Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Sorry about disappearing there. A couple of weeks ago, my in-laws took us down to southern Oregon for a family reunion of sorts with my husband’s aunt and cousins, one of whom he hadn’t seen in nearly 3o years. A couple of things to note about this vacation. It is the first time I have had a week off that didn’t involve illness, surgery or death in over a decade. I almost didn’t get to take the week off because of, ahem, issues at work. And even then we almost didn’t go because one of our elderly cats is in the final stages of renal failure, and we weren’t sure we weren’t going to have to rush back for either an emergency vet visit, or a dead cat. Also, the in-laws paid for everything, because as I’ve mentioned before, we’re broke. I’ll talk about that later.
The vacation was wonderful. We went to a hunting/fishing/camping “resort” on Lake Klamath near Crater Lake. Aunt Alice and the cousins had a cabin, we had a room in the lodge (a row of little hotel like rooms), and Mom and Dad had their RV. Because everyone was privy to the fact that this was my first vacation since my first year of grad school, no one let me do anything that wasn’t fun. I got to take my father-in-law’s one man pontoon boat out on the lake and annoy waterfowl. The neat thing about it is that you can see the bottom of the lake between your feet because it’s just two pontoons with a rowing platform between them. The idea is that you’ll have waders on. I didn’t and my legs got a little crispy where I washed off my sunblock. We saw several species of ducks, pelicans, and an osprey. I got to watch bats catch bugs, skimming the surface of the lake. And on the last day we woke up for a sunrise straight out of a Bierstadt painting, including a trout arcing up out of the water as the sun crested the mountains behind it.
So, after a week of no contact with the outside world for the most part (no TV or radio, some internet access) I came back to get
caught up on the world and, holy shit, Occupy Wall Street protests!!! I’d like to thank the NYPD for pepper-spraying innocent, law-abiding protestors so that the mainstream media finally pulled their heads out and started covering this. Oh, and screw Faux news and their leading questions and “We can’t tell what they’re actually protesting or demanding… La la la!” What a bunch of douchecanoes. Yeah, I’m looking at you, too, CNN. I was honestly surprised and disheartened that it took Rachel Maddow as long as it did to address it on her show. And good on Lawrence O’Donnell for shaming the NYPD into a sort of investigation.
Something like this is long overdue and very necessary.
I’d also like to address the “We are the 99%” movement. Essentially, that link leads to a Tumblr where people post pictures of themselves with signs outlining their economic situation. Many of these posts deal with starting out in a terrible economy with college degrees (sometimes multiple) with a crushing burden of student loan debt, and no way of paying them off. People of my generation and the generations after have spent our entire lives being told that going to college was a guarantee of economic success and freedom. You would get a good job and could buy a house, raise kids, etc…
The reality is situations like mine: I never finished my MA because I got out and discovered that a Master’s degree in History would qualify me to take a number of adjunct professor jobs at the area community colleges, and still make less, without benefits, than I did at the University where I was, at the time, a secretary, with benefits. One friend in particular teaches at at least two community colleges at a time, can barely afford her basement studio apartment, and spends several hours a week commuting by bus between her teaching gigs. Add to that the time she spends grading, helping students online and office hours… She’s working far more hours a week than I do, for much less.
I make a decent salary, but my husband got let go from his job over a year ago. We can afford rent, food, utilities, and car insurance, but really not much beyond that right now. The sick cat has completely obliterated our savings. Right now I’m pretty concerned that when she gets to the point where we can’t keep her comfortable any more, that we won’t be able to afford to have her put to sleep. And I’ll be honest, our savings only amounted to a couple hundred bucks to begin with. We’re keeping our heads above water, just.
However, the husband needs a root canal, and even with dental insurance (bless the university system for free dental insurance), we can’t afford it. Honestly, at this point, we can’t afford to get it just plain extracted. And our health insurance got bought out by another carrier, and they are finding all sorts of fun ways to get out of paying for things they previously paid for. Or things like, they’ve pissed off our optometrists to the point where they won’t bill the insurance directly, we have to pay and then file to be reimbursed (which was a lovely surprise in the middle of choosing new glasses). Thankfully we had the money, but seriously? And then the insurance wants to know why the vendor didn’t bill them directly. Am I supposed to write “Because you pissed them off” in the box?
We’re not poor, but we are broke. Our living situation is pretty stable, we can afford food most of the time, and our room-mates and friends help take up the slack when we can’t. We do have health insurance in case of catastrophic health issues, I just wish it covered the cats.
Something else to come out of the Wall Street protests is the question of trusting the police. I first heard this idea when a POC friend of mine told me that white parents didn’t understand that she couldn’t teach her kids to trust the police. I laughed, and blurted out, “Jesus, who teaches them that?” Another friend, whose Dad was a cop, is a little hurt by my attitude toward the police, and I’m sorry that I hurt her, but I have never been of a high enough economic class to be able to trust the cops. I’ve also seen too much damage done by the Thin Blue Line. You know, the idea that cops should protect other cops against all outsiders, even to the detriment of said outsiders. You know, like the fact that the cop who pepper-sprayed those women at the Occupy Wall Street protests is facing a legal suit for false arrest and violating the civil rights of protestors at the Republican National convention. Yet, no one said, “You know, Tony, maybe you should sit this one out.”
Guys, if you want normal non-cop people to quit viewing you as the enemy, you have got to do a better job of policing your own. You have to quit giving other cops a pass on beating their partners and kids. You have to quit letting other cops beat up hookers and runaways and giving them alibis. You have to quit lying for the bad cops. I know the vast majority of cops are actually good guys, but when a run-in with a bad cop can ruin your entire life,* those of us without recourse to lawyers cannot afford to take that gamble. As a result I am unfailingly polite and submissive toward any police officer I have to interact with. But I forget nothing.
There’s more stuff forthcoming, some of it I really need to consider whether or not I can safely write about it because I can’t risk my job. I’d like to be fearless, but when you’re the sole support of your family, sometimes you need to err on the side of caution.
*We knew several people accused later on in the case, and someone involved in a case that may have set Perez off on the whole debacle in the first place. My husband grew up there, his folks still live there and he remembers Perez as a cop with a K-9 unit who used to get his kicks setting his dog on skateboarders. In essence the guy got “failed up” to detective to get him away from the general public.
I’ve been a reporter for too many years to trust cops further than I can throw them. A firefighter? Yes, nearly all the time – I find that their egos don’t seem to demand that they be allowed to act like little Napoleons, and they do actual dangerous work all the time. But while I’ve known a few good cops (including one memorable police chief who offered to turn his back while I took a gun with the serial # filed off from the Old Evidence Locker, to protect myself against a convicted rapist stalking me for doing my job), I’ve known others I would not want to be alone in a room with were I younger, cuter, or less able to defend myself.