Saturday, October 16


I confess I'm as nervous as a cat these days about my job. We have a new CEO who's not comfortable working with women (I believe that a natural shyness is at least part of this), and although I admire his intelligence and business acumen greatly and have had a generally warm feeling towards him for the 16 years we've been acquainted, new CEO's have a way of wanting their own people around them. I well remember when I breeched the six-figure salary mark and my teenaged-at-the-time son (you guessed it, Silmarill) asked me, "Well Mom, are you going to vote Republican now?" He was pleased (and, I think, proud) when I responded adamantly in the negative. If I were in the over-$200,000-per-year bracket that John Kerry plans to roll back the Bush tax reductions on, it wouldn't change my fervent support for Kerry. The fact is, I can taste that bracket -- and as a woman, it's not just the money involved, it's the recognition of my value that beckons so tantalizingly. But I am even more aware of the transitory nature of employment in this business environment, and when corporate profits are less than expected, the soft disciplines such as marketing and public relations are usually the first to see their budgets, and personnel, disappear.

So I identify with every worker out there in that The Sage and I have five almost-grown children, some of whom still need some financial assistance from us, a home we love, retirement dreams for the future, and fears that something will happen that will prevent us from realizing or enjoying any of those. Like most of the middle class, we have, for the most part, followed the approved succession of life events: doing well in school, bringing honor to our parents; adhering to our faith and enlarging upon our understanding of it; competing and succeeding in publicly accepted arenas such as athletics, academics and even beauty pageants; marrying someone of approved social credentials (not for that reason, though!); giving birth to beautiful, smart, independent, popular children (though more than the agreed-upon acceptable number -- five IS so excessive!); devoted to an evangelical Protestant church for many years; charismatically disarming our conservative friends and neighbors with our liberal politics; working hard in our jobs to support our family despite the normal stresses and disappointments, sharing with one another our joys and sharing our worries; and staying close to our large extended family, from whom we receive, and to whom we give, unremitting love and support, through all of life's tribulations. And over and through it all, our constant and unwavering faith in the God who has borne us through triumphs and failures and given us love and deliverance, has brought us through.

We're an average American family. We've faced it all in our extended highly-religious family: birth defects, AIDS, homosexuality, divorce, coma and life-and-death decisions, drug abuse and rehab, children rejecting our Christian faith, fatal and near-fatal childhood diseases, military call-ups, cancer, job losses, alcoholism, wealth, depression, estrangement from loved ones, loss of wealth, imprisonment of a loved one, heart attacks, lawsuits, abandonment, bankruptcy, infidelity, intolerance smothered by caring, struggles to find sources of college tuition money, strokes, you name it. A large Southern family, no matter its pedigree, usually has enough stories to fuel a mini-series with no need to embellish. Mine, I'm proud to say, though imperfect seems to keep learning and growing in love. At some point, even the proudest family has to say, "Where do we get off judging others when we've confronted the same challenges in our own lives?"

So here we are. We watch the debates to see if either candidate will say something that actually touches our lives, that offers hope for improvement. We're thrilled when John Kerry seems to understand what we're going through, and we're disgusted but not surprised that Furious George doesn't. We have five young adult children who are of draft age should one be reinstituted, although we expect that our oldest son's cerebral palsy will provide him with an exemption. That still leaves us with four in peril, and it doesn't exempt his wife, mother of their 14-month-old son and pregnant with their second child. Our lives, as are the lives of most Americans, are complicated, and the presidency can have real consequences upon our collective future.

Another four years of Bush-Cheney is unthinkable. But we do think about it. And we surf the Internet for information about emigration, just in case.

I favor Mexico, so we won't be so far from those family that remain in the U.S.. The Sage is intrigued by New Zealand, which isn't encouraging immigrants. Too bad. Australia is. But what's so different between Bush and Howard? Not interested. We'll keep looking.


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