‘Bout time I added something new to the world of allison fine! Right now the world of allison fine is: a) looking for a job AGAIN b)weathering the coldest winter in Chicago history–or Chiberia as we’re calling it. You know, a few years ago (2011?) we had Snowmagedden! That was fun. Lot’s and lot’s of snow, everything shutting down, all of us wandering around in our snow gear and boots wading through huge tufts of lovely white snow. It was an unofficial holiday–our neighbors became people again, not just boots clicking on the walk behind you as they hurry to the train station, not just couples animatedly talking to one another and ignoring the oldster sharing the pathway, (that’d be me)–in other words, for some reason we reached out to one another and the usual rigid ageist demarcations that characterize Chicago fell away. (A side note: I just lied about my age on an on-line application! I said I was born in 1960. Even THAT is too old for most jobs, though it shaved 11 years off me!) c): (yes, I didn’t forget there was an “a” and a “b” way back up there), writing and working on multiple projects as usual, walking every single day no matter what the weather–(nearly froze my fucking face off today walking 4 blocks to Walgreens) having coffee with my iPad or iPad with my coffee at various places, and generally making a nuisance of myself.
My favorite hang out, Half Italian Grocery, Bakery etc., where I can literally sit for hours writing and applying for jobs online and surfing the net, has closed FOR A WEEK while the entire staff (well, the “in group” staff–i.e. the Owner and her 3 best friends who work for her–the other step n fetch its will just have to do without pay for a week–LOL–life is sure NOT EQUAL IN AMERICA IS IT?) while they all go to Cabo, Mexico to stay in the time share of one of them. The owner is paying for the plane tickets. Now, they ALL WORK HARD–no question. AND they do a great job. Maybe they DO deserve a vacation! But to close the store and take off? I dunno folks. That strikes me as just the kind of noblesse oblige middle class garbage that makes us poor folks so fucking mad! While the upper 1% enjoy Mexico we have no place to go and four other employees have no paycheck! Is there something unequal about this picture? I will admit, one of those four folks going to Mexico is my friend and she owns the time-share and I am totally happy for her. I guess I am just jealous. Poor people don’t deserve vacations, do we? OK my daughter wants me to stop calling myself poor and she’s right. She is supporting me and I am NOT poor–I have 2 toasty rooms, no car but don’t really need one, plenty of clothes and books and a computer and an ipad and an iphone and an ipod, lot’s of freedom–I am extremely grateful. I am only whinging because I am doing very well and I love my life and I just want a couple of perks–like maybe a vacation in NYC and a 1 bedroom apartment, but really this is small stuff. My daughter is fantastic and I sing her praises everyday and if I ever get some money for my work or whatever she’s getting a chunk off the top right away.
For me, this is more about my value system and my understanding of class distinction and income disparity and all the attendant issues that go along with the sliding down of our middle class (most of which would’ve have been called “working class” in the old days, but Americans have an aversion to the concept of “working class” so they lumped everyone from those earning $10K a year to those earning $80K a year as “middle class”). Ridiculous and wrong, but there you are. This is just about my concern for income inequality. It produces anger, resentment and jealousy and some day that might cause a revolution! And if I am still walking and talking I plan to be right in the front lines of that new version of Occupy Wall Street, you can count on it!
We, in America, have a fantasy about the American Dream and I won’t go into that garbage right now, but let’s just say that the dream was never attainable for a large majority of people anyway, to be honest, and in addition, the dream is really more of a nightmare. I mean, what is a bunch of materialistic garbage anyway but a millstone around your neck? That mortgage, that car you are making payments on, the time share, the vacation home, the etc etc etc–do you really own anything? If you found out tomorrow you had 3 more months of life on earth, what would matter to you? I know this is an old trope, but I am going to trot it out because it bears repeating. The only things that REALLY MATTER are loving relationships with your fellow humans and that includes the family you may loathe.
Speaking of loathing, many people loathe their families, but family, blood relationships are the meat and potatoes of the karmic journey, and those who avoid family are not doing themselves any favors, they are just waylaying the evitable. The bottom line is that, like marriage, family is a never ending reminder of unresolved life lessons. The ‘in your face’ confrontation of those human issues we’d like to think we’ve mastered or have under control, but of course we don’t, are why we are here in the first place! At least, so I’ve been taught! Mirror reflections of the subliminal psyche, if you will, the karmic “other side” of the coin in some cases, in others, too much a reminder of ourselves. Either way, working on family issues by hanging in there with our siblings, parents, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents–doing so without judgement as much as possible–is kind of what the job description of ‘being human’ IS, right? At least I thought so! But judging by how my own family treats me, I would say their consistent long term avoidance of me says otherwise. I only avoided my parents when I was young and defensive and filled with hubris. I thought I could conquer the world and I thought I didn’t need their input and I thought I could find substitutions. THERE ARE NO SUBSTITUTIONS. YOUR FAMILY IS YOUR FAMILY. This lesson really hit home hard for me when my mother died suddenly. There I was, at 32, with three small children facing mortality in the face. She had a stroke and I walked into her home (I had a key) with two of the youngest, (ages 2 and 5) to find her on the kitchen floor, still breathing but essentially brain dead. We stared at death, all three of us. You never get over that kind of shock. I understood then, at a relatively young age, viscerally, that life is precious and life is short. It is essential for all of us to work on the core relationships now while we still have a chance, but to my observation few people feel this way and as a result we have families behaving in judgemental, defensive and avoidant ways toward one another.
This makes me sad. Especially in regards to my own family. I want to spend time together, hang, schmooze, kibbutz, interact, share experiences and love and and fun, and they all want to be as far from me as possible! They see me as a poor, lazy, starving artist who wants to freeload off of them and they’ve got their material shit together and they’ve surrounded themselves with surrogate family and friends, so what do they need me for? I have nothing to offer but myself, the fruits of my creative and spiritual journey and my love of fun! I have only the one family–no surrogates. I’ve faced that I will probably spend the rest of whatever life is left to me alone without the company of my blood relations–they have nothing but contempt for me. In America if you don’t earn a living people assume you are lazy and useless. I do have lot’s of interaction with oldest daughter so thank God and her for that. The other two are intermittently in and out–not so much out of avoidance but rather out of independent lives and busy work schedules. I am giving the kids a pass. But other family members, not so much!
You know who you are!
I am leaving behind a shit load of writing and music and let’s hope a future generation will see some value in it.
So for now, in Chiberia, I am laying down this series of random thoughts. I plan to meditate on gratitude and forgiveness today, so if there is some sadness or loneliness or bitterness in this post, why that’s OK. It’ll all come out in the wash. I forgive myself.