I Can't Resist

With the turning of the year, and the entrance into a new decade, I just can't resist looking back to the beginning of the 2000s and noticing things that have changed. I offer the following observations, not because they matter (necessarily), but because they are the things that struck me and have intersected with my life somehow. They range from issues of national policy, to the gift of friendship.

1. Remember when we used to be able to meet each other at the gate in airports? Remember witnessing tender reunion scenes, or alternately, strained reunion scenes, and wondering what the story was? Remember being able to wear your shoes all the way through the security line, and being able to carry on a bottle of water? Those days are gone and then some. You might think that, as a writer, I miss witnessing the reunion scenes and imagining the stories behind them the most. But no, what I miss most is adequate in-flight hydration. Not that I fly very often anymore.

2. At the beginning of the last decade, during my first pregnancy, the two watch words for maternity clothes were Comfort and Coverage. Yes, waists were a little high and tops were a little tent-y, but then again there was a lot to, well, cover, and that's just what pregnant ladies wore back then. By mid-decade I was pregnant for the third time, and things had definitely changed. Maternity clothes became more about Fearlessly Featuring one's new shape, even to the point of baring midriffs. On the plus side, it seems we as a society are now past the point of perceiving a woman's pregnant body as shameful, and some of the more modestly cut maternity fashions were pretty cute. But being on the modest side of things, I found this trend a little disconcerting: I wasn't really interested in displaying my midriff or viewing others' midriffs, and those low-rise prego jeans never really did stay UP -- major problem (especially when there's a toddler tugging on your pantleg)!

3. And speaking of fashion trends: The Retailers That Be are now selling low-rise long underwear. I'm just sayin'. (And yes, I own some).

4. Remember newspapers? Yeah, me too. At the beginning of the 2000s we took a daily local paper and thought it was worth reading. Since then, our local paper was purchased by a media conglomerate and, in my opinion, its content became much more like info-tainment than news. So we stopped getting the paper. I miss having a paper around, and since I now have three Little Observers (another change since 2000) , I'm considering subscribing to the Sunday New York Times so that I can model desired behavior and get a little taste of a really good newspaper from time to time. And speaking of the Sunday Times and changes to newspapers: at the beginning of the 2000s the Sunday Times was probably four or five inches thick; today, maybe one or two inches.

5. Think back to the year 2000: Did you think our country was on the verge of war? Did you think our country was on the verge of two wars? Did you think a war, once started, would last longer than World War II did? I have to say, in the year 2000 I had no inkling our country would be involved in a war anytime soon, let alone two. I am still uneasy about the wars. While I understand there are threats to our country, which became very clear on September 11, 2001, I feel uncertain that the wars we started are the answer for soothing those threats because our enemies are not states or governments, they are networks of radicals who just happen to operate within the borders of states/governments. No easy answers here, but I am hoping for a more peaceful decade to come.

6. Now on to health coverage. In the year 2000, Husband and I had excellent health coverage with affordable co-pays for office visits ($20) and prescriptions (sliding scale from $10-$20). As two of the three Lovelies were born and my chronic illness set in, we were still able to rack up some pretty good doctor bills, but found our health care to be generally affordable. By mid-decade, our health coverage had changed dramatically to a high-deductible plan with a family maximum of several thousand dollars per year. While we are extremely grateful to have any health care coverage at all, we are now one of the millions of families in this country who (sometimes) put off doctor visits longer than we should, time our medical care and procedures according to where we are in our deductible, skip some prescriptions when possible, and have had to decrease our spending, savings, and charitable giving in order to pay for medical care. This is our reality, as a solidly middle class family whose breadwinner has a very good job. I can only imagine the struggles less-fortunate people face in trying to afford health care. I'm hoping Change is on the way.

7. A happy development: the awareness of how our food is grown and distributed. In 2000, there wasn't much talk about eating local or sustainable farming. Now these ideas seem to have made it into the mainstream. For our family, this trend has manifest itself in the produce share we purchase each year from a CSA farm, and in the delicious produce we get to eat all summer long. Yum, delicious!

8. The gap between rich and poor has grown, and in the U.S., is larger than in any other advanced country (you can find lots of articles on this topic by googling "gap between rich and poor" but here is one from the New York Times). My interest in this trend comes from my days as an economics major and a student of public policy; and before that, from growing up in an area where poverty was everywhere and palpable (e.g., schoolmates with no winter jackets or snow boots, no phone, no heat). Although I am not out advocating for poverty relief at the state Capitol, it is a personal ethic of mine to keep the poor always with me in thought and in prayer, and to do whatever small things I can to help alleviate the suffering of someone, somewhere. Usually this takes the form of donations to food shelves, clothing drives, and the emergency relief fund at our parish.

9. 1 wrd: txtng

10. In the year 2000, Husband and I were new to these parts having crossed the Big Water (okay, not the ocean, but Lake Michigan, which to Michiganders is the big water that matters) and gone west. We knew nobody, had no friends and no support network. In 2010, I can hardly believe my good luck: I have the most amazing group of friends, and a rock-solid support system. I'm not sure how I got so lucky....... but I sure am grateful.

Happy New Year, New Decade, 2010 to you.


Gerry said...

Molly I think you make friends because you think--and care--about others, communicate honestly, and have a ready wit. (OK, it probably doesn't hurt that I nodded along firmly as I read your Ten Observations!)

I enjoy dropping in at Both Fires. Happy New Year!

ljchicago said...

Blogs are another development in the 2000s. So glad you have one -- I look forward to reading it a few times each week.

Molly said...

Gerry, you are nice to say so. I do try to be a good little friend myself! :) And ljc - you're right about the blogging trend blooming in the last decade. I'm having fun with it.

CitricSugar said...

Happy New Year!
And yes, it was quite the decade of change....

Ms. WK said...

What a pleasure! I LOVE to read your writing -- makes me miss our letters from college(remember letters??????) Thanks for always saying so much, by just saying enough.