Katelyn Siggelkow, Day 2

Living on $3/day for 7 days

When I am barred from the freedom of consuming food every moment, every moment is consumed by food. It rules me in a way I hate to admit. Now, I find myself dwelling on how hungry and irritable I am, on this persistent headache that I am still denying is a result of caffeine withdrawal, on scheming when I can get me next meal, and scheming hacks that are still within the bounds of the rules of this challenge. My latest idea is if I buy a Costco hotdog ($1.50 and includes a pop!), can I save the ketchup to use on these tasteless potatoes at home? Or, if I buy a ‘any size hot beverage for $1’ from 7-11, I could make it last over a couple of days, and maybe even get some extra sugar packets for my suffering sweet tooth!

In all this scheming, our team has found ourselves to become quite legalistic. We nearly crucified Joel for sampling a mysterious leafy plant as we gardened this morning. People on welfare don’t have the luxury of Eden in their front yards ya know! Despite our merciless adherence to the rules #jokingnotjoking, I am so grateful to be tackling this alongside my teammates. We can sigh in exasperation together, extend patience and understanding when we’re lethargic and irritable, and talk dreamily about luxury items like cheese until one of us can’t stand it anymore. I can’t imagine the loneliness of living this reality yet pretending, according to the expectations of the outside world, that I am functioning to my fullest potential.

I am especially aware of how my small food budget is impacting my social connections. I desire to engage with people, yet my energy is low and I have this headache and I know that I am not giving them my full attention. I desire to connect with people, yet so much social interaction happens around food. I desire to host people, yet I have nothing to offer without dipping into this meagre budget. This sense of sacrifice is much more heightened when I realize that offering someone a meal means that I will go without a meal later, yet I see my friends on welfare extending this sort of radical (reckless?) generosity all the time.

Today I am amazed at the resiliency of my friends on welfare – to muster up the energy to go about their day, to fully engage with one another, to extend generosity to one another, despite their own grumbling stomachs and cloudy heads. After shooting pool with a friend today, I invited him to walk with me to purchase some eggs – along the way I explained to him the welfare challenge and why I was needing to be so stingy as we wandered the aisles of the lavishly equipped No Frills. I requested that he bear with me as I might be more tired or grumpy than usual without my daily coffee. He chuckled and patted me on the back “It’s okay Katelyn”. Later, on the walk home, he opened the pack of on sale M&Ms he had purchased and casually mentioned that that was his breakfast. It was 6pm and he hadn’t eaten all day, yet he was his usual gracious, charming and wise self! Again, I’m reminded that my temporary hardship is a daily reality for my friends. They just handle it better than I do!

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