Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bad news and more bad news
A self-centered introspection into my personal crises

I thought the deadline to apply to go to dinner with Dennis Kucinich was midnight EST last night. I got my email in well before 9pm, but it seems the deadline was earlier than that. I even submitted a cute picture of myself. Rats. Well, I guess if I want to have dinner with Denny, I'll have to do so on my own dime.

On an unrelated note, I'm broke. Or almost broke, at least. My basic policy since entering college was to keep my checking account over $3000 at all time, just in case an emergency popped up. (Such as needing to pay for my tuition and fees before my loan check got processed, as was the case this past August. I'd never written a check for over $2900 before in my life.) I checked my balance about a month ago, and it might have been just a little over $2000. Today when I checked it it was at under $1200. The moral of the story is that my approximately $580 a month income that I get for working thirteen hours a week is only enough to cover rent and food. And just barely at that. My loan money ($5500 this year) will cover only my Univeristy fees. This doesn't leave much room for books, studio supplies, Summer tuition, minmal health care costs, or travel expenses to go home for the holidays. (I've opted to stay in the Bay Area the past two Thanksgivings and Spring Breaks to save money on air fare.) Admittedly, I like to spend money on gifts for my loved ones, maybe about $300 per year now that I have a boyfriend. Also, since entering college, I've probably spent an average of $30 a month on "frivolous" things like clothing, CDs, bakeware, soap, toothpaste, tampons, and the like. In other words, I'm not living the Jesus-esque life.

But from my observations I'm living much more simply and cost-effectively than many of my immediate friends. It's not that I'm bitter that a good portion of the kids I know at Cal have parents who are paying for their tution and books and rent and food. It's just that I' think that...well...dammit I am bitter! I got a triple in Unit 1, not because I got stuck there, but because I couldn't afford any other option. Most of you will be walking out of this university with no job prospects. I'll be walking out of this university with no job prospects and $23,000 in debt.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only one at Cal in this shitty situation. We're probably in the minority, but we're here. I wish I had a solution. But I don't. The only way I can console myself is to think that me paying my way through school is a character-building experience; that my peers who have a job for spending money instead of rent money will have a bigger shock than I will once they enter the "real" world; that struggle makes you a more compassionate person; that the ones whose grandparents can afford to send them to Europe couldn't appreciate that vacation as much as I could as a poor person. But these consolations aren't fair and probably are not even true. I've got a bad case of reverse-elitism. Maybe the middle-class values and lower-middle-class bank account (namely the one with negative numbers) I inherited from my parents are only hurting me.


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