What have your experiences been like? Pls share below.
Hi Everyone! Rosann Cunningham has reviewed the book, Waiting for Change. I thought you’d want to see her comments!
Check out my “Undercover Pol” blog post at the Califonia Labor Federation this week.
Enjoy! Let me know your thoughts here too!
Not that long ago I was asked to do an interview on Mixx 96 FM‘s Dick Pust about the book, Waiting for Change. It was flattering, exciting — and of course, always a little nerve racking. Having been such a recluse for so long these last few years, I was not used to being extroverted, gregarious “me” but rather the quiet, solitary soul who can curl up on a couch for hours on end reading.
Dick was kind, of course, and allowed me to share the story of the book – the story of so many of the 99%. But towards the end, he did ask “so are you giving up hope that things will get better?”
I blathered something about yes, but… and rambled about the Washington DC political gyrations and how so many of them have lost sight of what — or rather who — they are working for: not partisan bickering but rather the obligation to work in their constituents’ interests, stating that I could not believe that if a Congressperson were to live and walk in the shoes of those who are living hand to mouth, those who have been so negatively affected by the economy and the financial meltdown, that I could not see how it would be possible for them to continue on with their stalemates.
Since then, I wonder though. Am I really hopeful? Do I think it’s possible for Congress to put its bickering aside and really work for the people? Maybe … but maybe I too am losing hope. I see so many people who apply hundreds of times – only to get no where. I see so many panhandlers on the street — far more than I ever saw when I first moved to Olympia. And I, too, feel the pinch every time gas prices go up, or the kids outgrow their shoes, or a new “ding” in the car engine starts sounding.
So many living hand to mouth. So few resources. So few jobs. I feel like in some ways we’re waiting for Superman (yes, allusion to the documentary meant here)… but will he ever come?
I’ve been blogging lately for other websites who are also discussing the challenges the 99% face in today’s economy. Here is one at the blog site “From Prada to Payless” that was featured on NPR (you might remember this – it’s discussed in the book.)
Editor’s Note: This is a recurring series of excerpts from the book, Waiting for Change. To purchase the book, please visit Amazon.com.
As academics, reporters, or researchers, we often avoid messy “feelings” as to avoid coloring their reporting. “Feelings” are messy, fuzzy, and inconsistent. How do you quantify the depth of “feeling” involved in living through years of unemployment? How do you put that into context? Which was worse? Losing your home? Or the dissolution of your marriage due to the financial stress you experienced? The researcher’s perspective in this particular type of work, however, is acceptable – but not easily categorized or quantified. But it’s not the kind of research that typically yields easy sound bites, and can be easily refuted as “just one person’s experience” or “an exception.”
But we should remember that history isn’t solely a bunch of statistics and dates on a timeline. The fundamental basis for history is that it IS a STORY. Stories have characters. Stories reveal motivations. Stories can find resolution in the oddest of ways. Some stories go unresolved, plagued with lingering issues that revisit the characters again, and again, and again. And sadly, some stories never find the just and happy ending we might wish for.
So the story of a nation – the facts and figures and events of the day – then needs to be interwoven with the events of what life was like, even if for only one person – to be able to paint a more holistic, meaningful picture of what this monumental turning in America has been like.
Perhaps none of that matters though. In the end, perhaps the most important reason to document this experience is so that in 15, 20, or even 30 years from now, my own children will understand how painful life was during a time when they could not possibly comprehend the mind-numbing professional rejection. Perhaps it can serve as a time capsule to document the gut-wrenching sorrow of destroyed lives. Maybe such a recording of one history, even if it is only mine, can share with them a raw example of loneliness while trying to survive and recover during The Great Recession.
This book, then, centers on five key areas of the human experience – housing, sustenance, employment, children, and our social support systems. Certainly other topics could have become the focus of other chapters as well. This writing, then, attempts to explore how these areas of one’s life can be so drastically impacted – irrevocably altered – by job loss and the continuing drag of the Great Recession we’ve all experienced in a myriad of different ways.
This is a story seen across the country. It’s not a story that’s just been merely ripped from the headlines.
It’s a story that’s happening to thousands of people every day. It’s not just a study of news stories or statistics.
It’s a story of interaction and reaction to the day’s events, providing context and color for the time. It’s not just a series of tips for survival.
It’s a story that would otherwise just be a footnote to the statistics reported on the 6 o’clock news.
This story just happens to be mine.
WILLIAM HENRY BEVERIDGE, Full Employment in a Free Society
Occassionally I will share reader letters (with permission) to highlight what others are gleaning from the book, Waiting for Change.” Here is one such letter.
Dear Ms. McCale,
I just finished reading your book- Waiting for Change. Thank you for lending your voice and empathetic clarity to a subject felt and endured by so many. As I read your words, they resonated deep inside of me. I too have watched what is happening and have sat bewildered and saddened about how we as a nation can make the issue of poverty, unemployment and healthcare a means by which to compartmentalize our own communities; ever-widening the gap once again between moral integrity and social obligation, and leaving a hole for our own citizens to fall victim to. You were able to put into words the experiences, feelings and experiences many are having, or have had in such a way, as to lend dignity and compassion where often times, there is nothing but misguided judgement, anger and despair. It was a honor to read your book– thank you for your bravery and honesty . Wishing you and your family much success.
Yours in peace always–