Taunting Big-Footed Women

Did you know that pregnancy can make your feet grow?  And that that will, in return, reliably reduce you to tears while shoe shopping?

I’m a tall girl, but my feet have always been a manageable size 10.  Sure, my pants are consistently too short, but my feet were still a nice, normal size, and shoe shopping was one of the few kinds of shopping I enjoyed.

Until I had an adorable, squishy little baby (incidentally, who was called Squishy).

Now I have size 11 feet.  I have an adorable baby and feet that are too large to fit comfortably into any of my shoes.  After getting fed up with my toes rubbing against the inside of my ancient tennis shoes while I walked, I decided to find some new shoes.

I got my feet remeasured, and was aghast to learn my feet had grown to an unruly size.  Not to be deterred, I figured that surely I’d be able to find size 11 tennis shoes.  I mean, how hard could it be?  There are taller women than me running around all over the place, I doubted they all get their shoes custom made.

That was when I ate my humble pie with a side of ice cream.

You guys, no one makes shoes in size 11.  You get to size 10 and then you get nothing.  We looked everywhere, and my despair grew with each successive store where sales people made horrified faces and told me they had nothing for me in-store but could always order something (which, dude, how not helpful is that?  Like I’m just going to guess about how my feet will feel by trying on shoes that are too small?  Or, worse yet, just ordering without trying them on?).

Every time I walked by rows and rows of shoes that were off-limits to me and my giant freak feet, I cried.  I mean, I can deal with being tall, with the short pants and no leg room in cars or on planes, but to be deprived of shoes now too?

After watching me dissolve into tears for the fifth time, Wes decided I needed to go shoe shopping at Nordstrom.  Nordstrom, where they sell pretty shoes to pretty people and make you feel like spending twice as much is a good deal because of the famous excellent customer service.

On Saturday, I got all dolled up (putting on eye shadow and eye liner counts as getting dolled up) and we strolled into Nordstrom fully expecting to leave there with shoes and self esteem.  That the shoe salesman botched the sale boggles the mind.  Perhaps it’s because he:

  1. Told me he’d rather be watching the World Cup than helping me find shoes.
  2. Brought out only one freaking pair of shoes for me to try on, then told me he had nothing else in my size (which, seeing as he was so enthusiastic to be doing his job right then, was probably a great big lie).
  3. Tried to convince me that, even though I told him the shoes he brought out didn’t feel good on my feet, I should wear them around for a week because he was sure I’d grow to like them.
  4. After I assured him, in no uncertain terms, that I disliked the shoes, he brought out another pair.  When I slipped them on and told him they felt tight, he looked at me like I was stupid and said, “Yeah, they’re 10’s”.  I suppose when you taunt big-footed women with shoes they can’t have because of their giant feet, they’re unwilling to buy things from you.

With nap time for Aidan fast approaching, we ran over to Lady Foot Locker, where the saleslady (named Jazzy) brought out ten different boxes of shoes for me to try on.  She enumerated the features and strengths of each pair, and was patient as I tried them all on and walked around the store.

I finally settled on a pair of Nike shoes that feel like heaven on my feet.  So the shoe problem has been resolved.  I remain in shock over the abysmal customer service I received at Nordstrom, but I’m so happy with my new (very purple!) shoes that I’m willing to stop complaining about it.  Now that I’ve written about it on my blog, of course.

The Value of an Education, Part Deux

I’m pleased as punch by the awesome discussion spurred by my last blog post!  I love tossing ideas out into the universe and then seeing what floats back.  After much discussion by a variety of people, I think a consensus has been reached and I thought I’d share it.

So far, whether or not a college education is valuable appears to be largely determined by how much debt you incur during the course of your studies.  One rule of thumb I found particularly helpful was the following:

If your annual income your first year out of school is not greater than or at the very least equal to the total amount of your student loans, your degree probably isn’t worth it.

So, if Aidan wants to go to university to study Russian literature, I’ll probably discourage the notion.  He can read all the Tolstoy and Dostoevsky he wants in his spare time without garnering thousands of dollars in debt for the privilege.

I heard from a lot of people who didn’t take on any debt while in college, and they all said they enjoyed college and found the experience very valuable.  Truthfully?  If I hadn’t had to work so much while in school and hadn’t graduated in so much debt, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more too.

The people I talked to who graduated in debt, however, were a lot less glowing in their reviews of the experience.  One person cracked me up with her suggestion that we stand on the side of a freeway offramp with a sign that read, “I graduated with a liberal arts degree.  Any bit helps!”

As for the idea that a college degree is the new high school degree, I’m starting to wonder if that’s an idea propagated by college admissions departments.  I’ve just met and talked to so many people who are successful and never finished college, the argument doesn’t seem to hold water.

It stands to reason that if you interview well, network your tail off, and do your job well, you stand as much of a chance of getting hired as anyone who graduated college.  How else can you explain a college drop-out who makes $80,000 a year doing Web design existing in the same city as the college graduate earning $35,000 a year doing data entry?

The gist of the conclusion I’ve drawn from this discussion is that if someone else is footing the bill for your college education, study whatever you want and enjoy yourself.  If you’re signing your life away in exchange for college credits, though, you’d better make sure you’re majoring in something that’ll pay well.  Or, just get really used to the idea of using half your monthly income every month to pay for your student loans.

The Value of an Education

I have student loans.  Oodles of them.  My mother elected not to pay for my education because she didn’t want to have to pay for a college education for all of her kids, which is somewhat ironic because I’m the only one of the bunch who went to college.

In exchange for my student loans, the payments of which eat up a substantial amount of our monthly income, I have a degree in psychology from a respected institution.  And self respect and blah blah blah.

What I have to wonder is, what is really the value of that degree?  I know not everyone goes the whole graduate-get-a-job-get-married-have-beautiful-babies-stay-home-with-beautiful-babies route, so maybe this isn’t applicable to anyone but me, but I am curious: Was my college degree worth the tens of thousands of dollars I paid for it?

Wes and I were discussing this the other day and are at a bit of an impasse.  He went to college but didn’t graduate.  He started off studying music composition, left school to pursue an internship, started working full time, and never went back.  Then, when his sales career took a nosedive thanks to the economy, he went to a trade school, got the proper certifications, and now he makes way more than I ever will.

His education took him less than a year, cost a quarter as much as mine did, and he makes more than twice as much per year as I’ve ever made his first year out of school.

Obviously, Wes is not everybody (because he’s awesome), but if this kind of thing is possible, is it even worth it to get a four year degree if you’re paying for it yourself?

I suppose you could say that my degree enabled me to get a job out of college, and that if I hadn’t gotten that job, I never would have hated my job, started blogging, and then switched to blogging as a career.  I have to wonder, however, if I wouldn’t have found blogging some other way.  You certainly don’t need a degree to be a successful blogger.

The reason this is on my mind is, having one parent who graduated college and another parent who didn’t presents an odd example to our kids.  I mean, can I reasonably make a case that it’s important to graduate from college when I’m no longer sold on the value of a college education myself?

(This is obviously not an applicable discussion when applied to careers that require advanced degrees, such as doctors, therapists, lawyers, brain scientists, etc.)

My degree was fun to earn, and I learned a lot, but I can’t honestly say that college prepared me for the working world any more than any of the jobs I held during school.  I can tell you how to correctly cite an academic article in an APA style paper, but I have never used that skill outside a classroom.

What do you think?  Am I just jaded by huge student loan payments, or are college degrees worth it?

This discussion is continued in part 2, which you can read here.

Kind of a Big Deal

This post is in honor of Wes’ brother, Neal, who asked me to write a post about the World Cup.  And who also once brought a dead beaver to Thanksgiving dinner.  Hi, Neal!

So I guess there’s this soccer game going on right now?  Between a bunch of teams?  And the whole world really cares and is all excited about it?

I don’t know.  I looked into it, and apparently the most common score in a World Cup Finals Match is 1-0, which gives me the impression that watching these matches must be frightfully dull.  They score once in how many hours?  And they’re not allowed to bare their chests because FIFA doesn’t allow them to anymore, so we red-blooded females don’t even get to ogle the muscley men dashing across the screens.

But, according to people who know things, the World Cup is a huge deal.  Because everywhere other than America regards soccer as a Very Big Deal.  Therefore, this is like a global Super Bowl.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the Super Bowl.  It’s like mini Thanksgiving for me, what with the gratuitous food and encouragement to constantly stuff your face while not moving.  The football game?  Meh.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s a snore, and sometimes it makes the people watching the game around me shriek in outrage while I snap my attention back to the game and try to figure out why everyone’s so angry.

From what I can tell, though, only America cares about the Super Bowl, because Americans are really the only ones who play football.  So essentially, we as a country decided to thumb our nose at the world’s favorite past-time and invented our own special game.

In the global playground, we scoffed at the kids playing Four Square and took our ball, squashed it flat by sitting on it, and then coaxed all the biggest kids to beat each other up trying to steal it from one another.  Which I suppose is better than if we’d had all the biggest kids beat up the Four Square kids first, before playing with our weirdo squashed ball.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that this a post about the World Cup.  And about football.  And somehow it’s also an allegory on foreign policy, with the moral being that perhaps our politicians would do well to remember that the other kids can play Four Square all they want as long as they stay on their side of the playground.

See?  We can all learn so much from the World Cup.  And for that, we can thank my brother in law.

Addled (and not in a fun way)

I don’t do drugs.  Never have (not even the seemingly obligatory toke in college), never will, it’s just not my cup of tea.  My world is colorful and ludicrous enough without chemical enhancement, thankssomuch.

Why then, did I almost get arrested for drug possession this weekend?

Because I’m a bad driver, that’s why.  I was driving home from the grocery store on Saturday, my trunk full of food and my head full of fatigue thanks to a few sleepless nights with an inexplicably fussy baby (teething? growth spurt? the vapors?).  I was stopped at an intersection, first in line, when an ambulance came squealing up behind me.

Seeing as how I was in a position to free up the intersection so the ambulance could go through, I scooted into the intersection and pulled over to the side.  The ambulance went by in a flurry of lights, and I checked my blind spot and pulled back into traffic.

Apparently I pulled right ahead of a police officer, cutting him off and forcing him to slam on his brakes.  To my infinite chagrin, I didn’t even know he was there until he flashed his lights and pulled me over.  As I pulled over, I realized I had my cell phone in my hand, having been interrupted in the act of putting it back in my purse by the ambulance.

Uh oh.  I was fairly certain he was going to give me a ticket for texting while driving, even though I wasn’t doing anything of the sort.

He approached my window and I handed over my license.  I explained that I was wasn’t texting, he explained that that didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t a bad driver, I agreed, and he asked for my insurance and registration.  I was driving Wes’ car, so it took me awhile to find the requested materials.

Just as I found them, someone smoking weed drove by and suddenly the officer’s asking me whether he smells something he shouldn’t.

To be honest, at first I thought he was asking whether I was flatulent.  Then, dawning horror gave way to incredulity as I sputtered something like, “No.  Um, NO!  I’m a mother!  I’m breastfeeding!  I have a baby!  I would never do drugs!”

He smirked, and replied that since it was my husband’s car, maybe he had something in there that maybe he shouldn’t.

At this point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  On the one hand, I know my husband and I know he doesn’t do drugs, nor does he ferry them around.  On the other hand, if everyone knew their husbands as well as they thought they did, there wouldn’t be so many Lifetime movies with sad, crying wives, would there?

I assured him there were no drugs in the car, and he said he’d go run my license and that the smell had better be gone by the time he got back.  Suffice it to say, the smell was gone and he let me go with a warning to be less harebrained.

And that’s the story of how I almost got arrested for drug possession.