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From the Balcony: Dropping a job, pursuing a dream

October 05, 2010

It was 11 p.m. Sunday when I asked myself the question so many people in our nation, and in our own community, have already asked themselves.

"Is the American dream personally failing me?"

Writer's block had me crippled for most of the evening. My regular schedule had been obliterated thanks to an all-day meeting scheduled for Monday.

My usual regimen gets me up at 5 a.m. to write the first draft of my column. I shower, ride my motorcycle to work, curse the texting drivers in their 4,000-pound SUVs, arrive at work juggling the first two hours of my day polishing my story and putting out fires in Corporate America, then I write my contribution to the In Theory column that is due at the same time, and finish the rest of my workday.

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I ride home in time to eat dinner and carve a few minutes for my own personal agendas. I get through the rest of the week in much the same way, with most of my waking hours spent working, commuting and answering e-mails concerning business. It isn't until very late at night, if at all, that I get to make headway at the thing I'd really like to do — write.

And so I found myself on this fall evening, walking away from my computer to see if I could coax the power windows on my 1999 Volvo wagon to go up. Lately, the switch or some anonymous electrical part that makes the windows roll up and down has been malfunctioning. On the upside, the air conditioning in the car works — for about 10 minutes before it cuts out. So half the time, the windows do not roll down and the air conditioning doesn't work. Yep. Driving in my Swedish sauna on wheels has been a real treat this last, scorching week. I can't wait for the rain.

As I sat in the alley pounding on the switches, I considered my ridiculous schedule. "Why do I work so hard, yet I do not have enough reserve cash to just go get my car fixed whenever I want?" Is this what the economic experts mean when they pontificate that the middle class is being squeezed out of existence?

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