Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I'm stuck in Springfield, Illinois. I was born here and lived here until I reached high school age, then moved away. I graduated from high school elsewhere and came back for a couple of years to attend Lincoln Land Community College which ended in failure, so I joined the military.

After the military I earned a Associate degree then interned at a cable advertising company which turned into an eight year career. I got laid off and moved back to Springfield, Illinois, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and started looking for meaningful, gainful work in this town.

Unfortunately Springfield is full of entrenched dynasties of politics and business. You can't get gainful employment here unless you go to the right church or were born or married into the family business. The rest of us "line workers" earn poverty wages.

Ironically, there are fewer than a dozen people around here who could be considered part of the "One Percent" yet there is a volatile caste system based on the difference in wage of just a few dollars. People who earn between nine and ten dollars per hour have told me that it's unfair to raise the state's minimum wage to ten dollars per hour. This kind of attitude is so pathetic I can no longer speak to people who feel that way. Raising the minimum wage to match or surpass their current earnings somehow shatters their sense of superiority. Really? Someone below you catches up to your earning level by a dollar fifty and you are humiliated? Please!!

Another conversation among the locals is about who got the cheaper gasoline for their vehicle. I know someone who gloats when he is able to purchase gas ten cents cheaper per gallon. He occasionally saves about two dollars more than me, struts and beams with pride with his chest puffed out. It makes me sad to think that one's life is so meaningless that such trivial advantages mean so much.

Most of the people I know have costs related to college loans, credit cards, car payments, real estate taxes, mortgages, schools, daycare, car insurance, food, utility bills, transportation, etc., but on top of that, they must have their extra vehicles, motorcycles, smart phones, cable television, online video game subscriptions, and extra child that was the "accident." The trappings of uneducated, unprotected sex. Thank the brilliant strategy of  creating slaves known as "abstinence-only sex education."

In the cold streets of this town on the endless flat prairie of central Illinois, there are mostly parks, shops, bars, restaurants, movie theaters. I'm sure there are skating rinks and bowling alleys. I know there is one water park, and the state fairgrounds are here. There are a few museums too, but not very much time passes when you have done everything here at least five times.

Maybe it's who you spend your time with that counts most of all, but at forty eight, I still have yet to find that person. I wish I knew who said this first: "You will find the love of your life when you do the things you love." There are plenty of things I would love to do here, but they are locked up in the dynasties that run this town.

The businesses and government here are so infected by politics, nepotism and cronyism that everyone around here has become complacent, but an overcast of malaise and discontent that can no longer be recognized permeates this town. Anyone who has any real sense has already left, and soon so shall I.