Philadelphia Freedom: Broke-Ass on Econo-Freudian Return

Well, babydolls, it’s official: An offer on the Rancho has been accepted, the chickens are up for grabs, and Broke-Ass’ days of slogging through the ceaseless shit-storm of poverty, stress-puking, and inventing 101 ways to serve beans are on the brink of extinction. The whole fambly is Philly-bound. The taxes are cheap, the neighborhoods are wholesome, salty, and funky, and a house can be had for three times less than what can be had in Brooklyn. That’s the story.

But it’s not really the whole story. For one horrendous thing, Broke-Ass came of age in the Main Line in the 1980s, which, David Lynch-like, was a pristine-seeming Blue Blood territory undergirded by all manner of C-list porn-star drug dealers, rich kids who died of drug overdoses or alcoholism before reaching age 30, and tightly-wound WASPs who murdered their spouses over cocktail hour one evening. Think Danish cinema vertite meets Less Than Zero.

But this is not the area in which Broke-Ass will be raising the schmushkies. Chestnut Hill/West Mt. Airy is the spot for us, a spot populated by food co-ops and credit unions. Vive La Revolution. With cheap chevre. Which Broke-Ass may finally be able to afford, as filling for her homemade ravioli. Life is fucking sweet.

But, for another thing, Little Mousie and Baby Poodle will still be attending school in Brooklyn, where their dad lives, which means Broke-Ass and las schmushkies will be commuting an hour-and-a-half each way via public transit for a year until schools can be pinned down, hopefully in Philly. This, in two words, fucking sucks.

But here’s the thing. There are some challenges that are arduous but doable and, ultimately, help a body understand that things can be arduous but doable. There are others that imprint lasting damage. Such as watching helplessly as one’s mother is repeatedly hospitalized for major stress-related illnesses, enduring her panic attacks, and experiencing a gross financial inequity between one’s parents’ homes.

Broke-Ass believes the former challenge is far preferable. It’s the equivalent of walking ten miles in the snow to school every day. It’s more like the blessing of a broken ankle rather than the blessing of the skinned knee, but it’s not the horror of countenancing parental collapse. Enough already. We can do this. We will do it. We have each other to kvetch to and to eat groggy-eyed muffins on the train with. And we’ll bring four chickens with us. But not on the train. In the backyard, which might be even smaller than the ghetto farm we have now. Life is still fucking sweet.

But what melts Broke-Ass’s timorous, exhausted heart most is the goodness and flexibility of her former husband and her sparkly-minded girls’ father, Great Dad. Great Dad could hardly be excited about this decision. Great Dad is a New Yorker down to his stem cells. When Baby Poodle and Little Mousie were born, Great Dad said that he did not mind where they’d end up attending college or what career they might choose, just so long as they were Yankee fans. To Great Dad, there is never, ever any reason to leave New York. And, frankly, Broke-Ass sees this point.

But when he saw that the economics just weren’t working for his kids’ mom, he listened. Well, first he yelled a lot, but then he listened. And, now, he gets it. And he supports it. Because, in spite of everything, the four of us still are a family who care really and truly about everyone’s care and needs. And, frankly, there is nothing more blessed than that.

Broke-Ass is still broke as shit, even though she has been talking to Hollywood and has been out hawking her memoir, In Spite of Everything (Random House: July 2011). She’s the best-connected loser she’s ever heard of. But she’s lucky as hell in so many ways it’s mind-blowing. Thank you, Great Dad. Thank you, schmushkies. Bless us all.


About brokeassgrouch

I'm goddamned broke and grouchy. I live in the middle of the damned ghetto and raise chickens for eggs; grow all my own vegetables and fruit; bake the bread and make the cleaning products. Why? Because I fucking have to, that's why! That's what you do when you're fucking poor! You have to make the shit yourself, dumb-ass! Broke-Ass Grouch is sick of all you Bennington and RISD trustafarians yapping about your "urban farming co-ops" and your "carbon conscious lifestyle" and your "green choices" in the Times Styles section and every alternapress periodical that you can pick up for free in every eye-wateringly expensive, edgy bakery or green-market. Maybe when you have a trust fund, you can make "choices" or have a "lifestyle" or "decide" how to "spend" your "money." Excuse me, but Mama is just trying to feed her kids over here, you little shits. And stop spraying your art-school graffiti on the fence of the vacant lot across the street from my house. I know who you are, and I'm telling my friend Keith (who lives in the projects) that it was you who painted that cartoon of the African mask. So what can I tell you? I don't fucking know. I know a lot about being broke, sure as Bob's your fucking uncle. I know about how useless an Ivy League degree is when you're flat-ass broke. I know how to unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar, and I know how to make my own CHEESE, for fuck's sake. You tell me.
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5 Responses to Philadelphia Freedom: Broke-Ass on Econo-Freudian Return

  1. germanbride says:

    oh i’m so deeply sad i won’t see you here at BWS. or will i? can i buy you a falafel in bklyn? congratulations on the move though. that is all very exciting.

  2. Selena says:

    Congrats. Seems like things are looking up.

  3. Fellow Traveller says:

    I will miss you. (And this certainly answers my question about custody.) Go, brave girl, go! xo

  4. the lupines says:

    oh broke-ass, i’m sorry about the move away from Dad, but so happy things are looking up! a bunch of us sort-of feel like we know you b/c of your wonderfully affecting memoir — i’ve been promoting it myself here in Saint Paul. hollywood? awesome! broke-ass the movie!

  5. Bring the chickens with you on the train to and from Brooklyn every day for the first month and after that you’ll be like, “Well, thank God we don’t have the *chickens* with us any more!”

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