You know what I hate?
The social stigma about Food Stamps/SNAP and Welfare.
I want to put something into perspective for you. I live in Louisiana, where 1 in 4 people are on the system. The main cause for this is Hurricane Katrina— even ten years after it hit, we’re suffering the aftermath. There are still places where the debris and damage hasn’t been even cleaned. Could you imagine how hard it would be to recover from something like that?
Let’s look at something else. Louisiana is a terrible place to live and I really hope that I don’t offend anyone saying that. It’s not the state or the people— the place itself isn’t so bad and the people who live here are some of the nicest I’ve ever known. But, have you ever tried to BUY things here?
Let’s take a look at my expenses.
I live in Walker, LA. Here, the sales tax is 10%. TEN. Oh, and that’s on everything, including food. And THEN there’s a state tax. On top of that sales tax. Oh, and you want to eat out? Let’s take that Sales tax and state tax, and then add a 20% restaurant tax, that isn’t even shown on the receipt. That’s right, it exists and I didn’t even know about it until I worked as a waitress at Chili’s.
Let’s take a look at when I lived in Baton Rouge. We lived in a decent apartment, on the edge of a not-so good area. There weren’t a lot of choices that were affordable, but we also knew we couldn’t be in a place that would put us in an area where you quote, ‘didn’t want to be a white person’. We stretched our budget a bit by picking an apartment that was $785 a month.
Now let’s look at some grocery bills. I tried to spend as little on food as I could, and sadly, it’s really left us eating unhealthy.
Milk— $5.49 per gallon
Eggs— $1.89 a dozen
Bread— $2.49 a loaf
Sandwich Meat— $3.99 for the cheap turkey
Cheese— $2.28 for 12 slices of Chedder
A ten pound pack of Chicken? $11.99.
A 1 pound roll of ground beef? $4.59
I had NEVER paid this much for groceries, ever. In my whole life. I was used to ‘Texas’ prices, where I could get a Gallon of milk for $2.50 a gallon and a dozen eggs for $.99. AND, those were TAX FREE. I move to Louisiana and my grocery bill doubles.
Josh and I spent an average total of $75-100 a week on groceries, more if I needed to stock up on things like toilet paper ($5.49), paper towels ($3.99 for a two pack), Laundry detergant ($9.99) etc). That’s roughly $400-500 a month in groceries, give or take. I spent about $40-50 in gas a week.
Then, we had internet (which was necessary for Josh’s job)— $34.99 a month. If we weren’t late paying it.
Our light bill averaged about $100-140 a month, depending on the time of year.
Josh also had a car payment for his Honda back then, which added about $300 dollars to our average bills.
So, let’s total up our expenses for normal month, when we lived in Baton Rouge:
$120 (light bill)
$7 (Netflix, which while not a necessity, was still a bill)
$300 (Josh’s Car Payment)
Grand Total offfff: $1806
These were our AVERAGE, MONTHLY Expenses.
Now, let’s look at how much I made at this time. There was a time, when we lived in BR, that I worked three jobs. I worked part time at Payless, Part time at Chili’s and seasonal at Gamestop.
I made $8.05 at Payless and worked an average of 28 hours a week, which was the most I could being the ‘head part-time sales
associate’. That’s roughly $225 a week, which was about $901 a month. BEFORE taxes. I had an average of about $40 in taxes taken from my paycheck weekly, so in reality, I was left with about $740 a week from Payless.
At Chili’s, I worked about 30 hours a week, making $2.13/hour. That’s a whopping total of $64. Now, let’s talk tips. An AVERAGE night at Chili’s (which, let me tell you, people who eat at Chili’s don’t tip, unless you’re the bar tender) got me about $30-40 in tips. Sounds shitty, right? Do that math: 11 tables, who each leave you $4? That’s only $44. I rarely got tipped that much EVERY table, so the average was about $40. So if I work five nights a week, that’s about $200 in tips, MAYBE, plus my $64 in hourly wage. That’s again, before taxes, so I’d roughly leave with $200 a week, working there. That’s another $800 bucks for the month.
I only worked 1 or 2 nights for a few months at gamestop, at $7.25/hour, for a shift that was about 4 long. That’s an extra $29-58 a week, depending on the coverage they needed for the store.
So, let’s add everything up:
$1569, if I worked one day at Gamestop.
$1598, if I worked two.
That was working THREE JOBS. I was so exhausted that year, that I barely remember that period of my life. I opened at Payless, closed at Chili’s and worked at Gamestop in between. I came home and typically passed out almost immediately after taking a bath.
I was eventually offered a full-time position at Payless, making $9/hour, so I took it. I quit those two jobs and started full-time at Payless. Expenses are about the same and now I was working the max hours for full-time at Payless— 35 hours a week, at 9/hour. That’s 315, before taxes. And average of about $60 were taken out a paycheck, plus the $15 for my 401K, so that put my weekly paychecks at: $240, which was about $960 a month.
LUCKILY, Josh was working a lot of freelance jobs, because if he wasn’t, I’d still would have had to work another job, in addition, to just barely cover our basic monthly bills.
Know what the funny thing is?
I applied for food stamps several times and was denied every one, because I ‘made too much money’.
I’m not disputing that I made more money than say, someone on disability and with a child, but that’s not the point. The food assistance program is supposed to be for people who need assistance, right? I worked THREE jobs, we lived in a KINDA shitty area for STILL way too much, and spent as little as we could have on groceries.
We ended up having the car repossessed and being evicted from the apartment, because after Josh couldn’t find freelance work and I couldn’t nab a second job, we hit the shitter.
THAT is wrong.
Fast forward, we moved to Walker, LA into the swamp. We live in Josh’s Grandfather’s mobile home for $300 a month. I spend upwards in $100 a gas a week, getting to my job in BR, because I can’t find one out here. Eventually, I get laid off and struggle to find a job for two months. That was a hard, HARD time.
Finally, I nab a job even FARTHER from my previous Payless, but it’s a job right? Sandwich Shop on LSU campus. I’m still spending $100 a week in gas. I tended to put my tips in the car after I got off work, so that was about $12 a day. I worked roughly 20-25 hours a week at 8/hour. I averaged about $350 every two weeks, for about $700 a month.
But a jobs, a job, right? I WAS actively looking for another for almost half a year before I found one that paid less, but offered more hours and was closer to home. But I digress.
Now we’re paying $300 in rent a month, but our electricity bills are almost double— prolly because it’s a mobile home. In the winter, our bills averaged $220-300, because it got so effin cold in the house, we ran the heater more. In the summer, they still tended to be about $150-175. The nature of living in a flimsy house off the ground.
We’re now in Walker, were food is more expensive and the sales tax is higher. Grocery bills average about $125 a week. I was lucky that I got lunch with my shift, because often, that sandwich was MY ONLY meal of the day, aside from snacking when I got home.
Not to mention our Washer and Dryer Broke, so that’s about $10-12 a week that we spend on coin laundry.
So, let’s look at the expenses now.
$400 (gas, weekly)
$200 (electricty, on the butt low scale)
$1440, and I’m making $700 a month. We were DAMN lucky that Josh was able to find a bit of contract work during this year, because we’d have been fucked. And this ISN’T including the $2000 repair that we ended up needing in our car, or the two window AC units we had to get (roughly $200 for both), because the AC Compressor broke in the Summer.
So I apply for food stamps several times again.
I’m STILL denied, and why? Because we don’t have a child. That’s literally what the lady told me.
I’ve worked so hard for my money and it’s a CONSTANT struggle to live decently. I don’t want to eat unhealthy, but I don’t have a choice. And the kicker? We live in a state that is amongst the poorest in the COUNTRY. Could you imagine living in New York? California? It’s damn near impossible.
And it REALLY ruffles my feathers when people tell me to just, “Go get a better job”. Excuse me, jobs don’t grow on trees, especially ones that pay anything more than $10/hour. It’s SO hard to get a job. SO SO SO, hard, it’s not even funny. That’s why I took the shitty job that made nothing, because it was better than what I had— which was ABSOLUTELY nothing.
Now, I want to be frank: There ARE people who abuse the system… but to be honest? They’re a handful in a bucket and far fewer than you think. The vast majority who are on the system? They need it and it’s because living expenses are ridiculous.
If you don’t struggle with these problems, count yourself blessed. I constantly stress about whether to get groceries, or to pay the light bill. Why do you think I haven’t sewn anything in MONTHS? I have priorities. I have to pick and choose what bills can be delayed and hope the lights don’t get cut off. Did you know, that anytime the electricity goes out (even in a blackout or something), my IMMEDIATE thought is: “OH SHIT, I DIDN’T PAY THE BILL?!” It’s a CONSTANT fear, and frankly, it shouldn’t be one.
AGGGGH, Aperture Ashley is SO PERFECT. LIKE HER PAGE HERE: https://www.facebook.com/apertureashley?fref=ts
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Can’t wait till the next time!
Some people can balance Cosplay and life. They can find that perfect mesh of hobby and priority, and they can keep track of both things.
I’m not one of these people.
Recently, I announced that I was retiring. I then changed that to I’m NOT retiring, but I AM going on a hiatus. It was very sudden and people were shocked, but still very supportive. But most of all, they were curious.
"Is it the community?" I’ve been asked, or, "Is it the haters?" "Do you not like cons anymore?"
It’s none of these things. The reason for my sudden decision to take a break is purely and utterly personal. I won’t go into much detail, because I shouldn’t, but I do feel like I owe people an explanation.
To put it simply, I’m addicted to cosplay. I don’t mean mildly, I have a legit problem. It’s caused me to lie and make bad decisions, to wrong people that I love. And it’s bad.
So I need a break to figure everything out and get myself under control. This isn’t goodbye forever, or even for a long time. This is just a pause, so I can have some good ‘ole ‘me’ time.
Because honestly, I think that I lost myself underneath all those yards of fabric.
There are no words…
THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER
…..this is perfect. You win the internet.
Thank you so much! I’d love for you to share my thoughts around! I’ll be sure to look ya up. <3
IGNORE MY FACE BECAUSE I’M TIRED AND SWEATY BECAUSE THE AC IN MY HOUSE HAS BEEN BROKEN SINCE LAST SUMMER, BUUUUUUT MY TOP IS DONE.
Omg thank you! The red part fabric part is actually a completely separate fabric (a brocade) from the white (which is gabardine). I made a mock-up for this cosplay— which I rarely do, so I could cut it up and figure out what needed to go where.
If you want to see more progress photos or ask more questions, hit up my facebook page— www.facebook.com/MissMarquin. It’s easier for me to reply there! :D
SO I HAVE LESS THAN A MONTH TO FINISH THIS COSTUME, WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF. Really though, I feel like I’m getting stuff done pretty fast. As soon as the top is done, I think it’ll be relatively smooth sailing.
Just a few pictures regarding the applique (BRB, APPLIQUEING FOREVER AND EVER). I’m using the Heat and Bond method, where you fix Heat ‘n Bond to the back of the fabric. My applique patches are actually four layers thick and a pain in the ass to sew because of it— my needles tend to get gunked up.
I don’t have a satin stitch on my machine, so I hate to fake with with a Zig-zag stitch. I kept switching back and forth between machines, because neither were behaving, but I finally settled on my older one and found decent settings to look nice and clean! Each patch takes about 30 minutes to sew on. x_x
Why applique? I didn’t really feel like painting such detail, but this is also Sesshoumaru we’re talking about. Those details wouldn’t be PAINTED on, they’d be embroidered or appliqued, because he’s a vain little bitch. I went with the latter, since it seemed easier. I was prolly wrong.
In any event, ONLY FIFTEEN MORE TO GO.