Monday, September 16, 2013

What a shitty economy is teaching me about life

It's mid-afternoon during the fourth month of my first year of high school. I'm 15 years old, have an under the table job at a local hot dog shop as US law requires a person to be at least 16 years of age to work legally. This whole breaking the silly laws thing is not a new concept. Yet with this income, I still couldn't afford to buy clothes anywhere but at Kmart. For those who aren't familiar with Kmart, imagine a store full of capitalism's lowest form of mass production. It is home to poor quality, non flattering, sometimes stained or marked clothing and home goods designed to break. I did buy a decent bike tire pump there once, though. The stores only began disappearing as Walmart began taking over... enough said.

Anyway, that day in school I suddenly realized that I was one of the "poor" kids. Not just poor in terms of money, but also in terms of quality education, morals and understanding of the society that existed outside the dysfunctional class. With USA having its education systems mainly funded by property taxes, lower income neighborhoods receive lower quality education. But hey, in university I finally saw a PowerPoint presentation for the first time ;) 

Sheep no more

What I still hadn't been aware of at that point was that everyone else viewed me as one of the morally and monetarily poor kids. Then I met Mellissa Chen. A Chinese-American who did whatever the hell she wanted, whenever the hell she wanted and didn't think twice before doing it. She approached me in the cafeteria and said "Aren't you in my Science class that I'm supposed to be in right now?"

Who would have guessed that skipping class at the same time as this girl would have helped lead me down such a bright path in life. I had no idea how thankful I'd be in the future for having met that little crazy Asian!

Within a month of being friends, Mellissa had gifted me a ton of new clothes, gave me a few new and improved morals, a clearer understanding of the society I was living in and also the confidence to follow my own path and leave all the other sheep behind. 

"Brittany, no one here will ever want to get to know who you truly are if you look the way that you do... Poor and pissed off." Painful, but true! Thanks to Mellissa I learned how to maneuver my way through US society without dropping back into the shadows, but also how to never identify with mainstream culture.

Argentina Economy US Dollar
Eight years later, I greet Mellissa as she lands in Buenos Aires to visit me! We spend the week talking about anything and everything: life, China, boys, the economy, the past, the future and the present.

In general, understanding economics is complicated. It's even more difficult when you grew up in a country where the economy has always been stable. Then there's living in Argentina. Black market for US dollars, money laundering, extreme inflation and counterfeit peso production are all too familiar topics (in my mind, in my job, in conversations with anyone, in the newspapers, on TV, etc).

I won't get into musings on Argentina's economy, but what I will say is that I have confirmed my original thoughts: Money isn't real. 

It is all just part of the game of Life. Why do I not have a date planned to come back to visit the USA? Well, money isn't easy to save here due to the extreme and unprecedented rise in cost of EVERYTHING. Even if it were possible to save a bit, the Argentine pesos are not doing so great on a world standard. Considering my job pays me in pesos, traveling outside of the country is a ridiculous thought for now. Along with the thought of buying a new pair of jeans or taking a Yoga class. Even with a decent-paying full time job, I saved up all this month in order to buy myself a blender and a pair of flats. Ouch!

Needless to say, majority of the friends I have made here have headed for the hills, running off to economically promising lands. Yet, the more unstable the Argentine economy seems to get, the more thankful I am for having thought to move here. It allows me to truly look for happiness in time spent with friends and also gives me the time to enjoy more simple things in life that do not cost any money. Separating myself from a materialistic lifestyle over the last few years has started me on this path to true happiness and inner peace.

Dancing is free, laughing is free, love is free and great wine is cheap.

Yet, debt is the slavery of the free. Unfortunately US student loans are an everyday reminder that I eventually will need to find a way to make a bit more money, preferably in US dollars. Time to think, create and make them green bills so I can continue living in peace in lovely Argentina ;)
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”
― Rumi
Argentina Economy US Dollar


  1. I really like this post!... I thought I was going to read about the argentina's economy but I've found something much much better! ... a positive atittude!

    I wish you can continue doing whatever you want that makes you happy, appreciate the little details which in the long run are the most important ones!

    I also learn that during my year off traveling! maybe being abroad open your mind and thoughts to this kind of learnings right?!

    Well... Enough of my little speach! Thanks again for sharing Brittany and best wishes!

  2. Hey Ari,

    Thanks for the comment and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Being in a new world definitely opens the mind to all kinds of exploration and ideas. It's nice to hear you share the passion for living happily!

    Feel free to drop comments whenever you wish, it's great to hear what others think :D

    Best wishes, speak to you soon!