Need vs. Want, that is the question.

A dear friend has the most recently released iPhone.  They appear quite complicated with their touch screens.  It rang (well, it actually played a song) and since my friend’s hands were wet, she asked me to silence it. I looked at this phone and I had not a clue how to answer since there were no visible buttons to actually push.  My phone still has visible buttons to push to answer or ignore the call (I always answer).  I just touched the screen and her husband’s name popped up as he said “hello.” My initial response was to jump.  I was surprised that my simple action of touching the screen would connect the call.  I awkwardly told my friend’s husband that she would be “right there.” 

 I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of options available just by touching the screen.  What if I had disconnected the call?  What if I had damaged the instrument in some way?  Part of me would love to have one and the other part of me is hesitant.  How much would my life be enriched by the having one of these gadgets?  Do I really need one?  Do I really need access to the internet on my phone? Do I need to have “an app” for that? Talk about advertising placement!  That phase has made its way into dictionaries! (well, a few lexicons, at least.)  Do I really need to update my Facebook page with “check-ins” at every place I go? Do all my FB friends need to know when I check in at the grocery store?  More importantly, do they care?  Sure, it would be cool and I’d be a “hip mom” according to my daughter, but I always come back to the question of need.

 Adding in to the justification for the need, is this something that I can really afford?  I often worry about paying the bill for the cell phone I already have! Do I really want to add to my worry and increase that bill for what may be a passing whim?  Some folks can always justify this part of the equation as want and need being the same thing.  However, I do not.  Not being a person with an endless supply of money to meet the costs of all my bills, let alone my whims; and my conscience always playing a role in all my purchases, I simply cannot fathom a need for a phone with a constant connection to the internet.  It would be nice, but it would also be nice to have a housekeeper, a chef and a person to drive me around, yet I don’t need them!  I am able to do all of the work those folks would do myself and just think of all the money I would be saving!  If I need to look up something on the internet, then I can wait until I get home.  Look at all the money I’d save!

I could also justify getting a new cell phone by thinking of it as boosting the economy.  That is something that is a plus, but would I really be helping the local economy or make some already rich shareholder richer?  I realize that this is a stretch, but it is an economic truth.  I did that two years when I actually upgraded to a better phone instrument.  It’s a perfectly good phone that is still in excellent condition.  I am far better at caring for phones than my husband.  He is the reason why cell carriers have insurance and actually make money on it.

After much thought (and household budget review), an new cell phone is out of the question.  I mean, I’m looking online for coupons for stuff I need, how do I think I can afford the luxury of this phone?  I don’t.  Maybe by the time I can afford one, the price will drop.  That is an economic reality.  Patience IS a virtue. 


December 7

It is Pearl Harbor Day.  On a Sunday morning, 71 years ago, the world changed forever.

It is also the reason why I am on this planet.  This event that took place 24 years before I was actually born, but it was the event which started a chain reaction that culminated in me.  But for Pearl Harbor,  my father would not have joined the United States Marine Corps.  In turn, after his stint in the war, he was sent to his last duty station in California.  There, he married his first wife, my older brothers were born and they later divorced.  In the meantime, my mother emigrated to the U.S. from Canada, following her parents who already immigrated the previous year, 1960, specifically. My parents met and not long afterward I arrived.

I could also point out that my mother’s involvement as in coming to California had as much of a role in my existence.  Well, it is true, since one needs both parties to exist, particularly since this was long before IVF.  However, I digress.  The reason my mother came to California from Canada was to follow her parents and younger siblings. The weather here was better for my grandfather’s health.  He had been a flier for the Royal Canadian Air Force and was badly injured during the war.  Same war, different theatre.  He needed to be in a warmer climate than the damp cold of Canadian winters. 

Given the addition of the latter scenario, I could also say that but for Germany invading Poland, I wouldn’t be here either.

Regardless of the reason(s) for my personal existence, I say “Thank you” to every single Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who died on December 7, 1941.  Thank you for defending my country and my way of life.  And I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye yet.

Wanted: Focus

That’s my title and I want some.  Focus, that is.  I have been feeling unsettled and I’m not sure why I am in this current state.

In assessing my current faculties, I think that my thoughts and emotions are out of kilter due to some changes going on at home.  My husband is in transition with his work and money is very tight.  My daughter is in her last year at her present school and preparing to apply to a private high school.  I’m not sure if I will be able to continue in my current “job” next year. 

Now, add this to my already-in-progress-mid-life crisis, and I am really feeling out of sorts.  I suppose that I could factor in the beginning of menopause to this mix, just to round out the symptoms. To sum it up:  I’m feeling out of sorts.

Reviewing this self-diagnosis tells me that I need to really assess what is going on in my life and how do I treat the symptoms to heal my emotions and settle down.  Focus on eliminating or adjusting parts of my life that I can that create the feeling of being unsettled.  I suppose that “goal setting” or something similar would be part of this cure.

I guess I had better get busy. 



Just another Tuesday night

Tuesdays are my busiest days of the week.  I have three groups of students in library, plus a two hour stint at the preschool inserted in the middle of the day.  I am usually tired on Tuesday nights. Yet, it is a good tired.  I always feel I accomplished something positive every Tuesday.

I really enjoyed my preschool time today.  I worked with the 3-4 year olds and we are practicing the alphabet and forming upper case and lower case letter.  There is one three year old boy is really good at these type of exercise.  I get so excited when they “get it” and even more excited when they continue to use their newly acquired skills.   It is a joy to see the growth in the students that I worked with all last year.  It is such a good feeling to me.  I can see the benefits of preschool in the students that come to the library.  I have found they are much more prepared for both the social and academic aspects of school.  Kids today are so pushed to learn fast and keep up with the curriculum that is presented and there really is not any margin for falling behind.

My group of third graders have discovered poetry.  It started when one boy just chose a poetry book and browsed through it.  In quiet reading time, he asked if he could read aloud some of the poems.  Now, being a book and literature lover, I said Yes, Of course?So he did a brief “reading” and now most of the poetry collection is checked out to the third grade.  I have notes on all the checkout cards as to which child gets which book when another child returns it. They are simply excited about this genre of literature.  I have suggested that when we complete our novel, that we continue our readings.  Or I may have the class vote to postpone the novel and start the poetry reading now.  As I see it, as long as their time is well spent, they should have a say in how it spent.  I think that the exposure to poetry is a very good use of instructional time.

I am tired this Tuesday night, but it is a good and satisfying tired.  I know I made a difference in my students today.  I am grateful that I am able to do that.

Thanks kids!

Gratitude or Greed; which is it?

It is the night before the night before Thanksgiving.  I read a book to the second graders today with a similar title, but the holiday was Christmas. The gist of the story was that all the “to do” of the holiday is just too much. I must agree.

I used to really enjoy holidays.  I have noticed as I have gotten older I like them less.  It’s the commercialism of every holiday.  No one is even noticing the reason for the November holiday.  When I was a child, Thanksgiving was a much kinder, gentler event. I thought that the point  is to gather family and friends, enjoy some comfort food and some football. It is now all about the shopping, spending and the excesses of the modern world.

There are retailers that plan to start their “black Friday” sales on Thursday night!?  What’s the deal?  People can’t wait until the leftovers are cool to hit the mall?  My local news has a feature about how to “maximize” your time and money and get the “best deal” on your shopping trip.  Has anyone actually considered the people who are employed in retail?  I guess they aren’t supposed to have a Thanksgiving day to leisurely enjoy.  No…they have to go out and serve the spenders of the almighty American dollar.

Sadly, I don’t think that this is what Sarah Hale and President Lincoln intended for this holiday to become.  Sometimes progress is bad. And so is retail greed.  The latter is really become a problem in America.

Hey! It’s Monday!

I had a very productive Monday.  This is unusual for me.  It’s a day that I tend to waste on a regular basis.  Today was an exception.

I work in a school.  Well, let me clarify that statement.  In reality, my job is a volunteer post, but I have turned it into a job.  That I pay my daughter’s tuition for the privilege of holding.  I am the self-titled Library Lady at her school.  This is a very small, Catholic school with only one class per grade.  Seven years ago, I asked the principal at the time if I could run the library.  He had no qualms and was actually secretly thrilled, since there was no money in the budget and he would have to use parent volunteers to keep it functioning in any capacity.

So, in my capacity as Library Lady, I was busy working this Monday before Thanksgiving.  Now, due to the fact that my little family now is down to one functioning automobile, I was sort stuck at work today.  My husband needed to go into his office, so he dropped our daughter and I off this morning, promising to pick up up at dismissal time.

I spent the morning cleaning up my storage shed and organizing withdrawn titles and miscellaneous donated books that I will be selling at a used book sale in February.  The proceeds from that sale will constitute my entire library budget for the year.  I anticipate pulling in about $40.00.  Also, I sorted out about 30 donated titles to be processed and added to the collection.

Having done that, I returned to my desk in the library.  I was joined by a kindergartener who had been “making poor choices” and therefore not in class.  He was to spend the remainder of the morning doing classwork in the library and go back to class after lunch.  So, while I processed a few books for check-out, I supervised my guest and offered some suggestions to help him do his work.  When I don’t have classes scheduled, the library is the place where the “miscreant” of the moment must wait out their time away from class.  Since we are a K-8 school, I get kids of all ages as visitors not by choice.  Today’s guest was very quiet.

Once my lunch of peanut butter sandwich and a coke was consumed, I shifted the picture books and pulled out the fairy tales that got mixed up with them.  I shuffled around the leveled reader titles to make the less frequently looked at more visible.  I actually shelved all the recently processed titles into their respective baskets by subject matter.

By this time…it was almost dismissal.  I looked around and realized that I actually accomplished a lot and it was all fun.  My library partner-in-crime, a retired sister from our school’s teaching order, will be shocked when she comes in tomorrow to teach the library skills lesson.

I had to do all that work.  I could have just sat and read all day, but idle hands are the devil’s something, and we all must work hard to avoid the snares of the devil!

Random thoughts on a Sunday night…

I get my best ideas at inconvenient times.  While in the shower.  When I am driving.  And other inconvenient times.   I really need to take the time to write them down.  I do not have a good memory for important things.  I can remember a teacher’s name from third grade, but I can’t remember a topic I want to research when I actually have the time to do it.  I need to work on this issue.

I am at a “mid-life” point in my life where I don’t know what I want to do with my life and everything I think I would like to do would cost money that I don’t have.  The current economy being tanked doesn’t help my cause.  I would like to get a graduate degree, but do I really?  To do grad school would require my taking the GRE and I can’t even pass the state teacher’s math exam.  Standardized tests should be outlawed.  And what would I “do” with a graduate degree?

There’s a new show on Nickelodeon.  Well, it may not be new, since I really don’t watch anything other than Spongebob Squarepants, but there have been easily four promos for this show which isn’t even on for another 30 minutes.  The promos have made their point and I don’t think I will watch it.  The promos were so frequent and annoying that I don’t want to see the show.  Nick took a dive in my opinion when it let the woman who lives in the White House do a “guest” spot on iCarly. That was pandering to the kids of voters on a kid show. And during election season! Now would Laura Bush have done that?