The Tally

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I will be submitting my application for early retirement via the internet. This is the requisite three months prior to my 62nd birthday. I am one of millions of baby boomers who is going to put to bed any fantasies of 'making it' in this our USofA. The deck is stacked against us. We had our chance to have a different United States. We blew it. My generation allowed ourselves to feel exceptional - just like our country - and that success was our due. We were lulled into complacency by being encouraged to revel in our individuality and enlightened lifestyles. We were assured that this country had the best advantages, security and justice. We were lied to our entire lives and the majority of us bought it. If we were white we believed that the status quo (read: privilege) was the norm. We were raised on lies, myths and hypocrisy. Well, I can't go back and live a different life. But, I can make conscious decisions with the rest of my life.

My energies now are directed towards living the life, building the model that works. I was going to say I do this instead of trying to change the existing model; i.e., political system. I can't really say that because I do believe in looking for chinks in the empire's armor. I will continue kicking against the pricks.

The tally is metaphor. It is about taking stock of my life, my outlook; it is about looking at my 2009 budget to date. I wrote a comment at Beany's blog yesterday.
I have been trying my best to keep my monthly groceries to $100. I also am attempting to spend as though I didn't have the chance to buy beyond a set limit each week.
Well how did I do with my $100/month grocery budget this whole last year?
  1. January - $6.45 under
  2. February - $82.50 over
  3. March - $191.00 over
  4. April - $53.00 over
  5. May - $39.50 over
  6. June - $91.00 over
  7. July - $37 over
  8. August - $18 over
  9. September - $15 over
Pretty crap at keeping within the budget it seems. My monthly budget is $666. But, when I add the groceries overages and the utility and other living expense budget overages - I am $99 a month short (when I average the numbers). I know where the overages are in the groceries. My coffee habit was a minimum of $25 a month. Cheese and breads were another $50. Scale is another issue. When a budget gets down to the nubs like this, the smallest hiccup can really fuck up the whole thing. And yes, I believer there is denial and privilege at play. Even if it is a matter of an extra couple of peaches at the Farmer's market or a cup of coffee while out, I know I feel the absolute right to treat myself. It'll all work out. I am special and I shouldn't have to go without. Right? That's what the great American message is 24/7. Old habits - I'm saturated with them.
And truth is, things do work out. I have been treated by guests, neighbors and my son. I have had the opportunity to make a few bucks here and there to mostly offset these overages. But, let me return to my upcoming retirement. I will be receiving so much more than I live on now - in a relative sense. How will I live differently? What is my budget going to change?

I have been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks. I am planning a bunch of projects for next year - 10 in 2010. These will take every bit of available money I can raise. I will be building my own living lab - a permaculture patch in this little mobile home park. This means I will sustain this budget in order to gradually build this miniature food forest, a self-sustaining urban garden. Some year I will be able to afford to jump off the electrical grid. I'd like to be as much of a closed system as I can muster. I want my living to be an example of walking the talk. I think this baby boomer can find real redemption and purpose in sharing all I am learning with others.

99 more for 2009

Only 99 more days in this year. My very first post in January 2009 was about my being on hiatus from this blog. I thought then it was for the month, but it turned out to be most of this year.

In February I was being prescient, I predicted just that.
Nothing I'd planned at the onset of 2009 has turned out as intended. I am even thinking the hiatus might last all of this year. What I am attempting is for me a transformative step up and out of my world of thought to a world of action. There I said it. So, I am reluctant to drift back into mind-mode just yet. We shall see.
I called this theme, 2009: Let the Sun Shine. It was about getting active first and foremost. And, it was about holding the new political power to their promises of transparency. Well, I was whistling in the dark about that one. I wanted it badly. Almost from day one, the status quo was refortified. Same game as the criminals the past 8 years. This is the biggest disappointment for me. I find deep shame in being from a military empire that is deeply corrupt and a capitalistic system based on slavery and usury.

Shining a bright light upon myself and my own intentions, efforts and perspective was uncomfortable. I wrote:
See, the creepy part is that as I uncover something toxic within myself I see it all around. The light is shining inside and revealing so much and then it is harshly lit all around. That is the nature of self-discovery I have found. So, I get sidetracked being really cranky about others because of my hyper-awareness. . . Akin to standing stark naked in the bright sunlight, getting comfortable in my own skin is the biggest adjustment. And, I have lived most of my life inside my mental perceptions and that is not the most sustainable way to live. My body is getting older, fatter and weaker because I haven't used it fully. Now I am challenging this and find I can't bring along others on this ride. For now it this is mine, all mine.

That was in March.

I also directed a light deep into a painful place in my being - the 20 year anniversary of my beloved Angela's suicide. I took several weeks to write about her whole short life. It was healing. And, that same time period was the beginning of a deeper relationship with my grown son. I placed big demands on him to walk with me daily. We walked and talked and gradually grew towards a different relationship. And finally, I found myself (with his help) on a path towards fitness and strength.

It has been a year in the sun - with my son. A sabbatical from my blog, my gardens, my more analytical side. By July I'd decided to take another sabbatical - from my community newspaper. Although I had written the rough draft for several more issues, I knew that this community isn't interested. And, I am frankly not wanting to keep pouring energy and enthusiasm towards this kind of unresponsiveness. Similarly, I am now only writing post cards to my mother. My son visited Omaha and reported that he thought my letters overwhelm her.

Ha! My neighbors, friends and my mother are all telling me to shut the fuck up. LOL. So, I guess my decisions to do just that are working as they should. I do have some exciting bits from the last month to report, but it is too late and this is too long already. I merely like the sound of 99 in 2009 and couldn't resist writing.

Update: Another slavery story and this one is very close to home here in California.

Quote of the Day

We face a stark choice: we can destroy the conditions for human life on the planet by clinging to "free-market" fundamentalism, or we can secure our future by bringing commerce within the laws of ecological sustainability and social justice. Vandana Shiva

Really good post by Vandana Shiva at Common Dreams today. I wish that I could speak this cogently about cap and trade - and the injustice of it all.

Day before September 11, 2001

There is always enough money to do the right thing - health care, alternate energy, jobs, welfare, schools, organic foods, clean air, clean water, clean food, livable wages. Imagine anything you can for the public good. There is enough money, so don't be distracted. Shut down the war machine.

Labor Day Loss


Does anyone else see the irony of Van Jones - the champion of green jobs - being kicked around by the haters and abandoned by the white house on Labor Day weekend? I for one am glad he got out of this administration with his ethics and dignity intact. I think he is needed as an activist, a community, no national, organizer and one of the only invigorating visionaries around.

Van is the man.

Hey, if he was promoted with Naomi Klein (economy & corporate takeover), Jeremy Scahill (war, torture and shadow army) and SanDiego's own Jill Richardson (food and agri-business) and had a way to be heard night and day, 7 days a week like the haters on corporate media . . . Well, it would be exciting.

Update: I got sloppy and spelled names wrong. *shame* I also ducked any real responsibility for any background explanation or coherent response. What can I say? I haven't shown the respect for make-a-(green)plan and anyone who might read. I'll try to step it up a bit.

“Dr. King didn’t get famous giving a speech that said, ‘I have a complaint.’”
That wonderful line came from Van Jones. It is highlighted in Richard Shetterly's post in Common Dreams, Van Jones is Dead. Long Live Van Jones. Richard Shetterly met Van Jones when he painted his portrait for his Americans Who Tell the Truth series. I used that image when I wrote about Van Jones last year. Shetterly's post is a wonderful read with the same belief stated here, Van Jones will do better for us all outside the white house.

"... the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." --Alex Carey, Australian social scientist

Update, 9/8/9 - Great video by Brave New Films of Van Jones and Carl Pope here.