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Archive for the ‘Schooling’ Category

I originally posted this in Reddit’s /r/Ravenclaw subreddit, but i wrote enough that I thought I should just turn this into a Facebook post.

Then I realised I haven’t written here in quite a long time, so it now serves as a blog post.

Do you need good books? Here are some good books.

1. The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar – Fantasy meets reality as a pair of drunken Scottish Fairies on a romp almost start World War 3 in modern day New York City while running around with a group of normal New York people. Seriously, it’s a riot and Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction for it.

2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. When I was 14, I was given this book by my English teacher. This was my first all nighter. It changed my life, I started writing, and within the year I had been published in national magazines for poetry and I am still writing over 20 years later. I will graduate in 2-2.5 years with a triple Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and History Education and I attribute it to this book. I own it in two languages and I am reading it in Portuguese right now as that is my second language (the third being Spanish). I cannot tell anyone how much this book means to me, but how relevant this book is to even now in life.

3. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. Easily the best science fiction story I have ever read, the best short story I have ever read, this book overall is overlooked often and should never be overlooked. If you have heard of the Butterfly Effect, it originated here.

4. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. You are noticing a trend. Yes, I have classics on this list. Do not be scared; classics are here for a reason. They are not meant to scare you away, they are meant to draw you in. This book is an everyman book – this is real life. This still happens, in different areas, in different places, but this still happens nowadays. Don’t sit with a pen and paper, or feel like you have to because a teacher set you for a book report. Download it free on a kindle app, and read it a little bit at a time. Get into Jurgis’ story, put yourself in his shoes. Transport yourself into his time. You’ll find a newfound respect for anyone who has a job that they have to do to survive; a surprising empathy for anyone who has to keep fighting no matter what the world goes after them.

5. Any of the alternate fairy tales by Gregory Maguire. I especially adore the Wicked: A Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and the ensuing Trilogy, and After Alice, as I am a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland.

6. The Alice series by Carroll. all of it. It is by far my favourite Fairy Tale series of all time. I don’t care if it is the Disney version, or what. You give me the option of Hogwarts, of Wonderland, of a TARDIS, of Narnia, of Tolkien, anywhere.. I will choose Wonderland. I will always choose Wonderland. (Oh, now I’m sobbing again…)

7. Watership Down series by Richard Adams. It helped me, when I was much younger, to understand the concept of death, to understand the concept of a possible afterlife, to understand that animals, that every living thing can have feelings, emotions; it does not matter what you are, or how you believe, you can feel, you can act, you are alive, even for a short time, you can influence the world.

8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I picked it up for $1 before a trip, and it was one of the first books where I had to read it at least half a dozen times before I could understand what was going on. Sometimes I will read it and I will understand it in a completely different way than I ever had before. It is a book written in a different frame of mind than any book I had ever read previously or since.

9. The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson – Poetry is now and forever a part of my life, and this poet, for all the modern poets, has been the one to influence me to always want to keep writing. Or never want to keep writing. But I got to see them speak, and perform, and I realised that if I gave up now, I would not be able to do what I need to do, which is write. So I keep writing. And I keep dreaming. “You, you stay here with me.”

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In every bar there’s someone sitting alone and absolutely absorbed
by whatever he’s seeing in the glass in front of him,

a glass that looks ordinary, with something clear or dark

inside it, something partially drunk but never completely gone.

Everything’s there: all the plans that came to nothing,

the stupid love affairs, and the terrifying ones, the ones where actual happiness
opened like a hole beneath his feet and he fell in, then lay helpless

while the dirt rained down a little at a time to bury him.

And his friends are there, cracking open six-packs, raising the bottles,

the click of their meeting like the sound of a pool cue

nicking a ball, the wrong ball, that now edges, black and shining,

toward the waiting pocket. But it stops short, and at the bar the lone drinker

signals for another. Now the relatives are floating up

with their failures, with cancer, with plateloads of guilt

and a little laughter, too, and even beauty—some afternoon from childhood,

a lake, a ball game, a book of stories, a few flurries of snow

that thicken and gradually cover the earth until the whole

world’s gone white and quiet, until there’s hardly a world

at all, no traffic, no money or butchery or sex,

just a blessed peace that seems final but isn’t. And finally

the glass that contains and spills this stuff continually

while the drinker hunches before it, while the bartender gathers

up empties, gives back the drinker’s own face. Who knows what it looks like;

who cares whether or not it was young once, or ever lovely,

who gives a shit about some drunk rising to stagger toward

the bathroom, some man or woman or even lost

angel who recklessly threw it all over—heaven, the ether,

the celestial works—and said, Fuck it, I want to be human?

Who believes in angels, anyway? Who has time for anything

but their own pleasures and sorrows, for the few good people

they’ve managed to gather around them against the uncertainty,

against afternoons of sitting alone in some bar

with a name like the Embers or the Ninth Inning or the Wishing Well?

Forget that loser. Just tell me who’s buying, who’s paying;

Christ but I’m thirsty, and I want to tell you something,

come close I want to whisper it, to pour

the words burning into you, the same words for each one of you,

listen, it’s simple, I’m saying it now, while I’m still sober,

while I’m not about to weep bitterly into my own glass,

while you’re still here—don’t go yet, stay, stay,

give me your shoulder to lean against, steady me, don’t let me drop,

I’m so in love with you I can’t stand up.

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I admit for years I had no budget. I really had no idea. I was a typical college student, overextending multiple lines of credit (therefore trashing it for years) and generally not understanding how to get things to work. When I moved back home a few years ago, I sat down, got my credit report, read through all 20 pages, read all the debt I had accrued, and went “well, this is a fine mess I’ve gotten into.”…. okay, it was more me running around freaking out for a while.

I had 2 part time jobs when I lived at home (I was a waitress at a local place, and then I either worked at a grocery store, or at a greenhouse) for over 12 months. 14 I think? I was let go from both jobs right around Thanksgiving in 2009, then after looking around for jobs I finally just went back to school in Fall 2010. In that time frame, even on 2 part time jobs, I managed to learn to budget very efficiently – enough I could still even take trips while managing to pay off at least one bill a month or pay down. (I paid off something like almost $15k worth of debt including some student loan in the time frame.)

Now, here’s the rub. right now, I have very little savings. It is something that right now I don’t have the luxury on, and it makes me very nervous. Which is why even with a full time job I’m working to get back to working on eBay in extra time. I lived for 3 years doing nothing but reselling, and that was really, really tiring and I hope to never have to do that again 😛 But it would be extra money, that can be used.

So now, my budget is (roughly) ~$1600/month after taxes.

When it comes to budgeting, I actually have mine in a couple areas. I have a whiteboard calendar that is dated 31 days, and on this calendar, I have the bill and usual price of bill (ie: my water/sewer/trash bill is variant between $50-70).

When you sit down to make a budget, go throughout the month, and write down what day you have what bill due, and how much it is. That’s always the first step in a budget. Make it on a piece of paper you can add/subtract to. Get a pile of all your bills. Write this all down on paper, as well as wherever else you need to remember. It’s easiest for me in multiple places as I always have a notebook with me.

So my budget reads something like:
1st: Rent – $873+60 (rent + covered parking + water/sewer/trash avg)
13th-18th: Credit card $100 (minimum is $68), Cable $50 (usually $40-45), Verizon $94 ($91-94)
13th-21st: Car Insurance – $125 ($110-125), Life Insurance – $17, Student Loan – $100 (minimum $86)

Things I don’t have on my calendar yet: Electricity – because I haven’t yet gotten a bill since it just got turned into my name. Cat expenditures, Car gas, my food. I use my credit card for car gas every month, which keeps a small active balance on it that I can pay a month. (I have some remaining balance from not being paid for work I did that involved travel that had to be paid via CC. long story)

So.. if you’re good with adding, you can see roughly I have less than $200 a month for the rest. Which is why I rarely go out – I quite honestly don’t have the money, because I PAY MY BILLS FIRST. I did have a roommate, whom I charged not quite half of even rent and utilities, etc, but I have since went back to living by myself because when I rely on people to pay bills and they choose not to – for whatever reason – it’s not a help, it’s a hindrance that almost made me lose the apartment. (can’t wait to get the money I am owed remaining from that, for savings.)

When I went back to living by myself, I decided to ditch my storage unit every month. I resigned my lease recently, and my rent went up from $789 to $848/mo for a 2/2. So I have a 2nd room that at the time was empty. I looked into moving into a 1 bedroom apartment, but the ‘cheapest’ option at the time was $750/mo, and I’d have to keep my storage unit at $60/mo.

So, $848 and move my storage stuff into my 2nd room, and set up the 2nd room to work on eBay, writing, stuff like that – or move into a 1 bedroom at $750/mo, keep the storage unit at $60 = $38 difference. I kept my slightly larger apartment – plus, my storage here is climate controlled 😀 Also, if it comes that I do eventually need to have a roommate, then I can go ahead and get a storage unit again and find someone. I have options at this rate – I do not with a one bedroom.

But, my budget can take it. Just barely, but it can take it. And I didn’t resign that lease until I knew for certain.

I hope this makes sense for people, if not, I can share more information.

Here’s some rules:

Rule A: Don’t budget on money that is not steady. I sell stuff on half.com, craiglist, etc – I’ve made an extra $60 this month alone from both those. That is extra money for me – either to buy extras or put in the bank. Overtime money? never budgeted. It’s never steady.

Rule B: Rewarding yourself is important but don’t use it as justification for overspending. My reward for working a ton of overtime? I stocked up on things I *needed* (such as cat food/litter on a great sale, stuff like toilet paper on sale) for things like peace of mind (plus, I don’t have to buy TP until like May or June at this rate), and then bought a new hairbrush and nail polish ($10). Yep, big spender. 😉 But it IS important to reward yourself now and again. Keep a wishlist.. or several. Ever seen my amazon wishlists? Full of everything from $1 books to $300 cat litter boxes. But it’s always a way to remember things I like or would like to save for!

Rule C: If you have a variant bill, either average it over the course of 12 months, or just figure high. My Car Insurance usually has ranged between $110 a month and $125. I always figure on $125/mo. If it’s lower? A little left over is a good thing. Never a bad thing. Also, round up your cents. $93.79 = $94.

Rule D: Any bill that just has a “minimum”, like a credit card or student loan? budget over it. Make yourself pay more. My student loan is $86/minimum a month, and I pay usually $100-125/mo. Not only do you get your bills down faster, you pay less in interest. Pay more for the high interest things, but always pay over your minimum. In the course of a year, even if I only pay $14 more on my loan a month, that’s $14×12 = $168. What’s $86×2? $172. So.. basically, I’m paying 14 months of minimum payments in a year by simply increasing every month by $14. When you are paying over the course of 7 years… well, you can see where I’m going. I can cut almost an entire YEAR off the time of the life of the loan…with an extra $14/month. Pretty simple if you break it down that way.

Rule E(xtreme): PAY YOUR BILLS FIRST EVERY MONTH. When I get paid, I immediately come home and pay the bills. Then, after that, I decide whether or not I can go do something fun or just go get milk, butter, and fruit at the store.

Rule F: If you’re in over your head, contact the companies you owe money to. Talk to them. Many companies will take a lower payment every month as long as you are paying. I remember paying one $2100 bill in $50 increments for a number of years – because that’s all I could afford. But they took it! And they were very happy about it!

Rule G: DO. NOT. LIVE. ON. CREDIT. CARDS. I have one. ONE. it’s cute. And it has a ladybug on it – most importantly, a good interest rate. I don’t need multiple ones. For me, that’s temptation – and I can admit it. I do not need the temptation. Living beyond your means will only get you burned in the end.

Here’s some good hints on budgeting:

Hint 1: If you want to budget in putting money into savings, DO IT. If that’s the only way to get yourself to be able to save, set up a separate savings account that the only way you can get money in and out is to go to the bank and drop off a check – and pay yourself every month. (Credit Unions are -great- for this.)

Hint 2: There isn’t a “maybe I can afford this or not”. Numbers are steady. You know how much money you have and how many bills you have. Sometimes there’s a bit of wiggle room – maybe you worked a couple extra hours overtime, but there’s an item that costs more money than that that you want? Save up for it. You can’t afford it. Learn how to tell yourself no.

Hint 3: Living paycheck to paycheck sucks. And I hate it. But it’s possible if you stick to your budget. If you go off budget, get back on board immediately!

Hint 4: Watch sales. I managed to save on my budget this month – I usually spend $40 month on cat litter, and because of sales, I bought the same amount pound wise for $30. Coupon sites are great, but only clip what you NEED. Don’t go extreme couponing just because you can – great way to throw your budget and make you spend money on things you don’t need just because you’re shopping. If you are saving up for a large purchase that you don’t need omg right away when you get the money, wait for a sale. Use sites like mrrebates.com, ebates.com – I don’t buy much online, but I’ve made over $100 back in a few years from these sites. I also use swagbucks.com – I use it strictly to buy Amazon gift cards. even 1 $5 Amazon GC every month = $60 a year I can use for laundry soap (which I can only find on Amazon, not locally) or books or whatever I’d like 🙂

Every little bit helps.

Hint 5: Remove temptation. I don’t go to malls.. or to stores.. when I’m broke and can’t afford things. There’s tons of free things to do around here, there’s always a great outdoors to go walk in, sit under a tree and read a book. I have a big weakness for books, and i never go to a bookstore unless I’m going in for a specific reason, because well….. temptation.

Hint 6: Ways to cut budgets: FOOD PRICES. Make lunches at home, take to work. Buy a french press, make better coffee at home instead of an overpriced Starbucks. Seriously – food is usually a huuuuuuuge expenditure. Add up what you spend in one week by eating out. Go budget what you can do at home… you’ll be shocked. Shop used items – I rarely buy any clothing new, or if I do, I will buy off a clearance rack. Goodwills are awesome, Craiglist is always AYOR, eBay can be great – or a temptation. 😉

Hint 7: Make yourself do it. The rewards are enormous. I’ve never been able to have my own place, like I do now, before having a budget.

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To be perfectly truthful, this schedule is condemning even if I am at 100%. But I have no choice. I had to drop my Honors class, but it is for the best, all told.

Tuesday 29: Dr. Appt.
Watch two movies, write two reports – watched one movie. film history
Brit Lit Paper #1 – 45 minutes

Wednesday 30: Classes
Brit Lit Essay #1 work on
KNEA meeting 530pm
write two reports – film history

Thursday 1:
Finish Brit Lit Paper #1 by 6 pm
write 2 reports – film history 6 pm – midnightish

Friday 2:
Classes
study for Film History quiz during lunch like normal

Brit Lit #1 DUE (turned in)
4 film reviews, 3
work on: Brit Lit #2 paper

Saturday 3:
Brit Lit Final Exam half done, question 3 done, question 4 started

Sunday 4:
Music Appreciation Quizzes by 11 am done at 9 am
Brit Lit Final Exam question 2 by 1 pm done at 1pm
Brit Lit #2 paper FINISH by 530 pm finished 615pm
watch last 2 movies

Monday 5:
get up early, study for Film Exam
1030am Brit Lit Final class 1030-1230
Film History exam 1 – 3 pm, plus quiz.
2 film review sheets in film history DUE

Tuesday 6:
Brit Lit #2 paper DUE
take Music Appreciation final exams (3) – finish by noon finished 1125
American Lit paper #2 – finish by 6 pm
Study for American Lit Exam – use post it flags to mark sections of book
Study for Film History Quiz (Chapter 5!)

Wednesday 7:
American Lit Paper #2 DUE
American Lit Final 8am – 10am
take History Quiz after American Lit Final (Chapter 5)

Thursday 8:
Music Appreciation Finals due 8 am
sell back all books, collapse accordingly in my tiny pile of money.

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Homework is always hard. It’s harder when you can’t remember half of your day, and most of what you read right after it.

My boyfriend decided to stay through the entire week to help me out with homework and with life. I’ve always been so independent and it is very difficult for me to admit when I need help.

So even though I am sick, and I am able to go outside, I am still not 100%. I am weak, with moments of even more weakness.

Having someone to watch over me, to help me through things when I can no longer get them through my brain, when I can no longer function on my own… this is an amazing feeling, and it is one that helps show, truly, how someone is in their life.

You can have a long distance relationship, you can talk about hopes and dreams… you can make them happen, but it’s times like this – when someone takes time out of their life, to show you how much you mean to them…

It’s not what you think.

It’s even a greater feeling.

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One of the joys of college – College Health – basic medical visits that are included in a semester fee.

One of the ‘joys’ of not having medical insurance – going to a hospital, filling out forms, and not wanting to know exactly how much my blood draw and tests will cost.

At least needles do not bother me in the slightest.

And I found out I had only lost about 4 lbs.. not 10. So I have been doing some things right.

Am also on steroids, and I do not like them at all. Fake energy is no fun. At least my swellings have gone down a bit.

It feels weird not being able to do things. Not having the energy where I usually had it. I am just… perplexed, really, is the best word for it. I cannot comprehend it, my mind cannot wrap around it.

And.. I miss going to class, and I can’t wait to get back. (I’m WEIRD).

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My boyfriend came up for the weekend and decided to stay with me for the week. His job is wonderful in letting him do this (while he is basically telecommuting). With his help, I am hoping to get through enough schoolwork this week to not have to take incompletes in any/many classes.

It is so hard for me to concentrate on much at all. I really don’t have a lot of energy. It is nice to be able to go out, though. I don’t trust myself to drive, so once a day I have been going on little excursions, with help to and from the car. I feel like a semi-invalid.

For a fairly independent person, having to rely on someone else is a rather new experience.

And I have less and less energy, and I sleep more now. So maybe this damned virus will run its course.

In the meantime, I have someone here to help me through it.

And to get me out into the sunlight once or more a day.

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