I hate money.

I mean, I need and desire and gobble gobble chomp it up like a hungry hippo, but I hate it.

Since I was a small child, I've had weird hang-ups about money and spending, and as a result, I am pretty frugal and generally smart with how I save and spend. But it stresses me out from end to end. I go to sleep worried about money, I have bad dreams and great nightmares, and I wake up worried about money. It's not even that my family is dancing with poverty, or that my personal checking account is particularly empty. In college, I couldn't deal with having less than two hundred dollars. Today, I can't deal with having less than a thousand.

If you're part of the sane majority, that sounds like a luxurious amount of money to have stored away at this age, I know. I know I should be amazed that I manage to have that much after all this unemployment, which I can't seem to scrape off my failing person. But this mind can't be beat down with blunt logic. It is one of My Things. I stress and feel shitty and I wonder when will I be able to find some steady, reasonable income to be both independent and comfortable.

Since graduation, it has only gotten worse. I think about money and materialism far more than is healthy, more than I should publicly admit. It's not totally based in vanity and consumerism and greed -- mostly it's just a side effect of my neurotic feelings about money as a safety net. I crave that verisimilitude of independence that college gave me, like a taste of power, and feel like a regressive waste waking up in this house. Waking up with a bank account that gets smaller every day, and, therefore, an invisible noose of my own creation that gets tighter. It is the dumbest thing and there every day.

It's a slow self-destruction. Sometimes, I get so deep into this anxiety that I make it worse on purpose by buying superfluous shit like a jacket or dinner. It is bizarre. I know I will hate the consequences, and I do it anyway. It's a flavor of reckless abandon, the Thelma-and-Louise-driving-off-a-cliff mentality on a less dramatic, self-involved scale. I dig myself into this hole and then I eat dirt and keep digging because fuck it let's see what's down there.

I know, I know: First world problems. This is all so very obnoxious, such navel-gazed blogging. And, somehow, it's the only thing that makes me feel better (other than laying down in bed all day listening to the same 12 folk songs on a loop.)

Part of it is that I keep losing money in big, stupid chunks. You will not believe how much easily preventable car incidents have cost me. Whether it be speeding tickets or traffic school, I know I have spent thousands in 2010 that could have been saved by being a better driver. In this case, it's not even the monetary punishment that bothers me the most, although that does hurt. It's mostly the psychological effect that it has, the paranoia that the universe is out to smash me to bits, whether it is my fault or not.

These days, I feel like I am simply living life in between car accidents, large and small. I am including non-collisions, like a pricey parking ticket and getting rear-ended in traffic. I don't remember the last time I went 3 months without some bad car-related thing happening. I wish this stereotype didn't stick.

It's one of the most frustrating curses to have, because it seems that no matter what I do, I can't change my wiring. I try my hardest to be better, to pay more attention, to stay sharp and be careful. I learn from every mistake. Then, I find new mistakes to make. I don't know if I'll ever run out.

At my bottom, I see this as just my wiring. These are the flaws built into my system, my clumsy instinct and natural deficiency. You're not as clean as you'd like to be. I'm not good with money stress. The best I can do is distract myself long enough in my day until it occurs to me: hey, things are relatively fine.

Sometimes I'm pretty sure this is all a trap.