Archive for April, 2008

This is the story of a girl in New Orleans… trying to go back to school after some time away.

I’m a 23 female living in New Orleans, LA. I went to school for 4 years and stopped after I was in a bad car accident last spring. I moved back home to get back on my feet. I also was unsure of where I was going and not doing so well in school, which I have discovered is due to recently diagnosed ADD, so I decided against immediately returning to school. I live rent free at home. In return for free rent, I am obligated to clean the house from top to bottom twice per month. Good deal, if you ask me.

It was about 9 months ago that I moved back home, and in that time I’ve impressed myself quite a bit – I paid off $3,000 in credit card debt, purchased a car with my own money, saved money, and held down a full time “real” job and been very successful, overall. I also have a 30 hour per week part time job. After taxes, 8% to my 401(k) at my full time job, and health care, I take home about $2,100 or so depending on my hours at my part time job.

My monthly expenses break down something like this:
Car Payment: $300
Tolls: $40
Gas: $150
Personal Care: $250 (includes entertainment, toiletries, food, clothing, pocket money)
Student Loan Payments: $200
Savings: $1200

About my auto expenses…they are high and they drive me crazy, however, I am overpaying on my car loan by $75 automatically to reduce the term of my loan so I can own my car sooner. I have a 40 mile commute, but if I didn’t commute, I would not have a job.

I would love to move out on my own, but following Katrina, rents have skyrocketed in New Orleans and I don’t feel paying 50+% of my income for a hole in the wall in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Despite the successes I’m having, I am not too happy with my current job or situation. Part of the reason I am saving so much in lieu of getting an apartment on my own (or buying anything for myself) is because by August or January, I want to go back to school to finish the year and a half it would take me to complete my degree. I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to do and am ready to commit to it. I wasn’t before. I think it took getting me out in the real(ish) world to figure out what I wanted my life to be and focus me.

In college, you can be as optimistic and dreamy as you want, but I don’t think anyone really knows what their goals will be once they step out. Personally, I think that will make me even more marketable once I get my degree. My degree will be thoughtful, not forced. I’m sure there are many people who know exactly what they want to do from the start and are able to do that – I’m not one of them. I’ve also decided that my life is going to be about happiness and success, not about working a job I hate (like I am now) for the sake of paying my bills and having stuff. I have dreams, and I finally figured out how I can do it. Or at least try it, anyway.

My parents have agreed to let me live with them rent free, but they’re not going to help pay for school again. My goal is to have at least $10,000 before I go back to school, although I’ll be more comfortable with $15,000, which I can accomplish if I wait until January. Since I plan on going to LSU (Louisiana State University) where rent is actually affordable, I should be able to live somewhat comfortable on that for a year with part time income supplementing.

As for my career aspirations, after I graduate, I actually don’t want to start working right away – I think I might go into the Peace Corps. I hope to find contacts and friends there who will help me find a job in the international realm working with emerging markets – specifically Africa. I spent half of 2006 in South Africa and hope to move back there on a more permanent basis eventually. I’m now willing to work for it – in college, frankly, I wasn’t.

That’s my story and I’m definitely sticking to it =)

Wow… Seasicksquid is working 70 hours a week (full time real job + 30 hour/week part-time job) AND has the time and energy to clean her house twice a month. I am impressed… that’s a hard schedule. I wish her the best of luck!

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Getting my Grey’s

I am so happy that Grey’s Anatomy is back!

Also, can anyone answer this… why can’t Meredith and Derek just be happy together?

I’m just wondering… if I have any readers out there who is (or studying to be) a doctor or a policemen or a firefighter or lawyer (regardless of all the lawyer jokes, when you’re in trouble you want the best!) … do you think you’d find these jobs more satisfying that other professional occupations (corporate lawyers, consultants, bankers, marketing executives, etc. etc.)

I’m just thinking… if you are a doctor/police officer you KNOW you are helping people, you are saving lives. And every day you encounter situations that reaffirms that (even if you fail sometimes). Every occupation contributes value, but the impact on people every day is less visceral, less individual.

For example, I can contribute to helping a company arrive at a solution for a particular issue, and that’s value being created. But somehow, it doesn’t have the punch of Meredith & Co., saving lives all day and all night (and somehow, still have the time and energy for various romantic complications!)

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The truth is

You guys are too nice.

The truth is that I’ve fallen off the wagon in a big way.

I spent $219.86 eating out this month, including a $50 meal at Chez Swanky. I also bought a lot of stuff. 5 articles of clothing (mostly dresses, a couple of sweaters / coats), shoes, shoe inserts, belt, calcium chews, book on Dracula (almost $300). Most of the purchases were not necessary. And I booked my tickets to Hawaii this month ($400).

So instead of following my $2,000 monthly budget, I spent almost $2,500. Yikes!

Must. Get. Spending. Under. Control.

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Finally, Uncle Sam!

So I got my state & federal tax refund (~$1,500)… I put basically everything into the Freedom Fund and retirement portfolio. (Sidebars updated).

But, as a little something something for myself, I bought a BCBG dress ($26 at Marshall’s) and red patent leather pumps ($10 at Ross). I know, I’ve TOTALLY fallen off the buy-less-stuff wagon.

I was very tempted by a pair of Coach heels, but I realized that I didn’t quite like the way the toe looked, and just because I found Coach shoes for $45 in my size doesn’t mean I have to buy it. I also passed on Michael Kors sandals for $30. So, it was a relief to find that although brand names still exert some influence over me, I am able to resist the temptation.


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Into the looking glass

A very good friend recently told me that I seem to have things figured out. She said to me, “you keep up with current events, manage your finances, live on your own and have a ‘together’ wardrobe”.

I didn’t know whether she said that because she’s an awesome girl who thinks highly of her friends (i.e., me) or whether she really feels that I have such a charmed life…

Then I thought, isn’t this part of the noise of the roaring twenties? How we are doing vs. how we expected to be doing vs. how we think our peers are doing? I wonder how many people look at my friend, and think she has the charmed life… after all, why wouldn’t they? She is smart and friendly, pretty and slim. She has shiny hair and a cute boyfriend and her graduate studies. Are those superficial things? I don’t know… but it can be hard to figure out what’s really going on, even in the lives of our closest friends.

I rarely talk about the questions or issues I have in my relationship because all my girl friends appear so secure in their relationships (or single-hood). When I was questioning whether my first job out of college was the right direction for me, I hesitated to talk to any peers because I felt like a failure. After I changed jobs, 2 or 3 more friends did the same. One friend, when we met up at a holiday party, expressed her frustration and loneliness with her feeling of having “failed” to find the ideal job in the first get-go. I listened and thought, wow, I wish we would’ve talked.

So as I catch glimpses of the lives of friends and peers, I remind myself that this looking glass is like the fun house mirrors at fairs and carnivals. There’s some truth in the reflection, sure, but many times it’s so distorted that I can’t figure out what exactly I’m looking at.

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Grammaton Cleric

I’m by no means a grammar-nazi (I’ve been guilty of many a mistake, and I certainly don’t proof my posts like I should… he who is without sin, cast the first stone).

BUT – now that I’m getting knee-deep into sentence correction, there are just things that bugs me, and I feel compelled to share. Please add your own in the comments.

1. Ridiculous, not rediculous. I’ve seen the word spelled incorrectly so often that it’s getting ridiculous. (Incidentally, in Spanish the word is ridículo, not ridiculoso).

2. Hopefully – “I hope to win” or “it is hoped that I win,” not, “hopefully I’ll win.” “Hopefully” is a synonym for “prayerfully”, as in, “the Jesuits lived hopefully and prayerfully.”

3. Since vs. Because: Since refers to time, because refers to causality. Since February, he has been studying. Because he studies, he is a good student.

4. “Everyone” is singular. Singular! Everyone needs his (or her) pencil. Not, everyone needs their pencil. I am all for the equality of men and women, but I gladly accept the concept of the “universal he” when it’s too cumbersome to write out his or her in every case, IF it will save us from the “everyone… their” fiasco.

5. It’s = a contraction of it is. Its = possessive of it. Its corner is scrapped. It’s such a shame he fell.

P.S. I know I have a lot of readers who work in publishing… so… this is your chance to educate the rest of us!
P.P.S. Does anyone know where the title of this post comes from? 🙂

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Just keep swimming

At work from 7 AM to 8 PM tonight.. and now it’s time to start crackin’ the books. 😦

This leaves no time for a post… so here’s a question instead:

What is one thing you are grateful for, RIGHT THIS MOMENT?

I’ll start: I’m grateful that I have a little space heater and a fuzzy bath robe – so I’m cozily warm while I study. 🙂

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