Vive la France

I just slept for 12 hours. All day.

Like so many, I’m trying to cobble together a living by working two jobs … actually three, if you count my freelance writing business, which is getting short shrift these days. At least one of them pays benefits, finally. For a year I was paying out one-third of that meager check for insurances and taxes.

The whole point of this little experiment — working a job that requires physical strength and not mental — was to take a brain break. Writing on command at the newspaper, where the owners cared only about filling the pages and not about the community, took a toll.

Plus I gained 40 pounds.

Disillusioned and stressed out over daily deadlines, I just wanted a paycheck without that kind of responsibility. I wanted physical activity.

I wanted to do more writing. And I wanted flexibility, to still be available to attend meetings of boards I’m a member of and to facilitate my community and prison writing groups.

I wanted to make a life, not just a living.

So now I have that, technically speaking. But I forgot to figure in time for sleep.

The last few weeks I’ve averaged three to four hours a day … in one and a half to two hour stretches. I’ve also begun to look a lot like my grandmother, skin-wise. My friend Amy says it’s because lack of regular sleep doesn’t allow cellular healing.

I believe it. I’m wearing the evidence.

Welcome to America, land of the disappearing middle class. Meaning I know I’m not the only one living like this.

If I want to go all shame and blame, I can say it’s my own fault. I didn’t prepare for retirement.

At my age a generation ago, workers were retired or getting ready to. I’m afraid only death will bring my retirement. And I’ve talked with more and more people who say the same thing.

We should have planned ahead. But if we’re going to “should” all over ourselves, let’s include this: People should be paid a living wage. Wages should keep up with the rising costs of everything else.

Gas prices go up every week. Thirty cents a pop. Workers don’t get raises often enough, and when they do it’s in pennies, for many of us once in three to five years, if at all.

Some say, “Well, go get a real job.” These are real jobs, providing services the public needs, or wants. And that doesn’t solve the problem here.

I am college educated, am halfway to a master’s degree. Unlike some I could “move up,” make more money somewhere else. But where I am right now is teaching me something I only understood theoretically before. We have a problem. All of us.

The rich are getting richer, the poor poorer, and even people working their butts off aren’t able to make a living. Never mind getting ahead.

Earlier this week I watched, heartbroken, as Notre Dame in Paris burned. In itself that was a tragedy. It reminded me of another tragic event: the French Revolution.

I can see this country moving toward that kind of event. It’s feeling more and more inevitable all the time.

Vive la France.

7 Replies to “Vive la France”

  1. Well said. In the 80s the focus in this country shifted from people and community to money and individuals. This is where that change has led us 40 years later. I don’t know how we can go back. It’s a very sad puzzle. So many people are suffering. I’m so sorry this is your experience. Take care of your health. Without that, none of the rest of it matters. Here’s hoping an easier way opens for you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart goes out to you. I hope you find a solution as you won’t be able to survive for long in this way. I am not American
    , I’m 67 and I have 5 degrees, including 2 masters degrees and. PhD. I cannot get work due to politics. I have some things in my favor but life is a struggle. Bless you KD I hope something happens to change things soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am in a similar situation, as are many in our age group. In my mind I did plan for retirement and watched as “my money” kept growing, I also made plans for my future about where to live and how to survive. Then some huge world events knocked that all out of the game. My money vanished so quickly, I could not even see what happened. The pennies I got to the dollars as the market bounced along could only buy a happy meal, not a retirement home. Work situations shifted also and looking for a job that would pay the same was inconceivable, any job would have been great. Next my health takes a left turn, as is bound to happen sometimes. Yet, here I am, almost 10 years into retirement, it sure is different than my parents and grandparents. There are many ways to make it OK, we just have to drive our own plans and stay creative. Together we can do this, thanks for sharing your journey and know you are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I love this: “There are many ways to make it OK, we just have to drive our own plans and stay creative.” I’m writing this down to keep!


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