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Archive for the tag “reality bites”

38) Why I Choose To Be Childless

 

why-i-choose-to-be-childless

Woman Reading (c.1900). Paul Barthel (German, 1862-1933)

In 2017, there are far more reasons for having fewer children than at any other time in history. The battles I see parents go through today are disturbing. I can’t imagine the world being better off in 10-20 years by the time their kids are old enough to reach college age.

I have never wanted to have kids, something I am not ashamed of. My parents fought over ridiculous things, things that didn’t matter, things that only pushed buttons and hurt one another. My brother had multiple marriages, four children, spending an exhaustive amount of his life fighting in family courts over visitations rights, dental appointments, and alimony. I never wanted that for myself.

As a member of Generation X, I don’t have the means to purchase a home. I live with a family member; hold $40,000 in student loan debt, just over a third of that in retirement savings. I rarely date. I have other things I’d rather do with my life. I find it refreshing to know that many women today are voluntarily not having kids. Many of my friends that do have kids (with a few exceptions) have gone through bitter divorce, navigate unstable family circumstances, and have children who are depressed and fighting an uphill battle just to exist.

I’ve had countless conversations, where someone will ask if I want kids and when I tell them I am single and childless by choice – I might as well have told them I just flew in from the Butterfly Nebula. Some responses range from “Isn’t that selfish?” or “That’s what women do,” or “the people who should have kids, don’t.”

First, it is not selfish to choose a childless life. It is a well-thought out and sound decision in an unstable environment. I would rather completely provide for a child’s needs and if things are not to my liking, then I’d rather not. It’s that simple. If that is selfish, well, I could introduce you to a lot of people who would prefer they were never born. So what is selfish? – Parents who thoughtlessly have children and do little to raise them to be good people for the planet.

Second, not all women are interested in having kids. It’s not that we don’t like kids; it’s a bigger issue. Many of us care deeply for humanity. The prospect of raising a child in broken families, fleeting relationships and financial burdens makes my ovaries want to shrivel up and dissolve.

Third, “people who should have kids don’t,” is the worst statement of all. It suggests that you are withholding a human being that should be in the world, that it is your duty to leave this special heir. It may sound flattering, but people fail to realize that there are no guarantees you will have a healthy, well-adjusted kid or the sustained resources to adequately prepare them for the future. This is especially true for those without sufficient family and financial support. These are not excuses. These are sound, well thought out assessments and in an overpopulated planet, a responsible choice.

Society needs to support women and men who choose a childless lifestyle. I take ownership to the choices I’ve made. I care about the planet. I care about all innocent children born after me and desperately hope they will have a better world to live in. Society needs to back off and support the idea that less is more and better for everyone and be OKAY with this trend.

I’ve read many articles about women who choose a childless life. I am greatly disappointed that the reasons they give are only based on micro-societal pressures. It is a much bigger picture. My pressures come from within. My pressures are a result of seeing a world unfit for child raising, a world that is hot, flat, and crowded, a world whose principles are so completely unaligned with my own that I feel raising a child to be futile.

We don’t talk about population as a key factor that impacts our planet or how it correlates to the dwindling natural resources, the lack of jobs, the struggle of governments to manage the numbers, the plight of families to deal with the competition to ensure the welfare of their children when classrooms are overcrowded and the cost of everything is rising beyond a live able wage.

In my time, I had my own problems trying to survive without being a burden on my parents or anyone. My own experience while fascinating and good storytelling is not gratifying and mostly depressing. Imagining the world my child would inhabit with 7 billion + other souls all competing, all fighting, all struggling to make ends meet is too much a burden for them to bear and I don’t have the resources, the support, the time or the drive to ensure their future and prepare them.

The thing about men and women like me is that we fill a void that represents the lives of so many discarded people. We are complete as an individual, a singular cell, an agent for change, a mentor, a caregiver, an artist, a poet, a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, an activist, an inspiration, a trailblazer, an adventurer, a storyteller, an advocate, a peer counselor, an aunt, a muse, an enigma. And, now more than ever… necessary.


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37) Facebook, Fake-News, and Friends

i-am-no-buttercup

I am the resisting sort, a non-conformist, and a skeptic of well — Everything. I read widely and deeply. I try to have an open mind. Like many Americans in the historic months leading up to the election of 2016, which felt like an excruciatingly long and painful bowel movement, I watched the news constantly. I read a broad width of news articles, online and in print as if my life depended on it, and everything I was doing in my life outside of work took a backseat. I listened in full, to the candidates running for President of the United States of America and what they had to offer. As a citizen of my country, I felt an extreme obligation more so than ever before to be actively engaged and aware.

With that, I must tell you; I had several existential crises’ in the months leading up to the election. I lost hope several times and plunged into darkness, and when I came out, my social media friends were there. They inspired me and encouraged me and I felt an obligation to them to continue posting the best information I could. If I could not verify it I wouldn’t post it and I think my friends relied on me and so I continued to fight with information and thoughts and hope and encouraging words.

My motivation was that I was very worried. Worried that there were things at play I didn’t understand completely. Worried that the news may be somewhat tainted and the sources I grew to trust were not telling me everything I needed to know. I was worried that sensationalism and speculation was overriding fact based reporting. Worried that American citizens were not reading the same base information, not scrutinizing every post in their social media feed, and I found myself defending authoritative sources against fake news sources.

…I found myself defending authoritative sources against fake news sources.

In the pre-digital days, it was easier to pinpoint fake news. In that time, most people knew that the trustworthy news with the best sources were on a separate aisle next the stationary and Hallmark cards. You could pick up a National Geographic, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time Magazine (thicker in content back then) and a plethora of well-researched feature articles and thoughtful opinion pieces. One could spend an hour reading and feel reasonably satisfied, up-to-date with the barometer of world news. You could get this news at any grocery store or convenience store. The important news was widely available and heavily stocked. Only at the checkout stand, were the sensational kitsch rags, which everyone might pick up while waiting to chuckle at ‘Bat Boy’ or the most recent Elvis sighting. Only your crazy conspiracy-theorist uncle would think that some legitimate stories were buried in a copy of The National Enquirer or Star. The majority of us knew better and it was obvious.

On Facebook, I received a flood of reactionary comments to my legitimate sources. I tried my best to sort out and clarify for them and myself, responding to everyone and encouraging them to continue the conversation. I was both thrilled to the challenge of debate, but stunned that so many people posted things unedited with irrational and poorly thought out responses. Worse, I tried to engage them to find facts/articles to back up their positions. The few who did post a reference article, referenced an obscure Canadian post from a single blogger with pixilated images or the one video of Barack Obama reading a book with a sexual reference that was supposed to cancel out the years of voluminous blatant sexual misogyny of Trump.

In particular, there was one Facebook encounter that brought out many things. His name was Dennis and through him, I found my archenemy to do battle with. He was relentless in his comments and so was I. It went on like this for several weeks. There were a few moments we agreed and I felt a welling up inside that perhaps we could reach across the brain matter and connect and we did on some levels. We shared some very personal things in private messages as he was from my same hometown and both of our grandparents knew each other. We had history in common that we shared privately, and heatedly debated our politics in public.

I learned a lot through this exchange. I learned that there are times to be vocal and learn from one another’s differing opinions and when to discontinue the dialogue to save your own sanity. I felt that we were engaging in the very thing that would make the founding fathers proud – civil discourse. As Christmas was looming, I felt that our discourse was beginning to sour and I felt angry as our discussion turned to women’s issues. This is where I had to let him go. I first restricted his access as a friend hoping that if he didn’t see my ‘friends only’ posts that we could stay in contact. He then started commenting on every single thing that I liked, not commented on, but merely liked. Instead of rabble rousing on my posts, he was now invading my friends’ pages of who unwittingly made the mistake of posting publicly. I had had enough. I allowed Dennis into my house and he invaded every room. I told him in a private message that we were done. I wish him well, but sometimes you have to shut out, Unfriend, detach, and let go the people in your life if they are depressing your soul.

Blue words are good in private for letting off steam, but are ineffective in conveying an important idea to an opposing viewpoint.

I tried my best. I wanted to change minds by keeping my language tame, respectful, and based in fact to the best of my ability. Blue words are good in private for letting off steam, but are ineffective in conveying an important idea to an opposing viewpoint. I give Obama credit as setting an example of profound civil discourse, as he stayed poised and respectful and tempered throughout his presidency on the level that matters to the American people. I think the majority of Americans, regardless of politics, can agree that Obama is inspiring and smart and capable of uniting the people even if they don’t like his policy stances or the color of his skin.

I think of Dennis often, as we approach the inauguration of the 45th President on January 20th. I wonder what he thinks of Trump’s Tweets, the investigations into Russian interference of the election, and the recent polls that show a majority of Americans uncertain of a Trump presidency. I know that Dennis is a lonely old man who seeks out political storms on Facebook for company in the middle of the night, and I, a lonely middle-aged woman seeking facts on Facebook in the middle of the night. I’m not sure how things will turn out. Trump is addicted to his Twitter account showing the American people more and more that he is strange and this is not normal.

As I write this, nothing feels right, or good, or hopeful. Yet, I hope that we will be okay. I hope that democracy stays intact. I hope that there are enough people who will do the right thing, whatever and whenever that may be. I hope that one day I can talk to Dennis again and share the history of our grandparents and that this whole experience will make us better people.


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

35) 2016 What Will It Mean?

syrian-refugees-standing-in-a-queue-waiting-to-board-a-train-to-the-border-with-serbia-near-the-town-of-gevgelija-on-the-greek-border-cnw-group-unicef-canada

Tears streaming down
Need substance now

A world most saturated
Political hemorrhage

Ideas dead
Consumed by dread

No room for growth
No time for love

Illusions and fog
Statistics and smog

Temperatures push up
Earth is running amok

Leaders are losing their heads
People consumed by hatred

Refugees flee from Syrian bombs
Leaving on vessels starved for new homes

Countries packed together
Explosive and prepped to fire

I am in my bubble.
Secure with no real trouble.

Yet, I fear our world will crumble
If all that we are is not stable

The glue of the past may unravel
And blood will splatter in ritual

And all that progressed our humanity
Will be lost in moments of infamy

Libraries will die
Humanity cries
Progress is dead
Off with our heads

Same as before
Hunger and more
Lost again
To fake and to fend

No learning from the past
No future that will last

Once again…
Our world to plunge into the abyss
Our inability to find bliss

No.
Not.

I refuse to accept that
All of this world is inept

So, if I exist then I must try
To do what I can before I die…


Copyright © 2016 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

 

33) I AM…

I am the disease that penetrates the cell.
I am the creature that screams its hell.

I am the anger that floods the darkness.
I am the flame that flirts with the abyss.

I am haunted because I am dead.
I am alive and suffer instead.

I am the one who watches the world.
I am the one who wakes the absurd —

THE TRUTH.
I am a disease

I am enlightened by tragedy.
I am deprived of ecstasy.

I am brilliant in my spell.
I am in anguish and appeal —

TO REALITY.

I am the ghost of generations’ past,
I am alive in nothing that lasts.

I am changed and I am change.
I am like others just as they claim —

BUT DIFFERENT.

I am unique because I am dark.
I am kicking and spitting at sparks.

I am Gen-X.
I am reflex.


Copyright © 2016 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

30) Comfort In Fearful Things

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  – H. P. Lovecraft

I was born in 1974, the same year that Stephen King’s first book, Carrie was published and less than a year after the The Exorcist was released. It scared the crap out of my 11-year-old brother and perhaps incidentally propelled his spiritual life, transforming him into a God-fearing conservative Christian. The film broke box office records with millions of people standing in long lines. Many audience members passed out, up-chucked, and left the theater because the subject matter and raw graphics was too horrific to watch. I discovered the film on The Movie Channel, long after my brother left for college when I was 10-years-old. My parents never thought to dismantle the cable outlet…

I became my own parental control and watched anything that was dark, scary, or controversial. By the age of 10, I sampled a glut of R-rated horror films before I set eyes on The Exorcist. My earliest recollection was Blood Beach (an exquisitely dumb B film), then A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cujo, Halloween, Jaws, and Friday The Thirteenth (just in time for the coming of age of the 13th generation, AKA Gen-X). Rather than becoming desensitized from watching movies that most parents would never let their children watch today, it opened up my mind and hunger for knowledge.

Blood Beach Movie Poster

Although, I could not articulate it as a child, I was fascinated by anything that was physically unfamiliar, strange, unexplainable, and ultimately, anything that would horrify my mother or enrage my father. It wasn’t that I was rebelling from their attitudes. I was curious of why certain ideas provoked intense emotions within adults. I wanted to understand their reactions. At a very young age, I had a sense that the world was full of hidden truths behind closed doors, the back of dusty closets, underneath crawl spaces, the bottom of my mother’s purse and amongst the coins in my father’s pocket.

At night, I was afraid to run to my parents’ bedroom; it was too far away on the opposite side of the house. My dad built it that way. To get there, I had to run past a long hallway of tall closets, and my old bedroom where Mom reScary Treead her Bible every morning and night, and the bathroom, turn the corner past the fireplace, the entry way, the living room and kitchen, and finally, the dark ominous opening of my parents’ bedroom.

I learned how to be still, and breath, and conquer my fear of being alone. I grew to love the stillness of night, the rhythm of the moon, and things that moved in the darkness. My imagination was more colorful than reality and I learned to keep my eyes and ears open without fear of the vampire underneath my bed with his red glowing cape, or the Bogeyman outside my window that might pop his grizzly head up, or the wind quivering the finger-like branches of the tall twin pine trees against the full moon’s light.

I watched everything that was on television, if it peaked my interest. I grew to understand that basic fear was a human impulse resulting from a lack of knowledge in that, which is feared. Real fear was primal, the kind that connected to your gut. I learned the differences and the middle ground in between.

As a young adult, my experiences were haphazard, sometimes pushing the edge of what was good for me, but knowing when to lay low or get the hell-out-of-dodge. Most of my real fear in these situations was in direct response to mortal human encounters: relationships gone bad, deceptive adults, and unpredictable human behavior. I learned how to trust myself: my senses, my impulses, and my intuition. In this way, I have always felt unique in my experiences, generationally and spiritually.

I am less afraid of Bigfoot, Extraterrestrials, Chupacabra, UFOs, and Demon Possession, and more afraid of men with guns, blatant sexual urges, deranged agendas, entitled egos, reinforced by political alliances.

I am less afraid of ghosts, haunted places, werewolves, and vampires, and more afraid of political instability, nuclear weapons, social chaos, and natural disasters.

Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, cult capital of the nation and one of the most geologically dynamic places on earth, I was less afraid of the devil and creeping things and more afraid of large rickety building structures and mass gatherings of people. My Atheist/Agnostic father and Seventh-Day-Adventist mother provided a rich contrast of dispassionate mechanical thought vs. constrained fundamental belief for my inquisitive young mind to ponder; a perfect environment for analyzing contrasting viewpoints playing out in a post-Nixon world. It is difficult to imagine the 1970s without the horrors of the time as it metastasized into classic American Horror films on cable TV.

When I first saw The Exorcist, I had absorbed large amounts of data through television, reading National Geographic magazines and my mother’s SDA literature and the KJV Bible (I think I was halfway through reading the begets of Chronicles, because my mother insisted we read the Word of God from cover to cover – enough to make one want to barf up green soup). Even though the movie was scary, I couldn’t help but feel a hidden hand moving over the whole thing to increase Church membership and tithe. I began to doubt my mother’s religious ideas early, before I was a teenager. I wanted to believe what she did because I dearly loved her and saw that she desperately wanted to transcend all that was bad, but she couldn’t provide answers that were concrete enough for me to accept them.

The Exorcist proved how powerful religion is over the minds of those too afraid to question things they do not understand. I have no doubt that there are evil ‘things’ in this world. But those ‘things’ tend to be human generated through calculated motivations. True knowledge saturates perceived fear. It provides a clear path for humanity to evolve beyond its own planned obsolescence. I take comfort in fearful things and seeking knowledge to understand them.

SUPPLEMENTS:

The American Nightmare: A Documentary
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown Documentary
Fascinating Facts About The Exorcist
The Movie Channel Commercials – 1980s

 


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

29) I Am Sick To Death But I Still Fight

Angry girlEvery day, I fight for my soul. I try to feed it oxygen, but the air is stale and smells of gasoline and cheeseburgers and rotting garbage.

Every day, I fight advertising and marketing and spreadsheets.

Every day, I fight to find the good in humanity…

I fight to find courage to live.
I fight the sadness of a world falling apart.
I fight to find peace of mind.

With a shifting and restless planet, I take solace in knowing the earth is fighting through earthquakes and pyroclastic blasts, venting the pressures that hold it all together. I let the words pour out, like lava. Words burn holes through the brain, force out the impurities of conforming conventional wisdom.

I am sick to death of conforming to institutions and social norms that are corrupt.
I am sick to death of convention that lacks conviction that should be self-evident.
I am sick to death of the wisdom of tired old men talking business and trading greenbacks and depleting the last hope for democracy, something I believed in once upon a time…

The Constitution and its promise is an illusion, a false store front, high fructose syrup that sounds pretty on parchment, yet everything we do undercuts the foundation of those carefully crafted words. My vote means nothing, but I still vote.

I am sick to death of a world whose religious beliefs, politics, and monetary interests overrides social progress, education, science and the welfare of the planet and all its life forms.

I am sick to death that writers, historians, philosophers, teachers, and artists must fight for their very existence while football players, politicians, lawyers, stockbrokers, and those born into wealth are more influential, privileged, and praised in society.

I am sick to death of oil drills and greasy machines and backyards full of junk.
I am sick to death of plastic and Styrofoam and concrete.
I am sick to death of consumerism and money and GDP.
I am sick to death of buying things that have to be thrown away.
I am sick to death of driving and getting nowhere.

I am sick to death of women giving birth to children without thought or consideration to the massive responsibility involved in spawning a life form into a world lacking everything to sustain that child.

I am sick to death of suburban mansions piled in neat, manicured rows in the desert and SUVs full of burping, farting, wasting human beings that drive 30 miles to soccer practice and idle their engines in long fast food lines.

I am sick to death of college degrees and career aspirations and MBA’s that focus on making money as the ultimate goal.

I am sick to death of cardboard and packing tape and useless pretty things made in China multiplied by billions of air-polluting vehicles delivering the same useless pretty things to retail establishments that throw out large portions of what they bring in; all to sell at discount prices that are palatable for Americans that need cheap stuff to comfort themselves from the stresses of their daily lives who end up storing their cheap acquisitions in their garage.

I am sick to death of the blinding speed of daily life, police sirens more numerous than the chirping of birds, and the drone of air conditioners in a September heat wave.

I am sick to death of the thought that I could be armed with 500 guns and never safe from a nuclear bomb.

I fight to stay engaged, to have a voice.
I fight to love and not to hate.
I fight my thoughts that words are futile.


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
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27) April Fools

April 1, 1992

I was at home. The pregnancy test was positive and all I could think about was my father. He told me he’d disown me if I ever got pregnant, as if somehow he knew about my nightly excursions. The boy I was with; we played in the garden of earthly delights, forbidden fruit we consumed, each ravaging the other – exploring all that can be done between two people of the opposite sex.

Parrish-Ecstasy_2

“Ecstasy” by Maxfield Parrish

We sailed oceans of great feeling and played like children in our secret garden, where adults only dream: in closets and backrooms, at the airport in my car, in the clear waters of a swimming pool, the tennis courts at midnight and swing sets in playgrounds with blushing stars. Our torrential sex flooded into haunted lands and forbidden spaces; and only when the sun came up, did we really see the sobering reality, a thing we hated because the fantasy was over.

Was it love? My young mind couldn’t describe it; how does one know what love is with all the feelings that conflict and collide?

April fools…

Ours lives were a vast chasm, a generation of desire and hopelessness born of previous generations. We embodied the 13th generation in our reckless lovemaking. A trepid anger of the ages crept into our cells and frenzied us into heat – he, high on meth and I, high on sex. I couldn’t be apart from him. I held onto the feeling like a ghost in fall when the leaves trickle down to the damp forest floor, and the bounty of sacred, fertile things take over memory… and I in my youth, sexually erect and potent and empty. I cried out and raked my nails into his skin like a rabid animal.

The world around us was terrifying, rotten and void: void of beauty, void of life… and in this existence, we held on to one another in rapture, a kind of appalling sustained ecstasy. Nothing else mattered…

He snuck me into his house at midnight and no one was around. They were asleep. His sisters, four of them under 14 and he laid me down on the floor in the family room, my head by the couch. Caribbean Blue was playing in the tape deck. We dripped hot wax on our bodies to burn the pain away, our naked forms created heat on the carpet. He took me into his room and we stayed inside for hours until I had no water in me.

We slept until his sisters went to school and his parents left for work and then, he handcuffed me to his closet and penetrated me from behind and I moaned and we persisted until our bodies relented.

We let hot water pour over us in his parent’s shower. His body, wet and soapy and mine, the same, we washed each other and time disappeared down the drain. And then I drove him to work and I was alone.

Those days are a blur of highways and signals and strange thoughts that soar like floating clouds that disappear into the sun. Speeding cars, sex at midnight, blurs of life and endless dreams of escape.

April 1 – April Fools – God, I wish… I was pregnant and Mom had cancer and Los Angeles was about to burn. Mom told me to forget, to forget her, that I didn’t have a mother anymore, that she was dead.

I was late. I was supposed to start a week ago. I bought a pregnancy test. The test was positive. I knew what I had to do. There was no way I could have a child in my time. There is no future.

April Fools…


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

26) The American Dream is a Prison Cell

Growing up, I was under the illusion that my father was good with money and was conscientious about his investments and what he chose to buy. I learned later on that my father’s motivation was entirely based on my mother’s hormones. He would do anything to assure that she stayed with him, even moving our family when we were better off, financially speaking, to stay and pay off the home we lived in. All of this was hidden from my view; yet, I continued to think that he was making sound choices all along.

As I began attending college, I had to take out student loans, like the majority of other middle class students who were lucky enough to attend college. My primary motivation was that I had to pick something that would land me a job. Survival and independence was the ultimate goal. I often wondered why society calls it education, when the reality is to get a job and serve a life prison of work for pay to consume.

I first majored in Business. Like many young people, I was swayed by the idea that knowing business will be a guarantee to get a job and thus achieve success. As I spent the first year of college in business courses, a great anxiety slithered along the edges of my perception like worms in moist earth.

I didn’t like what I was doing or learning. The language was empty, calculating, devoid of the natural world. Dressing up, making appearances, walking the walk, talking the talk, my soul plunged into the void. Oxygen escaped through my pores every time I opened the doors of the creaking building.

The light disappeared into the polished floors of the hall; every classroom was filled with the templates of PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and cut and paste Word memos with cheesy clipart I had seen on thousands of student flyers stapled onto billboards. Being ‘creative’ was equated with changing the color scheme and typography on your spreadsheet.

Everyone dressed in smart suits and shiny, black shoes clicking as they walked, like the sound of register tape pounding out numbers and dollar signs. Some days, I would stroll down those halls, feeling sick, observing my fellow students regurgitate business principles and economic trends mimicking their pale faced heroes on the trading floor of Wall Street, going blind staring at an endless stream of financial tickers.

scantron

About this time, I saw the film, The Matrix. There was no color to this world, no life in it. After taking a marketing class, I realized that my DNA was fundamentally opposed to everything I was being taught. A storm passed over me, a kind of existential crisis. I tried desperately to study for tests. I was a poor test-taker to begin with. Give me an essay question and I can explain everything. Our tests consisted of multiple choice and true or false questions, just like all of the CTBS tests I took in grade school with many rows of dots on Scantrons.

I was never any good at them. I overthought my answers and had difficulty with the process of elimination. Elimination is waste and in my world, everything must be considered before being discarded. My Business Law professor told me I think too much. I was completely depressed. What can I do in this world that has meaning and real satisfaction? I can’t buck up to make this work without going absolutely mad or becoming a sociopathic asshole.

My roommate, Tracy, was also a Business major. I came home to our apartment in tears. After several cigarettes and a few beers, she pulled out the course catalog and showed me a major I had never heard of.

“I was thinking… you are really creative. Why don’t you see about getting into the Graphic Design program?” she said. “It’s still business oriented because you work in marketing and advertising, but you design logos and other stuff.”

I took one look at the catalog and knew that’s what I wanted to learn. I needed creativity. I needed more than black numbers on white paper. I needed color and hues and tints; I yearned for new ideas, research, strange juxtapositions and conceptual exploration.

Three years later, I was in my junior year in Graphic Arts taking a class on Ethics in Design. Once again, I found myself in a panic, questioning how I would make a living in this field and I began to worry. Even though I reclaimed my soul in the creative element, would I be chained to the whims of business interests, would the color of my world dissolve into oblivion with the incessant needs of my clients to sell things I didn’t believe in?

After all, I would have to engage clients whose bottom lines were engrained in their business plans and the bottom line is all anyone can focus on. Was I willing to sacrifice my creative energy to see it produce another useless consumer product, more waste, more of the same? Was I willing to use my design skills to manipulate the public in ways that inherently were wrong and completely unsustainable?

The answer was – No.

After graduation, I took a retail job as a temporary solution with the hope of planning my next career step. After a year, I signed up for a 401(k) and contributed more than was recommended, having educated myself on money and trying to save more than I spend, once again knowing the future was uncertain and I had to pay my student loans. I subscribed to Money magazine and drew up a spreadsheet, keeping track of my expenses and re-balancing my portfolio every year. I did this for five years, careful to plan everything out, how much I would save and keeping my interest income figures low, just in case. That all changed…

I was clearly the wrong demographic for Money magazine, so I let the subscription lapse. Money magazine was for people who had $5,000 to invest, a mortgage, a kid or two in college, and a nest egg of at least $100,000. Nothing in the articles represented anything I was going through.

Four years later and an economic upheaval in 2008, I began to focus less on money, and yet, I saved it because I needed to sustain myself even though I knew the system was absolutely screwed. I began to downsize my living to the bare essentials. I stopped servicing my car and driving only when I absolutely needed to. I became more reliant on my computer for communication than my phone.

Now, my lifestyle is still at bare minimum. I have enough money for my creature comforts; coffee, cheap wine and $1 books at the library bookstore. I pay for a phone I hardly use and pay off my credit card each month. Debt is my enemy; a prison cell and I’d rather just go without, not see my friends, not drive anywhere. I write every day, I read every day and I hope every day for a revolution of consciousness.


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

23) Mortgage Meltdown: A Gen-X Survival Story

Elena was a hotheaded Italian woman in her late 30s. She dressed in breezy skirts, high heels and several layers of makeup darker than her neck, giving her the appearance of a mismatched mannequin. Elena was my boss. We specialized in “expert negotiation and arbitration of credit problems.” I was 21 and this was my first real job.

I worked in the office alone for two weeks while Elena was on vacation. Before she left, we reviewed several credit reports left over from the previous Director, who took cocaine lunches and quit without notice. He used Wite-Out over the bad stuff and faxed the changes to his clients. While Elena was in Florida, I contacted 150 clients to convince each one that we would service their files without the use of Wite-Out. Naturally, I was quite relieved when Elena returned.

We were a two-girl office under the umbrella of New England Financial Corporation, a company based in Riverside, California. NEFC was a fly-by-night that sprung up in response to the mortgage crisis in the mid-1990s. The small brick building lined with purple pansies was like a Norman Rockwell painting, a pretty front to hide reality. The economy was in the dumps and consumers were under water with their mortgages. NEFC offered a solution – for $2,000 they would short sell your home and guarantee no impact on your credit.

The atmosphere in the office was fairly casual. One day I walked into the storage room to retrieve a file. The Executive Accountant suggested we close the door so we could be alone, exploding in giggles. Earlier that week, he brought his newborn son and glowing wife into the office for show-and-tell.

It was worse when he was around the General Manager. They tossed out sexual innuendos, convulsing like Beavis and Butt-head until Elena would curl her lip and displace their comments with a sarcastic punch. Luckily, for us – our office was relocated.

The new office was on the 2nd floor of an attractive business suite in Grand Terrace. I loved my job. I wrote business letters, mailed dispute forms and kept the office organized. Every 20 minutes Elena would go outside to smoke, combing through the pages of credit reports, leaving behind red-kissed cigarette butts like dead soldiers on a battlefield.

Within five months, we made good progress on our client’s files and received few negative calls. The company partners offered to put me through paralegal school.

Then, one day in early April, Elena received a phone call from NEFC. They fired their secretary, a bulbous breasted young woman who would talk about Endometriosis while dropping salad in her cleavage on our lunch break. I was called in to take her place. Elena was pissed. We had a ton of work come in – all failed clients of NEFC – no charge. She was pissed about that, too.

“Why don’t you buy yourself a bottle of Wite-Out, Mike? I can’t remove your mistakes,” said Elena, slamming the phone in its carriage.

Reluctantly, I drove to the Riverside office. The last time I remembered being there, employees would stroll by on their way to the copy machine, shoot the breeze and watch the O.J. Simpson trial on the TV next to the coffee machine. No one was around upon my arrival. The constant ringing of phone calls from desperate customers infiltrated the building. The General Manager told me to take messages. I was the only person answering the phones. One client received a 1099 from the IRS moments after waking from a stroke in the hospital. He owed $42,000. Others had similar stories.

“Sir, I’m so sorry,” I told the man, “Unfortunately, there is no one here that wants to talk to you. I recommend that you do whatever you think is necessary to take care of your situation.”

On April 13th, 1996, the day was warm and sunny when I pulled into the entrance to NEFC. Several white, unmarked cars were sporadically parked in front of the building. I parked and walked down the pathway to the door. Two men with bulletproof vests greeted me. One tall, stone-faced man was from the California District Attorney’s Office and the other, from the Employment Development Department.

“Do you work here?” the DA guy inquired.

“Yes. I answer the phones,” I said.

A suited man with a clipboard took my name and instructed me to go into the conference room. We were kept for 5 hours, interviewed by the DA and EDD personnel as a group and individually. By the end of the day, four locations in Riverside County were raided and over 100 files confiscated.

I was escorted to a chair in the conference room and sat back to watch the show like a cat on a limb with coffee in hand. Two NEFC partners and the General Manager were sitting at the long conference table. They looked like prisoners facing a firing squad; their impending doom was palpable. Dark, wet circles formed under their arms and the ceiling lights reflected the sheen on their creased faces.

After the interviews, I was released. I was dying to talk to Elena and drove to the other office. When I walked up the stairs, Elena was walking out carrying a computer monitor.

“Get out of here,” she growled. They were raiding our office, too. Not wanting to go through a second interrogation, I walked past the broad window of our office and down the other stairwell. That night, Elena came back to the office and stole some furniture, a phone and a fax machine. She asked if I wanted to go with her and take some items as compensation for the paychecks we likely wouldn’t receive. I declined.

I never acquired my last paycheck. During the months that followed, I returned to my previous job as a part-time cashier at a gas station. I had to move out of my apartment. I stayed with several friends, sometimes sleeping in my car before my shift. Two years after, I left Southern California and moved to Oregon.

I learned a lot during those 8 turbulent months at New England Financial: always keep your nose clean, if a co-worker asks you to sit on his lap – it’s called sexual harassment, you can live on bananas and Top Ramon, beware of businessmen wearing tropical shirts and never mess with an Italian woman who has a twin sister.

Courtesy of Newspapers.com

29 Aug 1993 • News Record, North Hills • Pennsylvania • Page 43 | Courtesy of Newspapers.com

REFERENCES:

Company Profile for New England Financial Corporation. Updated 17 Jun 2014. Wysk.com Web. Accessed 19 Jun 2014.

Harney, Kenneth. Washington Post Writers Group. Title Transfer To Avoid Debt May Bring Tax, Credit Woes. The Seattle Times, 12 Nov 1995. Seattletimes.com Web. Accessed 19 Jun 2014.

Mulligan, Thomas S. ‘Credit-Repair’ Firms Raided in Riverside. Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr 1996. Articles.latimes.com Web. Accessed 19 Jun 2014.


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