The XX Factor

The Recession Brought Out the Artist in Me

This is one of several reader responses we’ve published responding to the question “What have you given up in the recession?” Read more reader responses and Emily Bazelon’s related story on recession concessions . Next question: What haven’t you given up, despite the recession? Send answers to us at .

The recession hit me pretty hard for a couple of reasons. One, it happened right about the time of my divorce. Now I am raising a six-year-old daughter and making a mortgage payment on my public school teacher’s salary (we have joint custody). Two, my best friend (whom my daughter thinks of like an uncle) lost his job as a designer/manager, his house, basically everything. So he lives with us now. He is only marginally employed so he can’t contribute much to the household budget.

I’ve given up on small things that I used to take for granted: eating out, buying records, going to the coffee shop, basically anything that involves spending money that is not necessary except my Netflix and eMusic accounts (these keep me sane and amused). I’m now drinking Pabst, not because it’s hip but dirt cheap. I have hellish student loan debt for a BA and MA, a mortgage that I am a perpetually a month behind on, an auto loan, and one credit card that I can’t get paid off. I’m not able to save anything for my daughter or for myself.

There is a bright side though. I have learned to cook a lot of meals I never would have considered before, from scratch (it’s so much cheaper and tastier). We have turned my front yard into a victory garden. I seem to be more creative or experimental as an artist now for some reason, too.

It’s easy to get depressed about it all and believe me it comes and goes. It’s also hard, like the article stated, to complain or vent because my friend lost everything. So I question my moodiness and frustration and I feel like I can’t really talk to him about it because he was hit so hard. It’s a strange time for sure. Hopefully we will learn our lesson from this and stick to the new frugality we are engaged in. We can’t afford not to.