Saturday, July 30, 2005

Nickeled and Dimed In Northern Michigan

What follows is a guest post from Arcadia. She is one of the most amazing people I know. She is also my cousin. She is putting herself through college one or two classes at a time because she doesn't want to/can't afford to take on the amount of debt that is required these days to get the degree you have to have to keep yourself out of poverty. A decade ago she would have been defined as "middle class". Now she is just getting by...

Passion, Expression and Personal freedom...Hope

When I was a child everything felt free. I could twirl around, run, jump, ride my bike, go for a walk, and I felt like I could not be defined by everything around me. I was in balance; at one with the earth, air, wind, rain, and the completeness you feel without the need for money, only hope. I want to feel that way again to get lost in the clouds, music, poetry, an autumn day, or a cold invigorating rain storm that I would run through uninhibited by those around me. I yearn for this more than anything; bringing the tears swelling to my eyes. The fears that creep up to my chest leaving a pit in my stomach when freedom is taken away. Money takes my freedom. Shoving it, stuffing it into a box that claims I must earn a certain wage to continue my intellect or the ability to gain knowledge. Every paycheck pushed into my account towards college. Loans that I don't want to take out to continue to exist. The push and pull of taking out a loan or giving up everything you have ever worked for. The dreams I pushed aside to please those around me. My own doubt leading to my disbelief that I could actually be who I really wanted; maybe even needed to be. Money is the control factor. It is what puts us into great fear. They hold it over our heads saying can you make it? Will you win or lose? The ability to gain status through owning a home, an automobile, being married. Our whole social society is based on this. What does it mean? It's not who we are, but it is at the same time. We are programmed to consume. We all buy into it, even me. My DVD collection, my apartment, my bed, my futon, my television, these items own me. Like cable t.v., I am a slave to them. I am driven to have all the things my friends have! Then, there are the people who are giving up their lives for a chance at an education. They choose to go into the Army or other military forces. I'm not saying it's bad. It does give them a sense of purpose, but most don't have a choice. It's either boot camp or they can forget ever going to college. I choose the hard route. Paying my own way. Moving at a slower pace then the rest. I am often looked down at by others for this. Not my family or friends, but past teachers from high school. I would give almost anything to go back to a certain counselor I had; who said jokingly to me upon our meeting in my home town, " What are you on? The ten year plan?" Like it was funny and I could say right back to her, "Yeah I am. Unless you're paying for it because it is my only hope of actually becoming someone; making a difference and getting my voice heard!!!" I honestly don't know how I will ever be able to finish my degree, but I am playing it by ear. I am taking my chances now so I can help change the lives of children. I want to give them the chances I never had. I want to help them to know they can succeed, and not to allow anyone to hold them back, or to tell them what their potential is! A mind is a very powerful thing. This is why our freedom of speech is so important!!! It is hard though to believe in our world today. That words actually have meaning or an impact on those around us. I often feel I can say anything I want, but no one who matters actually listens to my words, ideas, or thoughts. Our congressmen are not listening to the younger generation about what we need. We are stuck in the old, and we need new people who are actually facing these problems. It is very difficult for people who are already in power to understand what those below them need as well as how we feel. They don't wonder. "How am I going to pay for my next electric bill, rent, car insurance, groceries, etc". It is all there for them. All my life I have worked so hard: graduated in 97, received my Associates in the Liberal Arts in 2002, and I am now working on an elementary ed degree. I am working retail and still feel like I am being pushed under. I spent my summer saving money to pay for my college tuition. I could only afford two classes. I am working on getting my books and a very expensive calculator. Everyone I meet says it is so worth it. I sit sometimes and wonder is it? Will I be able to find that teaching job? Will I still be able to get health insurance? Right now, I have nothing but my thoughts of hope. Yes, I may have a roof over my head, a wonderful man who loves me, family, friends, and lucky me, I can pay my bills; at least for the time being. But, what about my teeth? My eyes? My body? Do I eat like I should? Planned Parenthood is the only place that has helped me to get my yearly check ups, and make sure I can prevent an unwanted child. Granted, if I ever got "prego" I would definitely have it. Keep it and love it. I know though that I need to put my education first so my child doesn't struggle like I am. I even question that. I want a girl. I would name her Arcadia. That is another dream of mine. Dreams and illusions are so nice. I want to just pour out tears. They would feel so good; for all the dreams that I have not fulfilled. I always thought I was so strong. Stay strong I say. Even my last semester, when I broke down at work over math. Ugh! Man, my boss said, "You don't have to be strong. It's ok." I cried on her shoulder, so much. She is one of my best friends, and I don't think she is suppose to be since she is my boss. So much is just struggling inside of me. So much confusion and I am giving so much of myself away to all of you. I am so open. It's so scary. I want so much and I don't know how I am ever going to attain it. Every one says keep on working, but it hurts so much to see others gaining ahead of you all at once. You see political leaders making budget cuts. My heart doesn't think that they even give us a second thought. How we live, or any of it. We are just at the bottom of the pyramid struggling and fighting for a piece of the pie. All I want is a home, a family, and a job with good health insurance shouldn't ever American have that right?