I love California, always have. I’m even fond of L.A., although I can’t explain why to people who are horrified (rightly, most likely) by the notion. The mythology, perhaps? The contradictions between representing the ultimate in beauty and success while simultaneously promoting and embracing all forms of artifice? Most of all, I love the North Coast, this place I immediately grew roots, roots like the redwoods themselves, intertwined among friends and neighbors creating a near-endless forest of support that awes me still, an area so contrary to my SoCal upbringing that the fact it lies in the same state is proof of California’s encompassing grandeur.

But romanticizing aside, witnessing the decline of education, of social services, of environmental protection all in the name of saving the richest among us from having to shoulder their fair share of living in a society, it angers me, breaks my heart, like watching a friend succumb to addiction. When will California wake up and fix itself? Haven’t we hit bottom yet? So much is wrong with the budget picture, the most immediate (most personal, I should say) are the cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. The notion that health care should be a privilege is an affront, should be an affront, to any society calling itself civilized. Without those programs, Nick might not even be alive. If we lose Healthy Families, purchasing the insulin, test strips and other necessities to keep him safe will cost us about $800 per month. That’s not counting doctor visits and anything other than just the products needed to survive.

Maybe that’s chump change to some, but $800 per month — again, not factoring in the supportive services or anyone else’s medical needs — would drain us immediately. I’d do whatever it took to take care of him, obviously, to take care of all my kids, but in this rich world we live in, shouldn’t people be able to agree it’s better for everyone when basics — food, shelter, education, medical care — are held as common human rights? Why is that such a stretch? Why are some people so resistant to contributing? I’m not lazy — I can’t remember the last time I worked only one job, and I’ve been working since I was 15 — but when the greediness of other folks undermines my efforts to take care of my family, my own community, well, no wonder people become bitter and hateful.

I have to believe California will one day emerge from all this in golden glory, but that’s a difficult vision to manifest at the moment.

Speaking of the dear state, I must continue my journey north. Probably shouldn’t blog without coffee again.