Monday, March 1, 2010

Blue and Broke

My sister's son is getting married this summer. The invitation is sitting atop my fridge. The family lives in Ontario. I want to attend, but the cost is prohibitive, nay, impossible for me to even consider. Saying 'no' to the invite while retaining my pride has been difficult. The excitement of thinking about meeting with my family, the bride's family and all those invited has slowly dissipated, leaving me feeling blue. And broke.

It serves to remind me that travel for pleasure is out. As is most entertainment.

I enjoy going to local theatre productions and listening to live music in my community.

To do these things, I make trades. I offer to put up posters, sell tickets, make coffee, set up chairs, run 'front of house' activities, then to help clean up when the show is over. This can only happen if I know someone involved.

The same is true of furthering my education or indulging in personal endeavours. I swap housecleaning for singing lessons. Have taken on secretarial/organizational duties for a nonprofit society, in return for attending their professional conferences; and do gardening for bedding plants so I may enjoy fresh flowers throughout the warm seasons. I barter with a friend who grows organic vegetables. This lessens the cost of buying from the Old Farmer's Market or grocery store.

Occasionally, I am interested in certain entertainment advertised in the local paper which states that entry is "by donation." I assume that means if I don't have anything to offer, be it money or a tin of something for the food bank; I will still be allowed to enjoy what is presented. When I show up, I find someone sitting at the entrance suggesting that the 'donation' be $5 - $20. A burning shame overcomes me when I tell them I have nothing to give, that I thought 'donation' meant, even if I have nothing, I would be welcome. As this has happened on a number of occasions, I have become wary of approaching such events in my community.

The constant juggling of priorities wears me down. I become morose, refuse to leave the house, retire behind the pages of a book and become disinclined to visit with good friends. The daily grind begets depression, even for a positive-thinking person like myself.


Chrystal Ocean said...

I know the feeling. I too stay indoors, withdraw into myself and even away from my computer activities. I disengage as completely as anyone can, going out only when I must. Poverty encourages this type of isolation because if you've no money to do things when you do go out, why bother going out at all? Even having 'a cuppa' with a friend can't be managed and I'm too embarrassed (and too tired from always having to refuse) to accept friends offers of a meal out or a movie. Hence, I disengage from friends too.

As for that donations issue, it burns me no end. At the last all candidates meeting I attended, for the May 2009 provincial election and referendum on electoral reform, donations also were requested. As I started to make my way out, I was stopped and reminded to make a "donation." I was so taken aback to be approached that way that I said something snarky in response. It embarrassed the hell out of the person who'd accosted me. I mean, that's what it felt like; the assumption that 'donation' means everyone is going to give something is like a slap in the face to those who can't. We are then shamed and made to feel guilty because of it.

terrie said...

Hi Chrystal

I organized a concert last October and hand selected my 'door' person for her sensitivity to the 'by donation issue'
At the door the price was 'pay what you can' and I encouraged her to tell people a smile is a donation.

I also ensured that the refreshments were availible for everyone with a donation jar for those who wanted to contribute to the costs.

I am about to start organizing the next concert and these 2 features will be key parts of my organizing.

sugarsnapster said...

I personally hate it when it is pay what you can, you hand them a 20, ten or five dollar bill because that is all you have on you, and instead of asking you how much you're wanting to pay they just pop it in the cashbox and assume you are giving it all to them.
humiliating and classist.