The Tally

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I will be submitting my application for early retirement via the internet. This is the requisite three months prior to my 62nd birthday. I am one of millions of baby boomers who is going to put to bed any fantasies of 'making it' in this our USofA. The deck is stacked against us. We had our chance to have a different United States. We blew it. My generation allowed ourselves to feel exceptional - just like our country - and that success was our due. We were lulled into complacency by being encouraged to revel in our individuality and enlightened lifestyles. We were assured that this country had the best advantages, security and justice. We were lied to our entire lives and the majority of us bought it. If we were white we believed that the status quo (read: privilege) was the norm. We were raised on lies, myths and hypocrisy. Well, I can't go back and live a different life. But, I can make conscious decisions with the rest of my life.

My energies now are directed towards living the life, building the model that works. I was going to say I do this instead of trying to change the existing model; i.e., political system. I can't really say that because I do believe in looking for chinks in the empire's armor. I will continue kicking against the pricks.

The tally is metaphor. It is about taking stock of my life, my outlook; it is about looking at my 2009 budget to date. I wrote a comment at Beany's blog yesterday.
I have been trying my best to keep my monthly groceries to $100. I also am attempting to spend as though I didn't have the chance to buy beyond a set limit each week.
Well how did I do with my $100/month grocery budget this whole last year?
  1. January - $6.45 under
  2. February - $82.50 over
  3. March - $191.00 over
  4. April - $53.00 over
  5. May - $39.50 over
  6. June - $91.00 over
  7. July - $37 over
  8. August - $18 over
  9. September - $15 over
Pretty crap at keeping within the budget it seems. My monthly budget is $666. But, when I add the groceries overages and the utility and other living expense budget overages - I am $99 a month short (when I average the numbers). I know where the overages are in the groceries. My coffee habit was a minimum of $25 a month. Cheese and breads were another $50. Scale is another issue. When a budget gets down to the nubs like this, the smallest hiccup can really fuck up the whole thing. And yes, I believer there is denial and privilege at play. Even if it is a matter of an extra couple of peaches at the Farmer's market or a cup of coffee while out, I know I feel the absolute right to treat myself. It'll all work out. I am special and I shouldn't have to go without. Right? That's what the great American message is 24/7. Old habits - I'm saturated with them.
And truth is, things do work out. I have been treated by guests, neighbors and my son. I have had the opportunity to make a few bucks here and there to mostly offset these overages. But, let me return to my upcoming retirement. I will be receiving so much more than I live on now - in a relative sense. How will I live differently? What is my budget going to change?

I have been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks. I am planning a bunch of projects for next year - 10 in 2010. These will take every bit of available money I can raise. I will be building my own living lab - a permaculture patch in this little mobile home park. This means I will sustain this budget in order to gradually build this miniature food forest, a self-sustaining urban garden. Some year I will be able to afford to jump off the electrical grid. I'd like to be as much of a closed system as I can muster. I want my living to be an example of walking the talk. I think this baby boomer can find real redemption and purpose in sharing all I am learning with others.


Ecogeek said...

Congratulations on your retirement application. I work at a pension trust, determining what people's retirement benefits will be, so I have some inkling of the process you're going through. Best of luck having a speedy and red-tapeless retirement.

I understand your frustration over not having met your frugality goal. But sometimes I read your blog and it reminds me of a scene in Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi," where Gandhi is struggling with his personal growth and his wife says to him, "And think how hard it is for those of us who don't even want to be as good as you."

It's true, you may have failed (in your mind), but you've done far better than anyone asked of you, and been a real inspiration to those of us who do want to be that good, but lack your conviction.

Thank you.

katecontinued said...

How very kind. My thanks for the encouragement. said...

Well said, ecogeek! "Gandhi, where Gandhi is struggling with his own personal growth.."

Kate is an amazing woman, and I have the privledge of being her neighbor. She is a wealth of innovation, knowledge, and creativity! I feel now is your awakening! The true "You" shall unfold with splendour! I'm so excited for you. All the plans that you have and I get to watch the Artist at work, it is always exciting and a pleasure!

Thank you Kate!
"Yes, I am a FAN"

katecontinued said...

Wow, I am a bit discombobulated - with my real world and viral world coming together through Viralnurse. I am genuinely flattered with kind words, ever aware of my own lack of grace in accepting compliments. Thank you. I hope we can sit down for an interview soon - your story needs to be told.

Pamela said...

Thanks, I look forward to it!

E-Street Cafe!