Category Archives: Education

Dear Barack Obama: An Open Letter

Dear Barack:

Thank you for your recent email about your campaign. I’m happy to stay up-to-date on my favorite president’s business, and I’m glad we’re on a first-name basis, even if you spell my name incorrectly. As long as you have the general sounds right, who can blame you? After all, you have to email millions of people every day. Nobody expects you to get it right 100% of the time.

As a person who is slightly concerned with the environment*, I must say that I am happy that email exists. I remember during your last campaign, I received far fewer emails and instead had a chipper college woman barge into my house and demand $50 from me. I only fell for that once and now I lock my doors.

I admit that I don’t donate every time you ask. Why, sometimes I get 7 or 8 emails within a few hours! Though it is nice to know that if I don’t donate right away, I will get another URGENT email shortly after asking me for a second donation.

One thing I especially appreciate is when you send me an email from your personal inbox, and then a few minutes later, I receive the same exact message forwarded to me from one of your lower level employees. Consequently, I always delete the first email, as I know a copy will follow shortly after. This same thing happens to me at work sometimes, and I always wonder if the second person thought I was not important enough in the first place to have received the prized original email.

I really wish I could have dinner with you and your lovely wife. Do you know how many contests I have entered in? I tried to get into gambling a while back, but I wasn’t great at it, so I stopped. I was genuinely sad when I got that email a couple weeks ago about how your employee won. That seems like an unfair advantage. Also, can you please clarify whether wine will be provided with the meal if I were to win? I think a more effective contest would be one of wine and cheese. Or just wine. The details are up to you. Another idea is pizza and beer. I have a lot of good ideas, many of which you would hear if I had better luck in my gambling/contest-winning adventures. A funny contest would be if you were someone’s personal trainer for the day.


Affectionately yours,


Rachael (you might remember me as “Rachel”)




*Hippies have this covered already.


An Opinionated View of Welfare Drug Testing (Facts Included)

This is an issue that has been irritating me for almost a year. It’s not your typical conservative vs. liberal tug-of-war; many of my own self-professed liberal friends agree with drug testing welfare recipients. Why? It’s probably because they are too far removed from either the recipients of welfare (they don’t know any poor people) or because they know little about the actual issue.

Perhaps college graduates were taught women’s rights in college but never taught that poor people also have these rights. This morning I was trying to put my finger on exactly what irritated me about my college friends who have no qualms with these new measures. A friend of mine posted a ridiculous article about a proposed abortion law and how she did not agree with it. With one fell swoop*, she added to her post something like “although I agree that welfare recipients should be drug tested.” Why is this? I can see they are technically different issues—one deals with a personal choice and another with tax money. But the issue of abortions has a lot to do with the government trying to control another’s body. And while there is one difference for the drug testing (these people are getting help from the government), it goes completely against every notion that the government should not have control over anyone’s body.

Many of what I like to call “idiots” claim that since their work can drug test them, welfare recipients should also have to be drug tested. Since when did we start treating the government like a private company? I work at a company that often won’t allow people to distribute offensive material to the public through them. These people like to argue that we can’t tell them what they can and cannot distribute, since it violates their first amendment right to free speech. But we are not the government (as mentioned above)—we are a company that can choose to do things that citizens would never allow the government the ability to do.

Somehow my professors were civil enough to teach me that poor people actually do have rights**. While looking at an essay I wrote, I stumbled upon this quote from Vivyan Adair, who grew up as a poor woman on welfare: “Ultimately, we come to recognize that our bodies are not our own, that they are rather public property. State-mandated blood tests, interrogation of the most private aspects of our lives, the public humiliation of having to beg officials for food and medicine, and the loss of all right to privacy, teach us that our bodies are only useful as lessons, warnings, and signs of degradation that everyone loves to hate.” For some reason, poor people’s bodies are public property. People seem to think that welfare is some sort of easy way to live; that people are on welfare because it’s better than getting a job. But this is simply wrong. People don’t want to stay on welfare forever. Like the rest of America, they probably dream of owning their own house or business.

It has been documented by many a people that our society is not actually ridden with drug-addled welfare recipients. Indeed, most drug addicts are not actually on welfare. You probably don’t know this, but drugs cost a lot of money.*** And people seem to think that poor people are more likely to do drugs—thus the perception that welfare recipients are drug addicts and misusing the system. However, as you may have heard from this over-discussed argument, and I quote from the NYTimes, “Recent federal statistics indicate that welfare recipients are no more likely than the general population to abuse drugs. Data show that about 8 percent of people use drugs illegally. Before a random drug testing program in Michigan was suspended by a court challenge, about 8 percent of its public assistance applicants tested positive.” So, as the argument goes, our insistence that we drug test the poor only further propels the belief that poor people are drug addicts.

And furthermore, other statistics show that 70% of drug users actually have a full time job (note the “drugs are expensive” statement above). You can Google this if you please.

For those college students that I may be targeting, please note that most of your loans and grants for school came from the government as aid to you. Since you clearly can’t put yourself in the position of a welfare recipient—I don’t know what you think poor people do, but I can definitely say they are not having the time of their lives living under the poverty line—giving the government this right could easily mean giving the government the right to test any person who is receiving aid. That’s you! And while I sincerely detest the slippery slope argument on any grounds, I don’t really see the difference between welfare and Medicaid and other types of aid us mildly poor people receive.

And, obviously, I wouldn’t end this without noting the fact that drug testing welfare recipients does not save the government any money, as noted in this recent Floridia article. I should also point out the the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who pushed this bill into action, owns the majority of shares in the company that does the drug testing, giving him significant financial gain for these measures.

*Yes, that’s the correct wording.

**Check your local library for a copy of the Constitution.

***Don’t quote me on that.

WARNING: I did not proof-read this very closely, as I find it boring to do.

Reflections on a Childhood, Couches

The first time I realized my family was even crazier than I’d ever imagined was in 1997, the year my mother began renting couches. At first, this seemed to be a marvelous idea. A new couch was an exciting addition to the family of furniture that already existed, although it did not much match the “rugged individualism” of our very American decor.

As time went on, my mother paid off the new couch. But eventually the appeal of it settled and one day, out of the blue, another couch suddenly appeared. And later, another. Again and again the couches appeared, always taking place of a slightly new but not properly pristine couch. I believe this is something like people turning in cars to get newer ones, but with couches. Or perhaps it is more like buying a new bag of popsicles once frostbite sufficiently covers all the leftover purple ones. Either way, it was couches galore in the Wallace family household.

RAC Logo

$17 a month will buy you a pretty nice couch.

When I moved out of my parents house in 2006, I lived with a few roommates who had acquired a couch from a rather suspicious source. I immediately realized how my world view would be forever tainted by the couch-rental mania that engulfed my mother. I was often frustrated by the sight of the pattern and wear of the couch in my apartment, and quickly took to the nearest chair. On numerous occasions I would ponder the life of the dirty couch, questioning its validity and worth. Who had been on that couch before my roommates? Where had the couch been? And Christ Almighty! How did it get into our apartment? Was it possible that new couches weren’t the norm?

I never thought about buying a couch for myself. My tiny studio hardly fits my possessions, not to mention Zack’s (he is quite the pack rat, although he allows me to control it a bit). I think the ability to live in a small space for so long is born from a comfort of a working class childhood. Perhaps I am also secretly avoiding a general addiction to rent-to-own furniture—there’s really no way for me to know. I could go into some pretty costly therapy to figure out my aversion and attraction to this type of furniture, but that’s clearly a silly and worthless endeavor.

This whole couch debacle not only changed the way I see my mother, but more importantly changed the way I see other people. I realized that the ways people relate to one another are deeply ingrained in the environment and surrounding in which each was raised. For me, a clean couch will always offer the comfort of home, while for others it may be a special food item, a certain blanket, or a type of book that symbolizes those special (sometimes very special) people in our lives.

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Surviving College: Despair & Panic

Blogging is an amusing thing to pursue when I only have five more weeks until I officially become an annoying hope-filled college graduate. It will unquestionably become both my best friend and my worst enemy in the upcoming weeks as I think about all the things I should be paying for and all of the working I’m not doing.

As far as school goes, I’m behind. Not just normal behind, but unproductive in every aspect. I’ve been skipping volunteer sessions  supposedly to finish schoolwork (uh-hem, let’s talk the newest episode of 30 Rock?); I’ve been going out to eat almost every day (not daring to look at my bank statement), and have rarely been working more than two shifts a week at work. What this begins to add up to is an exceptionally poor student in many aspects moneywise, educationwise, and emotionwise.

However, there is an upside to all of this school house of procrastination, which is that I have had plenty of time to go to the dentist, clean my apartment, sell my clothes, read magazines, and look at jobs in other cities for which I am not qualified nor interested. I’ve also had plenty of time to update my personal website, print resumes, and did I mention eating? Yes, plenty of eating to pass the time. Continue reading

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