The life of poverty by Linda Tirado

Brooklyn                                                                                               (c) Peripatetic Media

Not only does Ms. Tirado manage to describe both the extensive hardship and difficulty of being poor, but she also is capable of pointing out how these people are able to live, even if it means enjoying bad habits (such as smoking) or sacrificing long-term benefits for a moment of joy.

Such a balanced account is rare. It is in complete contrast to ideological pieces such as those we discussed earlier this year on public housing in New York. She has no agenda. Simply describes the life, and even manages to convey the mind of such a person through her language and the structure of her account, in part by jumping chaotically from point to point.

It is exceptional.

Excerpt from "Poor people don't plan long term. We'll jsut get our hearts broken" by Linda Tirado:

I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s. It’s that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to.
There’s a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there’s money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

Henry Whittlesey
September 21
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