There is the faintest dusting of snow this morning. A skin of white on the roof of my garage. Branches are bare. Gray is the pervading color all around. The smarter of the squirrels have foraged and now sit fatly wherever it is squirrels hole up in these parts. The dumber of the squirrels check their bank accounts hourly online, hoping that their supply of acorns will last through the week.
And so it goes.
I’m a dumb squirrel this winter. Juggling various accounts, hoping to avoid major credit card debt. My income comes from a pastiche of sources. The only dependable part just barely covers my myriad mortgages. Everything else trickles in here and there like faucets turned to drip during a cold snap. An editing job here, a writing job there. Occasional project management. The journalism I do pays roughly seven cents a word. Translated to an hourly wage parking meters make more money than I do.
Strangely though, (and I’ve heard this from many starving yet tenacious artist types) just when I’m down to husks, a check or an opportunity arrives. A fat editing job or a grant. Hardly a windfall, but miraculous, none-the-less.
And at 3 a.m. money woes seem to loop ever more prominently. You wake up for no apparent reason, and before you can sink back into your dreams, the black tape of hell binds you, jerking you into cul de sacs of doom: the what-if machine with lead boots and empty pockets. You slip down the hierarchy into Maslow’s inferno. No longer reaching for that crag wherein lies self-actualization, no, it’s down to the basics. Food, shelter and so on.
Luckily the doom loop sleeps during daylight hours. (Like a vampire.) Financial strategies present themselves. Belt-tightening that looked tortuous in the middle of the night morph into obvious solutions.
As a writer, I’ll never be wealthy. And as a dumb squirrel, I’ll tend toward modest piles of acorns. But most important is the gift to see money for what it really is: abstraction once removed from a thing in and of itself. I know how to find it if I have to. I know how to work. I like the view from the high branch though. Especially now that the flurries have picked up.