There is perhaps no weirder lifestyle than that of someone who is both poor and busy. College-educated 25-year-olds probably aren’t supposed to be poor and busy – that’s usually reserved for unfortunate souls working multiple jobs to support their children – but it seems like the kind of thing that is becoming more prevalent in this economy. In any case, it’s a niche that I’ve cornered.
I work, all-in, roughly 70 hours per week. I make, all-in, very little. Enough to live in my own apartment? Yes. Enough to nurse poor recreational habits and still take regular showers? Yes. Enough to write this column on a very nice MacBook Pro? Sort of. This particular computer has my company’s sticker slapped on the back. My personal MacBook is shitty, broken, and not in any way equipped to support a productive lifestyle.
My first postgrad job underworked and overpaid me for over two years before realizing the error of its ways and laying me off. Being poor and busy is weird, and it’s new for me. I’m starting to figure out all the pervasive ways it impacts my life. I haven’t bought a piece of clothing since ending things with a Bloomingdale’s buyer a few months ago. I ride my bike in all kinds of inclement weather to avoid MetroCard and taxi expenses. Busyness, I find, leads to a sort of ambient laziness about non-urgent personal tasks, particularly ones that require spending money. I haven’t replaced the batteries in the smoke alarm in my room for three weeks now. (Oh, that’s urgent you say? Fuck off).
But there’s one way in which being poor and busy converge into a horrifically unique clusterfuck: eating habits.
It’s 9 P.M. and I’m still in the office. I’ve just now consumed five slices of pepperoni pizza. I like pizza, sure, and this was a good pie. One of those gourmet ones with fresh mozzarella and thick-cut pepperoni and maybe onions? Yes, I think onions. But I now feel like my appendix has burst, and also I’m in labor, and also I’ve been poisoned. Point being I don’t feel good. And I’m not stupid. Dumb, maybe, but not stupid. I knew this would happen.
Why did I do this? Because I’m hungry, and it was there, and it was free. When you’re poor and busy and someone puts free food in front of your face you tend to expose the most shameful and disgusting sides of your personality.
Even when the food isn’t free, you tend to eat quickly and shamefully. There is no balance or nutrition or human decency involved in what I put in my body these days. Last night when I finally got home at around 10 P.M. hunger pangs overtook me. I walked down to the recession-priced dumpling hole on Rivington whose name I couldn’t even tell you because I walked in there with fat guy blinders on and ordered eight dumplings for $2.75. I ate them on the walk back home, unable to wait, and then scraped out the bottom of a cereal box and mixed it with expired milk as soon as I got inside my apartment.
Yes, I think I have this lifestyle down pat.
Featured image courtesy of Jase Tagle