On Spending Three Years in College, Rather Than Four, to Save Money

I graduated from a private college in seven semesters and completed a senior thesis, in part because my degree was in straight-up "English." You know, just, like, generally. What that meant was that I had a lot of flexibility in which courses I could take, both as far as packing 'em in and in building a schedule that allowed for me to do other projects that I got partial course credit for (get this: a paid summer internship at a local paper. It was a simpler time!) The pre-requisites were pretty slim. It meant that instead of being locked out of an important course for a semester, I could choose to take another same-level course that was slightly less interesting. I took the second semester of my sophmore year off, and had not previously planned a course load around this gap, so the next two years were catch-up. For better or worse, my school had distribution requirements that were categorized in very old-fashioned ways, so instead of a math requirement, there was a category called "formal studies," where math, music, or languages counted equally, so I never had to sweat through even a basic math course. I also found a couple of professors who liked me, and liked my writing, and could maybe overlook me not doing the reading, or writing papers based on a few not-necessarily-related passages of text that I would argue had deeper meaning. Life hacking! My last two years of grimly taking literature and writing courses because that was what I could do with the least effort until I got the degree weren't wasted, but I was also making some extremely weird personal and social choices, and refusing to prepare for any career whatsoever other than "financially solvent writer of boring fiction" or "I don't care, I'll live out of dumpsters." So, I got a BA in English and English Alone, and this is weird, but, it didn't catapult me into the white-collar world. I have a lot of regrets about my college experience. In some ways, I wish I'd let the issues I was dealing with take over to the point of forcing me to really drop out, so that years later, I would be in the position of going back to school to finish right, with a better handle on what skills I have beyond bullshitting, and what it is I actually enjoy doing (just about anything other than bullshitting.) To say "College isn't for everybody" after having squandered a college experience that others have been utterly blocked from imagining would be pretty gross on my part. I think college is and should be for everyone who wants it. But, I think there should be incentives in place for private companies and for local, state, and federal departments to remove degree requirements from a lot of entry-level positions, and sub experience requirements for higher-level positions. Because no matter how you pare down what you "really" need for a bachelor's degree, there are always going to be people who are forcing themselves through it as fast as possible just to get that brass ring, and it's not helping the students or their future employers.

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm 0

On How Do Couples Use Joint Accounts?

My spouse and I do this: automatic payments of a set dollar amount per week to a savings account. Joint credit card for most bills, paid out of savings account once a month. I contribute cash for most physical purchases due to sometimes receiving cash tips. He pays a specific bill every month. All groceries, booze, medical bills are shared. Random home purchases tend to be shared. Personal clothing and fun stuff, usually separate, unless we're shopping together and it's easier to ring up one pile of stuff. Works for us, somewhat.

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 11:07 am 0

On Driver Roll Up the Partition Please Don't Need You Seeing Yonce Doing 1 Thing

I finished my 2013 taxes yesterday, and now I feel like I should be DONE with 1 thing. One damn 1 thing after another. I just want to curl in a very small ball. My 1 thing will be dishes/laundry. In many ways, it is 2 things, but alternative 1 things are still more arduous.

Posted on March 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm 0

On The ACA and My Obstetrician and Me

Right now I have some ominous shit going on where I'm getting cc'd on letters from my midwives' billing dept to my insurance company, begging to be reimbursed for some pretty standard prenatal testing, and replies from the insurance co where they say "medical review is required." Who will win??? Me, probably. Right? I am dragging my feet on calling to see if they will cover the AFP test, where they screen for neural tube defects like anencephaly and spina bifida. Like, most babies have closed spines and plenty of skull, right? The lab they used for the nuchal translucency test already sent me a bill directly. It is really frustrating.

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 11:51 am 0

On Sickness, Death, and Money

Thanks for writing this.

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm 0

On The Cost of Being a Derby Girl

Ooh, girl. I did derby for about 5 years. It was exhilarating and fun, and I made just about all my friends in this town, and my now-husband. I learned that it was possible for me to be athletic, and I learned a lot about committee work, and my own capabilities when it comes to planning big events with a lot of moving parts. I also went through a number of years being pretty bitter and regretful about the whole thing, because of the opportunity cost. If you're already well on track with your paid career, your experience is probably going to be different from my own, but as one lady with overdeveloped quad muscles to another, I say to you to be careful about setting boundaries with this sport, and be careful you're not pouring all your career energy into roller derby. Even if you're carefully skipping beers and t-shirts, don't let (for example) derby e-mail or whatever your league uses to communicate eat up your working hours. It's pissy and spoilery to go on like this, so I will say congratulations for finding a sport you love and finding your toughness.

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm 1

On Unpaid Labor, On Purpose: Why We Volunteer

@wendyleigh I volunteer at an open admission shelter, and I find it to be fulfilling. Animal shelter politics can get kind of gnarly, especially in their Internet incarnations (ie, people using the terminology "kill shelter" in their networking), and I'm not trying to run down any kind of shelter or rescue, but be careful about writing off open-admission shelters wholesale as being too emotionally difficult or whatever. It can certainly be the case for some people, but when I see people express these "Oh, I could never" sentiments, it makes me feel weird because I can?

Posted on November 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm 0

On Is Fake Leather Ever Worth It?

I'm vegetarian, and I rarely buy leather. So far, I have avoided foot death. My pet peeve is that the old-lady sneaker-flat-maryjane things I favor (I require my feet to be very, very comfortable) sometimes include tiny amounts of stupid leather trim for no reason.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm 0

On The Loaded Question of "What Do You Do?"

I shoot the shit with people all day, professionally, and asking "What do you do?" is just a way in. Right up there with "Got any big weekend plans?" for things you can say to strangers. I also read an interesting blog post a few months back about how people can sometimes ask this question of men more often than they do of women, and also more often describe men by their professions and women by their hobbies.

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm 0

On When Life Hands you Lululemon, Make Haterade

If I ever need to ("need to") work up a good head of rage, I gaze at one of the Lululemon totes littering the break room at work, read one of the stupid commands ("Dance floss travel! ") and think at the bag, as hard as I can, "I WILL DO NO SUCH THING."

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 8:43 am 3