schools

The Walls are Closing In

Near the wall

Near the wall (Photo credit: Niamor83)

I thought I would feel better after my rant about fear and changes in my last post.  Wrong!  I posted, and then checked out this week’s posts from blogging friends, and ended up in an interesting conversation with Caitlin Kelly from Broadside Blog, prompted by this post.

Sometimes I question my perception.  Everyone is struggling in this country right now.  Everyone I talk to, anyway.  Jobs that offer a true living wage are scarce, gas is high, health care costs are obscene, and on down the line of what’s needed to survive.  I know the cost of living here in Manhattan is crazy, but I’m certain I’m romanticizing life in the country, too.  Everywhere presents a unique set of challenges.  And then something reminds me I’m not completely insane, after all.

Check out this article from the NY Times.

Now, we don’t pay an insane rent.  We’re lucky.  If we didn’t have a rent controlled place, we’d be homeless in Manhattan.  Literally.  Sounds good, right?  Except that means we can’t move within NYC, stuck in a too small apartment with a doll’s kitchen and a nightmare of a bathroom.  One bathroom.  Makes virus season lots of fun.  And let’s not forget the rest of what goes into the cost of living.  I’d love to put Flower Child in an art class, or even better, private art lessons, so we could work around her health and limited energy.  Can’t afford it.  One once per week after school class, run by the school is $600.  And that is reasonable compared to the cost of lessons and classes not run by the public schools and those lessons are often fabulous, in just about anything you can think of.  Makes for awkward moments on the blacktop when the other moms are talking about what their kids are enrolled in.

Schools here? Crazy. If you can’t afford private schools, which are >$30,000 a year here, you have to be very, very lucky.  Too many kids competing for too few decent spots in the too few decent public schools.  The stress involved is horrendous.  This is for entry into nursery school, Kindergarten, and again 6th grade (middle school), and 9th grade (high school).  Have more than one kid?  This is for each child, not each family.  Don’t forget the testing and the interviews.  And testing for K, 6th, and 9th grade is much like the SATs have become.  Test prep.  Costly, private test prep.  Private test prep for public middle school, high schools.  Excuse me while I tap into my Brooklyn roots.  Get the fuck outta here.  Have a child with special needs?  Well, you know those too few spots?  Forget it, you’ll find yourself wishing for those days of 1 in 4 odds.

From this recent HuffPost article, NY has the curious distinction of holding 3 of the 10 most expensive cities (they’ve separated the boroughs into cities for this) to live in. A hellofa town, for sure.

But it’s New York!  Theater!  Tickets for a Broadway show, let’s say Wicked.  On a Saturday afternoon, seats in the mezzanine.  $160 per ticket.  Are you surprised that we haven’t gone to see it?

March 1860 Godey's Lady's Book Fashion Plate

March 1860 Godey’s Lady’s Book Fashion Plate (Photo credit: clotho98)

How about going to the Met for an opera?  Hah! Maybe, if we want to buy a year in advance and stand up for the show.

I would miss the easy availability of any type of food I’m in the mood for.  I can see it now, “Mrs Fringe learns to use a crockpot.”

Why don’t we forget being fancy.  How about bowling?  $9.25 per person, per game at Chelsea Piers (on weekends/holidays, yanno, when you’d take your kids bowling), $6 per person shoe rental.  Don’t forget the Metro card fare for us to get there and back, and the long, long ass walk from the train.  So, for our family of five to go and bowl 2 games, no frills, no snacks, no lunch, it would cost $147.50.

We don’t go to the theater, infrequently go to the museums (and only the ones where it’s a suggested donation, not a mandatory admission fee), we don’t even go to the damned movies because of the cost.  The nice part of living here is that when we do go to a museum, we don’t feel compelled to pack everything into one day, and we don’t have to be pillaged buying lunch at or near it, we can wait until we’re back home for sandwiches.

A few years back, I was determined to take the kids to see a performance at Shakespeare In The Park.  These shows are great, and they’re free.  You just have to go the morning of the performance and stand on line for tickets.  Limit, 2 tickets per person.  OK.  I got the kids up, we went to the park and stood on line.  Heh, three hours before the ticket booth opened wasn’t early enough. Bonus seizure from Flower Child while we waited to be told they were sold out way before we got to the front of the line.  Tried again an hour earlier the following week.  Still no go.  Really? So many NYers,  infamous for brunch at 3PM are getting on line for tickets at 6AM?  Turns out a good number of people pay someone to stand on line for these free-so-everyone-can-enjoy-theater-in-NY tickets.

Please, someone tell me why I’m here. Yes, Central Park is free.  And beautiful.  I hear some people have backyards where they see trees and birds.

Gutter Ball Graphic

Gutter Ball Graphic (Photo credit: cote)