Hard Times

I watched Kit Kittredge the other day. Kit Kittredge is an American Girl doll and all American Girl dolls come with a book that tells about their life and the time period in which they live. Kit happens to live during the Great Depression and they made a movie from the book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a nice little film and it doesn’t hurt that it has Chris O’Donnell and Stanley Tucci in it.

It got me thinking, though. People really seemed to band together back then. They took in relatives and boarders to help make ends meet. They sold whatever they could sell and bartered for what they needed. They saved everything, they made do with what they had and somehow got by.

I wonder why we aren’t seeing more of this now. Do people just not want to put up with the hassle of having other people moving in with them? Do they value their space over their families or friends? Are we all so accustomed to having our own private bubbles that we can’t fathom sharing things in such an intense way?

I’ve been pondering these things as I go about the business of rebuilding my life. I don’t like having to be on food stamps and welfare but I don’t have a choice. Until I can find a good-paying job, I have to take it. But I do sometimes think that life would be a lot easier if I could move in with my sister. She’s in a tough place financially, too, but she doesn’t want to do it. She says we’d kill each other if we had to live together. She may be right but still, it would be nice to have one more person there to help carry the burden a bit. She helps me out immensely, watching the girls when I need to be somewhere that I can’t take them, but I feel like we would both be doing a lot better if we pooled what meager resources we both have. Sure, it would be difficult – my sister and I are two very different people and I’m sure we’d drive each other insane on a regular basis, but I can’t help but think we’d both be better off.

Maybe it’s that most people haven’t hit hard enough times. Maybe we won’t, maybe this isn’t as bad as it was back then. Or maybe it’s that we’re all a little more selfish these days, wanting our own couches, wanting each kid to have his or her own bedroom, wanting to keep living as though financially, we are all just fine.

So after letting this post sit here and coming back to it several times, I have come to the conclusion that I have completely lost my ability to write. This post sucks. It doesn’t convey nearly what I want it to and it’s pissing me off but I’m publishing it anyway because if I don’t plow thru the shit, I may stop writing altogether.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debra
    May 02, 2010 @ 15:43:08

    I don’t think this post sucks at all. The entire time reading it, my mind was racing with thoughts I wanted to pursue.

    I don’t know if we have it better or worse than those times. Life seemed incredibly more difficult then but also much simpler. Today, it seems more difficult, not to live, but to enjoy. We have lost the ability to appreciate and enjoy simple pleasures. It’s easier to find fun in things that come with electrical cords or gas engines.

    Anyway, you have set my mind spinning and I now feel the need to write and get some of this out. Thank you for that.

    Keep working on your sister. You may drive each other crazy but you may be exactly what the other needs right now, too. You’ll never know until you try. Could be an amazing time for you both… or at least good blog fodder! 🙂


  2. talesofmy30s
    May 02, 2010 @ 16:09:10

    Post does not suck.

    A simpler life sounds wonderful to me.


  3. sandy
    May 02, 2010 @ 21:16:53

    One thing that’s very different now, than then: widespread use of credit cards. People are in tough times now, but many of them don’t stop spending. It’s easier to be in denial for longer about how bad things really are.

    And yes, for all our advances in communication technology, I think maybe we are more isolated/”bubbled” in individual units, somehow, and reluctant to give that up, for better or worse.


  4. Kelly
    May 03, 2010 @ 10:51:09

    I wasn’t detecting any suckage. Keep plowing. It’s entirely necessary.


  5. Sarahtoo
    May 04, 2010 @ 22:03:38

    This post didn’t suck! I can completely sympathize with wanting another adult around and with easing each other’s burdens. That’s good stuff. Whether you end up moving in with your sister or not, though, you know (as I do) that you are fully capable. You’re a smart, savvy woman who can make whatever needs to happen, happen. Don’t give up on any of it!


  6. Julie Beman
    May 17, 2010 @ 07:20:10

    Just yesterday my partner and I were discussing this. We live in a 3000 square foot house and have a housemate. I just moved here and am accustomed to having 1600 square feet all to myself. Having a roommate is irritating to me. I want to walk around naked. I want all the space in the fridge. I don’t want to share a bathroom with someone I don’t sleep with or who didn’t come out of my own body.

    There’s a chance that our housemate will move out in the near future. I was thrilled, even though we’d lose some important household income. And then my partner said that he’d ask his nephew to move in with us.


    But as we discussed it, I realized that we have more than enough space for 3 people, and possibly even more. Sharing space is charmingly old-fashioned, and leading-edge green. It’s also frugal: my expenses have been cut by more than one-third. This change alone has enabled me to make some significant, positive changes in my life.

    And besides bragging rights about green-ness and frugality, isn’t it more important than ever to learn how to live with others? We’re oh so careful about who we associate with, choosing our tribe with surgical precision, usually online.

    It’s good to be exposed to others’ quirks; to have an opportunity to learn to speak up for oneself; to share housework and pet care. It’s good to learn not to be self-indulgent and greedy; to compromise.


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