Friday, April 08, 2011

In praise of Duty

Good lord, but I'm grateful for my mother! There is often tension between us when we attempt to communicate about normal, everyday things, but when it gets down to serious matters, she's always there for me.

I think that's somewhat of a Germanic thing: the Sense of Duty. Not a lot of warmth and affection, but rock-solid help when it's needed. Not excessive help, mind you (and an ongoing expectation since childhood that you will not ask for help unless it's absolutely necessary), but help when truly needed. She must've sent me $3000 during my 3 years in NYC/Weehawken, as I struggled to find work there. And she paid my first month's rent/deposit when I got the apartment that I'm in now after moving back to Austin. (Great stress when she refused to co-sign since I didn't have a regular 9-5 job at the time and the apartment managers wanted some proof of income... Admittedly, I hated her for that, since it wasn't clear that I could get ANY apartment without a job or a co-signer...)

Over the past few days, with the eviction threatened by my apartment managers after my freelance paychecks were delayed, I've been a complete nervous wreck, constantly worrying about which check was going to arrive when, what the managers would say or do if I didn't get everything to them by next Tuesday (knowing that all the money arriving by then was just NOT going to happen). I hate asking for help, but today I broke down and asked my mom if she would lend me $200... I started a long explanation: "One check for $450 is going to arrive next Tuesday, but the other one I expected is not coming on time, and the apartment is starting eviction proceedings two weeks after the 10th if all the money's not in, and..."

She just stopped me and asked how much I needed to pay EVERYTHING due right now. And did I need groceries. (I did. Her only caveat: "I'm not paying for any beer, any cigarettes, or any cosmetics!" Deal!) :) She then drove with me to the manager's office and paid what I owed, then took me to the supermarket.

Good lord, what a HUGE psychological weight lifted. Some breathing room. I was in such a negative state. Though I have another project I'm working on now, I neglected it over the past two days, thinking, "What does it matter? I won't get paid for it until Christmas anyway..." (Actually much sooner than Christmas -- the apparently standard 60 days -- but it didn't feel like that. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels uselessly and wanted to give up.)

She IS getting paid EVERYTHING back (except the groceries, her treat) by May 1! I really DO have 5 checks coming in in the next 5 weeks! So I'm not a total bum. But I feel like one when I have to ask for favors. I'm so grateful to her, though, for being nice about this, and for giving me some much-needed psychological relief for the next 2 weeks while I wait for what I've actually earned to start trickling in.

Something to be said for Sense of Duty and Character, those usually much-under-appreciated stalwart traits. Not glamorous like "Love," but they're also sure, not fickle. What remains when all else is gone.


Addendum: Funny, I just got my e-mail horoscope from, about "modest" people (I'm decidedly, sometimes ashamedly, not one; my mother is):

Your horoscope for April 9, 2011
Modernism isn't always what we believe it is, STEPHANIE. It often happens that it is the people who are rather modest, who don't give a thought to trying to "be modern," who force the most progress in the world. They simply go through life doing as they see fit. On the other hand, notice to what extent the modern world sometimes resembles the past. It would benefit you to think about this today.

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