Last Hundred Bucks: Graduate School Finals Edition

I took out one hundred dollars in cash on Black Wednesday and didn’t spend it. Then I decided to go full-on hermit (and straight-edge!) for finals, making it easy to keep track of where the cash went (which, let’s face it, I was stressed so my spending was focused on eating).

$8.75 – Pot of hibiscus tea and turkey sandwich (free Wi-Fi and old-school Shakira at no cost) while trying to write a paper on tax-increment financing and escaping my neighbor who thinks he is the second-coming of Jimi Hendrix. Spoiler-alert: he isn’t.

$9.97 – Container of salad bar fixins (pasta, bean salad, dolmades, cherry tomatoes) and bottle of wine for friend emergency. Then back to my hermit hut a.k.a. computer lab.

$8.00 – Tuna sandwich and the taste of despair that accompanies my inevitable once-a-semester visit to Jimmy Johns because of how I hate-love to eat it and if I went to the independent Italian joint next door, I would’ve dove into a meatball sub and couldn’t afford a digesting nap if I wanted to sleep that night.

$8.50 – Takeaway from the only Chinese restaurant in my predominantly Mexican neighborhood after leaving campus at 10 p.m. after 12 hours wrestling with Adobe design products. I am ashamed to go into detail of what it was, only that it included neon red sauce, pineapples, shrimp fried rice and a can of soda. It is still in my fridge, along with a lone apple and a hunk of cheese.

$25 – Staples. I had to print two mock site interventions from a fake consulting firm comprised of myself and three other saintly group members for a design class. I also bought a new pen because treat yo’self.

$15 – Two PBRs, one Sumpin Sumpin and a Jim Beam on the rocks because it was my friend’s birthday and I’d planned it for 10 days earlier. I meant to keep it to PBR, but it was a cold walk to the bar.

$8.49 – Head of cabbage, queso fresco, Sleepytime Extra tea. I’m stressed and I want familiar food (arepas and curtido, que rico) and had no groceries. Also something has to help being awake in bed wondering about all of the mistakes I’ve made in my final presentations, right?

$15 at least – Cups of passable coffee from 7-11, the only other eatery around my department’s building, and probably a sausage biscuit at some point because breakfast is something I’ve been bad at.

I’m holding onto these last few bucks in hopes of a cold, cheap beverage the second I’m done (which will be probably sometime Thursday afternoon). Happiest of hours!


Carmen Aiken is a writer and city policy graduate student living in Chicago. Photo: Nate Grigg


19 Comments / Post A Comment

Tatiana (#194)

omg JIMMY JOHNS. i encountered their sandwiches for the first time on a roadtrip from LA to Utah earlier this year. it was a pleasant experience!

@Tatiana their employees are consistently very polite and fast. But their cult following (from downstate *cough*) makes me crazy.

dotcommie (#662)

i read the “paper about tax increment financing” and “jimmy john’s” and thought “this must be a UIC student”, even before the bio line. AMIRITE?

agreenbee (#5,502)

@dotcommie YES! Carmen’s previous post mentioned “graduate research assistant” and depressing Subway sandwich and it triggered my own UIC taste memories. Thank goodness there’s now a Au Bon Pain at BSB!

LB (#3,427)

@agreenbee Never thought I’d see good old BSB mentioned in a Billfold thread. I’m an ’09 grad from LAS. Good luck! (I remember that Jimmy John’s on Taylor street fondly.)

@dotcommie + agreenbee + LB

CIRCLE! Yep. Also good detective work! It sucks being the only people North of 290 (well, art students, who bum smokes …sometimes.)

I know I could walk over to Roosevelt but it has been really cold and you know, I do like the cherry peppers at JJ. I still hate that bread though. Look on my white crust and despair.

Highly-specific grad school problem: BSB is extraordinarily hard to replicate when site planning for UIC. Brutalism!

fleetweek (#5,503)

Your alcohol is so inexpensive! Crazy.

Mediocre Chinese is the best/worst finals food. Pretty much what my last hundred has gone toward this week.

@fleetweek I realize now that Sumpin Sumpin was bought for me. But still. And yes, this bar is crazy cheap, but if you’re paying more than $3 for a PBR in this town, get thee to a different bar.

concrete_dreams (#5,413)

I totally treated myself to a new pen while on a staples run today. Grad school finals are the worst–hang in there everyone.

@concrete_dreams THANK YOU.

dotcommie (#662)

also i’ve eaten both shin ramen and annie’s white cheddar shells today, go me! go finals!

@dotcommie literally bought five boxes of assorted Annie’s last week. Have already eaten two. Also I sometimes put some sad bagged spinach in both ramen and mac to TRY and get some sort of nutrient. Over so soon! OVER!

honey cowl (#1,510)

You keep your apples in the fridge??!???! Cut that shit out!

@honey cowl I think there’s a reason this apple has been in my fridge for this long :( :( :(.

(Wait but also why?! I thought I’d be ok because I’ve kept apples in cold-rooms before?)

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Carmen Aiken@facebook Because they taste way better if you keep them on the counter! Get yoself a fruit bowl! I’m sure science backs this up in some way but I’m too lazy to google right now :)

Ellie (#62)

@honey cowl I don’t think so – apples should be kept in the fridge so they do not ripen too fast and get past the point of being good. I keep my apples in the fridge so that they don’t rot, and stay crisp. It’s tomatoes you should not refrigerate. These apply more when they are actually in season though.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Ellie Girl you do you! If you prefer it go to town. I grew up with parents who put everything in the fridge, and it is my personal belief that apples taste far more delicious out of the fridge. A cursory google tells me this is less definitive than I thought it was though!!!! So we are all right, kum ba ya.

mbl (#5,203)

Good luck Carmen!

@mbl thank you!

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