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class issues in macondo

Saturday, July 18, 2009

cut and pasted from a recent email to a dear friend:

i've been asked to submit an estimate to translate a book (530 pages) by the vice-pres of Bolivia, a marxist sociologist. very dense and intimidating, but it would be cool. i have no idea if it will happen, but if it does we'll need to hire someone in the mornings to help me with the baby and the house. i would work at home and be here to nurse him and for little breaks, but would be able to hide away and work too. i think it's the only way to make it work (until now i've been doing all my work in naptime or after bedtime, which is just TOO MUCH), but it's not issue-free. obviously there's the problem of finding the right person. but it's also loaded with so many class issues here. it's a perfectly normal kind of arrangement here, but the perfectly normal thing would be to pay total crap and basically have a servant that i could choose to 'treat like a member of the family' or not. ick. i don't know how to get around it. we want to pay well and respect the important work they'd be doing and provide job security and the rest - but apparently this comes across as if we have so much money that we don't care how much we spend and it doesn't matter to us and it sets us apart in ways that people don't respect. it widens the class difference even more and shoves us into an extreme elite category, or something like that.

i've come up against all these class issues in another way. down the street there are a bunch of kids the monster's age. but he has never once spoken with them. so far, it just hasn't happened. he's made friends with some of the other neighbourhood kids that are 'weekenders' - they come to a house here on weekends (it's kind of like cottage country). but the locals, that live here all week long, have different customs, education, housing environments, etc. f.'s example: their kids play with cow poo in dirty puddles in front of their houses, with no adult supervision. my way more first world example: everyone in the house probably smokes, there could be loaded guns in there for all i know (this may even be true in the weekenders' houses, actually). BUT, they're our neighbours, and the monster could use some playmates, and this is where we live. i don't know where to go with it...

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