in my (all things considered, relatively few) years here on this earth, i have gone through various phases of beliefs. systems of beliefs, beliefs in systems, convictions, restrictions, critiques, criticisms, skepticisms. lots of -isms. i have tried religions & political positions & cultures & languages & in between all of these wardrobe changes it/s made me closely examine the naked truth. what i look like under all these layers & what all these (possible) layers look like on me.
i go through this frustrating cycle. in my own country, i feel hopeless. i feel voiceless, i feel pointless, i feel useless. i feel like our values are being compromised so we can buy tee-shirts for $3.99 at wal-mart, while young female factory workers in bangladesh are being paid 17 cents a day to be abused by male guards in sweat-shop conditions. i feel like there is something wrong with a system that rejects health care claims for ground zero volunteers suffering from post-9/11 trauma because they weren/t on the payroll when the airplanes hit. there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that doesn/t look after its children, its sick, its elderly, its poor. we have no respect for our past & no regard towards our future.
where exactly does that leave us?
all this fear (fear of failure, of being sick, of being poor, of being unpopular, of being different, of being the same, of being a nobody, of being spectacular, of death, of life, of love, of loss; shit we/re trained to fear a lot...) has left a bitter taste in my mouth. it makes me lean toward the assumption that what i really should be fearing is the government itself.
i have since changed my opinion. i should not be fearing the government. for within a true democracy, it is the government itself that protects the people. and what i fear (or dislike, distrust, rather, for fear gives them the power they want) is not a democratic government, but an oligarchy. it is the system that surrounds me in the "land of my fathers" (and my actual father, for that matter): the government of the united states of america.
remy got a call from the insurance company the other day. i/m not sure if any of you have been following our leaky ceiling deal, but as soon as i heard it was the insurance company, i became tense. i am still receiving medical bills from a visit that should have been covered by insurance months ago, and anyone even remotely familiar with the monopoly held by insurance companies in the states will understand why a phone call from an agent will make one cringe. i sat tensely in the bedroom listening to remy pace in the kitchen, trying to follow one end of an unwanted conversation. "but it/s his insurance that is covering it," he kept saying. "no no no." i knew we had it coming. and with our two limited incomes, it couldn/t possibly be good.
apparently i, once again, misjudged the "communist" system of government here in france. in fact, the insurance company was not telling us that we were going to have to pay an absurd amount of money to hire someone to repair a problem that was not even caused in our own apartment. no no, they were trying to give us money. even though it/s not us that needs to solve the problem. even though it/s not us that has hired a surveyor, etc. they still wanted to give us money. $1500 to be exact. well, euros, really, which means about $2500 in USD. remy, being the just, honest, true person he is, wouldn/t accept it. crazy socialist frenchmen these days, i swear. they continued to insist. i/m still not really clear on whether or not we will be sent a check.
i had to have an intense health examination to get my residence card. including a full pulmonary radiograph (basically an x-ray of my chest) and full medical exam. what did i pay for these exams? exactly $0.00. no payment to be reimbursed. nothing. zip. nada. and i/m not even a citizen.
remy & i were trying to figure out a way for him to come spend a good chunk of time in the states next year. to visit my friends & family, to brush up on his english, to learn about "the american dream". my mom mentioned perhaps studying would be a good way to get a visa that allows him to spend that kind of time in the northwest; student visa. sounds like a good idea, maybe a little pricey, but at least a start.
let me interject (as i have a tendency to do) that in france, when dealing with numbers (including finances) commas are replaced with periods. this fact can be a bit confusing if you are out of the loop. that means that 423,501 is really 423 dollars and roughly 50 cents. on the flip side in means that to a french person, looking at 22,351 means about 22 bucks and 35 cents. ok, back to the story.
so we/re looking up schools online. schools that might possibly accept him with his academic history, intentions for the future, etc. the search engine we/re using lists the schools with the price for 4yrs. remy is scanning the options & i/m shaking my head.
-no way. this is not going to work like we thought. much to expensive.
remy looks a little closer.
-well, i mean, twenty-three eighty-five isn/t so bad. i mean, that/s for four years, right?
-are you kidding me? where are we going to get twenty-four thousand dollars?
-four years at this school. $23,850. that/s roughly $24,000.
-uhh, it says right there, 24 dollars and 85 cents. that/s not so bad.
i laughed out loud. apparently 8 bucks a year is pricey for a college education in france.
ree. dick. you. luss. ridiculous.
free health care. free medication. free education. benefits for having children (the government will pay for a nanny to come watch your kid a few times a week with a newborn; the government pays your retirement if you have 3 kids or more, the list goes on). benefits for being married (besides the 5 weeks paid vacation every working citizen receives every year, the year you marry you get an extra paid week off for your honey moon). housing aid (not like, a loan, but just plain old money the government gives you so you can pay rent). and the country, its language & its people are freaking beautiful, actually happy and live MUCH longer lives than the average american! once again,
where exactly does that leave us?
it leaves me, at least, torn. part of me wants to leave the stripes & stars & amber waves of grain for fleurs de lis & a different blend of red, white & blue. but part of me wants to stay and fight the system. part of me is tired of being yet another voice in a chorus to deaf ears. but part of me isn/t ready to give up. part of me wants to pack my bags, and the bags of all my loved ones & get the hell out of that god-forsaken country as quickly as possible. but part of me doesn/t want to let them win.
i have yet to decide my fate. i suppose i/ll let the wind keep carrying me & see what new layers i can dig up.
a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...
oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.
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