612: Division of the House

American political parties stand-off

The conflict in the US over policy goes far, far beyond Democrat or Republican. In all actuality, those two surface divisions are far more alike than they are different. No, it goes far deeper and far more fundamental than political party affiliation.

Where we fundamentally agree is on “what’s best for America and her citizens.” Where we fundamentally disagree is on what exactly that “best” consists of.

To me, it boils down to two camps which are not necessarily identified by party affiliation, and this describes the two and the primary difference between them.

The difference, as I see it, is between those who  want people to stand on their own two feet, to be responsible and mature, and to provide for themselves and the progeny they produce: in effect, a limited government. This refers to the vast majority of able-bodied citizens, not those honestly and deservedly unable to care for themselves through advanced or young age, physical or in limited cases, mental defect. I get it, some people need AND DESERVE help. Unfortunately, there are far too many getting help currently who do not deserve help – they are where they are because of choices they themselves have made, and this camp believes that bad choices should have consequences.

The other camp believes that people actually born and breathing deserve all their needs, nay even their wants and desires (apparently irregardless of practicality or worth) met by a government that cares and provides for them from cradle to grave, in every aspect of life, economy, personal responsibility, decision making and bad choices totally irrelevant. Cost apparently irrelevant as well.

That appears to be where the division of the house occurs. I guess you can tell on which side of that fence I pitch my tent.

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565: Mea culpa maxima

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It’s all my fault.

You would not have it any other way – you cannot possibly bear any responsibility, now, would you?

Things, and people, which cannot be borne are best forgiven, and then assiduously avoided, because pain is…..painful. It is possible to think of you, now, without anger. But not without pain. Yet. When I have achieved that goal, it will be possible to remember you without sadness.

I invested in you. The money is irrelevant – it is only money, no matter how much money it was. I invested myself into you. It is now time to invest in myself, even though I don’t do that very well yet. I have spent so many years investing in others instead of me, that it is difficult to even believe I am worthy of investment.

Working on it.

On all of it.

481: Starting Over is Overrated

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There are TONS of blog posts and memes on the positive aspects of starting over, and, I get it, I really, really get it. It is great to approach starting over with a positive attitude, some faith in yourself and the limitless opportunities of the future, and the courage and determination that it will be better this time. That’s great, and I get it. Really. Yo comprendo. I understand.

However.

Let’s just face it. Most of us are starting over because *something* failed. A marriage. A relationship. Our health. Our control. Our sanity. Our investments. A job. A business. A life. Fill in the freaking blank. Most of us don’t just wake up one day from a perfectly satisfactory and fulfilling life and announce to the Universe: I am throwing all this delightful existence away today for the incredible, life-changing, exciting chance to START OVER!! Um……no. That is not how it happens, except for Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. The rest of us have more sense.

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Nope – we start over because we HAVE to start over. For nearly every one of us, starting over is a have to, even if it is also a want to because we consciously made a choice to get OUT of whatever failed, once we recognized and admitted to ourselves that it did, in fact, fail, and that we would be far better off starting over than remaining there to continue fighting to survive/succeed.

That has always been my biggest dilemma in a potential starting over scenario – whether to remain and fight, or choose to move on, acknowledging that continuing to struggle is counter-productive and damaging, with no or very little chance of success. For me, that choice was always tempered by whether or not the choice affected only me, or if my choice would impact others I was responsible for. Sometimes that consideration ultimately made the choice for me. Even if I chose starting over, it was still essentially a forced choice. Sometimes choosing to stay and fight is harder than starting over, I’ve found.

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At any rate, starting over is, ultimately, an acknowledgement that something failed (even if that failure was completely and totally out of my control, and I was an innocent victim (yeah, right)) but that I am not going to curl up and die in the face of this failure, I am going to take my raw courage and my tear-stained determination, and I am going to sally forth and establish something bigger, better, and brighter than I had before.

And starting over is not something we do voluntarily, even if we choose to do it. Being positive and hopeful about it helps.

Does not mean I relish the opportunity.

 

 

457: Thanks, WalMart!

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I am discovering America, riding as a guest passenger (ID’d, permitted, photographed, and insured) in a company-owned big rig driven by my newly-CDL-certified husband. He used to work in heating and air conditioning, but driving the truck pays better, and has better benefits, while costing him less as he lives out of the truck.

I am also discovering what it is like actually to be a long-distance truck driver. There are roads where big trucks are not allowed to drive (unless they are actually delivering to a business on that road), there are bridges too low (or too weak) to allow a big truck to pass (and not all are so marked), and big trucks are not allowed to park just anywhere when the driver’s allotted driving hours are up for the day.

I did not know it was so complicated. There are new federal laws (thanks, Barack Obama) that specify how many hours a day a driver can drive, how many breaks are required, how many hours they can drive in a week, and how many mandatory rest hours they must take. And these mandatory hours do not take into consideration where in the USA on the road the driver might happen to be when the time is up, either. There are reference books that list truck stops and rest areas where big trucks can stop legally for their required rest times, so that drivers can plan in advance (mostly) where they can stop – assuming that there are no traffic jams, accidents, or mechanical difficulties that occur to delay them from reaching the “safe” place before their minutes are up.

Plus, drivers pick up already-loaded trailers to haul to their destinations, or, they sit and wait while the shipper loads their trailer “live.” The DRIVER is responsible for the weight of the load that the shipper has already loaded for pick up. Or is loading while they wait. There are strict limits on the load they can haul, and the DRIVER is fined if the load is too heavy as weighed at various weigh stations located all over the country on nearly every big truck-drivable road. The trailer’s rear set of wheels (called the tandems) can be adjusted forward or backwards on the trailer to help distribute the load’s weight as measured by these weigh scales. So, often, the driver has to find a certified scale and check (and pay for the use of the scale) that the shipper has not overloaded the trailer they are hauling, or the driver has to pay the fines when they get caught at the Department of Transportation weigh scale on the road – and the violation goes against the driver’s license.

Well. I said I was learning a lot. Drivers do get paid pretty well, but they are responsible for, and put up with a lot, for that pay.

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One thing I am seriously learning to appreciate is WalMart. That chain has a store in nearly every reasonably-sized town in America. They have HUGE parking lots, and usually, there is space for a big truck to park and wait out their rest hours somewhere to the back or side of the lot, out of the way of shoppers. And WalMart is reasonably priced for the inevitable things that drivers and their certified guest passengers (like me) need for the road. Truck stops also have stuff drivers need, they just charge handsomely for it. What the truck stop has that the WalMart does not have is a shower and laundry machines. Otherwise, WalMart beats the truck stop hands-down. The food is better, less expensive, and there are healthier, lower-calorie choices. Plus, WalMart has personal care items (tweezers, pharmacy, over-the-counter medications, baby wipes, paper towels, gallon jugs of water, etc.), a deli (yum), a bakery (ditto), restrooms, hardware for minor repairs, an automotive department, clothing (new socks, anyone?) and lots of other stuff, like greeting cards for everyone’s birthdays.

Being on the road is not all bad – if you can keep the snacking to a minimum!

379: Rant, rant, rant

A lot of what I read lately can be classified as ranting. Liberal, conservative, libertarian, employed, unemployed, student, male, female, in-between/undetermined, youth, mature, religious, sexual, racial, animal, carnivorous, herbivore, vegan, fruitopian, you name it, people are generally universally upset about whatever, and they are expressing their opinions about it in unambiguous, plain and simple language that makes it pretty clear that they are not thrilled with the situation at hand. Whatever situation that might happen to be, and whichever side of the issue they might have pitched their figurative tent upon.

At the moment, I am pissed off about people who cannot follow reasonable requests and directives who are part of a larger organization that needs its people to cooperate in order to function. And they are not cooperating. Which would indicate that the functioning part is less than satisfactory – and that would be an accurate assessment.

As a minion, a little cute, yellow dude who occupies one of the lower rungs of the institution in question as far as responsibility goes, your job is fairly simple. Follow the directives of the admins – those who are responsible for the parts of the organization that you, as a minion, never see and don’t have to worry about. If you do your job, the place should run fairly well. The problem arises when minions choose not to complete their job functions: missing their assigned duty station, which means that students who would ordinarily behave as humans because you are standing there, doing nothing, choose to misbehave BECAUSE you are not there, visible, doing nothing except standing there.

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The request not to allow your students to make copies on the extremely expensive and particularly snarky copy machines, when ignored, means that every person within reach of that machine is pissed off because it is broken – because YOU sent a fourth-grader to make your copies, because you were too lazy to use your three hours a day of planning time to get your own copies done, in advance of the class you are in when you suddenly realize you need the copies.

That means that I, as a middle level drudge (not a minion, and not an admin) get to morph into a complete and total WITCH, denying everybody access to the copier once it is repaired at great expense, demanding that all of you (not just the miscreant) turn in your printing requests to ME 24 hours in advance, since I re-set all the printer codes so that NONE of you can print on your own anymore, because of the few who are not adult enough to realize that a rule/request from admin MEANS YOU, TOO, IDJIT.

My life would be infinitely simpler as a drudge if you acted your age, instead of your shoe size. And, because you have made my life complicated, I can, and WILL, get even with your lazy butt to the point where you realize that it is easier to do as you are told.

That is how the *real* ranting gets started.

 

374: Responsibilities

Tomorrow, I have to go back to work. I have just finished an eleven-day vacation. Spring Break of ten days, plus one  more day because some union in the city is protesting/demonstrating, and they specifically block traffic and bridges when they protest so that people either can’t GET to work, or can’t get HOME from work, so school called off another day of class. Tomorrow we are supposed to go, but if the protesters are doing their thing for a second day, we may go home early to be sure students can actually get back home, not to mention the staff.

I’d love to be irresponsible and not go. I get a lot of sick days on this job, and I can cheat and say I am sick, and I can go and get a doctor’s note for the grand sum of six dollars here in Panama. However, Thursdays are my busiest day at work. My partner and I teach seven classes on Thursdays, so to lay out on a Thursday is not being kind to my co-worker, who is a nice, decent guy. It would be nice to ignore my responsibilities, but I don’t know how to do that and still look myself in the eye in the mirror. I’d like to be that selfish, I just can’t seem to actually do it. I can THINK about it, I just can’t make myself do it.

We have a substitute teacher here – a part-timer who follows the sports circuit. She travels around the world, competing in various events from kayak races to skiing competitions. I don’t know how to live like that. First, because I don’t have the money to do that, and I’ve never not had a job except for the six years I took off from work to have my children and try to save my marriage. That was more work than work, and I was glad to get back to teaching, which seemed like a vacation after full-time mommyhood and housewifery. That six years sucked big time, seriously. 24/7, and I did not even get to pee in private. For YEARS. Sheesh.

I am, however, in retrospect, glad I had the time to be a full-time mommy, especially since my husband dropped dead about five years after that. I didn’t kill him. Really. At least my kids had me full-time for a while when they were small and needed somebody there.  I could do that, and I did it. Responsibility weighs heavily on me, and I feel the yoke. I waited until both my kids were graduated from high school and off to college before I sold all my stuff and abandoned the USA for overseas teaching (instead of the messed-up USA teaching scene).

I am, however, getting more and more tired of working. The money is nice, BUT……..  As soon as I can start collecting teacher’s retirement, I plan to stop doing it. I have found that I LIKE gardening. I LIKE painting and making jewelry, sewing and crafting. I LIKE doing things my own way and in my own time. I’m still busy, and I enjoy myself.

I want to open a shop, though, in concert with others, so I am not on duty every day, and I can still earn some extra 18_istanbul-handcraftsmoney. Some artists, some craftspeople, some fresh garden produce, some nursery (for plants), maybe a furniture builder and a potter…..a shop where each minds the store a day or two a week for the others, and everyone brings for sale what they produce. I just need a PLACE to do that. Maybe that place is here, and maybe that place is in the next place I go. At least I know what I want!!