Saturday, October 18, 2003

It's Saturday again ... .

Ran out of week late yesterday afternoon, and found myself easing into Saturday prematurely around six o'clock last night. Climbed into bed with a book, and only a small twinge of guilt at not attending the vigil for Chan. I was aware that it was happening at precisely six. Thought about the five other young people of color who'd lost their lives to gunfire over the past two weeks here in our town, and felt a twinge of hopelessness that overcame the small twinge of guilt... .

As always, woke this morning to a magnificent day that holds promise (as always), and -- after my usual cup of hot tea and a shower -- I'll see where it leads.

The nature of my work is such that clocks and calendars are irrelevant. A workday can start at the ungodly hour of seven a.m. and end at ten o'clock at night. But that's unusual. For the most part I saunter in at nine or ten and am at home by five -- then often out again to cover an evening of the planning commission or city council or a panel or banquet somewhere where I'm to present a plaque or resolution on the Assemblywoman's behalf.

Tonight (though technically a weekend), I'll attend a dinner with the Autism Society where I'll present a Certificate of Recognition and get updated on the activities of one of the areas of concern for me. I'm responsible for environmentalism, disabilities, arts & culture, some redevelopment, etc., and generally wherever events and my interests lead me.

I do want to clarify something, though. Our office does not dispense funds, but we do help to facilitate our constituent organizations to access what is rightfully theirs. By Proposition 40, for instance (and before that Proposition 12), the people of this state passed a bond measure that set aside 8.2 billion dollars for environmental, parks and recreation, arts & cultural, and historic preservation. Those moneys are captured in a variety of funds with differing criteria. Being bond moneys, they are not subject to the vagaries of the general fund, but are untouchable except for the purposes for which the public intended. They, cannot, for instance, be used to balance the budget.

It is the responsibility of legislative offices to help nonprofits, museums, and other appropriate organizations to qualify for those public funds, and to see that our constituents are aware of their availability. This is one of the more satisfying aspects of public service.

But therein lies some of the financial problems of this state. Over many years, there have been more and more such ballot propositions that have mandated "untouchable" moneys to be set aside in the name of the public interest. The Lanterman Act -- a remarkably wise and generous act that long ago established a chain of regional centers throughout the state to guarantee humane treatment and services for the developmentally disabled is another. Prop. 13 that fixed property taxes in ways that once formed the basis for funding for the public school system and is now severely out of balance and needs fixing, but that now pits the needs of children against those of seniors who struggle to remain in their homes against all odds.

The primary reason that some of us who are closest to the legislative activity of the state voted against Prop. 53 in our most recent election was that -- though it was intended to place the much-needed repair and maintenance of our infrastructure (roads and bridges) at the top of the priority list -- its passage would have further limited the amount of moneys left in the state budget for the legislature to assign. As each initiative further encumbers our tax dollars, less and less is available to be allotted to other critical needs of the state, especially health and education. It's pretty crazy.

I'm aware that I've done a u-turn in my writing, but maybe I needed you to know that -- since I'm trying hard not to censor myself, to remain spontaneous, and to stay with wherever my blogs take me -- getting into "nuts and bolts" is grounding, and takes me out of the emotional cul de sac I find myself in as this painful week comes to an end.

Maybe I also need you to see something of the complexities of being me. As with most of us, I suppose, the poet is never far away -- but the practical worker bee seems to be what sustains this being. Moving in and out of bits of that complexity with some ease is probably what keeps me whole. Learned to do that pretty effectively, but only with the help of a fine psychiatrist many years ago when those lines between the conscious and unconscious were not so clearly defined, and when I had far less a sense of control over which of me was required in any given situation.

In these later years, I'm deeply aware of the transitions, and am comfortable with them. I know where the edges are and how to use them and when to do so. This wasn't always so, at least not with the confidence that age has brought as compensation for the awareness of slowing systems and age spots. Though I must admit, I'm not aware of slowing down at all, at least not yet. Guess I just haven't had the time to notice ... .

Will take some time, later today, to look through old files for former Bettys. I do admit that I'm enjoying that part of blogging tremendously.

More later.