What is the American Dream for you? Do you have “it”? Are you happy? I always kind of assumed that the “American Dream” suggested owning a home, having a career, partner, and 2.5 children…a retirement–this is how Americans are to find happiness – Right? But now I am not sure. When you think about it, the term is so vague and lacking in specifics. Why is an “American Dream” different than, let’s say, the “Brazilian Dream,” or the “Italian Dream”?
I have sought the American Dream and I have done much of what I was told would bring it about, along with financial success and security. I work hard – really hard. I got an education (Ph.D.), but I have never turned my nose up at so-called honest work such as red collar jobs. I like to work with my hands and I am good at it. I have waited on tables, worked the front desk as a secretary, receptionist, and executive assistant. I have taught children, and adults and I now teach both (college writing, ethics and communication. I will also be teaching 3-5 year old children a beginning class on martial arts.). I give back to my community and get involved with local and national politics – as is my responsibility. I am happy to help my neighbor, donate to charities and the like. I got married and have worked hard at my marriage. I have taken care of my sick parents (sadly buried them both way before their time-under the age of 56)and my husband’s folks as well. But I am still wondering, after all this hard work, where is the pay out; where the hell is this American Dream I have heard so much about?
I have come to the conclusion that the American Dream is a lie. It a lie told to get us “Americans” motivated and to keep us in-line with the general American (consumer and credit sucking) Machine. I own no house, work way too many hours (on an average, I work 7 days a week. Monday through Friday I work from 8AM to 7 or 8pm. On the weekends, I work an average of 5 hours each day). I work three part time jobs just to make end’s meat (or “end’s meet” depending on who you are talking to) because employers do not want to hire full-time workers and pay for all that stuff, such as benefits and yadda, yadda. So, I, like many others, work three jobs just to come close to making what I might make working one job. I am effen tired and constantly broke. My husband, who works for a company that cut 50% of his office because of the recession, is now working the job of three people, and he is effen tired as well. The only ones in our family that is not effen tired are our pets!
What I am saying is this: where the hell is the American Dream I was promised? Do we get it when we retire? Wait . . . What retirement? My husband is in his 50s, I’m in my 40s, and our retirement went the way of the recession and the greedy bastards that screwed us all. We have no real retirement left (not that we had a huge nest egg to begin with, but it’s now gone). Not only that, but people in my family apparently die young; I may not be able to wait for retirement! Hell, I do not even think there is or will be retirement anytime soon for most Americans–but this is a whole other conversation for another day.
The point is, I am not going to wait for retirement because like the “American Dream,” this too is a myth – a huge bloody myth. So, what is there to do? Whine like I have just been doing? Nah – that gets old quickly and who has the time or the inclination to listen anyway? We (my husband and I) have decided to “drop out,” that is “opt out” of the lies. We are going to sell much of what we own (which isn’t much – really a lot of consumerist’s junk were were told we need by the Machine), buy an RV and travel while we work here or there. I was asked recently why I would be willing to do this? After all, I have a Ph.D. and a book coming out in a few months. Hell, it might land on Kindle (woot); why drop-out now when this could land me that full-time teaching gig I worked so hard to get? Because – I no longer believe in the dream. Once you realize that the dream is nothing but an illusion, Plato’s shadows dancing in a cave where you are changed-up (but you don’t know it) – you should free yourself and come out into the light.
This blog will now chronicle our efforts (my husband and I) to drop-out and opt-out of the poorly written American Dream Plan and opt into a plan more of our own making. Please join me in this journey and my personal goal of finding the “Rebecca” dream as well as the “Rebecca and George” dream.