The Broad is Back!

September 26, 2008

A Different Ground Zero

Filed under: New Broads,politics,protest,students,Uncategorized — by maggiec @ 5:18 pm

Finally, after 13 years, I’m back to living in New York.  And while I now work close to Ground Zero, I also work within spitting distance of the new Ground Zero–Wall Street.  I came back to America just in time for a financial meltdown. I also got myself a ring side seat.

I work in the Wall St. area.  People are stressed, businesses are already closing.  My students tell me that their workplaces and their parents’ workplaces, many of which are service industries, are letting people go, cutting hours, doing anything to stave off going in the red.  My students are worried about their parents, about their children, about their futures.

I tell myself I’m in a recession-proof job, but that’s just something I tell myself to get through the day.  Mayor Bloomberg just announced a series of severe  budget cuts, and whaddya know?  I work for the city.  He says that city workers won’t lose their jobs, but he certainly doesn’t mean adjunct professors.  Not a field with job security.  I don’t worry overly much, but the threat is there for spring term.

I’m teaching all composition courses now, and I’ve taken as the theme for this term “An Historic Election”.  I have my students reading up about the election, paying attention to what’s going on, and thanks to the past two weeks, all hell has broken out.  I’m not forcing anyone to read any more.  They come in bursting to talk, needing to vent their frustrations, fears and anger.  Many of them realize that they started paying attention at the critical moment.

Every day I think of more and more I want to write here.  And almost every day passes without me even logging on to this site.  The sheer work of making a living is wearing me down, keeping me from having time to think and then to write.  A former colleague in Massachusetts had a theory that today’s college students don’t want to apathetic; they have no choice.  They have to work longer and harder to be able to afford a college education.  Being an activist is a luxury they can’t afford.  I’ve become much more sympathetic to his view.  Being a writer and a social commentator is something I can’t afford, either.

When I think of my quality of life in America vs my quality of life in Sweden, I truly have to question coming back here.  I can’t believe I’m actually writing that.  I can barely accept that I’m contemplating moving back there.  I try to remember how much I struggled being there, how hard it was to make it, and I almost think: stay put.  But then I remember that I have no health insurance and a need to see a doctor.  I think, gee, I had national health.  It wasn’t great, but it was better than nothing.

My husband is still waiting for his visa to come to the US.  It might be a year or more before he gets it so we wait.  We’re not the first nor the only to have to do this, but getting a visa to live with him in Sweden took a few months.  Of course, a lot more people want to move to the US than want to move to Sweden, but we’ve been married 10 years.  I think it’s safe to assume he didn’t marry me for the green card.  But while we wait, America crashes around me.  If he gets to come to the US, will he ever get a job?

The picture is bleak.

Tonight is the presidential debates.  Like many Americans, I will be glued to the TV.  I’ve already made up my mind about who to vote for, but I still have to see what happens with my own eyes.  It should be interesting.

In the meantime, I live in the shadow of Ground Zero, where seven years ago institutions were crashed and left in ruins.  Now we relive it on a metaphorical level, but the ones who “did this” to us were ourselves.

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