I feel like I ought to share some good stuff with you after my rant in the last post.
I get crushes on musicians and my latest is on this duo, Holly Miranda and Marques Toliver. She has a sweet, almost heartbreaking voice and he plays the violin like he's being conducted by a cherub. I'm especially intrigued by his name because I wonder, does he have Haitian or some other French Caribbean roots?
They made a series of videos of them performing in the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and they sound lovely acoustic. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, here's a review from The New York Times.
Have a great day.
As I sat down with some German neighbors, I couldn't help but notice the collective head tilts and scrunched up eyebrows once I began describing health care in America. They didn't get it. Not one bit.
They might complain about Germans abusing the social system, or the quality of health care sinking, or about growing individual health care contributions. But they also can't wrap their minds around a middle class family falling into poverty because it had to pay for medical bills once Dad lost his job.
This scenario should also be a bizarre and warped story for Americans, too, but it isn't. In fact, it's becoming more commonplace and still there is no shortage of num nums screaming about nationalized medicine equalling socialism.
WTFF*? Hey, you, with the $35,000/year salary and two kids. . . you should be all over socialism, my friend. I can understand why a venture capitalist with a salary twenty times yours might fear social programs (even the rich here have private health insurance). But you are screaming against your own interests?!
I get the feeling that a lot of Americans have no idea how to even define the word socialism, nor are they even able to identify where it is a reality. Do they think socialism is akin to Swine Flu? Do they think their kids will start growing horns or something? Seriously, the fear of socialism (and we're really talking about social democracy today) is so ridiculous and unsubstantiated in America.
It's like listening to 10 year-olds yelling passionately about their parents' political beliefs. They don't critically understand what they believe but they're doing their best to uphold what they have been told. This fear of socialism is an old hysteria from another time that is being re-packaged with lies and fear tactics.
What people should be afraid of are stories like this
one that I wrote for The Women's International Perspective earlier this year. These are the kinds of stories that should terrify Americans and not some vague idea of a word they heard once in Social Studies class in 1987.
Working class and middle class folks--understanding now, better than ever, that jobs disappear into thin air, that companies fold and bubbles burst-- tell me again, and speak slowly, what about social democracy would make your life harder?
*What The Friggin Frack. . .my mom reads this blog.
We live in a beautiful row house and we haven't had neighbors in the last five years because we live on the corner and the house next door has been empty for the last 10 years. So it never bothered us that our fence was about two feet high. Well, six months ago, new people moved in and when they sit in their garden (and they sit smack dab in the middle of it, with their chairs facing our garden, to get the best sun) it feels like they are
sitting in our garden.
They never hesitated to make comments about how the children played or added in their two cents when they overheard our conversation. Our neighbor even walked around in her underwear and had no qualms about bending over and revealing her backside.
Then the real treat came when they decided to get a 40 kilo (about 80 pounds) Doberman Pincher. "Oh, he loves children," they promised. "He would never do anything to the kids." Then they proceeded to show me the bruises and scars they got from "playing" with their dog. Even the dog put his chin on the fence as if to say, "You call this a fence? Ha!"
Still, I always politely said hello while my husband just ignored the neighbors, thinking he could create a border in his mind. I found this rude, because I could see them the minute we walked out of the door. I felt obligated to say hello. What I couldn't understand was that they didn't feel weird about the lack of private space? Why didn't they sit on their terrace, behind the dividing wall? And what was up with walking around in her underwear? Did our neighbor know I could see her crotch every time she pulled weeds?
So today a very tall and very beautiful bamboo fence went up between our houses and you could tell that our neighbors were offended as it was going up. "Well, you saw that the dog didn't do anything to the kids," they said. "Besides, he can't jump. We never taught him." (I swear to you, he really said this)
"It's not the dog," I said politely. "We just, well, we like a little more privacy."
I could have said that in Mandarin because he gave me a look that spoke of nothing but incomprehension.
Space is relative. Borders really are man-made and completely subjective. What I know for sure is that I felt a sense of relief this evening as I admired our sunflowers standing tall in front of the bamboo fence and not my neighbor's crotch.
When I asked the librarian about getting a library card, she was very friendly (not a given here).
Librarian: Well, you would need identification and ten Euros for the year.
Me: Ok, sounds good.
Librarian: But the fee is reduced under certain circumstances.
Me: I don’t think I qualify for a reduced fee.
Librarian: Uh, for certain hardships?
Librarian: Uh, that would include many things. Er, a disability.
Librarian: Or, say, Hartz IV (welfare).
Me: Nope, doesn’t apply.
Librarian: I see. You would have to pay the full 10 Euros.
The thing is, she was nice. Really nice. But I can't help but wonder if my husband would have gotten the whole hardship breakdown. Wait, I just got an idea. I think I'll send him on a little assignment. . .stay tuned.