Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gratitude

Today I'm going to tell you about a friend of mine from high school. I'll call her L.

L is three years younger than I am, so she was a freshman when I was a senior. I had known her before that though. Our families went to the same church, and she played softball on two junior high teams on which my mother was the coach.

When she started high school, she was good friends with a couple of other freshman girls who happened to be in band with me. One of those girls was my assigned "freshman buddy." So we all sort of hung out together.

During the second semester of her freshman year, L decided she really didn't want to go to class. She preferred to spend her time across the street on the smoking curb, or sleeping at home after both her parents had gone to work.

After she had missed 85 days or so of school, they kicked her out. She never did go back to that school, or any other.

A few years later, she got her G.E.D., and then went to cosmetology school to learn to do nails. She does that to this day.

When I was a freshman in college, and she should have been a sophomore in high school, she hung out with me at my dorm. Her parents couldn't control her, and she basically did whatever she wanted. At the time, I thought she was fun. She liked to drink and party, and me being in college, I enjoyed that too. She was cute and she lured in the boys. Fun stuff. The only difference being, is that during the day when we weren't partying and she was sleeping off a hangover in my dorm room, I was actually attending college.

We went through a lot together during my college years. We have stayed friends to this day. We went over to her house occasionally for barbeques and swimming parties. She is back in Arizona, so we basically stay in touch through Facebook.

Our lives went in very different directions, she and I. You see, when she was 17, she went to Virginia to live with her aunt for a while, because her parents didn't know what to do with her anymore, and she couldn't stand living with them either. When she was there, she met a guy who was probably 22 at the time. I'll call him J. She started dating J. He was a nice guy who worked for some computer company. When she came back to AZ a year later, he came with her.

When she was 19, she and J got married. J was/is an extremely ambitious, money-wise, responsible, mature guy. He worked his way up through a couple of different jobs, and is now an IT director for a very well-known company that rhymes with Marles Lawb. My friend L, she still does nails.

They live in a big house. They have three teenage boys who have always had whatever they wanted. She lives a life of extravagance and social scenes. They have a lot of parties so she can show off her house and everyone can see what a great life she has. She lives this life as though she's entitled to it. I wonder if she ever considers where she would be had she not met J?

She brags incessantly about her middle son, who is a junior in high school. He gets straight As in his AP classes and plays on the varsity football team. A few other friends of hers refer to him snarkily as "the golden child" behind her back, because honestly? It gets tiring listening to her after a while.

I know why she does this though. She is very insecure with herself, and she validates herself through her boys and her house and her successful husband. Still, it doesn't stop me from being a little...miffed. Jealous isn't the word, because I wouldn't want to be her. But here I sit with a college degree, unemployed. My husband went to college, and is also unemployed. We both had the bad luck to be working for companies who, due to financial reasons, closed their offices.

I spent yesterday panicking because my husband's unemployment money didn't show up on his debit card. When it didn't show up Tuesday, we weren't that worried, because Monday was MLK day, and everything was shut down. But when it wasn't there yesterday, I was having more than just a small anxiety attack.

He called the unemployment line, and an automated message said that his payment had been issued on Tuesday. Thankfully, we have now received it. I guess the holiday slows everything down.

Yesterday, L posted this message on Facebook:

"Sooooooo bummed!!! Lost the 72" tv last night to a power outage and it screwed up some enternal something... Have to go back to my 10 yr old 50" sooooooo sucks!!!!!!!!"

First of all, yes...she said "enternal", because she never finished the ninth grade. Also, I don't think she ever reads anything, so she spells things like they sound. She spells tomorrow as "tomarrow." Every. Single. Time. It drives me crazy. I want to tell her, but I can't think of a tactful way to do it. I've commented on her status when she spells it that way, and I'll use the word in my comment, spelled correctly. She still doesn't get it.

But when I saw that message, my first thought was, "Oh, poor baby...you have to use a 50" TV for awhile, until you replace the 72" one?" Which they undoubtedly will, because they can. Let me get out my violin of all things tragic.

It's even a little more disgusting, because she can post that a week after an entire country was devastated by an earthquake. I doubt world events are even on her radar.

Then I thought about myself, panicking over a missing unemployment payment. Scores of people have died in Haiti, and those who haven't are living in horrendous conditions, with no food, water or shelter.

I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. I have three beautiful, healthy girls. I even have a 38" TV in my living room with a very nice picture that we picked up at the thrift store for $25. I have cable TV and Internet access. My kids don't have designer clothes, and they don't get everything they want, but they have plenty, more than they need. We have electricity and water and heat. We have two cars, and family and friends who are alive and well. We are struggling a bit right now, but we will get through it and we will be fine.



I wonder if this lady would be upset if she had to use a 10 year-old, 50" television for a while?

7 comments:

Stacey said...

Just doesn't seem fair, does it?!
I bet your friend and her husband are in DEBT up to their eyeballs! Usually people that brag like that have miserable lives! I wonder what her marriage is really like! I wouldn't let it bother you. I know thats easier said than done. Maybe you should delete her from your facebook, so you don't have to hear about her pretend wonderful life anymore!

Shelley said...

Thanks Stacey. Everything you said is true except for one thing. I know they are not in debt up to their eyeballs. I know this because I know J wouldn't allow it. He's the type that has the mortgage paid three months ahead, and pays extra on it every month. I wouldn't be surprised if he's already got his first million put away for retirement. What bugs me is that L WOULD be in debt up to her eyeballs if not for her husband. Her father died leaving her mother deeply in debt, yet they took a vacation every year. Hawaii, Florida, etc. He set a terrible example for her, and I have no doubt that's the way she would be living, if not for J.
As for the rest of it, you're right on. She is miserable, she pretends her life is great, when I know she's not happy. She's told me what her marriage is like. J's a nice and responsible guy, but not exactly the most understanding or empathetic, you know? And I don't want to delete her...most of the time she's entertaining. This comment just hit me, like I can't believe she's whining about a 72" television.

mommablogsalot said...

So very, very true - it really makes you think how really well we have it - and how much of this STUFF do we really need?

Mary~Momathon said...

How does J put up with her?

Joann Mannix said...

What an outstanding post. You should send her that pic on Facebook and ask her that same question.

I know someone like that. Although, I've only known her for the last 5 years or so, it drives me batty, the bragging especially over the materialistic things. Her Christmas Card newsletter this year actually talked about their 30 foot sailboat, their new Expedition, her husband's law practice, their vacations, blaa, blaa, blaa. The striking part of the whole letter was how devoid of human emotion it was. It just talked about their things. I happen to know, their home life is a wreck and her husband treats her terribly, so I'm sure it's all to compensate, but still, it gets under your skin. I know I was getting ticked off at your chick just reading your post! Hate people like that.

Dawn in Austin said...

Wow, that was so interesting. Your friend L and I are similar on a few basic levels, but so different on the ones that matter. First, I moved to AZ when I was 16 (yep, a runaway) and I remember the smoking curb at the school there. No, I didn't go to school, but my friends did.

I didn't even go to beauty school. Just waited tables, even after I got pregnant and then married. Three kids and divorced 6 years later, still a waitress, just one that makes more money. Single mom for 5 years. Then met Mr. Wonderful.

We do very well now, but it was a struggle. We both worked hard, very hard. Our kids worked for the things they wanted.

Now I don't have to work and this is where your friend and I part ways. I have never forgotten what it was like to do without. I have only a small TV and only one. I would be appalled to say the things that she has said.

However, you were right about her insecurities. I'm the same way. It's almost like someone will find out I don't deserve all this, because I didn't go to school and was a runaway, etc etc. And while she just brags about hers, I tend to give it away.

Sorry such a long comment. It just really hit home what you said. It's too bad your friend didn't appreciate what it takes to get where she is. Probably because she didn't. J did?

Annick said...

First and foremost, i want to say that i have been addicted to your blog! I find it to be so funny! But the thing that is not so funny is the paper i got two extensions on that i am supposed to be writing, but instead i am leaving a comment on your post hoping that you will actually read it... anyway, thats besides the point.

I just wanted to say how happy i am that you mentioned Haiti in this post.... and the way that you talk about it makes me feel like you get it. you get the pain, the poverty, etc. But for some reason, everyone that i have been talking to lately doesn't. they are all like "oh, that's so unfortunate" and then they'll jump in their beautiful cars and completely forget about what is happening.

but i am of haitian descent (my parents were born and raised there) and i have lived there for 3 months at a time every summer for basically my whole life, and i KNOW what poverty is, i KNOW what hunger is, and I KNOW what its like to not have running water, because i was forced to live that way as a punishment for 3 months! its not a game! but these STUPID freaking girls from NY are BEYOND IGNORANT, and it really gets on my last nerves.

When i was in Haiti a few years back, i was bouncing between all of my families houses and they are all well off, so they never really would notice any difference in the amount of money that was being spent on food, so i would always make meals with the maids to go give out even though they didn't want me to. It was amazing to see how a mother was so grateful for some food to feed her children that she had tears in her eyes, and she was just thanking me over and over and telling me how god would bless me in a huge way because i was so kind hearted. and keep in mind that this was just over some rice and vegetables and chicken, so that is why i get so annoyed when people are ungrateful for what they have and how easy their lives are. anyway, i have to get back to my paper now before my professor looses her mind, but keep blogging!! because ill be reading!