Slipping away - the American Dream?

This evening I had one of those moments where events of the day all seemed to fit together like pieces of a puzzle, but the picture before my eyes nearly brought tears to my eyes. Earlier in the day I had felt the frustration of being a woman with drive, determination in seeking out the opportunity that calls us all to go after the American Dream, but, unfortunately, around every corner was the frustration of  feeling like I am running into all the liars, cheats, and scam artists there are - That balloon of hope that keeps a person going and floating over the despair was slipping out of my hand.

"Yes, Eva, you picked a hell of time in history to forge out on your own from the financial security a marriage offers....," was the thought that kept crossing mind.

You see all that is happening right now, all this turmoil in Wisconsin - quite frankly scares the shit out of me. I may not be in a union - it might not be my personal collective bargaining rights on the line, but I know deep down that this is the start of a trend. A trend downward from the already dismal economic reality that has been before us for quite some time.

Gas prices out of control - food prices rising even more rapidly than gas and if unions are busted here in Wisconsin we can expect that wages in all sectors will remain at a standstill - Whether you want to believe it or not, unions help to set a standard when it comes to wages in all sectors. They always have.

There's a reason why the average person isn't really making much more than they did a decade ago...two decades's because of union busting. As union jobs dwindle so has the middle class.

Yesterday evening I was watching the Ed Schultz show and I nearly fell off the couch when he reported on that fact. It's been something I've known for a very long time (thank you daddy) - so to see someone put it out the way he did, well confirmation is always a good thing...I think.

So this morning as that heavy feeling of what could become of life and that American Dream settled in my mind I did manage to go about my day and attempt to push on and forward...summon up that drive that has made me the survivor I have been these past few years on my own.

Moving on with my day included covering an event here in my community. A rally against the Budget Repair Bill Governor Walker is attempting to ram through. It's the second Friday in a row that here in Juneau County, Wisconsin - in Mauston, the county seat of an extremely conservative area, that hundreds of people gathered around the old courthouse and protested...held a rally.

Speakers spoke - those average hardworking citizens who all they want is to be heard. The audience cheered them on for telling their stories, sharing their emotions, and most importantly for being there with each other in holding on to that balloon - that balloon of hope - the American Dream.  

In an odd sense it was comforting to be surrounded by people who "get it"  - who understand that if this bill passes, if labor ends up being buried in that sandbox by a bully, that life - the American Dream will never be the same again. 

When I am at these things, these events and while I am working, I am suppose to be just a fly on the wall - taking in everything but not showing my emotions, my opinion. I stand with my pen and paper and document what my eyes see and my ears hear.

I have gotten pretty good at that - even though this is a small community, and I know everyone who knows me knows where I stand - but,.  I did my job as I took comfort in knowing I wasn't alone in my fears - It was so extremely hard to NOT put down that pad of paper and camera and pick up a sign - that grassroots organizer in me so wanted to take that bull horn and lead the crowd in a chant. My way of wanting to keep a firm grasp on that balloon of hope, the American Dream.

Justin, my eldest son, was with me at the event. He took part as I absorbed. Afterwards we went out for some coffee, just him and I. A treat at the end of a very long week - coffee. When we walked into the small cafe and I sat down, I saw something....someone....and my heart sank. It was a woman, a young mom, who just some few months ago I had helped through Lend a Hand - the organization an article I wrote just over a year and half ago that led to a organization to help our county's homeless population.

There she was with her young children and significant other. She was with the very same person who had threaten her life, pushed her around and left bruises on her skin and spirit just a few months ago...the reason she sought out help. She was determined to leave the abuse, but around every turn was those hurdles that so many women face  when they leave - the very same ones that weighed heavily on my mind this morning - financial security.

I sat there sipping my coffee, watching her young children chatter away...I noticed how tired she looked, and how stern he appeared. A part of me wanted to reach out to her when he got up and went to the washroom - I knew she had seen me when we walked in - She was attempting not to look my way - I could sense her shame, a shame that she shouldn't be carrying around. But then that thought went through my head...."What do I tell her"  - Run? There's help? There's hope? There's a better life out there? And what would my answer be when she asked me where.....where does she run to.....where's the help.....where's the better life????

Deep down I know the answer is there....I know it's better to leave abuse than stay - but for the first time in my life I knew I would be speechless if she asked me.  I also know that when she is ready, she will leave - I told her that the last time she came for help - maybe I wasn't meant to say something this time - maybe all that was meant to be was her needing to see me, and be reminded that help is out there still and maybe I needed to be reminded of that shame a woman living in abuse feels....that shame that is not hers to own.

Maybe I just have to have faith in that saying that has kept me moving forward throughout all that life has thrown my way..."Everything Happens for a Reason."  -

Who knows........

But until that answer reveals itself, pay attention................


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