Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Unproud American

I think I'm growing both tired and ashamed of my own cultural heritage. I never felt connected to my Japanese and Korean roots. But at least when I was growing up, it felt natural and appropriate that I adopted the American culture. I was born here after all. It was a different time, though.

Maybe I was naive and unaware of what was happening when I was younger which I'm certain is partially true, but the world really has changed. I used to describe myself as an American because I'm open-minded, culturally receptive, independent, an advocate of self-empowerment, believe in the chance for opportunities, and a supporter of freedom of expression. I still hold these values, but they no longer represent America. It's a facade if this illusion is conveyed, and frankly no one really bothers to even articulate the deceit anymore. 

I'm not even sure where to begin. So many of my friends are leaving the country because this is no longer the place people travel to for new opportunities like once upon a time. It's the country people leave or get kicked out of and with good reason. This reality is becoming more real to me as I become more aware and unable to ignore them especially with how it's been affecting me personally. The truth is these things effect all of us, but sometimes its impact is indirect or subtle enough to really matter. Not for me. 

Every country has flaws and I doubt the States is the only one guilty of faults. But what should be rare occurrences are becoming a normality that we, as citizens, silently accept because the structure is set up to leave us disadvantaged. We're debilitated from repair and uneducated or restricted to make improvements or changes. I'm referring not only to malicion but the set up, as well. 

Despite the economic downfall, I've been able to find work. But keeping a job is a different story. And yet I'm no longer seen as someone with a retention problem since this outcome is common. I took a career assessment test that measures how much my income would have to be in order to maintain my desired expenses. I kept everything at an all time minimum. I selected a studio apartment, a car since I'm an adult, groceries only to cook at home, and very little indulgences such as internet which is practically a necessity nowadays. I didn't select cable, shopping for clothes and accessories, and other frivolous expenses. And yet my income would have to be crazy high to sustain living in my area that my career choices excluded any best suited for my skills and abilities. Labor intensive positions dominated career choices to fit my financial lifestyle. -_____- I'm a girl that weighs 96 pounds. I can't do labor. 

I live in a bachelor (a studio without a kitchen) and I take public transportation which I don't mind. But it's the same form of travel I used as an adolescent cuz it's the only choice I can afford as an adult. I really don't like that restriction. I can't realistically see myself upgrading based on financial circumstances. 

You know it's a bad sign when unemployment offers more financial stability than actual employment. Many companies only hire part-time employees, which means either I penny pinch like crazy and can't afford anything to go wrong which is unlikely or accumulate debt which I'm grateful I've been able to avoid. But being hired as an employee doesn't mean I have strictly part-time hours, which would make me eligible for unemployment. Not that I want to rely on government funding, but sometimes when I don't have money, I need it... Part-time employees can temporarily be assigned full-time hours. In the state of California after three consecutive weeks of full-time hours, employees must receive benefits. So many companies hire employees as part-time workers and over work us anywhere from 40-90 hours and then drop us to barely 20 hours on the third week. This vicious cycle continues. Many people are also hired as seasonal employees and then re-hired months later. Or to be hired as full-time employees, we have to sign a contract that forfeits our right to benefits. 

It's such exploitation. I'm only able to make ends meet with catering and bartending gigs which don't come around often enough. You'd think not having a higher education plays a role but before you think it's appropriate to criticize me for my limited educational background, it doesn't apply. Many college graduates are in greater debt including doctors who are unable to find work. Many college graduates are denied jobs cuz their crendentials make them over qualified and companies can't afford to pay a higher salary. 

Downgrading or having roommates become inevitable considerations. When you're strapped for cash, what else can you do? In this situation, not much unless I move to a place that doesn't have these barriers... It's only a natural evolution to weigh other possibilities. 

In addition to employment and financial problems attached to it, health insurance is a nightmare. Have you seen the documentary Sicko? A woman who had breast cancer was denied treatment with a technicality of a previous health record which was a yeast infection... -____- Hospitals hire people ways to legally reject medical services as a way to save money at the cost of peoples' lives. Elder hospital residents were shuffled into taxi cabs and out of hospital rooms to make space to admit more patients. Cost of health care is outrageous. It's not only greedy, but our health care system invests methods that kill the very people they're meant to protect. Interesting thing about documentaries is that it's sensationalized to a degree, but these aren't exaggerated and common practice. 

It costs me money to request my medical records. There are certain unnecessary but costly surgeries that are procedurally conducted for profit such as appendix removal. I was fortunate that the surgeon on staff refused to put me in surgery when my inflamed appendix would've legally granted him the right to do so. But with antibiotics and close medical supervision, the inflammation went down without the need of surgery. However in most cases there are many procedures, both surgeries and unnecessary testings that are conducted for profit. There are books revealing which tests are unnecessary for specific symptoms but are conducted none the less to exploit uneducated patients. It's horrible. 

I've been in a lot of pain and unable to schedule appointments with physicians and specialists. It's unfortunately common. A while back I read that funding to produce chemotherapy has been cut back, so doctors are instructed to put patients on chemotherapy at a later stage of cancer despite the fact that it'll decrease the chances of survival. Funding in the medical industry is being reduced cuz it's being allocated to other things. I won't pretend to be aware of what it is. All I know is this circumstance is despicable. 

I watch the news and see murderers like Zimmerman commit crime in cold blood and then deny it and avoid legal consequence as a result of the legal system. Even facing jail time, he's looking at far less years than someone who hacked into private video footage of porn. Of course an invasion of privacy is unacceptable. I'm not discounting that at all, but how come viewership results in a lifetime of prison while murder goes for far less? One woman was fired for saving her employer's life by donating an organ. While I'm at it, the good samaritan law says you give implied consent to someone saving your life when you need CPR and are unconscious. Yet doctors who save peoples' lives but leave them with a broken rib end up in jail! It's unimaginable! It's too many horrible things happening all at the same time. My tolerance is growing thin. 

It's difficult for me to build a life here with my financial limitations. My health isn't valued. And I'm ashamed of my legal system. Finding work is such a challenge. My choices have led me to this life. I don't want to sit here and make excuses cuz it changes nothing. But the fact remains that I'm twenty eight with no career. I'm too busy making ends meet to build on an existing foundation. At best all I can do is maintain what I have. My situation is certainly not the worst and I'm impressively resourceful. But I don't want to maintain this current lifestyle indefinitely. 

As more time passes, I'm beginning to realize that if I want a better future for myself, I really should consider moving out of this country. It's scary to just get up and move. Stability has never been a part of my life, and it's finally began to settle down. To get up and move to a foreign country is like traveling towards a path of uncertainty that I'd create. And yet I'm learning that it can be done. 

I've always been interested in France. As an adult, I forget how much it appealed to me as a child but I've been reminded of it a lot lately cuz a really close friend of mine is French. He says my mentality is very European and encourages me to move there at one point cuz he genuinely believes I'll enjoy it there. But I kept thinking where would I stay? I don't have any friends there and have no money. How will I support myself? It's a foreign language I don't really speak, certainly not enough to get a job out of it. But the truth is in France, you don't get kicked out when you have no means to pay to support yourself. That doesn't mean I want to freeload but that already offers me more of an advantage than my own country. So it's not as risky to move as I once believed it to be. 

I'm far from ready to leave despite my protests. But eventually I want to move. Ideally I want to be ready to move, although that doesn't seem realistic. I'm not the type of person who's able to be "ready" to move to a foreign country where uncertainty dominates. Yet I handle unexpectations surprisingly well. If I'm not going to be ready to move, when do I make the move? The only answer I know for sure  is not now. But time has a way of being perceptually deceptive. It passes us by quietly but also quickly. I've been living in LA for ten years and although I've changed so much since I've moved here, evidence that a lot of time has passed, it hasn't felt like ten years. I don't want another ten years to pass me by while I stay fixed at my current location. I don't want to be stagnant and the world is too huge for me to not allow myself more experiences than my current surrounding. 

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