Monday, February 9, 2009

a nice day

Today was just about everything I imagined when I dreamed about what good could come of L's job situation. D woke up AFTER 6 AM. HOORAY. Okay, there are just not letters large enough to convey the size of that hooray. You'll just have to read them very very loudly in your head. So, anyway, today D woke up at a reasonable hour. I got up with him, we read books and played play-doh for a while, then L got up and took over for the remote-controlled car hour while I went and made breakfast for myself and D. L and D ate their breakfasts while I got going on work. L took D to nursery school, finished fixing our car (hooray!) and then took it to get inspected -- this time successfully -- while I got to continue to work. L picked up D, we all had some lunch together, D went to bed and L picked up the mess left in his workshop from his weekend furniture-building while I, yes, got to continue to work. When D got up, L and D played until almost 5, when I made dinner and then we ate. D got to watch an episode of Blue's Clues, L went to his blacksmithing class, and then I read books with D, gave him a bath, and put him to bed. I was happily productive, L got stuff done and then got to go hit red-hot metal, D had fun at nursery school and played with both of his parents. Awesome.

While we waited for D's bath to fill, we watched a little YouTube. D's favorite for the day was the following They Might Be Giants song:

(Getting into the bath, D observed that he would be seven when he grew up.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

political input

Hoping the moderation of our state's Republican senators works to our advantage, I sent an e-mail to Collins and Snowe in support of the stimulus. Go women of Maine!

Dear Senator:

I'm a constituent and I'm writing to ask you to support the stimulus bill.

I live on [x] St., which is a street in a residential. middle-class neighborhood near to downtown Portland. My husband and I have a toddler and this neighborhood is a very comfortable place for us to live as so many of our neighbors are right in our stage of life. Many of us are 30-somethings with one or two young children, owning our first home, college-educated and trying to succeed both at our jobs and in the life-work of being parents and responsible members of our community.

My husband was laid off in January; in this, he joined at least four other people on our street (that we know of) who have been laid off in the last few months alone. My husband is a cabinetmaker and as an aspect of registering for unemployment benefits (thank you State of Maine!) he signed up for the state job bank. Setting his search parameters at a 90-mile radius, he searched for any jobs that used any of his skills and found none. The area ninety miles from Portland includes most of southern Maine -- and southern New Hampshire too, for that matter. There is no work for woodworkers in all of the most populated parts of Maine and New Hampshire. That is a big problem for a state like ours which is nationally known for the expertise of its woodworkers. There are a lot of people here who have spent years and years becoming good at making beautiful cabinetry and there is no work for them now. Our neighbors are in a variety of different professions but the effect on them is the same: men and women who have already spent ten years of their lives on developing an area of expertise in order to support their new families, and now they are out of work because there is no work for them to do what they have been trained to do. It's pretty early in this process so the principal effect on the neighborhood has been a lot of extra dog-walking during the day. But eventually people won't be able to meet their mortgages, and who knows what will happen then. There aren't so many McDonald's in town that they can absorb all of the mid-career laid-off workers.

This is a situation unlike any that I have faced at any other time in my life -- or that occured in my parents' lifetime either, for that matter. We are at the edge of a frightening precipice right now and need you to take this seriously and not play politics with it to the extent that you can avoid doing so. Tax cuts are not enough. There was no work for the cabinet shops to do -- before my husband was laid off, he was just cleaning the shop every day for weeks. Tax cuts alone will not bring back the work he was doing, at least not in the immediate future.

We need a stimulus that will provide money for jobs in new areas in which people like us can develop expertise -- the weatherizing and energy conservation-remodeling jobs, for instance, happen to be a very good match for the legions of currently unemployed Maine woodworkers -- and we need it now, so that we don't all lose our houses waiting for things to happen. Please support the stimulus bill so that we can try to get on with the business of responding to the new economic conditions.

Thank you for your consideration.