Give Me Directions

I can find the United States on a map and I know I live here. But I am having a hard time actually finding it. I wonder if we have become a nation of sub Americas in which nobody knows the other exists. There used to be a Chevy commercial that crooned about being the “heart beat” of America, if you still believe that you can buy the swag to reassure yourself. Surely now, filling up that truck is just as like to give you a heart attack.

Ah, I see that 30 percent of economists think the economy will be shrinking this year.

Does that mean it will still fit when we try it on?

Great I was hoping I could fit into those smaller sized jeans I have stashed in the closet. Not likely any of us will be actually buying a new pair any time soon. Apparently an additional 70 percent of economists are pessimistic about the economy’s outlook than just three months ago. Pessimistic?

The average wage of a “corporate economist” is about 106,000 dollars. Those employed by the federal government make around on average 94,000 dollars a year. Granted, they have to go to school for a very long time, it takes a while to properly indoctrinate folks to never question the supremacy of the free market. The best young economists have the highest school debt, they have worked their asses off and are too shy to admit that just maybe they were overly optimistic about how great it is to tinker with capitalism. It is great for the people who hire the economists to do so. Come on nobody invites the servants to birthday parties.

Birthday parties are new and exciting opportunities for social anxiety. That is what great about this country: we keep finding more means by which to both feel inadequate and spend a few more bucks trying to vanquish it.

A blurb on CNN bravely documents this crippling malady. A darling three year old got this

shindig from Mom.

So she booked a fondue restaurant, hired a musical troupe to perform as the Wiggles (her daughter’s favorite group) and ordered a four-layer cake. Each guest took home a Fisher-Price guitar and custom CD.

The price tag? $5,00085

A more budget conscious Mom laments spending quite a bit less…

Two years ago when her daughter Emily turned 6, St. Paul stay-at-home mom Laura Forstrom threw her a birthday party for the first time. Emily invited sixteen friends to celebrate at a Color Me Mine ceramics painting center.

“I didn’t think all 16 would come, but they did, and it was $15 a person,” she said. Add in the cake, favors, pizza and soda, and Forstrom spent over $1,000.

You can make a decent living just planning kiddie birthday parties. Wedding planners are so out. Now you must have a birthday party planner.

Each Over the Top party has a theme and is run by a team trained in child development, says Dinsfriend. Her events — from tea parties with fine china to military-themed parties led by former Marines — usually take six weeks to plan and cost as much as $10,000

I don’t know anybody who feels anxious enough to spend this kind of money on kiddie parties. They seem more anxious about weird things like food.

In 1997 the average worker earned $431.86 a week. By June 2007 the average worker’s paycheck was $589.52 a week, an increase of 36.5%. Over the same period inflation took 33.7% of all wage gains

So.. the cheaper party will cost you two weeks wages.

Most of us are trying to save money by lying to the kiddies about when their birthday is, hoping the confusion will wear them out. I say give them a bunch of rocks and let them munch pizza in the back yard. They can play “war”, good practice for the thousand year wars McCain has planned for us.

Meanwhile. Americans are still innovating. Maybe CNN felt silly about the birthday party article because they displayed another one showing how we are all bucking up. Determined mothers are making their own detergent, buying generics, and cutting back on red meat. Wonder how many 1,000 dollar birthday parties their kids get invited to? Maybe if John McCain visits their communities he can praise their personal decision making and free market choices. As if the average American mother actually has choices.

 Heather Havrilesky, in her usual self mocking style, reminds us that there is sad virtue in this down turn for those who can still afford to eat.

In this article, while making fun, she has a bit of wisdom while documenting the shrinking middle class lifestyle. Of course, if you’ve already fallen out of the middle class the only comfort she provides, is that eventually we will all be playing in the dirt and swapping cheery accolades about how great it is that we are all in the same boat.

Personally, I’m happier when my options are limited. I like knowing that I can’t afford to move and I can’t afford to quit my job and I can’t afford to think about the boundless possibilities that the universe has to offer, I can only afford to clean my own stupid house and eat leftovers and lose weight so the shitty clothes I already have don’t look even worse on me than they would otherwise. Under the duress of an economic meltdown, I have to learn to bake bread and grow tomatoes and hit up my friends

for hand-me-downs for my kids.

Consumerism is very exhausting and a big time suck…..

But was it really so easy to be happy when the world was our stupid oyster? That relentless quest for perfection only makes me distracted and neurotic

In America the quest for perfection is the quest for things. I have never been one of those Type A civilians myself, perfection bored me. I don’t like harassing people if they help me out in the kitchen and dice things a little oddly. I don’t give a shit if my work colleagues fail to line up the staplers in unison, so maybe when I lose the shirt off my back I will be a happy clam as well.

Nicolas Von Hoffman, at alternet, thinks maybe bitterness is truthfulness.  He thinks Obama was unfairly attacked when he used the “B” word to describe certain Americans. Perhaps we can come up with a new hybrid emotion of “perkybitter” to describe our cognitive dissonance.

He notes…

Every election season, candidates pretend to tear up as they assure millions of Americans who are working for less — or not at all — with the phrase the Clintons made famous:”I feel your pain.” That empty empathy will get you a bag of groceries in the basement of that church across town.

This year, the politicians are back with their speeches about how they are going to arrange for vocational classes so the voters will be able to compete in the twenty-first century. The first decade of the twenty-first century is already almost over. Time to drop that line, lest the small-town people turn bitter

We want our oppressed to be happy and forward looking! Don’t you just hate it when you are having a good day and your downer neighbor complains about being hungry? Fuck, at least she lost that last twenty pounds.

A few things concern me. If we get that perkybitter worker driven uprising will I still be allowed to work overtime to buy Italian shoes? After all, Antonio Gramsci was Italian, so couldn’t it be considered a fitting historical tribute?


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  1. to all of you.

    It is Monday…. troops to the cubicles….

  2. are off to the vet, will check in later.

    • Alma on April 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    And I love your out for the birthday parties:

    Most of us are trying to save money by lying to the kiddies about when their birthday is, hoping the confusion will wear them out. I say give them a bunch of rocks and let them munch pizza in the back yard. They can play “war”, good practice for the thousand year wars McCain has planned for us.

    Hope kitty is okay.

    • Benny on April 21, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Nor would I have wanted one.

  3. i got my kid a musical instrument that has already gotten her into a public magnet high school (savings of at least $32,000. for not needing to pay for a catholic or private school, as most of our public schools dont even have music programs, and that’s her passion), and an honors orchestral workshop at the local conservatory..(i’m not suggesting that she wouldnt have been accepted otherwise, because she rocks 3 other instruments they use in their band, but she had NO competition with this one)

    so, it’s not how much you spend…its what you spend it on.

    btw, i paid more for her bass clarinet than i did for my car…let’s hope it takes her further 😉  

    and, for the record, a pair of .99 flip flops will take you pretty far, too…

    • pfiore8 on April 21, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    they are worth the investment… because they are both well-made and speak to style rather than fashion. so they always look good, no matter what the flavor of the moment may be.

    b-days & gifts? i have had one small successful revolution in my family. we do not buy b-day gifts, but go out to dinner. it is, again, time and money well-spent. memories are easier to carry with you and they don’t take up space. when my step kids were young, i convinced my husband to stop with gifts and instead, share experiences together. like b-ball games and concerts. didn’t save money, but we all enjoyed celebrating birthdays…


    Nobody has esplaned how that works yet though….

    At least not to folks on our side in the Class War

  5. are but a single profession involved in the deliberate destruction of America.  There is also a labryinth to “regulators” who don’t actually regulate.  IE, the anti-trust concepts and an army of business related assholes who advance the most Satan inspired memes as American business “norms”.  These people are the reason economists might make 96,000 and CEOs run to the bank with 1.78 billion for running companies into the ground.

    These people are the reason most Americans think government subsidized job exports are an “inevitable” thing.  It is just like the meme “in this post 911 world”.

  6. who is going to bail out the banks and with what?


  8. … on a birthday party than my parents contributed to my college education.  

  9. probably never seen an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV. They film girls who have to be the most spoiled brats ever to see the light of day terrorizing their parents into the most obnoxious parties and presents ever known to human kind. These girls would make Roman orgies look like child’s play. I kid you not!! I’ve watched parts of a couple of episodes, but have to turn away pretty quickly when my blood reaches the boiling point. Greed at its most obnoxious in a 16 year old.

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