Sunday, July 12, 2009
Diary of a Middle-Class College Grad
So, I've decided to start what I hope to be a series about being a middle-class college grad. At lease my version of what it's like. For one, I know I'm not the only one. In fact, that will be one of my main focuses...there's an ass-load of us. Secondly and as I've said before on here, it's free therapy. Now that's two Middle Class College Grad points. Things needing to be free to accessed by us, since we neither qualify for public aid, nor do we have any actual money, let alone disposable income. And therapy. That one requires no explanation.
I will do this in sections. It's been nine years since I've graduated undergrad. It would be too long and and not as much fun to do this all in one shot.
I suppose some background is required.
I come from a middle-class family. My mother had me as a teenager and so we were not always middle-class. When I was very young we were in need of public aid, but that was very brief. My mom worked her ass off waiting tables and going to college. She continued on to educate herself beyond a master's degree and by the time I was ten or eleven we were middle-class. I needed for nothing. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends of my mother took very good care of me and offered her emotional and babysitting support. I'm sure the occasional loan was extended in emergency situations, but from what I've been able to gather, was always repaid as promised. I was a good kid. Well behaved and eager to please. As A child I was into martial arts, sports, singing, and dreaming about being a superstar. I had one hell of an imagination. I think that's not uncommon for only children of single parents. They're busy making sure we eat and have heat in the winter time. We've got to entertain ourselves some how. In addition to the sports, singing The Sound of Music soundtrack to myself, and daydreaming, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather at An east coast, sort of impressive, university's basketball and football games. This university bares significance because my grandfather attended and played football there. My grandmother worked there. And several of my aunts and uncles got their undergraduate degrees, grad degrees, and law degrees there. Add that to my daydream list. Attending preppy east coast legacy school one day.
My mother was single until she remarried when I was somewhere around eleven. She married a man she met while waiting tables; a coworker. They had a son when I was 15, he had an affair when I was 18 and they divorced before I was 19. It was a super-swell time for all.
I was an average to below average high school student. My grades sucked. I was a decent athlete. I had a good group of friends and a very sweet and handsome boyfriend. I filled out two college applications (Preppy east coast legacy school was not one of them. I figured I had zero chance of getting in at this point). Both because they were pretty thin and had a small or no application fees. I never discussed college or my future with my mother. In fact when I got my acceptance letters I chose my school based on the fact that my uncle had once given me a sweatshirt from there. I liked the colors and it was on the other side of the state. So it was going away to college...but I could drive home in 5-6 hours if need be.
It will be right here that I mention the I went to college in 1996. Long before the Predatory Lending Act. This will come into play later. But for those of you who don't know or don't remember, this meant that it was perfectly legal to offer college students free t-shirts in exchange for filling out credit card applications. Then these college students were approved and sent credit cards. Whether or not they had a job/income and whether or not they understood the terms and conditions. I was not one of those college students who had parents who served as cash cows. I took out loans for tuition, room and board, and my mother deposited $20.00 a week into my checking account. I didn't have a car. I didn't have a cell phone (until 2002). I went to college in a rural town. My options were to work at Subway, McDonalds, or one of the 10 small business in town. In a tiny college town you basically have to be grandfathered into one of those jobs. The other option was to leave town to work. No car. Rural area. No leaving town. But as I said. None of this mattered. Credit cards all around!
I graduated college in 2000...with a degree in the arts. Super. I got a job working for the country's leading vitamin a supplement retailer and played the part of townie for a few months. I finally, minimally wised-up and moved back home to the other side of the state. Back to my middle-class home...which at that point had become upper-middle class. I lived there for a couple of months, having had transferred within my company to a location near my mother's house. I borrowed my grandmother's car to get to and from work and took a second job clerking at my aunt's law firm. I wisely [insert sarcastic tone] got a dog upon graduating and found that he and my mother's dog did not get along. I accepted an invitation to move into my aunt and uncle's home with their two young daughters and was now living in an upper-class home in an upper to upper-upper-class neighborhood. Shortly there after my aunt and uncle came to know about my huge credit card debt and balance owed to my undergraduate university (i still don't fully understand how that happened) which kept me from receiving my transcripts or diploma. Very generously my aunt and uncle loaned me the money to pay off my debt. They also co-signed on getting me a cell phone. This was well above and beyond the duties of a family member and I will be forever grateful. That summer I left the vitamin and clerking businesses and I took a job teaching theatre at a summer camp (post-graduation job #3). I had also decided that I was going to apply to graduate school at Preppy east coast legacy school for my master's degree in theatre. The real world had me in a complete panic. I lived comfortably in a cushy suburb, had my nice summer job teaching rich people's kid's theatre games, and was crossing my fingers that my 2.34 gpa and mediocre GRE scores would be over-looked because of my family's relationship with the university. They were. I received an acceptance letter from the university with post-it notes on it from staff members I had known growing up, welcoming me and telling me they couldn't wait to see me. So, I was teaching theatre and was finally going to my family's legacy school. I has also picked up a part-time job nannying for the sweetest family in the tri-state area, three mornings a week. Three year old boy, two-year old girl, and 4 month old boy. I sang him to sleep for his mid-morning nap every day that I was with him. Desperado (the Linda Ronstadt version, not Don Henley, of course) was his favorite. I loved all three of them very much. Things were looking good...
Time Out of College: 1 year, 2 months
Student Loan Debt: $25,000.00
Family Debt: $6,000.00
Other Debt: $0.00
Failed Long-Term Relationships: 3
Post-Grad Jobs to Date: 4
Conversations With My Father Since The Age Of Eleven: 2
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I've gotten 3 emails and one AIM asking me why I don't blog anymore (now mind you, I'm pretty sure those 4 people are ALL of my readers, but still.). I honestly don't have much of a reason, except that I can't really think of anything to say. My life has been weird for the last several months. I moved. Got a crazy code violating landlord. Moved again. Finished the quarter at school. Started the summer quarter. Got SUPER fat. Have pledged to sell out. Was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and still think it's a mistake. And hit the $200,000.00 mark for my student loans. Don't worry. None of it is as serious as it sounds. Mostly I've been observing/learning. "Observing/learning what?", you may ask. Ah, well allow me to answer you.
- Unless you are holding money in your hand, act as though is doesn't exist.
- I like the show Two and a Half Men and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
- I like Lady Gaga and I am ashamed to admit it.
- Some part of me, deeeep, deep down still believes that I TOO can be Elle Woods.
- Self-deprecation is super in. People love to say they're assholes and tell the world how unsavory of a character they are. I blame Tucker Max.
- I'm a huge asshole and not of good character.
- I used to like children. I don't anymore.
- I used to like puppies. I don't anymore.
- If someone gave me a huge chunk of money and told me I could either feed 100 orphans or get skinny people surgery, I'd get the surgery. I'd rather be a dick than fat. Sadly, I am now both.
- I think my girlfriend is the most beautiful woman in the world. Now, I know this is impossible. What would the most beautiful person in the world be doing with me? But still, it's what I think.
- I'd do pretty much anything to get rid of some of my student loans. I'd even join an armed force. Alas, they may not ask but I sure as hell will tell.
- My least favorite chore is kitty litter.
- I love Family Guy. It makes me happy(ish).
- I have some really brave and tough friends, who have a stronger will than I’ll ever have. Jesus, some of them can bounce!
- I'm lazy, spoiled, and entitled. After carefully scrutinizing my life it is clear that every problem I have is my fault. Fortunately, much of it can be corrected or salvaged, if I stop being so lazy, spoiled, and entitled.
- My family is amazing. My aunts and uncles are insanely accomplished and noble. My cousins are all so smart and talented and are sure to take over the world.
- I'm getting a new baby sibling around Christmas. That's gonna be 5. Now I can say things like, "I am the oldest of 6." Makes me sound like Matt from 7th Heaven...kinda...cause we're only 6. But still.
- Changing your name is annoying. Even 2 years later. It can do things like mess up your passport/travel plans, causing you to miss your flight, trip, and friend of 18 years wedding. neato.
- I have yet to figure out what makes a kitty litter "for multiple cats". They all seem the same to me.
- No seriously, though...why can't I be Elle Woods?
- I've noticed that life is about money. I'm not saying that money makes people happy, but all of the seemingly happy people I know have some. All of the people considering mixing their Klonopin (yes, everyone is on it) and booze until they are comatose, don't.
- I wish Buffy and Gilmore Girls were still on. Those shows made me happy.
- Being a social worker sucks. I feel like any social worker who tells you otherwise is full of shit. Now, I pretty much knew this when I was getting into it, but now I know for sure. Where the hell is my six figure salary for having such a shitty, high risk (gang bangers, addicts, rapist, and other unsavory folks) "helping profession" job?
- I think rapists should receive the same sentence as 2nd and 1st degree murderers (using the same premeditated vs. not, criteria), because they, in essence, have killed a person.
- I HATE the reverend Al Sharpton.
- Papa Joe Jackson is a monster.
- The 30s (even though this is only my 1st year in my 30s) are WAY different than the 20s. Anything past 24 is just not a good idea.
- That's pretty much all I've come up with over the last few months. None of it is groundbreaking, but it's all I've got so far.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Strong emotions are a normal part of working with and/or knowing victims of crime. Victim assistance professionals…should expect to have their own emotions unbalanced at times. As victims unburden themselves with tales of horrific experiences, healers absorb some of the pain. In effect, they become witnesses to the traumatic experience. [Those in helping professions] may become subject to compassion fatigue, also known as burnout. In some cases, they risk an even more serious danger:
vicarious or secondary trauma...
Vicarious trauma is a stress reaction that may be experienced by victim assistance professionals who are exposed to disclosures of traumatic images and events by those seeking help. Helping professionals may experience long-lasting changes in how they view themselves, others, and the world.The symptoms of vicarious trauma are similar to, but usually not as severe as, those of post traumatic stress disorder, and can affect the lives and careers of even those with considerable training and experience in working with disaster and trauma survivors. They may include—
Intrusions such as flashbacks or nightmares.
Avoidance, in which the person tries to reduce exposure to the people or situations that might bring on his or her intrusive symptoms.
Hyperarousal or physical symptoms such as hypervigilance, sleeplessness, or increased startle response.
Factors that increase the risk of vicarious trauma include—
Unexpected or repeated exposure to trauma.
The degree of empathy that a victim assistance professional or loved one feels for the victim's suffering.
Unresolved emotional issues.
Prevention and Response
It is crucial for those who work with or are personally connected to victims to find ongoing support systems for themselves, and to identify situations that may trigger unresolved emotional issues and refer such cases to a colleague. Often, simply acknowledging the effect on one that others' pain has can be one of the best coping mechanisms. The victim assistance community also may be able to provide support by using established debriefing techniques. Finally, for those who are exposed to a mass victimization, participation in a well-run critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) may be helpful.”
For the record, that last part never really happens...or let's say rarely, to be safe. Some feel it makes them weak and/or selfish to tap into that...but oddly would never feel that a friend or colleague who accessed that resource was weak or selfish. Weird.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
If I were to talk to you in person I’d have no idea what to say to you. Because there’s nothing to say. I’m sure so many people have told you they love you and that they’ll be there in anyway you need them to be. I’m sure they mean it and I’m sure you believe them. But really beyond that, we’re powerless. I’m powerless to do anything that could be even remotely healing. I guess mostly because you’d never let me, but still. It is my job to heal people. I do it (or at least I try to) everyday. Then at the end of the day, I lock up my files securely (it’s the law) I tidy my desk (well, sometimes), and I head for the bus/train. And I leave it there. All of their pain and fear is in my office. Locked in my filing cabinets. I read my books and text my friends and listen to my music on the way home. And I don’t think about them until I return to the office the next day. I come home nearly every day to the sweetest greeting. A tiny little man whose head comes up to my waist jumps into my arms and squeezes me with all of his strength around my neck and kisses me with these funny kisses where he puckers so tightly it’s laughable. You’d really have to see it to know what I’m talking about. And while all this is happening I’m bombarded by wagging tales…all before I can even put my bag down. Sounds annoying. It’s not. I guess that’s what it is to be loved. We make dinner and read books. We sing a lot. We play the piano and the guitar and we watch the SAME DAMN MOVIE, OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Then bath time. A few small arguments and power struggles. Cuddle on the couch, and then to bed. Then I try to create some order in the house by collecting all of the match box cars, puzzle pieces, and single socks that have been strewn about the house all day,
Now it’s me time. I can watch grown-up shows and read books without pictures. Take a shower (maybe). Get on the internet. It all sounds small, but trust me when you have to schedule them, they become a big deal. There’s the downside: Money. Time management. Feeling suffocated sometimes. Just plain wanting to go to the bathroom by yourself! But it still ends up being worth it. This is pretty much my life, with small variations from day to day. It may mean that I’m cold, but I never bring the suffering of my clients home with me. I thought myself to be an expert on removing myself from issues that are not my own and knowing that there are very few things that are within my control. I believed that was a strength of mine in my field. And then there was you. I’m so sad for you. And scared for you. And hurt for you. Pain, anger, fear…today they ate dinner with us, took a bath with us, watched us sing our songs. They will read our books with us and will be going to bed with me. They’re not welcome in my home and yet they rudely refuse my demands to depart. The thing is if I know one thing about you it is that you are a survivor. I have no doubt about that. The only reasonable thing I can come up with is that I am selfish. How dare I cry and mourn and rage and panic over what is yours? I can’t stand myself right now. I can’t stand how I expect someone to console me. To make me understand. To make me feel safe and strong.
And I can’t stand how all I can do is say that I love you. I have since the day you called my name from the patio at Starbucks. And it’s so not enough and seemingly mundane to say, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’ve been hurt and then again by being failed by the very thing you’ve committed your heart, soul, and life to. And I wish I could help. I wish I could tell some sort of joke that would make you laugh until your side hurt, or perform some gesture that would make you feel warm and loved. You’re so special to me. You always will be. I guess the selfish part of me is begging you not to disappear. I don’t mean physically (though I don’t want that either), but I mean you. The woman who has made me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before, pissed me off more than I ever been pissed off, made me involuntarily hold my breath just by feeling you. The woman who unselfishly took time out of her day on more than one occasion to take care of me because I was having a bad day is not someone who I can stand to lose. I have no right to ask this of you. It’s none of my business. This is your life and you will do what you please. But I wanted to tell you what knowing you means to me and how my heart breaks for you having had this experience. Remember, summer will be here before we know it. Your hair always looks so pretty in the sun.
Love always, unconditionally,
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It is -20 degrees with wind the chill factor outside…I am therefore, trapped. I cannot find the remote and I have one of those cable box things that doesn’t have buttons on it or anything. I can’t change the channel. There is a Jonathan Taylor Thomas Christmas movie on. This Is Not Ok.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
· The lovey-dovey make out couple across from me on the train last night. I don't just find you annoying, I ACTUALLY hate you. Hate is strong word…and I hate you.
· Audible yawning.
· Big, fat, wide public yawns without covering your mouth.
· Throwing shoes at our president. He sucks. Badly. But you can't really throw your shoe at him. It's insulting to the US. Plus, what if it were something more deadly? I mean…look at our back-up plan. If anyone can do a lot of damage in a month it's THAT GUY!
· My parents. Just trust me on this one.
· Work parties. WHY do I have to go to these things?
· Law Students. Sorry baby, it's just…well, not ok. It's not your fault. I'm pretty sure law school blows.
· Status dating. Gross.
· The "77threeee-20twoooo-Lunaaaaaa" song.
· The "800-5eeeeight-eeeeight, 23hundreeed, Empiiiiiiiiire…" song.
· Public transportation riding, ring-tone testers.
· The Clark bus.
· High School kids on the Clark bus…and the redline…and the Halsted bus…
· Shows about finding out who is the father. I feel like that may just be a private matter.
· My dog, Sonny. He's a real jerkface.
· President-elect Obama STILL asking me for money. I don't have any. That's part of the reason I voted for you.
· Anne S. moving away. That was super, not ok.
· My future children. Trust me…it's a pretty safe bet.
· Rod Blagojevich. He is UBER-not ok.
· The name Rod.
· My student loan debt.
· The View.
· Regis and Kelly.
· Proposition 8.
· That I talk to my ex's. Jesus, I'm a pussy.
· Graduate school. It's a hassle and you're not actually guaranteed to make more money.
· The temperature in my office. Why am I wearing a scarf and a hat inside?
· People who make fun of street performers. You try it, asshole.
· The fact that at this very moment I am both hungry AND fat. What's a girl to do?
· How much OTHER people's weddings cost me…and I can't even have one to get back at them someday.
· Madonna's accent.
· Serving sizes on cereals. Yeah right. For a butterfly.
· That I have to be at work for six more hours and can't handle the thought of six more minutes.
· That Starbucks doesn't deliver. The whole reason I need coffee is because I'm tired and can't move yet. p.s. It's REALLY cold out! Bring it to me.
· Crotch tattoos.
· Me…for once dating someone with a crotch tattoo…to be fair the tattoo came after we had already begun dating. But still…
· To expand on one of my previous points; a dog who eats my underpants. Underpants don't grow on trees!
· The word underpants…though I prefer it to "panties." Panties is a pervert word.
· People who dump you during the holiday season. Very uncool and somewhat traumatizing…creating yet ONE MORE negative connotation to the holiday season. Neat-o.
· The amount of times I can watch Little Women and still cry every time Beth dies. SHUT UP! That Claire Danes is very convincing!
· The amount of times I've watched (will watch) Little Women.
Whelp…that oughta do it for now. Mind you, that's just what came to me in this sitting. There will be more to come in the next installment of This Is Not Ok (aka Free Therapy). Feel free to add to it…you may even attempt to defend yourself if you feel you've been called out…just make sure I don't know where you live or that you operate under a pseudo name…OOH! Stay tuned for This is Awesome! #1. The phrase "pseudo name" and people who pronounce it as pseudonym…with a British accent."