Green Stamps were an exciting part of my childhood. Going to the grocery store with my mom, getting the stamps, licking the stamps (minty goodness…the flavor exploded on my tongue) and placing them in the books. Then…going to the Green Stamps store! Wheeee! I don’t remember which items my mom traded the Green Stamps in for, I just remember dreaming of someday owning a croquet set. I had no idea what croquet was, exactly, I was just turned on by the brightly colored balls.

Postal stamps. I like those. I bought a sheet of the famous poets stamps a few months ago. They’re in a frame! Years ago I bought the Elvis Presley stamps and put those in a frame, as well. I’m old school when it comes to mail. I much prefer snail mail to e-mail. I love the entire process but the most thrilling part of the process is actually dropping the letter into the slot. Bye bye, tiny pieces of my heart! May you be well-received! I’m always thinking of that Bible verse…cast your bread upon the waters, watch it come home on every wave. More on that in my poetry and my forthcoming novel from Epic Rites Press, Bullshit Rodeo. The bread does NOT come home on every wave, children. Well, who really wants that? Bread gets soggy in the water, after all. No room in my life for soggy bread. I don’t even like dry bread that much. I rarely eat sandwiches. I have no love for toast.

Food stamps. Yes, I’ve received those. The first time I received food stamps was during my first pregnancy. I also received Medicaid. I had myself a food stamps Medicaid pregnancy, y’all. Mitt Romney would fucking hate my trifling ass. It’s fun going in a grocery store, thinking…hmmmm….how can I take advantage of the United States government/hard-working tax payers today? Think I’ll load up on steaks, mushrooms and some gluten free pasta! Maybe some freshly baked croissants! Right. I was lucky if I had enough for a box of Popsicles. The second time I received food stamps was after I gave birth the second time. I lived in what I lovingly refer to as The Crack Whore Shack in Nederland, Texas. I didn’t do crack and I wasn’t a whore but it had that crack whore ambiance.Cracked linoleum floor throughout, rodent and cockroach roommates, tiny bathroom that could only accommodate one adult at a time (I loved the cartoon monkey mural on the wall, though), redneck neighbors next door, always sitting on their front stoop smoking, drinking, listening to country music on the radio, having those broke ass lovers’ quarrels (my favorite moment: redneck man chasing redneck woman down the street crying out,”I TOLD you I was DONE with her!”). I have many fond memories of waiting in the welfare lobby for WIC vouchers, my son sleeping in his stroller, going to the store with my son, being told by a snotty teenage cashier that I’d chosen the “wrong kind of milk”…had to haul ass back to the dairy section and find the WIC approved milk. The highlight of my welfare experience had to be waiting for five hours in a lobby in Denton, Texas for emergency food stamps during a hurricane evacuation. My sister watched my son in her air-conditioned SUV while I tried to ignore the suspended television and conversations all around me and scribble furiously in my notebook.

I’m still on welfare. I receive a check each month in the amount of $680. It’s called disability. I was able to convince a State of Texas approved psychologist that I am too insane to hold down an entry level job. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Mitt Romney would really fucking hate me. I miss Green Stamps.