The Stock Market….huh?

Stacks of coins

Up or down?  Does it matter?

So as an old retired lady, I don’t always take the time to follow the vagaries of Wall Street.

I mean, really. I’m busy rocking my granddaughter, deadheading my marigolds, making cucumber relish.

I don’t sit around on my comfy blue leather couch watching CNN.  I mean.  I hardly ever do that.

But if I did sit there all day following the ups and downs of the markets, I would probably just yawn.

I seriously doubt that I’d be all upset.  I probably wouldn’t tear my hair and grind my teeth.  I don’t think for one minute that I’d burst into tears and try to call my broker.

Know why?

First of all, I don’t even HAVE a broker.  What is that anyway? I have some money in the stock market, because I did the easy thing a lot of years ago, and I started to put a part of my salary into a “403B”.  Which apparently is very similar to a “401K”. Except for, you know, the numbers.  And the letter.

Whatever. My 403 B is my easy peasy “put some money in here and watch it grow” fund.

I have never ever paid attention to individual stocks. Or bonds. Or hedge funds.  Or bulls. Or bears.

I just worked, cashed my checks, assumed that smart money people were handling my money.

So here I am, in the very first week of my retirement.  The stock market is apparently having a major heart attack and all of the people with actual money are having a conniption.

I, however, am not.

And here is why:

Our family motto is this: “Money. Never had it; never will.”   We understand that as long as we can afford three meals a day and a roof over our heads, all is well.  We know that we are not smart enough to decode the meaning of China’s decreasing sails of durable goods.

We are happy. We are content.

So far, that money in the 403B has been nothing more than a row of digits. It has never seem very real to us.

And that’s wonderful!

If it disappears in a puff of blue smoke in the next two weeks, we will hardly notice that our money is all gone.

As long as we have carrot soup and veggie stock in our freezer, we’ll be able to laugh at the news and ask each other, “Stock market? What on earth is that?”

Why I miss “Occupy”

311330_10150342982467445_568252444_8184014_714256867_nThe more I watch the news, the more I miss “Occupy”.

When the Occupy movement first appeared, I was skeptical.  Could such a diverse, disorganized group ever effect real change? As a middle aged observer, I had my doubts.

But I watched, and I read and I listened.

And I had a direct line into the movement because my three young adult children were caught up in the hope and the energy and the excitement.  All three of them joined the movement.

When the media depicted the Occupation as a group of disaffected hippies, I had a different view.  I knew the young divinity student who was serving as a minister to the occupiers.  I knew the young teachers who marched in support of appropriate funding of public schools.

I knew the young college kids who skipped class to make a point about the unacceptable income divisions in our country.   I knew them.

When my three children marched with Occupy Wall Street, I had to take them seriously. I know my kids. They aren’t frivolous, or entitled or self aggrandizing. They work hard, they live frugally, they give generously to those who are in need.

They introduced me to the Occupy Movement, but the more I read, the more I felt compelled to help.

Occupy Wall Street was a people’s movement.  It was an outlet for the anger and the frustration and the sense of desolation that is felt by the working class in this “exceptional” country.  Occupy Wall street was the voice of the people.  It was power and freedom and real democracy.  It was a breath of desperately needed fresh air in the vacuum that is the American political system.

It was our voice, our anger, our First Amendment.

Right up until the government-owned police came in and shut it all down.  Right up until the First Amendment was ripped away from us.

So now, in the age of ever worsening income disparity, I miss Occupy Wall Street. Now, as we watch Americans struggling to pay for health insurance that is mandated by the government but provided by private companies, I miss Occupy Wall Street.

As I listen to the stories about how closely my government is monitoring my every phone call and email and online conversation, I miss Occupy Wall Street.

I don’t fault the young people who were forced to give up the good fight; they were arrested and harassed and shut down cold by our government and its hired guns.  They had no real choice.

Still, I miss you, Occupy Wall Street. I miss your energy and your honesty and your willingness to take on the big guys.  I hope that the older people in your lives (like me) can step up and help you to reach those goals that you so optimistically set.

My four favorite Occupiers, awaiting arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

My four favorite Occupiers, awaiting arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I hope that my generation can prove ourselves worthy of your trust.

Come back, please, Occupy Wall Street!!!

Rebel Wannabe

In my secret heart, where I wander in the dark of night, I am a warrior woman. I am strong, fearless, proud.

In my deepest wishful self, I stand straight and tall with those who demand justice. My fist is raised, my eyes are bright.  I am one with the marching, chanting, drumming youth who protest against the corruption of our plutocratic government.   In my fantasy version of myself, I am the 99% and I am willing to Occupy Wall Street.

In the real world, though, things are just a wee bit different.

Out here, in the waking reality of actual life, I am a big old wussy chicken heart.  It turns out that it’s incredibly hard to Occupy Wall Street when you’re too scared to go to New York.

My kids are planning to (once again) take up the cause of inequality and economic injustice. They are heading back to Wall Street on Sept. 15-17 to mark the one year anniversary of the Occupy Movement.  Very cool, right?  They will rally and march and make some noise.

When I first heard about their plans, and realized that my school is closed on Monday the 17th for Rosh Hashanah, I thought that I would go and join them.

I told them that I would drive the 4 hours to New York, and would march with them and hold a sign and stay overnight at a friend’s place.  I pictured us all with our arms linked and me looking courageous and righteous as I added my voice to that of the crowd.  So awesome to see myself as such a truly cool fighter for what is right and good!   The kids were happy to know that I was going with them, and I was happy knowing that we would create this special memory.

But….later that night……I woke up at my usual time (3:15 AM, on the damn dot) and the vision looked a little different.  I lay awake for well over an hour, picture us all marching along Wall Street. But this time, in addition to my warrior self and my heroic children, I also saw the riot police who will inevitably be there, facing the crowd.  This time, I envisioned the press of bodies all around me, the noise of the crowd and the bullhorns and the traffic and the music.

This time, I saw myself as I would really, truly be in such a situation: trembling, hesitating, trying to pull the boys away from the pepper spray. Probably in tears, and probably nauseous.  Instead of warrior woman me, I saw scared-to-death me.

It wasn’t pretty.   I didn’t know what to do!   I spent most of that night trying to decide whether or not I should go and Occupy.

On the one hand, I really want to live up to the ideal that my children have set.  I truly do believe that it is past time for us to rise up and to protest the corrupt and self-serving minority who now controls every part of our government.  I want to be Warrior Mother Spirit and I want to be brave.

A little less than a year ago, my kids became Warriors and Occupiers, and as my daughter wrote in her most recent blog post, Damn You, Google, the experience changed their lives forever.  I want to be that powerful!!

But as the dark of night turned slowly to gray, I realized that I might not actually have the kind of courage that it takes to stand up to the power of the New York City Police.  I realized that there are many kinds of warriors, and some may choose to fight with the pen, and not the march.

I have had to face the truth; I am just not really warrior material.

So, on the weekend of September 15th, I will send my children off to fight the good fight.  I will help with financial support, moral support, emotional support. I will write what I can in honor of the cause, and I will worry with all the power of a Warrior Mamma Bear.

But I won’t actually be occupying any place in particular.