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Open letter to President Obama

I have something very serious on my mind, Mr. President.  It’s called student loan debt.  It’s a big fat nightmare.

I remember the SOTU address when you first mentioned the student loan debt issue.  I was thrilled; I’d been hiding for years behind my burden of student loan debts, thinking I was the only one with this problem.  I heard you mention how you and Michelle both had student loan debts and how you’d struggled with it.  I was hopeful that there was some solution, some way to ease the burden I felt.

But the reforms for loans you mentioned didn’t affect me; in fact, the reforms didn’t help the millions already stuck in repayment.  Forgiving student loans after 20 years of repayment and capping payments at 10% of one’s discretionary income did nothing to help me.  I felt sick.

I kept thinking to myself:  I did the right thing; I went to college, I graduated, I got a higher ed degree.  I kept asking myself—was it worth it?  Why am I in so much debt when all I was trying to accomplish to get a better position in a field I loved?  And how had my loans—which were substantial, I’ll admit—now tripled in size due to interest?  I felt completely and utterly helpless.

Then the economy tanked, and I worked 3 jobs just to make rent.  I had a Master’s degree, yet no commensurate job or income.  I now still work 2 jobs and make less than $30k annually.  Was the MA worth it?  You do the math.

Mr. President:  the changes you made did not give any help to the more than 37 million Americans already in student loan debt hell.  The student loan industry is a fraud.  There is absolutely NO consumer protection for students.  Universities and lending corporations have turned us all into cash cows.

Mr. President, I want to know what you are going to do about this problem?

The student loan debt is on the verge of $1 Trillion dollars.  All because Americans wanted to go to school to better themselves and give themselves better opportunities in the workforce.

WE DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS.  EDUCATION SHOULD BE A RIGHT, NOT A COMMODITY.

Mr. President, I am tired of being embarrassed and ashamed because I did the “right thing.”

Education is NOT a commodity.

Bankruptcy laws cover back child support debt and gambling debt, but have NO protection for those of us who wanted a higher education and got screwed.

I will stand up to the student loan industry, and what I want to know, Mr. Obama, is will you stand with me?

DON’T FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT; ERADICATE IT.

Whoever said February was  the most boring month (ME) must be mad.  We’ve 4 holidays within a week– and the Olympics! Yeah, I’m feeling a little underwhelmed.  Chinese New Year and Valentine’s day are followed by President’s Day and Washington’s birthday on the two following Mondays.  And all I have to say is…. Is it Spring yet?  The only thing keeping me from going into a deep hibernation is a little Internet shopping.

And so, if you celebrate the overly commercialized and sentimentally saturated Valentine’s Day, here’s a not-so-conventional gift:  a pendant in the form of a heart.  No, an actual, anatomically correct heart.  Anatomical Heart.

Another good gift:   from the London Review of Books  Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland.

If you’re feeling frisky and a bit, ahem, pale, try this:  My New Pink Button. Ladies, I am not joking.  This is a real product.

For President’s Day, how about an Obama- zombie mash-up?  You can’t go wrong with zombies, people.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m gonna go listen to the Beatle’s sing Love is All You Need, and dream of Spring.

When I think of the ’00’s, I think of something a friend once said:  Why be with the hero when you can be with the double zero? No, I shouldn’t say bad things about the ’00’s, they weren’t all bad.

In fact, this decade brought me a whole slew of firsts.  Euphoric highs, and new lows.  Also, and most importantly, a feeling of accomplishment.  Goals were met.  I made things happen.  Not that my life (or any life) is made up of just those things, but some things do stand as landmarks on the map of my life.  So here’s my list, in no particular order:

Finished grad school.  Earned an MA in English/writing.

Wrote a memoir! Took several years, but well worth it.

Fell in love for the first time (I’m a late bloomer..).

Got engaged and was stood up for my wedding.  Gah!

Volunteered for the first time in my life.

Bought my first sex toy (did I mention Very Late Bloomer?).

Got pregnant (and had subsequent miscarriage).

Got first nephew and niece.  Thanks, little sister!

Attended first presidential inauguration.  Witnessed first black president being sworn in. Thanks Marjorie for putting me and ex up for a few days!

I could go on.  There were of course the gains and losses everyone suffers:  deaths, births, other losses.  I’ve gained and lost friends, family members, etc. I’ve read books that changed my life and changed me as a writer. I have a list of books from the decade that I will hopefully write more on later.

This decade has been witness to some wonderful and tragic things.  I won’t go into any of that; I am not the person to write of historical events.  We all have a personal and public history; we also have a need to document that history, to write it down.  To keep record.  This is just a short list of highlights from my history; but, as with any list, I’m sure I’ve left something out.

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