Re: Too Many Jobs/Move to the Midwest? (LONG)

Subject: Re: Too Many Jobs/Move to the Midwest? (LONG)
From: "Marilyn Baldwin (mlbb -at- capgroup -dot- com)" <Marilyn_Baldwin -at- CAPGROUP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 16:34:02 -0800

Roger Morency asked
>> Since most of you probably already live on one of the coasts,
>> would you even consider moving to a city in the Midwest?

The short answer is NO WAY, NEVER, NOT FOR ANYTHING.

The longer and more thoughtful answer. . .

I'm a native Southern Californian (in my 50's), as are my parents (in their
80's). I went to the same high school my Mom attended, and my two kids
began grade school at the same elementary school I went to. I lived in the
same house all my growing-up life until marriage, and (after a year on a
military base) we returned to the same town (a suburb of Los Angeles) to
raise our family. I attended a local junior college, and a local college
to get a BA in English, then two teaching credentials and a Master's in
Education (specializing in reading). I taught remedial reading and math at
a privately-owned local clinic - truly rewarding work. I've lived for the
last 24 years in another suburb where my neighbors and I have keys to each
others' houses, watch each others' pets when we go on vacations, etc. When
I got divorced and was suddenly a single Mom (and realized that I didn't
want to do classroom teaching), I got my first full-time job as a technical
writer in the Statistical Reports department of a major insurance company
located in downtown L.A. During the following 17 years, the profession and
I have changed SO much!

But here's what hasn't changed: my neighbors, classmates, work associates,
and friends do not look just like me. Their last names and faces reflect a
wonderful diversity. They're native-born, third-generation, immigrants,
visitors who stayed, transplants from other countries and other states.
Some of them spoke English at home, some didn't. Some marry within their
own groups, some intermarry. All bring a multitude of experiences to any
relationship, whether at work or as friends off-line. Their cultural,
ethnic, religious, linguistic, and culinary differences enrich and enhance
my life - all our lives here in Southern California. No denying that such
diversity also poses many problems, too - but that's life. The difficulty
of resolving those problems close to home makes many of us constantly aware
that there are no "one size fits all" solutions for ANYTHING - not here,
not elsewhere in the world.

I have close friends and work associates who've moved for work-related
reasons to both Colorado and Kansas. In both places, although everyone
seems friendly and kind, it feels absolutely strange to look around and see
almost nothing but white faces, just like mine. Maybe there are black
families in some other part of town, or a few Hispanics/Latinos, but you
have to LOOK to find mixed neighborhoods (usually that means a couple of
non-white families in amongst the whites), and often realtors subtly steer
white families to the more "alabaster" areas of the city. Citizens in
these states love to brag about their superior scholastic scores (compared
to California's) - but they tend to have very homogenous, English-only
speaking student populations - and they have no comprehension whatsoever of
the difficulties of teaching, say, a classroom of 25 first-graders who
represent 11 countries and 13 languages.

I'm not knocking the Midwest (and I know Colorado doesn't qualify) - I'm
just saying that there is a narrowness of living and experience that must
be consciously and willfully/willingly overcome to avoid a certain
narrowness of thinking that tends to result. When you've spent your whole
life among people who are much like you, the TENDENCY is not to develop a
broad, inclusive way of seeing the world. Oh, theoretically, perhaps. I'm
sure that gracious and good-hearted people from the Plains states give
generously for victims of famines and disasters around the world. But I
know from the stories of so many transplanted friends that these same good
people can make some extraordinarily insensitive rascist remarks to their
own next-door neighbors with no consciousness that that's what they're

There's a common bit of urban legend (I don't know if it's true) that the
Pentagon was built with twice as many bathrooms as it needed because, at
the time, the state of Virginia still had laws on the books about restoroms
for white and "colored" having to be separate. No matter how progressive
the South may pride itself on being today, I just don't want to live
somewhere where so much of the current population grew up with that
mindset. And I don't want to live anyplace where a Chinese guy with a
Peruvian girlfriend gets rude remarks, or a Mexican-Japanese husband with a
white wife and a couple of kids is so unusual as to be cause for comment.
When you grow up with this kind of mix, you're less likely to be freaked by
the accent of your first "foreign" professor in college. You don't need to
remark about how many Asian programmers your company is hiring lately. You
don't see your hairdresser's ethnicity first - you just see your
hairdresser. Or at least that's my experience.

So, yeah, we have our earthquakes - and, sure, they can be scary - but
they're not regular, predictable, devastating events like hurricanes and
tornadoes, and they do remind us of the usually non-obvious fact that even
the best-laid plans of man can be upset by Nature in moments. We have
smog, so bad that sometimes driving home from work on a way-too-hot summer
day, I can't see the lovely mountains that are only a few miles beyond my
house. We have astonishingly overpriced houses - what the market will bear
- but modest heating and cooling bills compared to the Midwest. But we
have such wonderful weather that our lifestyle can include being outdoors
until late at night almost year-round - so you see little old couples
taking their after-dinner, round-the-block strolls, whole families on
bicycle rides, dog-walkers at all hours. We have amazing mixes of trees
and flowers - a redwood next to a palm tree, roses blooming next to the
annuals, volunteer plants everywhere, thanks to the birds. I can hop in my
car in and in less than two hours be on a mountain top, in the desert, or
at the beach. I can be in "happening" Hollywood or someplace listening to
country music and joining in the line dancing. I can take you to a
wonderful hole-in-the-wall place or a classy restaurant for authentic food
from anyplace - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Russian,
German, Italian, French, Greek, Peruvian, Cuban, Mexican, Argentinian, and
much more. We can walk to my neighborhood park and watch spry elderfolk
doing their Tai Chi exercises and kids on the playground that looks like a
toddler version of the U.N.

Companies who want to be players in the global economy understand that it's
easier to jump in and participate when your own workforce is at home
globally. Maybe all of this is coming to the Midwest, dribs and drabs at a
time. And maybe they'll deal with it well. But it's already here. And
here is home. All my relatives and almost all my friends are here. For
ever so many reasons, my heart is here.

Would I move for my job? NO. For lots of money? NO. For any reason that
I can think of? NO!

Those of you who don't feel the same - and aren't trapped by needs or
circumstances truly beyond your control - should always be asking yourself
"Why am I here (in this job, this place, this relationship, whatever)
instead of where I want to be?" As so many folks have recently been
telling Anon, figure out first what you DO want . Life is so short - it's
terrible to waste it wishing it were other than what it is. Either work
hard to attain what you think will make you happy - or make it happen - or
learn to be happy with what you have (one of life's more important and
difficult lessons).

My best wishes to all of you!

- Marilyn Baldwin (mlbb -at- capgroup -dot- com)

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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