My family was very poor, and I grew up among people who hated and feared education, or anything outside of the narrow lives they led. We moved a lot, as my father wasn’t very good at keeping jobs. In those neighborhoods, to study and try to get ahead meant you were ridiculed and reviled. Girls weren’t expected to want much education anyway, because of course they would get married, usually right after high school, and sometimes earlier if they got pregnant.
Everyone went to church; my own parents were fundamentalists, though they weren’t fanatical about it. They divorced when I was ten, and we moved into a housing project. My mother had never graduated from high school, and had trouble affording food. We spent most of my teenage years on welfare, and she fought my efforts to go away to college.
I went to school anyway, but I didn’t do well. I was smart, but I never really learned how to study. I still don’t have much discipline, but back then I had none really. I got away by taking a big sidestep into the counterculture, and then spent most of my early life as a political organizer. You can see my whole rambling history here in my resume.
I stopped organizing for a couple reasons. Burnout is the most superficial one. It became clear to me after years of public speaking, meetings, nonviolence trainings, and demonstrations, that in fact most people in this country didn’t really want change. And it’s pointless to try and change people who aren’t ready for it.
It also became clear to me that most of the people I worked with, who came primarily from middle and upper class backgrounds, had a lot of resources to fall back on that I did not — resources both emotional and financial. So in the middle of my life I walked away from that too, to try and make some safe space for myself as I grew older.
Now I am 51, and I live in a Colorado suburb. My husband and I have cats rather than kids. I feed the birds and tend my garden. I never did finish college, though I went back for a few years in my 40s to study environmental science. I still don’t have anything to do with most of my family, and my parents are dead now.
I spend a lot of time online, and much of that is spent reading, thinking, and talking politics. I write an environmental blog also, which is a pretty depressing thing to do these days. And the direction of this present administration infuriates me. I despair that so many people in this country are filled with hate. I am angry that we are letting poor and uneducated people fall so far behind everyone else, and no one seems to care any more. So I started this blog, for a place to write about my own experiences and my own thoughts, because my life has been unusual among people on the left, and because not talking about it is making me a little crazy.
(Edit, 2/15/2012: I recovered the whole post from the Wayback Machine. Thank you Internet Archive! Previously: this post appears to have become truncated when I moved to WordPress.)