Saturday, February 21, 2009


I read somewhere, I think in the book The Scientist in the Crib, that memory as we understand it consciously doesn't begin to occur in the brain until around 3 years old. I don't remember exactly how it was described, but basically what I recall is that we have memory before the age of three, but it isn't the kind of memory we have as we get older. The kind of memory we're used to, where we have little stories in our heads that we look at as if we're outside ourselves. Our lives become, as we grow up, a series of these kinds of stories. Before 3, however, our memories are more "in the moment", less self conscious. For example, an infant or toddler will remember from day to day where things are placed in the house, or the order of bedtime rituals. But (this is my rather foggy interpretation) young children before the age of three don't yet see themselves outside themselves; they have no perspective of themselves as part of their story. So, it is very unusual to have conscious memories of ourselves before the age of three. I personally don't have independent memories from much before four.

So, as I was thinking about this one day I began to form an idea that everything that happens in our first few years becomes part of our subconscious mind. Part of that murky space where dejavu happens, part of that dark little garden where our deepest passions grow and our silent fears lay dormant. This was a rather terrifying thought for me... the idea that I could have so much power over another person's deepest underlayments was dizzying. And when I have this thought in my consciousness, I try extra hard to be more patient, more loving, and keep my countenance positive and appealing. It was much easier for me to do this in the first months after Willow was born. As infants, we all are so obviously more vulnerable, and so different from older humans. But now that Willow is walking, talking, yelling, and doing all the things two year olds do, I see her more like me and less like an infant. So sometimes I forget my responsiblity as a primary architect of the substance of her subconscious. Regretfully, I yell sometimes, or get mad and say mean things. Not often, but sometimes. I do sometimes wonder about how I might be contributing to Willow's little slice of darkness. And I do everything in my power to ensure my good moments continue to far outweigh the bad... to give her lots of light to carry too.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What I've Been Doing This Week

Well, aside from being sick and being with Willow, I've been wringing my worn out little hands over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka the economic stimulus. I've written and called my senators and my representative. Two or three times, in fact. I also wrote a letter to Minority Leader Senator McConnell. And a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal. The letters I sent to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and to Representative McDermott, were submission style emails that I did not save. Because I spent multiple sittings drafting it, I do have a copy of my letter to Senator McConnell, as well as my letter to the Wall Street Journal. I've pasted the text of both below for your amusement, edification, what have you. Enjoy.

To the Editor of the Wall Street Journal:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is certainly not a perfect bill. However it is a very good bill, and follows what many economists say we need, which is a proportion of about 2/3 direct spending and 1/3 tax cuts. Some have focused attention on minuscule portions of the bill, such as smoking cessation programs, which take up less than one-ten-thousandth of the total spending. It is ridiculous to focus on these details as if that is the bill's primary direction.

A prudent combination of direct spending, tax incentives, and regulation has been historically proven to work in stimulating and growing the U.S. economy. We are in a time of huge upheavals economically and otherwise, from the continuing development of global commerce to the nascent development of the "green" economy. Government investment in the country's infrastructure during these kinds of upheavals, such as our system of land grant universities, the national railroad, and our national highway system, has proven to be a catalyst for further development by the private sector.

Necessary investments in our short term economic health as well as the research and development needed to put our country back in a competitive place globally is well laid out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Without this bill, our downward slide is sure to continue.

To Senator McConnell:

Dear Senator McConnell:

I am writing to you in your role as Senate Minority Leader, and appreciate your taking the time to read this even though I am not one of your constituents.

I am concerned about the position you and your Republican colleagues have taken on the stimulus plan currently under consideration. I do think your idea of offering low interest loans to qualified borrowers to help stimulate housing demand is a good one, and I hope to see that in the final bill.

However, I have so far been very disappointed in the overall Republican reaction to the proposed stimulus plan. Certainly we want to be careful when spending large amounts of money, and we don't want wasteful or gratuitous programs. On the other hand, some of the things that have been said, such as calling the plan a "Christmas list" are insulting and demeaning to American people who are in real trouble. I personally know people who are out of work or will soon be, and we need to take action now.

Yes, some of the money is going to things like healthcare and education, things that we don't traditionally think of as stimulating the economy in the short term. However these are necessary investments if we are to regain and keep our competitive edge in a global economy. We can no longer afford to send our children to schools whose buildings are falling apart, with teachers whose knowledge is out of date. We can no longer afford the drain on our GDP from people with poor or no healthcare being sick and unable to work. In the short term, investments in education and healthcare will prevent many people from losing their jobs, which will help keep the economy from sliding further and improve consumer confidence. I also believe that investing in healthcare and education could give our foreign borrowers some assurance that we are looking toward a more certain and prosperous future.

I also see the investments in infrastructure as stimulating to the economy in both the short and long term. Many folks who have been put out of work in the construction industry will be able to get back to work as large projects that have been waiting for funds can go on line. In the longer term we’ll be investing in the movement of people, goods, and services as we repair and update our roads and bridges and expand mass transit. In addition we’ll be getting on the road toward reducing our impact on the global environment, as we invest in mass transit and other “green” aspects of the economy. The “green” economy is also in its infancy, which offers great possibility for the application of American ingenuity and I think is an excellent area in which to begin regaining our global competitive edge. If Andrew Carnegie were alive today I think he would be investing in green energy and mass transit.

I realize there are experts on both sides, some saying we should spend more than the current bill lays out, some saying less, some saying we should take out all tax cuts, some saying we need more tax cuts, ad infinitum. I personally think that when lots of experts sit on both sides of an issue, the proposed action is probably a good compromise. I certainly understand your need, along with your colleagues, to make your objections known and I do understand the fears about borrowing too much and getting ourselves into deeper trouble. I share those fears up to a point. However, the current bill I believe is, though not perfect, an overall good bill and will help us begin to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re currently in. I hope you will use your position as Senate Minority Leader and help bring around some of your colleagues to help pass this bill quickly.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.


Katie Kadwell

Seattle, Washington