I'm Chels. I blog about science, art, tennis, and my adventures in journalism. Officially, I'm a Science Writer at Brookhaven National Lab and I blog for them, too. Unofficially, I'm pretty awesome.

Or, you know, owsome.

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Let’s get uncomfortable

A few people have written replies and personal messages and emails to me over the last few weeks to ask if I’m rich and spoiled and born with a “silver spoon” because of the last month of traveling that I’ve done. 

I didn’t think I would respond to these queries, because really, I put no stock in money and what business is it of anyone’s how I finance my life? Part of me wants to just leave it at that, but I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about something no one talks about. It’s uncomfortable, but let’s just take a deep breath and talk about money.

Here’s the thing about me and money: I’ve never had much of it. Not of my own, anyway. But over the years, I’ve realized that money isn’t everything. I’ve been happy with it and happy without it. And when I have it, I spend it on making experiences I’ll never forget instead of planning to own a home or having any sort of backup plan. 

By the time I left college, I’d had a dozen different odd jobs, not including the years I spent babysitting for spending money when I was too young to get hired at a real job. I worked in restaurants and department stores and at a Birkenstock shoe store and in a weird industrial warehouse putting paper in boxes on a conveyor belt. Sometimes while we were growing up, my parents were out of work. Sometimes they took extra jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes we ate tuna noodle casserole for a month because it was cheap and still nutritious. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in the shower or on public transportation over a $30 bill I couldn’t pay or a parking ticket that was going to mean I would be eating ramen for two weeks. 

When I lived in Boston, I had a terrible office job that paid me more than they probably should have to make copies, but I still had 7 dollars in the bank for the last week of every month because rent was so high. When I moved home after grad school, I literally slept on a couch for six months. I also have a nearly six-figure college loan debt in my own name, not to mention the loans my parents took out so their twins could go to college. 

Yes, I’ve had help from my parents. They have worked hard their whole lives and they taught me to work hard. They also taught me to be generous and showed me how to enjoy what I’ve earned. I never could have done anything without the help of my awesome family. 

So, no, I do not have a silver spoon. I have a regular spoon. One that I try to always fill up with the best tasting stuff in life. Sometimes I get dirt. Other times, I get spritz bombs in Italy or road trips across the States. Sometimes two weeks of eating ramen makes seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic that much better. In fact, it always does.