Show Me The Money

In response to today’s Daily Post (also, using both the “$” and “dollars” is redundant):

I’ve thought about this repeatedly, actually.  My daydreams always involve lower amounts of money than a billion dollars, however.  Typically I envision winning about $5 million (post-taxes).  This would let me invest it into an account with a minimum 1% annual interest rate… giving me an annual income of $50,000 without working.  This is similar to the situation I’m in currently, minus the work… and so that would allow me more time and energy to devote to things that I enjoy, and that I would do if I didn’t have to work a full-time job.  Example?  Writing!  I rather enjoy writing, and it’s always been a dream of mine to write something that will be published… and then, to receive recognition for writing it.  The closest I ever came to this was having a poem published in a book… but that turned out to be a money-grabbing scam more than anything, so, bleh.

Would my lifestyle change dramatically, though, with that kind of money?  I’d like to say no; overall, I’m very happy with my current living situation.  I have a house that isn’t huge, but it’s a good size for what I need right now.  I have plenty of physical goods (too many, in fact, which is why I’m selling some of it).  If anything, I would like to put some real money into just improving my home: fixing and securing the chimney, rebuilding the back deck, and installing a new roof are the three most major things I’d like to get done.  The fourth would be to clean out and finish the entire basement.  All of these things take time and money; winning the lottery would provide me with both.  I wonder, though, whether my appetite for spending money would stop there.

I can be pretty free in spending my money, it’s true.  Sometimes it’s on myself (though that’s most often when I’m depressed or super stressed, which has become more rare lately).  Oftentimes it’s on other people (because it makes me happy to make other people happy).  With a billion dollars, I could make people’s lives better.  I could ensure that my girlfriend wouldn’t need to worry about paying for her college tuition.  I could help my friend and his family move out of his mother’s house and have a place of their own.  I could… … and the list goes on.  My questions about that, though, begin to stack up.  Would I really be doing anyone a favor by giving them money?  My girlfriend is one of the most capable and fiscally responsible people I know.  She is also fiercely independent, and it’s quite unlikely that she would accept a monetary gift from me (even if I had money to spare).  I can’t say that I’d blame her for that.  Giving my friend money to buy a house for himself would be a kind gesture, but it could very easily lead to problems down the line.  What happens if they need other things and come to me, expecting more handouts?  What happens if they wreck the house, and I don’t approve of the condition they’re keeping it in?  What happens if they divorce?  Would it be a gift, or an investment?  I’d love to give my parents money to take vacations wherever they want… but then, I’d also like to hire a company to help clean their house.  They wouldn’t likely accept my aid for either.  Even “smaller” purchases for myself would bug me.  I’m a big fan of video games, and I like to get some of the new ones when they first come out.  What’s the point, though, when I don’t even play them for months on end?  Why would I buy myself anything unless I had time to actually use it?

At this point in time, there’s only one thing that I would definitely, without a doubt, buy myself if I won a billion dollars.

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A nice, delicious piece of tiramisu to celebrate.

Icy Blankets

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Today marks the first notable snowfall for my house.  It began late last night, and continued through the morning and afternoon.  Although the actual snowfall has now stopped, the temperatures will stay below freezing all night, and the area will become a frozen canvas of white.

I’ve loved the snow for as long as I can remember, mostly due to its beauty.  Sitting and watching snow fall is one of the most calming things that I know.  I have fond memories from my childhood of sitting in front of the windows with a mug of hot cocoa, watching the white blanket everything in its pristine brilliance.  I grew up with two older sisters, and during the course of winter, when we could stand to be around each other without fighting, we would happily play outside.  Isolated from other houses, our imagination was our main ally.  We built miniature mounds of snow and made up games involving them, including obstacle courses and hidden treasure.  We created lumpy, misshapen snowmen and admired our inept handiwork.  We rode our sleds down the small hill in the back of the house – though, at such a gentle incline, calling it a hill is a bit of a misnomer.

After the winter activities were finished, we would come inside – always through the basement door.  My mother was not fond of three sets of wet, snow-covered clothing traveling throughout the living room.  This worked out, though, as just two rooms into the basement was the fireplace.  Many long hours were spent sitting happily in front of our fireplace, reading books, playing games, or simply watching the flames dance across the wood it hungrily consumed.  We had an old green rocking chair next to the brick base of the fireplace, and when there were others around, I would sit there, feet propped up to be the first recipient of the warmth.  Unobserved, however, I would sit on the bricks – directly in front of the fireplace itself.  I had been warned not to do this, though I was never given a satisfactory reason why; likely, my mother feared a stray spark would jump onto my clothing and cause a horrendous catastrophe.  There was comfort, though, in sitting in front of the hot metal until my clothing nipped at my skin and sent tiny pinpricks across my body… leading me, in turn, to sprawl on the cold floor to counteract the heat, returning everything to neutral, only to begin again.

Winter, as does everything, took on new meaning as I aged.  The beautiful white landscape became a hazard to driving; moreso, though, in the change that it caused in other people than the conditions of the roads themselves.  The ice morphed from a joyous surface to slide upon into an annoyance that needed to be cleaned, extensively, from all surfaces.  Wonderment has been tempered with responsibility, and yet… whenever I look outside and it’s snowing, I feel the same warmth and happiness deep inside as I did so many years ago.

Endgame

Daily Prompt 12/7/13 – You have 15 minutes to address the whole world live (on television or radio — choose your format). What would you say?

The wars have ended.  The dynasties, the empires, the great powers of the world all lie in ruins.  Nothing is as it was.  Allies became bitter enemies.  Once-hated foes became necessary comrades as lines shifted and loyalties shattered.  In the end, as always, it dissolved into chaos; from that chaos, I emerged as the strongest.  The victor.

The world watched with bated breath as I took the stage.  The cameras that strained to focus on my form were ancient pieces, held together only by a combination of improvised reinforcements and the whispered prayers of their operators.  A solemn blue curtain had been raised, serving dual purpose; the backdrop for my address would also mask the charred husks of buildings gutted by fire and the piles of the dead that the world’s scavengers struggled to consume.  The scant few in attendance were the handful that had earned my trust, and as my eyes swept across them on their way toward the camera lens, a grim smile found my face.  Memories of the past ten years sang in my heart; memories of blood, of tears, and of the shared dream that brought us this far.  The world now would be a better place, because we would make it so.

I spoke.  To all who could hear, to all who needed hope.  To all who had given up on hope of a better life, of a life without daily visits from conflict and death.  I spoke of our trials, and our triumph.  I honored those who fought against us; though they were our enemies, they were deserving of respect.  When discussing our future, I made it clear; there would be no easy fix for our world.  So many laid lifeless among the destruction that a recovery would likely take generations.  I spoke of reality, but more importantly, I spoke of hope.  There was no pleasure to be had in my position of power, only a grim determination to make things better.  The world was a mess, and it was necessary that I rule it.  In time, all would improve.

The dull red of the cameras winked out; moments later, the innards of the machine expired in a shower of sparks and a puff of smoke.  The curtain dropped, and those who had stood to watch scurried back to work.  No one came to congratulate me on my speech, as was expected.  The speech itself was a formality, a last grasp to hold onto the traditions of a more civilized time.  In this age of actions, words meant nothing; our destiny would be revealed by the passage of time.  I looked skyward, at the constant barrier of hazy clouds created by the conflicts.  Faint memories of a blue sky stirred within me, and for a moment, unchained hope sprang forth within me.

Far off, then, I saw it.  A flash split the sky, so far away, and time seemed to stop.  Piercing light shot down from the sky, and both a medical crew and the building they were struggling to evacuate vanished in the blink of an eye.  Two wolves, fighting over a hefty corpse, were bathed in light and replaced by nothingness.  Pillars of brilliance rained down everywhere, and anything subjected to their touch vanished in an instant; people, buildings, and even the land itself.  I found myself unable to move, and my only thoughts were questions without answers.  A new weapon?  A natural phenomenon?  The culmination of centuries of religious propaganda?  Moments later, the light pooled around me, and the world became blindingly white.  Seconds or eons later, there was only darkness.

David stretched, having just flipped the power switch of his game system.  Across the room, his wife laid on their couch, curled slightly with a fallen book just beside her fingertips.  He covered her with a blanket as he brushed a stray strand of raven-colored hair from her face, and flipped open his cell phone to text Mark as he made his way into the kitchen to retrieve a snack.  “Those graphics were amazing, it looked just like a real world…”