Here I am again
Hello! I know this newsletter has been quiet for a couple of years. I'm changing it up and just writing stories that I feel like sharing—once a week at most, I think. Basically this is going to be what my blog was. Why not just publish the blog? Look, that's a great question, and thank you for asking it. I wish I could explain why the newsletter feels less frightening to me than restarting the blog does. I wish I could explain why I just used the word "frightening" to describe any of these endeavors. But here we are. I should probably be in therapy! But this is cheaper. Speaking of cheaper...
I am terrible with money. Scott is terrible with money. Henry will spend money the moment he is in possession of it. We finally got a financial planner a few years ago; now I avoid her emails. I would be happy to never look at my accounts. I know this isn't smart. A couple of weeks ago I happened to log into my bank account. I don't know how it happened, I went into a fugue state and my hands started moving around the keyboard and next thing I knew I was on my bank's site and my mouth opened into a terrified howl of realization and I scrambled to get back to Facebook. But before I could I saw there were two charges from the Long Island Railroad. Turned out, some troublemaker went and bought two monthly passes with Scott's debit card. What a thing to splurge on! Two monthly passes! I imagine some guy getting a hold of Scott's number and being like, finally, me and the wife can escape Plainview! Or maybe they live in Merrick; I don't want to unfairly malign the good people of Plainview.
Where was I? Money. Our financial planner is a nice woman who meets with us once a year to plead with us to put more money into our retirement savings and then she's like, "Let's talk about Henry's college savings," and I laugh and laugh while Scott dry heaves into his wallet. I'm in the "Maybe I can write a bestseller in the next few months" phase of denial about college. Scott's firmly in the "Maybe Henry will take up carpentry" camp. Jesus didn't go to college, after all. AND HE TURNED OUT FINE.
I could understand these feelings back when I was a freelancer and depending on those sweet Momversation bucks (only redeemable at Target) to get me through. But now I am gainfully employed, as is my spouse, and we're riding high on that two-income wave. We should be looking at our checking account every week and high-fiving! (Autocorrect seems intent on changing "high-fiving" to "high-giving," which I would like to know on what universe that is a phrase, autocorrect.)
HERE IS A STORY ABOUT MONEY
When I was eight I devised a great idea, which was to have a party with my friends. A party, I knew, involved a tremendous amount of candy. The problem was, I had no money. But I knew who did. My brother James was keeping dollar and half-dollar coins in special folders in his room, for no apparent reason. Each coin had its own pocket in the special folders. But money, I knew, should be jangling around in your pockets or coin purse. He never used them for important purchases, like buying candy for all his friends and would-be friends so that everyone would like him. It was sick.
So I went into my brother's room and slipped those coins out of the pockets of those folders. Did I hesitate even for a minute? Did I think, "You know, maybe there's a reason these are kept so carefully organized in James's room"? I'd like to think I did but in reality I imagine myself tearing around his room, panting CANDYCANDYCANDY, dumping coins into my sweaty hands as fast I could find them.
After this, my memories are snapshots: I'm in the candy aisle, amazed at how much candy I can buy with the money I've stolen; I'm doling out dollar coins to the intimidatingly grouchy proprietor of "Friendly Corners," a little grocery that was in fact on the corner but was absolutely not friendly; I'm holding court at the local playground with all my friends (I don't remember a single one of them, and if I'm going to be honest, i'm betting these are kid who were attracted by the candy more than my friendship) all of them gathered around a grocery bag filled to the brim with Hershey bars, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and Paydays.
Then the gorging began. And a few minutes later it was over, as one by one each kid declared the candy eating to be not really as "festive" as I had promised; in fact it was kind of boring and they had to go home for dinner.
The next snapshot: I am alone in this playground staring down at a grocery bag still full of candy bars, seriously contemplating eating the rest all by myself in a deserted playground, but even I was aware at that point that so much sugar turned out to more unpleasant than I could take.
What did I do with the candy at that point? I couldn't have brought it all home. Did I throw it away? I think I just left it there in the playground, for other children to find. More likely the bag was ransacked by thrilled raccoons.
There were few, if any, consequences to my behavior. My brother found out seconds after he got home, either because I left his coin-collection folders flung all over the room, or because he regularly pulled them out to moon over his Eisenhower dollars. And there I was, hanging out in my room, probably reading Harriet the Spy, my face smeared with chocolate, like, "What?"
My mom and brother even went to Friendly Corners to try and get some of the money back, but no dice. The owner claimed he gave all those Eisenhower dollars away in the course of his daily transactions. I wonder if any of his customers was aware they had received precious collectibles as change. Probably they were just annoyed to get dollar coins, as we have always and forever been in this great country of ours, amen.
And anyway, that was that. I'm sure my parents sternly told me that I upset my brother, probably made me wipe the chocolate off my face before apologizing, but then to him they were like, "She's seven and an idiot, what are you going to do," and everyone shrugged. Except my brother, who, I imagine, went to bed clutching his empty coin-collection folders.