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I have always been an odd bird, and believe me I take that as a compliment. I am so interested in the next thing that I have a difficult time sticking to things. (I intend this blog to be as eclectic as I am, so that should keep me going.) This short attention span is very well suited for some things. I do very well with theatre, just about the time I start getting bored with the show, the run is over. Same thing with school. I love learning, and spending about a semester doing something is a good length of time for me.
Luckily I have a lot of interests. I am a historian, but when people ask what period I focus on, I cannot say. I go through phases. In first grade I was practically obsessed with ancient Egypt, by middle school it was Civil War. When I was young I did melodrama, as a result I focused on the Victorian Era, now I am in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) so I lean towards medieval.
I am very interested in new technologies, cutting edge research, and neuroscience, but also ancient cultures and technology. I will write about the failings of society and my thoughts on improvement, but also things that I love about the world and wouldn’t change for anything. Sometimes I may do nothing more than post a review of an old movie, but I will also post my books chapter by chapter.
I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say, I would like to create a lively discourse with readers and other writers.
Take Pride in Your Insanity!

KZ is a person of many interests.

What brings you here?

Books

Topics

Just For Fun

About Me

Chapter 21 – Contemplation (WIP)

As Jessica opened her eyes, she was still wondering about the lady with all of the reassurances. It was like she knew that Jessica was struggling at home.

She went over the words again, not that she could remember them all, but a few stuck in her head. “I know everything looks bleak right now, but everything will be all right.” Did Jessica carry her struggle in her face? What would prompt LuAnn to say all of those things to someone she had just met? “Find your rock and stand on it. Use it to guide you, Use it to guide the world. You will know what to do.” What on earth could all that nonsense mean?

Pretty soon she realized that she had just woken up in a totally unfamiliar environment. She could not tell if she was in the real world or the dream world.

She started trying to sort through her thoughts. In the dream world, she had been with Rodney going to see how things got done there. In the real world she had been fighting for the life of a Rodney look alike against cops that couldn’t care less about her, the case, or the truth.

Suddenly she was wondering if this plain room was a psych ward. They had been claiming she was crazy, after all. Did those scary hospitals even still exist? Was she in jail? She had heard that a lot people with mental health needs ended up in prison. But she wasn’t crazy. They couldn’t hold her, she hadn’t done anything wrong. Did any of that matter? She certainly couldn’t afford a lawyer on top of all the hospital bills she had been racking up. By now she had squeezed her eyes shut, afraid to even find out where she was. She wanted so much to go back to that beautiful park with the fruit trees, instead of being in this strange room.

She opened her eyes, hoping to be transported back to the park. But to no avail. She still saw plain white bricks all around. She closed her eyes again.

She took some deep breaths to try to get her head back in the game. Wherever she was, she would need her eyes about her to get out of whatever scrape she was in. She couldn’t risk losing consciousness, or whatever happened in the real world when she was in the dream world.

After one final breath, she opened her eyes and sat up.

The Best Education…. For You

This may come as a surprise if you have read my other posts, but…I don’t support homeschooling. “But wait!” You might say. “You said homeschooling was the best option.” Ok. I might have said something like that. And I have not changed my mind. For many people, homeschooling is the best option. It allows you to follow a child’s interests and ability levels individually. It gives you the opportunity to do things that enhance education like visit museums, and get more hands-on learning. It means that kids are not stuck with only their peers. It means that kids aren’t wasting their time marching in straight lines all over the place instead of learning or playing (same thing, really). 

If it is so great, why did I open by saying I don’t support it? Because it is unfair. Because not everyone can give their kids that opportunity. Some parents don’t have the time, money, or experience necessary. For many families homeschooling is simply not an option. 

Just because homeschooling may be the best option for some families in the current system, does not mean it is the best option of all. 

My goal is to bring all of the benefits of homeschooling to public schools. This means a massive restructuring of the system. It means redefining what school even is. 

Over the past several years, I have noticed that homeschool has been redefined many times. I have talked about this before. But what if, rather than making homeschooling more like school, what if we make school more like homeschool? 

This is one version of how that could go;

Each child would have a main coordinator, or advisor, councilor, whatever you want to call it, that would help them find the right classes and constantly readjust the plans for students under their care. Their job is to form a close relationship to these students and observe them carefully. They also communicate with teachers to make sure the students are in the right place. This position completely replaces tests and assessments. This person only has a handful of students they are in charge of, and gradually as students get older, they take on more of this responsibility themselves. 

Classes would be offered in small chunks. For instance, today all of the kids in first grade learning the same lessons at the same time from different teachers. In this new system, each teacher teaches a slightly different lesson. Some would teach a class to get kids comfortable with counting, -up, down, by 2, 3, 5, 10, etc. Another teacher would teach combining and breaking apart numbers. Another would teach number bonds. Yet another would introduce concepts for multiplication. On and on. Each of these units would meet for maybe a month. Then students would go on to their next unit. But overlapping that month would be another group of teachers. So if a student missed something or didn’t understand, rather than falling behind, they would simply switch to another teacher at an earlier point in the unit, perhaps using a different method. Alternatively, if a student caught onto something really quickly, they could skip ahead rather than sitting around bored. 

If someone already knows a concept before they were scheduled in a class, they would just skip it entirely and go on to the next.

All of this would have to be done carefully to make sure that no stigma is attached to staying back, or prestige to moving ahead. If their is judgement based on this, then students will want to move ahead faster than they are ready for. If we encourage taking pride in the acquisition of new skills, rather than in existing knowledge, this might help. Another tool might be allowing people who are ashamed by a lack of knowledge to attend as an assistant. This would allow them to still follow the lesson, but without the associated shame. It would also expose them to the material in a different way. Sometimes helping others is the best way to solidify the information.

We would not divide students by age, but rather by ability. So some kids we would now put in first grade together would be grouped with children of various ages. Some might be doing letter recognition that we would call Pre-K, others would be learning the building blocks of a sentence, and still others might be writing a play with the older kids. 

The schedule would be arranged so that each class is the same length. This allows for a modular schedule, more like a modern high school. Elementary schools today have very dynamic schedules, where sometimes they have a block of 15 minutes in the classroom before heading out for the next thing. Any teacher will tell you that getting kids settled down to do something takes the whole time, and getting them ready to go can take even longer. This is time that is currently wasted, but is counted as educational time. 

I find that an hour is a minimum to really got some good learning in, 90 minutes is even better. Is that too long for young kids? Can they sit through a whole movie? I find that when kids are engaged with what they are doing, they can focus better than most adults. It’s boredom that creates that short attention span. And because they have that reputation, a lot of kids’ things are tailored for it. Kids shows aren’t a full hour, but scheduled in half hour blocks. Many of these shows are made up of two shorter episodes. This only encourages that short attention span. We do what we train ourselves to do. If we are exposed to interesting things in short bursts, our bodies will get used to moving after that time. 

That said, when kids are done, they should have the opportunity to do something other than to sit and wait. Whether that means older kids leaving class when they finish, or younger kids getting up and playing with toys that reinforce the lesson. 

One very important thing that this also brings about is that children of various ages work together. Today, children are only really exposed to children outside their family who are the same age they are. This makes it more challenging to mature. They have no model of what it looks like to be older, other than adults. They need exposure to stepping stones of maturity. It is also good for the older students, because it gives them a sense of responsibility. So often, parents of young children want to make sure that their kids are not interacting with troublemaking teens. But as it turns out, bigs tend to behave better when they have smalls around, because they know they are setting an example. And since people have individual strengths and weaknesses, in some settings each student will be among the youngest in class while in others they will be the among the oldest.

Public schools are incredibly important to a functional society. However, in order to serve their function, they must serve the needs of each individual student, rather than teaching to some hypothetical average. 

No one is actually average. Every person has an experience at school of just ‘getting it’ and other experiences of being absolutely and hopelessly lost. For one person, math might totally confuse them, but they love to paint. For another, music might send them screaming out of the room, but they find Shakespeare cathartic. We need to make sure that everyone is learning on their level. If someone doesn’t understand something and the class keeps marching on ahead anyway, that person may never catch up. Even someone who could one day be a genius engineer might struggle with a building block of math. If they never catch up, they will never understand math enough to do the thing they love and would be amazing at. 

Homeschool is sometimes the best option with our current system. But if the best option is so unfair, the system needs to be changed to make the best option available to everyone. And I don’t just mean, ‘sure, everyone’s allowed to homeschool’. I mean making sure that all of the benefits of homeschool are accessible enough that anyone can actually use it. People have to be able to fit a good thing into their lives in order to see any benefit. For many families, children staying home is simply not possible, so we need to make sure that the education those children receive at school is the best education for them. 

My Plans

I’ve apologized twice now for not posting regularly anymore. I’m not gonna apologize again. This time I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna do.

I have so many projects in my head I hardly know where to start.

Where I could make the biggest impact is to work on the things I need to finish and repair. I have a seven foot hanging rack and all of my under bed drawers full of these UFOs. And a lot of them are favorites, which is why they need work.

About half of my “mending mountain”

On the other hand, I really want to make some forward momentum on my big multi-year 18th century Princess Peach/Mario family cosplay.

Mario will be as drawn, Luigi will be the same, but green
Princess Peach will be a robe l’anglaise

But at the same time as all of that, I would really like to get some other, simpler projects done too.

So here’s the plan: I will release a video on YouTube once a month about some costumy something. I have a lot of fun ideas. Each of the things I mentioned above are a series into itself. But there is also tips and tricks about sewing machines, exploring my family’s vintage collection, and the occasional vlog too.

To facilitate this, I am going to start streaming on Twitch again! Two days a week, Monday and Thursday. Now that I have managed to lose any audience I had developed after dropping off the face of the internet once before. So don’t be surprised if during stream I take a moment to get footage for the YouTube videos. Before I was trying to record the whole stream to get B role. But I found that there was just too much to go through. So while I will still record it, it will not be the primary source of footage.

Just like before, I’m going to dedicate one day to Princess Peach ( she comes first because she is the most complex, and the kids are growing. ) And the other day to whatever else I am working on. As much as I would love to finish the 1970s dress I was working on before, I have no idea where it is. So I’m going to be doing some repair work.

I just released a video on creative repair ideas, so maybe I will be able to deal with some repairs I had no ideas about before.

My next video is going to be a fashion show of some things that need work, so that people can vote on what gets repaired next. They will end up in future YouTube videos, and probably get worked on on Twitch. But I will also work in my free time.

Free Time?! What’s that? I thought you said you were too crazy busy?

I have been. But ..

First: The gallery is mostly at a point where it doesn’t need constant repairs. There are still things we need to get done, but they are not in the way of us running the gallery, or going to get too much worse over time. So these things we can do on the weekends when we are closed and get some time to do what we wanna do!

Light

Second: I’m going to stop guilting myself about not having the house clean enough. I notice that I feel bad and just freeze up about getting anything done. So I’m setting a schedule, I will clean during that time and outside of that I give myself permission to do other things! I know that may sound really basic, but I really do need to give myself that permission. Otherwise I will never do anything until my house is clean, and it won’t get clean because it is just so overwhelmingly frustrating.

Third: I’m going to spend free time hand sewing because I can do that in those two minutes when I don’t know what I should be doing.

Long story short? I’m back! Again. But theoretically for good this time!

Bibliography for Repairs

Bibliography for Repairs

Welcome to my blog! I post here about not only costumes, but any random thing that occurs to me.

If you found this and have not yet seen the video, check it out! This video is part of Costume Symposium 2021, or CoSy.

My bibliography is too long for YouTube’s description, and I am a stickler for giving credit where credit is due and making sure that anyone is interested can find more information. So here it is!

Bibliography

A Part of the Rest. “1980s// Miss O, Oscar de La Renta// Black Velvet One Shoulder Bow Dress// M.” A PART OF THE REST. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.apartoftherest.com/vintage-dresses-caftans/1980s-oscar-de-la-renta-miss-o-black-velvet-pink-bow-one-shoulder-cocktail-dress.

Bazaar Pizzazz. “Bazaar Pizzazz Custom Painted Clothing: A Review of Etsy Shop Bazaar Pizzazz and Their Hand Painted Denim Jackets, Clothing, Home Textiles, and Accessories.” With Wonder and Whimsy, March 27, 2020. http://withwonderandwhimsy.com/2020/03/27/bazaar-pizzazz-custom-painted-clothing/.

“BnF – Enfance Au Moyen Âge.” classes.bnf.fr. Accessed August 22, 2021. http://classes.bnf.fr/ema/grands/ca001.htm.

Bo-Nash. “HOW to FUSE IT VIDEOS.” Bo-Nash (North America) Inc. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.bonashstore.com/how-to-fuse-it-videos.html.

“Boccaccio and Andalo Di Negro.” http://www.larsdatter.com. Accessed August 22, 2021. http://www.larsdatter.com/patched-clothing.htm.

Bowers, Nia. “Kintsugi Pottery Mending: Fragile Art for the Anxious Mind.” Art & Object, April 22, 2021. https://www.artandobject.com/news/kintsugi-pottery-mending-fragile-art-anxious-mind.

Bray, Laura. “The Art of Visible Mending.” Laura K. Bray Designs, September 20, 2018. http://laurabraydesigns.com/visible-mending.

Connors, Chris. “Simple Silk-Screen Printing Using a Vinyl Cutter.” Make, May 4, 2015. https://makezine.com/projects/vinyl-silk-screen-printing/.

Donner, Morgan. “I Tie-Dyed an 18th Century Dress (Bonus: How to Sew a Chemise a La Reine!).” http://www.youtube.com, September 25, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw-oqLPgmEA.

“Extant Garments.” The Time Travelling Victorian, November 2, 2012. https://timetravellingvictorian.wordpress.com/tag/extant-garments/.

Fun Stuff to Do. “Easy Crafts for Kids 8 | Potato Stamps and Potato Prints.” http://www.fun-stuff-to-do.com. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.fun-stuff-to-do.com/easy-crafts-for-kids-8.html.

Gucci. “Eco Washed Organic Denim Skirt.” Gucci. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.gucci.com/us/en/pr/women/ready-to-wear-for-women/denim-clothes-for-women/denim-bottoms-for-women/eco-washed-organic-denim-skirt-p-651415XDBLL4266.

“Harley Quinn.” Harley Quinn Wiki, n.d. https://harleyquinn.fandom.com/wiki/Harley_Quinn.

Harshitha. “Fabric Painting Techniques with Step by Step Tutorials – Lifestyle.” Kresent!, October 9, 2020. https://www.kresent.com/fabric-painting-techniques-with-steps/.

Huffstetler, Erin. “8 Ways to Hide Stains on Clothes.” The Spruce, March 11, 21AD. https://www.thespruce.com/hide-stains-on-clothing-1387956.

JACOMET, Hugo. “Invisible Mending: An Amazing Craft under Threat!” http://www.parisiangentleman.com, November 1, 2012. https://www.parisiangentleman.com/blog/invisible-mending-an-amazing-craft-under-threat.

“Jessica Rabbit.” Heroes Wiki. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://hero.fandom.com/wiki/Jessica_Rabbit?file=Jessica_Rabbit.png.

Kate. “Visible Mends.” visiblemending. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://visiblemending.com/collections/visible-mends.

KHG Arts. “Visible Mending.” KHG Arts, April 26, 2017. https://khgarts.com/portfolio/visible-mending/.

KZisNBKosplay. “Repair and Alteration Is Sustainable Fashion.” Children of Curiosity, May 14, 2018. https://childrenofcuriosity.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/repair-and-alteration-is-sustainable-fashion/.

———. “Tea Schiano.” Johnsons of Madrid Galleries, June 6, 2020. https://johnsonsofmadrid.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/tea-schiano/.

“Lace in the Edwardian Era – Cocktail Dress PNG Image | Transparent PNG Free Download on SeekPNG.” SeekPNG.com. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.seekpng.com/ipng/u2t4o0t4q8w7w7r5_lace-in-the-edwardian-era-cocktail-dress/.

Lett, Alexa. “Artful Visible Mending – ONLINE CLASS.” The Chattery. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.thechattery.org/classes2/2020/3/28/artful-visible-mending.

Louis Vuitton. “Products by Louis Vuitton: Mixed Floral Babydoll Dress.” Louis Vuitton. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/products/mixed-floral-babydoll-dress-nvprod2830130v#1A92SN.

Mae, Dolly. “Learn How to Paint on Fabric Permanently: 4 Simple Tips.” Craft + Leisure, September 19, 2018. https://craftandleisure.com/how-to-paint-on-fabric-permanently-1605/.

Mask World. “Tunic – Ulfred, Brown – Maskworld.com.” http://www.maskworld.com. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.maskworld.com/english/products/costumes/costume-component-parts–250/tunics–2510/woolen-viking-tunic-brown–104066.

May, Maggie. “Inside an Extant Bustle Era Gown.” Maggie May Clothing- Fine Historical Fashion, November 7, 2011. https://maggiemayfashions.com/inside-an-extant-bustle-era-gown/.

Moncler. “Moncler Online Shop.” Moncler. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.moncler.com/en-us/women/ready-to-wear/tops-and-t-shirts/short-sleeve-t-shirt-black-F10938C73400V8102999.html.

Morgan, Faith Pennick. “The Life of Clothes” in Late Antiquity. Brill.com. Brill, 2018. https://brill.com/view/book/9789004353466/BP000013.xml.

Museum of Applied Arts. “Dress | Museum of Applied Arts Collection Database.” Museum of Applied Arts. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://collections.imm.hu/gyujtemeny/dress/12390.

Muzquiz, Albert. “4 Fabric Printing Techniques – Discharge, Resist, Silkscreen, and More.” Heddels, May 2, 2018. https://www.heddels.com/2018/05/fabric-printing-techniques-discharge-resist-silkscreen-and-more/.

Nast, Condé. “These Are the Top 10 Trending Brands of 2021 (so Far) according to Lyst.” Vogue, May 10, 2021. https://www.vogue.com/article/what-brands-are-trending-lyst-q1-2021.

Off-White. “Meteor Jeans.” Off White. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.off—white.com/en-us/shopping/off-white-meteor-jeans-16866635.

Prada. “Aquamarine Double Match Silk Shirt.” Prada. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.prada.com/us/en/women/ready_to_wear/shirts_and_tops/products.double_match_silk_shirt.P433BO_1ZNR_F0229_S_212.html.

———. “Navy Printed Poplin Crop Top.” Prada. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.prada.com/us/en/women/ready_to_wear/shirts_and_tops/products.printed_poplin_crop_top.P928I_1ZBT_F057L_S_211.html.

———. “Shetland Wool Turtleneck Sweater with Decorative Holes.” Prada. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.prada.com/us/en/women/ready_to_wear/knitwear/products.shetland_wool_turtleneck_sweater_with_decorative_holes.P26402_1YRN_F0002_S_211.html.

———. “White Poplin Dress.” Prada. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.prada.com/us/en/women/ready_to_wear/dresses/products.poplin_dress.P3F25_1UCX_F0009_S_211.html.

Pucci, Emilio. “Contrast Insert Dress.” Emilio Pucci. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.emiliopucci.com/en-us/shopping/contrast-insert-dress-13350559.

Pym, Celia. “Visible Mending with Celia Pym and More Stitching Inspiration.” LoopKnitlounge, January 22, 2021. https://www.loopknitlounge.com/2021/01/visible-mending-with-celia-pym-and-more-stitching-inspiration/.

Reila. “Visiblemending – First Visible Mending Job, Started out as a Heart and Ended up as an Apple.” reddit. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.reddit.com/r/Visiblemending/comments/ghk8il/first_visible_mending_job_started_out_as_a_heart/.

“Remodeling Last Year’s Gowns”. 1906. The Delineator 67 (June 1906): 1128-1132. 

sashabrigitte. “DIY: Dip Dye.” celebrateyourindividuality, February 21, 2012. https://celebrateyourindividuality.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/diy-dip-dye/.

Scott, Isabella Bradford/susan Holloway. “The Importance of Mending, C1775.” Two Nerdy History Girls, August 11, 2016. https://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-importance-of-mending-c1775.html.

ShopStyle. “Urban Renewal Vintage X Hansel Clothing Hand Painted Jean.” ShopStyle. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.shopstyle.com/g/women/urban-renewal-vintage/x-hansel-clothing-hand-painted-jean/876086832.

Singh, Nupur. “What Is Sashiko? 7 Things to Know about Japanese Embroidery.” Japan Objects. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://japanobjects.com/features/sashiko.

“Superman.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 15, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman.

Terry, Ruth. “Mending: An Ancient Craft for Modern Times.” The Craftsmanship Initiative, May 1, 2020. https://craftsmanship.net/blog/mending-an-ancient-craft-for-modern-times/.

The Dotting Center. “How to Paint a Mandala Stone with Puffy Dots – Dot Painting Tutorial.” http://www.youtube.com, May 13, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD8TN0EW4aM.

“The Hedgecutter.” Twitter. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://twitter.com/amberbutchart/status/953576228539260928?lang=en.

“The Invisible Mend.” One Pair of Hands, July 23, 2011. http://usingonepairofhands.blogspot.com/2011/07/invisible-mend.html.

ThisBlueBird. “The Shibori Series: Shibori in Modern Fashion.” ThisBlueBird, August 22, 2019. https://thisbluebird.com/blogs/thisbluebird/the-shibori-series-shibori-in-modern-fashion.

Umamade. “Visible Mending with Embroidery | Lockdown Goals.” umamade, April 29, 2020. https://umamade.co/visible-mending/.

Veneta, Bottega. “Men’s Jacket in Black | Bottega Veneta® US.” Bottega Veneta. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.bottegaveneta.com/en-us/jacket-black-665908V0C101076.html.

“Visible Mending and Creative Knitwear Repair Service.” Collingwood-Norris. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.collingwoodnorrisdesign.com/visible-mending-service.

Vuitton, Louis. “Asymmetrical Macro Epi Dress.” Louis Vuitton. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/products/asymmetrical-macro-epi-dress-nvprod2880184v#1A935G.

———. “Sporty Cut-out Dress.” Louis Vuitton. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/products/sporty-cut-out-dress-nvprod2830134v#1A91G3.

Wal-Mart. “Creative Iron on Denim Patches No-Sew Shades Cotton Jean Repair Kit for Clothing Jeans and Diy Repair(Random Colors) 13Pc.” Walmart.com. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Creative-Iron-On-Denim-Patches-No-Sew-Shades-Cotton-Jean-Repair-Kit-for-Clothing-Jeans-and-Diy-Repair-Random-Colors-13Pc/664308992.

Wohlwend, Jessi. “Make Your Own Bleach Spray Shirt in Just 10 Minutes!” Practically Functional, February 10, 2014. https://www.practicallyfunctional.com/diy-bleach-spray-shirt/.

Bibliography for Grow Clothes

Bibliography for Grow Clothes

Welcome to my blog! I post here about not only costumes, but any random thing that occurs to me.

If you found this and have not yet seen the video, check it out! This video is part of Costume Symposium 2021, or CoSy.

My bibliography is too long for YouTube’s description, and I am a stickler for giving credit where credit is due and making sure that anyone is interested can find more information. So here it is!

Bibliography

“1930s Fashion – Hollywood Winter Frocks -1934.” 2015. Glamour Daze. January 16, 2015. https://glamourdaze.com/2015/01/1930s-fashion-hollywood-winter-frocks-1934.html.

Alcott, Louisa May. 1862. Little Women. Spark Notes.

“Breeches.” 2021. Metmuseum.org. The Met Museum. 2021. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/157868.

Callahan, Colleen R. 2021. “History Of Children’s Clothing”. Love To Know. Accessed August 22. https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fashion-history-eras/history-childrens-clothing.

“Christening Gown and under Gown.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/91561/christening-gown-and-under-gown?ctx=9348a95c50971dcfa8cadad9e35caae2942fc2b7&idx=182.

“Coat.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/16853/coat?ctx=01ceb13c478cc0044b02bcff3a43a16a93b0d9d4&idx=203.

“Costume Museum.” n.d. Discover Kyoto. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.discoverkyoto.com/places-go/costume-museum/.

Delage, Jordy. 2019. “Hakama 101 – Aikido Journal.” Aikido Journal. April 30, 2019. https://aikidojournal.com/2019/04/30/hakama-101/.

“Dress.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/791/dress?ctx=841078b2942c990918cae82821529cea3b3fb9ae&idx=151.

“Dress.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/7292/dress?ctx=9348a95c50971dcfa8cadad9e35caae2942fc2b7&idx=177.

“Dress.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/78480/dress?ctx=a405632a5181cc713ccceba76de2eaa7efdc3eb7&idx=186.

“Dress.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/5355/dress?ctx=841078b2942c990918cae82821529cea3b3fb9ae&idx=144.

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“Girl with Cat.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/85536/girl-with-cat?ctx=dd3b2381a5646041484c91f78e01c6e45043c111&idx=261.

“Growth Tucks”. 2021. The Sewing Academy. https://www.thesewingacademy.com/tag/growth-tucks/.

“Madame Georges Charpentier (Marguérite-Louise Lemonnier, 1848–1904) and Her Children, Georgette-Berthe (1872–1945) and Paul-Émile-Charles (1875–1895).” 2020. Metmuseum.org. The Met Museum. 2020. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438815.

“Menna and Family Hunting in the Marshes, Tomb of Menna.” n.d. The Met. The Met Museum. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/548437.

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“Photographic Print (Black and White) | British Museum.” n.d. The British Museum. The British Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/EA_Oc-B131-18.

“Photographic Print (Black and White); Cabinet Card | British Museum.” n.d. The British Museum. The British Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/EA_Am-B56-12.

“Portrait of Amanda Clayanna Armstrong [Later, Mrs. Solon C. White](1844-1924).” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/27873/portrait-of-amanda-clayanna-armstrong-later-mrs-solon-c?ctx=a9e9dce7d30e1244cdffcac8c5a36de60330ad6e&idx=438

“Portrait of Rosa Heywood [Later, Mrs. William O. Brown](1834-1923).” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/58267/portrait-of-rosa-heywood-later-mrs-william-o-brown1834?ctx=b71b6637ccbaba830acbfebabb1b00df8bc0d97f&idx=320

“Portrait of the Jennison Children.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/100938/portrait-of-the-jennison-children?ctx=53ce7921127311087845957c3c4ce0f7e19bbc3b&idx=12#.

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Pullen, Martha. 2012. “Vintage Sewing Techniques 1 Preview: Folded Tucks”. Youtube.Com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4oLZUjVfzk.

“Remodeling Last Year’s Gowns”. 1906. The Delineator 67 (June 1906): 1128-1132. https://books.google.com/books?id=FhvhNfYrWnoC&pg=PA1131&lpg=PA1131&dq=inset+lace+for+growing+children&source=bl&ots=TzsjKRoHA8&sig=ACfU3U12QrTiZgvIt060A6E9GbX0DS1f1w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiPvsrTicHyAhVSG80KHUBzDOEQ6AF6BAgwEAI#v=onepage&q=inset%20lace%20for%20growing%20children&f=false.

S, Alen. 2018. “Marriage in Ancient Egypt Read More At: Https://Www.shorthistory.org/Ancient-Civilizations/Ancient-Egypt/Marriage-In-Ancient-Egypt/.” Short History Website. May 15, 2018.

“Shift.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/49759/shift?ctx=2e13be9cb88c438910d7e9769c4191579f9eb6f7&idx=215.

“Shirt | Unknown | V&A Explore The Collections”. 2021. Victoria And Albert Museum: Explore The Collections. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O115767/shirt-unknown/?carousel-image=2009BW6758.

“Skeleton Suit | Unknown | V&A Explore The Collections”. 2021. Victoria And Albert Museum: Explore The Collections. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1129110/skeleton-suit-unknown/.

“The Lederhosen Museum – Fly of a Lederhose by c and A.” n.d. http://Www.lederhosenmuseum.de. The Lederhosen Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. http://www.lederhosenmuseum.de/Fly13.html.

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“The Taylor Family (Martin Taylor; Ann Taylor; Jefferys Taylor; Isaac Taylor; Isaac Taylor; Jane Taylor; Ann Taylor).” n.d. National Portrait Gallery. National Portrait Gallery. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw06207/The-Taylor-Family-Martin-Taylor-Ann-Taylor-Jefferys-Taylor-Isaac-Taylor-Isaac-Taylor-Jane-Taylor-Ann-Taylor?search=ap&firstRun=true&title=&npgno=&eDate=&lDate=&medium=&subj=20007%3BGenre&subSubject=56%3BChildren&set=&portraitplace=&searchCatalogue=&submitSearchTerm=Search&wPage=1&rNo=34.

Tolman, Allison. 2021. “Clothing As A Historical Document: Reading Dresses In The Fashion Archive – Maryland Humanities”. Mdhumanities.Org. https://www.mdhumanities.org/2018/03/clothing-as-a-historical-document-reading-dresses-in-the-fashion-archive/.

“Traditional Russian Costume.” n.d. Traditionalrussiancostume.com. Accessed August 3, 2021. http://traditionalrussiancostume.com/costumeinfo/xru_en.php?nametxt=8.

“Trousers.” n.d. Emuseum.history.org. Colonial Williamsburg Museum. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://emuseum.history.org/objects/9943/trousers?ctx=360045ad1cace64e273fe14a3f26f07a5c1194ad&idx=159#.

“Tunic | V&A Explore The Collections”. 2021. Victoria And Albert Museum: Explore The Collections. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O355503/tunic/.

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Wikipedia, Contributors. 2021. “Peplos.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. July 11, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peplos.

‌And my OCD academic brain is severely irritated that wordpress refuses to let me format these citations properly. because I am that obsessive about this. So I am going to take a deep breath and tell myself that this is something I can give up, and try desperately to push it from my head.

The Future of Capitalism

The story of history that we are taught in school has a very simple narrative. Way back in the day, people struggled. They had to work long hours with only the simplest of tools. People were forced to work against their will. Life was miserable. And as time moved on, innovations happened. Life got easier. Machines did more work, so people did less. And people have become better and kinder, sharing their rights and privileges with the less fortunate. Now all the people have all the rights and everything is happy. And all the credit goes to Capitalism. Because earning money is the reason people innovate, and the reason that anyone can have a chance to succeed.

In case you couldn’t guess from the way I have presented that, I have to disagree with most of that narrative. Not that I’m going into each part of that now, but I would like a foil to work with (or against).

But there is a very important throughline to all of that history. Since the advent of agriculture, there have been the people who labor, and the people who benefit from that labor. Let me say that again. There have been people who did the work. And there have been different people who reaped the rewards of that work. Go as far back as you want, the people working the fields have never been the people showing off the latest fashions at court.

The specifics of the dichotomy certainly change. At some points, the farmers own the land, sometimes they are peasants tied to the land, other times, they are slaves, still other they are paid employees. But never are the people who produce the product, who actually plow the fields, forge the weapons, or manufacture the vehicles, ever in power. There are stories of people who came from that background getting out, but those are few and far between. There are times and places where the leaders let the workers think they have some power, but it’s just a minor role.

And the goals of these two groups are completely at odds. The powerful want to make as much money for themselves as possible, while the Laborers want to make as much money for themselves as possible. Because money is a finite resource, both cannot win. One must lose. And every time, it’s the people with the power. Sure there are brief moments when the workers gain the upper hand, say when the labor pool is small, or they have formed a union. But the powerful learn. Every time this happens, they learn from it how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

And so it goes. Sometimes a new technology is introduced, and there is some disruption to the system, but it balances out and keeps right on moving. Most of these disruptive technologies are labor saving devices. Great! That helps the people doing the labor, right? Not quite. It displaces some of the labor force. Some of the people who used to do the job, are replaced by machine. And suddenly have to find something else to do.

I will not deny that this has led to a massive diversification of types of labor, and career opportunities, which has been great. However, I am afraid that we are reaching a point where that trend will not continue.

As technology advances, we see a wider and wider variety of fields being influenced by labor saving devices. The reason is simple. The wealthy find that it is cheaper to implement technology than it is to pay people. For the same reason that slavery was chosen over a paid work force, and hypothetical employers would hire desperate immigrants rather than citizens, and minimum wage rarely increases. Jobs are being outsourced to the machines. And they will not come back.

And it’s not just manufacturing, cashiers and farming. It’s lawyers, doctors, and salespeople. It’s performers, artists, and bankers.

So what do we do about it? Should we raise the minimum wage? Certainly! People deserve to be able to support their family from their work. But will it help stop the robot takeover? No. It will probably hasten it. Just because the business can, and should pay, doesn’t mean they want to. Should we make laws limiting job replacing machines? Couldn’t hurt. Might stave off some of the worst effects until we can find a long term solution. But it won’t last. If the powerful want something, they will try over and over and over until they get it. It will eventually be overturned. Should we stop robotics research? No can do. The genie is out of the bottle. And it could be a great thing.

From here we have two choices. 1) We can let capitalism take it’s course. If we choose this, eventually there will be no work for people to do. I know some people say that there will be other jobs wet haven’t even thought of yet. And that might be true. But really, how long will those jobs last before themselves being replaced? Minimum Wage won’t help anyone if there are no jobs. This possibility is terrifying to me. If the powerful continue to show the type of blatant disregard for humanity that they have been demonstrating, the people who they used to rely on will be allowed to fall into a poverty so immense and unending that most of the population would literally starve to death or kill one another in a desperate bid for survival. I know that sounds extreme, and I seriously hope I am wrong and that their humanity would kick in before that happens. The thing that I thing might kick them into gear is actually their own greed. They only make money if people are buying what they are selling. It is actually in the best interests of the wealthy for the people to have spending money.

Or 2) We find an alternative way to support all people. One idea with growing support is a Universal Basic Income, or UBI. This is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone gets money just for existing. And if you work, you continue to receive the UBI. This means that people would have the opportunity to wait for a better job offer, or pursue their own passion without fear of failure. This would by necessity drive up pay, benefits, and working conditions. It would give people the spending money they need to allow the wealthy to continue to make money. But I could easily see this undone by an administration that opposes it, so even once passed, the fight would not be over. Just like with anything.

The other way to support people might be to make money superfluous. I know, this can sound crazy, but I have been bouncing these ideas around in my head for a long time. I would like to get them out of my head, and begin having discussions. Other people think of things I haven’t. But I will say that those I have discussed this with, have come up with problems they feel are insurmountable, that I see as only a problem from a perspective that already includes money. So I encourage you to keep an open mind.

We already have enough food for everyone on the planet. It just isn’t distributed in such a way to get it to everyone, because the money isn’t coming from everywhere equally. We could build the infrastructure to distribute it if we really wanted to.

There are enough vacant houses in the US to eliminate homelessness. I suspect that worldwide we could make that happen too, of it is not already true. What is stopping us? The fact that we expect money in exchange for shelter. It is the money getting in the way of solving this problem.

The last basic human need is water. This is the hardest to overcome. But humans are really smart. As a society we have made some amazing innovations. Many of the most transformational were motivated by heart not money. People who want money like to do things that have been proven to make money in the past. Bigger and better, sure, but not transformational. People who want to change the world work in transformational.

To get real innovation, you need motivation that comes from wanting to solve real problems. Capitalism doesn’t provide those motivations, being human does. And can you imagine how many new ways to solve a problem might be created if millions of people who currently have to spend their time working just to get by suddenly could spend their time doing the things they are driven to do? I’m not just talking about figuring out a solution to water scarcity. I’m talking about cures for cancer, solving climate change, and creating long term habitats on different planets for a start.

For a long of these big problems, capitalism not only doesn’t find a solution, but actively creates them. For instance, climate change. The biggest polluters know that they make their money by polluting. Capitalism has given them a vested interest in not solving the problem. And they work tirelessly to make sure that no one will get in the way of those short term gains. Blocking regulations, and actively convincing people that it’s all nonsense. You want a conspiracy? There’s one for you. A real one. And it’s not even very well hidden.

Even attempts to make Capitalist goals align with environmental goals don’t work out. Carbon Credits always seemed like a cop out solution to me, and organizations like Greenpeace are turning a critical eye to the system.

Another amazing thing that removing capitalism does for innovation is remove competition. Competition has long been heralded as the reason for innovation, but just like capitalism as a whole, I would argue that it causes, at best, incremental improvements. I would much prefer cooperation. If two people have the same goals about saving the world, and somehow manage to get hired at two different companies actually trying to make a difference, they will each find different solutions. More solutions are great, don’t get me wrong. But if there are two that are very similar, neither one will really be transformational. For instance, if two companies both have green concrete, and one allows for rainwater to soak into the soil, and the other doesn’t produce CO2 to manufacture, which one do you choose? But if those scientists worked together instead of competing, you could have one product that did both. But the engineer working on creating solar roads could work separately and then both things could work side by side. Or they could all work together as a team and create something that has all three properties.

Removing competition doesn’t only affect innovation. It also affects our personal lives. Racism is certainly fueled by hate. Sexism is fueled by a need to be better than someone else. But they, and other -isms are also fueled by competition and resentment. Throughout history any group that is new to an area is accused of taking jobs from those who were already there. It has happened, among others, to the Chinese, the Irish, and now Mexicans. Even women were treated with a different level of respect before entering the work force. Sexism certainly still existed, and kept them in the home, but when women chose to enter the sphere of the male workplace, that sexism changed form to something more vindictive. If we can limit the things that people need to compete for, we can make more progress towards ending hate.

So in short, we are at a crossroads. We have a choice to make: do we let the world continue on its path of separating haves and have nots? Or do we address those issues now while we still can? Do we let those in power dictate our path or do we take the reins and make sure that we have a place in the future? In the end, making sure we are all taken care of is in everyone’s best interest. Not taking action is a choice. Putting off the choice is allowing the problem to magnify in the meantime. We have seen what happened with Global Climate Change when we let it play out. It gets worse and more polarized. It gets harder to solve.

Capitalism and Democracy

Capitalism and Democracy. Two peas in a pod. They go together like a horse and carriage. Like a hand in a glove.
We have been taught that without one, we cannot have the other. But how do they really work together? And might a better match be made?
Democracy is about the people having power. Each vote having the same weight in a decision. People working together to make the world a better place.
Capitalism is about people having a reason and initiative to create things of value. Seems perfect. But that ignores the fact that Capitalism encourages individuals to act in their own self interest at the expense of the community. And that self interest extends to fighting any attempt at regulation, since that regulation limits the individual’s ability to enrich themselves in an attempt to protect the populace from the individual. This creates an inevitable antagonism between the people who act in their self interest and anyone left unprotected by the system.
People who are successful in this capitalist economy are necessarily the people who are willing to put their own interests first. It would seem that Democracy would be the perfect antidote to this harmful economic incentive, by allowing those who would be helped by regulating the successful to enact that legislation. However, inevitably the successful will fight against regulation. Although the people have the numbers with which to defend themselves, the successful have the money.
At first, the playing field may be equal (in a perfect world that never existed with no past history of power disparity). However, it will not be long before the successful take the lead (especially if they have a head start). If everyone has the same chances for success, some will succeed while others will not. Those with success will use that success to inch ahead, and for awhile, this will be fine.
Until a level of inequality is reached that puts the people at such a disadvantage that they cannot overcome. By that point, the people have to play catch-up to regulate the successful.
If the people are lucky, the successful will not have thought of this, and the people might have some success in crafting effective regulations.
But once the successful realize they cannot continue to freely exploit the populace, they will use their success to their advantage. They will use their money to influence the people who directly create these regulations. These lawmakers desire money, since that is the primary motivator of capitalism. And so, the regulations begin to be worn away. Sometimes by outright removing them, other times by making them ineffective or impossible to enforce. Once this happens, the people who have not become successful, loose any pretext of Democratic power. The successful own the regulators.
The balance is permanently shifted.
The people have to find other means of gaining power.
Ok. That was a little intense.
I said that we all start at a fair level. So (aside from the fact that because every society arrives with a historical context making truly fair and equitable opportunities unrealistic) what is stopping the rest of the people from becoming successful?
In the beginning of our fictitious perfectly balanced world, some people are motivated more than others, some have better ideas, some people have fewer obligations than others. This beginning sets off the future imbalances. But at this point, shuffling can still occur. These successful people may not be the ones still successful in the end. The people unsuccessful in the beginning still have an opportunity to rise up.
But the more this inequality spreads, the more set these classes will be. As the people have to work harder to fight the entrenched heirarchy, their time is spent more trying to just get by, the less regulation there is to protect them, the less likely they are to gain success. This equality of opportunity is a fiction by this point. It may be a long time when there are still the occasional success story to keep the opportunity myth circulating, but at some point, the people realize the world is stacked against them.
Well, that got dark again. Oops.
Let’s try something else. Democracy. If left to its own devices, Democracy will function well, giving voice to the people. When something comes up, the people will do what they need to do to address the issue. A Representative Democracy might take awhile though. The representatives aren’t necessarily in touch with what is affecting the rest of the population. So, these systems still have room for improvement, but will do right by the majority.
But that brings up an unfortunate part of Democracy. The Minority is not heard. In many cases, that is because the minority might support something that would hurt the majority In others, it might simply be because the majority are unaware of something that doesn’t affect them, but does affect the minority. The majority have a built-in defense against the minority. (unless the actual lawmakers get bought out by that minority that is) But what happens if the majority want to do something that would hurt the minority? The system does not address this. It would go through.
But there is a difference between hurting the wealthy minority by taxing them to help the majority, and hurting an underprivileged minority by taking rights away.
If we build a system which builds empathy then this type of problem can be overcome. We should encourage people to support one another rather than pitting people against one another.
But the most pressing, and longest lasting problem with democracy is the delicate balance it takes to maintain. One charismatic person can tip the scales from the betterment of the people to the betterment of themselves. Through the use of media, and personality, we have seen how it is possible to convince people to vote against their own interests.
This problem is very hard to solve once it has happened. Once people believe something firmly, it is hard to change their minds. It is easier to teach hate and distrust than it is to rebuild trust and empathy.
Once again, however, we can work to limit the things that motivate this type of takeover. If there is a massive financial incentive to power, power concentrated in one individual, or fame and clout associated with a position, then people who crave these things will manipulate the system to gain that prestige.
On the other side, people who are struggling; whether it is financial, physical, or emotional, can often be convinced to blame someone. People in this position are prime targets for a demagogue.
In order to maintain this delicate balance, making sure that people’s needs are taken care of is paramount. By making sure that separation between the advantaged and disadvantaged is minimal we can both discourage the power hungry to seek political power, and help to ensure that no one feels like they need to change others for an unfortunate situation.
That said, nothing is perfect. But the more problems we can prevent, the more stable a democracy we have.
So is there a better system? I don’t know. But I do know that we cannot keep espousing the virtues of a system that has so many weaknesses towards corruption. We cannot continue to overthrow other countries that decide to try something different. We need to implement caring and compassionate adjustments to our society if we want to hold off the rebellions. And we just might find that by taking care of our citizens we save our Democracy.

Financial Literacy is NOT the Answer

How many times have you been told you need to save up for retirement? Or have a rainy day fund? Or balance your budget? While these are all good goals, and well meaning advice, they are hopelessly out of touch with a huge segment of the population.
Who am I to talk about this? Well, I have been the sole wage earner for my family of 4 working for minimum wage. And I was always able to find a way to make it work without having to choose between food and rent. But let me be clear. That is not because I took financial literacy classes, or am smarter, or more determined. It is luck and privilege.
When my husband left the military, we had money in savings that allowed us to get a foothold in a new city (privilege).
I was lucky enough to get a job on my first day putting in applications.
Also, minimum wage where I moved to was higher than the national minimum (luck). When my family rented a two bedroom apartment, my son was less than a year old, so we got a roommate to help with rent. That is not a decision that everyone can make. It is also a decision that a lot of people do make, and still struggle.
When we bought a house, I deliberately looked for a house with as many bedrooms as possible to rent out. We found a 5 bedroom house on a short sale (luck). We went through many attempts at financing it. We were planning to use my husband’s VA benefits (privilege). I have good credit, but I don’t use credit cards, so they wouldn’t recognize the credit scores, so I might as well have had no credit. My husband at the time had no credit at all. So we had to have my mom co-sign (privilege). And the seller was extremely patient to drag out the selling process for six months (luck). And the whole thing would have been thrown off if it had dragged on any longer. Two weeks after we moved in our second son was born. All of the numbers would have changed, and wouldn’t have worked with a second dependant (luck). And you can’t use roommates as income for these things.
Ok, enough background. What happens without luck and privilege like I have enjoyed? Spoiler alert: It’s not good.
Let’s explore my story in an alternative universe. If we did not have that little nest egg, we would have been stuck in the city where he had been stationed. Not the end of the world, but in my personal opinion, unpleasant. Even though I know this would be harder for someone who was not white, college educated, healthy, and had already worked in the hotel industry for several years, let’s talk about what happens if one of us got a job. The minimum wage was 25 cents more than the national minimum wage. We lived in a 400 square foot mother in law apartment before we left, but within a few months, when our son turned a year old, we would legally have been required to have a second bedroom, doubling the cost of rent.
What if the place we rented had rules against roommates, or required the child to have their own bedroom, like our previous did? The take home pay from working full time for minimum wage, was literally less than the cost of a two bedroom apartment. I know that is not unique to that city.
So, what if we chose to buy a house instead? If we did not have someone who could co-sign for us, that would have simply not been an option. We would have had to build up credit in order to do that, meaning that we would be required to rent for many more years. But how do you build up credit if you aren’t earning enough to pay the bills?
Ok, what if both parents got a job? Great! Problem solved. But who takes care of the child? Child care costs more than rent, so we would actually end up with less money in the end instead of more. Unless, we staggered our schedule so that one of us was home all the time. I worked graveyard for years, most other jobs would easily fit in the off time. But then each parent ends up watching the child while they are supposed to be sleeping. That doesn’t bode well for anyone’s health. And many businesses have an actual policy that employee’s schedules change each week. There is some sort of businesslike rationale for this, like making sure that each employee gets the same opportunities or something. As a result, many businesses are unwilling to hire people who do not have ‘open availability’ which makes second jobs extremely problematic. All of this aside from common business practices like only hiring part-time employees. So, there are no benefits with any of these jobs either.
So where did this leave us? Most of what people would call ‘choices’ that I have made that helped me get by would be completely inaccessible in this situation. They are impossible, so there is no choice to be made.
Let me be clear: If you have no choices, you are stuck where you are. If you are making less money than you need in order to pay for absolute nessesities, you can’t put aside some for later. Every time I call my credit union, (a privilege) I hear a message that says that women aren’t saving enough for retirement, especially latina women. This is a true statement. They aren’t saving enough. But then it goes on to tell us that the credit union offers free financial literacy classes. On YouTube I get ads for products that ‘make saving easy’. I get that these things are well-meaning, but they are hopelessly out of touch. They make it sound like the reason people aren’t saving is because they are being frivolous. Granted, for some people, this is true. But the people who need that savings the most, the people those statistics tell us are at risk, are not being frivolous. Minimum wage earns you around $10,000 /year. A cheap 2 bedroom apartment 10 years ago, when this situation starts, would have cost nearly $12,000 a year in an inexpensive backwater city. And yet, the story we are told is that it is the fault of the people in poverty. They should just buck up, be responsible, and make better choices. This is a completely naive approach to this problem. No one chooses to be in poverty. No one chooses to work for minimum wage.
Before you say that these people should have gotten a better education so they could get a better job, look at the statistics of how much college really costs today, and how many graduates are still working for minimum wage. That was me. I have 2 degrees and I still worked for minimum wage.
Before you talk about how people should stop having too many kids, you need to find out how many kids people in poverty are actually having. And this enters a discussion about personal choice, and costs of birth control that I am not getting into today.
Before you talk about how lazy poor people are, you should find out how they live. They are the hardest working people by far. Because they have to be, just to survive.
I hope that this look at what benefits this type of privilege and luck can actually have on real world outcomes has been enlightening.

Surviving on Minimum Wage (example)

Dallas, Texas Minimum Wage earner budget

ItemCreditDebitTotal
Wages580580
Payroll withheld(87)493
Rent(575)(82)
Wages580498
Groceries (1 person)(250)248
Utilities(140)108
Gas(50)58
Car Insurance(56)2

This budget is for a single person living in the cheapest apartment I saw available in Dallas. They work minimum wage. Groceries, commute distance, mpg, utilities are based on averages for the area. Car Insurance is the cheapest option. And in case you are wondering why I prioritized gas over something else, Dallas’ public transit is so dysfunctional, as to be non-existent.

What can they not afford that are considered ‘needs’?

  • Renters insurance.
  • Health insurance.
  • Out-of-pocket medical costs.
  • Life insurance.
  • Car payment.
  • Internet.
  • Cell phone and/or landline.
  • Student loan payments.
  • Other minimum loan payments.

This also does not include other household members. They would not be able to afford food for a child, or child care for them.

  • Child support or alimony payments.
  • Child care.

We cannot discount these costs as unnecessary based on the idea that people earning minimum wage are young and living at home. People younger than 20 actually do not have to be paid the full minimum wage, so they earn even less. As of 2019, a Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program study shows that “Nearly two-thirds of low-wage workers are in their prime working years of 25-54, and nearly half of this group (40%) are raising children.”

This is not to mention the things that so many people don’t think twice about as they go about their lives.

  • Eating out
  • Clothing
  • Television and Streaming Services
  • Grooming and cleaning products
  • Gym memberships
  • Going to see a movie

The site that I am looking at recommends these things be 30% of your budget. They also recommend 20% of your budget be for things like saving up for emergencies, paying off debts, and investing for retirement.

As someone that worked a minimum wage job (luckily in a state with a higher wage) and supported two children and a husband (it was cheaper than child care) I have always been rather offended by these types of budgeting tips. They are completely out of touch. They recommend cutting out the fun stuff so that you can save more for retirement. For anyone who has been on this treadmill, that is positively laughable. You can’t ‘cut out’ something you couldn’t afford to begin with. They tell you to prioritize your needs and try to find the cheapest option. What if you can’t afford all of the ‘needs’ in the first place? What if you had to get a second job, so now you don’t have time to call around to get the best rate?

Me Time

It is a common enough recommendation for stress, “Take some ‘Me Time’.” Often it is accompanied by the word “just”. That word is a tangent for another day, but suffice to say, it is not that easy.

‘Me Time’ sounds all well and good and it is very well-meaning advice. But the problem is, some people just can’t. ‘Me Time’ is a privilege.

Yes, I, a cis, straight, white woman am talking about something that I do not have the privilege of doing. But that is precisely why I am talking about it. If I don’t get ‘Me Time’ working from home and living with 2 more generations of mothers, you better believe that their are a lot of less privileged people out there who also don’t have the ability to take some time for themselves.

But this is not just a tirade of complaints. (Although I am very good at that, if I do say so myself). Let’s talk about why this is the case, why it is not talked about, and what we can do about it.

Why Not?

Over-commitment.

But when I say that, people say, “You need to pick what’s important and cut out the rest.”

Sounds so easy when you say it like that. Let’s go over some examples of people who might have this problem.

Single Parents – It is no secret that being a single parent is hard. It is hard to split time with another parent. It is hard to ask others for help. It is hard to get after-hours daycare. It is hard to take a day off work. That’s all good ways to get ‘Me Time’, right? That is all well and good if you have that option.

There are many situations where the other parent does not take the kids; location of the other parent, loss of custody, death of the other parent, etc. Other people switch off so that the kids are with the other parent while they are at work.

There are many situations where there is not another adult able to watch the kids. They could be all burned out from watching the kids while you are at work. You could have moved away from family and friends.

If that is not available, just get a babysitter. Just kidding. Just to let anyone who has not had young kids recently. Daycare is prohibitively expensive for people working minimum wage. You literally make less than you pay for that single service while you are working. Never mind paying someone to take care of kids while you aren’t even getting paid. And that amount is a fee that works with other parent’s fees to pay the employees, etc. If you pay a sitter, they will expect minimum wage at least. So you are no better off that way.

Another option is to use the time when the kids are asleep. Hahahaha!!!!!! Yeah right. That time gets spent doing all the housework that no-one else takes care of. And sleep? Doesn’t exactly qualify as ‘Me Time’. And most adults don’t get enough of that as it is.

Women – This problem disproportionately affects women rather than men. Women are more likely to have custody in a separated family.

It is also well documented that women tend to earn less than men do. Women, on average, do not get as far ahead in their careers, glass ceilings and all. Even when a woman does have the same job as a man, she does not get paid the same for it. (We have the right to discuss our salaries for a reason. Don’t let your boss convince you otherwise.) This income disparity means that it is harder to find childcare to take that much needed ‘Me Time’, never mind pay for that Spa trip your single friend recommended.

Even for a couple in a relationship, women tend to take on more of the child care and household duties in addition to their jobs. Sorry men, if you think you are doing your fair share, I encourage you to take a closer look. You might be right, but chances are that while you are in front of the TV, or on the computer, or reading the paper, or whatever you do in your free time, your wife or girlfriend is probably cleaning or cooking or working on something with the kids. This is true even for men who believe that the workload should be shared. I am really trying to make this not stereotypical, or based solely on my own experience, but it is often easier to just do what needs to get done than it is to point it out and then argue about it. It’s hard to get away when you have a whole lot of things to take care of. I get that you might be more productive after a break, but getting to that break can be a real struggle.

It is also well documented that people of color tend to earn less than white people do. People of color on average, do not get as far ahead in their careers, racism and all. Even when a person of color does have the same job as a white person, they do not get paid the same for it. (We have the right to discuss our salaries for a reason. Don’t let your boss convince you otherwise.) This income disparity means that it is harder to find childcare to take that much needed ‘Me Time’, never mind pay for that Spa trip your white friend recommended.

These problems are similar, but not the same. I get that. There is more at play here with systemic racism. Not to mention that Women of Color get screwed on 2 fronts.

This is a good place to discuss the necessity that many people have of having multiple jobs, just to keep themselves afloat. Here is the obvious statement of the year: If you spend more time working for others, you have less time for yourself. (And if you work more you pay more for child care, if you got ’em). Many people end up in an endless loop of needing more money to pay for child care, getting a job, and ending up needing more money than they are making again, just to cover the additional child care!

I am fully in support of businesses paying overtime when needed. What I do not support is businesses only hiring for part time so they don’t have to get benefits. I do not support businesses paying less than a living wage. The means that the employee who needs to work more than 40 hours, but has is spread across two jobs, is not getting overtime. We talk about these horrible before times when people had to work 80 hours a week and only had one day off, etc. That was terrible. But it was with one employer. When you need to balance two jobs, you end up juggling them to make sure that you are not scheduled at the same time for both. Many businesses will not hire people without an open schedule. Even more have a policy of making each week a different schedule. With a routine, you could get it set up and be good. With changing schedules, every week requires mental gymnastics, negotiating with employers, and stretching your good will with them closer and closer to the breaking point. You have to run across town, get changed, etc. All time that you are not getting paid for. And that one day off? You don’t get that. Many jobs, even part time, do not give full shifts. Employees will work for 4 hours here, 3 hours there. The hours that you work get spread out, meaning that rather than working for 5 days and for 40 hours, you could work 7 days and only get 25 hours!

And these people are not lazy. They are some of the hardest working people in this country. And they do it, because it needs to get done. Despite knowing that they have a dead end job, and all of this hard work won’t get them out of where they are.

These people are not stupid. Many of them would be much better at running the businesses where they work than the CEO is. Many of them have diplomas, and even degrees, that didn’t get them a better job.

These people aren’t trying to take advantage of the system. They are victims of the system.

So yes, people know they need ‘me time’. People know they should also spend more time with their kids. They don’t want to be on government assistance. They want to go to school to get a better job. Some want to start their own business. Some have an idea that could stop global warming. Some wish they would run for office. Some just want to be a stay-at-home parent. Everyone has dreams. And you know what? If these people could get that ‘me time’ the whole world would probably be better off.