Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Everything is sparkly and new. Or unfamiliar and anxiety-producing.

Finally decided I've had enough of just reading other people's blogs, lurking in the shadows. Time to dust this thing off and try it again...this dialogue with the universe that I call a blog.
We moved over the summer and are settling in (if that's even possible for a vagabond like me).
Takoma Park, MD met and exceeded many of my expectations, but of course, places are spaces full of people and people are full of contradictions. I bump into my own hypocrisy all the time.
One quality that attracted me to this area is that it's a progressive community of artists and activists, extremely diverse, and rich in culture.
Yet...yet...yet, what continues to divide people everywhere divides people here as well.
Money (or lack thereof). Race. Politics.
1) Money: There are home owners. And then there are the rest of us. It's ridiculously expensive to buy a teeny tiny home in this area. We will absolutely not be able to afford a home on Mr. Mad on a Gray Sea's professorial income alone. No big deal, right, I'll just go back to work next year when Noah starts kindergarten. But then, what about our hopes for another child? And when will I ever get out from under my gigantic, stupendous student loan debt? We will remain apartment dwellers for now, biding our time, trying to figure out where to fit and how to structure our lives.
2) Race: Beautifully gorgeous diverse people. Language barriers. Cultural barriers. Practically segregated neighborhoods. Corridors of crime. The aforementioned homeowners, predominantly white, drive their suv's to some important DC job while herds of ethnic nannies push white privileged wiggly babes in their designer strollers.
3) Politics: While it warms my little liberal heart to see so many Obama bumper stickers, Takoma Park certainly exposes the conflicts within the liberal community. The desire to help the poor or racial other(or to even equalize the playing field) doesn't seem quite in balance with the excessively large homes and perfectly manicured landscapes and waste and consumerism and snobbery and disregard for the environment.
Of course, I am harping on the negative aspects of an awesome place. It is awesome here.
There are activists and artists pushing for change and educating each other.
One example: a group of elementary school kids have been protesting the use of styrofoam plates used for their school lunches. Toxic styrofoam, non-recyclable styrofoam, everyday adding to landfills.
The kids would gulp down their (surely over-processed, not Jamie Oliver approved) chow and think about how their plates are polluting the world. So the kids suggested that the school go back to ye old-fashioned, non-disposable plates of yore. Oh but, the school board(?) refused because they didn't want to hire a dishwasher. Anyways, here we have it- the illogical short-sightedness of bureacrats up against (extremely) youthful, wide-eyed idealism...welcome to Takoma Park.   
More to follow from the trenches of a liberal paradise (note the sarcasm and bitterness).
Oh yeah, I landed an internship with GREENPEACE!


Shelayna said...

Congrats on the internship and the move! I am hoping that my friend moves to Takoma Park when she and her family move in a few months for her husband's fellowship. As far as student loans go, I hear you there sister! My student loan debt is a depressing mountain that seems impossible to surmount. I've been paying my loans back for over 10 years and have paid MORE than I initially borowed, but with interest... Anyway, nice to see you back in the blog-o-sphere! Be well!!!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Welcome back to blogging! I too am an apartment dweller. Someone recently pointed out the positives (maintenance does all the grass cutting, snow shoveling, repairs, etc.) But I understand home ownership-envy!

I thought of the Nanny Diaries film (didn't read the book) and that very commentary about nannies coming from all over the globe to raise rich people's children while their own kids grow up without a parent.

Good luck with the internship, sounds great! Good for those litte kids!

MaddyG said...

Shelayna~ Takoma Park is really cool, in spite of some of the difficulties I mentioned in this post! If your friend moves here...I'd love to say hi...any friend of yours must be awesome! ; )
What is most ridiculous about my student loan debt is when I compare my debt with my husband's. He earned his entire PhD without acquiring any student loans. Zero debt. Ridiculous!

MaddyG said...

Catherine~ We're actually pretty lucky with our apartment. It's more spacious than our former house! And I surely won't miss mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. What I do miss though, is my GARDEN! I really enjoyed being able to grow some of my own food. Maybe the solution will be to find an allotment/community garden space? One big advantage to apartment living (that I will probably do a post about) is that it forces us to be more apart of the community. If I want to go out and play with Noah, we go to a public playground and meet other kids and moms, and make new friends! If I want to garden- I can garden alongside others...and learn from them.

Gray Sea

Gray Sea