Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moving

Once again I've gone far too long without blogging so I thought I'd let you guys know a little bit about what's been going on with me. I wish I could say everything's been wonderful, but life is frustratingly fickle in that regard. I can't get into all the details yet (the story isn't finished and I'm not ready), but I can say I went a little crazy for a moment and almost ruined something important to me. Luckily I've been swamped with moving and haven't had too much time to dwell on things.
This is not what I look like when moving.
Ah moving. Everyone knows how much moving sucks so I won't bore you with the details. I will say I have a ton of work ahead of me so don't be surprised if I disappear again. I'm loving the new house though and it doesn't hurt that I'm living with my friend. Already I feel more like myself living with someone. And in case anyone is wondering, Holden is settling in quite nicely. If I could just figure out how to get my box spring up the stairs and the heat more evenly dispersed throughout the house it would be perfect.

So that's that. Not much I know, but I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I am. I am. I am.

I woke up this morning feeling like something precious was being taken away from me. I felt overwhelmed and bitter about the simple truth that sometimes life doesn't work out the way you want it to. No matter how much you cling to hope or build brittle plans, things can just fall apart. You'd think this would be something I've accepted by now, but the truth is it never gets easier. You can know something utterly and completely and still feel surprised by the pain new losses always bring. And no matter how much you tell yourself it can never happen, a want unfulfilled always stings with that special combination only desire and longing can bring.

So no my day did not start out well, but then something wonderful happened.

I had one of those moments where, from somewhere deep inside, you find the strength to do what needs to be done. The courage to say the words that need to be said. And the reminder that you will survive this moment just as surely as you've done before and will probably have to do again. In that moment I finally understood Sylvia Path's simple words, "I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."

And it was beautiful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients

A few months ago the question of whether or not to have mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients was in the news after several states put forward new legislation suggesting just that. Florida lead the charge and while I had originally planned to post about the subject I eventually lost interest.

I found this video in my drafts:



When a friend of mine recently answered the poll question on facebook it got me thinking about the issue again. As you can see, the vast majority of people see nothing wrong with drug testing people without any suspicion simply because they're applying for public assistance. I, obviously, don't agree. I think the facts don't back up the assumptions and this is really just another way to punish the poor.


Here are a few reasons why I don't support mandatory drug testing of people who receive public assistance:

1. It's probably unconstitutional. 

There's that pesky Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, that keeps getting in the way of legislators deciding they can drug test anyone they want. Michigan tried a similar program that randomly drug tested welfare recipients in 1999 and it was deemed unconstitutional (Marchwinski v. Howard). Florida has recently tried implementing a similar program and it's also facing legal questions. A federal judge even temporarily blocked the law until the constitutionality of it can be ruled on.

2. It costs more than it saves. 

If the very reason some people want to drug test welfare recipients is to save money, then using more tax payer dollars to pay for that testing is ridiculous. Drug testing is not cheap. When you consider the cost per test (anywhere from $35‐76), the administrative needs, and the proportion of people who will actually test positive, it just doesn't make sense. The cost of each positive test will end up costing thousands.

3. It's not needed. 

The most obvious reason why we shouldn't drug test welfare recipients is the simple fact people receiving public assistance use drugs no more than the general population. The idea that people receiving welfare are druggies who just won't get off their asses is an offensive stereotype. If the real concern was saving taxpayer money, then anyone receiving public funds (grants, tax credits, etc) should be susceptible to random drug testing. Since politicians are targeting only welfare recipients though, who are primarily women and children, it makes this talking point painfully hollow. The vast majority of drug users are employed and the prevalence of alcohol and drug among welfare recipients is comparable to the general population. The most widely used substance in this country is alcohol and these tests do nothing to catch that.

On top of that, mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients is opposed by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, the American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Inc., National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, National Health Law Project, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, Inc., National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Black Women’s Health Project, Legal Action Center, National Welfare Rights Union, Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

4. It hurts children. 

Even if drug testing welfare recipients does expose some drug addicts, the question of how this helps our society is something politicians never answer. All these programs aim to do is leave the children of drug addicts with even less support than they had to start with. I'm not saying we should pay people to get high, but these policies are too shortsighted to be truly effective. Instead more women and children will be left without a safety net.

So while I can understand why people may think this is a good idea, when you look at the issue seriously there's just no reason to implement such a program. Of course it may make a few people feel better and unfortunately that's what politics is too often about.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warning: Confusion and Vagueness Ahead

I'm having one of those days where I feel tired and world weary. Like life is the never ending push and pull of ocean and I'm slowly being broken down into tiny grains of sand. No matter how hard I try to keep everything together I find myself losing the pieces that matter most. Like the hope for a better tomorrow.

This is something I've learned about myself in the last few weeks: I put far too much hope in the future. While I think most people need a little more confidence that things will work out the way they need to, I need a little less. I tend to think I can force the universe to give me what I want out of the sheer power of my will. It's like I dare things not to work out even when circumstance proves time and time again that gods do not answer letters.
quixotic [kwɪkˈsɒtɪk]
adj.
1. preoccupied with an unrealistically optimistic or chivalrous approach to life; impractically idealistic
As I try to put myself out there, I'm left with the realization that most people are not like me. For one, they care a lot less. Even though I know it'd be easier if I didn't, I care deeply about almost everything. (In fact, this is why I'm so opinionated.) I'm too quick to give meaning to small gestures and excuse thoughtless words. But even knowing I give people too much credit, I can't seem to stop myself. So once again I find myself in a situation where I care more than I should and can't quite understand how I could be so wrong about everything. How in the face of indifference I can still believe the future holds meaning.
indifference [ɪnˈdɪfrəns -fərəns]
n.
1. the fact or state of being indifferent; lack of care or concern
2. lack of quality; mediocrity
3. lack of importance; insignificance
So what do you do when you take a chance and you fall flat on your face? Do you get up and try again? Do you give up and wait for the world to see you on your knees? Part of me is terribly rational. It has justifications and reasons why things are better left alone. Why it makes sense to put up a wall of carefully constructed apathy. That maybe it really was all in my head and I somehow convinced myself of something that seems so obviously untrue in the light of day. Maybe I can pretend not to care until I truly don't anymore.
apathy [ˈæpəθɪ]
n.
1. lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal
2. absence of emotion
But the other part of me dreams of something different. For the chance to make something else. Something potentially wonderful. (Don't you hate those moments when your thoughts scream out for two different things?) But then I'm right back where I started, wondering if things are real or whether I'm just living in a bubble of my own imagination. Its like life is forcing me to relive the same cycle of self-doubt and uncertainty I experienced with Ryan until I get it right. Even if I'm not crazy and I was right to take a chance, I refuse to reward ambivalence with affection. I'm tired of reaching out to people who won't reach back.
ambivalence [æmˈbɪvələns]
n.
1. The coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings, such as love and hate, toward a person, object, or idea
2. Uncertainty or indecisiveness as to which course to follow
And yet, I still hold on to the hope that everything can turn itself around before it's too late. I feel like I'm just waiting for a sign. For even the tiniest gesture and I hate myself for it. God I'm a mess.

I shouldn't even post this, but I'll at least wait till Tiffany gets the chance to read it (hey girl!). I'm closing the comments. Sorry for the vagueness and any confusion.

Wordless Wednesday
















Friday, November 4, 2011

The U.S. Postal Service's Financial Problems

A few months ago the U.S. Postal Service was in the news because of it's inability to pay a $5.5 billion health care payment, bringing to light the ugly financial situation of the USPS. As a bipartisan group of Senators propose new legislation aimed at cutting 100,000 employees, the question of the U.S. Postal Service's financial stability is once again being considered.

If you're anything like me and could use a good primer on the situation, then this video is the perfect place to start.

Watch How Should U.S. Postal Service's Financial Problems Be Fixed? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


In the video Rolando mentions, "You don't have to do 75 years worth of pre-funding in a 10-year period," and he's referring to a law Congress passed in 2006 and the reason why the USPS has a $5.5 billion health care payment due in the first place. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) forces the USPS to fund future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in a ten year span. This means the USPS has to pay for the health benefits of employees that don't even work for the post office yet (and the payments come directly from the operating funds). So while the USPS does need to find a business model that's more profitable for the future, the main financial burden the USPS is facing is actually because of Congress (the post office has lost $20 billion over the last four years because of PAEA).

And how does Congress want to solve this problem? By laying off over 100,000 workers of course.

Senators: Cut 100,000 postal workers:
A bipartisan group of Senators unveiled legislation Wednesday to save the U.S. Postal Service from what Sen. Joe Lieberman called a “financial death spiral” but keeps six-day-a-week delivery while slashing 100,000 employees.

Under the proposal by Sens. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the postal service also would reduce the number of post offices and implement a number of other cost-saving options. The legislation would also prohibit the postal service from ending Saturday delivery for at least the next two years.
As the PBS video highlighted though, the USPS has overpaid $6.8 billion into the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and anywhere from $55 billion and $75 billion into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Instead of laying off workers or moving towards a five day delivery week, some legislators are instead asking that this money be returned to the USPS. Of course this would make Congress' books look even worse so who knows if that will ever happen.

Some people believe this is a manufactured crisis in an attempt to eventually privatize the USPS, but there's really no way to know either way. What we do know is that there are other ways to solve this crisis (the post "How to Save the Postal Service Before It’s Too Late" has ten great examples) and maybe the people who helped get the USPS into this mess shouldn't be the people we look to now to solve it.

The fact most people don't even know the USPS doesn't use tax payer dollars though doesn't have me convinced things will end well.

Send Me Your Links!

I've decided that I have some major catching up to do today. I haven't been reading or watching any news at all. At. All. This is not okay. Politics and current events are like my lifeblood and I need a good reboot. There could be a fiery comment on its way to kill us and I wouldn't have the slightest clue. That's how out of the loop I am.

So, I'm going to be doing lots of reading over the next few days and would love any links you'd like to share. They could be for anything really. Some political issue you've been thinking about, a video, a funny picture of a cat. I don't care. I just need some place to start.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blue Blanket

Blue Blanket by Andrea Gibson:


I am generations of daughters sisters mothers, our bodies battlefields, war grounds,
beneath the weapons of your brother’s hands.

Foolish Games

I feel like this blog has become my diary and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I always feel like I have to apologize for talking about my personal life which makes absolutely no sense I know. Ironically these are the posts that get read the most so maybe I should worry less and write more.

As I settle into my new life with Ryan out of the house I've learned two very important things about myself. One, I somehow manage to turn every creak into a murdering psycho who's on his way to kill me. Two, it's really hard having only a five year old to talk to.

Any stay at home parents will relate to this, but Holden is driving me a little crazy. You'd think I'd be used to it since I don't work, but it's ten times worse now that I don't have a grown up to talk to every evening or someone to take over listening-to-random-kid-thoughts duty. And then when Holden is gone on Saturdays with Ryan, I feel an embarrassing amount of loneliness. Like I don't even know what to do with myself. This has basically lead to the harassment of some of my friends. I'm counting down to the days I move just so I can rest easy knowing other people are in the house. How people live alone I'll never understand. I need to have people around me. Maybe it's because I've always lived with a lot of people, but an empty home doesn't feel like a home to me at all. It just feels like a box where I keep my stuff.

I guess that's the hardest part about this whole mess: the loneliness. It's already lead me to make some questionable decisions. I don't deal well with being by myself. This is something I've always known and I'm trying my hardest to be a little more level headed this time around. Yet, as always, I throw myself into situations I know are bad for me. But even knowing so, I jump headfirst and without any hesitation. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I hold nothing back is so I can feel vindicated when everything burns down around me. Like I can't be touched by the ugliness of blame because I know I gave it my all. It's just impossible to know how I feel about anything anymore. Everything is all tangled up in a mess of rejection and the hope for something better. I tell myself all the things I know I should (like "it's too soon" and "don't over think it") and yet my stubbornness refuses to let go of my inevitable disappointment.

So I retreat back into my world of lists and plans. I'm moving in with my friend and Ryan's brother and we're still trying to find a place. You'd think I'd be keeping busy with school, but I'm having a hard time focusing on anything actually productive. Every time I get caught up in one class I feel like I'm drowning in another. I'm just trying to get through this semester so I can start over in January. It's like I'm stuck in this in-between place where little matters and yet everything means so much more.