I've been doing this 30 Days of Thankfulness thing. (Jump on the wagon! Tweet or Facebook under #30DaysofThankfulness or 30 Days of Thankfulness, respectively.) I wrote this piece in preparation for the endeavor and submitted it, but my publications weren't interested, and so it gets trickled down to you fantastic people. (Sorry. Or you're welcome. Depending on how much you like me. You decide.)
For me, they usually go like this. 30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 5: I am thankful for Earl Grey tea and wool socks, which make everything seem a little cozier. (See my first post, which was, "30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 1: I am thankful for the space heater because we are too cheap [note: this means poor] to turn on our heat because our building is a money-pit for H/VAC. So thank you, space heater, for enabling me to shower without certain delicate parts of my person freezing off.)
It's really easy. But all of this thankfulness has gotten me thinking. And I came to this conclusion: (Note: this is where the actual, official "piece" starts. Just FYI. And because the writing is way better so I thought you should know.)
I really can be a whiny pain in the ass sometimes.
Now, now, let me finish. It’s true. I don’t mean to say that I’m whiny in the whole, “I want to go to Disneyworld right now!” kind of way. (Usually…..) No, I’m whiny in the, “My fucking iPhone case is dirty” kind of way.
This is the type of moment where my husband will say, “First-world problems, right babe?”
I know that saying “First-world” is not PC anymore. I know we’re supposed to say “Developed World” for the First and “Developing World” for the Third. (No Nation Left Behind, am I right? If you’ve ever watched the news, you know that’s a crock of shit.)
And I know we have problems in the “First-World,” too. But we also probably whine more than any other… “world.” How else would #firstworldproblems have trended on Twitter? Or a Tumblr page have been started under the very same name?
Maybe this is a sign that we’re onto ourselves. We know we've got it pretty good. To quote the Lebanese refugee/immigrant relative of a friend of mine, “This is America! You don’t know poor. Even your poor people are fat here!” (Don’t believe him? Think about it. Do any of the poor you see standing in line at the soup kitchen look anything like the poor standing in line for a bucket of water at a Syrian Refugee Camp? Not a chance.)
So what does this say about us, that we know that even those among us who may technically be poor still have access to some basic social programming and opportunity. Is it enough? Absolutely not. Is it more than the “developing world” gets? You bet your ass.
I’m not telling you to stop bitching and moaning about how your low-lights look a little brassy. Bitch away, friend! I’ll talk about my cottage cheese ass. We’ll be best friends, you and I: you, the sassy blonde and me, the loveable, squishy friend who tries to be funny even when it isn’t appropriate like that time at the funeral for my sister’s hamster when I told a fart joke and got the hiccups from laughing so hard and was asked to leave the graveside. Sorry. Shoebox-sized hole in the ground.
Believe me, I’m with you. Like I said from the start, I’m the whiniest pain in the ass you’ll meet when it comes to my “developed” problems. I’ll give you some examples:
“I cannot believe Trader Joe’s is out of ripe avocados. I know they aren't in season, but they’re grown in Mexico. Isn't there only one season there?”
“Netflix is being buggy but there’s nothing on Hulu we haven’t seen. Boo hiss.”
“I HAVE NO CLOTHES!” (Generally as I say this, I am standing in a literal pile up to my knees of clean and dirty clothes. What I really mean to say here is “I have no clothes that make my ass look like J.Lo.”)
“I’m so poor.” (Note: Whenever I say this, I am online and have 2 of the $29.99 dresses in my cart but really want one of the $59 dollar dresses. Am I spending the exact same amount of money buying two? Duh. Will I spend $59 on a singular dress rather than plural dresses? You’re out of your damned mind. Because in my head there is a difference. I am too “poor” to justify spending sixty on one dress, but not on two. Ask your girlfriend about this. She will totally get it. Unless she’s legitimately rich, like “First-World Rich.” Then she probably won’t.)
“I hate being poor.” (This slightly different sentiment is usually uttered while I’m buying two cases of wine at Trader Joe’s. Yes. 24 bottles for like id="mce_marker"1 total. But I really want a nice, aged Chablis, bitches.)
“My iPhone sucks.” (Note: It doesn’t. It can’t. It’s a f**king iPhone, you spoiled douche.)
“I have split ends.”
Ok, that last one is a real kicker.
Are we horrible people? No. Are we totally out of touch with reality to the point that we have no concept of our relative fortune? I doubt it. Because here’s the thing: I may be bitching about how I can’t afford to buy a new pair of Toms ‘til the end of the month or that they postponed the premiere of Community (seriously, wtf is up with that?) but at the end of the day, I know how to count my blessings.
I read about Malala Yousafzai and can freely admit that I know nothing about bravery or struggle. I never had a guy shoot me twice in the head and neck on my way home from school because I was trying to get an education. Heavy truths, my friends, heavy truths. And even though I make statements about being poor, I know I'm being an asshole. And I can admit it. Because while Carter and I don't have much money - we can't afford vacations or clothes that weren't on sale or to go out for dinner much - we are immeasurably blessed. We have a roof over our heads, jobs, the fortune of being born free in a country that offers us opportunities for growth, enough money to buy the things we need, even if we don't always have enough to buy the things we want. And what's more, as Carter always reminds me when I get to bitching, "We're rich in love."
And that might be the ticket.
Maybe the real “First-World Problem” isn't griping about getting dressed nicely so you don’t look lazy when you pay the gardener for mowing your lawn. (actual post on the Tumblr - not mine. I don't have a gardener. I don't even have a yard. But if I did, I wouldn't hire a gardener. I would enlist my entitled teen-aged neighbors to cut the grass. For FIVE DOLLARS! I did it. Only, wait. I did it for free. I'm pretty sure most of you did too. So, nevermind. You will mow my law, entitled teenager. And in exchange, I will NOT tell your mom that I saw you drop a roach in my recycling bin, you devious little bastard. ) Keep whining. I know that I will be.
I will always find something to complain about, whether the delivery guy is late with my pizza or the wireless internet is down. I’ll complain as bitterly as anyone. But I will also, before I go to sleep that night in my comfortable bed in my apartment in my safe neighborhood in my stable country, realize how lucky I am.
So here goes.
Hi. I’m Katie. And I bitch about things that, at the end of the day, won’t matter and at the end of my life, I won’t even remember. I whine about everything from the store being out of my brand to the fact that I haven’t had a pedicure in 6 months to my wish that all beef was free-range and grass-fed so I could eat it without hating myself. (I still eat it, don’t get me wrong. But the self-loathing that follows the consumption of industrially produced beef is terrible. #FirstWorldProblems.) I hate that I don’t have a pair of Frye riding boots in black and I’m devastated that Better Off Ted was cancelled. I think that I should have more paid vacation time and that air travel should be cheaper so that I could do it more. I want the new iPhone 5 but my contract doesn't renew for another year. I can’t live in the winter without heated seats. I am a spoiled douche.
But they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I’m not saying my whining means I have a problem, per say, but admitting that I have nothing to complain about is the first step to pulling my head out of my ass. Really.
It's Monday (my least favorite day), but it's a Monday that I woke up to, which, when you think about it, is a huge thing to be thankful for.
So here's to thankfulness, to taking a moment to pause and count blessings. And, in my case, pulling my head out of my ass, being grateful, and carrying on.
Happy Monday, y'all!