How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Claudia

The first time Claudia illegally streamed episodes of Girls she was 39, and didn’t even think about it. The show was great. She was absolutely a Jessa, except without the drugs. Yeah, it was a little white. Whatevs.

Two seasons later, she’s 41. She really should pay for HBO. She’s a grown adult. She’s in her 40s. That’s what that means, now.

Claudia either does or doesn’t look 41, depending on what she decides is the prevailing narrative of the day. She had ombre hair last year, but this year she swapped it out for the daring Natalie Dormer half-shaved look. (Claudia tried illegally streaming Game of Thrones, but couldn’t get into it.) When she last visited her family and her mother made a comment about her clothes, Claudia joked about wanting to wear a sign that read “This is how a 41-year-old woman dresses,” and then Janine told her Gloria Steinem had already had the idea.

When she’s with her Bushwick friends, the other artists and baristas and poets and working-class slingers, she doesn’t think much about how old she is or how much money she makes. She thinks about salvaging, refurbishing, and selling clothes on Etsy. She thinks about the art installation she’s helping a friend create. She doesn’t know how old most of her friends are, or how much money they’re making. They’re just people.

And then Claudia goes to have lunch with Stacey, or sees Kristy post a picture of her kids on Facebook, and wonders what she is doing with her life. Hearing Stacey talk about mortgages and alimony feels like listening to geometry lectures in school; she knows other people hear the instructions and draw a perfect square, but she has never figured out how to do that. She likes curved lines, bent metal, feathers.

Claudia lives in a studio apartment that is also an art studio, or more specifically an art studio in which she has stuffed a futon into the corner. There are candy wrappers everywhere. She made a dress out of candy wrappers once, and wore it to a friend’s off-off-Broadway play opening. (A bad choice in the end, since it crinkled every time she shifted position in her seat.)

She has two cats. She used to have three cats. She used to have a boyfriend, and then she used to have a girlfriend. She used to be a college dropout, used to be a barista, used to be a telemarketer, used to be a gallerina, always is and will be an artist.

She used to have money, and she’ll have money again tomorrow. She’ll figure out how to be an adult tomorrow, too. Today she is 41 and this is what a 41-year-old artist looks like.

Previously: Stacey

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