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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maggots, Money and Magic

This morning I got up late but refreshed. The weather here is suddenly cool and has been rainy for a couple weeks. I was finally able to turn off the AC and just let the house sit here, uncooled and unheated. 

I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. And while I was sitting there, I noticed a maggot trying to find someplace to live/eat/breathe in the baseboard.

Usually when there is one maggot, there is a whole family of them, writhing across some otherwise clean surface trying to find a new home. I am not ashamed to admit that this is my 3rd experience with a maggot migration. The first was over a year ago in my kitchen. It happened while I was cleaning (I run a fairly tight ship in terms of cleaning so I see the maggots as a sign that I live in harmony with nature not that I am a lousy housekeeper). The second was at Bosslady's where they blended in almost perfectly with the tile. I spent a full 60 minutes spotting and chasing down maggots with a dustpan and then dumping their small writhing remains off her deck.

There a lot of things which fail to disgust me: poo, pee, jiz, blood and bugs. But maggots, barf and worms freak me out at least a little bit. Barf especially. 

Anyways, since I'm not squeamish about spiders or roaches or insects in general, I am typically the level headed person who removes them. To put it in archaic cultural terms: I am the man in the family. So today, as I calmly (but with slight disgust) tracked down and swept up little maggots as they made their mad-dash to someplace, it didn't even occur to me that I was doing this alone. And, once I had collected all the maggots, I proceeded directly outside where I fed them to the chickens. This caused great delight amongst the foul and I was particularly pleased with myself for turning maggots into marmalade.

There is something to be said about HAVING to do things. At my job, I interact with a lot of people who don't have to work, don't have to clean and don't really have to do much with their lives. More often than not, these folks are walking disasters. If I didn't have to wrangle maggots, I most certainly wouldn't. If I didn't have to clean the occasional dog barf from the floor (nearly causing me to barf in the process), I wouldn't do that either. Last time my house was invaded by maggots, I was horrified, disgusted and thoroughly freaked out. I felt that there was something wrong with my entire life because a) I had maggots and b) I had nobody to help me with them. 

If I had money I could at least, theoretically, hire somebody else to deal with the maggots although by the time any hired maggot eliminator arrived, the maggots would have found themselves a nice warm place to feed and breed. 

For a long long time I had an escape fantasy that some hot rich white dude in a porsche would ride into my life and we would tear off into the sunset burning fossil fuels as if there was no tomorrow. (For some reason, in this fantasy, the guy was never as douchey as I just made him sound). Then I read this book which I can't remember the title or the author of but it was about how to be a successful (and typically single) business woman and the things which typically hold women back. One thing the author mentioned was that most women have an escape fantasy about money - - especially when you're a risk taker who is constantly putting all her money, soul and guts on the line to build her own business. My escape fantasy has always been some variation on the classical prince charming. 

Of course prince charming never had to deal with lowly things like maggots and menstrual cramps. 

Lately I've been struggling to pay off a credit card which charges me 30% interest. Ugh. I have a ton of debt and it all came from putting my heart and soul on the line to pursue my dreams. I don't regret a cent of it. And now that I have a (somewhat) good job, I am able to make steady payments. But the debt doesn't disappear overnight. 

Many people have encouraged me to just ask my parents for the money to pay off this credit card and then I can pay them back at 15% but I was too proud to do it. Yesterday, against my better judgement, I emailed my parents asking if I could postpone some debts that I have to them in order to take care of this card. I got a lecture! It was humiliating. I should never have asked. 

But before I got the lecture, I went to the grocery store to spend my last $30 in the world. And that is when I realized:

It is the limits that make life interesting and make us who we are. My life is not limited in such a way that it is impossible for me to grow or live or thrive. I am not impoverished nor am I uneducated (despite the fact that my education seems to be pretty meaningless when it comes to my salary). And so far in life, I have done a pretty good job of rescuing myself. 

I've paid off credit card debt before. And the times when I had the least money were the times where I had to be most creative. In our culture we have this concept of the "starving artist". I have chosen to reject that notion. I believe that I can live a creative life and (eventually) become self employed doing creative things without having to be destitute and dysfunctional. I don't see pursing my creative endeavors and having money as being mutually exclusive. 

But as I have slimmed my life down past the point that I thought it could be slimmed, I've gotten better at certain things. I've gotten better at maintaing relationships, at writing, at being organized about pursing my goals. Life suddenly seems more simple.

Which makes me wonder: is the artist starving because she is an artist or is the artist an artist because she is starving? I think it might be a little of both.

Having no spending money takes away the distractions. I can't simply be entertained nor can I simply be fed. I have to take the time to nurture myself, think for myself, entertain myself and find creative ways to give and be gracious to others. I have to find alternative ways to build a chicken coop and to feed my chickens. 

The last time I paid off massive credit card debt I wasn't being charged 30% interest. But it still was a miracle. Back then I had a car payment and a long commute and many other obstacles. I worked hard but still, the amount of money I paid off compared to my income and my expenses was just short of miraculous. 

I will get out of debt again. And the road won't be void of pleasure. I won't be zooming through it in Prince Charming's Porsche and I might step in some poo and be chased by maggots. But when I arrive at the castle, it will be all mine and I'll know enough to be grateful for it. And my chickens can roost in the towers while the dog herds sheep out in the pastures. 

And then I'll buy a hybrid and a ranch in west Texas. And I'll be off again on a new journey.

*This post was inspired, in part, by my Cockatiel friend who has always found a way to live her dreams and has never once accepted anything short of being her (delightfully tall) self but who still wouldn't mind having a date to the ball or a Mr. Art Deco on her arm (just as long as she doesn't have to get married to him and produce his offspring).

It turns out that I do have single friends who read this blog after all.


Ellie said...

Oh, the maggot thing completely grossed me out! But yes, limits make life interesting... very.

Stevi said...

My favorite words in this post "douchey" and "archaic/Man in the house."



Oh and thanks for adding me on your 'Friends' blog roll. woot woot.

kelleidoscope said...

Way to go on being able to take care of the maggots.. that would have freaked me out way too much.
Anywho- good luck with your credit card debt (is that something you can wish someone luck with?) This is kinda why I've never gotten a credit card, and hopefully never will. Though I unfortunately can't rule it out.

The Peach Tart said...

You can do it.

Special K said...

I second that :douchy:!

and my advice is: you are intentionally focusing on challenges that stretch you. Other challenges that require your capital ($, time, energy, focus)....so don't try to tackle the maggots on your own right now. Hire someone and be well!

Amy said...

"Walking disasters" - lol - I'm thankful for those for making me see the value of limits. Oh, and I'm totally impressed with your maggot mopping skills.

Vijay Eswaran said...

Fantastic post.:)

Megs said...

This was a great post... I am constantly torn between wanting a prince charming and wanting to the princess charming and sweeping someone else of their feet.

Stevi said...

Also... I've nominated you for a blogging award, you can go to my blog to check it out!


And keep up the fabulous blogging!

Akirah said...

Yes. One day, you will be free from that crazy debt. You've just gotta be patient and diligent.

I tell myself the same thing about my student loans. Ugh. Debt sucks.

Clever Elsie said...

I think most of us girls have indulged in our share of escapist Prince Charming fantasies. I even know some women who achieved those fantasies, but I realized pretty quickly that I didn't want to trade myself for financial security.

People with money definitely have it a lot easier in life, but as you noticed, there's something to be said for the strength of character that we have to develop without it. And I totally agree with you that you don't have to be destitute to be an artist! Nowadays, I think there are more possibilities for making a living creatively than ever before.

Nancy said...

Did you ever find out where the maggots came from, and/or exactly what type of dipterous insect (fly, mosquito, gnat, etc.) invaded your home and dropped off their wiggily, disgusting children for you to babysit? I won't bother you with all the gorry, details but I need to find out on behalf of a good friend...if it was me, I would have called my Orkin guy, and I still might if no luck online! Thanks for your time.

The Singlutionary said...

Ellie: Maggots=gross. Limits=interesting. 100% in agreement!

Stevi: I am delighted to list you as a friend! I also realized that I need to fix the link so that it will give the feed from your blog and not just stick you at the bottom of the list!

Kelleidoscope: Having a credit card can be a good thing. I wouldn't have been able to do what I did with my life without it. But I wish I had gotten a job a full six months sooner because that would have certainly made it all more managable. It did get kinda out of control towards the end.

Peach Tart: Thank you! I know you know what I'm talking about!

Special K: Douchey is the best adjective ever! And the maggots seem to be gone. The douchey men, however, are still poping up here and there.

Amy: Why thank you! I have to remind myself every day to love my limits. Most of the time I just want to punch them in the face.

Vijay: Thank you for visiting and commenting!

Megs: I love your insights! I too want to sweep someone else off their feet. I don't want to ride off into someone else's sunset. I guess that the best option for riding off into the sunset with another person is that you take separate horses and you ride off into a mutual sunset . . . . if that makes sense. But I'd far rather be the knight in shining armor than the damsel in distress.

Stevi (again): Thank you for the award! How freaking awesome! I will check it out!

Akirah: Free from debt. Patient and diligent? None of these things make me think of myself. Although I am pretty diligent. Just not patient. It is the patient part that kills me.

Clever Elsie: I don't know that folks with money have it easier. I see a lot of crazy depressed people who've never had to work a day in their lives. But I do agree that if you have access to money, it does provide more opportunities. If I had about $150k right now I'd be on a totally different adventure than the one I'm on. But I'm not sure I'd know to be grateful for it.

Nancy: I do not know where the maggots came from. I have a dog and I also have chickens out back and every once in a while I get a few. I assume that the rest of them have died. There were not enough to cause me too much alarm. They can infest one crumble of dog food. I am pretty sure they were fly maggots as there had been some flies in the house a couple days before. But there haven't been any since so I think I got them all. I do not like babysitting human children much less insect babies.

Sixty and Single in Seattle said...

Great post. When I was married, rats were big in our town. We had some in the garage and in the basement. My ex was willing to set the traps, but I took on emptying them; he was big, but didn't like spiders either: Odd. And then I was divorced, and set the traps as well. Those rat traps take some muscle, and of course, you're trying not to breathe the whole time, because of what they say about droppings that might have dried and be airborne. And of course you have to hold your breath while you sweep up...
Anyway, thanks for the trip down the Memory Lane of Disgusting Creatures. So appropriate to the coming Halloween season...

Susan Walsh said...

Oh yes, starvation sparks creativity in the artist. For sure. It's necessary, I think, to find out what you've really got in you. I haven't starved for, ahem, way too long, but I once went two days on a can of Campbell's tomato soup.

The Singlutionary said...

Sixty and Single: YES, even if I were to have a knight-in-the-shining-porsche, he might be more afraid of maggots than I am. "The memory lane of disgusting creatures" = brillant. Happy halloween at my house! Real life haunted maggot house.

Susan: Yes, I STILL feel limited by the limits but I always have placed limits on myself to see if I could do it. I think I've gotten soft so this is my return to my roots (or something like that).

plentymorefishoutofwater said...

Haha...hilarious. I am a walking disaster.
Check out my dating blog for proof:

The Singlutionary said...

Plentymorefishoutofwater: delighted to find a man's dating blog! Love it and will follow you! Thank you for visiting and for your comments. And for joining me in the walking disasters club.

Anonymous said...

I agree-I have a pretty strong stomach for most things, but maggots I can't handle. I found a nest in my salad once. I may have eaten some because I didn't notice the wriggling until my fork was aout three inches from my mouth (lesson: ALWAYS look at your fork!!)