Thursday, September 27, 2012


The Pew Research Center released a new study today on student loan debt, which has mushroomed in the past five years. he Pew Research analysis finds that “whether computed as a share of household income or assets, the relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum [emphasis mine], even though members of such households are less likely than those in other groups to attend college in the first place.”

I read this and it just infuriates me. I know that colleges and universities do the best they can to put together financial aid packages for students that come from families of limited means. Back in the dinosaur days when I went to college, I received a generous package comprised of some grant money, a work-study job, and a couple of student loans. My parents did not contribute any cash, because they didn’t have any. I didn’t expect them to; I worked all summer to make sure I would have some money to buy books and I was pleasantly surprised when my grandparents gave me a check for a few hundred dollars when they dropped me off at my dorm.

My family expected me to go to college and to finance it in whatever way possible. I accepted this; I was very eager to go to college, and very eager to leave it when the time came. I was able to get a decent entry-level job and was horrified by how much of my check was eaten up by my pesky student loan payments. It never occurred to me not to pay them, or to negotiate their amount in any way. However, the burden of that student loan debt made me leery of going to graduate school, which I regret today. I pinched pennies and paid my undergrad loans off over a period of ten years; and I was thrilled at that point, in my early thirties, to feel I could begin to contribute to a regular savings account, and pay cash for things like TVs, and contribute to my 401K.

Sweet Dub went to law school straight from undergrad, and we will be paying off his student loans for the rest of our lives, it seems -- if we ever get back to paying them off, as he has deferred them since he was laid off in 2010.

A higher degree used to translate into a higher standard of living. The Pew numbers are really discouraging for--well, pretty much anyone. But I feel the pain particularly of those college students who come from low-income families that can’t help them out of the hole post-graduation. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

Other studies have shown college graduates make 84 percent more over their lifespan than do high school graduates, and they have considerably better job prospects even during times of economic uncertainty. No need for alarm--if these statistics hold true in the future. I suppose only time will tell.

Monday, September 24, 2012


After a long couple of weeks during which the family has experienced more heartache and stress and back and forth from hospital to convalescent home to a different hospital (see here and here), Sweet Dub's stepmother elected today to take Dub Senior off of life support. She signed the papers and then she left.

This is not something I could ever imagine doing if it were my husband lying there, but then you never know what you would do in a specific situation unless you're actually in it, so I guess I can't judge.

Since Sweet Dub doesn't want his father to die alone, he is driving down to the hospital now to sit with his dad and hold his hand and talk to him, and hopefully his dad will be able to hear him or at least sense that someone who loves him is there with him. 

I have already taken three days off over the past couple of weeks and I know I will have to take more after Dub Senior passes on, so as ridiculous as this sounds, I have to stay in the office (I also have to go pick up the kids, let's not forget about them).

I just feel sick.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

End of Summer

Testing to see if I can add photos from my iPhone using BlogPress. These are some of my favorite shots from the summer of 2012:

Viva, of the ever-glowing skin.

This seems to be Ceeya's default pose.

Me and my sweetie.

Classic SoCal life station shot.

About to hit "post" -- here goes....

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smudge it!

Sweet Dub's dad has been moved to an extremely and utterly depressing convalescent home to, I suppose, convalesce. However, he is still pretty much almost completely paralyzed (limited movement in his right arm, and he can move his head from side to side but not turn his head all the way).

Things don't look good. In an ideal situation, he would have all the top experts monitoring his care and even if he were in a home such as this, it would be sparkling clean and quiet, with a view overlooking a transquil pond with duckies, and the entire facility would smell like gingerbread.

That is SO not the case here.

In one of my not so nice moments, I said to Sweet Dub, "Well, this is really all his fault anyway."

"What do you mean?" Sweet Dub said.

"He should have known better than to get sick while he was poor and black," I said. "I mean, what was he thinking?"

Sarcasm as a coping mechanism. Sometimes the ugliness just bubbles out.

Today, my office-mate brought me some dried sage so I can go home and cleanse the BlahBlahs of all the bad juju by burning it. I am seriously going to do it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Feeling Perkier


Are you familiar with this book? Felix stays up late and eats way too many chocolate Blimpies and in the morning he doesn't feel so hot. His mom gives him some sugared prunes to perk him up and, well:
"Not feeling perkier," says Felix.
Unfortunately, given my recent sad sack post and despite all the positive thinking I can muster, I too am not feeling perkier. Sweet Dub's father was rushed to the hospital last week, and it appears that he has suffered multiple mini-strokes over the past couple of weeks. He is almost completely paralyzed, including his esophagus, so he is unable to swallow.  He can't eat or drink, but he is horribly thirsty and dry-mouthed. Over the weekend it appeared this function was returning, so family members were providing him with water on a swab, and ice chips. Unfortunately it appears that due to the paralysis, when he "swallows," it's going straight into his lungs. So now he has fluid in his lungs and today Sweet Dub was told he can't take any food or drink by mouth ever. As in, the rest of his life.
As with most medical issues there is way more than I can go into here, but the end result is, after five days in the hospital things are not looking good.
Sweet Dub is not close to his father. Had I written about Dub Senior a few years ago, I might have nicknamed him Not-So-Sweet Dub, since they share the same name, but today that seems like kicking him while he is down, and I do have some standards, after all. But Dub Senior has not been very nice to people over the past couple of decades or so, and now that he is sick, it is difficult to rally people around him. Sweet Dub is calling on all his memories of his younger days, when his dad actually was sweet to him (oh those hazy childhood days when your parents were wonderful), to help keep him centered and to do the right thing.
That is what is uppermost in both our minds:  to do the right thing. But it's complicated and these are uncharted, ethically murky waters. He is not in any pain, but he can't eat or drink. The doctor says he wants to perform surgery to insert a feeding tube. We suspect this is because they need to get Dub Senior out of the hospital and into a convalescent home. It seems like a move that is contra-indicated in relation to common sense. Today, he is uncomfortable and can't eat but is being fed by IV. If he has surgery, he will be in pain, and there is always a danger of infection, and he'll still get sustenance through a tube. What we are all wondering is if it's worth it in terms of his quality of life.
Uncharted waters. We cling to our raft and peer at the sky and try to paddle in the direction of solid ground. I have never seen my husband so despondent. It is heartbreaking.