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  1. By Helene "I Want A Bean Feast" Gresser

    Yay!!! The damn election is over and there is a Nor'easter wreaking havoc in my already weather-weary city of Gotham, so we can moan about the snain and stop hating one another for wearing a red tie or a blue tie or having vaginas or or being poor and suckling on the gubmint TEAT or making scads of money and being the Devil Incarnate, or whatever the hell else we all were screaming about. I am NOT ready for Winter but I will take it like a tough ole Wisconsinite and drink my bourbon and eat cheese and sausages and prepare my cave for hibernation.

    I don't have my new cave yet. I did not hear back from the Girl Who Wanted To Be A Submissive Maid So You Only Have To Pay 300 Bucks For The Room As Long As You Tell Me What To Do, so there goes that cheap room and cheap fun. I am currently writing this from my guy's living quarters, and the wind is gusting up to 50 mph, so I dread braving the effed up subway system (thanks Sandy!) to go feed my cats, but my cats need food. So I called the doorman of the place I am squatting in presently and begged him to try to get in the door and feed my kitties. Man, having a doorman is swell, man. Man. No wonder rich folks like it. Though my friend is not rich, she lives in a charming, perfectly designed studio with lovely sunlight and a weird next-door neighbor who GRUNTS LOUDLY when sitting on the terlet - apparently he is vexed with some intestinal issues and prefers the lady tennis-player approach to loosing his bowels. Sorry, gross, I know, but that is New York. Gross and oversharing and neighbors who grunt and doormen buildings and $20,000 purses and mani-pedis and sushi.

    I want money. I want sweeet, sweet filthy lucre in my pocket, though it would likely burn a hole in my pocket (as my dad always says), and I would spend it on thrift store finds and pretty shoes. I am a consumer, and addicted to my fantastic finds and sexy footwear. If I was truly thrifty, I would save every damn penny, stop smoking ciggies, and have enough dough to find a good room to call home. But my guy just decided it is actually a cool idea to start a second-hand store in the vacant part of his shop, and my head exploded with the possibilities and thrill of seeking cheap and donated goods (OH MY GOD HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE UPPER EAST SIDE ON FURNITURE PICK-UP EVE??? IT IS A WONDERLAND.) I want to make money by running a thrift shop. In addition to my other three jobs. And being a comic. And an actress. I have no attention span. I just want to do something fun for a living, and I love real estate. And bartending. And yes, I do some private investigation work on the side, which is AWESOME and interesting. But none of the present jorbs I have are bringing in enough sheckels to quench my thirst for high living.

    I can live small, and always do. But I dream of the airy aerie, the sun shining on my face in the morn as I sip my French-press on the porch, overlooking the ocean. I want a magenta walk-in dressing-room-closet-vanity area. I want a large kitchen with a couch and marble counter where my friends and family gather and drink Prosecco and snack on bruschetta while I whip up some spaghetti carbonara. I want to wear white linen and have white furniture and carpeting, and get massages. I want health insurance so my migraine pills don't cost ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS A PILL. Which they do. One hundred dollars a pill without an insurance plan. So I save my last Zomig (my headache pill of choice) for that special occasion when I am in blinding pain and near vomiting.

    I just called the doorman to see if he was able to get in to the apartment, and yes, he says reassuringly, anything we can do to help. My god, that takes a load off my shoulders. I don't have to go into the blizzard and freeze my hands off while schlepping through the confusing transit pretzel. Privilege has such advantages. No money does not buy happiness, it buys security. Money buys doormen and insurance and pills and white linen. It buys the ticket to the fundraiser that costs a hundred bucks, and then I get to see all my beloved, fancy, and not-so-fancy Elaine's cronies. It buys my mom a sweet cottage and a driver to take her places and flights to Hawaii. It would comfort me to know that my mother had security as she grows older, as she is so very far away, and I cannot check in on her and have her cook me her famous duck and dumplings and sit in front of the crackling fire.

    But I have a warm place to stay, if temporary. I have plenty of clothes, and cheap food I can easily find, and I have electricity and running water. After last week's storm, tens of thousands of people here in NYC do not have these things. Hell, millions of people in this world do not have these things. I was just talking to a great guy I met today, a friend of my sweet man, and this guy said "the problem with these rich guys like Romney and Bloomberg is that they are so removed from the reality of being really poor that they don't see what a library in a neighborhood like Far Rockaway does for the kids who need it. I saw kids there being fed the only meal they will get before they go to school the next day. I saw teens doing their homework on the computers, people reading, coloring books and crayons and little chairs for them all. It doesn't occur to you, hell, I was removed from it all, before I actually saw it with my own eyes. Those are kids, man. I'll do anything for the sake of these kids. And they are black, Hispanic, Chinese, Indian, and white, and it doesn't matter: they all need a chance to better themselves and make their lives better and get away from shitty parents or whatever." And this isn't coming from some bleeding-heart Lib. This is a guy who came from good money and upper-middle-class neighborhood and sends his kids to private school. He likely votes Republican, but he didn't vote this election. He doesn't like the status quo, and doesn't like the belief that everyone who is getting Big Government Handouts are a bunch of freeloading assholes who don't care to live any differently.

    I want a better life, and nice things, and freedom to choose my clothes and religion and non-religion and I want that for all of us, not just me - and that is the American Way. I am glad I live in a country where I can choose what type of life I want for myself. I need the discipline to make my dreams come true, but it could happen. I am not getting Welfare, but I technically qualify for it, and food stamps, and housing aid, but I am not quite ready to launch into that yet. Yet. I have eaten at soup kitchen more than once, out of sheer hunger and exhaustion, and only quarters in my pocket, but I do not want to live that way. I want more. And that costs more. And it taxes more. Mo money, mo problems, yes. But mo chances at true freedom that way.

     I am a gypsy with the taste for niceties, as is my mama. My parents have been divorced for over forty years. My mama is a bit like the grasshopper in that olde Aesop's fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant, where the Grasshopper sings while the Ant stores and prepares for the winter. My dad is more of an Ant. Lots of hard work and saving, saving, saving.

    My mom worked her ass off, but also spent a lot on dinners and drinks and trips and yes, she has nothing left to show for it -- but she had a great time (for the most part) on her adventures. My dad worked, worked, worked, and never traveled much, and spent very little, but has a home and property and no overwhelming debt, and has a pension and savings and his old age is provided for.  So there's that. I did not heed his advice, and I am paying the price now. My mama is fine, still works odd jobs, has her health and her brain, and her dear friends and a family that will house her if she needs it, ever. But security is much more iffy.

    As much as I railed against my mama's walking of the tightrope, I am very much following her path. I have a practical, hardworking side - but a taste for foie gras. I am singing while those ants store for the winter. But I hope that I shake loose the sheet music and start saving for that beach house. Okay, maybe a nice studio in a safe building - with a doorman who will feed my cats without expecting a tip - though he will get one, a very generous one. Oh New York, you temptress, you tease, you builder of dreams. I cannot quit you. Sing for the day, sing for the moment, sing for the time of your life.


  2. 2 comments:

    1. RHC said...

      Mmmm, pass the foie gras.

    2. JenHeyden said...

      How did I miss this!!?? I needed my Helene fix, and got it. Sitting at the car repair shop, hoping like hell it's covered under the warranty and sending you warm and supportive en-ur-gies!

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