April 2012


People are posting links asking me to agree with forgiveness of student loan debt and telling me that the current debt is $1 trillion and so all should be forgiven.

I don’t really understand why anyone who is smart enough to go to college doesn’t know that it costs money and that when you borrow money, you have to pay it back.

I don’t understand why someone thinks that I should, in effect, pay for their college with my taxes because it is so important to get a good education so you can get a good job. If getting a good education means you can get a good job, please get a good job and pay back your school loans. I paid for my own college and really don’t wish to pay for yours.

Of course, I didn’t get to go to some fancy name brand college. In fact, I didn’t go to anything more than a really inexpensive community college. Anyone can go to an inexpensive community college and get the first two years of basic education for really, really cheap.

I especially don’t want to forgive people who decide that it is so icky to have to go to a job every single day and earn a living even if you don’t start out as a Regional VP and you have to start at the bottom and so after getting their first college degree, they opt to get more degrees so they can demand a higher salary because of all their learning and wisdom (sans a lick of experience).

Grad school is much more expensive than undergrad. If you think it is important for your future earning potential to go this route, please feel free to do so. But don’t ask me to pay for it. I would like to keep the money I earn with my piddly little two year degree and not pay for your Masters or Doctorate degree. Thank you very much.

If college is the answer to the good life, why do you need more of my tax dollars to fund this? I know that our cost of living is ridiculously high. That’s because we HAVE to have a cell phone/smart phone and a large house in the suburbs with the fence for privacy. I have noticed that people in my neighborhood have so much crap that they have to store much of it in their garages and then there is no room for the many cars they also own.

Cheap student loans are a gift in the first place. To then not want to pay them back is a sacrilege. I’m sorry if paying for your college is taking a long time and you then have to forego buying all the wonderful things you thought you would get to buy as soon as you graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies and could earn a bazillion dollars a year salary.

Apparently they aren’t teaching anything about math, money, interest, finance, and money management in college. I’m not sure what they are teaching, but if I really wanted to know, I would feel like it was up to me to pay for it.

I am sorry your college education cost so much. Studies are showing how many kids get to college and pay college prices for remedial classes because they weren’t really ready for college. If you need remedial work, for the love of all that’s holy, take classes at a cheap community college and be really ready to take your real classes later. Or, perish the thought, study in high school.

Not everyone is college material. Not everyone should be in college. Not everyone needs college. It isn’t a magic pill that makes your life better automatically. However, if you think it is and you feel it is necessary to your future life, then YOU pay for it.

Thanks so much.

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I don’t really have a stake in the Mommy Wars any more. Hilary Rosen should have included “outside the home” in her attack, but still … amazingly enough, I have an opinion.

I was reading an article that said Hilary was right and that rich, privileged women don’t understand what the rest of us have to deal with. Well, rich, privileged men don’t either, but apparently we don’t much care about that.

But the more amazing thing I read was that children in daycare haven’t suffered at all and that working mothers can give their children the exact same things as SAHMs. Really?

I’m old. In my generation, most moms were SAHMs and my mother was an exception. Now, she was a teacher and worked five more days each year than we went to school. And she didn’t start teaching until I was in seventh grade, which means I had a SAHM for most of my childhood.

The kids in my schools sometimes teased each other. I’m sure that in some cases, it would be labeled as bullying today. But it wasn’t pervasive and it wasn’t at the level that seems either very common or else over-reported in the news today. This seems like a bad thing to me. Perhaps these children of today, raised in daycare, aren’t properly socialized. Maybe having a mother watching out for your social faux pas is better than some minimum wage early childhood “teacher” overseeing your life.

When I was a child, there were a few fat kids. But childhood obesity wasn’t an epidemic.

When I was a child, there were a few boisterous kids in school, but ADHD wasn’t pervasive.

When I was a kid, no one shot up their schools. Ever.

Parents were feeding their kids properly and making sure they got enough sleep each night. Not trying to spend “quality time” whatever that may be, rather than actually parenting the kids.

I’m not sure what standards are being used to see if daycare children are or are not suffering from their treatment, but I’m missing it.

On the days when I work, I’m more tired at the end of the day. The  meals I cook for the two of us aren’t as elaborate after I’ve worked “all” day, which is just six hours at a time. And I don’t even have to help anyone with homework or get them to their activities. I also don’t have to clean up after a bunch of little kids. In fact, my workload is much lighter than a mother of small children.

I know this because I was a working mother. On the days I worked, I was crabbier and less available to the kids than on days I didn’t work. Since I worked part-time, I’m a perfect person to ask if working affects one’s parenting ability. The answer is a resounding YES. As a plus side to my working shifts, Dick learned to be an active, hands-on father.

I would also like to point out that it doesn’t take two incomes to raise a family. I know this because single mothers do it alone often. It might take two incomes to have the couple thousand square foot house and the SUV or minivan. When I was young, houses were much smaller than the average house today. Our homes (they aren’t even called houses anymore) have become more elaborate (more expensive) and quite frankly, no toddler gives a flying rat’s ass about this. Babies and toddlers, especially, prefer their parents.

I have gotten to work around a bunch of new-mother doctors over the years and as they return to their professions after their luxurious six weeks off (if they can even manage that much time away), they are pretty much a mess. Their newborn is left at home with a great nanny and still they are worried and on the phone and distracted and it just doesn’t seem to be the best choice for anybody.

Is it fair that women bear the brunt of this responsibility? Probably not. But we are the only parent who is absolutely sure the kid is ours. So there is that. Should women work outside the home? I have no idea. All I know for sure is that your kids pay a price when you do. Mine did. Fortunately, I only worked part time and often odd shifts and their father was there to take care of most of the childcare.

When my son was a teenager, I asked him why his friends never came to our house. He hemmed and hawed and didn’t want to answer, but I was insistent. He finally admitted that our house wasn’t as nice as his friends’ houses. I offered to get a bigger house for him, but the only way we could afford it was for me to work full time, as his father was salaried and couldn’t make any more money. My teenaged son considered and said he would rather have his mother than a larger house. No one asks the babies who are left in daycare centers for eight to twelve hours a day about this. I bet if you did, the answer would shock you.

I’m pushing 60 and an orphan. Even now, I still want my Mommy, especially when I’m hurt, sick, or scared. I’m glad I had her when I was 6.

First published at RGQ Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I have been a Fark reader since forever. I don’t think I was there as soon as the squirrel picture was published, but as it evolved, I have been there. Fark is full of snark although the rhyme is purely unintentional. The readers and commenters are tech savvy and urban chic and they are full of derision for a world full of stupid.

Unless they aren’t.

Male users of Fark.com are called Farkers and females are called Farkettes. Sexist as it may seem, it is nice to know the gender of your correspondent and with online communication there is really no way to tell unless one outs oneself. This happens by the choice of a name or by admission of belonging to one group or another.

A Farker reported his foster daughter missing. The outpouring of good wishes was astounding, especially considering the usual snark of the site. The thread is no longer available to the public audience and has gone back to the Total Fark (paid side) and so I cannot link it for you to see how kind and helpful the citizens of Fark were to this beleaguered, worried father.

He had been a social worker and quit his job last fall. He knew this girl for the last three years. He and his wife bought a house because their one bedroom apartment wasn’t large enough for a foster child to join them. They did all this and took in the girl knowing she was a runner by history.

There were so many suggestions for how to track or find her and there were several cops who were from neighboring areas who were also posting things at their locations and helping to keep an eye out for the 16-year-old runaway. I don’t know exactly how or who did it, but she was found and safely returned home to the relief of the foster parents and the Fark community at large.

But this entire event got me to thinking. Most of the people I know are kind and good and helpful and nice. I know some cops and some politicians. Like black sheep, we have both in our family. They are decent, hard-working, caring people. They work hard to do what is right and are honest in their diligent execution of their jobs.

I come from a background of heath care, teaching, and now working for financial people. All the people in my sphere have been honest and forthright. They haven’t gamed the system or been yucky people. Even the financial people are wonderful!

It would seem, if one goes solely by the headlines, that there isn’t an honest person left in the world. And yet, all the people I know are essentially good and honest folks. But they don’t make headlines. The priest or preacher who tends the flock and gives up a lavish life to help others doesn’t make the news. The pedophile does.

The teachers who work day in and day out to teach not only subject matter, but social skills as well, to all the little munchkins in their care don’t make the headlines. The teachers who abuse their position of power and become sexually involved with their charges do make the news.

The cops who arrive at a wreck and help the victims, and then sometimes have to go to the homes of those people and let their families know about horrible things don’t make the news. The tasering, pepper spraying ninnies do.

The politicians who run our communities with an eye to making them better for all don’t make the news. The power hungry folks abusing their power and ripping off the citizens do get our attention.

The financial people who work the system and amass illegal assets in their own name make the news while those, like my bosses, who actually help people deal with their hard earned money and enable them to get the most out of their assets don’t ever make the headlines.

In fact, of the billions of us here on Earth, very few make the headlines. Most of us are decent people trying to make the best of a life that is chancy. We help each other in times of need and encourage the betterment of all.

If we just read the papers or watch the news, if we just read the headlines and click on the next link, we might forget that the majority of us are good people. We might become cynical and lose faith in a world seemingly gone awry.

But if instead, we look at our friends and neighbors and extrapolate from the people in our life to the rest of the world, we might find that it is not a place filled with terror and fright, evil and doom. We might realize that there are far more people in the world doing good than those few in the headlines doing bad.

I don’t have any questions but I do have a request. Would you mind dropping us a small note telling us about some amazing people you know? Something good to remind us of the wonderful world we live in might help us all realize …

Life is Good

We moved to Larchwood Court in 1983. It was a quiet suburban neighborhood except at 10 PM during the summer hours when we could hear the fireworks for King’s Island each night. Our house was perfectly placed so we could watch fireworks nightly from our living room window.

It took a while before I met all the neighbors. I met Nancy soon after moving in since Jason and Joey were close in age. Then I found out there was another Nancy next door to the first one. Seemed right. Joey was pretty much the only Joe we had up north even though Mom was Jo – she was always Mom or Nana to us. There were two girl Jos and two boy Joeys and one dog Joe in the neighborhood, so two Nancys was fine. (There were also two Freds.)

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The second Nancy became one of my closest friends on the street. That makes the street sound a bit divided and it was nothing at all like that. We were all together and we raised our children en masse yelling at whatever little miscreant was close to hand and celebrating each milestone of each darling child as they reached them.

Houses built in the late 1970s were all built for privacy. Each one of us had a deck or porch or way to be outside – in the back of the house. There were no front porches, no way to socialize as a group. Those houses were not built with socialization in mind, but privacy.

The owners before us had placed a flower box on the side of the house. They used it as a vegetable garden. It was about six feet by ten feet or so and would have worked well for that. I tried flowers in it since I’m not much of gardener. Eventually, I had Steve cap the thing and it was wonderful. Right at the T of the streets, we could all sit on the side deck and watch the kids and be adults together.

And so we did. There were a bazillion stories told on that deck and bazillion memories created there. Each day Fred would come home from work and ask us if we knew what was in USA Today today and we would hear about the latest news. The snake in the drain was trapped and so it was removed via a shop vac. Beautiful story.

One balmy spring Sunday, all the heathens were on the deck drinking coffee and Baileys. We were on our fourth pot of coffee at least when darling Becky came by to join us. Knowing she was a tea drinker, we offered her a beverage anyway. And she asked incredulously, “Why would you put bay leaves in your coffee?” All we need to say is “bay leaves” and we can all still laugh.

Nancy and I spent hours upon hours on the deck. We discussed everything under the sun. She looked at things from the liberal perspective and I, of course, from the conservative. She colored my way of thinking as I changed hers. We were able to disagree vehemently and yet remain friends.

While her mother was dying of a horrible ovarian cancer, Nancy stepped up, even though her schedule was already filled to overflowing. She took care of her mother. I tried, in some small way, to take care of her during this time.

I was invited to her seizures and taught a very small, very young Alex how to help Mommy when she had one and how to call me if he needed me. I was invited to her heart attack, too. I preferred the seizures.

The stories of our kids growing up together are flitting through my mind right now. I’m not sure which to include, which would make sense to anyone else. I can see us (Nancy and me) at the dining room table before computers making math problems for some psychology thing she was doing for school. Night after night, trying to get them perfect – and it would be so easy today with technology as our friend.

I can see a tiny Alex having dinner with us because Mom was late at school and him telling me he ate “dween beans” and turning his nose up at my broccoli. I can see the entire neighborhood riding bikes in the circle, Fred throwing a bag of hot dogs at a car going too fast on the street. I can see the blow-up doll in a boxing ring, tied to the chimney, and leaning against a newly built wall across Gina’s driveway. I can see some clown driving off to do a party. I can see a spray painted dead pine tree festooned with decorations.

Mostly what I can see is a million different moments of all of us living a life together, raising up a bunch of great kids who turned into wonderful adults.

The shoes in the picture? Why would these shoes do anything for me today? When Nancy’s mother died, there was no one to take her shoes. Nancy’s feet were two sizes too small. I inherited the shoes. There were some spectacular shoes in there. These are the only ones I have left. My fancy Jew shoes. Lovingly cared for over the years. Moved around. Still comfortable. I hope both Marilyn and Nancy can appreciate how much they mean to me.