When life hands you lemons, sell them

Micah Brown

To what lengths will humans go to make ends meet? When I reached the end of my line, I was not above anything. Prove it, you ask? Well you are reading the account of last Saturday night’s Lariat poker night champion.

I didn’t spend the money on new jeans or some new DVDs. No, I spent the money on my March electric bill. That’s how I roll.

It has been far too long since the last time I came across a couple hundred bucks that I could earmark for whatever the hell I want. Living month-to-month is somewhat of an art, and I seem to have a pretty good handle on it now.

When I got laid off back in November, I wasn’t sure where my next source of income would come from. I have been a full-time employee since the ripe age of 15-years-old, and, when I was given the pink-slip from my former boss, I immediately felt nervous about being able to find a new decent-paying job in this beautiful economic climate.

I also felt that at age 23, I had been busting my rump for eight years and felt okay with accepting government aid. But collecting unemployment is not as simple as just signing up then sitting back and waiting for a check to arrive every two weeks. It is actually a pretty time-consuming process, not too mention searching for work.

The state of California has bailed me out of a possible eviction, default on a couple outstanding balances, and kept some gas in my gas tank, so I am not complaining, but when I reported to the Employment Development Department that I was starting a new semester at Saddleback College, they immediately cut me off like an unwanted stepchild who just turned 18.

So, let me get this straight, an individual who is actively seeking ways to better himself through higher education, increasing his skills and knowledge, is suddenly a questionable candidate for unemployment benefits? The best part about that is there are probably thousands of bums across this state who are sitting on their couches eating junk food and watching Maury, living off the fat of the land.

Why is that acceptable? My phone interview comes at the end of this week, and I’ll get my chance to try and convince the EDD that I still need the money and I am still actively pursuing full-time work, whilst attending college.

It should work out in my favor, but it is still a pain-in-the-neck coming up with enough money to cover all my monthly bills, when all-of-a-sudden checks stop coming without notice.

Like I said, I have figured out the art of the month-to-month budget, and I have gotten pretty creative this last month. Along with my poker winnings, I have found other ways to get by. The occasional odd jobs and freelance writing have helped out, along with numerous craigslist sales. 

I really didn’t need that Chinese bamboo tricycle taking up space in my garage, or my koa-wood-ukulele, but I will surely miss them.

I told myself I would never resort to putting my 1955 Mercury custom up for sale, which was my first car, but I guess my priorities have tilted quite a bit in the last year. It took a few swigs of whiskey to ease the pain of that wound.  Sometimes sacrifices must be made; wow, I feel so damn old.

Hopefully the economy will take a turn for the better and I can keep my head above water long enough to make it to the end of my apartment lease, or until I graduate college, or find adequate means of income.

Until then, I’ll take it day-by-day and go from there.