I remember last year that I was totally broke I did not have even the money to get to work, I had nothing the whole day. The fridge in the condo unit I was staying has nothing for me and I had 20 pesos in my pockets. P10 became load which zeroed out in the next ten minutes of having it since I had to tell my boss I couldn’t make it to work. I didn't lie, I told her I'm broke.
The other P10 became a piece of banana which of course disappeared within ten seconds.
The day before I had a couple of flat tops for lunch, it wasn’t filling but of course it was better than without. I couldn’t bother to call my mother in the US or any of my other siblings living a life of comfort in different corners of the globe.
I chose to stay here, to fulfill my dreams right in the soil of the motherland.
There was no other way, it was a Friday and I had to get back to my home in Laguna, it was the first and last time that my salary was delayed for a few days. I couldn’t bring myself to borrow money but of course out of hopelessness and famine I was forced to contact a friend of mine who works in Makati who was kind enough to lend me some cash. The problem was I didn’t have the money to go to Makati from Mandaluyong.
I was doomed.
But of course that was last year, at the end of the day my salary went through and I was able to go back to Laguna for the weekend.
Today, I may be experiencing the same thing. I just know that being a writer will never ever make me rich. It’s a very enduring profession but I keep telling myself that I’m not doing it for money but yes, a little bit of comfort won’t hurt and comfort would of course cost money.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell and other writers before me have suffered as well as writers. Fitzgerald had to toil in order to support his lavish lifestyle and George Orwell hid his poverty stricken status by hiding away and keeping the bread he bought in his pockets for people might see him buying cheap bread.
This week, I found myself eating Kimchi Ramyun noodles and baked beans straight from a can.
The feeling of air-headedness starts to kick in when I haven’t been eating healthy and nutritious food. As a faithful vegetarian, I need to eat more varying vegetables in order to fulfill my daily nutritional needs, which of course were flung to the Pasig River since the beginning of the week.
I try to kill my blazing appetite with water. The fridge at my place in Katipunan only has a spread of Sugar-free orange marmalade and another bottle of molasses. It could last me another week.
Another book will be sold again this week and somehow, I consider it as a shining ray of hope to extend my days before complete famine and destituteness.
Meetings and events that requires attendance may have to be postponed which also meant that the progress of my careers would stop to a halt as well. I shall go, even if I have to pack boiled sweet potatoes for lunch.
What George Orwell and I had in common, I recently discovered, was that despite famine looming over our heads – we were able to hide it quite perfectly. He never wanted anyone to know he was a starving writer when he was in France that he couldn’t even tell his laundry maid that he had no money to pay her anymore that his maid thought he had another one doing the work for him and had conceived contempt towards him – that, he’d rather accept.
In my case, I do my own laundry because the idea of stranger going through my clothes is enough to drive to neurotic madness and yes, I also won’t pay for a service I can do better myself. No one else knows how to take care of my clothes but me alone.
Being broke and having this status burned on my skin and soul keeps me grounded. That girl that everyone’s telling me to ask out will never be asked out, for the sole reason – I can’t afford dinner. I can’t afford to pay for her fare, drive her to places and thankless tasks I would normally do for someone out of sheer honor and a tinge of pride. Because I have this ideology that frugal pocket is proportional to frugal passion and the code of etiquette for lesbians – “the asker pays for dinner”.
I also can’t entertain others when asked out, because I will always offer to go Dutch and since I can’t even afford to go Dutch then I would rather spend the evening reading books and studying new materials or writing the novel I’ve been dying to finish.
If the asker or askee insists on paying for my dinner: an epic battle will ensue.
Friends are also starting to miss me since I haven’t been able to hang out.
Poverty is like a chain and ball cuffed to my every limb. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m unhappy, I just know that I’ll get through this high and low state of my early-twenties life.
Buy my book… :D