Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rich man, poor man

Many of you may know that I send my son to a Catholic high school. I went to the public high school in the town we live in. When we moved back here the summer before my son started kindergarten, I vowed that he would never end up there. In addition, I moved around a lot as a kid. If you know what it is like to be the new kid every couple of years, you will understand why I had an aversion to putting my child through that.

I enrolled him in a Catholic grammer school so the transition at high school wouldn't be so difficult, and also so that he would have the stability of knowing the same group of kids from kindergarten through 8th grade, no matter if or where we moved. Not to mention, this school was just academically better than most of the other public schools in our town.

I had a lot of help, financially, or I never would have been able to do it. And, I've had a lot of help getting him into this high school. After he was accepted, I received a letter letting me know that almost 2/3 of his tuition was going to be paid by a scholarship. I still have to pay for the rest of the tuition, and uniforms and books, but we make do.

One of his books was given to him on a "town-loan" program. He doesn't always have 5 shirts and 5 pairs of pants that fit him, but he does laundry mid-week. The beauty of the uniform system is that every one looks the same, except the guys get to pick out their own ties. And my son has excellent taste in ties. Tar-Jay had a sale last weekend and we picked up 2 100% silk ties for less than $18.00. I think I'm going off course here, so let me reel it in.

After Christmas, my son told me that he was talking to some friends and they had gotten better/nicer versions of their electronics for Christmas. One of his friends had gotten a 16gb IPod touch to upgrade their 8gb one. When he asked his friend what he was going to do with the old one, his friend said it was just laying around in a drawer. My son offerred him 10 bucks for it, and the friend agreed. I just couldn't wrap my mind around that. I asked my son what his parents thought about that, how could they just let him sell such an expensive gadget for $10? My son explained to me that many kids at the school have wealthy parents who just don't think the same way as I do about things. As I could not have ever afforded to give my kid an IPod touch, I was amazed.

Then my son proceeded to tell me that he had also asked around and rounded up some unused cell phones after his friends got upgraded over the holidays. Some he got for free, some he paid $5 for. He sold them to and they put $129.00 in his PayPal account. I was flabbergasted! Who lets their kids just sell stuff they paid good money for? And, was my kid robbing people blind or just showing an entrapeneuliar spirit and his Jewish grandmother's gift of making money?

I have to admit that I didn't understand when my son told me that not all, but many of his classmates parent's are "wealthy". When I think wealthy, I think - okay, your family may be making four times what ours does, but you also have 3 kids. Of those 3 kids, one may be in college and the other 2 are coming up for it. It all evens out in the wash, right?

I've always tried to instill in my son the difference between right and wrong; and the difference between what we need to survive and excess. We never go hungry, we always have clothes to wear, we have a roof over our heads, and most of the time we have electricity, heat, and hot water. In addition, we have cable television, and internet access. We even have air conditioning in the summer. We are doing much better than about 75% of the population on this planet. We are actually incredibly lucky to be living in a country where people take this for granted.

I have a hard time thinking about taking advantage of people, no matter what their circumstances. It worried me that I thought my son was taking advantage of his classmates. I knew in advance that one of my son's fellow members of the football team, just one grade ahead, was the son of the head coach of UCONN football. When I heard this morning that he was the second highest paid state employee at 1.4 million, I stopped feeling guilty...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Totally awkward Tuesday

Tova Darling runs a weekly embarrassment fest called Totally Awkward Tuesday. This is my weekly entry.

Do you remember grade school? Do you remember that although some kids were on the fringes, most kids were either in or they were out? I remember the school that I was in from 2nd-7th grade. Even though it was a small town, and each grade had only 30-40 kids in it, it was extremely divided in terms of who was popular and who was not. The wealthier and more good looking kids rose to the top, then the athletic kids and the outgoing kids. Down around the bottom were the kids like me.

I was never one of the wealthy kids. I was also never one of the athletic kids, although I tried. I played softball, I took dance lessons, I tried out for cheerleading. Nothing fixes clumsy, and I will always be a clumsy person, without grace, no matter how hard I try.

I never wore the right clothes, my family didn't have the money for the right Jordache jeans or the popular hairstyles. Even though I tried by being part of the choir and the drama club, I was painfully shy, and quite honestly I was one of the weird kids.

I never knew how to behave normally in front of people, and still don't. My usual response is to clam up so I don't embarrass myself any more than is necessary. Add to that, I started to gain weight in third grade, and around the same time I had to start wearing glasses.

Fast forward to fifth grade. We're halfway through the year, and having a test in math. I don't know why I remember that I was wearing brown corduroys and a red sweater, but there it is. Picture a quiet classroom, everyone intent on their test in front of them. Picture me, the clumsy girl, dropping my pencil. Of course, the pencil rolled out into the aisle, so I had to get up and go retrieve it.

Then picture me bending over, in brown corduroys, in the middle of a quiet test-taking classroom to retrieve my pencil, and involuntarily passing gas. Loudly. I never felt it coming, and I will never forget the sound of laughter afterward.

From that day on I was known as "Farty-four-eyes". I'm so glad we moved at the end of 7th grade...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Totally awkward (and tasteless) Tuesday

Continuing a tradition started by Tova Darling, here is my weekly awkward moment.

Before I go any further, I really need to assure anyone reading this that I am not a racist person - I hate everyone. Just kidding, sort of. I'm easily the kind of person who's humor crosses the line of what might be considered good taste.

Growing up, the most favorite books of my brother and I were the "Totally Tasteless Jokes" series. Remember those? Everyone was fair game in those books. Ethnicity, religion, skin color, Helen Keller, whatever, whoever. Insults all around.

In the privacy of my own home, where I don't think anyone's feelings are going to get hurt, sometimes perhaps I jested too much. Note the emphasis on I don't think. Nothing brought it home to me further than what happened this one time when my son was about four years old. This was 10 years ago, and I have learned from this.

At the time, we were living about 45 minutes away from where I had him in daycare. If I had to run any errands after picking him up at 5:30 PM, I needed to make sure to feed him so he wouldn't have a meltdown in a store. This particular day, I decided we would eat quickly at one of those take out Chinese food places that was in the same plaza as the grocery store. Do you know the kind of place I'm talking about? They're mainly set up for take out or delivery, not a sit down restaurant. There are a couple of booths in front of a counter, in front of an open doorway to the kitchen, and if you want to sit and eat, it's self-serve only. The only decorations are usually a colorful calendar on the wall, a plant or two, and the obligatory fish tank.

I placed an order at the counter and my son and I sat at a booth. The place was dead quiet except for the sounds coming from the kitchen and the air bubbler of the fish tank. When our order came up, I paid and brought the bag to the table. As I was opening the packages, my four year old bellowed at the top of his lungs, "You rikey Chinee foo, Mommy?".

I didn't even look to see if anyone had heard him. I just put his coat on, grabbed the bag of food and the kid, and walked out.

Eating dinner in the car - $20.00

Having your four year old unintentionally tell you what an asshole you are - priceless.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Worst VD, ever

Laura at Under The Sheets-Shhh is having a VD contest. Check it out, here. She suggested we comment about our best or worst Valentine's day, but I decided to make my own post about it. Cause I love embarrassing myself, and it's not even Totally Awkward Tuesday!

As I've mentioned in the past, I had a high school sweetheart, Seamus. Now that I look back on that tumultuous relationship, I realize it never would have worked out. We were both extremely hot-headed, passionate people, both angry and stubborn and arrogant, neither would ever admit to being wrong. There was no give and take, no compromising, no meeting in the middle. Neither of us had any idea how to behave normally, we had both been raised by wolves. We were so similar that we meshed perfectly into this dysfunctional love. We truly did love each other - in our own extremely warped little way. The weird part about our relationship is that while we fought each other tooth and nail about any little thing, we also accepted each other for who they were and fostered each of us becoming even more strange and dysfunctional... It was a self-perpetuating cycle, if that makes any sense.

We had both agreed in advance to the concept that, in a relationship between young people, they should know after about three years whether they were willing to spend the rest of their lives together. They would either commit to that around the five year mark, or get out. I guess I misunderstood.

I assumed that after about 3 years we would get engaged, and get married around the five year mark. Our third "anniversary of our first date" rolled around, then Thanksgiving, my 20th birthday, Christmas and New Year, with nothing. I truly thought Seamus would ask me to marry him on Valentine's Day.

That Valentine's Day, we went to a restaurant we really liked, and had a couple of strong cocktails in the lounge on an empty stomach, before being very tightly seated in a packed dining room. We each ordered our dinner, and a glass of wine for the lady and a beer for the gentleman with our entrees. I still remember what I was wearing that evening when I couldn't wait any longer to ask Seamus if he was going to propose to me!

I turned into That Girl, you know the crazy one that you don't want anything to do with - no one wants anything to do with, especially in public? Yeah, me...

Seamus didn't know what the hell I was talking about. I had just assumed based on our past conversations that he had waited for this particular occasion to surprise me with a ring! I was such a dumbass that I didn't bother talking it over with him in advance the way normal people would have done, because I didn't want to ruin his surprise. Honestly, he did like to surprise me with special things when I was least expecting it, but this took the cake.

When I realized that he was not planning on proposing to me, and had no intention of buying me a ring, I lost it - in the middle of a packed restaurant on Valentine's Day. I started crying, and asking why he didn't love me. Why wasn't I good enough for him to want to marry me? What was wrong with me? I wasn't even discreet about it, I had a couple of cocktails in my system and was loud enough that people were looking at me while they were trying to enjoy their own VD dinners. Seamus was mortified, trying to shush me until our dinners came.

Needless to say, we never got married. And I've never felt the appeal of VD pretty much since then.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Totally awkward Tuesday

Continuing a tradition started by Tova Darling, here is my weekly awkward moment.

For the most part, my sisters and I don't exchange Christmas presents. A few years ago, my sister Shouf decided she was going to get everyone a little something. She is disabled and lives on an extremely limited budget. She got all three of her sisters, 2 nieces, and both her parents each a $5 gift card to The Christmas Tree Shop. Knowing how much that cost her, I was very touched. It was not only thoughtful, but exceedingly self-less. She has no money, and chose to spend every extra dollar she had that month to buy gifts for others.

That was around the same time I was trying to turn my son's room into the Asian beauty that it was. Right after Christmas, The Christmas Tree Shop was running a special on bamboo blinds. I took my gift card and repeatedly said to myself, "I'm only going to buy bamboo blinds, I'm only going to buy bamboo blinds". I saw about 150 other things that I wanted to buy, but I stuck to my guns. If you can go to the Christmas Tree Shop and get out without spending hundreds of dollars, you know what I'm talking about.

The cashier was the type that just chirped randomly about anything that came into her little head. She chattered away while she rang up my blinds, and the total came to $8.30. I handed her my $5.00 gift card and started searching my coin purse for the balance. Her chattering turned into, "I can't believe someone would be cheap enough to give you a $5 dollar gift card. I mean, c'mon, five dollars. Who would do that? What a loser..."

I'm sorry, did she just say, "loser"? Bitch just insulted my sister.

Before I could even stop myself, I very calmly let loose. "The person you just called a loser is my sister. My DISABLED sister. I was happy to have gotten ANY gift from my DISABLED sister. Do you have any idea how difficult it was for her to give five dollar gift cards from the store that Employs You? Maybe you should think before you speak."

She was still picking her jaw up off the floor when I walked out, amid dead silence from the people standing in line behind me.

I may be awkward white trash to take a cashier down a notch, but you don't mess with my sisters...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Totally awkward Tuesday

Continuing a tradition started by Tova Darling, here is my weekly awkward moment. Again, not my fault!

I was in a shoe store on New Year's Eve day, trying to find a new pair of shoes or boots that I could wear not only that night, but also use when I started my new job the next week. I already had on the rest of the outfit I planned to wear that night, and thought I looked pretty darn cute.

A woman browsing the aisle I was in stopped to admire my sleeping baby in his carrier. After the obligatory oohing and aahing, she asked how old he was. I answered that he was almost 6 months old. She responded, "Oh my, and another on the way so soon?".

Um, no. Still just fat from this one. Thanks for noticing.

Isn't there a law or something about not asking if a woman is pregnant until she brings it up herself?