Saturday, August 15, 2020

I couldn't wait to start voting. Because at 18, I learned firsthand how lawmakers can affect your life.

I’ve voted in every election I could, no matter how small. Because as soon as I turned 18, I learned firsthand the impact lawmakers can have on your life.

Three years earlier, my family lost its breadwinner when my mother was killed in a car crash. Soon my father couldn’t pay the bills, and after his car nearly got taken away, I began giving him the death benefit checks I received from the Social Security Administration, which was paying me the money set aside for a retirement my mother would never enjoy.
And though my father and I still needed those checks when I turned 18, the payments stopped as soon as I graduated high school. But that hadn’t always been the case, I learned from a friend who worked with my mother in social services. She said kids like me used to get death benefits from their parents' accounts until age 22 while still in school — until President Ronald Reagan signed a law in 1981 implementing many cost-cutting measures, including that the money my mother earned could not be used to help me attend college. 
This was bad policy for not only me, but the program itself. Choosing to save money by not helping me earn a college degree is incredibly shortsighted, because with a college degree I very likely earn much more money to pay into Social Security. Therefore, the goal of the program should be to help as many young people as possible attend college.
And I’m sure if you asked my mother how she would want the money she earned to be spent, it would be to help her daughter through college. Because without that help, I spent the next five years struggling to complete two years worth of classes at community college, often only taking one class a semester as I worked full-time, and briefly moving onto my sister’s couch when I couldn’t pay my rent.  
And when I finally transferred to a university at 23, all those years of working full-time meant that I did not qualify for financial aid. Why? Because the federal financial aid applications used your last tax return to judge your need. And while students who had been living with their parents before college qualified for lots of grant money because they didn’t need to work as much, my income as someone who had been supporting herself was too high. (Seriously: Was there really no one in the financial aid system who could have predicted this backwards math that punished the low-income people it was supposed to help?)
But I was still determined to get a four-year degree, and, finally, several years after I graduated high school, I earned a Bachelor of Science from the California Polytechnic State University. 

That was cool. And remains my proudest achievement. I hang two things on the wall next to my pillow: a photo of my mother and a framed copy of my degree.
And all those years I spent earning that degree turned me into a voter who prefers candidates who believe a strong social safety net, such as free school lunches, free college tuition and Social Security, is the best way to serve the human beings they set policy for. Most importantly, though, those years turned me into a voter.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

My Grandmother's Journals: August, 1995

Camping in Baja, 1955. Think they're eating hot dogs?
Every day my grandmother wrote down what time she woke up, where she ate breakfast, what movie she went to see, what mail and phone calls she received, then what she read and watched on TV before going to sleep.

In 1995, she was 79 years old and living alone in a mobile home park in Santa Cruz, Calif., but I wouldn't describe her as lonely; she was an extremely independent and persnickety woman whom I never knew to live with another person or even a pet. She was still traveling alone, corresponding with people  she met on those trips, and always keeping up with current events. (I wrote more about her life in an earlier post.) 

Close to her home was the famous surfing spot called Pleasure Point, and she loved walking to the ocean and watching the surfers. When she died at 97 in 2013, I took her ashes to those waves with a friend of hers and we each dropped some at the sand. A moment after I dropped mine, a surfer emerged from the water where I stood.

That was cool. 

In August of 1995 she was watching the O.J. Simpson trial along with plenty of tennis, baseball and football. When she wasn't shuttling friends to doctor's appointments and the airport, she was checking luggage prices at the mall in preparation for her next trip to Europe in December.

Tuesday, Aug. 1, 1995
Fone call early, wrong number.
Breakfast McDonald's.
Laundromat, bank. Talked to Mary a few minutes, she unhappy.
Some O.J., cut jasmine bush back. Hard work.
Watched Star Trek, Geraldo. Marcia Clark stated she could prove gloves on O.J. identical to those found.
Couldn't sleep, read paper.

Wednesday, Aug. 2, 1995
Up 8:30, breakfast at Burger King.
Mailed card to Andra. Mailed "Nixon" letter to Justine, sent her article on Chile.
Home, cut limbs from bush.
To show in Aptos, "The Net." Sandra Bullock.
Home, ironed and TV. Fixed pads on salmon t-shirt.
Tired, much "work." Bed 9:30 p.m. Took aspirin.

Thursday, Aug. 3, 1995
Up 8:15. Breakfast at Golden West on Ocean. Busy, many vacationers!!
Library, finished Die After Dark, got Cat Abroad.
Home, showered/washed hair.
Figured maintenance, repairs for car: $3,545.52 in 11 years.
Mail, card from Andra and Lutz, letter from Freda.
Mary came by, man did not sell car.
Carol called at 12:30!! Didn't answer.

Friday, Aug. 4, 1995
Up 6 a.m. Breakfast McDonald's.
Yard work, to Orchard then Kmart, got metal rake for lawn.
To Longs, xeroxed letter and got paper towels.
To show, "Something to Talk About," Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid.
Justine called, got letter. No package yet.
Watched X-Files, some news, bed.

Saturday, Aug. 5, 1995
Up 8, raked east side. Breakfast Carl's Jr.
Walked a bit, to library. Home after Trader Joe's, lunch here.
Justine called, got book and tape OK. Will stop by on 14th.
Raiders vs. Cowboys, 24-14. Dodgers - Giants 8 p.m.
Watered lawn, raked a bit more.
News, bed, read a bit, "A Cat Abroad."

Sunday, Aug. 6, 1995
Up 8:15, breakfast McDonald's.
To Kmart, looked for lamp. To Mervyn's, Sears, none.
To Wherehouse, got soundtrack for "Bridges."
Home, football: Browns vs. Giants. Some baseball.
Watched, "Survive the Savage Sea," Robert Urich. True story of family sailing from Australia to Tahiti. Whale hits boat, it sinks, they 38 days on raft.

Monday, Aug. 7, 1995
Up 8:15. Breakfast at corner.
Took Mary to Drug Emporium, she gave me more zucchinis.
To Orchard, got scrapers. Star Trek, read.
6:10 p.m., Carol called collect, needs passport. To her house, daughter there.
73 miles to airport via 85, home via 92 and Hwy 1, stopped at McDonald's for sundae.
Home 10 p.m., tired.

Tuesday, Aug. 8, 1995
Awake 5:30, up 9. Breakfast at Lyon's. Home, hot, stayed in.
Watched "Mona Lisa," still can't make out Bob Hoskins.
Got "Go tell it on the Mountain," James Baldwin.
CNN has Congress hearings! Watched Star Trek, Geraldo.
Watered lawn, walked to Capitola.
Bed after NYPD Blue and news.

Thursday, Aug. 10, 1995
Breakfast Carl's Jr. Bank, fixed checks for girls, mailed H's, deposited Justine's.
Tennis, Todd Martin and Pete Sampras, good. Sampras almost lost!
Tape of Johnstown flood again, took notes.
News, "Jane Roe" changed sides.
Bed, read a bit.

Friday, Aug. 11, 1995
Justine to Point Reyes.
Up 8:30. Got paper, waiting for Justine to call! Ironed, read. She called 10:33.
Mail: Letter from Stimson, bill from State Farm.
To Longs, xeroxed letter, got VCR tapes. Groceries at Albertsons.
Taped X-Files, Northern Exposure.
Read until 2 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 12, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast McDonald's. Home, wrote Mina with copy of Stimson's letter!
Mail: Visa and Masters.
Home, read, TV: Raiders won over Rams. Watched Arena Football. No walking!

Sunday, Aug. 13, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast Burger King.
Walked 15 minutes, groceries at Trader Joe's.
Finished papers, read book.
Watched tennis, A.A. (Andre Agassi) won. Football, 49ers vs. Chargers, 17-6.
Taped "Lost Generations" re: Africa.
Read The Manson Curse.

Monday, Aug. 14, 1995
Up 8:30. Donut and coffee at corner.
Home, yard work. Read some.
Got gas. Longs, got TV Guide. Albertsons, got fruit.
Talked a bit with Mary C.
Watched tennis. Football, Bears vs. Browns. Baseball, Dodgers vs. Cubs.
Read some Picasso.

Tuesday, Aug. 15, 1995
Up 8. Shower/hair. Breakfast Jeffery's.
To library, owed .50 fine. Got two books.
To show, "The Indian in the Cupboard." Morals.
To Live Oak for blood pressure, nurse had two new tools: BP higher.
Dodgers, Nomo pitcher. 4-3.
Watched X-Files, Frasier.

Wednesday, Aug. 16, 1995
Slept til 9 a.m.! Breakfast McDonald's.
Laundromat, talked to lady from Gardena. Here two years, unhappy.
Home 11:30, called Justine. She yawning.
To Wherehouse, got "Arizona Dream." Last free cheeseburger, Carl's Jr.
Home, Dodgers over Cubs, 6-1.
Mail, letter from Mina. Longs, got battery, watch (pink).
Taped Northern Exposure, ran tape of "Arizona Dream."
Bed 12:30, later X-wrd puzzle.

Thursday, Aug. 17, 1995
Awake 9 a.m. Breakfast Carl's Jr. at mall. J.C. Penney, looked again at suitcases.
To show, "Apollo 13." Well-done.
Library checking blood pressure, got one book.
Watched Rockford Files, news, Geraldo.
John Mark called, talked 1/2 hr regarding reunion cruise. {John Mark grew up in the same Masonic Home near Los Angeles that she was raised in.}
Taped Northern Exposure, physics on Discovery.

Friday, Aug. 18, 1995
Awake 6:45, up 9. Breakfast McDonald's.
Made appointment with new female doctor. To Longs for pix.
Drug Emporium, got brewer's yeast and lecithin.
Watched Star Trek, news, Geraldo, Star Trek, Law and Order, Mindwalk.
Forgot to tape Northern Exposure.

Sunday, Aug. 20, 1995
Up 9ish.  Coffee and donut at corner. Some men there, wonder if it is their front room?
Home, raked west side, watered.
Wrote Mina, sending info on HMO. {Mina was also raised in the same Masonic Home.}
Tennis, Agassi vs. Krajicek. Good game. K discouraged by close calls for A. A.
To Antonelli's, got Yellow Tuberous Begonia.
Watched Star Trek Deep Space Nine. {She wrote S.T. DS9.}
Bed 8 p.m., need rest!

Monday, Aug. 21, 1995
Get Carol at airport SF, 7 p.m.
Up 8:30. Breakfast Burger King.
Post Office, mailed Secure Horizons mail to Mina.
Walked to Capitola. Home, shower/hair.
To Mary's, talked a bit. Some TV, news.
Bed early after trip to SF to get Carol. Stopped at Half Moon Bay McDonald's.
169.5 miles in all.

Tuesday, Aug. 22, 1995
Up 9. Breakfast McDonald's.
To Ross, Carol bought her luggage there. Larger size, $6 less than Penneys.
To library, turned in one, got two. Mail, Gottschalk's bill.
To mall, paid Penneys, Sears, Emporium. Got cone.
Home, read. TV, funny Frasier. Maris (Niles' wife) having affair.
Taped Northern Exposure.

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 1995
Up 8:30. Breakfast at donut shop.
To Louden (Nelson Center) for blood pressure, surprise: 122/68! Will try again at Live Oak.
Library, returned one book, got another.
Justine called, yes to Europe. {She invited me to Paris and London.}
Walked to beach.
Up til 3 a.m., worst kind of night: Pain in center of chest!

Thursday, Aug. 24, 1995
Up 8:30. Ate here. To eye Dr. Fong at 11 a.m. No change, $73.
To Longs, got TV Guide, toilet tissue. Fong gave me Zinc! for eyes.
Home, read Pollifax, slept 4 to 6, watched Geraldo, finished P.
To cafe for dinner, turkey, 1/2 brought home.
Another bad night, couldn't get to sleep.

Friday, Aug. 25, 1995
Up til 3 a.m., slept until 9. Breakfast at Lyon's.
Foned doctor's offices. Yes, taking adults, yes to Medicare.
Showered/washed hair before library, read parts of two books.
Taped X-Files, Northern Exposure (good.)

Saturday, Aug. 26, 1995
Slept 2:30 to 8:30. Breakfast McDonald's.
To mall for bras, Mervyn's, got two 40Ds. Then to Penney's, got black purse.
Finished Mrs. P and Whirling Dervish.
To show "Belle de Jour," Catherine Deneuve.
Football, 49ers over Seattle, 17-7.
News, bed. Slept good.

Sunday, Aug. 27, 1995
Have cold. That was trouble with sleep?
Up 9:15. Breakfast Burger King.
Put heat on chest, cold coming on. Took Sudafed. In pain.
Dodgers vs. Phillies, lost three already. Won 9-1, Piazza hit grand slam. {It's like she heard me about using the term grand slam!}
Another bad night, couldn't sleep. Read til 3 a.m.

Monday, Aug. 28, 1995
Pay car insurance. Pd.
Up 9:30. To donut shop for coffee. Tennis 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Becker won, Matsuoka cramp in leg.
Tried to sleep, no dice. Got cable statement, prices up.
Tennis 4:30 p.m. Monica Seles back, bit slow.
Taped Northern Exposure. Anastasia comes to Cicely!
Slept good!

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 1995
Tennis, Tracy Austin commentator.
Graf-Coetzer, C won first long set. C tired in 2nd, but almost came back. Good game.
To show in Aptos, "Desperado." Almost comic book atmosphere.
To Albertsons, got gas. Watched some news.

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 1995
Slept good, 11:30 to 7:30. Cold started one week ago with pains in chest?
Breakfast McDonald's.
Watched tennis. Chang won, Graf over Grande. (New Italian.)
To Mary's, talked a bit. To Kmart, had dinner.
Watered lawn, fertilized.
Washed hair. Taped Northern Exposure. (Starting from first year?)
Bed 11:30, couldn't sleep til 3 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 31. 1995
Rent pd. Up 8 a.m. Tennis.
To donut shop, coffee. Library, got two books, Pollifax.
Home, ironed, talked to Mary re: dryer and nightgown and blue sweater.
Tennis, Agassi won in five sets, last one couldn't watch! 
Watched some Geraldo, taped Northern Exposure.
Slept pretty good.