Day 40: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Shower Thoughts: No other species is watched more while pooping than dogs.

Oh my goodness, day 40 has arrived!  It’s been 40 days since the official declaration from our governor to Shelter in Place, March 24th. We are in the middle of our 5th week. We learned on Friday, May 1st, the lockdown will be extended to May 31st.  How are you holding up?  Hope you are healthy and adjusting to your new normal.  As soon as we adjust completely, perhaps, going through all the stages of grief and loss, at some point we’ll be thrown back into the fire.  This morning I am thinking about the working class returning to dead-end jobs. I’m wondering what factors make a job a good job.

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

Many Americans will return to their jobs to face a brilliantly obvious discovery, a very REAL tried and true FACT- they are underpaid.  Their previous jobs were unable to prepare them for regular emergencies such as a new transmission much less a pandemic.  Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago.  Meanwhile, salaries, which have stagnated for decades don’t go as far as they once did to cover the necessities.  Do we really want to go back to “normal”?

Michigan

People with guns are starting to freak out.  Last Thursday, April 30th, hundreds of well-armed citizens waving MAGA signs crashed the state capitol of Michigan demanding that the country reopen.  They wanted to get to the House floor where representatives were in session but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms.  In Michigan, it is legal to carry firearms as long as it’s done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible.  Lawful Intent?  hmmmm… In my town, if this lockdown extends another two months, my biggest concern is folks might just start biking naked or something.  But, there are many parts of the US where the breaking point could result in converting Doug’s Toyota Tacoma into a freaking ISIS tank and start patrols!

I’m wondering about the demographic that stormed the capitol.  Are they the same that was studied in various reports over the last two decades?  Did you know that the suicide rate for white middle-aged working-class men has spiked?  This group of Americans appears to be the most pissed off and depressed.  Why?

For white men without a college degree, the average growth in median wages between 1979 and 2017 was a negative number (−0.2 percent a year), even as median hourly earnings for all white workers grew by 11 percent in the same period. This wage deflation has had well-documented cultural ripple effects, depressing marriage rates as men’s appeal as partners fell along with their earnings. Without a stable family life, these men are more isolated, with fewer of the sorts of social buffers that might inoculate them against suicide or drug abuse. As a result, the rates for both have gone up.

For what it’s worth, I was raised in a working-class neighborhood in South Seattle and my folks had small businesses.  A part of me recognizes these men.  They are the sons of my neighbors.  My personal interpretation is that these suicide rates reflect a group of men unwilling to seek self-improvement in the form of therapy or education. Perhaps in their culture it is a sign of weakness, or maybe they do not believe they are wrong, mentally injured, or perhaps it is a simple financial barrier.  Adaptation to our changing world is difficult but necessary.

So, let’s move ahead a few months.  We have a Presidential election coming up.  Is Biden going to go the way of Hilary or Barak in his campaign outreach?  Will he be able to identify, and connect with the majority of voters?  …also could folks start voting out the sellouts in the Senate?  Seriously.  Otherwise, in my view, Trump will simply be more fuel to the unpredictable, unstable, despair bonfire.
F*ck Trump!

 

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme.  Thanks for visiting.  Be safe, stay healthy.  -Shannon

 


https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/14/heres-how-many-americans-are-not-saving-any-money-for-emergencies-or-retirement-at-all.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/hundreds-protest-michigan-lawmakers-consider-extending-governors-emergency-powers-n1196886

https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/april-may-june-2020/white-death/

My book of poetry:
https://www.villagebooks.com/product/fallen-shannon-p-laws

Day 31: Get Yer Boots On

Shower thoughts: If someone offered to pay for my food and rent for the next 18 years, I’d do anything they ask of me. But I complained every time I took the trash out while living at my parent’s house.

Are you ready to get a little deep today?

There is so much information floating around right now about CORVID-19.  Speculation, opinion, science, federal government BS, even emails from credit card companies, and insurance companies advising on “the best ways” to keep healthy during the pandemic.  (Wow-suddenly you care about my health?)  For news and information, I’m sticking with the KNOWNS.  I push updates from my county’s Department of Health, the CDC, emails from my personal doctor, listen/watch NPR, Democracy Now, and ABC Nightly News for flavor.

Yesterday I stumbled across an article that was a delight to read.  They say there is nothing more powerful than the right word spoken at the right time.  I felt a comradery with Nguyen’s insights.  We are of the same cloth; not the same caliber, mind you.  He is a writer who also has a burden to write.  He ends the article with this sweet truth, “I write not only because it brings me pleasure, but also out of fear — fear that if I do not tell a new story, I cannot truly live.”   He is Viet Thanh Nguyen, Contributing Opinion Writer, the article was in the New York Times, Sunday, 4/10/2020.

Here is the beef of it:
“Perhaps the sensation of imprisonment during quarantine might make us imagine what real imprisonment feels like. There are, of course, actual prisons where we have warehoused human beings who have no relief from the threat of the coronavirus. There are refugee camps and detention centers that are de facto prisons. There is the economic imprisonment of poverty and precariousness, where a missing paycheck can mean homelessness, where illness without health insurance can mean death.”

Read the full 2 minute read here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-america.html?fbclid=IwAR0C6wlR25MuZjOANDRmn6bQ4Vn4gcvRRNTOPzZ3LwHlM02F8o5y_tVC88s

My point: carving out a life was difficult for the middle, lower & poverty classes BEFORE the pandemic.  


This morning I wanted to revisit a poem I wrote waaaay back in 2001.  I don’t even see it as a poem, it is more of a journal really.  When I read it today I can still feel the agony and helplessness in the words.  It’s a window to a time in my life when I should have felt satisfied.  I was living the American Dream, but the price was too high; the burden too heavy.  Following the examples of my parents, yet it was all wrong.  What was different?

So, it is the late ’90s and as a young couple, we were delighted to finally achieve the American Dream: home & mortgage, cars & car payments, kids & kid maintenance, and the full-time jobs that pay JUST enough for it all.  Then…it happens.  It sneaks up on you, slowly, taking 10, 15 years for the poison to surface.  You wake up one day on the freeway heading home in a smothering hot car, stuck in a 3 mile back up—a hamster in a cage running on its wheel going nowhere.
You are woke.  You are pissed.

Today.  Today I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and my life is very simple.  I’m 20 minutes from work.  The cost of living 25 years later is higher, wages are stagnant, and I’m hustling.  I’m working two jobs, both essential during the pandemic, plus a little freelancing when I can.  So…guess what, I’m happy. I am satisfied. I am grounded.  I am full of peace.  Don’t get me wrong, if I am laid off it will devastate me financially.  My savings were absorbed to help get through the 2008 Great Recession.  ‘Effin sucks.  It is difficult to accept the limit of control, difficult to acknowledge that obtaining “things” and social status are empty ventures.
However, the true definition of maturity—and this is key—
I CAN STILL BE HAPPY.

Alarm

Watching the clock
waiting for time to
catch up with me:
Breakfast time.
Traffic time.
Working time.
Lunch time
More working time
Leaving time …finally here.

Time drags along like a leashed cat forced on a walk
Coming home late the house dark
My kitchen smells like the dinner missed
Opening a window a breeze floats in
a scent like rain on the blacktop
dust and wet at the same moment

Pouring myself into bed next to one already asleep a new rhythm starts
Breath bellows in and out
Fresh replacing exhausted
In a room absent of fluorescent
Moon glowing through slits of blinds
patterns across the nightstand
where the alarm clock sits
Not a clock only nor an alarm, but both
It’s red eyes watching as I toggle its hated button
Alarm clock: sound and visual aide that announces my next destination
A location I’ve purchased no ticket for but a price has been paid

Eyelids close
Mind opens
Dreams dreamt, too quick to absorb
ALARM!
ALARM!
Time races out of the gate!
I am the slow one now
5 a.m. comes too early
Quickly get on the carousel!
Around I go into another day, following the sun, while wishing for the moon

####


Credits

*Laws, Shannon. Madrona Grove: Poems Written Under the Canopy . Chickadee Productions. Kindle Edition.