Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When you save the world, maybe you could start closer to home....

I like to browse facebook in the mornings and read blogs about teaching. But lately, a lot of what I am finding seems to me to be about piety and tooting ones own horn. There is a certain allure of heroism to teaching. But lately a lot of times I read what people are tooting about and I think.... rich kid problems. I have long been aware that I don't fit in with my peers. And there are a number of reasons for this. One of them is my lack of finances. And a lack of knowledge to change the way I spend money. Don't get me wrong. I've heard people talk and I have seen the books, some of which I have on my shelf. But what I know is that to build credibility with me, you really have to do more than blow smoke. And you probably aren't going to be some author making money off the backs of us poor folk telling us how to gain financial freedom. It really just makes me want to flip you off and say.... "take that!" What I mean when I say that I lack knowledge is that my parents are horrible at money management. And when I was a kid, they were constantly getting bailed out by their parents. A pattern I still hold to today. Ha. I have not had to do this for a while, but yeah, working for $12/hour, paying bills and buying groceries for a kid with food allergies.... I just couldn't make it work. So don't chastise me for not having enough money in savings to pay (what is the proper amount?) six months of bills in case of emergency. Ha. Every month is an emergency. Truth. Have circumstances improved? Most definitely. Do my children have clothes to wear? Yes. But even last year, I accepted (asked for) help clothing my elementary age kid. My parents were happy to oblige. Yay. But you know, they won't be around forever and I live in fear that I'll never get it together and I'll be stuck out here in the real world, not able to cope. "It's easy" you say. "Just do it" you say. Sounds simple enough. And I am pretty good at spotting faulty financial reasoning when it comes to other people, but for myself, well, IF I spot it, it is generally in hindsight. The other thing is that I can at times adhere to a rigid financial budget. But after awhile, I am going to go off the rails. For real. A few years ago, I blogged in a totally different blog in a different bloggyland hemisphere about just wanting to get to the place where I can take my kids out for an ice cream if I want to! I still can't really afford that, but sometimes we just do it. I also know the tricks.... Sonic has 1/2 price milkshakes at night, Braum's soft-serve yogurt cone/cup (gotta skip the cone for the allergic one) is less than $2, happy hour drinks at Sonic, and fountain drinks at the grocery store (about half as much as at the convenience store). Just to name a few. But I also know this.... a trip to DQ for ice cream will cost as much as eating a meal out and could buy groceries for several days unless I am a really careless shopper, and sometimes I am, but most of the time I am a penny-pinching grocery guru, able to squeeze more out of less, and creative in my use of meats which means fewer meats on the grocery list. Three years ago as a first year teacher, I made a scant $1000 a year less than I did last year and yet.... if we still ate the same as we did that year, with meat in the menu, we'd be paying 2 or3 times as much for groceries. And you thought meatless Monday was all about your health. The truth is that we eat hotdogs, mac-n-cheese and convenience foods because we can afford them. We can afford potato chips and hotdogs. We can't afford organic beef and/or organic fruits and vegetables. But as a general rule, I can afford a bag of pinto beans for meatless Monday. Also, grocery shopping wears me out. So after a grueling experience with figuring costs and endless mental chatter ("do we really NEED this? maybe I should put it back? Well, I have to put something back.... not the medicines, we need those. I guess it will be the bag of fresh fruit." *sigh*), and putting things back on the shelf and exceeding the budget and telling the clerk that I changed my mind, I didn't really need THIS item after all, well, I don't have the mental energy to figure out where I could have cut costs and how I could shop at the OTHER grocery store, the one that actually carries the good organic foods. I truly believe in my heart that if we ate more whole foods and less garbage (hotdogs, chips, chicken nuggets, etc.) that we'd all feel better and we'd overcome a fair amount of health issues. But I am exhausted after I leave the super center and they really don't carry the good stuff. They have made it easier to shop for the allergic one, but organics, not-so-much. So if I mentally survive this shopping experience, and trust me, it is almost always an experience, I have nothing left for healthful options from other stores. If I didn't already buy it, we don't need it. That's my motto by the time I leave the store.
So while you are posting on your social media about saving the world while looking down on me for not fitting into whatever mold you've tried to cram me and my family into, we are over here, on the other side of the tracks, trying to survive. And don't get all high-and-mighty about how shocked you are that a teacher in your district qualifies for food stamps. Teachers don't get paid all that much. Believe me, it's more than I've ever made before, but it still is not that much. And we lost our benefits because I couldn't produce a pay stub for my unemployed 18 year old. That's right. We lost benefits because she has no income and they asked for proof of her income. Seriously? The system is jacked up and don't even get me started on the new withdrawal restrictions designed to stop abuse of people withdrawing cash benefits. Yes, unfortunately, I live in Brownbackistan. I did vote and it wasn't for him. But someone did and I personally don't want to hear about how you are going to go out and change the world. It looks to me like you already did, just by your vote. And yet, you can't see the need right here. You cannot see that beneath your pious nose is a world that you pretend doesn't exist except to name-call and wonder why I can't take better care of my children, because it looks so easy from your two parent family home in white suburbia. Thank you for teaching us system-abusers a lesson.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Broken souls can't be reassigned

I have a lot of rants lately. And I could post here two or three times a day. But this is bothering me. And I try to be more middle of the road and less of a fanatical nut, but.... (there's always a big butt in the way).

I believe in God. And I believe in the God of the bible. I don't hold to some of the stuff my parents believe that they see in the bible, but here is what I can't swallow right now. The whole Bruce Jenner thing. First of all, let me tell you this: I love my children. Dearly. My love for my children makes me want to grow up and be a better person. My 10 year old recently told me that she feels like I judge her and it broke my heart. I want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love them all the time, no matter their choices, or how much they are different from me. One of my children recently told me that she thinks she might be transgender. I cried. I came undone. I stewed and searched my soul... and it most likely didn't look like support.
So.... here goes. I am looking at this from my own spiritual outlook, from the point of a parent, and from the point of an addict with a God-sized hole in my soul. That is what I think is driving some (probably not all) of the changes in our society. I have gone from hard-core right wing agenda to a softer, more moderate view. I have come a long way in my realization that I love a lot of people NO MATTER WHAT. I have learned a lot in regard to backing down the judgment. But this one, this one I am still battling. The truth is, I don't know if Bruce Jenner is brave to do what he did. But I think its trendy right now and I also think there is not a lot of research on the other side of the surgery. If you are like me, and you have a giant blackhole in your soul that sucks the life out of you and you fixate on every way you are lacking, then you might find out that after all the soul searching and changing that you still have a hole in your soul that therapy, hormones and surgery couldn't fill. Today I say.... "what if" to people who think that gender reassignment will cure their pain. What if you go through all the hell of hormone treatment and therapy and surgery to find out that you are still broken? What if you can't live with the pain of the rejection of others, with your own doubts about the differences in yourself, with the teasing and hate? What if? What if the pain is deep inside and these things won't fix it?

As a Mom who doesn't agree or know how to be supportive right now, I have so much more I think about and I could continue to rant on and on and on. But this is the bottom line for me and where I am at.... What if you are trying to fill an unfillable hole?