“We sold ourselves a pipe dream that everyone could get rich and no one would get hurt — a pipe dream that exploded like a pipe bomb when the already-rich grabbed for all the gold; when they used their fortunes to influence government and gain favors and protection; when everyone else was left to scrounge around their ankles in hopes that a few coins would fall. We have not taken care of the least among us. We have allowed a revolting level of income inequality to develop. We have watched as millions of our fellow countrymen have fallen into poverty. And we have done a poor job of educating our children and now threaten to leave them a country that is a shell of its former self. We should be ashamed.” ~ Charles M. Blow
I am a 37 year old writing tutor at a community college. I have long believed America represents something special in the history of the world – diversity, fairness, upward mobility for all people. Now I’m not so sure. Everyday, I work with men and women of all ethnicities, ages, religions, etc. who are tirelessly trying to improve their lives through education. These are not lazy people looking for hand-outs. But in this “jobless recovery” many of them will still struggle to find meaningful work even with a degree in hand; many more will be forced to return to low paying jobs just to survive. These are people who played by the rules, got an education, and believed in the American Dream. Now the American Dream is telling them that the new reality is that the rich get richer while everyone else has to bail them out when they make a mistake. This is NOT right. This is NOT America. I still believe in hard work and competition. But you have to give us a fighting chance. I am the 99% – WE ARE THE 99%. Support the Buffett Rule. Support debt forgiveness. Support a real jobs bill. Make America work again
Medieval City of Albarracín, Spain, by Jose Luis Mieza (Wikimedia Commons)
“Nouns, verbs do not exist for what I feel.” ~ John Berryman, from “Epilogue”
Sunday afternoon. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, mid 70’s.
Corey is coming off three shifts, each with less than eight hours in between, which means that he’s exhausted. But he can’t complain. At least he might actually get 40 hours this week, a rarity lately.
I’m still on the residual effects of this last headache. I’ve tried not to take anything for the last day and a half as sometimes a migraine can actually be caused by pain medicine. Go figure. Logical, huh?
But because I haven’t taken anything, I’m sitting here, with these beautiful blue skies outside, squinting my eyes at the daylight. Perhaps I was a vampire bat in another life. I won’t even go into the throbbing in my temples. What’s the point?
Since I was home alone last night, I spent hours catching up on my “Law & Order Criminal Intent” backlog on the DVR. I’ve seen all of these episodes before, but they’re the good ones with either Goren or Logan, two of my favorite detectives, Lenny Briscoe being the all-time best, of course. Corey and I need to catch up on our backlog of “Luther,” which I’ve been taping off BBC America, another really great show. Perhaps we’ll be able to watch tonight.
I know, sad commentary on my life that the thing that I’m currently looking forward to is watching more crime dramas . . .
“We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained.” ~ Derrick Bell
So, my last post was a bit of a downer, eh? Sorry about that, but that’s just how I roll . . . as in not too well or too lightly.
I’ve started to follow a blog on tumblr called “We are the 99 percent” (I’ve added the link to my blogroll on the right if you’re interested). Talk about depressing. The stories on there are so heart-wrenching, and completely relatable—people who were laid off in 2008 who still haven’t found jobs, people who have lost their homes, people who were living on their savings that has long since run out, and on and on.
It actually makes me ashamed to complain. As I’ve said, I know that while we are definitely within that 99 percent, we are still lucky. We haven’t lost our house, and we manage to keep food in the house and the utilities on. And while I’m on disability, at least it’s more than a few hundred dollars a month.
So many of these stories involve people who have worked hard all of their lives only to now find themselves without anything, and then there are the young adults who pursued the so-called American Dream: went to college only now to find that there are no jobs or that jobs in their fields pay the bare minimum and don’t offer any benefits.
What kills me are the people who comment about how the Wall Street protestors and others are whiners. I mean, come on. This country bailed out Wall Street when it could ill afford to do so, and how much of that money has been paid back? How many on Wall Street still receive multimillion dollar bonuses? How many of those large corporations are paying taxes at unbelievably low rates while so many of us pay at 25 percent or more? If this is whining, then hell yes, I’m whining.
“I lie in the dark wondering if this quiet in me now is a beginning or an end.” ~ Jack Gilbert
What kind of brings me up short is the realization that even if I had applied for that job, the chances of my getting hired, even with my experience and background, were slim at best.
Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .
Almost every job I’ve ever had I kind of fell into, wasn’t necessarily looking, or only submitted an application on an off-chance. I guess that kind of thing doesn’t happen any more. I mean, my first real job after graduate school I had applied for an admin job, but the guy who interviewed me said, hey, we’re going to be needing an editor soon. Wouldn’t you rather have that? Bingo.
I went to work at the museum part time, and within three months it had turned into a full-time writing position. I took the retail job as a fill-in to get me back on my feet, and within three months I had been promoted to manager. After my dad died, I was so depressed and out of work. I applied for the marketing director’s job with the realtor never even thinking I’d get an interview, and I got hired. I applied to GW on day because I happened to be cruising the want ads on a slow day at work. Bingo again.
That’s not to say that it’s always been that easy, as I’ve lost a few jobs, for reasons I never really understood, within that probationary period, two back-to-back. Losing a job sucks, big time. The crushing blow to the self-esteem, the complete loss of faith in your own abilities, and then the running commentary from my mother about how this will go on my permanent record . . .
“Natures of your kind, with strong, delicate senses, the soul-oriented, the dreamers, poets, lovers are always superior to us creatures of the mind. You take your being from your mothers. You live fully . . . Whereas we creatures of reason, we don’t live fully; we live in an arid land, even though we often seem to guide and rule you. Yours is the plentitude of life, the sap of the fruit, the garden of passion, the beautiful landscape of art. Your home is the earth; ours is the world of ideas. You are in danger of drowning in the world of the senses; ours is the danger of suffocating in an airless void . . . You sleep at your mother’s breast; I wake in the desert. For me the sun shines; for you the moon and the stars.” ~ Hermann Hesse
Anyway, moving along . . .
Van Morrison is singing “Into the Mystic,” one of my favorite songs. Such a wonderful singer and songwriter, and his voice has only gotten better with age.
So an acquaintance, if that even, referred to me as “that fat woman.” Whoa. Talk about being brought up short. I mean, I know that I’m carrying extra pounds, and I would certainly not describe myself as svelte, but fat?
This from a man with a terrible short-man’s complex. I know. Consider the source . . . but how many of us can really do that, put something into perspective to see it for what it really means or reflects?
Not me. I’ll admit it. It’s easy enough to say, consider the source, but sheesh. So I dreamed that I was getting liposuction on my belly, which is pillowy. And in my dream, the doctor told me that I would only lost 15 pounds with the procedure. So I had to think about that. Was it worth it to undergo this surgery only to lose 15 pounds?
The reality is no. But would I like to get rid of my pillowy belly? You bet. Do sit-ups, right? Negits. Can’t do them any more. Used to do 100 crunches every morning of my life. That was when I had a waist. That ice pick that I have stuck in the base of my spine kind of prevents crunches. But I have do to something because I know that I can’t just take that remark in passing and not do anything about it no matter what I think of the source, so I’m going to try to give up my daily can of caffeine-free Pepsi.
We don’t really keep cookies or ice cream in the house, and there is my emergency stash of chocolate, of which I have not even finished the first bar. But it’s not enough.
That fat woman. Wow. No matter how much I try to negate it, the first time someone actually refers to you as being fat is painful.
“Even as you lean over this page, late and alone, it shines: even now in the moment before it disappears.” ~ Mark Strand, from “The Garden”
So here I am, bemoaning my fate once again. Sometimes I really get so sick of myself. Sometimes I feel as if this page, these words are not doing me any favors. I mean, what am I doing here really?
Bitch, bitch, bitch.
Poor pitiful me.
I need to get over myself . . . if I only knew how. Solitude is both wonderful and awful. It allows time for reflection, introspection, deep thought, but does it not also engender a sense of belly-button gazing? Yet I love my solitude, my self-imposed isolation, love it until I don’t.
People who knew me in that time period after my ex and I split would not recognize the person I have become. Not because of physical changes, but more because of my complete lack of involvement in most things. I mean, how does a person go from working 12 to 16 hours a day, exercising every day, to doing nothing physical, nothing more physical than laundry?
Okay, if I were going to cut myself a break, which I am loathe to do, those 16 hour days? That constant movement that involved using my entire body to haul and move things (while in heels)? That’s probably what finally killed my back. I know that, deep inside. And yet again, I need to consider the source, the source of where I am now as opposed to where I was then.
As a single mother of three, I had to be on the go all of the time. That was my life. Humans are incredibly adaptable, whether it’s to activity or inactivity. I just know that no one ever referred to that fat woman.
From the heart of an old box of letters
I lift a small water-stained envelope.
Inside, a note card as thin and brittle as a frozen leaf
bears a message written fifty years ago
by a woman who shares my name.
She delivers no greeting, no sorry to have been away so long.
She leaves no record of visitors, rationed cigarettes,
group art, or the barren iceberg of treatment.
I imagine her listening to the ping of the radiator
on a snowy morning, seated in her nightgown and socks
by an open window. A bell rings in the hallway
but she doesn’t move toward her robe or her slippers or her brush.
I see myself sitting beside her, reaching
toward her dull pencil to place my fingers over hers,
hand on hand, gliding over the words, moving
like two skaters on a lake tracing the solitary line— Please come get me.