My parents love me. This was a blessing and a curse: A place to live, free food + Internet. Under/unemployed for three years. Humiliating. Couldn’t afford health care, couldn’t qualify for welfare unless I moved into a homeless shelter. When I was laid off, after the company was sold for $17 million over its original price, I couldn’t get unemployment because contracted employees get zero benefits and protection. Couldn’t get a job at retail stores or fast food because my masters degree made me overqualified. Illinois schools laid off 2,000+ teachers so no work there. Other places only wanted people currently employed. I want to work because it is humiliating and degrading to be dependent on others.
Finally just said screw it. Took out student loans and moved to Australia with help from my parents. Aussie friends cannot comprehend me when I say getting cancer in the USA is a choice: Bankruptcy or death. I’m lucky: My parents love me. I now have health insurance ($80/month for what would be $1,000/month in the USA) and real job prospects, but it took moving of the USA to make it happen.
“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.'” ~ Joseph Campbell
I’m in the mood for sparse, hence, the Andrew Wyeth images. My favorite is the last one: “Renfield.”
Lovely visit to the pain management group yesterday. Trigger point injections from my neck to my bum. I saw one of the new Physician’s Assistants that joined the group last November. He seemed a bit nervous about giving me the injections until he realized that I wasn’t squeamish. After that, he proceeded to inject everything in sight (slight overstatement). Anyway, I felt like a pin cushion, came home and had to lie down on the heating pad.
A bit better today, but very sore. I told Corey that I’m not certain about this new guy, and Corey reminded me that he hasn’t been giving trigger point injections for years like my other doctors. Good point. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.
Brett used my computer last night to write something about Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” for school. Personally, I have never been that big of a Kafka fan. Just not my cup of tea, so to speak. A story about a man becoming a giant cockroach gives me the willies. I know. It’s about alienation, distance, loneliness. A masterpiece reflecting the identity of self in society . . . Ya da ya da ya da. He’s still a cockroach.
“In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.” ~ Stéphane Mallarmé
Once the omnipresent head pressure of the last few weeks began to lessen, I was finally able to read the last three Harry Potter books in quick order. I had forgotten how much I really love the last book. Then I thought about all of the e-mails I get from my Goodreads contacts in which they list what they have read lately, and it made me pause. I haven’t really read anything new in a while. I’ve been rereading old favorites. I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with rereading, as it is something that I have always done, revisiting favorites once a year or so, but sometimes I feel as if I am not making any forward motion in my reading.
What I mean is that I feel a general lack in my background as far as world literature is concerned. I am hard-pressed when it comes to naming new authors from around the world, those who are considered to be contributing to the literary canon, as it were. And when I feel like this, I miss Mari, and teaching, and the department. Being surrounded by colleagues, attending lectures, reading journal articles, going to literary festivals—these things serve as a constant stimulus and impetus; the desire to remain current stays at the forefront at all times.
I miss that. But then, I miss many things, as you are probably weary of hearing me lament. Most probably, I miss the idea of working, the positive aspects of being amidst a job that stimulates the brain. When I get like this, though, I remind myself of the less than positive aspects: the backstabbing, the politics, the endless time-consuming meetings about nothing at all. These things I do not miss.
“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Corey and I talk about the possibility of my returning to work full time. The idea of doing so appeals to me greatly, but would my body allow it? And working at home would serve no purpose other than to bring in income, which I am doing (to some extent). It would not allow me to get out of the house, be in different surroundings for several hours a day. It’s all so vexing, having no clear answers.
Anyway, Corey did speak with his contact at Vane Brothers, who told him that delivery of the new boat has been put back because of the bad weather. No surprise there. He did tell Corey that he would make a note that Corey has stayed in touch and continued to express interest in working for the company. I suppose that’s the best that can be expected. Yet another shipping company to which Corey applied has said that they are not hiring anyone new at the moment, even though their website listed open positions. Such a depressing mantra.
We are coming to the end of February, and Corey’s current unemployment extension is about to end. I know that another bill for yet another unemployment extension is before Congress, but who knows if it will be approved. God know that it should be considering that over 10 percent of the population is unemployed. We can only wait and hope and in the meantime, keep sending in applications.
“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.” ~ Paul Carvel
My Australian friend Maureen of White Orchid mentioned something in a recent post to which I can really relate: Apparently, the reality show “Little Miss Perfect” airs in Australia, and Maureen and her daughter watched an episode. For those of you who do not know to what I am referring, “Little Miss Perfect” is a show about child pageant contestants and their mothers . . . No, I’m not kidding.
Apparently someone thought that this form of child abuse would make for good television. Child abuse? What would you call it? These little girls are made up to look like little beauty contestants, complete with fake eyelashes, make-up, costumes, the works. They have mothers who give them nothing but candy before the pageants so that they’ll be full of energy. This is good parenting?
Okay. I know that there are some people out there who love pageants, love the whole idea of the pageant circuit, participated in it, thought that it was the best thing since Barbie got longer hair. Whatever. You are entitled to your opinion. If you did it and you loved it. Great for you.
I’m looking at it from a totally different perspective: that of a sane person (relatively). These little girls are being indoctrinated into that whole concept that their entire self-worth is tied to their looks, to their ability to charm, to their willingness to please. Does no one else see anything wrong with this? We’ve raised generations of young women who regularly abuse their bodies in attempts to conform to airbrushed magazine images. We have agents who tell size 4 models that they are too fat (just read that one in the news). We have young women who are getting Botox before they are 25.
The need to fit in, to conform, to wear the right clothes, to carry the right purse, to be like everyone else—that need is as ancient as the concept of societies. But there is something very, very wrong with a society that condones taking five-year-old girls and plastering eye shadow on them and sending them out on a stage to compete with other five-year-olds for crowns and trophies rewarding them for being cute.
Let me pause here. No, I do not believe that every child should be given a trophy simply for showing up to school. No, I am not against healthy competition. Yes, I believe that innate talents should be honed and fostered. Yes, there will always be someone who is the valedictorian, and rightly so. But must we start at such a young, impressionable age at teaching our little girls that beauty is the answer to all of their problems?
Just consider the title of the show: “Little Miss Perfect.” What is perfection? The right dress? The best walk? The most winning smile? Are these young girls not being indoctrinated to grow up into young women who strive to fit into a size 2? Who will turn to plastic surgery to take out an imagined imperfection in a nose? And perhaps most importantly, are they being given the tools to face the real world? What will they do when their beauty does not open every door? How will they cope when they get their first stretch mark?
Yes, I know that I’ve said it before, but as I commented to Maureen, this concept of instilling unrealistic expectations at a very young age makes me want to throttle someone. I am reminded of the woman in Texas who put a hit out on the mother of her daughter’s cheerleading rival. True story (click here for info). I am also reminded of the mother of a girl who went to my former high school. This mother called me after cheering tryouts at which I had judged to drill me about why her daughter had not been chosen. All I could think of was how she had gotten my phone number?
Who are these people? Where does that kind of obsessive behavior originate? It has to begin somewhere. “Little Miss Perfect” my ass.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu
It’s 7:50 a.m., and I haven’t been to sleep yet.
Corey and I stayed up very late watching King Arthur with Clive Owen. I felt the need for a Clive fix, and I still wasn’t the least bit sleepy at 3, so I decided to watch another movie. Corey came into the bedroom right as I was starting the movie, and he decided to watch with me. As a result, we turned off the television at 6 a.m.
Corey went to sleep immediately. I, however, did not and have yet to close my eyes. During the movie I noticed that I was scratching my arms and neck but didn’t really think anything of it. Once the movie was over, I was in full-blown itch mode, and have yet to get it under control. I took a Benadryl around 6:15, hoping that it would stop the itching and put me to sleep. An hour and a half later, I’m still scratching and not asleep. I just took another Benadryl, so I thought that I would write a bit until something kicks in—either a rash all over my body or sleep. Personally, I would prefer sleep.
Last night I was getting ready to insert my images into my post when the Internet went out. How annoying. I finally wrote a post (of sorts), and then couldn’t publish it. I was this close: formatted, quotes, song, but then bam. No Internet.
Today I had planned to write about traveling, as in if I could go anywhere in the world, where would I go and why? I’ve selected five places, all for very different reasons.
“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking” ~ Antonio Machado
Ireland: I have wanted to go to Ireland since I was a teenager. Ireland is the land of poets and writers. It’s the land of civilizations long gone and ancient ruins. I want to see the River Shannon and visit Limerick. Take pictures of the 8000-year-old Castle of St. John, and then to County Clare’s west coast to see the Cliffs of Moher. Then on to Derry and visit some pubs.
My friend Kathleen has an Irish heritage, and she was finally able to make the trip a few years ago. She says that Ireland is one of the most beautiful places that she has ever seen. I used to work with a photographer of some repute who actually lived in Ireland with his family and flew to the states for shoots. We talked about the advantages of living in Ireland and how it is a country that embraces its artists.
Australia: Even though my dear friend Maureen lives in Australia, she is not my main reason for choosing this country. In fact, my ex and used to talk about moving to Australia. In particular, I would like to visit Queensland, see the Great Barrier Reef, and of course, visit the Whitsundays Islands.
I don’t know if I am generalizing, but it seems that Australia has so many more opportunities to get away from the hectic pace of life. And then there would be the opportunity to sit across the table from Maureen, sip tea, enjoy some of her baking, and talk for hours.
Greece: Ever since I first saw pictures of the white church domes against the blue sea, I have wanted to visit Greece—the cradle of Western civilization. This ancient country has so much to offer: The Acropolis with the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike; the Castellian Spring in Delphi. Even though it’s supposed to be a tourist trap, I would like to go to the island of Santorini.
The landscape is beautiful, with the cliffs, the white houses with blue doors, and the black sand. I know that my idea of Greece is probably idealized, but that first image has stayed with me for years, and I know that some day I am going to see those blue and white domes overlooking the sea. I just don’t know when that will be.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~ Jawaharial Nehru
France: The Louvre. I could stop there, but there is so much more. France is steeped in culture and fine cuisine. We visited briefly when I was a child and my father was in the Navy. But even that short stay still sticks in my mind. I want to see Paris when it isn’t overrun with tourists, and I want to visit the valleys that are lush with vineyards. I want to see the countryside of Aquitaine and the Bordeaux vineyards. Tour La Champagne and see the medieval castles and the Forest of Ardenne.
When I think of France, I think of expansive fields of lavender in Provence, fine art, and rich creamy sauces. I imagine myself sitting outside at a café, sipping coffee and listening to the bustle of people about me. Or walking the beaches of the Riviera, enjoying the sunshine and azure waters. It is an appealing image.
And finally, Italy: Rome. At one time, the Roman Empire stretched across Eurasia. So many aspects of contemporary life can be attributed to the Romans: our system of government, the architecture that reflects Roman influences, even the idea of arenas. Of course, I want to see the Colosseum in Rome, but just as enticing is Tuscany: the rolling hills, the museums in Florence (the Uffizi and the Accademia).
I would also like meander through Venice, see the mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco, visit the rebuilt Opera House, travel in the canals, and wander through the perilously narrow streets. Actually, there is far too much in Italy that I want to see. I would probably need months and months to satisfy my appetite.
Perhaps I should probably do a Mediterranean cruise. Then I would be able to see the hot spots without having to find hotels, which can be quite pricey. Come to think of it, I could do an an Australian cruise. And once I have completed all of my cruising, I could decide on where to relocate!
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber
I know. I’m daydreaming, and I’m daydreaming quite extravagantly. Just imagine how much money would be involved . . . but the exercise was not to fret over cost but to consider where I would want to go, not how I would pay to go. That’s why it’s called daydreaming and not reality.
Oh well. I’ll just have to keep my passport valid and hope that one day I win the lottery. No wait. You have to play in order to win, don’t you? Well I suppose that rules out that particularly unrealistic massive windfall.
How will I get to these places? I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . right now, I’m going to try to close my eyes and sleep. I’ll let you know how that whole peaceful dreams thing goes. I would love to know where you dream of going, which places you would like to see given the opportunity.