Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Week 9: Taking the Plunge

Well, we've done it. We've become homeworkers.

Basically, being a homeworker means that we're given computers by the company to do our proofing and editing on, and then once a week come to the main building and turn in our work.* Which sounds like a good deal, I suppose. It also means no health care.

We're both relatively healthy--physically anyway. I've suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, and I don't know what I'll do now without being able to afford my medication. I don't know what to do--I could try something herbal, but I'm skeptical. On the other hand, what choice to I have?

And how can I not be depressed when things are going like they are? Jesus, what a hell of a time to buy a house.

On top of that, I've been taking birth control for years--and now? I don't know. If we can't afford contraception... God, I hate the thought of the rhythm method. But I'm not sure what else to do. It's not like there's many condoms around anymore--latex may not be made from oil, but transporting them takes as much oil as anything else. And oil is being diverted to emergency services and the military now--not to Trojan.

So we're homeworkers. We've canceled our cable, canceled our cell phones. We still have the internet, and rabbit ears work just as fine as when I was a kid in the '80s.

We're spending a lot of time around the house now. But at least I have time to tend the garden.

*Why they don't just have us email the work to them I don't understand. For an IT company, they're very scared of new technology. However, I think they're getting the idea that work is going to have to be emailed.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Week 8: Wither Canada?

My husband is part French Canadian. He doesn't actually know his French Canadian grandmother--she died before he was born. But he's been to Canada, and attributes his love of hockey to being part Canadian. And a Philadelphian in the 1970s (Go Flyers!).

Of course, his 13 hours in Canada consisted of having his truck broken into and stealing his birth certificate. It's a long story.

So hearing that we've invaded Canada, his first response is, "First we stole Wayne Gretzky... They won't like that."

So much for the longest peaceful border in the world.

They're talking about rationing, but no one seems able to get off their asses and get it started. My stepfather lived through the Depression and WWII--he remembers rationing. It can be done, it can even be orderly. But these days we're too goddamn stupid, greedy, and lazy to do it right.

We can be just as bad, Den and I. We want chips, we buy chips. We want pizza, we buy pizza. It's hard to break the habit. I've never thought of myself as an addict, but the idea of rationing just shows how addictive "freedom" is. I can't say that buying pizza whenever you want it is actual freedom--I don't know what it is. Middle class, I guess. But just that one little encroachment--"no, you can't gorge yourself anymore, you have to share with everyone"--is still hard for me to grok.

God, I'm hungry just thinking about it.

The garden is doing well. After a cold, rainy spring (with snow in April--I'm still bitter), June's been pretty good. The tomatoes and peppers are coming in OK. Haven't seen signs of the potatoes, and I hope the squirrels didn't eat them.

I know I need to learn how to can. Again, I'll be asking my stepfather. I feel lucky, knowing someone that connected to the past.

One last thing regarding shortages--I've been skipping some of my doses, so that I can slowly stockpile my meds. I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but if I can't get them normally, at least I'll have a small supply to ween myself off of them. You know, if it gets desperate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Week 7: Standin on the Corner, Waitin for the Bus

Say hey mister driver man
Don't be slow
Cause I got somewhere I got to go...

I don't know whether Septa is a boon or a curse. (I also don't know why I just used "boon" or "curse", but I think I should put down the damn fantasy books for a while.) Septa is notoriously badly managed--every two years or so they talk about funding shortfalls and rate hikes. I can't help but wonder where all the money is going, and I know I'm not the only one.

But having said that, Septa is all we've got. We need it--especially now. Since the crisis, Septa's been adding more buses and trolleys, and running the trains more frequently, but as Baltpiker points out, there's a labor shortage. We need more drivers.

And we need more trolleys. Having more buses on the road is good, but it's temporary. The oil is drying up. The LA Times said that there's no way to avoid fuel shortages now. So what good is a bus when you can't run it?

And that brings me to our problem. Den and I are stuck in Lansdale, and have to get to work in Horsham. Now, normally this wouldn't be a big deal, since Lansdale and Horsham are both right on Rt. 63--a straight shot. But there isn't a busline that goes down 63 from Lansdale to, say, Willow Grove (which is east of Horsham). The easiest way to get from Lansdale to Horsham is to take the R5 to Glenside, and the 22 bus up to Horsham. It's like taking the wrong sides of a triangle when you could just take one leg. The trip is theoretically over an hour one way--which, granted, could be worse, and often is, with the trains and buses being overcrowded.

I shouldn't have quit my job at Temple. An easy train ride down the R5, and I'd be at work in 45 minutes at the most. But no--I had to quit. I had to get away from my weaselly little boss. It sounded like a good idea at the time...

If the fuel runs out... Look, in Pennsylvania we're kinda lucky, because there are a lot of farms. Dairies, vegetables, poultry, we've got it. But do we have enough? Is everyone gonna descend on the farmers' markets this weekend? And a lot of stuff, a lot of vegetables, aren't even in yet and won't be until July or August.

The good news--and there is good news--is that Den finally got to pick up a bike. We were gouged on it, of course--$300 for a used
Cranbrook. But I don't see an alternative.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Week 6: Denial Ain't Just a River

Kate rides the trolley. She doesn't drive, doesn't even use the bus. She buys local food from a co-op. She says this won't affect her.

Kate works on the eighth floor of the EPA building. She is a record keeper; by night, she works on her MLS at Drexel. Eight floors being a long way up, she takes the elevator.

The air conditioning didn't seem to be working right. It was humid; the polyester shirt she wore stuck to her, not letting her skin breath, her sweat to escape. Four people got onto the elevator with her; at least one could use another shower. Kate tried to subtly breathe through her mouth, but that isn't something you can do subtly, and so she made her way to the back of the elevator so that none would notice.

Between the third and forth floors, the elevator stopped. Then the lights went out. "Crap--I've got a meeting in ten minutes," one of the men said.

"Eh, it'll be back on in a second."

"I thought they fixed the elevators," Kate said.

"That's not the elevators--that's the electricity."


They stood, shuffling a little, loosening collars, joking about the weather, the high gas prices. "See, that's why I live in the city and take public transportation," Kate said triumphantly.

"Yeah. The city's a great place to be when society's falling apart."

"Let it go, Paul," said a woman, who'd been silent until now.

"No--I mean it. The city was a cesspool before the crisis, and it's only getting worse. Did you hear about the shooting--"

"Which one?" Kate asked.

"Yeah. Exactly. Which one. And that was before--"

"Before the oil shock. Yes. We know."

"Three shootings a day. Did you know someone siphoned my car?"

"Huh?" said Kate.

"Siphon. Stole my gas. If I'd been there--"

"Yeah. God, it's stuffy in here. Do you think we'll run out of air?"

"I'm telling you," said Paul, "if it wasn't for the security in this building, I'd carry a handgun."

"Thank god for security," the woman said.

"Yeah? Let's see you say that when you get held up again. You were lucky last time."

The lights came on. The hum of the air conditioning kicked on. The elevator slowly lurched up to the sixth floor, and then the eighth.

Kate came to her desk, sat down, and opened her email. It was already a long day.