Falling

It is a rare (or perceived rare) circumstance that everything which needs to happen falls smoothly into place. I believed it would, and now it has begun. I desired a job (for some extra spending money-which we shall discuss soon), my husband desired a job (to feel more productive) and I desired my financial aid to be released so that I could go back and tell my boss at the department I could continue working (because I really like it there). I desired to find a place which would not cost an arm and a leg to live in, somewhere quiet, with lots of serenity, and I believe I have found it.

Do not get me wrong, all of this is wonderful. I am at ease that there are things going along in my life which have been much needed and are better for my future than the alternative. But I wonder if there are other people like me who reach this point in their lives-when everything is as it needs to be-and the panic sets in.

I cannot tell you how many times i have applied to a place of employment during an “up” period in my life only to find that when an interview is scheduled, there is a pit-of-the-stomach panic that tells me it’s an incredibly bad idea to go through with. A lot of doubt about the situation arises. What if something comes up? What if something bad happens? What if there is too much demand on me? What if…?

I know that it’s a mental game. I know it. And I know that I cannot pass by every chance I get. I know that once I get into a rhythm, everything sorts itself out-every. single. time. But it is getting to that point which is a period of great stress for me.

I just keep looking at the end goals, the things I want more than not and saying how lovely it is that I am able to work, that I can get a summer job out of desire, not out of necessity. I think part of the problem is that I’m beyond ready to move on with my education, with my life and I feel like hourly jobs are just reminding me that I’m not there yet. But it’s not a difficult job, and the people are all very friendly seeming. I just want to be at peace with my decisions for once.

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‘Twas The Week of the LSAT

Ever since I decided I wanted to be a diplomat, I have been researching the job, deciding how best to fulfill my dreams and really just trying to find out if that really was the best decision for me. Ultimately I decided it was, that I needed to go to law school..

Stop.

Law. School. Admission. Test.

 
 Four of the scariest words in my life. And you all think I’m joking. But on the review websites for the GRE and the MCAT (Grad School and Med School respectively) there are the people who say things like “Honestly, it’s hard, but f you just take some practice tests, you’ll be fine.” The LSAT reviews? They ALL say things like “If you don’t study every day for 7 hours, at least 9 months in advance, you’re doomed.”

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Or maybe not. But here’s my thoughts on the subject.

I’m not a simpleton. I know I can and will succeed. I know that there are people who took the test before me, and will take it after me and life will go on. The only difference is, I will be going to law school. (I know that for sure, I just need the scores to tell me which one haha).And I’m going to make something of myself. In 4 years from now, I will be a lawyer! But not just that, I will have taken the FSOT (Foreign Service Operative Test) and be *hopefully* on my way to being a diplomat. In this I am very confident. But I just feel like this entire week has been a mental game that has gone on for far too long.

  
It all started Saturday, one week from test day. I knew I had 7 days to prepare myself, to give myself the best chance I could. I became nervous. Like, pit of the stomach cranky nervous.

Sunday, the panic set in. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I began grinding my teeth at night. This is something I haven’t done since my senior year in high school when I had to decide where I would go for college. See the connection?

Monday, my jaw hurt from the grinding, but I felt like I was starving. I couldn’t find it in me to get enough caffeine. This was my first tip off that I was more stressed than I let on. Me and not wanting caffeine is NOT normal behavior. Clearly.

Tuesday, I drank more caffeine than the last three days combined. (Back to normal?) My jaw quit hurting and I scurried to do all my homework for the week. I rarely do homework marathons, but I needed to get everything done. ASAP.

Today, I woke up late, got to work late and grabbed a tumbler of cold, left-over-from-yesterday coffee before starting my day. I think I’m just about crazy. In the first hour of my day, I had more accidents, more uh-ohs and more “oh crap”s than I have probably all week semester. I will get home and inevitably either not be able to sleep, of fall asleep for 500000000 hours. (I know, that’s the one I’m assuming too.)

Tomorrow: I begin practice scenario day 1. I have taken practice tests before, but this day will be timed and punctual, as if I were actually taking the test. It’s going to be me against the exam, and I really have to try hard.

Friday: Simulation day 2. I cleared it with my boss, I won’t be coming in and I will instead be doing more practice tests, same as Thursday. But I assume there will be more panic for this one. And just like a child on Christmas Eve, I won’t be able to sleep, I’ll be up all night and then when I do fall asleep, I will wake up with a terrible stomach ache and find out I only slept for two hours before needing to leave. Which brings us to:

Saturday: Game day. Let the all out screaming, panic induced brain games begin! I will inevitably grab a large coffee, need to pee before my test, get anxious, start pacing, get the notice to take my seat and then I will be in total concentration mode. I love that part of me. I can stress out about a situation for weeks and then get to that moment and everything will just go away and I will be able to complete my task with the utmost efficiency and calm. Works like a charm every time.

Sunday: As a reward, I will be going on a friend date to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Because Jane Austen is the best, and I’m just a big sucker for the undead. I literally cannot wait for this. It is my secondary source of hope. 
Now that you all have my week’s planner, let me tell you about this big scary monster test.

First, I had to go get a passport photo. And if you’ve ever taken one yourself, it is the most stressful thing on the planet. The lighting has to be just perfect, no glare, perfect exposure. So I did that, ordered it online and then my order was delayed. I went to the store and found out their printer was making excess lines in the photos so I was going to have to wait. I did and got the photos about an hour later, but I had nothing short of a breakdown first. While I was at the store, I had to pick up wooden pencils, because mechanical ones aren’t allowed. I also picked up some really nice erasers, because reasons. And I can have a water bottle and some snacks, but everything I own has to be in a gallon ziplock. I can’t have anything electronic on my person, so I can only carry my keys, wallet, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, my admission ticket and my water and snack. That list makes me feel naked as a person. I rarely go anywhere without my phone, even if it’s just in my pocket and I don’t use it. Also, I’ve used mechanical pencils or years. Wooden ones are not my specialty. But I guess it’s alright, because I will be going to law school where I’m pretty sure they’re okay with me carrying mechanical pencils, pens and my phone.

Anyway, I guess I’m going to be away from social media for the next couple days and that’s my story. I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend!

  

A Day in the Life of…

So normally I try to write about something very near and dear to me, something that isn’t overly political, but is something that I am pretty passionate about. A little while ago, I posted about how I thought it was incredibly wrong to force people to go to college. And today, I want to present the other side. A personal narrative of what it’s like going to college in today’s world. And hopefully, to dispell some college myths. I’ve screen-shotted my proof for numbers, although they are easily available on Google.

I don’t know how many people relate, but it really grinds my gears when I hear “Why can’t you just save up money?” Or “Working through college isn’t that hard.” Or “Back in my day, you could rent an apartment and go to college on a part time job.” These sentences may have been true at one point, and that question may be well-intended, but I believe that they are incredibly un-applicable (inapplicable?) to today’s college generation. This will be, as always, just my experience, mi cuenta. 

Classes began yesterday. And if you live north, so did the snow. I woke up around 620, took the dog out, fixed lunch and made sure my husband was up. While he was finishing getting ready, I ran out to get the car scraped. He locked up and we left for class. The roads were slick, the cars were thick and it added some time to our drive. Rush hour in Ohio always does. We made it to school, and work in my case, and began classes. We got back to home about 12 hours later. The wind blew, but I walked over 2 miles yesterday, and will do so all semester, regardless of weather. And my husband’s walk is almost 4 miles a day. Just to get between classes. We’re both taking upper division classes (stuff meant for graduate students-not undergrad) and we’re trudging along.

Ohio State’s tuition is dependent on where you call home. For me, it has always been Ohio, so I get in-state tuition, as does my husband. For just one of us, it costs $20,144 USD just to attend for one year. That doesn’t include gas, rent, food or supplies. So, living in a big city is pretty expensive. If you say $200 in groceries for 1 person per month, plus $700 per person for rent/utilities per month, plus $100 a month for supplies/gas, that’s $1000 a month PER PERSON on living expenses. **NOTE: I am using the second set of numbers as my reference, because I live off campus in an apartment, so I’m filling in my numbers instead. And that supplies number isn’t adequate, so I’ve included the personal amount to fix it.**

So, in total, it is $20,144 + ($1000 x 12) = $32,144 per person just to go to classes for one full year.

  Two we people’s total is $32,144 x 2 = $64,288 for one year of college. And this is a public, state school. I shudder to imagine a private university. And this number doesn’t include emergencies like a broken down car, hospital trips, doctor visits or any other emergency things. If it did, it would look more like $70,000 USD.

So let’s look at the job markets and such. We’ll take a minimum wage job, because mostly the college population has one of those.  I have included my google search for current, factual information.

 
So, we have $8.10 USD as the minimum wage. So let’s discuss hours. The minimum amount of class time you can have at OSU is 12 credit hours. That, from my understanding means that you will have 12 hours of class per week, or around 3 per class. You can go up to 18 credit hours. So one week has an entire 7 x 24 hours = 168 hours. Suppose you’Re taking the upper limit of credit hours. That is 168-18 right off the bat. So 150 hours of the week is left.

Ohio State recommends that for every 1 hour of class, 3 hours are spent in homework to achieve a passing grade (taken to mean “C”). The picture I have is from the U of Michigan website.

  
(Notice how if you take 18 Credit Hours, it is recommended that you work less than 20 hours.) So to catch us up, we have 150 hours in a week after classes. Now,  18 x 3 = 54 hours. So, 150-54 is 96 hours in a week left. Let’s say that you sleep 8 hours a night. 8 x 7 =56. So you are down to 40 hours a week left. But what about drive time?

It takes us anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to get to campus, even from where we live, depending on when we leave. So, if we were to leave every day during rush hour (because Ohio is famous for it), it would take an hour both ways. That is 5 x 2 = 10. So if you take that away from the 40 hours you had, you are now down to 30 hours left in the week. Take another 10 from that for dinner/eating each day and you are at 20 hours left for the week.

Suppose you were a scary person and you didn’t ever have any fun what-so-ever and you worked the rest of the 20 hours. You’d have to include the fact that you have to drive there (assuming you don’t get a job on campus while you’re already there. So take an additional 5 hours off of that number for driving to work. You are left with 15 hours to work.

Remember that minimum wage from above? Bring it down here.

$8.10 USD x 15 hours = $121.50 USD before taxes. In my best effort to predict my checks, I use 86% as the amount of the paycheck I will actually get post-taxes. So, if you’re using that too, $121.50 x .86 = $104.49 USD. For the month? That total is $417.96

So. Let’s wrap this up, shall we?

“Why can’t you save money?” Because making $417.96 per month (or $5015.52 a year!) compared to spending $32,144 doesn’t really put much of a dent in my student loans, and to be fair, I use the money I supplement with working a part time job to pay for the emergency stuff (and to apply to grad schools, law schools and register for the entrance exams-which cost $200 a piece).

“Working through college isn’t hard.” Well, as I hope I have illustrated for you, it IS possible to work during college, and I do so. However, I’m not sure I would ever call it easy. I mean, I like being able to work out, grab coffee with my friends and spend time with my husband, but those things take time and make life meaningful so I sacrifice work for them.

“Back in my day, you could rent an apartment and go to college on a part time job.” I’m very happy for you. But with today’s numbers, a part time job barely covers food for my husband and I for the month. (And let me remind you that these numbers did not include birthday presents, Christmas presents, lab fees, parking passes ($800 USD a year), fast food, or any “luxuries” that a person may want.) 

This blog post was not meant to be a “Michelle Complains About College Again!” Rant. That was NEVER my intention.

What I want you to see, maybe even empathize with or understand better is that going to college is a big commitment and what may have been true for older generations during their time, their 20s, is no longer true today. And we should stop using antiquated information to make generalizations about today’s 20-somethings.

And to round us out, here are some memes about college which I find funny and insightful.

   
   

Role Models and Hope For A Messed Up World

I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say right away, so this post is coming almost a week after the incident, but the concept has been stuck in my head for quite some time. As an individual, I love being a singular version of myself. But I look often for someone else who is also a trailblazer. I wanted to write about why I look for and who I select as a role model for my life. I think it’s important for people, women especially, to have someone who is an upstanding, respectable example of the lives we want to lead. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people from older stories who could be role models (I frequently look to Joan of Arc, personally). The problem with using people from the past is that things were different. The world was not the same then as it is now, and we need people who are more like us than sword bearing warriors or queens from afar. 
  There is the social media factor, I suppose, which lends itself to a certain realm of role models, some good, some not. But it seems that the news represents best those who are not good role models for the young (and young-ish) people of today. I am of course talking about the celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan and to some extent even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. They all represent the pandemonium of fame and the pit falls thereof. We could also examine outlets like Disney or Matel, who have presented the world with prestigious Barbie, Cinderella, and Ariel (just to name a few). It is these three which are both a great help and a hindrance to young women of today. I want to explore them and then propose my list of four individuals who are better role models for our generation. 

  Barbie: In almost every household you might find her, or a cousin or a friend. She is blonde, brunette, red headed, light skinned, dark skinned. She has had a plethora of jobs, donned an impressive collection of costumes and even manages quite a large variety of accessories. Over the years, people have yelled at her for being too skinny, too unrealistically proportioned and too shallow. I mean, there was even a brief moment in Toy Story 3 where she was introduced to public audiences as a complete and utter bimbo, followed by a weak attempt to reclaim her dignity. But the thing is, she’s too uniform. She has no individualized flaws. No scars, stretch marks, beauty marks, wrinkles, pimples, or really flaws of any kind. Her makeup is always done, she’s always smiling and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

  Cinderella: She’s Disney’s star princess. I mean, who didn’t want to be a princess because of her? She came from rags to riches, found a guy, married Royal and viola. She even had a set of killer shoes. But what does she have as far as personality? She’s got wishes, desire. But she lacks motivation and drive. She “asked for a dress, shoes and a night off”. I get it. But that’s not real life at all. And why do you need a man to provide you with everything? I mean, independence goes a long way. I know in the original story she was a teenager, but isn’t that kind of the point? In her time period, that made her basically an adult, and I know she would have been in need of a man, but this is the 21st century and we don’t need that anymore. Say it with me: I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man, but can have one if I so desire.

  Ariel: With a golden voice and perfect hair, who cares about anything else, right? Wrong. Again, you don’t need a man to be the best woman you can be. The thing is, Sebastian was right. Giving up everything, your soul and life included, just to get a man (or attempt to) is not the way to go. And by this point, wouldn’t you also need to make exceptions for finding the right partner-be it woman or man or just a good friend? As with Cindy, sorry Ariel, but there’s nothing that warrants me looking up to you if you’re going to change everything about yourself for someone else.

So I’ve given you a basic run down of my issues with the above, but I do want to mention that I know these characters are fake, but they are widely distributed and influential. I do not want to come across as impossible to reason with so the last person (it’s actually two people) are fictitious as well. And I also realize that the women I am looking at have flaws. But that’s exactly why I chose them. And I will go over them as well. These are, of course, my own personal opinions and you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments, as always. So,without further adieu.

Michelle’s List of Role Models for Women of 2015.

  Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo: You might not have heard of this woman, but she is the reason I’m doing this post. Seven days ago, she was sworn in as a judge in New York. She wore a headscarf, because she is Muslim and she was sworn in on the Qur’an. Now, none of this even really seems like anything out of the ordinary. But the amount of hate mail she received for being sworn in on the Qur’an is astounding. This woman vowed to uphold the law, as she has done her entire career. She is an upstanding citizen who was voted into office. I came across this story in my FaceBook news feed because of how many ignorant people are accessing social media to tear her down. You are permitted to swear into office on any holy book and even the constitution of the United States. She has done nothing above and beyond the average expectations I have for a law abiding citizen, but she is my candidate for a role model for the simple fact that she stuck by her faith, even when people threatened her and heckled her about it. She stayed true to herself, even though that path offered great resistance.

  Adele: Let me say that I am a huge fan of Adele. Her voice is so beautiful, and she’s gorgeous. She’s not stick thin, and I love her for it. She says what’s on her mind and once again, stays true to herself. She took time from her career to take care of her baby. We’re almost the same age and that means a great deal to me. Why, you ask? Because she’s proving that not all 20 year olds and 20-somethings are wild and crazy and awful. She’s a credit to our age group. She even works at a record shop. Her flaws? She’ so soulful in her music that she really only sings sad songs. Which isn’t like a huge flaw, but I don’t associate anything other than sad love songs and break up songs with her. 

  Angelina Jolie-Pitt: Did this one take you by surprise? I really thought that this spot would be occupied by many other people, and indeed it could have been, but there are lots of women who could have taken this spot who simply aren’t as well known. And while you are all entitled to have your own individual role modes, for the purposes of this blog, I needed someone visible. She adopts underprivileged kids, she works with charities and organizations, speaks on behalf of underprivileged people to the UN. And on top of that, she preventatively had a mastectomy so that she didn’t have to worry about breast cancer. I mean, that sounds like a very personal thing and she’s known for her body. I remember a lot of people were upset at her for taking charge of her own body, and that is why I commend her for doing it. She did what she had to do so that she could live her life to the fullest. Also in this spot, Emma Watson for similar reasons. 

  

  Molly Hooper/Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I told you I would bring in some fictitious characters. I chose one from my younger adult life and one from my current adult life. So I will start with Buffy. She was a kick-ass teenager who saved the world a lot. And the thing is, that was badk when TV series were filmed with people who looked like teenagers playing teenagers, and incorporated flaws and diversity of character types. Buffy had an attitude, she was impatient and made mistakes. She needed help and asked for it, she complained about life and then grew up and made sacrifices. She represented real teenage life, apart from vampire hunting. And her friends were just as painfully realistic. But they all had a moral code and they represent a lovely era of beautiful story telling.

   Molly Hooper. I have great aspirations to be Molly Hooper. For those of you who do not know who Molly Hooper is, allow me to tell you. The BBC produces a show called Sherlock, based off of Sherlock Homesfrom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the BBC version, there is a medical examiner by the name of Molly Hooper.  She has an enormous crush on Sherlock, does everything dignified she can to get him to notice her including buy him a present at Christmas. He’s rude about it and she calls him out on his bad behavior. Later in the series, she also tells him he’s throwing away his gifts and that he should apologize for various actions. Sherlock comes to respect her. And she didn’t change herself. She stayed true to her personality and persona, all while being a valuable asset to a team. Honestly, I know that this is all fiction, but really, if I were ever to model myself after someone who never existed in real life, it would be Molly Hooper. If you haven’t watched Sherlock, I HIGHLY recommend it. I can discuss all manner of theories with you. I’m a true and devoted CumberCookie and Sherlockian.

Anyway, this has been my short list about female role models in modern society. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.