Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Here In Eugene

I've been in Eugene, Oregon for little over a month. I like it here, so far. Mostly.

Went to my first ever Saturday Market last week. Nice, a little overwhelming, hemp cloth, good music, over-priced items - especially at the Farmer's Market. But nice.

This place is not at all like the East Coast, and on a number of subtle levels, which is going to be challenging as hell. I'm a "big-picture" person, one drawback being that while you're staring up at the universe, you're tripping over your own feet here on Earth. You bumble, you stumble, you shake your head and say, "What was that?" I'm not very good at subtle, and I've been blindsided more than once. Most women, gay or straight, completely baffle me. Men - gay or straight - can also be baffling, but I've had more success with them, two ex-husbands notwithstanding.

But back to Eugene: the uppermost thought on my mind since I hit town has been finding employment. I've registered with all the temp agencies who'll have me and answered every likely ad I've found. There have been a few interviews, and this temp gig at ServPro, but no real BITES. Once again, I go over in my head why someone WOULDN'T want to hire me: old, fat, unattractive, talks funny and (the latest) hands knarled like an old tree root. Whew. With assets like that I should throw myself off the Willamette Bridge, eh?

But it's NOT all like that, not really. When I find an ad for a job I really believe I would do well in, I answer it as best I can, I still have hope that I at least have a chance. But then I read Paul Krugman or Slavoj Zizek or Naomi Stein or Noam Chomsky or Joseph Stiglitz or. . . . . And I wonder if I really do have a chance, if the people I sit before at these interviews (mostly women - yikes) see only my age, my out-of-date clothing, my twisted, swollen fingers, my sometimes-halting speech, and mentally throw my resume in the trash while smiling pleasantly at me and quickly thinking of devices they can use to cut the interview short. After all, there are supposedly six people out there for every job, that's six women (I can't imagine a man going after one of these office jobs) who are probably younger, better dressed and better-spoken than me. Even though I have enough experience to work in just about any office, these interviewers don't see that; due to my age and appearance (albeit professional), I'm not a good "fit."

And don't even get me started about these "pre-employment" drug tests. Peeing in a cup: they want you to pee in a cup so they can decide if you "deserve" a job. The insurance companies, everybody says, the insurance companies require these drug tests. Really? The insurance company requires that some back-office secretary, with no access to cash, get a drug test to get or keep her job? Why? What one did on one's off-time used to be a matter of privacy; now the insurance companies, not local government or individual businesses, control workers' private lives. Ronald Reagan - the so-called "small government" president - made sure of this travesty of democracy. As he did many others.

How long it will take the people of this country to figure out they've been manipulated to vote against their own best interests, taken for a ride by the rich elite (no matter what political stripe), been brainwashed to fear the words (and concepts) of "socialism" and "common good" (even though banding together is the only thing that will save us), wonder how much damage has to be done before revolution breaks out. American revolution: sign waving, million marching, capitol-building occupying, REAL American revolution, not just in a couple of states but throughout the ENTIRE country.

We need another Constitutional Congress (or something on the order of that), this time with no corporations or representatives of corporations, with proportional representation (NOT gerrymandered districts), mass movements in the streets, partnering with and strengthening the unions. We need to create an American socialist democracy, based not on discredited Marxism, not totalitarian communism, but a uniquely American version of social democracy based on the American ideals of true equal opportunity, economic and social justice and sustaining the commons.

And here I am, gazing up at the universe; I still need a job.

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