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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My privileges Meme

Esther, over at Hawai'i Catholic mom, saw this meme. It was new to her and I hadn't seen it either. It's sort of interesting the things we take for granted as perhaps being a privilege for someone else. I consider myself blessed! Meme statements are in green, my comments on some of them will be white. True statements are bold.

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 State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

True statements are in "Bold."

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college

This would not have been unusual for parents who grew up in working class or poor families in the 30s or 40s. My dad could have graduated high school, but hated his home life and joined the Air Force 3 days after his 17th birthday. He idolized his uncles who'd all served in WWII, a conflict he missed by 5 or so years for being too young. Mom was a good student, but it was expected the girls would quit school at 16 and go to work because the family was poor. Dad did a couple of hitches and proceeded to work his way up the ladder in corporate America as a soft drink salesman, from the ground up to eventually be a plant manager. He worked his behind off. A fact which I didn't fully appreciate when I was little. Thank God for the opportunities in the USA, because there aren't a lot of societies where without a formal education that one can improve from the social/monetary class you were born in.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

Yes. Hush now. One of my cousins is an attorney, but try not to hold that against him.

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children's books by a parent

Big time on the books. I had close to 1500 before I went to college. Most of the books in the house were mine, and every nickel I had went into buying books. Mom and dad indulged me to the hilt on this one. The best gift I had was a surprise gift at age 9 of a 24 volume encyclopedia set + a 10 volume science set and a 10 volume set about art, music, literature, stories, crafts etc. Some time back when I were going through my parents effects, I found payment book for same. Those books are dog earred now, but the best presents ever.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

Caught a break here. Lessons in things weren't nearly so expensive as they are now. I had piano and dance lessons growing up and professional driving lessons the Christmas after my 17th birthday. [They made me wait an extra year!] Oh, and swimming, Stephen reminded me ....

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively

No funny accent, I don't wear flipflops with tube tops and Daisy Dukes, so I'm okay.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

My parents were generous, but not insane.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

I'm going to go about halfies on this one. I lived at home. Mom and Dad paid for Frosh year. Then I got a job and paid tuition/bills/books and my own pin money and car insurance. Dad took a job in Sacramento towards the end of my junior year and they paid almost all the freight my last four academic quarters. On my 2nd degree, I paid the whole whack. I caught a break because there are a lot of good colleges in San Diego, and I didn't want added expense of going out of state or living away from home for the bulk of the time. It was about a $1200 a year for tuition/registration, books back in the 70s for the University of California. I don't know how families do it today with college as expensive as it is. "Son, how about going to West Point? That will save us a quarter million and Uncle Sam pays you! Deal?"

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school

And thank you mom and dad! I adored it.

17. Went to summer camp

I don't know if Girl Scout Daycamp at age 7 for two weeks counts.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

Too smart for my own good as it was. Okay, I could have used help in Algebra, but there was as much likelihood of being a civil engineer as Bill Clinton had of remaining faithful to the Hildabeast. No point in being insufferable by getting straight As. Keeps you from being neurotic.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

Big time. Dad's job involved some travel and when he traveled WE traveled - especially in the summer and on school breaks or even when I could manage to play hookey a bit. I got to see a lot of the country before I was 18, and a few foreign countries too.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

Nope. Most of it was bought, but my mom was an excellent seamstress, and had worked in a garment factory for about 10 years before she married my dad. She made a lot of skirts and dresses for me when I was little, -- other stuff that was more of a pain to make i.e. blouses, jeans and stuff were bought. My Barbie had "fashions by mom" and were way better than what Mattel sold separately. I wasn't really a "doll kid" by any stretch of the imagination, far preferring little green army men, and board games, but something about Barbie was just .... appealing.

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

Halfies. After Frosh year in college mom got tired of driving me and dropping me off or us alternating days where I'd have the car and she wouldn't (dad had his own company car) so they got me a '75 Volvo that was new. I had a trade in (which I had bought myself from savings) I paid gas and insurance and half the car payment. They didn't quite cost the earth then. I think it was about 5 grand, and I got 800 bucks on my trade in. (They thought it better if I got a safer car than the one I bought. I first bought a used Toyota Corolla that had a charming habit of stalling at red lights unless you kept your foot lightly on the gas. It also would let you start in reverse...which I found out by accident.)

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child [kid's work is original!]

Yeah. A few pieces, but more the kind you'd buy at an art show. Nothing you'd worry about having an armed guard for.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

Got a small black and white one for my birthday when I was nine. Later on I can remember bringing it to school once in a while so we could watch NASA launches and Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

Yeah, first flight aged 6. My Pittsburgh Pirates plastic batting helmet became my "crash helmet" for the next few times. Well, I didn't crash, did I? SEE? I was an old hand by 16.

31. Went on a cruise with your family

Nope. Just as well. Mal du Mer. My mom and dad had a small fishing boat back in the mid 70s that they/we took out fishing on a lot of weekends. Mom was the best at fishing, which frustrated dad and me. We'd be lucky to get one or two between us, mom would have a string of 6 or 7. We were sure she was just "lucky." My answer to the question: "Karen, we're going out on the boat this Saturday, wanna come?" Was " ...are you guys going down to the Coronado Islands, because if you are No, NO, NO...a thousand times NO, I'll be throwing up about a half hour after you stop. But if you're staying inside the bay, yes, and can I bring a friend?"

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

Nope. Mom and dad went but when I was old enough and could have gone it was "no way, Jose!"

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

Usually that sort of thing was a vacation time activity. Smithsonian? You betcha. Going somewhere noted for that sort of thing, yeah, in spades. Go to the museum close to home? Yeah, occasionally, but not often.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Are you kidding me? Regards the gas and electric bill: Any time I left a room with the light still on it was "DAMMIT, KAREN, WE DO NOT OWN STOCK IN THE PENNSYLVANIA POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY, WE ARE NOT MADE OUT OF MONEY, TURN THAT LIGHT OFF!!!" It did not matter what state we had moved to - the rebuke was always the same. This did not apply to the night light I had when I was little, because as everyone knows, monsters live under little kid's beds, and they come out to eat children unless there is a light on.

Esther tagged anyone who wanted to do the meme, and I tag the same.


Jean Heimann said...


Very interesting! I tagged you for a Book Meme which you can find here I don't know if you've had a chance to take a look yet.

gemoftheocean said...

Jean! Cool. Thanks for the heads up!


Entropy said...

Wow! You had a lot but you don't seem snooty at all. Wait. That didn't come out right...

Stephen said...

Here goes.

1. Father went to college.

2. Mother went to college.

3. Father finished college.

Yes, then went back later and did a postgraduate diploma and an MA.

4. Mother finished college.

Yes, and also did a couple of postgraduate diplomas, though no MA.

Both my parents were the first in their respective families to go to college.

5. Have you any relative who is an attorney, physician or professor?

No. I have friends in all three of the above professions, but no relatives. I'm still working on "professor" myself, and someday soon I'll get there.

6. Were the same or higher class as your high school teachers.

The same, I guess. Certainly no higher.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

I usually had more than 50 books on my bedside table.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

Certainly. Even when there wasn't a lot of money floating about, there was always money for books.

9. Were read children's books by a parent.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.

Swimming, piano, percussion, voice, recorder, clarinet (though not for long, and there's no way I could play a clarinet now). Not all at once, though piano was fairly constant (I am, however, a lousy pianist).

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you were 18.

Nope! Not until my 20s. Even now, I avoid using credit cards wherever possible.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.

Halfies as well. They did pay for my BA - but at the time, in Britain, you didn't pay any tuition fees at all for a first degree. They contributed towards the cost of my MA. They have not, however, been paying doctoral tuition, though they have loaned me money at various stages along the line.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all your college costs.

16. Went to a private high school.

17. Went to summer camp.

"Summer camp" as you understand the term in the USA doesn't really exist in the UK.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.


19. Family vacations involved staying in hotels.

No, family vacations usually involved staying in rented houses or on campsites. If we stayed in a hotel, it was just for a single night to break the long drive through France.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you were 18.

Yes. Perk of being the oldest. My brother and cousins got my hand-me-downs. And some of my clothing was made by my grandmother, so that would also count as new.

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

My parents didn't buy either of us a car.

22. There was original art in your house when you were growing up.

My grandmother painted landcapes, and we had a number of her paintings (she was very good, but not well known - she started painting quite late in life). There was other original art as well, but nothing terribly expensive.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parents owned their house or apartment before you left home.

Yes - we never lived in rented accommodation (though I've lived in rented accommodation ever since I left home. My brother, however, has never rented).

25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.

No - in fact, I was well over 18 before there was more than one telephone in my parents' house.

27. Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.

No. There was one TV in the house, in the living room. Neither my brother nor I had a TV in our room.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.


30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.

Yes, but not with my parents (we went abroad for family holidays, but we went by ferry, not by air). I went on a couple of school trips that involved travelling by air before I was 16, but I didn't travel by plane at all until I was 13, and I've still never travelled by plane with either of my parents.

31. Went on a cruise with your family.

No. My mother, in semi-retirement, enjoys cruises - she's off to South American on Friday to take a cruise from Brazil to Chile - but it's not something we ever did as a family. For a start, it would have been too expensive, plus I don't think my Dad would have gone for it.

32. Went on more than one cruise with my family.

Only if you count overnight car ferry crossings, which I don't.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.

Yes, all the time. And theatre, opera and the symphony (appropriate performances only).

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

I was unaware of the exact figure, but I was aware of having to turn the lights off and keep the thermostat below a certain figure. We weren't cold, but it was drummed into us from an early age that we couldn't be wasteful.

gemoftheocean said...

Entropy: :-D I'm only snooty to my enemies!!! [You may or may not want to be my friend, but you sure as all get out don't want to be my enemy!] I consider myself extremely fortunate.

Stephen: Glad you took the challenge. I forgot about the swim lessons! I'll add 'em. I didn't learn to swim until relatively late at age 11 - when I was sent down to the local Y for lessons. Which was great because then I didn't have to stay in the shallow end on vacations.

Stephen said...

We had swimming lessons from a very early age, I think largely because my Dad wanted us to learn to swim by some other method than the one via which his father taught him. My Dad had Darwinist swimming lessons - you know, throw him in the river and wait for the survival instinct to kick in. Which, fortunately, it did. Eventually. It wasn't one of his treasured childhood memories.

EC Gefroh said...

As usual, I enjoyed reading your answer immensely. Except for the dammit it part, my mother often said the same thing to us about wasting electricity...but in Spanish :-)

gemoftheocean said...

Let me guess, Esther. It started "EEIIII CARRUMBAH!!!" [sp!] I bet your dad sounded like Ricky Ricardo when he was in a rage. =:^O

gemoftheocean said...

Stephen: I hope your dad wasn't an only child! :-D

Stephen said...

He was one of three.

His brother and sister, oddly enough, have the same birthday, but not the same birthdate.

swissmiss said...

Like Stephen, I also had recorder in school and also played alto recorder. How 'bout you, Karen? Maybe we could start a band ;P

I was kind of surprised that this quiz didn't ask about part-time jobs. I had several jobs during high school and remember one of my teachers railing against the practice.

gemoftheocean said...

I got a recorder, didn't like it much, but I didn't learn it in school. I had piano lessons from 3 teachers. One a sweet nun, whose name escapes me who taught me the basics. Then the Wonderful Mr. Donaher who had had for two years, and then the nun for one year who was well meaning, but it was about two years too early to dump all the music theory stuff on me. About age 14 or 15 I would have appreciated that, but she managed to suck the fun out of lessons. HOWEVER, from the combined efforts of the three of them, and my own fun in continuing to play at home, I'm a pretty good sight reader without too much trouble, and can pick up pretty much anything that's not overly complicated and have a pretty good shot at it if I work at it. SOME bits, like parts of Gershwin, will forever be over my head, but I can do the easier bits (or could anyway when my fingers were more limber and I played more could handle the easy bits in say, Rhapsody in blue" -- pretty much any Broadway sheet music is within my reach, unless it's in a really weird key or something.

Re: jobs... outside of SUMMER jobs, I'd have to agree with the High school teachers as a general rule of thumb. Too many kids will be too exhausted to put in the hours of study for good grades. I didn't work in HS, did in college, and I do know my GPA suffered from going F/T to school and working a 20-25 hour week. It wasn't a bad experience, but I think it cost me a good .5 to .75 in overall GPA.

I also fussed around with a guitar a bit, given all the chords were in my piano books and could play some, but was never an afficianado. [sp![


Stephen said...

I played bass recorder. Seriously.

At the time, it was taller than I was.

gemoftheocean said...

Actually, I bet a bass recorder, if made out of wood rather than the plastic one I had has a pretty mellow sound. One of the bloggers out there is a French Horn player and if I was to play a brass instrument, if I could I'd have picked that. For woodwinds ... I think the oboe. A pain to play from all I've heard BUT, I mean ... c'mon.... there's 52 zillion fiddlers vying for spots in really good symphonies, but oboists are probably worth their weight in gold. Now the glockenspiel would be fun ... And the most fun instrument of all has to be the kazoo.


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