Saturday, December 06, 2008

Stronger Than Dirt’s Coping Strategies for 2009: Your Guide to Surviving the End of Life as We Know It: Part One

Now that it’s become abundantly clear that we are either in a full-blown economic depression or about to be in one, I thought I’d throw together a few tips for living (reasonably) decently while mired in a state of poverty. I’ve had some experience with that, and I’ve taken plenty of notes. I’m neither rich nor poor at the moment, but I have always lived well within my means, as a matter of compulsion ... and because I knew this train wreck was coming.

And it is coming. Do I look like I’m kidding? OK, don’t answer that.

I’m not kidding. I mean, I’m trying to be funny, but I’m dead serious. So, in an effort to give back a little bit to the online community that has given me so, so much, here are the first three items in what I foresee as a continuing series. Although, if I get a lot of hits for these -- as I believe I should -- I might have to start charging for future installments. Because even poor-living gurus have got to get paid.

And here they are. The advices you’ve been waiting for.

STDPM’s First Three Preparedness Tips for the Imminent Catastrophe Threatening Your Doomed Asses and Your Doomed Asses’ Portfolios

1. Do your homework. Read (or re-read) some John Steinbeck novels. Or even watch the movie adaptations. I suggest Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men to start. They will generally orient you to the new bleak economic landscape and will help you grasp the awful reality of massive unemployment and the violent crackdowns that are sure to follow. Of course, in 2009, those crackdowns will be conducted by Blackwater mercenaries -- in severe cases, by the U.S. Army itself -- and resistance will be totally futile. Still, Steinbeck will prepare you for the abject helplessness, worthlessness, and despair that will dominate the zeitgeist next year, and probably indefinitely.

2. Get to know our friend, the cabbage. Cabbage is cheap and nutritious, and it keeps well. We’re going to be eating a lot of it in the coming months and years. It can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from salads to soups to side dishes to entrees. (I don’t know of any cabbage desserts off-hand, but ingenuity does tend to flower in hard times, so I could end up contributing a few to our national collective cookbook before we reach the other end of this fudgy tunnel.) You say you don’t like cabbage? Too fucking bad. The near future will be no time for picky eaters. Unless you are comfortable with starvation.

3. Make peace with your mom and dad. Or your inlaws, or your sons and daughters, depending on age and circumstance. Because many of us are going to be spending a lot more time with our ... ugh ... families after the shit hits what it's aimed at. Kids (even those of us in our early 40s) will be moving back in with the folks, or the folks will be moving in with the kids. This is really just a reversion to the way we used to live in this country as recently as a few generations ago -- actually, the way many people already do live. I made the mistake of generalizing. I’m talking about primarily white, middle-class, etc. etc. ... well, you know what I mean. Anyway, it’s a good news-bad news situation. The good news: Extended families will be back, along with all the mental health benefits that seem to accompany that arrangement. The bad news: Extended families will be back, along with all the mental illness that seems to accompany that arrangement.

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