Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dear Old Navy and Other Clothing Retailers,

Please stop putting an announcement of my size on a hidden sticker that runs beneath my boob which I forget to rip off before putting stickered shirt on in the morning only to have my 1st period students ask if my shirt is new--wink, wink.

It is embarrassing.

Prefers to be more discreet

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Wealth, Taboos, Sociology and other Snore-able Topics

Money is a funny thing. Enough of it is always necessary in life, but over time its value shifts. In high school, when my friends and I would make the rounds sharing and complaining about our mediocre after-school jobs, a question was often raised: "How much do they pay there?" Anything over minimum wage and you were lucky. Make over eight dollars an hour and you were an icon. Similar conversations could be had with the right crowd and the correct context in college. But the minute you shook the Dean's sweaty palm and grasped your own around that paper saying your degree would be arriving in the mail shortly, all of that conversation goes out the window.

You see, when it comes to money, it seems there is only one unspoken rule to follow: don't talk about it. Especially not what you make in a single year.

The paradox, you might have noticed, is that money, and the demonstration thereof, exists everywhere (much like our traditional Puritan ideals and sex: avoid the topic altogether while it is salaciously demonstrated at every bend in the free market). In the United States, and other countries to be sure, the demonstration of one's income is a national tradition. We don't use the cliche "keeping up with the Joneses" without provocation. Even more disturbing: we place so much emphasis on the demonstration of that income.

One of my favorite AP prompts I have my students study with includes a quote from Lewis Lapham's Money and Class in America. It reads:

I think it is fair to say that the current ardor of the American faith in money so easily surpasses the degrees of intensity achieved by other societies in other times and places. Money means so many things to us—spiritual as well as temporal—that we are at a loss to know how to hold its majesty at bay.

Lapham's words bring me back to Sociology 1010 my first year in college. It was here that I was introduced to Social Comparison Theory (essentially, it is the measuring up we do in order to place ourselves as--hopefully--elite amongst our peers). Like most sociological theories, it is relatively common sensical. In Leon Festinger's theory (thanks, Wikipedia), launched in the 50's, the comparing was usually done between one's skills, abilities, and opinions and another individual's skills, abilities and opinions. Today, however, I believe Lapham is more spot-on. Especially in the middle and upper classes. Money is a currency far more valuable than previously suspected. Rather than waiting to find out if one is intelligent, or trustworthy, or good based on their actions, we assume by their mere appearance whether or not this is the case. And when I say their appearance I mean *What (or whom) are they wearing? *Is their hair styled professionally? *Are their teeth whitened/straight? *What do they drive? *With what technology do they accessorize?

And all of us are just climbing and scrambling to the top of the best dressed, latest, greatest heap. We gauge an individual's value by how wealthy we perceive them to be--in comparison to ourselves. Other factors enter in, obviously. Festinger's theory wasn't all wrong: we feel better when we feel better than somebody else. But my-oh-my, how our national psyche (and subsequent economy) have been screwed over time and again by our own little egos.

Yes, money is funny. And taboo. But I think, sadly, the joke is on us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stickin' It to the Man?

Have you heard about
this?  It is about dang time!

Wish it would have happened before my Visa platinum card skyrocketed from 7.99% interest to 13.99% interest for no reason whatsoever last December.  Not a single late payment (and I mean not even two days late payment) in over eight years, always paying more than the minimum, apparently these don't matter because, yes, they raised the interest by nearly double for no purpose whatsoever anyway (other than everyone not paying their bills...and the crap economy).  Yes, I was pissed when they did this.  No, I could not pay it off at that time and subsequently avoid the interest hike.  Yes, I haven't used this card since then.  When I do finally pay the mother off, that account is closed.  Permanently.

My only concern:  what the bastards are going to try to get away with between now and when the law goes into effect.  Now, forgive me while I write a letter to my state senator and credit card company to request the past months' superfluous interest hikes be retroactively credited to my account.  I'll try to avoid the word "bastard".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need to Pee Your Pants Laughing?

Go here. My friend Charlotte mentioned it on FB. 

I bit.

And oh, how I owe her a huge favor. 

"The Choker" with the priest/gym teacher/father was my personal favorite.

5 Things that Taunt Me On Regular Basis:

1. The gym (and the people within it).

2. Laundry. (It just never ends...)

3. My Job (and the people within it).

4. Clocks (each of which has the soul purpose in life of either waking me with a wretched noise or reminding me that I'm late--or both).

5. Bills (seriously, why can't computer glitches in which my name is permanently removed from some IOU-database ever occur?  I ask very little here.)

What's taunting you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Show and Tell...Rookie Makes a Quilt

I have gotten crafty in my late 20's...sometimes. This winter, Alice and I took up quilting. I even scored a $25 Bernina at a school surplus auction to help with my new hobby (i.e. one more time commitment I don't really need...but somehow I manage to squeeze it in). 

Well, it is high time I show off my skillz. I bought the fabric for this quilt months ago and now, finally, the top is complete. Maybe in another few months I'll show you the final, quilted product. It's called "Gypsy Caravan" and ended up a LOT crazier than I thought it would--but I love it nonetheless.

(Yeah, I know the florescent lighting in my basement apartment stinks...and what?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Letters Addressed to Undeterminable Destinations

One of my favorite bloggers, Jen at Rowena's Rants, often writes letters. Letters of ranting. Letters of complaint. Letters of praise. Always succinct and sassy, Jen writes exactly what needs to be said. So I'm following suit in today's post because there are a few letters I need written, though I don't know what address to send them to.

Dear Spring,

I love you. You make me happy whether your skies are grey or blue. Stick around a while longer. You are a welcome guest in my life.

Not Ready for Summer's Scorching

Dear Aunt Flo,

Either arrive and continue to "flo" or don't. Don't slow your "flo" to near-nothing early in the weekend, making me think all is well in lady-land, only to surprise me in the middle of the school day Monday with an adolescent embarrassment.

Unafraid of Publicly Sharing the Facts of Her Life

Dear Alarm Clock,

I hate you. Were you not also my phone I would kill you daily.

Peeved and Drowsy

Dear Construction on My Way to Work,

Stop making me late. Or else.

A Despiser of Orange Cones

Dear End of School Year,

Any time now. We're all waiting.

Anxious for the 2 1/2 Month Death of Her Alarm Clock

And now, in the comments section, it is time for your letters to undeterminable destinations.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Standardized Testing and Dating

In high-school-land we are in the midst of standardized testing. My AP students are in a constant state of panic, suffering through one grueling four hour AP exam after another, studying themselves into ulcers. The rest of my students have turned cagey and wired as they spend their days filling out bubbles in each class.

To lighten my mood in the midst of the stress, I've decided to play a game. It is called "Standardized Testing Is Like..." You get to tell me what standardized testing is like and why. I even put mine in the form of a standardized test question.

Here goes...
Standardized Testing is like an Awkward First Date. Is it because
A. You invest far too much time readying yourself for these events that, in the end, don't matter all that much.
B. Each is required to get what you really want out of life and yet each is a miserable waste of three hours.
C. You will never really use any of the information gleaned from these events in your future life.
D. Every move you make is judged and scrutinized by someone you don't even know.
E. No matter how horrible it is, you will be expected to do it again. And again. And again.

Please indicate your responses with a #2 black lead pencil only.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bodily Fluids Will Be Discussed

There is something altogether indulgent and simultaneously depressing about a Monday spent primarily beneath one's covers. After hacking up the contents of my lungs since last week (and subsequently nearly peeing my pants each time this happened), I decided something had to give. A day in bed might be a necessary item on my agenda if I was ever to recover. So a substitute teacher was called for, and today I've strictly obeyed the following routine:

Drug up on anything with a label mentioning pain/congestion/cough/stuffy nose
Blow nose
Deliriously wander to the couch to see if there is anything on television
Blow nose
Get annoyed by daytime television
Google "bronchitis" and "pneumonia" and other diseases of the lungs
Blow Nose
And, lest you think that peeing came from no where, drinking plenty of liquids
Repeat as necessary

As I lay in bed listening to my own wheezing lungs trying to carefully suck in air so as not to set off yet another coughing fit (and subsequent near peeing of pants), feeling worried that the ($25 I DON'T really have) doctor's visit Thursday was probably too early to detect the pneumonia that by now must be killing me, I heard life going on outside my window. Cars would pass. Dogs would bark. By this afternoon, kids were walking home from school. Those same noises that in the morning hours I was more than happy to turn my convulsively coughing back to have, in the course of my misery, suddenly become desirable (except the barking dog because that's just annoying).

If my body is listening, I am ready to be out among the living again. Any time you're ready. I'm quite finished with an obsession in all things fluid.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Dote on Votes

I shamelessly nominated myself as the May blog spotlight over at Mormon Mommy Blogs one night, certain that nothing would ever come of it. You see, I'm neither wife or mommy--but I still follow (some of my favorite blogs have been discovered here). Even stranger still, of the many nominations made, I was selected as one of the five you vote for this month!

So get to. Go here and vote for Confessions of a Rookie. As of this post, I'm tied for last place.