Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Privelege Meme

Yeah, I am a sucker for a meme, but this one made me do some thinking.
One of the things I think about is my complete inability to do yes or no answers.

This meme is from “What Privileges Do You Have?”, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois Indiana State University.
Done in a classroom setting, students would line up and take one step forward for every statement that is true.

I have made bold those which I answer yes.

1. Father went to college: Nope. Father graduated in the middle of the Great Depression. He got accepted but his parents couldn’t come up with the cost- a whopping $200. He got sent to the CCC.

2. Father finished college: Nope.

3. Mother went to college: Nope. She graduated during the Depression, too.

4. Mother finished college: Nope. She went to work as a cook as soon as she graduated high school, and counted herself lucky.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. Not first degree, and none of my parents’ generation. Two of my cousins- the only two families that moved away from our neighborhood- did become professors. My cousin is a lawyer and my cousin’s daughter is an MD. I am a PharmD and dammit, that is no small potatoes!

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers: hard to tell- they were nuns. I guess that made them as poor as the rest of us!

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home: Definitely. And 49 of them were mine!

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. No, but I sure had more than 500 in the home I raised my kids in. I’m pretty sure I have nearly that many now; 5 bookcases full.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent: Nope- I could read by age 3 so I basically read to myself.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18: I had piano lessons for one year. It was a very good year.

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. Nope. My mom put me in dance lessons when I was 6. I loved it until I discovered I was expected to dance on stage in a recital. I flatly refused and she never forgave me. The only reason I got piano lessons was the nun spoke to her directly about my musical talent and kind of bullied her into it.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively: I don’t think any people like me are in the media.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. No. I think I was twenty-six with two or three kids.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs: Nope. I got an allowance of ten dollars a week for bus fare. I worked 3 jobs and it took me 5 years to get my BA. And they wondered why I ended up in a hospital.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs: Goose egg.

16. Went to a private high school. Yup- my parents felt that their friends who went to Catholic school had a huge advantage, so they scraped to send us to convent school. Wish they spent what they wasted on college!

17. Went to summer camp: Nope.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18: Nope. But I never would have needed one.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. We took a road trip once & stayed in a cabin in the Berkshires, but my parents had a fight so we came home the next day. When I was a teen, they were fond of a resort place in New Hampshire and we went once a year.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. With two older sisters? I think not.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. Not on this planet.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. Nope. My mother has this thing about fake wood and fake wrought iron…We had wallpaper that looked like wood, vinyl floors that looked like wood, and when she discovered sheet paneling, she went incredibly overboard. She was given her first original art by my sister’s boyfriend when I was 20. (He is now well-known and it’s worth a lot!) I bought her two paintings by a local artist that she is very fond of. But her idea of art involves plastic that looks like wrought iron. And Hummels.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house. Hhhhmmm. Kinda sorta not really. We lived in a duplex and my grandparents and uncle lived upstairs. After Pappy died and my uncle married, my parents had the house opened up and we moved our bedrooms upstairs when I was 8.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home. They bought my grandmother out, so I guess yes.

25. You had your own room as a child. No. At first all three of us were in one double bed. Then I shared a room with my sister (twin beds made of imported Vermont maple as my mom used to say).

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. Nope. I’ve only had a phone in my room since I bought my current little farmhouse in 2002.

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. Nope. I signed up for the SAT and took it. I counted myself lucky, since my poor sister was placed in a city 40 miles away- my mom dropped her off and left her with a few bucks and instructions to find her own way home. No wonder we’re so self-sufficient.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school: Nope. I would not have wanted one. I could never understand why my family would sit like zombies for hours. I was too nudgie and TV bored me so easily.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college: Jeez, who made this thing up? I barely managed to pay for college, and I had to put grad school off because I couldn’t afford it!

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16: Actually, I flew with my family to Ontario to visit my great-uncle Paddy when I was 4. My sisters promptly came down with German measles and were quarantined, so I got to spend my entire vacation with Nana and Uncle Paddy being pampered and adored and spreading rubella through Port Colbourne (I got it when we came back!).

31. Went on a cruise with your family: Nope. But I did get to visit my daughter on her cruise ship…

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family: Nope.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up: Nope. But mom insisted I go to Bingo at the parish, which I hated. I discovered museums at age 16 and became a museum-a-holic. I had memberships when my kids were little.

34. If you had a computer at home. They didn't even have them in businesses when I was young!

35. If you had your own computer at home. See above.

36. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family: Nope. Every time the bill came in, BOTH parents griped.

37. If you have been to Europe. I scraped and saved enough to visit my family in London and Dublin and got bombed by the IRA. But it was not given to me to go.

38. If you had your own cell phone in High School. They didn’t HAVE cell phones when I was in high school. Phones still involved cords and were usually black.

When the questions have all been asked, the following instructions are given:
“Now everyone recognize that you are at the same place academically. Everyone turn around. Everyone has permission to talk. No one has permission to accuse any one or any group of anything. Everyone must use “I” statements.

Note that the people on one end of the room had to work harder to be here today than the people at the other end of the room. Some of you had lives of more privilege than others. There is no one to blame, it is just the way it is. Some have privilege and some don’t.”

Anfa’s score is a whopping TEN/36. I guess I flunk Privelege 101.
Whatever. If there's an Experience 101, I passed that with flying colours long, long ago.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cape Codder

We had planned a quick trip to the Cape in december but it didn't pan out. Rescheduled for a Nana weekend, we employed Kate as resident lifeguard, Nanny, gameplayer and girl toy extraordinaire. This allowed the exhausted grandparents to basically kick back and just enjoy.
Great-Aunt Nini had to work on Saturday in NH, so I missed the wave pool, bonfire and dinner, but arrived in time for girl talk. My favourite grand-nephew lit up with a huge smile when Nini came in. Among the discussion was favourite painting, favourite dessert, favourite fruit and favourite toy (Jordyn wanted to know what our favourite adult toy was and couldn't understand why we laughed so hard or so long...).

The younguns enjoyed a Dunkins breakfast picnic-style, but Kate and I sneaked off for a real breakfast before joining the crowd in the wave pool.

We joined the family with a cake for Jordyn's 6th birthday and shared some gifts. The girls got to open and try on all of their dress-ups. Richie particularly liked the Johnny Depp pirate dreadlocks and the sword. The punk rocker outfits were also a big hit.

We just had such a great time hanging out together. The adults are exhausted, but they are an incredibly fun group of kids.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's MY Parking Spot!

I grew up in Boston, where the winters can be fierce when the Montreal Express roars through. The competition over parking can be deadly- you put in hours shovelling out your vehicle after a storm, pull away and mark your turf with a barrel or cone or bin or chair. Then you come home to find someone took your marker and your spot as well.
Last year the mayor decreed that so many days after a storm, the city would pick up all markers and parking was back to a free-for-all. My kids are living in Boston, so I get to hear their woes.
When we bought our first house, we decided we had to have off-street parking, ie, a driveway. The second-largest city in New England wasn't much different from the biggest. I had had one neighbor watch me shovel out a spot (and I was largely pregnant), then steal my bin and blithely park there. So we thought our parking worries were over.
My driveway was blocked so frequently, it was ridiculous. On a street lined with driveways, every one would be open and mine would be blocked. Some days I could not get to work until the city came and towed away the offender. Unfortunately, the city policy was to first try and find the owner and notify him/her by phone that they were blocking my drive. I had many a person visiting another house on the street who would just pull into my drive and leave their car. Of course, they didn't want to inconvenience their friends, but it was ok to inconvenience a total stranger. My personal favourites were;
1. The woman who lived next door for 3 months and parked one night straight across my driveway. The cops traced her car by the college sticker, and she came bumbling out, hung over, to move her vehicle. She never noticed there was a driveway there, she said, because it was dark. I pointed out the big pole directly across from my driveway- the streetlight. Not to mention she had been living on the street for months. That one caused both ex and I to be 1.5 hours late for work.
2. The teacher from the school up the street who parked across my drive because there was no parking closer to the school.
3. The guy visiting the people next door. He didn't want to park in their driveway in case they needed to get out. What if we needed to get out? Oh- he didn't think about that. What gave him the right to park in our driveway in the first place? He didn't think about that,either.
4. The tenants' friends. There was not enough room for our tenants to park in the drive, so they used the street. Their friends didn't. Their friends felt that pulling in for a few hours was a god-given right of being a Friend of Tenant. I would just pull in behind them and block them. Inevitably, when I was in the middle of feeding the family dinner, the knock on the door would come and the "You're blocking me in.." call would start. I would inform said friends that I would move my car after dinner at my convenience, and all hell would break loose. It was perfectly ok for unrelated people who didn't pay me rent to inconvenience me by using my personal space as a public lot, but when I refused to more right away for them- I was a major bitch.

When I bought the new house after my divorce, I once again had driveway on my MUST HAVE list. For the first time in my life, I am in a small town. I thought parking was no longer a problem. Boy did I think wrong!
This morning I looked out to see a commercial truck parked perpendicular to (and six inches from) my new little car, in MY driveway. I went out in my robe and a young white guy was in the truck. May I ask why you are in my drive? "I am just waiting for someone in the house next door." Then why don't you park in their drive? "I thought someone mught be pulling out and I didn't want to get in their way." So why do you think it's ok to be in MY way? This is my property, you are not working for me or visiting me..."But I am just waiting for someone. I will only be here a few minutes."
APPARENTLY the world does not understand that MY property means NOT YOURS, NOT THE NEIGHBORS and NOT TO BE PARKED ON.
Since I moved in, I have had my neighbors' tenants, their guests, their family and their friends, and the idiots they hire to do work on the house all merrily take possession of my side of the driveway. Now, I share a drive; their side is paved, and they have a yard big enough for six cars to park and then some turning space. I have a dirt drive that also exits on the side street, a large lawn and a crawlspace with two doors that exit onto the drive. Here are my favourite driveway incidents in the new house:
1. The tenant next door had a son who does not live with him who thought it would be ok to buy a junk car, have it towed to MY driveway and parked, so he could work on it at his convenience. I thought it was stolen and abandoned, since it was torn to bits inside, so I called the cops and asked them to tow it. When I cam home that night from work, it was still there. I called cops again. Cops informed me it belonged to the people next door and talk to them. I said NO- it was parked illegally on my property and I wanted it towed off. Cops called daddy next door, daddy called sonny. Half an hour later, sonny boy came with some friends and jumper cables, filled my driveway with vehicles, got it running and drove it away. I went out and asked them why they thought it would be ok to leave their car in my driveway. I dunno, we just thought it would be ok cos my dad lives here. But your dad doesn't live HERE- he lives over there next door. I dunno.
2. The birthday party for the insane twins. Next door, we used to have this crazy woman who had twins and a baby, plus her hub had a bunch of kids from his ex. There was always screaming and slapping and lots of country music blasting the same song over and over again (and many calls to the cops and child protective services by those of us who were mandated reporters). They had a birthday party, and the cars began to line MY driveway. I went out each time; excuse me- this is my driveway. You'll have to park somewhere else. "Oh well, I don't want to park in their driveway, they won't be able to get out!" Well- if you park in MY driveway, I won't be able to get out either, will I? "OH." And this is NOT my tenant, and this is NOT a public parking lot, so you need to move. "Where will I park?" (Like I give a rat's *** you hick!) How about somewhere else?
3. The roofers. My neighbor had her roof done, and hired this crew. I woke up in the morning and there were trucks all over my driveway AND parked on my LAWN. They were merrily ripping off roofing shingles and tossing them down on MY side of the driveway (can't risk having nails on their side and flattening the neighbors' tires, but it apparently is ok to flatten MY tires. I went out and said "EXCUSE ME! Why are there construction trucks in my driveway AND on my LAWN, and why are you throwing your construction debris in MY yard? I am not having MY roof done..." Well, if we throw it in this yard, their cars cannot get in and out. "Well- I MYSELF cannot get in or out can I?" "No speaky English." And after that they refused to speak English and turned up the radio every time I went out to yell at them to get out of my drive, or remove their crap from my drive. The foreman parked at the end of my driveway every day for months and it drove me nuts when I was studying for my exams, but if I yelled, they got louder and it made it worse. I asked my neighbor to tell them to stay out of the driveway, and I am sure she did. I like her a lot, and I don't want our relationship ruined by something she is not in control of.
I guess I need to be a more consistent bitch and call the police every time someone is in my drive. God knows they are looking for something to do in this sleepy little town. But then my address will be in the police log in the local paper.
It just seems to be my karma to have driveway issues.

A postscript, four hours later on the same day:
Returned from numerous errands and pulled in my drive only to find a large pick up truck full of tools parked not only in my drive but in my spot that I have the plow guy plow for me. The very friendly worker listened nicely as I blew up completely and then commented that they had parked there because they didn't want to inconvenience the tenant who was parked sideways across three spaces next to the dumpster in the neighbor's yard.

New Years Resolutions

1. Spend more time with family. After four years in school, I want to spend my non-work time being more available to spend time with my family. My sister has taken my parents to nearly all of their medical appointments, so I owe her big time. Having 3 of my kids in the Boston area means I should be able to do more with them. Hoping to ski, do theatre, travel etc. And did I mention I have 2 little nieces and a nephew whom I adore? Definitely more Nini time is in order!!!
2. Health. I need to hydrate better, eat more fruits and veggies and move more. Yeah, yeah, whatever. I know.
3. Happiness. I want more music in my life. I want more spontaneity. I gave up so much and made my life so regimented in order to meet my goals, and I did it. Now it’s time to kick back and get in tune with the things that give me pleasure. Spending time with friends, appreciating nature and beauty, enjoying my pets- all in the menu for the new year.
That’s it. The basics. Health, happiness.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


We do our celebration on Christmas Eve. Our family has gotten together since 1969 and celebrated on Christmas Eve with dinner, gifts, and then midnight Mass. Over the years as my mom got debilitated with knee replacements, we switched from celebrating at her house to taking turns at the three sisters' homes, hosting the dinner. Last year was my turn, and one sister opted out with her family; my mom's serious illness kept my parents from joining us. This year should have been the eldest sister's turn, but her illness precluded it, and I announced I would host the do. My aunt suggested having it back at my parents' and so my daughter and I ran the show from there. We were most grateful that my sister made it despite serious illness, and she pulled it together to see her grandchildren. My cousin and his wife joined us, for which we were extra grateful since thy had just had a death in the family.
Kate did the lions' share by showing up at 8AM (and feeding her grandparents a Dunkins Croissandwich treat) and plunking in the turkey. She did all the veggies up and any odd jobs. I got there for 1 pm and we made the stuffing and finished all the cooking. The vegetarian cooked the turkey; the celiac made the stuffing. The boys (who had 100 lbs of potatoes as a paternal gift) made the mashed praetes. Kate had made pies and candies; we had other folks bring desserts, and Mom & Kate picked up a gorgeous strawberry shortcake Mom ordered.
Rich and Corey and the kids came: Kay and Jordyn were highly entertained reading the tags on all the gifts now that they can read. The PeeWee Christmas Special was duly played; KD Lang in a dress was the highlight of the evening. Richie grabbed a toy ruler which he mistook for a phone and it was passed thru all the family for a conversation with Santa and handed back to him. Dan advised Santa to skip presents for the children and bring monkeys instead; the monkey theme is now central in their play. The dinner was good: turkey and ham, veggies of all kinds, two kinds of stuffing. The presents were fun; books and dvd's and clothes and gift cards. I must say that I outdid myself with the girls; a dress-up box full of costumes for each child. My personal amazing gift was a Roomba; can't wait to get it going and see the kitties' reaction.
We sent dessert home with the kids since they had to get back to the Cape, but we did have time for crackers. Word to the wise; a pill case is not the same as a yoyo.
We were all pretty exhausted by Christmas: four snowstorms in 7 days in addition to all the holiday work made it hectic. Three of my four stayed over for Christmas. I woke early for Mass and made it in time. We had the usual big breakfast. I burnt the first batch of bacon and was told by #4 that Mommy ruined Christmas. Then he burnt the toast and we were even. We did our presents, and they left at 4 for their paternal side. I headed to my sister's with a Christmas plate for Ted, then down to my parents for a cup of tea.
I had the day after off from work but spent it at the hospital with my sis, who was so ill she was admitted. It made me even more grateful that we had such a good holiday all together. The best part was spending time with the kids and being with my own kids in the morning. The best present is being together!
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