Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nope, no thank you.

Are you one of those people who thinks about owning rental properties?

If you are, then the next thing you should ask yourself is would you knowingly tear a portal in into your life so that every ounce of negativity that exists outside of your person, could come pouring through the portal - like if you were to shoot a hole into your karmic fuselage and all the luggage and first class seats got sucked through it, some with bodies still sitting in them - it's like that, except in reverse. The suction comes the opposite direction and it deposits bodies, luggage, beverage carts and blue toilet water on top of your family.

There is so little good that can be said about being sucked from an airplane at great altitude. Maybe you get a moment of flight? Maybe you get a couple of milliseconds of something transformative as the atmospheric changes cause you to black out.

You don't get that with rental properties. There's nothing transformative about it. Nothing even anesthetizing like the thin air at 17,000 feet. Its a constant test of trying to trust and like people , to do right by them, so that in return you can stand ankle deep in wet toilet paper and bounced checks. I hate the regret of misguided trust. I want to believe in second chances. I want to believe and hope. But instead I get to scrape and paint a cobwebbed basement where the brick is soft.

I can feel so good and high, in my creative zone, firing like a high performance engine, just hugging the turns....and in time it takes to read one text I am eating cat food off a piece of torn linoleum as I stare into the balloon-knot anus of the universe.

And the relationship is ongoing. Its not as if you can just shake hands and move on. No. You. Can't. Because they're not going to like something. Like how a light bulb is out. No one can get their ass up on a chair and change a light bulb. But they sure know how to text. They can text while having root canal, on a wire high above the city, but bulbs require professional help.

And then there's the get-over, the change of paint colors, painted only as high as they could reach. Something in lime green. And the crap they leave behind, boxes of text books, and old exercise bikes, and plastic tubs of shit you wouldn't want if they were air-lifted into your flooded village. You'd pass and go back to your tarp. Because there's some crap that would make even a wet tarp hut look bad. So you haul all that shit out onto the curb over the weekend, taking time away from relaxation and your family, only to have someone complain to the city about early trash removal and then you get a little fine as a thank you. Poverty in $50 increments.

So if you're thinking about rental properties as a line of income. Think instead about selling your organs on the black market. Because you'll live longer, and you'll make more money.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Going Public

I only went to public school for one year, eighth grade, and it was in Pacific Palisades, California, one of the richest suburbs of Los Angeles. It was and is the very public school that O.J Simpson was filmed standing in front of, waiting for Sydney I guess, in one of the clips they showed over and over again, all the while he was getting away with murder. But there are other reasons I hated that school, well before O.J. killed his wife.

My gym teacher was a very tiny, plump Asian woman who was so heard-hearted and cruel, even mocking, that the thought of her gave me epic nausea every day before school. Stuff was stolen from me constantly. Kids shoved and tormented. It was harsh, mean, classist and full of every kind of bad value. Its biggest flaw, though, was that it was crashingly unmemorable but for those memories I am trying to forget.

The rest of my education was spent in fruity private schools. For those of you who don't know me personally, I will say by way of explanation, that I (and my sister) had a very privileged life, educationally, paid for by my dad, who was a working writer, a film critic at Time magazine. If Time had a heyday, it was in the 70's when I was a kid in New York. He was by no means rich, instead he worked incredibly hard, constantly in fact, at his profession, and somehow he afforded to send me to Dalton, and then boarding school. It would have been a comfort for me to discover that he had maintained a double life in which he was drug king pin, or I that I am the secret heir to title and substantial fortune, but the reality is he worked his ass off and chain smoked - no doubt due to the pressures of affording my education -my entire childhood. That, and things were a lot less expensive and exclusive then. There was still a middle class and it was still allowable, even honorable, for them to be included in upper class activities. I don't think that's true anymore. We were the last of the middle class Mohicans.

I say "fruity" private schools with love in my heart. I know that I had it real good, and didn't appreciate it enough. But I now say with pride, I am fruity! My people are fruity. I come from the fruit, and I have born the fruit. When I describe some of the educational techniques from my private schools, to my republican husband, educated himself through the very system our own kids now enjoy, I can see in his eyes, as they roll entirely back into his skull, just how frilly-poo-poo I am, and I am embarrassed for me.

When I tell him that in high school we acted out tableaus of our family life, placing other students in the "picture", posing them to represent our family dynamic, I have to hand Vild a barf bag. While conversely, he tells me how the principal used corporeal punishment on him and his 6-year old pals, I want to paint signs and picket all the way back to 1973.

They don't do corporeal punishment anymore. Instead, they do No Child Left Behind. Frankly, I'd rather have my ass paddled. Bush's hand cranked grinder for education, is mashing out the sausage meat of mediocrity, in state mandated bullet points. Weeee!

So, needless to say, I'm a very conflicted parent. My kids go to a really superior public school, and they are very lucky. But something about the "criss-cross applesauce" taming of large groups, and the handout rich environment make me edgy. I know I take my life in my hands, criticizing my kid's school, or over-generalizing about public school. But...

Why? my mother correctly asks, in the whole discussion about education, are the only subjects mentioned, Science and Math? Because, answers Bill Gates, we must prepare an entire generation for high tech jobs.


But I read everywhere that education doesn't lead to jobs anymore, so is it too much to ask that at least the years of education be fun and interesting while it happens? If math and science are your thing, go forth, my friends and prosper. But reading and drama and music and civics and creative writing, and family tableau enrich civil public discourse, not, I would argue, algorithms (though I'm well aware there can be poetry there too). Furthermore, I, and most of the fruits I know, would die in high-tech jobs. We would shrivel and our limbs would fall off right onto the motherboard.

I write this with the painful knowledge that my boy hates school. He sucks at it, for the most part. It plays to none of his strengths. Sitting still. Following the group. Being told what to do. He hates that. And it makes me long for an environment for him where he might clap out numbers by twos and fives rather than reading them off a xerox. Or I yearn for him to learn to write in an environment where creative juice is squeezed a little more fruitily, as much, let's say, as stickers are given out, not to him, for good penmanship.

My husband argues that it's good the kids are exposed to the "real" world, not some coddled one in which one's individuality is formed on the paper doily of indulgence. I just can't abide that. My individuality, which was so honored in my education, is the force that gives my life form and dimension. Certainly not my job. Not even what I learned, but the way I learned it, showed me that there were a million ways to do any one thing and that I might avail myself of any of those avenues to solve problems, to make friends, to meet the world, that global world we're so hot for, head on.

Who knows what the job market will look like in twenty years? We don't know what it will look like next year. It seems to me we need to make kids more flexible and adaptable, more creative in their thinking, not less so. Sure, more kids over the hurdles, I get that. But is our goal really to perpetuate a paradigm of ho-hummery? I can say this, I did NOT hate school. Sometimes it hated me. Mostly though I felt some fun things might happen there and while I was at it, I might learn a couple of things.