Monday, October 29, 2012

Prioritize your Propaganda: Vote, Die, or Other


So I called in to my favorite radio station, Vocalo.org 89.5 fm, this morning and tossed in my two cents about the sway of IN politics and voting in general. I posed the question that's been on my mind for a little while: uneducated/unknowledgeable voting vs purposeful not voting vs apathetic not voting. Michael Puente, Vocalo.org NWI man-on-the-street, said he doesn't buy the purposeful voting angle. That in the current climate of voter suppression and people in this country who want the right to vote, how could people with this right now use it? I spent the rest of my commute thinking about that. Am I being a careless citizen (in the same vein as a "careless white girl")? Am I taking for granted my privilege in this case? The answer is complicated, right? But here's what I've come up with.

I view the right to vote as a right to choose. People fought and died to be able to choose whether they could vote or not. True, some people don’t even have access to that right to choose. I’d rather spend my time fighting for their right to choose than placating to the idea that pressing a button is alpha and omega of my civic duty. Not voting isn't illegal in this country, yet, because that would be too dictatorial. But we do have that type of dictatorial sentiment in our society about voting. Vote or die. No vote, no voice. If you don't vote, you can't complain. Bulldoodie, I say!

I sell my labor every day, and every other week money is taken out of my wages, without my permission, to fund wars and bail out bosses, but not to fund things I personally believe in like safer sex curriculum in schools and Planned Parenthood. Fluff that, I have a voice because I participate in the commerce in this country.

Patriotic rhetoric denied.

My question is why is voting touted to be the pinnacle of political participation in this country when the most import things that affect our lives are never on the ballot? However, social initiatives that perpetuate discrimination are slipped in there, and used as justification to why people should vote. I don't think the residents of Gary, IN and Chicago, IL voted to have public schools closed, privatized, and hundreds of teachers and aids to be fired, contributing to an overall unsafe non-educational environment for their children. We don't get to vote if we go to war. We didn't vote for the corporate bail outs. People didn't cast one ballot to end apartheid in this country. But voting is everywhere, on Survivor, American Idol and its like-minded spin-offs, music video countdowns, radio countdowns, facebook polls, the symbolic, and often baseless, act is in every fascet of our leisure. Why?

If no substantial change in this country came about or was initiated by voting, if we can see, side by side, that the candidates for national office have very little difference between them, if as a person from a small NWI town can say that said down has gotten worse for the majority of the poor people that live in it, yet they vote everything there's an election, then why is such importance placed on this act? What else does voting do? Who does it advantage? We know the appearance, but what is the essence of voting? What would other towns like mine, or our country for that matter, look like if we felt the same way about direct political action, in any form? What if the patriotic rhetoric was, if you don't strike, you have no say. No boycott, no voice. Occupy our local school board or die. What would that type of city, town, state, or country look like? Here's a hint...it would look like this country, right around the time of the revolutionary war, but, you know, minus slavery, add a few years of feminist politics, and toss a veil over white classist racism by WASPs.

Now, what I’m about to say next will sound like a total contradiction to all that I’ve previously stated, but trust me it’s not.  I am not advocating for people to not vote. That’s your choice so you make it. I am advocating for people to know what that vote means. Not the rhetoric, but really, what are you doing. More importantly, what are you being exempted from just by doing it. If voting is your only political participation, then I truly believe that you’re contributing to the ongoing problem in our society. If you can’t give a few minutes of your time for some sort of direct action, whether its making dinner for some out of work teachers, writing letters to the school board to really voice your opinion, honk your horn in solidarity of the striking big box workers, etc. then you’re making it very easy for the charade to go on. My wish is for everyone to do something that yields actual results, even if the result is just creating a tie between you and another human being through a show of support. Again, I challenge anyone to tell me what substantial change has happen solely as the result or initiated by voting. I’m all about being proven wrong, because at least I would have learned something. Being right on this doesn’t give me any particular joy unless it moves people to do...emphasis on do...something.

Monday, September 17, 2012

CTU STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE!

One of the many movies that I never can actually sit through because I only like a few scenes is "I'm Not Rappaport," starring Ossie Davies and Walter Matthau. The movie begins with the 1907 NYC Garment District Union Strike Vote Meeting where a police-battered Diana Agostini of the Ladies Garment Workers Union calls for the strike.

That scene comes to mind repeatedly as I have conversations about the now historic 2012 Chicago Teachers Union Strike. The mayors office, fueled by a very compliant media, is doing a bang up job of villainizing the teachers, saying they are using the children of Chicago as pawns and holding them hostage for their own gain. Unfortunately, parents in both IL and neighboring IN are eating this up, blaming and verbally attacking teachers for being "selfish." Today broadcast news is reporting, in an advertising matter, that parents who are generally fed up are enrolling their children in charter schools.

Riddle me this, if I as a professional and expert in my field am telling you that my current work environment is hostile and it is near impossible to do my job well, where in the professional world does a boss just shrug off my view? In the world where failure means profit for that boss, that's where. That is what has been happening in the mostly poor black, Latino, and white working class areas of Chicago and the country. Good teachers are being fired or driven out while students and parents are left in the broken system to flounder, wondering who is to blame. I could go on and on about this, but I came across a document that I think sums the issue up. Please take a moment to read it and post your thoughts.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I don't know about you but I absolutely love the summer Olympics. Since I've been old enough to understand what they are I've always been excited to see them. From beginning to end I watch everyday without fail, recording (now dvr-ing) my favorite events. So, here are my impressions so far.

Opening Ceremony in London, Eng:

Yeahhhhh, not the best. Beijing was a hard act to follow, no doubt. With all the culture and ethnic groups represented showing their individual and collective heritage. And then here comes London doing an homage to Mary Poppins. That was a movie, not a real person nor a historical event. On the bright side I really liked the depiction of the Industrial Revolution. My favorite by far was Mr. Bean doing the scene from the movie From Here to Eternity lol AND how wonderfully ethnic was the little montage about the two kids meeting at a rave type party, getting together, and then having a house party at the girl's house? Great job with those parts. Overall though, I yawned more than I ohhed and ahhed.

Olympic Events that boggle my mind:
Handball - at first i thought it was like the game they play in prison...it's not. they might as well call this basketsoccerball. watching this after 10 minutes almost killed my spirit.

Badminton - uh, these folks are hard core. I had to turn when I saw the women players wiping sweat off their heads and then flicking a handful of body fluid over toward the sideline. almost spit up my cereal.

Indoor field hockey - ...

Kayaking - i just don't enjoy it. which is odd because i really like watching the rowing competition.

Sailing and Yachting - see Kayaking rationale

Shooting - why is this an Olympic event? really, somebody tell me.

Water Polo - handball in the water. why? I mean, I appreciate the men in those speedos and all, just like the next gal but I still don't get it.

Synchronized Anything - I recognize the skill it takes to do almost anything in exact tandem. I just would rather not watch it.

Olympic Events I've seen for the first time and liked:
Archery - loved it! I was HORRIBLE at this in high school gym class but I really liked watching it.

Rowing - this isn't really the first time I've watched it, but it's the first time I've paid attention. I love rowing. makes me wanna find a row machine immediately. where can I go rowing in Northwest Indiana (NWI)? Don't say the little Calumet!

Olympic Events that are my absolute faves:
Futbol/Soccer
Women's and Men's Gymnastics (in that order)
Men's and Women's Basketball (")
Women's Volleyball (not men's at all)
Women's Doubles Tennis (YOU know why!)

Best Olympic Name Ever:
Nadia Com─âneci - can't help but say that with an Eastern European accent

Track & Field is on now and the obsession continues!

Monday, July 2, 2012

...They Pulled Me Back In!

So, just when I got comfortable with my gub'ment issued debit card they come up with more tomfoolery.

"Your benefits are delayed due to..." I don't know, pick a reason.  Does it really matter at this point?  Rent due, car note due, cable due...please no, not my True Blood!!!! :-) At least I can still laugh about it. 

I called DWD and talked to a very nice young man who didn't know what in the heck he was talking about.  Unfortunately hr didn't want to admit that he didn't know so he proceeded to repeat himself 3 or 4 times instead of answering my direct questions.  Questions like will my payments be delayed, if so why, can you tell me the status of the issue, and what dept is responsible.  Every answer to this question was "I can't give you a timeline for when this will be resolved." Sir, I didn't ask you that question.

If anyone is wondering what my plan is, here you...in this order:

1. Lay face down in my basement for a while.
2. Go to my crawl space and work on my handmade trinkets that I'll sell on the Cline Ave.  Drop by, mention my blog and I'll give u a whopping 3% off a trinket of your choice.
2a. In the crawl space I will be confronted by the hundreds of spiders in my house and will have to atone for their brethren I've murdered.  I fear they will not be lenient with me.
2b. On a related note, the spiders are my only possible allies, as I'm sure the centipedes will kill me on sight because if shed too much of their blood to be forgiven.  The ants are strategically flanking my house and as we all know they cannot be reasoned with. 
3. Eventually I'll come up with an alternative plan because I'm sure the spider alliance will be shirt lived...its only a matter of time before I get my smash on. 

If anyone sees any flaws in my master plan, please feel free to let me know.  Maybe I'll get my benefits restored before my idea comes into fruition.  Lord will and the creek don't flood! 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time Ticks By So Slowly...So Slowly

The thing that's starting to get me about being unemployed is all the time.  The minutes, hours, days, and even weeks start to blur.  There's not enough tv programmed to fill all the time.  Its like being in stasis, but being aware that you're in stasis. 

Of course in our market economy it's almost a deadly sin to be an adult and not be involved in some sort of production.  Heaven forbid I just sit and read for leisure or write just because.  It's the way we're programmed and it's hard a hell to undo the programming. 

If I posted a list of what I did everyday it would be a very short list.  And I'm starting to become not so ashamed of that.  Not ashamed for other people to know it, but for me to admit it to myself.  A very strange thing to fight for independence from yourself.  Wait, that last sentence was inspired by the movie I'm watching, Black Swan lol.  Yeah, 1:39 am and I'm still up watching tv.  Now the routine and I'm starting to like it...again.  :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Myth of the Unemployment Office

So, in a previous life I was a data manager for an agency that also ran the county's unemployment service. For about 6 years I witnessed the process of the urban myth we've all heard about the staff of this gov't agency: 
- inattentive
- inconsiderate
- rude
- (seemingly) purposefully unhelpful
- unnecessarily bureaucratic

Unfortunately, I have to say that for the most part, from what I've seen as a worker and experienced as a client, that's all pretty much true.  I don't even know why they list a phone number seeing as how the specific local office in NWI that I deal with dedicated no staff to regularly answering the phone.  I was so frustrated by the sadistic automated prompts that I actually let loose that angry cry...you know the kind of cry that results from that realization that you can't murder-death-kill someone or something the way your heart desires.  :-)

I called the local office, the office downstate in Indianapolis, and back to the local office and managed to get different answers to the same damn few questions!  Once I clarified all the contradictory info I had been given, their answers magically aligned. 

I'll extent to my readers the curtasy I wasn't given and will tell you to prepare yourself for this rollercoaster ride of misinformation:

Initially they tell you there's a 21 day waiting period before you get your benefits card.  A very nice woman told me the exact day the card was sent out (something they weren't supposed to do I later found out from another employee).  After I exposed that I knew that date they came up with well, it takes 7-10 business days to get it.  Ok.  Then I get a letter I'm the mail to confirm some info and I'm told the consequence of this letter is a 2 week waiting period for any further benefits.  That doesn't even really bother me because as of Wednesday I hadn't received anything yet!  And now I find out that this money-in-theory is delayed further??  And then the very next person I talk to says there isn't a delay??? So my thing is, is the frigging Easter Bunny real or not because right now that's a more concrete question than when am I going to get these benefits. 

Then, when all hope was lost, that angels personally flew in my proverbial golden ticket...the benefits card.  I will be able to pay my rent next week...the week after that I will pay my car note...the week after that I will pay my relatives back for their generosity...and the week after that I might, just might have a job.  I think I'll call that the Unemployed Affirmation of Faith.  :-)

Now I can breathe easier.  Knowing, or at least hoping, that every Monday I can count on my payments being automatically loaded to my card helps the stress greatly.  I have two good leads in jobs and great people in my team.  The occasional wave of depression will still hit I'm sure, but that's just part of being another brainwashed member of this market economy.

Oh!  So to end my rant on the experience of dealing with the unemployment office specifically, I'm sure that someone, somewhere has had a wonderfully helpful experience.   I believe this because there are very few absolutes in the universe.  However, I'd really like to meet that person to ask what in the heck they did to make it work for them.  Lol

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Young(ish), Educated, and Unemployed

The knowledge that I'm not alone in this crowded island of the unemployed is extremely cold comfort. As cold as the air conditioning in the McDonald's I've taken refuge in for the next 45 minutes until my next public aid appointment.

Even though I've read about and spoken to people who have been long suffering on this island, there's nothing like the first person view from its coastline. I guess I would be considered one of those 99% Occupiers who have made the socially accepted "right choices": no kids, no live in unmarried partner, college and advanced degree holder. Yet still, I find myself riding from unemployment office appointment to food stamp office appointment chasing down information while throwing cautious glances at my gas gauge just like the other countless folks I've met while on this island. By the way, I've noticed that the higher income the area, the less public transportation services are available. There are no services in my town and the closest public aid office is approximately 10 miles away. My depleting gas tank does not appreciate that.

I suppose you can say I hit rock bottom when I found myself following up on an application I put in at the gas station around the corner from my house in my manicured middle upper income neighborhood. After all, I didn't go to college for a total of 10 years to work at a gas station! At least that's how I'm supposed to think. The reality is that a paying job is better than no job. Kind of like rationalizing that being a phone sex operator is an adventure and not really sex work, per se. Yeah, in my grad school days I came very close to that occupation.

Now, in the midst of applying for 5-15 jobs a day online, I've resigned myself to being in that not-so-new class of highly educated, socially conscious, but still shell shocked unemployed people. But because I look the part, I can stay in the air conditioned confines of any place without buying much or anything at all and will never be shooed away. I can hop in my car and drive home without delay if I can't get an appointment as fast as I'd like. I can verbally assert myself to the manager of an office public service worker calmly, displaying my education level, and will likely receive immediate service without getting escorted out by security for making a scene. So, not everyone on this island is equal...some wait in the shade drinking coconut milk while others roast in the sun fighting the urge to drink the salt water. And here is where the Occupiers failed, I think. They didn't see themselves as the same as the others in the island. There was a sense that they felt they deserved the dream while others didn't, so their suffering was a priority. Maybe that's why they were such easy targets...so marginalized...their reach and scope so short. They didn't make themselves relevant to a potential base of thousands by seeing their lot as the same.

So, because I'm conscious of these things, should I deny my own privilege on this island? Reject the same day appointment I got at the food stamp office when others have to wait days? And if not, am I just another opportunist on the island? This is what's running through my mind as I sit staring out the window, checking the status of my pay day loan store application.