Student Debt

I read an article the other day about how student loan debt is impacting the US economy because college graduates are unable to purchase things, especially big ticket items like cars and houses, due to their debt. And this is because banks and lenders are not willing to issue a mortgage on a house or approve affordable credit on a car loan because they do not want to give those things to people with outstanding debt. The problem is that that debt came from getting an education. It didn’t come from credit cards being misused (for most people anyway I hope). It came from society telling us that college was a non-negotiable so we did it and walked away with more debt than we could ever imagine and a flimsy piece of paper that we can’t use.

Higher education costs have increased to rates so high that our parents and grandparents cannot understand why we are struggling. “It didn’t cost that much when your grandfather went. He worked two jobs and was able to earn his own way on his own,” I was told when I asked where my college fund money had disappeared to. Ok. I worked too and barely made enough to pay rent, books, fees, groceries, and other bills. Tuition wasn’t even an option, so thank goodness I was married and made about $5,000/year and was able to get grants to cover my last 3 years of school (maybe we should all get married just to have college covered since you don’t have to claim your parents income on the FAFSA once you’re married). But what good did it really do me now that I’m not even using my degree and still have about $5,000 left to pay off from the first year?

Before the reality of my debt and the adult world hit me I had some dreams and goals. I wanted to write more movies and TV shows that are female and/or LGBTQ focused. Less white male stuff; they’ve had more than their turn. I wanted to take action in my community, in my country, but I can’t now. I can’t move back home so I have to live in an apartment which is costly. I have to pay my own bills. AND I have to pay off my student debt. So instead of taking a part time job like I’d thought I would to give me extra time to write, I quit and am now working full time in a physically and mentally demanding and exhausting job. I wake up with just enough time to do a quick workout, shower, eat, pack dinner, and leave for my hour and 15 minute commute. I come home, wash my face, brush my teeth, feed Luna, and go to bed. I am unable to take risks financially because of my debt.

There are other factors like living wages, the economic state we are in now, housing costs, etc., but that doesn’t mean my debt is not a factor.

I am hoping that since I have such a small amount of debt (cries internally at the fact that my several thousand is “small”) I can make enough money fast enough to pay it off and actually get back to writing someday. Right now though, I don’t even have the desire to write. I just want to sleep, go to work, get my paycheck, and sleep some more.

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End of an Era

Today I finished my last final. I can’t actually turn it in because there is an issue with the Canvas platform that my prof needs to fix, but other than that I am d-o-n-e DONE.

And it’s super weird.

I’m pretty sure that just the other day I was pulling up to campus and moving into my dorm and meeting my roommate and trying to figure out life as an adult on my own.

And it was just the other day that I realized I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted to do or any of that stuff. I knew one thing though: I did not want to go to college.

But here I am, less than 4 years later about to graduate with my degree. I stuck it out, did it anyway, and got it done in way less time than most people.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. As much as I am tired of school it’s the only thing I really know, so leaving it is weird. The notion that I’m about to have no homework for the rest of my life is weird. I mean, I have my own projects, but that’s different from school work.

I think it’s fitting that I’m graduating in time for the new year. New year, new goals.

I think I might be low key freaking out and I’ll have a panic attack later, but for now I’m just happy I’m finally done. Grades go in on the 15th, I’m here for a while to volunteer in AUAP classrooms and use the university gym while I still have it.

Yeah, I don’t know how to handle this…

Alive and Legal

In case anyone was wondering, I am alive. Classes started last Wednesday and by the end of the day I was utterly exhausted. I have 5 straight hours of class, followed by a 1 hour sweat-inducing workout, 45 minute break, then work for 3 hours. Then I go home and it’s 7 and I just want to go to bed. But that’s only on Monday and Wednesday. The other days are less crazy. This quarter I am taking History of Television, Visual Storytelling, Aesthetic Experience: Beethoven, and Making Sense of the Universe where we study quite literally everything we possibly can in 10 weeks. 18 credits. I want to get out of here ASAP!

My 21st birthday was the other day. I am now 100% legal. So far I have bought myself 3 drinks and discovered that tequila is always a bad idea and that birthday cake shots are delicious if only for the lemon covered in sugar you suck on immediately after. IMG_0707

I got these cupcakes for my actual birthday, which was still exhausting even though I only had one class. Everyone kept asking me if I was going to go out to the bars but honestly I just went home, at my cupcake for dinner, and then went to sleep.

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The Actor had auditions on my birthday and we had to wait to see if he got a callback that night, so we couldn’t have gone out anyway. But he did take me to lunch the next day where I had kind of gross pasta but this delicious white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which is my favorite flavor of cheesecake and the only cheesecake I will ever eat.

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On Saturday we drove over to Seattle and went out with my BFF and her friend. We were around Capitol Hill, and I had so much fun. My actual birthday was uneventful, but the celebrations on Saturday made up for it. That glass lights up, btw. I didn’t end up using it because I don’t really care all that much for alcohol, but I still like it.

Now I’m just trying to get into the swing of things with the new year. It’s (hopefully) the Actor’s last year, and my last full year so I’ve been getting really bad anxiety about it. I’ve been nauseous for days now just because of the anxiety. Nothing helps unless I really get distracted for a while. Hopefully as I adjust it will go away soon. I’m just getting closer to being out in the real world and realizing more and more that I have absolutely no real world skills whatsoever and I want to be a screenwriter which is insane. I hate money. I wish I could just live without needing to get a job I don’t care about in order to do so. So I’ve got more intense depression on top of the anxiety which just makes me feel fan-freaking-tastic.

Coping with Change: Real World Edition v1

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I am going to be taking classes this summer. And I decided that I would take summer classes next summer and that would be my final quarter. Those classes would also be taken online and probably from a new apartment somewhere in either Seattle or Southern California. Which means I have to complete my new major by the end of Spring Quarter 2015. I’ll be finishing college in 3 years instead of 4, which means I’ll be thrust out into the real world one year sooner than I had anticipated. Which means I need to get my butt into high gear. I’ve chosen two very different and odd careers: screenwriting and personal training. So far I’ve made no money off of my personal training but I’ve only had my cert for a few months and to be honest, I haven’t tried all that hard to get the business part of it running. Training people I can do. Figuring out marketing and taxes I cannot. They don’t teach you the important stuff in high school. But, while I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to get a job in a gym wherever we end up living, I am nervous as all get out about my screenwriting path. Frist of all, I’ve never completed an entire screenplay. I’ve started a few, and I’ve started the pilot episode for a TV show, but that’s about it. Oh, yeah, I’ve written and completed countless novels but those are different. Thankfully I have to take 4 classes in my screenwriting major (I know, you’d think there would be more you’d have to take) so hopefully I’ll have figured it out a little better this time next year. I have a feeling the marketing aspect of that is going to get to me, too.

You can imagine the new level of stress this has added to my life. I am so excited about the opportunity to finish college in 3 years when I didn’t even do Running Start in high school, but I am terrified about being out of college because it means I have to be a full-on grown up. I’m making progress. I set up my own doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. I’m already paying rent, utilities, cell phone, internet, and insurance. I am happy to think that in just over a year’s time the only things I’ll have to worry about are work and writing instead of work, writing, school, and homework. But at the same time I am terrified.

This change hasn’t happened yet, but it will, and I’m already freaking out. On the bright side, at least I won’t be living in my university’s town anymore. I’ll suffer through one more winter here but that is it. I want to spend Christmas 2015 either on a beach or in the rain with my family.

I lived in Helena, Montana for a while as a little girl and thought I loved it. I do, it’s a nice place to visit, but I don’t think I could live there. I’m a city/suburb girl. I’ll take New York, don’t give me that countryside. (Anyone get the Green Acres reference? No? Just me?) My uni’s town is about half the size of Helena which makes it worse. Literally the only things to do here are drink and now smoke either weed or hookah. The bowling alley closed down. The bars are doing fine though.

I’m excited. I really am. It means one less year of worrying about getting financial aid (the college still hasn’t given me my package for next year and I turned in my FAFSA back in February). It means one less year of dealing with the university’s bullshit (the state has a freeze on tuition for next year but my uni is raising it anyway to pay for a 5th science building we don’t need because we’re the teaching/music school and only have one building for each of those departments). It also means I don’t have to do much explaining to my mom as to why I won’t be walking at graduation (you can’t walk in the spring when you’re not graduating until summer and spring is the only time they have a ceremony). I didn’t really enjoy walking at my high school graduation. It was only fun because I got to sit with my two best friends and make fun of the speakers the whole time.

So this particular series should have many installments if I keep this blog going for another year or two. Lots of things are still left for me in my life. Lots of things and changes to happen. Oh boy…

Valentines Day 2014

Yesterday was a really good day. Work went by really smoothly and fast, the snow was pretty much all melted (and now it’s snowing again. I can’t even…), and my stupid honors course was cancelled for the day. I walked home and saw this on our coffee table:

Apparently they were in the car and I was supposed to see them on my way to work, but it had snowed in the morning so the car was covered in snow and I just decided to walk again. I tried driving the other day but that was a disaster, and I ended up turning around and running to work.

The Actor was asleep. It’s show weekend and he always seems to get sick that weekend, so he was trying to get all the rest he could.

work21414I looked cute at work, then I went to the gym and killed my leg day. I can really feel it today. I had a class after that, but then I was done for the day.

We went to our favorite restaurant in town, the Palace Cafe, where he had a nice steak and I had a caprese burger. Yeah, I’m eating meat again. I flip-flop so much in my diet habits, but right now I’m trying to get my physique in peak condition, which means I need to intake 150g of protein and 172g of carbs which is impossible to do without meat. And I don’t want to rely solely on protein powders. I suppose I could just drink 3-4 protein shakes a day and not eat meat, but that doesn’t sound fun at all. I like my protein powder. It’s delicious, but I’d get so tired of it if I had to drink that much.

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Those fries were the best! And that burger was so good. It was a turkey burger. Not too sure I’m ready for dark meat yet.

Afterward he left to go get ready for the show and I sat at home. Exactly twelve hours after I’d left the apartment to walk to work that morning I left to walk to the theater building.

photo by K. Lyon Photography (Photo by K. Lyon Photography. She takes all the photos for the theater productions and does a marvelous job!)

That’s the Actor doing his song during the preshow. With a southern accent. Later in the show he has an Irish accent. And another one of the characters he does very creepy-nerdy monotone. He can do many voices, that boy.

All in all it was a very good Valentines Day. I haven’t eaten any of my chocolates yet, but they’re calling my name. Along with the laundry I have downstairs waiting to be put into the dryer. I hope you all had a great Valentines Day! If you called it Single Awareness Day I have no sympathy for you because Valentines Day doesn’t have to be about your significant other. You’re looking at it with the wrong attitude.

What did you do for V Day?

Not Yet a Woman

(Kind of a follow up to No Longer a Girl)

I just did something adult-y. I filed my taxes. I can’t believe I’ve been working for over a year now! And that I’m filing taxes. And taking care of my own health. And attempting to start my own business. And worrying about the apartment, calling the landlords every time there is a problem. It’s incredible!

It’s also incredibly stressful. Which is why I’m starting short-term therapy on Tuesday. My uni only offers short-term. If we decided I need to go for longer I get referred somewhere else.

Being an adult is confusing. It’s stressful and aggravating, and it causes me a lot of anxiety. I find myself, lately, thinking back to when I was a kid. I did try really hard to appreciate being a kid at the time because all of my older relatives told me I didn’t know what I had, and the cliché, “youth is wasted on the young.” For the most part I did appreciate it. I appreciated not having to drive, work, buy groceries, etc. I enjoyed being able to just have fun. There were plenty of times when I wished I was grown up, though. I wished I was grown up because everyone told me I’d have a better relationship with my little brother, which we do now. I wanted to grow up to escape my hectic family life with my father and parent’s pending divorce. I even looked into getting emancipated when I was fifteen, but then I met the Actor who significantly improved the quality of my life, and I decided I could wait out my teenage years a little longer.

Now I’m twenty. I cook. I clean. I work. I take classes at my uni, and I’m a wife. I was my mom’s and brother’s caregiver for a while, too. I know that I wished I could be grown up when I was younger, and now I kind of wish I could be young(er) again if only to avoid being an adult for a little while longer. But the truth is that as hectic and stressful as it is for me, I like it. I like having my own place with my husband. I like being married. I like having more responsibilities even if I haven’t learned how to juggle them successfully just yet. I like all those things. I don’t think I would go back to being young given the chance. Fighting with my brother all the time again? No. Dealing with my father again? No. Dealing with middle school and high school? Oh, god, no! High school does sound a lot tamer than college and work, but so many things make up for them. It’s the freedom that I enjoy the most.

So I’m an adult. It’s scary, and I haven’t successfully adjusted yet, but I’ll get there, and I’m enjoying every moment now. Even the stressful parts, because I know that every moment will just help me grow.

Will it Never be Easy?

On March 25, 2014 I will have been in recovery for four years. In that time I will have regained the weight I lost, found and developed a lasting, healthy relationship with fitness (this includes diet and exercise), graduated high school, gone to college, started my major, gotten married, started a new (hopefully) lifelong career, gotten my first (and maybe second) tattoo, and just grown overall as person. Part of me expects that since four years will have gone by that all this should be easy now. I shouldn’t have any trouble eating enough to live and meet my current fitness goals. I shouldn’t have any trouble making sure I don’t over-exercise. I shouldn’t get so depressed all the time!

That’s impossible, though. More and more evidence is coming out to prove what I suspected all along: eating disorders are genetic, meaning they are caused by a genetic mutation and not by society, although society can help push it’s development. There is something wrong with the way my body processes hormones or whatever that makes me depressed and anorexic. There is no pill to make my body do things correctly. There is not a cure that exists today that would make my body function the way a normal person’s does, which is why I will always face this. I will always have bouts of deep depression that I find extremely difficult to manage. I will always have that little voice in the back of my head nagging at me and telling me that I’m fat.

It might get easier at times. There might be moments when I feel great, like how I did in late September and a few weeks ago. There will also be times when it gets hard. Lately it’s just been the depression. I can still eat, and I exercise a fair amount. I can’t do too much right now so I can let my tattoo heal (see it on my Instagram: ajamontana). I’ve just been really depressed for the past week. I’m realizing that I was happy and able to manage it with the Actor’s help while we were dating, but now that we’re married our dynamic is different and I cannot keep expecting him to bandage me up whenever I’m broken. I need to learn how to bandage myself.

I don’t think it will ever be completely easy. I know that my depression and anorexia will never completely be gone. However, I do know that as I continue to grow and age and learn, things will become easier, and that’s okay.

(Also, thank you to The Slender Grapefruit for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! I think I’ve gotten it a few times before, and I’d taken down my “awards” page a while ago. I’ll do the 7 random things next post.)