Illness changes a person

There’s something weird that happens to your sense of self when you’ve been sick for a long time. All the words I would choose to describe myself  seem to have changed. I know that this illness is not me, but it’s been with me for so long that it’s all I see when I look at myself. It’s not a temporary state of being any longer, it’s who I am; I am ill.

It takes all my energy, it takes my time, my health, my personality. I am not available to be myself, because I am ill. It changes my eating habits, my sleeping habits, my posture, the sound of my voice. I am no longer creative, or organized, or confident, because I am ill.  I am weak, and tired, and in constant pain.

Illness has a way of making you forget to be yourself. It hurts too much to do the things I would habitually do. I move slower than I used to, assessing each motion, conserving my energy. My new physical  limitations trick my brain into thinking that these boundaries are normal. The things I used to enjoy are unbearable now. I can’t go out, and I don’t have the capacity for any leisure activity.
Illness changes how I think of myself. The pain has a way of making me forget, distracting me from my own thoughts. It’s a struggle to cook and clean for myself. I can’t remember how it was before. I can’t remember the last time I experienced joy, and it’s difficult to predict  if I ever will again.
Illness prevents me from being optimistic about it. I am hardly a person, I am ill, and I’m just trying to get through the day.

Marginalizing the Average American

Desk jobs are great for angry-antisocial people. – Are you well suited for desk work?
I work in an office with a 1950s attitude. All the upper-management executives are American white males. There are some immigrants working here, but there are no Latins or Blacks working at this company. The main floor of this building has no windows, which is basically every department except for the sales office. It looks remarkably like the television show The Office, if it were operated in a dystopian-style by communist enthusiasts. This office doesn’t value their employees, literally denying its workers rank and significance for years on end.

With the current political climate, I’ve recently concluded that the American Millennials are in a type of Depression. Not as life-and-death as the Great Depression of the 1930s, but every bit as detrimental to the growth and progress of a generation. Things didn’t really improve after the 2008 economy flop, things just evolved into a different shape. More primitive, less compassionate, more hostile, less forward-thinking. Millennials have had slow progress in trying to achieve the same milestones as previous generations. Housing costs have skyrocketed, along with personal debts, but average incomes have decreased. The middle-class jobs of yesterday have become the lower-class jobs of today. Even educated people are having difficulty finding jobs which will adequately provide for a family. It’s depressing.

American government stopped caring about the common man. They stopped caring about the environment, and retirees, and quality education, and affordable health care.  Our social infrastructure has taken a turn. Marginalizing the average American, favoring corporations and the hyper wealthy. The office where I work is just 1 building, but the executives who own and operate it are the same sort of people who run this country. They make decisions that increase their productivity at the expense of their workers.  Creating an ever widening rift of cynicism between the working-class and the aristocrats who rule over them.

Driving Force

When I was a young-teen, I had the idea that I would grow up, get married, have a family, live in a house, and have a job. This idea was engrained, anticipated, and unavoidable. Everyone told me this was the way it had to be, so I was prepared to take all the necessary steps to make it happen. I compromised, gave in, and cooperated.
More than a decade later, and after a few failed attempts, it crossed my mind that I’ve sacrificed a lot for this vision of a conventional life.  I’ve been chasing a fantasy that’s not going to happen for me [or thousands of other Millennials], and I don’t want to be punished for not living up to these old-fashioned standards.

My brother got married last month. Ever since his girlfriend proposed to him last year, he has been slowly working himself into a more submissive/complacent attitude. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. He simply agreed with her when she decided how the 2 of them were going to live, where they were going to live, and how many children they were going to have.
She didn’t strike me as a ‘driving force’, but she seems to be doing a great job of steering their relationship along the conservative path.

Whereas, I’ve spent the last several months considering a possible future as an eccentric mountain hermit.  Now that I’m no longer committed to the idea of marriage and family, I’m free to exit the vehicle, and focus on solo endeavors.
Literally, the only thing that was keeping me conventionally-docile was the ‘inescapability’ of having to live the rest of my life in a predictable fashion.

One of my latest hobbies has been Tiny Houses. But in this state, I’d still have to buy a property to keep one [for the ‘permanent address’],  and because of the raising costs of healthcare, I’d still be forced to work 32-40 hours a week, even if I didn’t need the income.  So I’m practically back to square one; unable to break the cycle. It’s infuriating. The longer I think like this, the more agitated I get regarding  the state of things in this country, and how difficult they’ve made it to live in a different way from the conventional method.
America is hindering its own Progress. A whole generation of Americans have not made any social strides because of current socio-economic conditions, and they are straining to attain the basic luxuries of past generations. Millennials are a generation of constant stress, and anxiety based mental-disorders.
All of the Millennials have now joined the work force. But they will continue to live bachelors-lifestyles, because their college debts prevent them from saving enough money to conventionally settle down.

Struggle and Debt

I was browsing tiny home videos last night, and one of them was about a girl who built one as a school project. Her house was constructed with 90% recycled materials. Repurposed wood, thrifted windows, ect.  The house looked decent, and totaled about $17,000 USD. Something that she described was that even though she thrifted all the supplies, it still ended up costing substantial funding, and that’s ok, because  most people end up spending more than that on university, in the hopes of getting a lucrative job, with the aim of buying a house for 20x that price. People everywhere have to go bigger and bigger in a vicious cycle, spending more money  in order to make more, in order to buy more. It’s a high risk game. But if we all lived small, then we wouldn’t have to struggle for so long in order to get to a ‘comfortable life’.

The biggest obstacle to this ‘live small’ method  is that the government wants people to  live in the traditional manner [and be in debt] ; because poor people are easier to control.
I hate that we all have to live this way, and how the government functions like a mafia. Forcing individuals to live within a ridged set standard-rules. Claiming it’s an administration, when in fact it’s tyranny, where the people with power don’t have to obey the same laws that everyone else does.   [If I poison a whole towns water supply, I’m a criminal, but when the governor does it, it’s merely a ‘water crisis’ and he stays in office].
In other countries, it’s called corruption, but here it’s just politics. Bribery is how our politics work. Money can make anything happen.
For a lot of us, Tiny houses represent a way out. If I live in one, I’ll never have to get roped into a 30-year mortgage payment, and I’ll be able to save all the money I would have otherwise spent on a house. The word mortgage is derived from 2 French words: mort- death, and gage- pledge. Meaning the person will be paying off this debt until they die. And I think we would ALL really like to not be burdened by debt for the rest of our lives.

The Discomforts of Life, and Death

Culture is a strange thing. Seemingly arbitrary rules that we’ve all agreed to obey and live by. Most of us live everyday of our lives in general discomfort. Forced to live within the parameters of socially accepted normalcy. Not just for safety reasons, but also social expectations; 40-hr work week, predictable housing situations, technology dependence, marriage, family, taxes, debt. Obedience and conformity.
The peer pressure keeps us coordinated. Each age-group demographic  has different social expectations, and failing to meet those expectations exposes a person to social ridicule.
Children are expected to play nicely, and go to school. Adult men are expected to be good providers for their family, adult women are expected to bear children. Society would look unfavorably at a man who stays home with children, or a woman who had a career instead of a family, or a child who is poorly socialized.   Society’s micro aggressions makes life difficult for people to live outside the social norm.
So ‘live in it’ we must, or otherwise die.
‘Needless killing’ has long since been considered  evil, but our culture has repeatedly accepted ‘murder’.      Our justice system includes death penalties. Our law enforcers are known to use deadly force in the line of duty. Our military conflicts largely go without consequence. Our religions have long histories of torture and holy massacres. Our social culture applies ‘justice-violence’ /‘vigilante-vengeance’, yet somehow, suicide is frowned upon.
Demonstrating that our society wants us to live, but only if we’re obedient, and our culture is prepared to kill us if we disrupt the prevailing standards. It’s a fine-line. We are allowed to be individuals, but not behave individually. It’s like how gun ownership is considered an American right , but having one with you makes you a threat to society.

It’s comforting to know that living quietly and conventionally will not impact  society, and our culture will continue to change into a homogeneous mass. Clearing out the abnormal variations until conformity is absolute.
All the day to day complications we experience in life will not matter in the future, and will eventually fade away from everyone’s memory. I wish people would be more transparent about the predictable suffering that goes along with life, and the inevitability of death that we all must face.

Everyone Suffers From Something At Some Point

As Americanized as we get, I think maintaining some level of cultural connection is enormously important to a person’s self-identity.  Having genuine ethnic customs makes a person less susceptible to the trendy nonsense of the modern consumeristic age. And knowing the historical values and cultural traditions of your ancestors influences that types of philosophies you practice as an adult.
I’ve just read a New York Times bestseller book by Thanhhà Lại, called: Listen, Slowly. It’s a multicultural young-adult book about a Vietnamese-American tweenaged girl begrudgingly spending a summer in Vietnam. The book chronicles the inner thoughts of a 12 year old girl, as she experiences a rural village in a foreign country.

It incorporates several culturally conflicting  thoughts that I have personally experienced being an American child born of immigrants.  I’ve always been grateful for my multiethnic heritage because of the unique standpoints it gives me, and because the Americanized kids I grew up neighboring couldn’t decide what was truly important in life.  They were trendy, and wasteful, and they took a lot of things for granted.
Whereas the book observes that people in Vietnam behave differently, people are always together, everyone talks to everyone else, there are no secrets, there’s no privacy, No one complains, and there’s an inclination never to waste anything.   Something I enjoyed in the book was how gracefully people accepted the concept of ‘suffering’. “[Grandma] Bà says everyone suffers from something at some point”.
The comforts of the first-world have made us picky and inefficient. Spoiled incompetent children grow up and become spoiled incompetent parents.    I’ve always expected immigrant families to have stricter parenting techniques because of fewer contingency options available to them. The pressure to succeed is highest when the whole family is working together. “Co Den tay, Phai, Phat” Flag in hand, must wave it”. This enthusiasm to ‘do whatever you can’ is lost on Americanized youths, because their families merely expect them to ‘be children’, instead of ‘adults in training’.

Never Good Enough For Her

My mom has a vision of what perfection is, and she chooses to ignore things that don’t fit into her vision. Yet nothing is ever good enough for her. She refuses to believe that the people close to her have actual problems, perhaps because she’s too selfish to think of them, but most likely because those problems don’t fit into her ideas of perfection. She has shamelessly tried to redecorate other people’s homes, or influence their choices, or instruct them on how to be ‘better’, because she feels the current state of things aren’t good enough. She acts as if she’s helping, and expects everyone to be appreciative of her ‘help’.

Another example: I have a somewhat serious allergy, yet she still brings ‘triggers’ into my house, and then innocently tries to blame various other things when I break out in hives. She pretends this allergy doesn’t really exist, because my ‘problems’ are inconvenient for her. The most pressing thing is that  my brother is getting married this month. It’s is exactly  the type of typical conservative-conventional thing that mother wants, and yet, she is still enormously displeased with the situation. It’s just not perfect enough for her to be happy about.    It’s not enough that my brother has a home, and a bride, and the promise of grandchildren, because she wants ‘something better’. Even though she wants us to be old-fashioned [home, marriage, family], she is still incessantly  trying to sway him Not to marry this particular woman.  There is no pleasing her. Nothing is ever good enough.

With all the ‘baby fever’ that’s been going around, she recently demanded that I break off my relationship, because marriage and family wasn’t on the itinerary. “Find someone you want to have kids with”, she said, as if that was my primary function in life. She seemed truly distressed when I told her that I didn’t think I would ever get married. Not that I haven’t thought about it, but I think the world today is too messed up to bring children into.
Times have changed,  and Millennials just can’t afford the same luxuries that our parents’ enjoyed 30-years ago. In this scenario, a ‘home and family’ are a luxury. The house I am currently renting was built in the 1960s [for less than $40k], both my parents were able to buy houses like them in the early 1980s [for less than $180k]. But now the same 50-year old house costs $550k, as is. A decent house in this city costs 1 million dollars. But my mom doesn’t see barriers, and promptly decided that I need to move out of state, for the purpose of having an affordable house, so that I can afford to have a family, and so she could get exactly what she wants.
A younger me would’ve tried to do everything she asked, but now all I see is a self-centered  brat who’s  always having a tantrum.

Healthcare Costs in America

I am a healthy single adult Millennial with an average full time job, and  I spend about 8% of my income on healthcare [medical/dental/vision], which I get through my work. If I were to have a spouse, it would be 12%; and if I were to have a spouse and children, it would be 25% of my income. The cost of renting an apartment in this region is between $1500-$2500 per month. Which can be reduced by splitting costs with a spouse or roommate.
It’s fair to say that I can afford myself, but I cannot afford a to have a family.
But more importantly, the costs of additional healthcare services would be devastating if ANYTHING were to change for me.     If I were to get sick for a length of time,  I would not be able to afford both the extra healthcare costs and housing. I would go into debt trying to pay for both, and become homeless within 6 months.
If I were to marry and try to support a spouse and child, I would only be able to afford the basics for the family [home and health]. My spouse would have to work in order to pay for everything else; the groceries, child expenses, child care, home utilities, phones, internet, cars, gas, ect. And if there was ever a time when this hypothetical family didn’t have 2 incomes, then we would go into debt, and possibly become homeless.

In this scenario, I am fully employed and still not be able to support a family. If I were to become a single parent, the same problem would occur; I would be ineligible for government aid, because I am fully employed.
I am fortunate enough to have friends/family nearby who could help me in a time of crisis, but I imagine there are those who aren’t as fortunate.  Our social structure simultaneously urges everyone to marry and reproduce, while providing no resources to make it possible.
I don’t like the idea of living in a system that makes people choose between health and home. It’s too intolerant to be effective. The whole point of universal healthcare is that everyone has access to predictably priced care; but in reality it’s not, and this service is so unpredictably expensive that it comes at the cost of stable housing. We are living in a fear-based culture, where ill people are declining to seek care because of the uncertainty of the associated costs.
The bulk of my expenses go to rent and living costs/regular bills of predictable amounts: water, gas, electricity, home security, car, ect. It’s difficult to say which ones I would prioritize if something came up. If a bill arrived in my mail for some emergency health service [in the amount equivalent to 2-3 months’ rent], how would I pay for everything, and not fall short somewhere else?

Medieval Township

I can’t see a happy future in a consumeristic world, where we’ve sacrificed every form of quality for cost efficiency reasons. I think that I’d have a better life if I wasn’t living in a modern tech society.  A friend told me about her friend who’s a master sword fighter, and how he plans on opening a Medieval township park. This idea interested me.
After years of watching The Walking Dead, I had been mentally preparing for an apocalypse, not time travel. But let’s take a moment to think about the Medieval ages.
-Also known as the Middle ages, it’s the 1,000-year time period  between the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Renaissance [5th century – 15th century]. It had the Byzantine Empire, feudalism, kings, crusades, Christians, Vikings, Marco Polo, Gothic architecture, and the plague. It was a transitionary period, not prominently known for artwork [like the Romans or Renaissance], but it was important for the formation of the small government-lordship hierarchy. Somewhat Game of Thrones-y. With the lack of a unified Empire, people turned to newfangled beliefs to find law and order, so naturally, there were a lot of small group/religious conflicts.

The Middle Ages and The Walking Dead have a lot of the same themes involving conflict and struggle; both resemble the wild west, lawless and harsh, with no reliable infrastructure. I can see why a master sword fighter would be attracted to this macho time period, it was filled with combat and glory [and little else]. No science innovations can be made while war and crisis are always imminent.  Not exactly what I had in mind.

I was thinking a simpler life would be better for me. Something with more gardening and less packaging. I’ve seen buildings in Europe that are 1,000 years old and still beautiful, and houses here in America only 50 years old that are falling apart. Cost efficient, low quality housing, just another a consumer good, becoming more disposable every day. Maybe I should buy a plot of land and lease space to tiny house dwellers. Become a land lord, like the serf lords of the medieval ages.

Automation and Education

Automation is going to replace factory jobs. Low skill manufacturing work will soon go extinct. Just like the coal miner jobs went away after new technology was invented. Improving our educational system is more important than ever, now that there is no place in society for low-skill workers. Schools need to reintroduce trade-profession classes so that teens who are not college-bound have real career options.

Schools have been around forever, but it was only about 100 years ago that high school was No longer just a precursor to college. After 1910, vocation education was added to the high school curriculum as a mechanism to train the technicians/skilled workers for the industrial sector [following WW1]. By 1940, half of teens earned high school diplomas, learning essential skills for careers in white collar and high-paying blue collar jobs.
But the education ‘boom’ is followed by ‘the bust’, and after 50 years, this institutional method of education is no longer effective. Schools have fallen victim to bureaucratic budgetary disasters, and the educational quality has suffered. The last 20 years of public education has been ineffective as school resources lag behind the high-tech age of computers.
Educational cuts have left schools with bare minimum core academic courses. High school no longer teaches relevant technical skills for trade professions. Even blue collar factory jobs these days require moderate-advanced computer literacy.     Our modern culture expects everyone to go to college to learn those same essential skills that our grandparents learned in high school.
People like to say that younger generations NEED to get a higher education, but what they mean to say is that educational institutions are so weak that you need to have more of it to be just as competent as previous generations were with just a GED.

College looks impressive on paper, but it actually sinks generations of people into massive college-debts. [College prices have increased 400% since the 1970s]. This debt postpones other milestone events, like home purchases.
Two generations ago you didn’t even need a high school diploma to get a decent entry level job, but now most jobs require a college degree and several years’ experience. Which means that today’s high school diploma is worthless.  It would be more efficient to just send teens straight into junior college after their 10th grade exit exam. In the same 2 years, they could have an Associate’s degree and been better off than if they had just had a GED.