Monday, December 12, 2011

Parenting for Dummies

This post was inspired by one of the ladies at work. We'll call her Joan, because I forget her real name anyway (Sorry, Joan!). Thankfully she only works with us during certain events, because if I had to be near her every day I think I'd quit in disgust.

Joan has a four-year-old boy. She and her husband love this kid, but they let him get away with being a brat because "everything he does is funny and he knows it". She laughs off his horrifying stories of misbehavior and seems to see no harm in letting him do as he pleases. I hate Joan's parenting. Even though I'm not a parent, I've worked with enough families to know where this is headed, and it's not going to be something Joan (or the rest of us) wants to deal with. At four it's cute, but his manipulative, spoiled-brat attitudes are not going to magically disappear. And at twenty, it's not cute at all.

When Joan started telling us stories of the hilariously bad things her son has done just in the last few weeks, I asked about time-out. She ignored the question, but she said something about how she puts her foot down while her husband is so nice all the time... so the kid sucks up to daddy (but still misbehaves) and is only horrible for her. The last punishment she inflicted was taking away a Christmas present every time he misbehaves. He's down to 0 presents, and at four he's probably still incapable of connecting cause (bad behavior) with the far-distant effect of getting no presents (to a four year old's mind, ten minutes is distant. Christmas is forever from now). I am also willing to bet she won't follow through and he'll have ALL the presents he wanted under the tree, despite the fact that his comment to her upon losing his last present was "How's Santa gonna fit his fat ass down the chimney anyway?".

This kid has zero respect for authority already and he isn't even pre-school age yet! AND he's been making racist remarks (he doesn't like black people because their skin is 'dirty', and his mother's "too embarrassed" to say anything to him about it!). I made a comment to her in the line of "he must be learning it from somewhere"... which I think made her even MORE uncomfortable. (Good! I want her to feel inadequate as a parent, so she might be open to learning!).

So thanks for preparing your son for the real world, Joan! I hope his teachers are capable of setting boundaries or they're never going to control him, and you'll probably wonder why...

There's actually a Parenting for Dummies... wonder if I should get it for her for Christmas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You know you've gotten into serious "I'm a crazy homesteader" territory when you find yourself standing at the stove after an eight hour day at work, happily stirring a new icing recipe on the stove while enjoying the smells of a fresh homemade pizza in the oven and a watching a nice white cake in the toaster oven.

...ok, I may have over-cooked the cake a teensy bit, but the frosting turned out pretty damn good for a first try! (The pizza was amazing as always, but that's a given because Rick did the toppings, and I did the crust, and we are an awesome pizza-making machine!)

Next up, making a batch of cupcakes so I can use the rest of the frosting, and putting together some good recipe-in-a-jar ideas for Christmas gifts! :) It's going to be a mostly homemade Christmas this year.

Here's the frosting recipe, if you're curious:  German Chocolate Cake Frosting II. Despite the title, it is not in fact chocolate at all. It is however delicious and coconut-y, which is Rick's favorite. ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Reflection on The True Meaning of Christmas (Shopping)

Oh wow, Blogger's new layout is CLEAN!

K, now that I've said that, here's the update for which you've been waiting breathlessly: I got a promotion!'s more like a "promotion". My hours are cut but my commission goes up by a whole fat 1%. I'm off the 'flex team' and on as a part-time permanent position in Men's Fragrances. I have a home department! I don't have to worry about picking up hours... mostly because I'm going to be scheduled a paltry 25-28 hours a week (if that!). Hopefully though, it'll pick up a little around Xmas.

And here's some reflection:

For retailers, the next 3.5 months (October through December) are expected to be the busiest of the year. Christmas housewares are already on display; ornaments are being set out and the holiday fragrance gift sets are coming in. We get more every day. And people are already buying them, even if they cost more than they want to spend, because it's a "gift set", and we tell them it's a "good deal". Funny how people will buy something bigger to save a little bit more.

Funny how people will buy a lot of things, really. I've heard hundreds of shoppers declining to use credit cards and paying in cash instead: "I'm dangerous with a credit card". "If I shop with a card, my accountant yells at me". "I closed all my cards". Our credit crisis clearly hit home. The on-again-off-again (if you listened to the 'experts' anyway) recession lowered consumer spending except in the upper-middle-class and upper-class markets. And yet, we all shop! I still go shopping, and I'm on a budget! I have more clothes to wear to work than one person really needs but I'm always looking for another cute, warm sweater - especially if it's on sale!

Why do we buy? Giving gifts is a social contract thing, yadda yadda... but why do we feel compelled to go out and spend thousands of dollars? (and I've SEEN the evidence of that spending. Our store's holiday kickback program nets you 10% back on purchases, and after the holidays, people bring in their gift cards with that 10%, and the gift card totals are $300-$400. Which means they spent $3-4,000 in just our store last retail season.)

As much as I appreciate shoppers (since I get commission on what they buy!) I always have to stop and wonder how many people really need what we're selling. Sure, consumer spending drives the economy, and we've all been told that the economy needs to be healthy (lots of spending!) to make us all healthier and happier. What if that's not true? What if cutting our spending and letting capitalism take a hit is actually better for us? Nothing can grow forever. Even the oldest living things on earth (either single plants or plant colonies, depending who you're asking) have experienced die-offs. Ecosystems sometimes require a forest fire or flood to restore balance. Humans have even taken to doing controlled burns in areas where we can't risk the natural wildfire cycle (eg in areas where residential properties have taken over what used to be wildfire zones). So why is a controlled burn in our man-made systems so difficult?

I think it's because even though we are urged to do it in other parts of our lives (tossing old stuff, "de-cluttering" our address books, our desks, and our calendars, letting go of old emotional hang-ups) to make room for growth, no one has ever told us to let go of our consumerism. "Simplify your life!" shouts a guru. "Buy my book!". "De-stress! De-clutter your mind and open yourself to happiness!" advertises a domestic diva. "Pick up my dvd series!".

It's easy to toss out half your closet. There's plenty more clothing available when you want it. It's a lot harder to toss out your spending habits, especially when you "need" the things you buy - toiletries and brand-name foods, gifts for friends and family, clothing for work. We all justify purchases that way. We "need" it. We can't make it at home - we don't have the skills to support us that way.

That's why I'm a proponent of learning basic skills like cooking and sewing - the stuff our great-grandmothers learned as kids because that's what their parents thought an adult should know. Those skills make good sense. I can cut my spending (even if the economists in Washington, D.C. tell me I shouldn't) by making my own frozen stir-fry mix with fresh garden veggies and rice purchased in bulk instead of buying a pre-made single-serving meal at the grocery store. I can make my own gifts for friends, rather than buying them useless trinkets. And I can bake a cake when I get a craving, and know exactly what goes into it. I think we'd all be healthier and happier with more personal growth rather than more economic growth, and I think we know it, inside, but we aren't sure how to start.

Well, here's my suggestion: Learn a skill you've always wanted to learn, and let your interests guide you into a healthier lifestyle. :) I'm working on my kitchen skills, especially bread-making. What about you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are you a Christian?

My friend Nicole, who blogs at A Reader's Rumination, once again linked me to a meditation on Boundless that reminded me of something I wanted to share.

Disclaimer: While I'm hardly the best example of living a Christ-filled life, I do try to be a good person, and I do think that behavior is the best witness of all if you want to share Christ (or anything else) with someone. Being at peace will draw others who naturally want to know how you manage it. I find my strength in my husband and my friends more than in God directly, but I appreciate His work in others' lives and I wanted to share how my own experience with finding joy fed into someone else's interpretation of me (and made me an inadvertent witness to the gospel):

I had a horrible headache the other day. My sinus headaches come and go, and they're not so much painful as disorienting, making it harder to focus and making my entire head feel stuffy. But I was at work, and work is customer service - focusing on someone else's needs, doing what I can to make them happy. I tried my best to get through the day with a smile for my own sake as well as everyone else's.

It surprised me that I managed it at all, and I was worried that I was coming across as fake, too cheerful or too forced at times because it was all I could do to keep smiling if I stopped to think about my headache. I found two things: first, if I focused on the customer and not on the pounding in my head, the pain wasn't so bad. Second, if I stopped complaining and started focusing on little joys, like making a good connection with someone, finding the perfect shade of lipstick for her to wear at a wedding or successfully teaching a new makeup technique, I didn't seem fake at all. Even if my smile felt forced to me, the women I waited on saw someone genuinely focused on their needs. They smiled more, too. They complimented my customer service. It didn't take away the pain of the headache but it did reinforce that my attitude was more important than my physical presence. Anyone could have helped them pick a lipstick, but not everyone could have done it with a good attitude.

The last compliment I got was from a profusely thankful woman who told me that I was not only a good salesperson but clearly a good person overall, and as I was closing the sale she leaned over the counter and asked conspiratorially: "Are you a Christian?". She took me by surprise. I didn't think I gave off a Christian vibe, with my bright purple nail polish and complete lack of religious jewelry... but I guess it was my attitude that she found Christian-like.

I'm not sure if I lied when I said "yes". I don't read the Bible much and I don't fear God (I do love our creator, whether he/she/it is the ideal of a Christian god or not). I don't attend a Christian church (or any church at all). I have friends who do those things, which might make me a Christian by association if nothing else. But I think in the larger sense of the word - a "follower of Christ", not someone who attends a certain church or reads a certain book - that I am in fact Christian. I try to live by a moral code which includes many of Christ's teachings - love and kindness toward others, appreciation of the many good things I am given, and reflection on the nature of God and the lessons of the Bible. I appreciate Christ's story for what it tells us about Him and about ourselves. And I'm trying to live up to His example not because I'm told to but because it's a good example for everyone, Christian or not. I don't think Christ complained much, and He kept working even if people didn't always show appreciation for His work.

Compliments are rare in the service industries and it's easy to get bitter and gripe and moan about your headache, the poor pay, the long hours on your feet and the seemingly distant attitudes of management. Co-workers often feed into the negativity, supporting complaints with listening ears and complaints of their own. I know a few who are so negative that you can almost see the cloud they've hung over their heads like a warning sign: There's no sunshine in my life! Stay away!. Most of them claim to be Christians. Few of them realize what their poor attitude says about their commitment to Christ. I think my customer was one of the few who understood what an attitude can say.

I probably wouldn't have lost the sale if I had said "No." She might have been surprised, but I don't think it would have caused an uproar. It isn't very Christ-like to lie, even when you're unsure of the answer. I could have said "I'm not sure." I don't think I would have offended her. I don't know why I said "yes". Maybe to feel like I belonged to her group of "good people", maybe because sharing religious beliefs is not something I expected to be doing between sales on a very busy day. It was easier to say yes than explain my complicated stance on religion and religious labels.

Looking back, I think that if she takes away my behavior as a good example of what Christian behavior should be, it won't have done any harm. After all, aren't we supposed to find joy in life? Aren't we supposed to celebrate our being and the little miracles and accomplishments of each day? If Christians are supposed to follow Christ's example, we need to be doing a lot more loving and a lot less declaring of war. Christ never led nor fought in a holy war even against the least of his enemies. Even the money-lenders and vendors in the temple were not hated, only admonished and the animals driven out*. He did not complain about them later to his friends. He did not let his suffering get in the way of his love, his joy, his peace. Neither should we.

Question of the day: Are you a Christian? Or are you Christ-like?

*Here's a good reference with a discussion of the Cleansing of the Temple and its symbolic language, which indicates less violence than readers might originally see in the story: Christian Think Tank

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On "Self-sufficiency" and trade skills

Looking for second jobs today (I want to get my foot in the door with the nonprofit world and entry level's usually part time, so I'm not quitting my day job), I found one that seemed promising. It's a counselor position at a private school for troubled teens. Their website boasts of their success stories, their ability to instill work ethic and self-confidence in their students, and the fact that they treat these "problem kids" as real gentlemen and ladies. It's a tempting environment for kids who otherwise would be left 2-3 grades behind and struggling with the public school system. I thought to myself: Wow, this place looks good! I'd love to be a part of it!

And then I looked a little closer at what they do, which includes boosting confidence and offering job training through the following courses:
  • Carpentry
  • Cosmetology
  • Custodial Maintenance
  • Electrical Wiring
  • Food Service
  • Optical Lab Training
  • Screen-Printing
  • Structural Repair (Painting, Dry-Walling, Flooring, etc.)
  • Woodworking
They say this about the programs:
"This component of our students’ rehabilitation teaches them basic trade skills, instills a solid and positive work ethic, and paves the way to a means of self-sufficiency and independence."

And I realized: something bothers me about the school's emphasis on trade skills. They are not going to provide self-sufficiency and independence. Anyone who had done a trade-skills kind of job will vouch for the utter lack of self-sufficiency one feels when one is living paycheck-to-paycheck because the minimum wage doesn't cover such necessities as real food and gas for the broken-down car that's all you can afford to drive.

We don't have a good place for people with hands-on skills any more. Carpentry is seasonal, not a steady job in most places. Food service is minimum-wage, often part time work. Don't get me started on cosmetology. They are great things to tackle as hobbies or just to be "well-rounded". They are good for teaching self-confidence and a positive attitude and instilling work ethic in kids. They are not good careers. They are useful skills and I would mourn a society without them but they do not pay. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. We all know someone who built up a trade-based business through hard work and is putting his kids through college with said hard work... but those people are fewer and farther between these days, and there's certainly no guarantee of success.

This academy is a feel-good place but do kids really get the tools they need to be successful in the ways that our nation currently defines success? If we want our kids to succeed, shouldn't we be teaching them how to manage on Wall Street or campaign for a political position? Health care would be a more impressive field for student achievement; health care jobs are draining and entry level positions have a high turnover rate, but there's never a shortage of work especially as our baby boomers age. And most nurses can afford to eat even if they don't have the time. Teaching, too, could use some more accolades. Teachers may struggle with loan repayment but they rarely starve, at least not as badly as food service workers!

Our economy is no longer designed to support blue-collar workers. They aren't getting paid what they used to; the job security that our grandfathers had at the mill or the factory isn't there. We are a society of intellectuals now. We produce services rather than goods, and if we want to prepare our young kids for the future we need to train them to take advantage of any opportunity with a general skill set that includes the ability to self-teach and make good decisions rather than weighing them down with under-appreciated trade skills. As much as it pains me to admit that good physical labor isn't appreciated any more... it's true. So why are "troubled" youth still engaged in that kind of training, unless it's designed to keep them in the same socioeconomic slot? They deserve better.

It would be different if they were also learning other self-sufficiency skills: picking up information on gardening and preserving food as well as prepping it in a commercial kitchen, learning to budget and organize, maybe even sewing. Being able to cook for yourself, to grow part of your own meals and fix a fallen hemline in your only pair of work pants and budget your minimum wage income so that you manage to save a little bit toward a better life... that's real self-sufficiency. Knowing how to build a bookcase is not enough on its own.

I guess I'm going to keep looking for jobs... and be thankful I have skills that allow me to seek out a wide variety of career options.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


When I got up this morning, I was grumpy. I was itchy (note to self: update blog on the flea wars), I was over-tired (poor sleep patterns lately), and I did NOT want to go to work. I dragged myself out of bed and grumbled my way to the shower, where I stood under the hot water and hoped that it would somehow magically turn me into steam or provide time for someone to accidentally drive a vehicle into the store or set off a plague of locusts, so I could have a viable reason for missing work.

Hot water always makes me feel a little better, so I grouched a little quieter on the way down the stairs to get breakfast... got distracted by the siren-song of my computer and went to turn it on when I realized there was a new book sitting in my chair. A gardening book. Where did it come from? Who cared? Books are a good surprise!

So I read a few pages, reveling in the break from routine, and then went to the kitchen... where a tarnished pair of gold-colored metal goblets was sitting on the counter, with little bits of masking tape stuck to them. '13-' read the tape strips, in blue sharpie, and I thought "AHA! A YARD SALE!". ...when did Rick go to a yard sale?

 And then it hit me. Last night, in conversation before I went to bed, he asked casually if he could put bull horns on the jeep. I thought he'd seen a stupid picture somewhere and gotten the idea, told him 'no' and went to sleep. This morning after finding the goblets I got suspicious. Sure enough, on the writing desk in the entry was a huge mounted set of horns, the kind with the curved tips that you see on Spanish fighting bulls and Texas Longhorns fans. They too had a yard-sale masking tape sticker.

I think I started grinning about the time I saw them on the table. Even in a bad mood a mounted set of bull horns is ridiculous, and it's just like Rick to come home and leave them there for me to find, saying nothing about it. He was already in bed when I got out of the shower, so I hauled them up the stairs (they're surprisingly light) and demanded through giggles to know where he found a yard sale. I didn't get a straight answer, but he giggled too, and then we both kind of fell over laughing when the dog came up wide-eyed, sniffed one of the horns, and licked it veeeery carefully. You could just see her confusion.

The horns are currently residing on the top of my wardrobe, where they look rather out of place among the blankets and stuffed animals. The dog has already forgotten the horns (or is biding her time) and has moved on to the next order of business: sleeping in funny positions. I still don't really want to go to work but at least I feel a lot less grumpy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Re: Tantrums in Public

Any time a child has a tantrum in public I am reminded of this: An Open Letter to Anyone Who Has Experienced My Son's Meltdowns ( It rings true. Anyone who has lived with a child who has autism knows what meltdowns can be like and knows that you're lucky if you know what causes them, let alone how to keep them from happening in the middle of the store.

Now, I'm not one to outright go after a parent in public for their child's behavior issues but I admit at times I have glared at the parent/child in question and wondered why the child wasn't kept under control. What helps is that I remember how I would want to be judged, and how I -was- judged when I'd go into a store with an autistic child and her parent in tow. We went out because it was good for building coping skills, social skills, and awareness of the world. A child who never leaves home never learns to look before crossing the street. But because she didn't -look- like there was something wrong with her, her behaviors must have seemed pretty odd to all the "normal" shoppers in the store.

Remember: What we see, the person's behavior at any point in time, is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a giant submerged part full of history, education, medical diagnoses and situational cues that are all too easy to overlook. We assess the person separate from his environment: "He jumped in the pool with his clothes on! What a weirdo!" Yet if we are judged we're quick to point to situational reasons for our behavior: "It was hot, so I jumped in the pool with my clothes on!"

Assignment for the week: Next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or ignores her screaming toddler at the grocery checkout, or doesn't respond to your polite "hello" when passing on the sidewalk... imagine what reasons YOU would have for doing those things, and what reasons they might have (He's late for his friend's wedding, she just told the kid 'no candy' for the fourth time, he's worrying about keeping his job). If you take the time to think about the WHY of behavior, you'll be less stressed, less angry/confused by someone else's behavior, and less prone to giving stupid advice to strangers. I think we could all use less stupid advice, don't you?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Have you ever been working on something big, working for a long time, working really hard... and maybe there was a little detail you couldn't get right, or some part of the whole that took longer to finish, and you stop finally to take a breath or get a drink or take a day off and you realize at that moment that you had lost sight of what you were working toward? That the whole world had narrowed down to one little problem, one little bit of work that you had to do, and that everything else was lost in the effort to finish that little bit?

How do you move toward completion if that little bit's still not done? How do you regain perspective?

I have been putting a lot of effort into one part of my life, and I'm failing. And I can not live with failure, but I don't know how to succeed or even how to let it go and work on something else for a while. Suggestions?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garden pictures!

It's my day off this week, so naturally I wasted a lot of time relaxing - sleeping in, lounging in front of my computer, on the couch with a book, and now back to the computer again. I did get a few things done, however!

In the past week I've pretty well finalized my garden plans for the summer, purchased and planted a lavender seedling and a peppermint seedling (I am ashamed that as a gardener I can NOT get those two plants to grow from seed), and finally got those pictures onto Rick's laptop. As I type this, they're being uploaded to Gmail, so I can email them to myself and show off my awesome accomplishments!

I also planted strawberries today. This is the third or fourth time I've tried to grow strawberries with those little "grow your own" kits. You know the kind: the cute decorative container, the inadequate amounts of fluffy potting soil, and the sad dessicated remains of several strawberry plants which are supposed to magically come back to life when you put them in dirt and add fertilizer. What can I say? The pot was one of those classy glazed ceramic ones with holes in the sides so you can have strawberries coming out all over the place, and the kit was cheap. Cheaper than buying strawberries shipped in from California all summer long, and much cheaper than buying the live, healthy seedlings (some already setting flowers) from the outdoor nursery at a certain large home improvement store. If they fail to grow this year, though, I'm going to spring for pre-started seedlings next spring. There are a lot of plants I might give up on growing, but I will not give up on strawberries!

And now, to make up for the last post's dire lack of pictures, I present to you my very own chunk of Pittsburgh soil!

It doesn't look like much, but this is the future site of the city's best edible landscape! Visible on the edges are the garlic bed and newly planted nasturtiums (on the far end), and on the right side is the porch wall where my tomatoes and beans will be trellised this summer.

My garlic, planted last November. It's coming up healthy and strong at the front of the yard, and I'm -very- excited!

The kitchen garden, with my salvage-built cold frame and a new bed for the peas. In back are sugar snap, in front, heirloom "Little Marvel" bush peas. In the cold frame are "Black-seeded Simpson" lettuce, "Cherry Belle" radishes, and Cherriette radishes. Spinach was on the menu but I didn't have seeds, so I'll be planting that after the first crop of radishes come out.

There you have it - the beginnings of a great year of urban gardening!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I need a new camera.

I did stuff today. It was my only day off after a 7-day work week that started at 8am last Monday, and tomorrow another 7-day work week starts with another 8am meeting. I am not happy with this arrangement.

But even though it was my only day off, which means that I will have no time to just lay around the rest of the week because there is SO MUCH to keep up with around here, I did stuff today. I gardened, mostly. I took advantage of a 30-day trial of the Mother Earth News garden planner to plan my front-yard garden. I cleared out the front beds, added new fertilizer, aerated and pulled dandelions. I planted more radishes, the seedling sugar snap peas and bush peas (an heirloom variety called "Little Marvel" that dad sent to me last year) and the nasturtiums (including an heirloom called "Empress of India" that has gorgeous purplish foliage and promises deep red blossoms). I took pictures of everything - the seed flats full of gorgeous little seedlings prior to planting, the new garden bed and the cold frame I promised to get pictures of last month, and the porch with our patio table finally on it, ready for spring.

But I can't get the pictures uploaded. The camera's CF card works with the printer, but the printer doesn't have any clue how to find my computer to save the pictures. The computer can see the printer, but I can't figure out how to manually access the CF card and the documentation for Ubuntu, while comprehensive, was not written to the standards of, and is therefore useless to me. I think we have a portable card reader somewhere, but I don't know where (and I may have dreamed up its existence). And the camera's USB connector is missing, presumed buried under something.

So there are no pictures of the garden, and I have concluded that rather than waste my time trying to find the camera connector, the card reader, or another program that will let the desktop interface with the printer, I'm just going to add "camera" to my wish list. Or maybe I'll bother Rick until HE uploads the pictures. I think he knows how.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What do I want to do?

So much for updating regularly, eh?

Tonight I'm looking for answers, although why I think posting a blog entry for 3 people will give me answers, I don't know. I'm frustrated. I was actually surprised to find, after being hired at a large department store last fall, that I -liked- retail, or at least most of it. A lot had to do with my co-workers, who are friendly people (of course, that kind of job self-selects for that kind of personality). They made me feel at home. My manager was nice, and everything was going smoothly, and there was even a chance I could get a little promotion to part-time commissioned work! I stuck around after the holidays because of an offhand job offer by my manager. That job offer never materialized.

I'm now stuck in a job I don't like quite so much, and that "not liking so much" is quickly turning into "not liking at all", and that's never good for job performance. Not that my manager has been communicating about such tawdry details as job performance. She's avoiding me, and THAT is also not good. Leaving out all the details of what's gone on the last few months, let me just state that if it continues into April/May, I'm going to hand in my 2 weeks' notice and take my chances with unemployment.

I'd rather not, though, which has led me back into job searching... and the inevitable question: What do I even want to do?

Well, it's easy: I want to homestead. That doesn't pay too well, though.

I don't even know where to start looking for a job that I'd fit into! I have a lot of skills, but most of them (writing, basic farm skills, baking) are either underpaid or not in demand, and the rest are underdeveloped (I don't have the "3-5 years experience" preferred for most jobs in my areas of interest). We need money; I can't go back to volunteering no matter how much I'd love to toss my wallet out the window and spend another summer turning compost at the urban farm. I keep tossing around the idea that happiness is worth so much more than money... but then I turn around and look at my beat-up shoes, the ones that I have worn out because I have to be on my feet all day, and I remember how painful being on one's feet all day is when one doesn't have new footwear regularly, and I think "I'd be happier if I had the money for new shoes!", and you can see where that leads.

Maybe it's time to get my act together and start my own damn business. I keep thinking how great it would be to run a camp... but that's the kind of thing that doesn't happen overnight and I'd need a ton of sponsors to get started, and even then - I'm great in a supporting role, but I don't so so well in the lead. I'd rather work as a (well-paid) camp counselor and let someone else deal with the paperwork! :(

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Internet Never Forgets

Found this post made in 2005 shortly after Katrina and the mess she made in New Orleans. I couldn't help but read 2/3 of the comments, too... and then added my own.

Being Poor.

Being poor means passing up the $0.99/lb apples because you can only afford two of them, and that dollar could buy three boxes of ez-mac.

Being poor means fighting with your parents over pre-sliced cheese because it's what all the other kids get in their sandwiches, and you're sick of PBJ.

Being poor means writing "thank-you" letters to six estates which donated to your local scholarship fund, because being thankful is a requirement for getting the money that pays for your college education.

Being poor means watching your amazing, bright, talented sister become an egg donor and put herself at risk for terrible side effects, because it pays $5000 and she can use that to finish college.

Being poor means saving pennies until you can afford one month's rent because you can't give in and live in your car no matter how much more frugal it is, and then crying every month the week before rent is due because you can't imagine how you're going to pay it.

Being poor means hiding it, and then being frowned at for trying to look good or take care of yourself, as though poverty should mean visible suffering - as though the invisible suffering you experience every day isn't enough.

Being poor means making the clothes, the glasses, and the tank of gas you already have last just a -little- bit longer.

Being poor means not wanting to ask for favors, because you're afraid you'll ask one too many times.

Being poor means feeling guilty about taking people up on the offer to "get you something" from a store or food stall, because you know you'll never return the favor.

Being poor means taking less than you could at the staff luncheon so no one will suspect that the pizza is the only meal you'll have today.

Being less poor means even after you have a house and a car with no payments, you take tylenol and ignore the worsening toothaches because you can't afford the dentist yet.

Being less poor means finally owning enough clearance-rack clothing to put together three outfits for work, but not having the money to buy the $100 shoes that would keep your feet from hurting.

Being less poor means skipping the drink when you buy lunch somewhere, and telling yourself that it's because you -chose- to use the water fountain instead.

And being less poor means feeling guilty when someone poorer than you needs something and you can't afford to help, and promising yourself that some day you'll have enough to help everyone...

The comments on the blog post would take a long time to read entirely, but suffice to say: The post was never intended as a "poorer-than-thou" competition - it's a reflection on how poverty strikes in the US, in a country which is often thought to be the richest in the world and is certainly one of the most decadent. It's an attempt to show people who have never experienced poverty what it can look like, and how the "little things" - a vehicle inspection, a nagging cough - can turn into insurmountable obstacles when you don't have the money for a new set of tires, or a doctor, or medicine. It's to get you to remember this above all else: Being poor is not about being lazy or dirty or unmotivated. Being poor is about being ignored, treated like dirt, unable to feed yourself sometimes and yet making too much for food stamps a week later, and through it all trying to keep your chin held high because hope is the only thing they haven't figured out how to package and sell yet (but they're getting close).

Being poor is working retail, hearing numbers like "fifty thousand dollars" being used to refer to daily sales, worrying about your $30 makeup while selling $500 creams to middle-aged women and chatting about their cruise plans. Being poor is coming home to a bowl of ramen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I was all cranky today, because I had a rough day at work, developed a headache during the last hour there, got home to a cold, dark house (naturally, The Man was asleep), and found the cat inexplicably locked in the closed-off guest room. It was not a good ending to the day and I didn't feel like cooking, let alone like figuring out what to cook.

But then I went to the cupboard to find something quick to heat and eat, and there on the shelf was the can of organic ravioli he saw at the grocery store last week and brought home for me. There is nothing that says "I Love You" like anticipating someone's needs before they even know them. I am the luckiest woman alive.