Progressing Towards a Plan

December 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

December has been pretty stressful for me. Things kind of hit all of once, and I’ve been sifting through the rubble ever since. Physically, my symptoms have dramatized. I have a persistent headache, starting from the minute I wake up and lasting until late afternoon or evening. It is worst in the mornings, but thanks to over-the-counter drugs and a lot of caffeine, it usually breaks later in the day. The left side of my jaw also hurts the most in the morning, I assume because I clinch it all night as my dreams lead me on wild goose chases. The pain in my jaw may be one cause of the headaches and is certainly the cause of my persistent neck ache, which starts at the left side of the joint that connects my skull to my spine and spreads out from there. I’ve also been having stomach problems, although thankfully they’re not a daily occurrence.

There were about two to three days where I literally couldn’t do anything productive during my free time because I was so stressed. I was so stressed out I couldn’t even begin to think of where to start to try and unpack everything that was upsetting me. This is extremely rare for me, I would like to point out. Stress isn’t, but being immobilized by stress is quite rare.

Luckily, I’m still me. I power through my annoying physical symptoms and refuse to slow down. Like a fever, my stress immobility broke and I am now in the healing process. The major cause of my stress is money (or lack thereof!). What I have realized is that I will be unable to afford to live alone next year if I keep my current financial state. Currently I work part-time and am making about half my salary. I have a partial fellowship which I am under the impression from my ever-helpful advisor (please note sarcasm) will not be available to me next year. The fellowship I was waitlisted for this year will also be unavailable (unlike this year, where it was available to a first year student and a second year student, next year it will only be available to a first year student). I missed a number of fellowship deadlines again, because they were back in September (who the hell is thinking about fellowships for the following year when they’re just starting the school year!), and the fellowship I really wanted to go for, I can’t, because I can’t get the recommendations (I drew multiple short straws this semester as far as professors go and my advisor won’t write me one because she says she doesn’t know me well enough). I have a couple that I will definitely be applying for, but they’ll just be partial tuition so I’ll still be taking out student loans. Anyway, right now, after I pay rent and bills (which I half with alec), I only have about $400/mo left over. At first glance that sounds like a lot, but when you break it down into groceries, pet supplies, school supplies, and incidentals, it’s gone in a flash. I’m definitely struggling right now to keep above water, so to speak. Now here are the issues:

1. I am happiest when I don’t have roommates, so I would like to live alone. Unfortunately, in DC, rent is already about what I’m paying now for a 1br in a terribly dangerous neighborhood. I’m scared enough not living alone in the neighborhood I’m in now, so living someplace shadier and living alone sounds like a recipe for disaster. To live in an okay neighborhood, I’ll be looking at around $1000-1200 per month for rent. Plus bills (another $200 ish). Clearly the math doesn’t work out.

2. I could get a roommate. But I have pets and lots of furniture and lots of neuroses. Mainly pets. My dog has a habit of forgetting she’s potty trained only when she has someone else’s room to go in. She’s never had an accident in my room, but she loves going potty in my roommates’ rooms. She also likes getting into their trash and eating whatever they leave lying around. Given her old age, that is increasingly dangerous. I just don’t want to have to deal with a roommate, no matter how much cheaper it would be (realistically, it would be the same price I’m paying now). I will consider it as a last resort, but I just don’t want to do it.

So I have resolved myself to these options, which are detailed as follows:

A. Go back to full-time at work (in which case I could easily afford $1100/mo) and go down to part-time at school. This means I would still have to take two classes a semester, so I would spend every free moment studying. Since I’ll have already done a year of full-time courses, I’ll only have to stay in school an extra semester. But I wouldn’t have time for internships or extracurricular activities which would hurt my resume.

B. Take out enough in student loans to make up the difference in what I can afford and what my rent actually will be if I choose to not live in the super-ghetto. Safety is certainly something that needs to be considered for a little white girl soon-to-be living alone in DC. It’s illegal to carry pepper spray here too (don’t tell my Grandmother that!). Basically I would have to take out a few thousand dollars extra for living expenses, which would mean my total loan debt when I graduate will be roughly $50,000. That’s a lot. That really terrifies me.

C. Ask my parents for the money instead of taking it out in loans. I know my parents would be happy to try and help me out (and considering how much they’ve spent on my brother, I think it shouldn’t be too much to ask for a few thousand dollars to save me from living in Anacostia), but it would be a huge hit to my pride and everyone would say I am a hypocrite for asking my parents for money. Of course, the people I criticize for living off their parents are having their parents pay their entire rent costs plus spending money, tuition, and god knows what else while they dick around. I’m not asking for that. And hell, I would offer to pay my parents back if I thought they would let me. So that’s complicated. And I know “hubris” is floating around your head right now, but hey, I’m entitled to my pride and my arrogant ambition. I’m just trying to make sure it won’t be the death of me.

So those are the only reasonable options I’ve come up with. If you think of something else, let me know, but that’s pretty much where I am. None of the options is without negatives and deciding what I will do will take time, or at least a discussion with my parents. They’re very against having debt, so I’m pretty sure they will exnay option B. They’ve been very against me working at all while I was in school, so I’m sure they will be against option A. But I don’t think giving me $500 a month is really in their budget either. All the options suck, but there really isn’t a way around it, because even if I got a fellowship, it would be extremely unlikely for it to come with a living stipend so I would still be in the same place, just with fewer student loans.

Did I mention that my final seminar papers (which are each worth at least half my grade or more) are due next week? Have I started even one of them? Nope. Sorry, school, but I have a whole life outside of you (dealing with leaving the man that I love, surviving working while being in school, deciding whether I’m smart enough to go for a phd, etc.). Besides, I can’t work unless I’m under pressure. Did I mention I’ve been applying for internships for the spring semester as well? Yeah, it’s been a busy week. I had an interview yesterday for one and I have an interview next week for the internship I *really* want, so add that to my plate why don’t ya. Trying to find a petsitter for when I’m in alabama has been a struggle too considering most petsitters in DC charge upwards of $100/day and more for holidays. Ah, money. Ruining my life. I so miss the old days of full-time and a fat paycheck…

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