Friday, December 21, 2012

Breaking Up with my Bank

Dear Bank of America,

I'm sorry to deliver this bad news during the holiday season, but I felt it was time to tell you that I'm breaking up with you. Sure, it's been a good 6 years. You treated me well, and I have no complaints about my service. Your website and phone app are very user friendly, and I always felt like you had my back in case my security or identity were potentially compromised. And you seem to care about the environmental sustainability of your operations, which is admirable, although I sometimes suspect it's just for the good PR.

But you have treated many other people very poorly, people whose dreams of owning a home were at first unrealistically realized and then dashed because of your eagerness to make a quick buck. People who trusted you with their money, which you then misused or squandered. My idea of a worthy partner is someone who treats me with respect and also treats others with respect. Someone who shares my values of a thriving, healthy community where everyone has a chance of living a life free of financial worry. And you have turned your back on that community. So I am moving on, to be with someone who shares my values. I would have broken up with you sooner, but the hassle of moving my affairs seemed daunting. Now I know that it's worth the effort.

You should know that I have joined a credit union. I have already moved some of my money over to my new account, and I'll slowly come for the rest of it as I notify the utilities and other relevant parties of the change. This credit union might be less flashy, their website and phone app less advanced, but they offer all of the same services you offer, for free, and they even gave me a better rate on a new credit card. They're part of my community, and I know they're looking out for me, at least partly because I own a share of the business as a member of the credit union.

I'm proud of my decision to take a stand against your deceptive and unfair business practices, Bank of America, and I will encourage others to make the same move I have made, at least until I truly believe that you have made amends for your despicable actions. The American people deserve better. Surely the actions of one person won't make a dent in your bottom line, but at least I'll know that my money isn't supporting what you do, and that's enough for now.

Thank you for a good 6 years together. I hope that the new year brings to you a new sense of responsibility to do what's right. After all, your name says that you are the bank of America, so please take this opportunity to give back to the people of this country, and to represent what we as a nation represent.

Good day.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Oh, mother

It's fall again, December, really, and I am so grateful for each day and the new challenges they bring. As I get older, more friends start families, and my life has felt so carefree. I have been fortunate to have so many opportunities to take adventures, to change my life so drastically, to pick up and go on a whim. The longer my life stretches on like this, and the more of my friends who have children, the farther apart we seem to grow. Lately, this has begun to sink in more because my special someone shares equal custody of his two children with his ex-wife. I met the boys early on in the relationship, but only now, after a number of months, have we all gotten to know each other more. I would never deign to replace their mother, but playing in that role during the weeks they're with their dad has reinforced the point that having kids is a lot of work but also brings such great reward. The weeks my beau is childless, we have some great adventures, enjoying the careless feeling of freedom, limited only by our minds and budgets. When he is dad, the afternoons and evenings are filled with Nerf gun shoot-outs, art and cooking projects, battles to finish dinner and complete homework and chores, cheesy kids' shows, and snuggles on the couch. He reads aloud while I clean the kitchen and make snacks. The kids now request my attention - I must watch their funny online clips, listen to their stories, play games with them, help get things from tall shelves, and duck as they ambush me upon my arrival. My brother wasn't a "typical" boy with guns and sports, so it has taken me a while to get my sea legs with these boys who seem so typical sometimes but not others. The weeks with children are noisy and hectic and allow little time to think or look inward.

Life with children does not allow space for selfishness. They need attention and care, balanced with a long leash and trust to let them discover, succeed, and fail. It's almost never obvious what length the leash should be. I think that more people would be better parents, and more people would choose to delay or completely avoid parenthood - if they had to co-parent for a certain length of time. Not just babysit, but actually attempt to live their own lives while simultaneously caring for children who believe that their parents' sole role in life is to give them whatever they need, at any cost. I get it now, why parenting is so wonderful and yet so completely exhausting in every way.

I've lived a selfish life so long - caring for a cat is on a different plane - that the learning curve has been steep. I've realized that I am probably beyond the point of being able to give up enough of myself for my own full-time kids, but that I also can't imagine dating someone without kids, because they add so much meaning to life. Before this experience, I had a hard time understanding why people have kids - they're great and all, but I wondered whether they're really worth the work. Now I'm beginning to understand that there's more to it than that. It's not so black-and-white, but it's still difficult to imagine compromising my lifestyle to be a full-time parent. Being a part-time parent sounds just right.