Monday, April 27, 2020

Green Acres

This will be the new reboot in the upcoming years as not only relevant it is perfect timing.  Americans, unlike their European counterparts, have been migrating to the two coasts for decades. The reason being that they have the industry of capitalism, Wall Street and Silicon Valley.  They are yes an industry in and of themselves, a collective sort of with bees buzzing to the Queen bee and that is Apple in the Valley and Goldman in New York.  The varying hives around them have their own Queen and in turn bees that jump from flower to flower to source and thrive and spread their wings to build their hive and produce that honey that we love so much in America, Money.

Then you have the industry's adjacent that also thrive and live off the honey, in Hollywood that is the industry of film and television and in New York it is the larger Arts of Broadway/Theater, Music and Art.  And then they have the tendrils that have their own type of special honey made that is usually ties to the Gay collective in San Francisco and the West Village/Greenwich.  You got nothing in any hive without those queens and in turn their bees that include many of bees that migrate from hive to hive to add color to the pollen and flavor to the honey.

And Americans gravitate to IT.  I have lived in every it city ever.  I grew up in Seattle, lived in San Francisco, Austin, and Nashville. And now Jersey City so I don't have far to go to end up in the Queen's hive if I choose and seriously I don't choose there. There is something about the physical and social distancing that I like having Manhattan in my back yard versus my front.  No regrets here but I wish I had spent more time finding my hood and this for now works but I think I will still stay in the area but want to just be a little less 'it."

But I am also 60 and decided now to re-invent myself for the 100th time and finally write professionally.  I am using pandemic house arrest to seriously write and enter contest after contest and submit while actually focusing on my first book.  I would rather spend time doing that as that is what matters.  But I also need feedback and that is hard in isolation so I work around with hopes to find that needed voice to lend perspective to my writing.  I have a voice but like all it needs to be tuned.   And I hoped to continue to Substitute for awhile to also see another school district and system thought of as the best in the nation, so let's see as little could be as bad as Nashville.

But this is an expensive place, Nashville was not cheaper but it was if you made a decent living and if companies are looking to change the way they do business, smaller offices, more satellite workers and cheaper costs as there is no income tax, they are more than willing to give away free candy to add any color of collar to their community as they are right to work aka no unions, they have a very red flag flying high which is fine for the larger picture but if the hive wants a diverse bee community that may be a problem and in turn their infrastructure is horrific.  That said power is money and if you come bearing it they may address it as they are desperate right now post Tornado and post Covid.

I will never set foot there again unless it is for a very good reason and then I can float in like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

But again the reality is we all want to be near the Queen and this is New York after all; however, I do see many of the migrant/immigrants re-examining that idea after this pandemic.  If you have family in your native home or have them living with you in a small apartment these last six weeks you are ready to move anywhere so I suspect that suburbs will be very appealing and in turn child care is already in place so why not commute or commute into a bigger home office? I see that the need for green spaces and some privacy would be key and the key to that door is way more affordable.  The appeal of the in city high rise with elevators and dogs and people shoved in is appealing until a pandemic hits and then you go: FUCK THIS.

So yes I do see an exodus to what Thomas Wolfe negated by saying you cannot go home again. Oh yes, yes you can if you have not already.

The writer below debates this issue and in turn the reality of what America is truly like, the outsiders desperately wanting in and the insiders making sure that doors and windows are locked but they leave the curtains open to allow you to see inside to aspire and to in turn service them, entertain and amuse them and now in Pandemic Times (the new Paleozoic Era) serve them.  And in the interest of being served there are always disposable and replaceable.  Like tissues that apparently people did not use to sneeze or cough in and there you go.  See bees leave the hive and they sometimes don't come back. But the hive still thrives.  And it takes just a little smoke, no mirrors, to take the honey and the hive still thrives and does the work until disease takes it.  That is what is happening to the bees and we never saw it coming or did we? 

Does living in New York make any financial sense after this pandemic?

I’ve perpetuated the illusion that my family lives a stable life, but that was an absurd delusion, and it feels insane to continue as we have

Lynn Steger Strong
The Guardian
Mon 27 Apr 2020

Staring down the barrel of another decade of constant worry and part time work and clawing our way out of the rubble of the second recession, it feels borderline insane to continue as we have.

I have long known that much of my life’s frustrations come from trying to have it both ways. Though they were made available to me, I shunned more traditional and more stable careers. Instead, I have continued, time and again, to try to be a writer, knowing full well this is not a stable choice. I simultaneously hoped for and attempted to create a stable life for our kids. I continued to attempt to perpetuate the illusion that I live the kind of life that people with more traditional jobs are able to afford – we kept living in New York, with two kids, kept trying to have health insurance and sometimes go to the dentist, kept trying to send our children to good public schools and summer camps.

I wanted, in other words, to both be a writer and to live a life that cannot be sustained on the income of most writers. There are plenty of systemic failures in this country, but that miscue is solely mine. I always knew I’d have to have a second job, but again, I chose a path that offered no guarantee of stability. “Professor”, after all, used to mean some level of security, but now acquiring a tenure track position in academia has become something close to the equivalent of making it to the NBA. But I knew that going in.

Stability has long been little more than fantasy, is what I’m saying. But since this crisis – since our precarity has turned to terror, then futility; since the hole that we now find ourselves in has become too deep perhaps to ever claw our way back out – the absurdity of those delusions has become much more apparent. The shame I feel, toward all those years of pretending, is that much more pronounced.

We’re living, as we have before, contingent on the generosity of others. I’m sitting in a house that is not mine, paying for an empty apartment that we can’t afford. My husband has been furloughed from the job he’d just started that made it possible for us to afford our rent. I got an email from my best paying job this week saying my class for the fall cannot be guaranteed until a couple of weeks before it starts. I desperately reach out to editors asking to write for them. I’ve thought of posting online about editing services, but the hole that we’re entering into is not something any single thousand dollar gig will fill.

I keep thinking, what other forms can we imagine our lives into. My husband’s parents have a small camp in Maine that we could move to. There is no running water and no internet, the floors are not yet insulated, but also, there’s no rent. I could go back to teaching high school in a town that’s less expensive – in Florida, where we have family; in more rural places, where the rents are more palatable, but then I’m not certified to teach public school.

This crisis has highlighted how so much of our society is broken. It feels senseless, suddenly, to keep doing what we’ve always done. I know the institutions I am a part of are broken, top-heavy, do not care much for me, but they kept me afloat just enough – many of my bosses have been very kind – I was deluded enough, I guess, to stick around. It is that very American delusion which I would have said I’m not a part of, but I still was: the delusion that we do not denounce or depart the systems that exploit us, just in case, somehow, we find a way to achieve power within them.

It is also an American delusion that if you stay within the systems you will maintain some level of safety, that stability will come, that a base level of certainty will exist. I met a guy a few months ago, who told me about being an adjunct professor at the same place for 17 years, and then being offered an entry level, non-tenure track, three-year job when he threatened to quit.

As my husband and I have talked and thought more about leaving the lot of it – the city and our overpriced apartment, all my part-time gigs, his putting his head down in a few months and looking for work again – it’s become less and less clear what we’d lose if we left. We already don’t have health insurance. I have never had job security. Our community is the strongest and best part of our lives, but many of them have been laid low by this as well.

New York will probably always be my favorite city. As exhausting and precarious as each is, I love every one of my jobs. We love our kids’ public school. But staring down the barrel of another decade of constant worry and part-time work and clawing our way out of the rubble of the second recession, it feels borderline insane to continue as we have.

Next week still feels so far from this week. Right now, it’s hard to think much further than keeping everybody safe and sane. It’s hard to say what the other lives that we may try to make after this would look like. The tricky thing, always, about not having a lot of money, is that one seldom has much choice. But, for so long, we have been living as if we did not already know that we could not ever get to a place of solidity within the systems we’ve signed up for. Now that the absurdity of that delusion has been so thoroughly exhibited, it feels worth considering at least, what other shapes our lives may take.

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