The link below brings to mind another reason why.the gap between the lower and middle class grows wider each year. Who can COUNT ON an additional $3,000 EACH year, “on average”? Some reading these words will think its no big deal, while for others, such a safety net would be a dream come true.

My hero was my first mother-in-law. I was waking up early to pray, taking two buses to get my kid to daycare and then going to work, taking the grocery cart on the bus, and feeling like I had alot on me, while she, with 8 children, worked, woke up at 4:30 to iron and plan breakfast and lunch, and went and got her diploma at some point during all this – cooking big Sunday dinners for all of us to come back to, without a complaint. We all crowded onto the chairs, stairs and every available space. All her kids turned out better than fine, each one with a faithful fine heart, and brag-worthy loving kids of their own – a family that stayed together and takes care of that mom now without a thought – because that’s what you do.
Yet, so many recipients of the financial safety net largesse assume, WITHOUT QUESTION, that they are at the very least, on a level playing field with their colleagues – colleagues like my Ms. Geneva, or the single parent with the special needs children, or the night school attendees, paying their own way by working.
The corresponding secret held close by those financial have-nots, is the deep-seated frustration at those who can’t see. It’s not the inequality that creates the resentment, really. It’s that the help with the rent, car and home repairs, down payment on the house, preferential treatment when applying for jobs, housing etc, freedom from student debt – these add up to unacknowledged (or outright denied) privilege. This refusal to expand one’s world view, this lack of perspective is what causes the resentment.
Openly expressed gratitude and appreciation, towards parents, by their adult children, would create happier families.
Offering of genuine respect by those same adult children, toward peers who struggle and achieve, year after year, without such aid – these would go a long way toward creating less divided and repressed atmosphere among peers. #1stworldproblems #rudetonotice #dontaskdonttell #tabootopics

Secret of Many Urban 20-Somethings

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Folks that know me are probably sick of hearing my two fave sayings, one of which is: Normal is someone you don’t know well enough yet.

I am having a hard time right now. Sometimes, people have hard times. I’d be having a hard time regardless of the holidays. I’ll get over it. I’ll figure it out.

After reading my niece Lori’s post today, I am moved to share my evil perspective. Year round, we are pressured into at least halfheartedly attempting to emulate the contentment and satisfaction portrayed in the ridiculous phony TV world. The backdrop to the happy existence we are promised, if only we can make our lives normal enough – is consumption.

In the holiday season, this all works up to a feverish orgasm. In the quaint, but expensive TV holiday world, no one has to work TOO hard to make it happen.

There are folks only too happy to spend time preparing wonderful food, spending money they have put aside all year for just this special purpose, and showing the spirit of the baby Jesus by putting up with cranky mean Uncle Tom or lonely worried Aunt Mary. No one turned away, no one left out, and every child eye gleaming with the sparkle of that special wish fulfilled.

People start revving themselves up to have this mindset just before Thanksgiving – or at least to pretend they have it. It’s part of being a good citizen.

Swimming in this bizarre and emotional and soup, each and  every one of us MUST compare our individual quirky existences to this imaginary phantom ideal – even as, intellectually, we know it is ridiculous.

Fact is, all the same stuff is going on that goes on the rest of the year – but there is more to do, and everyone is completely out of the calming influence of the routine.

This is it, right now: the tip of the spear – for the next week or so. How do each one of us measure up?

Well, the holidays were a bad time for me growing up – profoundly bad – nothing but fearsome trouble with a capital T, family fights, big drama and heightened deprivation. So now, without a small child to take pity on, and make magic for, I am no big fan of any of this but the days off. It’s really not in any part of my history. You can say it: Bah, humbug. But I don’t really believe it. My eyes are clear. I can do good things for others year round. And I try to do so. This week is: a week.

And what if, during this week, we just happen to have genuine conflict or sadness – the kind that is only heightened by contrast with this ideal being shoved into our eyeballs and ears except during sleep – how well can we pull ourselves together to avoid calling attention to this inappropriate and embarrassing situation? We wouldn’t want to be ‘one of those’ who can’t get into the spirit! Chin up! Keep that twinkle going!

Life is life. It is beautiful it is awful, it is magic, it is sad, it is joyous, it is surprising, it is perplexing, it is infuriating, it is educational, it is rewarding, it is sometimes hard to bear, and sometimes too good to be true – year round. Each one of us is unique and in the midst of writing our own never-before-told story, if we allow space for that to be. It does not have to be written for us. Our calendar is our own. Love and peace to all, each and every moment of every day…especially to those who are sad for any reason. You have my heartfelt prayers for your strength, forbearance and progress.

Scott and Life on Other Planets

Today would have been, I believe, the 29th birthday of my cousin Phyllis’ (also passed) son Scott. He was hit by a drunk driver and killed when he was 19, not long before Christmas. He was at a red light, stopped, on his way home from one of his three part-time jobs. He was also an engineering student at Penn State, head of the engineering club and possessed of SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) bumper stickers in the trunk of his car. Someone came across a double yellow line from the other direction, smashed right into him and changed all of our lives forever – especially those of his immediate family. Naturally, the earthquake created cracks and jagged schisms in the world of everyone who loved him and loves them. The ramifications just go on and on and on in every conceivable way. Issues that would have had time to be sorted out and addressed are now frozen in time. But he is not forgotten and he made a tremendous difference. I pray for him each and every day, at least twice a day. And am still deeply involved, underneath the surface, with dealing with this surrealistic incident, its affect on his mother (and father and sister), his loss, and for me, the subsequent departure of his mom, with whom I was very very close. ANYWAY, I read his sister Lori’s great post about this topic and was inspired to make my first entry into my own blog. She has a wonderful WordPress blog called

UPHILL: Musings on life, learning, social justice, and judo. Mostly judo.

Happy Birthday Scott. I will copy Lori’s off-the-cuff muse and add my own:

Lori: Some things that were awesome about Scott:

1. His hair: Until my brother was in his late teens, he kept his hair short to hide his curly locks and avoid teasing. Then he decided to embrace his natural looks and let his grown into an electric shock of blond curls. It was amazing.

2. His trillion watt smile: My brother had the biggest and best smile of anyone I’ve ever met.

3. He was a big, giant weirdo: My brother had strange taste in clothing, conducted gross experiments with food, and was constantly trying to invent ways to save time that were extremely impractical.

4. He was a compulsive over-achiever: In the last year of his life, my brother was a full-time college student with three jobs, one of which was a teaching assistant. He was applying for internships on top of all that.

5. He loved what he did: My brother was an engineering student whose first love was physics. When he went to parties in college, his friends would realize he was missing, only to find him alone in a dark room with a flashlight and his text book.

6. He made everyone feel special: I don’t know how he did it, but he made everyone feel like he was their best friend. If you were Scott’s friend, he’d give you anything you wanted, listen to you for hours, and always find a way to make you laugh.

Of course that is a lovely tribute. I love #3 the best as I too am a big giant wierdo.
Me again: Alls I can say, and it’s no throwaway comment: I always liked and loved him and I think that was true on his end – largely because of his tremendous sincerity, unique qualities, forbearance, humanity and geekiness. There was alot to be proud of about him, but I am not his parent and so that was not my thing.

Living with my spouse, I have learned to let holidays and birthdays go by without recognition and focus on each day. Previous to our relationship, this  seemed like both a lofty and laughable goal – never an achievable one. One of the most amazing things about our life together is that with him its very doable. He really does try to focus on each day in a meaningful way. There is no need to do a big Make Up day at designated calendar points.

This is, trust me, a minor miracle. But it kind of puts me on a different planet than other humans. So what else is new?

I could go on, but this is Scott’s post.

Miss you Scott. Wish you were here as Scott, hey! I hope you are here as anybody. If you are hanging around, say hi. I will listen up.