Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An early unlikely education

When I was growing up in Springfield, I went to a school in District 186. This was back in the 1970's. There was still racial tension from desegregation a decade earlier, and the great White Flight out of town created a terrible school funding situation that lingered for at least twenty years.

Public school was terrible. I often pretended I was sick just to stay home because I hated it so much. During the day I would watch PBS and there was a program that at first seemed extraordinarily boring. After watching a few episodes something clicked inside my head.

It was a program on PBS that taught Latin. Words were dissected into their components and their meanings were explained. I became fascinated. It literally opened a whole new avenue, widened the lane – so to speak. Comprehension became much easier for me. No thanks to public school education in District 186.

So, if your children aren’t feeling well and don’t want to go to school, always have educational programming available for them, like Latin. It’s always good to learn a language used by the medical and legal profession.

I’ve been trying to find the name of that old program on PBS, but have yet to receive a response. I think it was called something like “Wordsmith.” If you remember it, please leave a response.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

In My Previous Life: Credit

I found a job with a Temp agency. I’m currently on my first assignment and everything appears to be going well. But still, I’m just a temp. At least I’ll go out in the ‘Recycle’ bin instead of the ‘Trash’ bin where the full and part time employees go when they get laid-off.

I wound up in a corporate trash heap back in 2001 and never recovered. It doesn’t look too promising anymore either. Because I worked in a media outlet, I was under the mistaken impression that working in the mass media meant job security. Instead of our jobs getting out-sourced like tech jobs, our jobs were consolidated by media mergers.

Technically, I’m one of the new suburban homeless, a 42 year-old living in my mother’s house. She doesn’t mind because she can travel with the comfort of knowing I’m watching her house and the pets.

Still, I suffer the humility of my situation. I miss my independence. In this culture we are measured by what we have. It’s a sad, pathetic way to judge someone, but it’s a fact of life in our industrial plutocracy.

I once had my own house full of things on an acre of land. I thought I had a good job. I thought I was set for life. That kind of thinking is dangerous.

I began to accept credit card debt as a fact of life. Getting away with only making a minimum payment month after month was keeping my mind off of the total debt. My monthly minimum payments gradually crept up from around $12 to $40 and I didn’t notice it because of “Creeping Normalcy.”

Creeping Normalcy is what creditors count on most for their profits. They count on us to not turn the page and read the fine print on the back of our bills. Tiny obscure fees began to appear for less than one dollar. The tiny obscure fees would sit there unchanged for about six months, or longer, and then they would start to gradually increase.

I got rid of all of my credit cards in July of 2002. I sold my house, paid them off, cut them up, and never saw or used any again. I now only have a checking account. Money trickles in every now and then and I can keep my phone and my car insurance. If I’m lucky I can get some gas for my car.