Thinking about this stresses me out, but it's something I have to think about I guess. Six or seven years ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he was pretty scared/certain he wouldn't make it to his 60th birthday. Since he was sure he wasn't going to make it, he cashed out his 401k and bought a motorcycle and did some other big ticket things he's always dreamed of doing. Thankfully, after bouts of chemotherapy and other forms of medicine, the doctors were able to get him into remission. He's still in remission, and recently celebrated his 61st birthday! The problem is that he's sure the cancer will come back any month, so he still has a mentality that he might as well live (read: spend) while he can, which is great but he also wants to retire early. This puts my mom into a precarious situation, and I'm not sure how to help. I know they have very little money, but I'm not really sure how bad it is. To top it off, my sister and I found out this year that my mom took out Parent Plus loans for us back when we were undergrads in college. We didn't know it at the time, but were informed when the loan company sent us both letters asking if we knew how to get in touch with her. It looks like she originally took out about $50 thousand, which has now ballooned to nearly $90 thousand because of interest. I'm struggling with my own student loans, and my sister seems keen on ignoring the problem, so I don't know what to do. (By the way, it's very hard if not impossible to enroll in income-based repayment plans for Parent Plus Loans. I know because I've been researching it like crazy.) I love my parents and would do anything to support them, but they're making it very hard to keep up.
I'd be interested in moving to a new city but the moving costs are so scary. Not only do you have to pack up your stuff, but you also need to get yourself/your stuff there and then put down a security deposit/last month's rent plus first month's rent on a new apartment or whatever. Who's got the money for that! Also, that 10 percent city figure does seem highly suspect. But, if we're going to use those figures, I'd easily put myself in the 24 percent rural category.
Thanks for writing this! Both this and your piece and the NY Times were great. Plus, you mentioned Rebecca Solnit and Lydia Davis, so what's not to love? I remember reading "Break It Down," and like you I felt instantly connected to it. I photocopied the titular story for the girl I was seeing at the time. I sent it to her, but she never said anything about it. Maybe she didn't read it, I don't know. Anyway, we broke up a few months later.
Ohhh I am also from SE Pennsylvania, just outside of the Main Line! Sometimes I use the term in passing with folks down here in DC, but only the true SE Pennsylvanians really understand.
Thanks for writing this -- I really enjoyed it! For me, I go through periods of earnestness, where I work too hard and try to please by going over and beyond what's asked of me. Once I realize that my over-exertions are really just that -- that my working harder usually doesn't help me in any tangible way (my current place of employment doesn't seem too keen on promoting me or giving me a fair raise), that it really just helps my company save money or avoid lawsuits -- I go through dark periods of cynicism where I realize that my job is just a job where I'm giving up my time and skills for money, so I just need to keep my head down and trudge along until I have the necessary experience to leave. So yeah, it all feels like a roller coaster sometimes. I think it's important to and find a balance between cynicism and sincerity. I just haven't found it yet.
@honey cowl The Goldfinch, aka The Adventures of Popchik and Friends. (I loved the book, too.)
@bgprincipessa Yeah my comment was deleted too :/
For reference, here is the article about ebooks versus books: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/11351682/Why-low-tech-living-is-back.html And here is the article about product placement: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/03/business/media/e-book-mingles-love-and-product-placement.html
Ads in books would really, really bum met out. I recently read somewhere that ebook sales are stagnating and book sales are actually growing again! As a fervent reader who loves to mark up and otherwise write in books, this is great news to me. I also read somewhere that certain authors are actually paid to place products in their stories. For instance, a detective novel featuring a daring hero who drives a Land Rover, paid for by Land Rover. So like movies, basically, where you can't tell if the placement is intentional or not.