I was sitting in my office today looking at my passport and the two types of foreign money I picked up today for the European trip I will be on next week. What went through my head was the old Talking Heads song, and the line, "My God, How did I get here!?!?"
My grandfather on one side worked the factory line for Westinghouse. His wife never worked for pay. They had like 6 kids. A 20 year old sibling missed graduation ceremonies for an 18 year old to babysit the 1 year old baby. When the 18 year old became 20, it happened again.
My grandfather on the other side was a dairy farmer with a farm wife who also did not work outside the home. They also had like 6 kids. The floor of the main room of my grandma's house was so slanted that if you dropped a marble from one inch off the floor, it would roll to the far, far corner, very quickly. They were not wealthy, to say the least.
My father did well in high school, though not that well (top 20%) and went to the Ag School at Cornell to study animal science. He always notes that he went to the STATE school at Cornell, not the fancy private school. Eventually got a teaching certificate, eventually went and got an advanced degree in guidance counseling. He met my mom, who was working as a secretary at Cornell.
They had 5 kids. We regarded ourselves as "middle class." I mean, we drove old cars and we shared a lot of hand me down clothes with our many cousins and my dad cut my hair (very badly) until I was 17. And we never really had much money. But we were not "poor". I remember when I was 16 or 17 my dad showed me he had a net worth of $80,000. We are 27 years apart, so my dad would have been mid-40s. He was really happy and proud to show me how well he was doing.
Anyway, I got to go to college, and I did well, so I got to go to law school, and I did well, so I got a job. Today, 27 years out of school, being my father's son, I always complain about how much things cost, and I always complain that I have no money or that someone is taking all of my money for frivolous stuff like college tuition. But, in my head, I know I have money and when things go poorly and the kids wreck a car for the 9th time or get their 4th speeding ticket, I know I can afford to pay. I don't like to, and I bitch about it pretty loudly, but I have the money, I can pay. I am doing OK.
As I stared at my passport and my funny looking money, I felt pretty grateful that my dad and mom, both of whom came from very, very little, both valued education so much and funded me all they could and gave me the chance to get to the point where I have opportunities that they never had at my age and that their parents could only dream of. Anyway, just a personal note. We will get back to more advanced statistics basketball and hot celebrity women sightings as soon as possible.
P.S. -- things haven't been so stable in Europe lately, so think kind thoughts for me July 30-August 5.