One of the women who hangs out with us at EWMA was in the studio this morning crafting, and we hadn't seen each other in a while, so we were catching up a bit. I told her about how I was taking this Welfare Food Challenge, and to please forgive me if I happened to be a little out of it, but that I was feeling pretty tired. She nodded, and we kept chatting.
"So did you get your Starbucks?" she asked.
My mind was racing. What Starbucks? My Starbucks? What was my Starbucks?
"Starbucks?!" (I couldn't articulate my thoughts too well, evidently).
"Yeah, like you know."
"Like did I go to—oh, no! No, absolutely not! No way I'm spending that on coffee!"
She laughed. "I see!"
Of course, I've always known that Starbucks charges a lot for coffee. Pretty much all cafes do. And I've always known (and even felt, as a child) that there's something whacked right out about Starbucks' whole deal. But I would go there, apparently. Enough even for someone to think of it as "my Starbucks".
She went on, "what does your nana think about this challenge?"
"You know, I don't know if she really understands it . . . not because she's stupid, but because she lived it. In fact, I wonder if she thinks it's kind of silly of me."
She nodded, knowingly. Kept crafting.
"You'll be okay. You might lose a few pounds, but you'll be okay."
That's what my grandma said too.
I spent the latter part of the morning and the early afternoon sorting literally the tiniest beads I've ever seen from the sand, crumbs, bits of string, and little bug husks with which they'd been unfortunately stored (with the help of some wonderful volunteers), which was about as much as I had the capacity to do today anyway. And then at around a strategic 2:00pm, I ate breakfast.
The blessing that is a banana when a banana is the only produce you have available to you for a week is like, man . . . I don't even really like bananas, and I'm so pumped to eat my banana every day. And by every day, I mean the past two days. Because I'm as privileged as all get-out—I even have a "my Starbucks". Ugh.
I will say that I now know from personal experience that $18 of food for one week does not prepare you to be the best worker you can be. Know how I spent my afternoon? Me neither. I'm pretty sure I just sort of checked my emails like a robot (work = emails?????), wandered around the studio like a confused dog, and finished the day with a bang, cutting leaf shapes out of construction paper. How anyone could conceive of $610 per month as a means to sustain a person at least well enough to look for work is a million billion percent beyond me.
Anyway, 5:30pm instant noodles.
And I was supposed to go to a meet and greet thing for participants of Heart of the City Festival's Realms of Refuge residency at InterUrban Gallery, and I even RSVP'd saying I'd go, but I was so beat by the time the day was through that I had to just go home. Plus, I had to make sure I had enough energy to get the ginger that my dinner desperately needed.
So I got the ginger.
I now have 74 cents left to spend. But FACT: garlic at Safeway is $4.69 a pound. I mean, I know garlic's not that heavy, but like what? Isn't a latte like one pound probably? For sure a pound of garlic would be a lot more practical than one latte, but still. Anyway, I got the ginger, and made this MASTERPIECE:
I had learned my lesson: (1) less lentils, (2) drain the lentils properly, (3) get the ginger.
But also, new lesson: more lentils than this though.
My cousin and I watched a movie and I ate everyone's all-time favourite movie snack: peanut butter. For those who are maybe "starving students," or starving anyones, or just anyone living in Vancouver where nothing is affordable pretty much ever, maybe you have seen No Name peanut butter on the shelf while shopping and wondered, is it really that different? Should I just save money? Like, I dunno, man. If you can help it, I probably would not go there. This peanut butter is fine, but it's also kind of the texture of toothpaste.
I'm blown away by people's ability to survive on welfare. I feel like I sound like I have more energy than I did yesterday, but I don't. I'm just kinda more fucked up, I think. I feel exhausted and a little bit crazy. I'm amazed by and have deep respect for people who live this, have lived this, are continuing to live this on a daily basis and who somehow stay politically active, pressing, and pressing, and pressing the government to raise the rates. I'm not that in touch with my hunger (although I feel it every second of every day), but I think I'm getting more in touch with how emotionally wrought I am.