Today is the halfway point. Halfway from Mardi Gras to Easter I'm at the midpoint on my Lenten Journey. I'm really glad so many of you have chosen to come along with me thus far.
I really didn't pick today's title just to indulge my love of '80's Hair bands. It's where I am. It's where I am in this lent thing, It's where I am in my life.
Six years ago we got flooded, along with a ton of other folks in our city and in our state. They called it a 1000 year flood. But we've seen that those models don't work anymore. Debate it as you will, whether we humans have caused it or if we even have the ability to cause it, but denying climate change is no longer a viable option. Not for those who value intellectual honesty and scientific observation. We are seeing bigger storms and more damage than the past. We're seeing global shifts in temperature and severe melts to the ice caps. I don't claim to know what all this means for the world but what it means for me is that I walk the floor when it rains, especially if there is any kind of flood watch or warning.
We made a decision six years ago. We made the decision to take out a disaster loan to rehabilitate our flood damaged house. At the time it was a no brainer decision. We'd just paid off my car and the payment on that THIRD mortgage wasn't as much as our car note had been so we evaluated our situation and took on the loan. Two years ago this month my husband was let go from his job of 13 years. We were fortunate, he found work fairly quickly, it was even in his field. The academic world had changed though. Faculty positions now were adjunct and held no job security from semester to semester and the pay was a third less than what we had been accustomed to. We had savings. We supplemented our income for the last two years by draining our emergency funds and then our retirement accounts. The estimates we were given when cashing those out didn't actually end up meeting the tax burden and so we added the IRS to the list of people we pay monthly. Our neighborhood has never been the best but now our aging neighbors are dying off and houses around us sit boarded up and empty. Our property values have tanked. We're stuck. We're stuck geographically because we're stuck financially. We are learning what it means to not be here by choice. We have left the ranks of the upwardly mobile. Even with no debt beyond what we owe to the government and the mortgage companies we are nearly to the point of joining the ranks of the broke. We are living on a prayer.
I don't share this for sympathy. I share it to let you know what's going on with me. I share it because I know that some of you see me show as active on Facebook even as I blog about NOT being on Facebook. Many of those times are my pop ons to post this and the others are often where my messenger remains connected via my phone. Some of those times are when I hear something that makes me evaluate my other values against the principle of keeping my lenten discipline and that other thing wins. Many of those though are when I'm looking for work, offering my skills and my products to help keep us treading water.
I went back to work a few months ago. I liked my job. I loved the patrons. I was good at it. It didn't pay enough to cover the costs of my leaving home. The day I had to choose between risking our only family vehicle in bad weather in order to go in and work a two hour shift that wouldn't cover the cost of the gas there and back or quitting. I quit. I've never left a job with no notice before. It's not who I am. I simply didn't have any other viable option.
I'm looking for full time work. I'm busting my tail seeking out opportunities to market the skills and abilities that I have in the meanwhile. But I'm not the person that is starting out from below the poverty line. We've still got a long way to go before we get there. I have resources at my disposal. Things we own from before our life took this detour that enable me to offer my services without having to invest money up front. Things out of our excess that I can offer for trade or sale. And it's hard. Even from this height above the mythical playing field it's hard. I am only beginning to understand how hard it is from the actual line where others are expected to start.
I'm not sure what my point is. Maybe just to challenge how our current crop of candidates like to paint a picture of a nation of lazy entitled layabouts looking for a handout. I'm here to testify that this is a false picture. If I, as a privileged, educated, cisgender, white person can't afford to work at a full dollar above the federal minimum wage how on earth do we expect people who lack my advantages to do it?
I stand in solidarity with the working poor.
Until tomorrow. Peace.