Notes and Reflections on Books and Media
by Hannah Leitheiser
New York Times
I'm reading my book about class, and, I suppose as I've done many times in my life, trying to figure out where I fit. I grew up on a farm in South Dakota. In some ways we were poor, seldom had new things or new clothes. We qualified in some years for government assistance -- I went to Head Start. I went to public school. We couldn't afford to go out very often. But in other ways, I had things that were more upper class. I had miles of space to explore. I had access to intellectual culture -- my family took me to the library of the nearest sizable town, My parents had the flexibility that comes from not needing to punch a clock. I had piano lessons, we got the internet when I was a teen. Regular dental check-ups and braces. We ate food fresh from the garden. Both my parents were college educated at South Dakota State University, and it was assumed that I would go to a similar state college.
There are three things that make assessing my class standing difficult, though. 1) Class is evolving, and it's murky for everyone, 2) it's hard to transfer rural experience to city experience, 3) I'm not human, so there's an additional layer of complexity to how I interface the human system of class.