At Apple this afternoon. Everyone buy an iPhone, iPod and iTunes!!!
I live in a 20+ year old house and neighborhood. Everyone here, I would guess, is a solidly middle class family. Nothing fancy, but decent, and the homes are well lived in and mostly cared for.
All around us are similar neighborhoods interspersed with new development; mostly apartments, but also those new homes built 6 feet apart with all the bedrooms upstairs (you know the type, right??). Typically, a lot is cleared of all growth (flattened until the dust requires water trucks to be deployed - ironic, isn't it?), and the first crews are brought in to do the plumbing. A few weeks later, it's the foundation people, then the carpenters, the landscapers, etc. I've seen it so many times I actually know the order of construction.
In the past year, alongside a long road through cypress trees which essentially sequesters our neighborhood from the busy through street to the highway, a lot was cleared. Huge piles of trees were littered about and driveways flagged off. The the requisite water trucks came in. That was this summer. Nothing else has happened. It's been grown over and I occasionally see some dude on his ATV or dirt bike out there.
Most recently, a new development got as far as the pipes and then NOTHING. So now there's this enormously barren plot of land, hacked up with make-shift roads for the work trucks and prickled with light green PVC pipes. Today I saw a big work truck drive in with a trailer and head for the last remaining tractor. By the time I came home, the tractor was gone.
Just down the street there was new construction on a WaMu bank. When WaMu caved in on itself there was still activity on the site and we all assumed that it had already been paid for, but we were wrong. It's a skeleton now and all the workers are gone.
Then there's the banks.
the car makers.
Dude... this is fucking scary.
Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I'm really beginning to get freaked out. All over town I can see with my own eyes the effects of our shitty ass economy. I feel a lot like I did after 9/11 when flags everywhere were at half-mast. It broke my heart as I whizzed along my way to see the stars and stripes gloomily slung so low. And it breaks my heart now to see industry, literally, stopped in its tracks. Not because I love urban sprawl, but because of all the lives I know it effects. The thousands of people on and behind the scenes who are losing their jobs.
I'm nervous about my family; my own nuclear one and my extended. None of us live extravagant lives, but it doesn't matter. When lay offs come it's not like the powers that be have a Naughty and Nice List to make their picks. Ostensibly, it's completely random.
What the fuck has happened? Didn't we learn anything from the 80s?? When cocaine and Beamers and the Y.U.P.py debuted as the only way to live in America? I've been saying for a long time now that a good measure of who we think we are and should be can be seen in our TV programming and what do we have?? "Life in the Fab Lane"-type realty shows. The "Sweet Sixteen"s and the "Real Housewives"s. Where you see these wealthy, celebrity wannabes spend, quite literally, thousands and thousands of dollars on a handbag. A fucking H A N D B A G. That they'll use for a week. Where they say things like, "If I die tomorrow, at least I'll be wearing Dior." And where we see children equate money with self-worth and love and they are shamelessly unapologetic when they manipulate their parents for more, more, more with tantrums, "I hate you!"s and crocodile tears.
It's a lot like how the 1950s had "Leave It to Beaver". That was what America aspired to be and a lot of people tried to force their very souls to fit that ridiculous mold and no avail. Women bucked that off and burned their bras and we fast forwarded into a time of plenty and a time of fear. After the 80s were through, we no longer had bloody coke-noses or an angry mother and we now counted the Russians as friends, not foes, but we still didn't look within for our sense of worth.
Dotcom boom and lots of money started rolling in and the next thing you know we're idolizing raging idiots who wipe their asses with cash. We're told by the world that you can't wear the same dress twice, everyone "deserves" a diamond, and you're worth [whatever price to be beautiful].
When Anthony and I were dating he told me that he thought the whole "engagement ring thing" was a racket. I promised him an engagement motorcycle in return to make him feel better. Sad thing is, is that now I kinda agree with him. I look at my beautiful rings every day and see how much money we could make if I sold them. We could pay off our car, or get a big sum in Hollis' college fund. It breaks my heart. All of it.
When did I jump on this bandwagon that has brought our country to Big-Pile-of-Shit-Town?? I'm embarrassed for my part in it, however small or big it may have been, but I vow to do better. I don't want my kids to feel like their lives are over if they don't have the newest the best the biggest the shiniest. I want my kids to know that there are people struggling to survive this very second. Looking for ways to avoid pain, suffering, and death.
I can take this even further to me: my own personal country.
It's the weirdest feeling, this economic, political, and global shift. It's almost like an out of body experience. Like watching an avalanche from a treetop. Will I get pounded by the ferocity of it? Or will I be safe??
I'm clinging to hope that it will pass me by. Here's to it.