Friday, November 30, 2007

Ten months, busy thoughts

Today is ten months. One day this month, tomorrow is already December. It seems less like a monthaversary this month. Maybe because there is only one day to mark the death day and the birth day, and so it is all garbled together. It is certainly not oppressively hard like nine months was. I know better than to declare some corner or other turned, as tempting as it would be after last month. I've had good stretches before, I've had monthaversaries that didn't feel heavy, and neither was ever permanent. I learned my lesson-- this is fluid and unpredictable.

I've been anticipating the ten months, thinking about it on and off through the week, wondering how I would feel when it got here. In the end it was a busy day, too busy to really sit with my feelings, and maybe that is why it was easier. It occurred to me today, and feel free to call me dense for only figuring it out now, that next month is going to be hard. New Year's Eve and eleven months. The worst eleven months and one day of my life. Will I be able to enjoy the festivities? To be happy that this most cruel year is over and gone? Or will the ghosts of the last New Year party, in the same house, with almost the same cast of characters, chase me down the twisty passages of memory? We shall see, I guess. We shall see.

The day was busy because Fridays are short days at school, and today I was picking Monkey up together with a classmate, and taking them to our house for a playdate that was to culminate with the other girl's family coming over for Shabbat. As I still hadn't caught up on housework from being gone over the weekend and land sick upon our return, I left for work latish today, and used that morning time to rectify the domestic situation some. Which still left me with the need to stop by a store on the way to the school and then cook once we got home. In the end all of it got done, even if a little slower than I meant it to be. The girls had a great time, including many changes of costume and not a single fight, the meal came out very well, and the company was more than pleasant.

I even had a moment of perspective today. Driving to the school, with a store stopover, I was listening to the local radio program about the shortage of fuel assistance money this winter. With the prices high and budget allocations less than in the 1980s, bad, bad shit is going down. People trying to find extra jobs, second, third jobs, and time in their weeks to work those jobs. Seniors eating every other day to save enough money to pay the bill. They called it heat or eat dilemma. Children showing up in ER with burns from their families trying to keep them warm with light bulbs, heaters, anything. The doctor they had on said she saw one former preemie stop breathing. Can you even imagine that? After weeks or maybe months in NICU to have your child endangered in and by your own home?

And even when less extreme, when not life and death, it still has consequences. Babies and children who don't get enough warmth and nutrition in the cold months are not developing properly, not learning, not playing, limiting their life potential. Limiting children's life potential by cuts in federal heating assistance programs. Yes, I had a moment of personal perspective, most certainly. After all, my biggest immediate problem was what to cook for dinner so that everyone will enjoy it and it wouldn't be too much work to get done.

But then, and this is where I alienate any Republican readers I might have, then I got upset. I got upset that despite promises during the pre-election campaign to increase funding for the fuel assistance program, current administration cut it and is trying to cut it again. I got upset that while no CEO will ever be left behind by this administration, not one but two winters will have to pass before there is any hope for people who are so desperate that they attempt to keep their kids warm with light bulbs. Because let's face it, January 20th, 2009 will still be half way through the next winter, and it's not like this issue will be the first sent for signature to our next president.

This issue is not one that lands itself to individual action. A tank of oil is costing over $700 now, and with thousands of working families and seniors struggling, this is a disaster and it needs a government solution. The government that is currently run by people who don't believe in government as an agent of positive change. It's not a self-fulfilling prophesy, it's a farce. And this is the same party where a former minister running now for its nomination responds to one of those what would Jesus do questions with "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do." That hypocrisy, of dispatching with ideals they claim to stand for when practicalities of the office weigh on them, while acting like piousness is the proper measure of a person's character, is still making my head hurt.

You know, way off in the future I want Monkey to go to a good college. But I want her to get there because she works hard, not because a large chunk of kids in her cohort got their development curtailed by a cold winter years and years ago.


slouching mom said...

Hugs to you.

(And what a powerful ending to this post. Amen. Republican readers? Never heard of 'em. ;) Myself, I'm a formerly-Obama currently-Edwards might-still-change kind of gal.)

Waiting Amy said...

Thanks for bringing attention to this issue. While it has crossed my mind, I hadn't considered the impact on children.

There are so many things about the current administration that are heartbreaking. We have taken so many steps backward. I just hope we can recover, someday.

And don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. :)

Beruriah said...

Wow, that Jesus statement is unbelievable. I managed to miss it. Very funny guy.

I sit here positive that if heat weren't already included in our rent, we'd be having serious problems this winter - but parents/grandparents would swoop in to help. I know what it's like to know the numbers won't add up at the end of the month, but I have no idea what it would be like without the safety net of my middle-class status to depend upon.

We should be ashamed for letting it get this bad. Not personally, necessarily, but collectively certainly. And yet I don't know what to do.

Tash said...

I live in a city with 25% living below the poverty line, and I know exactly what news awaits me this month beginning this week: Fires. House fires from ovens left open, space heaters too close to blankets, candles left going. All from lack of heat. It's infinitely depressing, and don't get me started on health care, prenatal care, and education from the current set of assholes. It's not just who we're gonna lose between now and then, it's all the work we're gonna hafta do to save/fix everyone who's been "burned" so to speak.

I'm not looking forward to 10 simply because it will happen around the holidays, and I remember absolutely everything about last year and what I *thought* would be happening this year. The ghosts are mighty oppressive.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i hate this year with you. it's just plain awful. awful. i hope that next year the rawness with fade a itty bitty bit. which i know, is A LOT to wish for. (is it okay for me to wish that you might 'feel' it a little less? i hope so. i mean well.)
it is hard to watch poverty cripple people. it's so odd to me that the very people who claim to care so much about G-d and their savior and who thump on the bible the hardest...are often times the same ones whose actions against the poor are despicable. the irony is that you can't read one chapter of the bible that doesn't drill into your head that we will all be judged by how we treat poor people. blech.
even though it seems small, it is *something* in and of itself for you to spotlight.

Nicole said...

It's rare that I will keep reading when there is discussion of politics on a blog, but this time I did read. I normally stop because I feel everyone has good points, for the most part, on each side. But on this issue, I only see the side you speak about. Heat is a basic necessity that is not debatable. No one should have to chose between a meal or a warm bed.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Damn, this is a great, blistering post. Thank you, Julia.

For anyone who's interested, here's the link to Citizens Energy, which helps low-income families pay for heating oil. Like you say, Julia, private charity isn't going to fill the gap left by structural social injustice, but it's one way to help people who are suffering this winter, anyway.

meg said...

I had no idea this was going on. I mean, I guess I think that things like this can't happen, because I never hear about it up here in Canada. I know people use the food bank up here and there is poverty, but I have never heard of this heat thing. I don't think we have fuel assistance. It's awful.

Casey said...

Wow. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I think it is disgraceful that it has come to this. I would think heat should be classified as a basic necessity as part of the shelter clause. I guess not. Meg is right, we don't have this here. But we thankfully don't have republicans either.

Karen said...

yes, it's really quite horrible - I'm not quite sure that guy really does not know that much about Jesus and what he would do - and wish they'd all have the honesty to admit that instead of pretending that they care about this stuff, or pretending it matters to them that people's kids are very, very cold. My house is cold and it is too expensive for us to fill our tank, but we are lucky enough to have parents who can help us a bit - not everyone I know is in that position - if they get turned down, I'm not sure what will happen.

as for anniversaries, glad today was okay - things like that can be so unpredictable, but I am glad today was at least alright.

thrice said...

It's horrible. And it's everywhere, not just is the winter heating department. Health care, why is it that people don't care about a massive issue until it happens to them. Ooops, I answered my own question, it hasn't happened to them. Duh!?

Bon said...


sending warmth of the heart in your direction, and wishing i could sent the material stuff to many.

~Denise~ said...

Well written on the heating issue. It's a very sad thing to witness and experience.