Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Tribe

Ain't it beautiful?
So unusual
Life's a gas and it's running out
Living a cliche
Gonna seize the day
Bottle rockets and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate

~~ “Carpe Diem” by Green Day

It was a great night last night in downtown South Bend.

Our own Mayor Pete Buttigieg invited his supporters to join him for a holiday celebration at CJ’s Pub, a great local haunt and burger joint. We met Shane and Matt there and had a great time getting caught up on everything and talking about how to deal with things.

Mayor Pete gave a brief welcome to us all and said he was keeping it brief because he planned on talking to all of us who attended, and he did indeed keep his promise. He visited with everyone in the room and spent a good 10-15 minutes chatting with the four of us. (We also got to meet his partner, who is a very nice guy!)

We asked Mayor Pete about how we go forward from here, and he reiterated what he wrote in his op-ed (link above). Talk to people. Interact as a community. Grassroots politics is key and we can all participate, whether it is running for office, attending city council meetings, or working with the local Democrats to get out the vote. But his main focus is on connecting with others and taking the time to listen to them.

He is a remarkable guy and I couldn’t be prouder to have him as our Mayor. He is also very easy to talk to and is not intimidating at all. I get the impression that he really wants to hear from everyone and wants to make a difference in our community. It was a pleasure to talk to him and I look forward to seeing what happens in South Bend as we go forward. I see many good things ahead of us!

I was also very touched by something Matt told me. At some point, I guess I wrote something to him and Shane about how while we might be dismayed, disgusted, and downright despondent over this election, those of us who love each other have to stick together and support each other. I said that we are all part of Our Tribe and we will get through this by hanging tough and sticking up for each other. Matt said that that really spoke to him and he took it to heart. It did my heart good to hear that something I wrote made someone feel resolved and ready to support those who are feeling disenfranchised.

It really is all about being stronger together, isn’t it?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why doesn’t she stay home with the kids?

Like a Chinese drama and conspiracy
It’s the death of a nuclear family staring up at you
It’s looking like another bad comedy

~~ “Nuclear Family” by Green Day

I recognize that there are generational differences but man, sometimes I just want to flip a damn table.

I won’t go into specifics because one never knows who might be reading this ([waving madly] Hi Vlad!), so I’ll just say that I heard an older woman criticizing a younger woman for going to college and heard the words, “She should just stay home with those kids.”


A few things here.

I applaud anyone—ANYONE—who wants to further their education. People with a college education earn more on average than those without one. Fact. So if you are raising a family, it makes perfect sense to get a college degree if at all possible. It’s not just about the monetary benefits, though. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning. Some of us still see the value in that. It’s why I am thrilled with the Rise of the MOOCs. I can take worthwhile and interesting classes online, continue to learn, and more often than not, I can do it for FREE. How super cool is that??

I know things were different “back in the good old days” *COUGH* (for whom?) but there is a new reality in the 21st century. If you are renting a two-bedroom apartment that isn’t a Roach Motel, you’re going to be paying at least $700 per month. Heck, it was 15 years ago that I was renting and my nice 2 BR in an apartment complex in a small city in northern Indiana was close to $800 per month. The price of food has gone up. The price of clothing has gone up. Utilities, gas, health insurance, you name it—it’s all gone up. This isn’t the 1950s, no one can raise a family on minimum wage, and that is a fact.

If people are working minimum wage jobs, it is a given that both parents will have to work. Maybe it’s comforting to live in your Leave It To Beaver world, but how can anyone ignore reality and not realize that it is just not the current reality and it never will be again? I suppose I know the answer to my own question. Low information voter.

Finally, there are plenty of women who find great satisfaction in working. Before anyone gets pissed at me, I’m not knocking any woman who chooses to stay home with her kids. If you are able to do that, more power to you! It is a very personal choice. But plenty of us enjoyed our work and found it stimulating and rewarding. I recall having a conversation with my ex many years ago about having children (it happened in front of others, which made it extra special) in which he said that he thought I should stay home and raise any child we might have. I was in my mid-20s at the time and was just embarking on my career in the laboratory and I was enjoying myself. I said, “What are you gonna do? Chain me in the basement?”

That attitude was bad enough coming from a guy (I think he attended one too many Promise Keepers rallies), but I find it especially bothersome coming from a woman. Again, I understand the generational differences and I get it that there is a wide gap between their reality and mine.

That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it or that I will stop defending anyone who chooses to try to further their education. What was enough for you when you were raising a family might not be enough for a whole lot of us.