Tuesday, December 30, 2008
182: the cream
Emily says this is not the time to be "the cream on the pie." One dear friend's husband was let go with a flimsy excuse and the knowledge that they were overstaffed, and we've been lucky, Ryan and I: his work is still going strong, and my TAship still covers my tuition, gives me health insurance, a wee bit of a salary to get us by. The economy has been talked about, has edged gas prices to ridiculous lows, has pulled back the reigns: big businesses aren't able to make donations now, both out of the reality of the economy and the fear of the economic chatter.
And the campaigns to hit up individuals have begun. My email inbox and my porch are full of pleas, all so very reasonable, and I'm finding my graduate assistantship even more ill timed. I am lucky to have survived the holidays in one piece, to buy that cheap gas, to have food on my table (to buy small stacks of books at the local bookstore where I work). I'm afraid of what might happen in the floodgates if I start to write checks, especially when we need a new windshield, need to fix our plumbing, should think about the vet bills. It doesn't stop, all this need, both inside and out.
I spent my morning watching the video from Intermedia Arts, who refuse to close, but instead call what they are going through "a crisis." They've had to lay off most of their salaried staff, everyone save the director, and instead turn to the program managers as hourly contractors, a precarious position indeed, and close their doors for regular gallery hours, along with the poetry library and various other programs. I then read through a letter from The Great River Shakespeare Festival, who refuse to shut down, and an email from Miles Coon, asking for help for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and seemingly every other day, a prominent figure in the nature writing world sends a plea via Orion Magazine (email) for help--Barry Lopez, Jane Goodall, Michael Pollan.
It all just leaves a girl feeling a bit helpless. And we do what we can, I suppose. Buy locally. Support the things we love when we can, how we can. We have to truly find ways to express what we value, and right now, so much of it simply comes down to money. Awful, icky money.
PS: See also: this article in The New York Times about bargain hunting for books and "feeling sheepish about it."