With all good intentions, I set out to register the new car today. At the town office I found out that I needed the title to the car, which I did not have. I called Celeste and she had no idea where it was. She said she would look and call me back. I drove back home and waited, then finally called her. She could not find the document and refused to get a new copy because it would cost her $20.00. She promised to keep looking, though. Meanwhile my old case worker Diana arrived as per our appointment to see if she cold help me with my fuel bill problems. She found out from HEAP, the fuel assistance program I applied for, that I had been determined eligible for $180., or thereabouts. Beyond that, the governor has just made emergency funds available to low income people to the tune of $45. apiece. Together these do not even cover half of my recent bill, let alone address the problem of the rest of the winter.
For a few minutes I felt totally defeated, without even a glimmer of an idea of what to do. I still have no idea, but at least I recovered from the shock. I realized I had been counting on fuel assistance to pay my bill, as it always has done in the past. I haven't needed to pay for oil on my own since I left Parkview Avenue. And now the cost is so high I can't possibly afford it.
After Diana left I talked to Celeste again. She still couldn't find the title to the car, so I called the insurance company to change back to the Chrysler while this was worked out. I agreed to pay the fee for the duplicate title and will meet Celeste at the town office tomorrow to fill out the papers and turn over the money. The day turned gray and it started to snow. I slunk into the living room to escape into a book. My trusting little boys gathered around me and lapped my face comfortingly. They settled down to chew their toys happily.
This is the first time in memory that I find myself in a situation where I can see no acceptable solution. There is no cheaper place to live than the one I have. Because of Phyllis' generosity I have the cheapest rent I have ever had. The only place to go from here is subsidized housing, where I would not be able to have my dogs or my chickens. That alternative is simply unthinkable. Or so I think from the point of view a person who can not conceive of giving up her life-style. It is small comfort that people are starving and without shelter, that soldiers are dying, that Avian flu and AIDS are killing children, that New Orleans was ruined and people lost their homes and everything in them, that the Tsunami killed so many people in Asia, that in this country poor people live with rats and eat garbage, and on and on and on. I have come to depend on a certain way of living, a certain freedom to do as I choose. I feel the arrogant "entitlement" of the American middle class, where the worst thing that can possibly happen is that I have to give up my three pedigreed dogs.
And yet, that is the way it is.