I’ve been away from my blog for about a month now because of a dream I had at the end of October. It was such a vivid dream that, when I described it to some friends, they all agreed it would make a fine story.
I filed it away and then came across a link for NaNoWriMo — what!?!? It stands for National Novel Writing Month which was in November. The idea is to write 50,000 words in one month. Why? To force you to do one of the hardest things there is to do in writing — sit down & write & stop making excuses for why you have no time. It’s true that 50,000 words is not a book but it’s a good way toward a book and, even if it’s not great, you’ve begun a book! Meanwhile, tens of thousands of others around the world are doing the same thing at the same time and it’s all charted on a handy graph.
I found it helpful and wrote for 30 continuous days, and came up with 50,000 words; that kept me away from my blog and, to some degree, Facebook. I’m trying to cut back on Facebook and will continue in the new year. I enjoy it for sure but I would rather write a book, if possible.
Meanwhile, I was quite taken with a five-part series The NY Times ran on a homeless 12-year-old girl in Brooklyn named Dasani. The series was riveting, well-written and reported with fine photographs. When the series opens, Dasani has been living in a one-room apartment in a Brooklyn shelter for three years with her mother, father and seven siblings.
And right there, of course, we have a problem, at least as far as I’m concerned. Who has eight children in New York (granted, they are a blended family but still…)? It would be hard for a middle-class family to find housing for ten in NYC, never mind one headed by parents who dabble in drugs and don’t seem to want to work.
Am I blaming the parents? Yes, to some extent. It’s true that city policies have exacerbated the situation but I think, when you have a family as dysfunctional as this one is, nothing short of a full-time life coach will make a difference. I know a lot of people will argue with this but, really, what is the city to do? Provide a permanent 4-bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood for parents who don’t want to work? Some would say ‘yes.’ Not me.
But the series did get me to think a lot about the how working class families can possibly make it in a city that uber-expensive and has few low-cost housing options. The truth is, you need to be lucky in housing to live in New York. The other factor that would help a whole bunch is a minimum wage of $15 an hour. I am absolutely in favor of this. It’s only fair to give people a wage that will provide dignity and the desire to work.
Everyone in New York was talking about this series and of course, reporters asked Mayor Bloomberg about it. Here’s his quote: “This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not,” he told Politicker, calling her plight “a sad situation.”
At first blush, I thought that was harsh but the more I thought about it, the more I feel Bloomberg is right. Luck plays a huge part in our lives and is not something people like to admit because we have no control over it. Look back at your life and it’s scarey how minor decisions ultimately set us off on major paths.
The child in the series — Dasani — has nothing to do with the poor choices her parents made. It was just bad luck to be born into that family. We need to help her but I think the answer is not more welfare but education and a living wage.
Those of us are lucky have a responsibility to help those who are not. I don’t think the answer is by paying more taxes (I would prefer if incoming Mayor de Blasio targeted corporations and commuters for new taxes) but by working toward and speaking out in favor of a fair minimum wage for every working person in America. And if corporate profits go down, well so be it. We have enough billionaires to last us a lifetime.
Oh yeah, Happy New Year!