Saturday, July 30, 2005

Nickeled and Dimed In Northern Michigan

What follows is a guest post from Arcadia. She is one of the most amazing people I know. She is also my cousin. She is putting herself through college one or two classes at a time because she doesn't want to/can't afford to take on the amount of debt that is required these days to get the degree you have to have to keep yourself out of poverty. A decade ago she would have been defined as "middle class". Now she is just getting by...

Passion, Expression and Personal freedom...Hope

When I was a child everything felt free. I could twirl around, run, jump, ride my bike, go for a walk, and I felt like I could not be defined by everything around me. I was in balance; at one with the earth, air, wind, rain, and the completeness you feel without the need for money, only hope. I want to feel that way again to get lost in the clouds, music, poetry, an autumn day, or a cold invigorating rain storm that I would run through uninhibited by those around me. I yearn for this more than anything; bringing the tears swelling to my eyes. The fears that creep up to my chest leaving a pit in my stomach when freedom is taken away. Money takes my freedom. Shoving it, stuffing it into a box that claims I must earn a certain wage to continue my intellect or the ability to gain knowledge. Every paycheck pushed into my account towards college. Loans that I don't want to take out to continue to exist. The push and pull of taking out a loan or giving up everything you have ever worked for. The dreams I pushed aside to please those around me. My own doubt leading to my disbelief that I could actually be who I really wanted; maybe even needed to be. Money is the control factor. It is what puts us into great fear. They hold it over our heads saying can you make it? Will you win or lose? The ability to gain status through owning a home, an automobile, being married. Our whole social society is based on this. What does it mean? It's not who we are, but it is at the same time. We are programmed to consume. We all buy into it, even me. My DVD collection, my apartment, my bed, my futon, my television, these items own me. Like cable t.v., I am a slave to them. I am driven to have all the things my friends have! Then, there are the people who are giving up their lives for a chance at an education. They choose to go into the Army or other military forces. I'm not saying it's bad. It does give them a sense of purpose, but most don't have a choice. It's either boot camp or they can forget ever going to college. I choose the hard route. Paying my own way. Moving at a slower pace then the rest. I am often looked down at by others for this. Not my family or friends, but past teachers from high school. I would give almost anything to go back to a certain counselor I had; who said jokingly to me upon our meeting in my home town, " What are you on? The ten year plan?" Like it was funny and I could say right back to her, "Yeah I am. Unless you're paying for it because it is my only hope of actually becoming someone; making a difference and getting my voice heard!!!" I honestly don't know how I will ever be able to finish my degree, but I am playing it by ear. I am taking my chances now so I can help change the lives of children. I want to give them the chances I never had. I want to help them to know they can succeed, and not to allow anyone to hold them back, or to tell them what their potential is! A mind is a very powerful thing. This is why our freedom of speech is so important!!! It is hard though to believe in our world today. That words actually have meaning or an impact on those around us. I often feel I can say anything I want, but no one who matters actually listens to my words, ideas, or thoughts. Our congressmen are not listening to the younger generation about what we need. We are stuck in the old, and we need new people who are actually facing these problems. It is very difficult for people who are already in power to understand what those below them need as well as how we feel. They don't wonder. "How am I going to pay for my next electric bill, rent, car insurance, groceries, etc". It is all there for them. All my life I have worked so hard: graduated in 97, received my Associates in the Liberal Arts in 2002, and I am now working on an elementary ed degree. I am working retail and still feel like I am being pushed under. I spent my summer saving money to pay for my college tuition. I could only afford two classes. I am working on getting my books and a very expensive calculator. Everyone I meet says it is so worth it. I sit sometimes and wonder is it? Will I be able to find that teaching job? Will I still be able to get health insurance? Right now, I have nothing but my thoughts of hope. Yes, I may have a roof over my head, a wonderful man who loves me, family, friends, and lucky me, I can pay my bills; at least for the time being. But, what about my teeth? My eyes? My body? Do I eat like I should? Planned Parenthood is the only place that has helped me to get my yearly check ups, and make sure I can prevent an unwanted child. Granted, if I ever got "prego" I would definitely have it. Keep it and love it. I know though that I need to put my education first so my child doesn't struggle like I am. I even question that. I want a girl. I would name her Arcadia. That is another dream of mine. Dreams and illusions are so nice. I want to just pour out tears. They would feel so good; for all the dreams that I have not fulfilled. I always thought I was so strong. Stay strong I say. Even my last semester, when I broke down at work over math. Ugh! Man, my boss said, "You don't have to be strong. It's ok." I cried on her shoulder, so much. She is one of my best friends, and I don't think she is suppose to be since she is my boss. So much is just struggling inside of me. So much confusion and I am giving so much of myself away to all of you. I am so open. It's so scary. I want so much and I don't know how I am ever going to attain it. Every one says keep on working, but it hurts so much to see others gaining ahead of you all at once. You see political leaders making budget cuts. My heart doesn't think that they even give us a second thought. How we live, or any of it. We are just at the bottom of the pyramid struggling and fighting for a piece of the pie. All I want is a home, a family, and a job with good health insurance shouldn't ever American have that right?


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blogging for Freedom

Yup, two posts in one week! Yippee! Actually, this is just a unabashed plug for a blogging event sponsored by an organization near and dear to my heart, The Electronic Freedom Foundation.

If you aren't familiar with the EFF, they are a non-profit group who work to protect digital and broadcast freedoms in the United States. Considering the times we live in when most people are willing to suffer the erosion of their civil rights in exchange for the illusion of safety and security, organisations like The EFF deserve our support. They have an extensive section devoted to blogs, bloggers, and our rights. They were at the forefront of fighting for bloggers to be admitted to the political conventions last year as legitimate journalists and have been provided legal support to bloggers First Amendment rights in the United States.

Right now, the EFF is promoting their Blogging for Freedom event. They are asking for us bloggers to set aside for a short time our normal prose and discussions and to instead blog about why we believe in our rights to write what we want, to openly discuss our political, religious, lifestyle points of view with out fear of retaliation, and why/when we each became aware of the need to fight for these freedoms.

I am participating in the Blogging for Freedom event by asking several friends and fellow bloggers to write "guest posts". Some of the people I have asked to be a guest poster, I do not agree with their point of view. In fact, I purposely asked two of the people who's posts I will publish to write a guest post because I vehemently disagree with their stances on certain issues. But, I so passionately believe in their right to support their respective positions, that I will practice what I preach.

Because the one thing I know to be true and would die fighting to protect is my belief that we, humans one and all, have the right to say and think whatever we believe. To read, watch, listen to whatever we desire without fear of retaliation. No matter where we live, what religion we practice or don't practice, whether we are man or woman, no matter our color or creed.

Blog-a-thon tag:

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Coming to a city near you...

It looks like Summer is really here on the East Coast. We have had our first official heatwave here in Cambridge, MA. Which, according to Channel 5's latest vapid blond weathercaster, means we have had 3+ days of 90 degree temperatures. I'm not sure where the folks who came up with that definition live, but according to my calculations and the amount of humidity we have had for the past 9 days, I'd say we have had at least three straight heatwaves. Of course, the air conditioner in the car does not work so I've been leaving our nice cool house looking all managerial and get to work looking like I have been doing double duty behind the counter at our local laundry.

Another sign that it is Summer is the influx of the stereotypical clueless American tourist in Boston. If I wasn't quite convinced that we are a nation of geographical and historically challenged people, I am now. While sitting in Dammits this morning, we were all subjected to Loud-Woman-in-Bright-Print-Jacket's early morning chat with her friend back home in Arizona. Call goes like like this (at 90dB mind you, and I am not kidding):


Now I'm not sure where this lady learned geography or history from but just where did she think Boston was? As MBH so succinctly put it, "Where did she think they threw the tea?" I wonder if she knows if she drives "up" to the Cape she will find Maine? Loud Lady's comments were almost as priceless as when my mother and I were at the U.S.S. Constitution several years ago waiting to go on board for a Turn-Around cruise where we happened to overhear another Stupid Tourist gem. This cutsie teenybopper was with her girlfriend oohing and ahhing over the guys in Navy whites who where on duty, when she turned and asked the gentleman in front of her where "Old Ironsides" was and how far she had to go to get to the Atlantic Ocean. My mom and I looked at each other, turned our backs and under our breaths muttered, "Keep walking about 10 yards honey and you'll fall into the Atlantic Ocean right in front of Old Ironsides".

Yup, they are all out on a day pass and just like the Swallows of Capistrano, it is Summer in Boston...

7/24 Update: Overheard today in Public Gardens near famous statue of George Washington, "I didn't know Paul Revere wore a uniform on his ride."

Friday, July 01, 2005

Out of the Fire?

After a two week hiatus, post old job, in which I basically vegged in front our TV watching all six seasons of Sex and the City, two complete viewings of Pride and Predjudice with lots of still/pause on the famous Colin Firth pond swimming scene (note to self: must clean DVD remote of drool), re-runs of Tyler Florence's "Food 911", with a smattering of Cary Grant movies just to keep things interesting, I have been rudely brought back into the world of the working. My second week at Company E just ended. I brought boxes to work today so I guess I'm going to stay.

I am managing a great group of people. They have been very welcoming and it has made what can be a difficult transition much easier, especially since they have been essentially managing themselves for the past six months. I did, however, inherit the proverbial mess. It seems that the last manager never did any of the required Manager Paperwork. Two of my team haven't had reviews in two years, meaning they haven't had a pay raise in two years. I even found out I have a direct report I didn't know about. It seems that a special projects administrator also reports to me. She has an office on the other side of the building and lives in what everyone calls Siberia. Not because there isn't anyone over around her office but rather the AC in her office is permanently stuck on "morgue setting". Even with last week's 90+ temps, she was bundled up like it was Feburary. I was a bit apprehensive about suggesting she give up her office and move to one of the empty rat-cubes in my area. But, since I noticed her stuff starting to migrate to the aforementioned cube this week, I guess my gentle request wasn't that much of a hardship.

To say that I'm suffering bit of corporate culture shock would be an understatement. My new company's entire phone book fits on two 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper in the landscape view vs a 145 page directory that was required for Company B. I can walk down the hall and right into the product development wing from the engineering wing not have to flash an ID badge. They don't even have a rent-a-cop at the front door. It is, to put it mildly, a breath of fresh air. The closest thing to a corporate structure is the same institutional grade toilet paper in the bathroom that every company uses. But, I can fix that...