye.  Two I dismissed as just ranting (imagine the gall of a blogger who rants incessantly!) and the other just got under my skin.

This post claims the reason people don’t want to spend money to use, say, Twitter, is because we’ve become accustomed to getting things for free on the internet, despite “shelling out the cash” for music and books in stores.  I disagree.

How long did it take for people to start “shelling out the cash” for things like Cable TV, Satellite, and Internet access?  Isn’t the RIAA still throwing a fit over piracy?  And then there’s the movie pirating which has led to every movie I’ve recently watched, both on DVD and on the big screen, to having a piracy PSA before the previews.  So is it, in fact, an Internet issue, or simply a human issue?

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think we should have to pay for anything, period.  That’s not to say everything should be completely free, per se, but money is a lost cause.  What’s all that paper based on, anyway?  Many of these big businesses don’t pay for anything, really, as it’s all done on credit.  It’s pretend money.  I worked for a small restaurant two years ago and the guy didn’t pay rent or utilities for the first year.  He didn’t make it that long, so what did he end up doing to cover those expenses he hadn’t yet paid?  I’ve had several jobs where, as a manager, I signed an invoice stating we owed X company Y dollars for Z merchandise, but I never saw anything get paid except for in an Excel SpreadSheet.  When did it get paid, and by whom?

There are tons of people who couldn’t imagine walking into a store/restaurant/bar/cafe, acquiring food/supplies/drinks/etc, and then not paying for said merchandise.  Yet we do it everyday, with every swipe of our credit card.  I’ve had a credit card.  I maxed that little thing out to the tune of $2,000 dollars, which Providian Bank kindly paid, and then never paid it off.***

No one called me to ask where the money was, nor did anyone come and claim my merchandise back.  And it’s not even on my Credit History…anywhere.

The Internet doesn’t have a free problem, people do.

***As a side note, I wasn’t actually allowed to pay that bill.  Back in early 2002 Providian Bank sold $4.2 million in (Visa) accounts to a Pakistan based (MasterCard) company, who then was unreachable and never sent out cards or information.  Providian wouldn’t give me the information to reach them, nor could I pay my bill to them, and the Pakistani company was unable to help me without an account number, which they failed to provide me.  Thus, I got off scot-free, so to speak.  But look how many people have umpteen thousands (or more) in Credit Card debt that they can’t (or won’t) pay?  How many of them, exactly, have been prosecuted and put in prison for theft/larceny/whatever the charge may be?  Or even taken to court and forced to pay restitution?  I’ve heard of people being threatened, but I have yet to hear anything short of a Buelleresque “My sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s aunt’s neighbor in Nebraska has a dog who gets groomed by a lady who…” about it, nothing concrete.  Ever.  So what’s that say?

I cant stop reading this

So a couple of years ago I started reading Sluggy Freelance and fell in love with it. It wasn’t a love at first sight thing by any means. I just couldn’t get that first set of strips out of my head and finally decided to sit down and read the damned thing. This was around September of 2007. I finally finished the archives and caught up during this storyline (at which point I promptly stopped reading). That was a lot of reading.

And a lot of inspiration. Not for stories, unfortunately, although I don’t think anyone can beat Abrams’ imagination. But it makes me want to draw. Drawing has always been something I enjoy, but it’s always been something I’ve had to work at, and no one has ever supported me in it. Ever.

With music I have talent. I’m not the best musician, but if you throw an instrument at me, I can play it. I’m the same way with writing essays and mechanics. There are just certain things certain people have a knack for. Those are my things.

So why not just go forth and do one of those things I have a knack for? Because that would be easy, and I don’t like easy. I mean, yeah, the slut at the bar makes for a great one night stand, but do you really want a relationship with someone who puts out that fast?  Who else has she been with?  Do you really feel you can have a worthwhile relationship with that person?  What makes that relationship so worthwhile is the work you both put into it, not how fast you nailed it.

So I’ve decided to actually put in the work. I’ve started drawing everyday. I’m getting better but I’m nowhere near showing anything I’ve done yet to anybody.

But someday, I’ll have my story published, somewhere, with pretty pictures and action scenes, and someone will be entertained.  And that’s what makes it all worth while.