Growing Up. Changing Attitude.

Sitting on the porch, sipping coffee, contemplating life and realizing I am slowly learning life’s lessons, but they are very expensive ones that leave me indebted in ways I never thought imaginable and to which I can only strive to repay.

Some of the problem is the transition between being a man of limited thoughts and ideologies to one of free thoughts, ideas and actions. The Christianity I absorbed by osmosis growing up and the Wicca I dabbled in in my 20s both have a theme in common with the idea of a life of unrestricted freedom: as long as you are not hurting others with your actions, go ahead and do what you want. It’s an idea I’ve always adhered to but it seems to get harder and harder to live up to it.

Despite this mature outlook to life it feels like only now, at 40+, as certain aspects of my life feel out of my control or out of synch with the way I want to live my life, am I growing up! Isn’t that meant to happen, magically, at 18 or 21? Life just hasn’t been that idealized image for me of a school-college-job-marriage-kids-promotion-big house and car-… progression and I realize now that somewhere in my subconscious this has bothered me and greatly influenced the situation I find myself in, (how could it not, right?).

Only once in my life have I jumped into a situation without fear and procrastination, (which on reflection, are very similar), and I gained so much from that, but I’ve let the good I gained become tainted with my old ways, which have only amplified the way things are.

Last night my wife and I were talking about it and we realized that in a lot of life’s situations, people have a tendency to “bury their head in the sand”, until suddenly, the problem they’ve been avoiding becomes real. We live reactive lives rather than proactive lives.

From here, the mentality I’m aiming to achieve and maintain is one of seeing and planning and doing, not of dreaming and hoping and waiting. Only I can rectify the things I see as detrimental in my behavior and outlook. As much as others in my life may want to help, it is only up to me to do it. And only me.

Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe…

Well, well…

As if one of my recent entries, concerning our financial situation, wasn’t whiny and self-centered enough, in Monday’s mail we got two awesome letters that will provide more “woe is me” drama.

Firstly, I managed to get our disconnection notice for our natural gas delayed two weeks. That was the good part, the bad part of this is that in a letter we received Monday, we have to pay the whole outstanding amount, ($400+), not the $180+ they were asking for to prevent disconnection.

Oh, but then the icing on the I-can’t-see-a-way-out-of-this-shit life situation I have lead myself into, dragging my wife and kids with me. Two letters from the lawyers office dealing with our foreclosure. Been waiting for this for a while, wondering when the process would restart. Oh… its restarted, alright. Restart, as in, picked up from where we left off, before the forebearance agreement. We have a date, next month, for the Sheriff’s sale of our house. I was fully expecting a restart of the process, not a continuation.

Fuck.

I don’t suppose the government will bail me out, like a Wall Street bank, will they? It’ll cost a fraction of the amount, (barely $25k should do…).

This house is, like my life, full of clutter and needing a damn good renovation. Just don’t know where to start, in either case.

I’d shake my old coffee can, but I doubt it would find $25k in it by the end of the month…

Wait… shit happens in threes, right? Oh, by the Gods…

*sigh*

Poverty can happen to anyone. (Guardian column, Feb 2013).

I know exactly where this writer is coming from, right at this moment…

JACK MONROE

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I didn’t manage to say very much on Channel 5’s The Big Benefits Row, beyond an opening remark about people not being able to just rock up to a food bank with a carrier bag and help themselves. I started to talk about the Trussell Trust when Edwina Currie, also on my panel, cut over me to talk about my grandfather’s circumstances.

I wanted to say that poverty is almost indescribable to Edwina and co with their blinkered, self-righteous attitudes. That turning off the fridge because it’s empty anyway, that sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast, having freezing cold showers and putting your child to bed in god knows how many layers of clothes in the evening – it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising.

Imagine living for 11 weeks with no housing benefit, because of “delays”. Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent…

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Not Lazy, But Disheartened

Our side of the aisle often likes to portray those receiving unemployment insurance as lazy ne’er-do-wells who aren’t interested in a job. Whilst there may well be some recipients who are like this, there are others who do not fit this mold.

Something that never seems to be addressed about long-term unemployment is the effect it has on the confidence & psyche of those in that position. I can speak with some experience on this. As a younger, single man, living in the UK, I had no problem with finding myself unemployed and on “the dole”. I lived with my parents, (and after they split up, my Mom), so I never had to worry about rent or mortgage payments; the dole covered me for a small payment to Mom as a contribution to the household budget and a few beers a couple of times a week and the odd cigar. Moving to the USA changed my outlook a lot. This change in view was only enhanced more by the advent of marriage and kids.

To cut a long story short, I’m part way through my second year of unemployment, living off the generosity of family members. The initial flurry of applications saw one interview and not many more “Thanks, but…” letters. When you’re applying for positions you know you can do, and have been doing for years, and do well, it is very disheartening. As time goes on the enthusiasm goes down, as depression sets in; you start applying for jobs at places like Wal-Mart and not getting any calls for interviews, you feel like there’s no job you can apply for that you can get. And I bet that I’m not the only one who feels like this. In fact, if I could afford to bet on it, I would put money on it that most all of us who have “dropped out” of the labor market have these same feelings.

Oh… I haven’t been diagnosed with depression, but then, I can’t afford a doctor visit, as I refuse to accept the bondage that comes by signing up for Medicaid, (as an aside, I haven’t obtained any government assistance, outside of U.I.), but the feeling of despair and hopelessness can only be depression. All of this is exacerbated by the high cost of living.

So, all I ask is that you think a little about those of us who want to be productive members of American society, but have just lost our way to that goal and if you can help some of us out, please do. I can only speak for myself, and say that anyone helping me out of this hole would have my eternal respect, loyalty and gratitude, but I also firmly believe most Americans in my position would feel the same way.

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