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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hey! They've Got a Trampoline!!!

Jealousy is an issue for me.
It’s less of a problem with material things—I’m pretty free with my stuff, and the hubs and I only lock the house’s doors to keep the humans inside safe. There’s not much else I can’t live without or would mourn with twisted fingers and gnashing teeth if it came up missing.
In fact, come take the cat. Please.
No, the hot, hairy, green monster savages me when it comes to things like success, respect, admiration, and accolades: when someone else gets their book published, or is asked to be the keynote speaker, or gets bestowed upon them an award I’d like to have.
I want to be important, you see.
Which is likely why I have not yet become so. At least, not according to my definition of the word. Apparently my character is more important to God than my CV.
I told God a while back that I feel satisfied with the present level of my personal development. I swear to you, I heard him laugh. Then he said, “I’m not.”
So I was in the car with the kiddos the other night, and my mind ruminated—as usual—over my various disappointments and dejections: I’m older than that person and I’ve been working at this a lot longer and how come they got asked to do that and no one ever asks me I swear it’s not what you know but who you know and I’m so sick of trying and why don’t I just go eat worms…
Then my eight-year-old’s voice broke into my thoughts, with a piercing whine of indignation that almost sent me swerving the minivan into oncoming traffic. “Hey! They’ve got a trampoline!”
My molars clamped shut so I didn’t say the first thing that sprang to my tongue, which was, “You spoiled little snot!”
I formulated what I did want to say for this thoroughly teachable moment: “Why do you perceive that someone else’s blessing is somehow an affront to your personal sense of entitlement?” As I attempted to translate that into words a third grader could understand, the irony smacked me between the eyes like an aluminum baseball bat.
Why do I perceive that someone else’s blessing is somehow an affront to my personal sense of entitlement?
What a spoiled little snot I am.

Did you hear the one about the lawyer who milks tarantulas? If not, you must not be signed up to get WASTING MY EDUCATION in your inbox. Click here to fix that.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Best 21 Christmas Gifts For Everyone on your List

Me: I've been so good this year, Santa!
Santa: Let's talk about that thing in October.
Me: Okay, maybe other than that...

Pour a glass of wine, grab a handful of sugar cookies, fire up your browser, and get ready to blaze through this year’s shopping list (without draining your bank account). From the tiniest cherub to the geeziest geezer, here’s what all the people in your life didn’t know they wanted for Christmas:


Poo-Pourri ($9.99)

At only $9.99 it does double doody as both an actual and a gag gift.

“They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Give your elders hours of entertainment with this collection of old-time musicals like Calendar Girl, Doll Face, and Paradise in Harlem. Okay, I’ve never heard of any of those, but that’s clearly because I’m too young to appreciate fine theater.

Fingertipless Gloves ($10.00 and up, depending on fiber)

Circulation and self-heating are to the older set what online dating and job searches are to Millennials: “Dear God, will this ever get better?!?” Give the grandparents the gift of warmth in a handy glove that still lets them dial their Tracfones to ask you to come over and fix the computer.

THE 40’s

Quadcopter Drone ($54.99) with built-in camera

Because, just, why wouldn’t you?

Is buying organic and brewing homemade Kombucha not quite crunchy enough for someone on your list? Give them a grow-your-own Psychedelic Salad, Forbidden Fruit, or Cocktail Garden kit.

Favorite Child Mug ($10.00-$20.00)

This one only works if you have siblings, but it’s guaranteed to make for a lively morning under the Christmas tree.


Cityscape Wall Art (Prices vary from $8.00 to +$100.00)

Check out Etsy’s collection of cityscapes and decorate your loved one’s wall with a skyline from one of their favorite places. Chic, urbane, and colorful, just like you.

Whether your giftee is a world traveler or just likes to take his/her entire bathroom to the gym, this Aidonger Travel Bag is perfect. With 4.5/5 stars and 197 reviews, it’s a favorite. (Maybe don’t give it to a spouse along with the words, “When are you leaving again?”)

Like a miniature sandbox for adults, it’s immediate stress-relief in a stylish black and stainless steel desk accessory. (You are not allowed to take it out of the box and play with it before you gift it.)


Never let your Millennial get caught with low power again. Of course, that also means they can’t claim a dead battery when they want to hang up on a parent.

I mean, just look at it. You’ll have to put a tracer on it in case some jealous rain-walker steals it out of the lobby at work.

This one does a job, too. Every purchase from Trades of Hope helps lift a third-world woman and her family out of poverty. Gorgeous and good—no better Christmas present in the world.


Money Maze ($9.90)

It’s money they have to work for: a gift and life lesson in one frustrating little package. Win!

Because sometimes you really want to electrocute your teenager. Here’s a fun and safe way to do it.

Great for travel, camping, or just to hang out in the bedroom, this is like a hammock for someone who’s too lazy to assemble a hammock, or for a parent who’s too cheap to buy a real chair.


Laser Pegs Construction Kit ($10.00 to $60.00)

Like lighted Legos, these very cool kits are great for kids who don’t yet realize that they aren’t supposed to enjoy educational toys.

Ditto above on the educational part, this one is for the budding electrician or engineer. With real circuits, the kid can make a doorbell, lamp, flying saucer, and other geeky-cool projects. Heads-up, this may be used to create things that can zap and wound siblings.

Video Camera ($29.99)

For the aspiring Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, or Kathryn Bigelow. Keep in mind that people who live with said producer-wannabe will eventually find themselves starring in unflattering videos on YouTube.


Melissa & Doug Monster Plush Bowling Game ($15.33)

I kind of want this, and I’m fort—not a toddler.

These are the awesomest toys ever. When my kids were little I picked up a set of these in London, and couldn’t even find more of them in the U.S. Every child—and many an adult—who entered my home lingered long at the refrigerator to play with these. They are truly addictive.

Same thing on the Fridge Phonics. They teach the alphabet and entertain for a crazy long time. The average toddler’s attention span is roughly 7.3 seconds. This one keeps them busy for like, 120.


Nothing. Seriously, buy them nothing. Just enjoy this last Christmas when they don’t even know to scam and grab for gifts. They’ll be greedy buggers by next year for sure.

Merry Christmas, and happy shopping from Wasting My Education!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fadilah and the Jesusian

Photo by Faizal Riza MOHD RAF

The checkout lines were really busy, and I had a cart full of stuff, so I asked the woman behind me if she’d like to go ahead of me, since she only had a couple of things.
“No, that’s fine,” she said with a friendly smile. “I’m not in a hurry. But thanks for asking.”
When my turn came at the register I asked the cashier, Fadilah, “So, are you ready for Christmas?”
As I said it I looked across the counter at her and noticed the hijab she wore over her hair.
“Oh, I don’t celebrate Christmas,” she told me.
Embarrassed by my negligent obliviousness, I said, “Of course you don’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t assume, should I?”
“That’s okay,” she told me, with perfect graciousness.
I stuck my card into the chip reader. “Are there any holidays you celebrate around this time of year?” I asked her.
And we had an interesting discussion over the next couple of minutes as she rang me up. I learned a bit more about Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and that it took place in June this year, but would move back about ten days next year. She talked about the Hajj.
“Have you ever done the Hajj?” I asked her.
She shook her head with wide eyes, “Oh, no. I haven’t been able to.”
“That’s really an intense experience, isn’t it?” I asked, recalling a documentary I once watched about an American who made the arduous, once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca.
Fadilah nodded. “It’s a pilgrimage, like those who travel to Jerusalem to observe Easter.” Then she told me, “One must be completely free of all debts and obligations before making the Hajj. I have a seventeen-year-old daughter, so until she is eighteen and a responsible adult I cannot make a Hajj.”
“In fact,” she went on to answer my follow-on questions about debts and mortgages and such, “one must be completely clean and unencumbered financially, physically, and spiritually before undertaking the Hajj.”
Wow. That’s pretty serious. It might behoove me to give my own faith practices that kind of weight.
I’m Jesusian myself. Until very recently I would’ve called myself an Evangelical Christian, but lately the words and actions of a large number of white Evangelical Christian leaders and their adherents have made me uncomfortable associating my character with their lot, so I’ve coined the term Jesusian, or follower of Jesus, for myself. In fact, I just added it to my computer’s dictionary, so the word won’t get that red, squiggly line underneath when I type it from now on.
Fadilah asked me what holiday I observe this time of year.
I smiled and nodded. “Christmas.”
She finished ringing me up and wished me very happy holidays, as I did her as well. Then I turned back to the woman behind me in line.
“I’m sorry it took so long with all my stuff,” I apologized again. “Thanks for being patient.”
Her demeanor this time was cooler. She didn’t smile at me, but appeared almost nervous, or maybe annoyed. She mumbled, “It’s fine.”
I smiled and she looked away.
Huh. I wonder what changed over those couple of minutes.