In Defense of Earning Less

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“Keeping up with the Joneses” refers to different kinds of families, depending on the region. On the west coast, I’d imagine it’s the family we met on our honeymoon, who booked an Alaskan cruise on a whim, because the San Franciscan port was 30 minutes from their house. The mother complained that Cabo would’ve been a much better choice, because the kids could swim all day, while she read by the hotel pool. Both she and her husband had lucrative careers in downtown San Francisco, which apparently enabled them to purchase an $8,000 cruise on impulse, as opposed to their annual trip to Cabo, that seemingly wouldn’t have been much different from a visit to the community pool.

The east coast Joneses call to mind my godfather and his wife. She stays home with her children, putting on hold the well-paid career afforded by an advanced degree, while he travels the world on business and climbs Kilimanjaro. He’s not an absent father or husband, and in fact, the family often accompanies him on these fabulous trips. He makes it home when he can, to see his kids in their recitals and school plays, courtesy of the renowned local public schools that negate the necessity of private schooling.

In the South, the Joneses are in profitable manual labor positions, often oil. She’s a teacher, despite the wretched pay and reputation of our public schools, because she can afford to spend her own paycheck on the cute, fun, trendy, school supplies and classroom decor. If she’s lucky, he’s gone two weeks at a time, working on the rig, to pay for the McMansion and the upkeep of the two acres it sits on, so he can feel like the country boy his grandfather longed for him to be, when he’s at home playing on the newest iPad. If she’s not so fortunate, he’s gone sporadically, working long hours, sometimes not coming home for days at a time. He’s missed every Christmas for the last three years, much to his wife’s frustration, as she’s forced to make the holiday magical solo, but he’s made up for it with an annual family vacation that’s the envy of everyone on social media.

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People love to mock the Joneses, commenting that they’re nearing bankruptcy and struggling to hide it, but it seems wildly unfair and judgmental to me to insist that anyone who has more can’t afford it. In fact, I know many people who fit the description above and live well within their means. They aren’t bad people and they aren’t bad parents or spouses. Different families just maintain different lifestyles and I’m not judging what might work for some… except to say that it’s not for me.

As a kid, my parents longed for the Southern scenario I’ve outlined above. They wanted to give us the experience of a country life, with all the benefits of suburbia. We would feed the chickens and geese before we left for little league or piano lessons. We’d ride in the back of the pickup to go to slumber parties and swimming lessons and rodeos and the lake. We’d eat eggs from our own chicken coop and enter our goats in contests at the Frontier Days parade, before going back to school shopping at the mall. It was the best of both worlds, in my father’s eyes, but it also came at the cost of both worlds. Living on five acres meant living in a trailer house, with big plans to eventually build… when the money appeared… one day… which, of course, it never did, because ballet lessons, T-ball, horses, ducks, and bunny rabbits add up to a small fortune. So it was, that to fund our suburban farm life, my dad worked… a lot.

A lineman for the electric company, my dad had seemingly limitless earning potential. All it demanded was time… time away from his family, his friends, his youth, but the return was substantial. In addition to our pseudo-farm, we had a Motorhome, a camper, a four-wheeler, a boat, and jet skis. We took dance classes, piano lessons, and gymnastics, played softball and baseball, had our own trampoline, roller blades, bikes, game systems, and TV’s in our bedrooms. Had we been born twenty years later, my parents would’ve been the envy of Facebook. It seemed they had it all, and at the time, I think that was a balm to their unhappiness. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my parents were never truly happy.

I suppose it’s true that little girls marry their fathers, because my dad is very much like my husband, an extrovert and an adventurer, a storyteller and a comedian. He’s the life of every party and impossible to offend. He has a thousand friends and is universally adored… except he came into this tremendous personality in the 70s and 80s, in the South. It was just assumed that he would contain all of these wonderful attributes to make room for marriage and fatherhood at 22, because that’s what people did. At 20, it’s unsurprising that my mother was a chameleon, taking on the interests and passions of those around her. Whereas my father was forced to squander his liveliness, my mother was kept from developing her own, with the most singular thing about her being that she was a nurse. Every other character trait was borrowed from whomever was nearest, creating a clingy and insecure match for a man brimming with personality. I’m not blaming the times or young marriage, as this certainly wasn’t the case with every other 20-year-old bride and 22-year-old groom in the 80’s. It’s not even necessarily the case for the same set now, if they’re making their choices for themselves… but that’s precisely the problem for my own parents. They made their choices, because they were the choices to make. No one asked if they wanted anything different and they didn’t know themselves enough to speak up.

My husband is my favorite person in the whole world. He’s a good man and a hard worker. He’s infuriatingly wonderful and absolutely my perfect match. Had he been married at 22, though, he’d have been just as unhappy as my father was, when I was a kid. Surprisingly, for the son of cattle ranchers, born in the late 40’s and early 50’s, Jake was encouraged to sow his wild oats. Perhaps his father remembered what it was like to be a young and wild bull rider and his mother remembered what it was like to love one, but for whatever reason, they encouraged him to spend his 20’s getting an education, figuring out who he was and what he wanted from life, creating all those appalling stories his groomsmen told at our wedding. Unlike my father, he was given the freedom to run off some of his wildness, to shape his larger than life personality into the man he is today.

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you likely know some of my own background. My mother took off my senior year of high school, to live with a man she met online. Terrified of being alone during such a time of change, I married my first boyfriend… because he was there… before either of us knew who we were or what we wanted. It wasn’t long before the boy I tied myself to, became a man I loathed, a sociopath with no moral center or basic human conscience. I hadn’t just made the same mistakes as my parents, attempting to fulfill some classic high school sweetheart fantasy… no, I’d made completely new, much larger ones, crafting my very own terrifying hell and in a post-Facebook world, it was much more humiliating to admit it.

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We like to think we’re above it all, today, the gratification of social expectations, especially as women. We travel and go to college and build careers. We have choices and we’re empowered. And yet, we still feel like marriage and family and having all the things are inevitabilities. Few of us sit down and ask ourselves if these are things we truly want, because we’re told from birth that we do and that concept is reinforced at every family get-together, when we’re asked about our dating lives, or when we’re getting married, or buying the McMansion, or having children. The only reason I spent my twenties mulling it over, was because of the consequences of the last time I just went with the flow. Still, I have a master’s degree and rarely does my family ask about my career, but this past weekend, at a baby shower, there were a half dozen stopwatches on my uterus.

The societal expectations are, in reality, stronger today, because we lives our lives so publicly. “Keeping up with the Joneses” has taken on new meaning in 2018. Gail once told me I was “post-high school popular,” when I was still on Facebook. When I asked what that meant, she said I had overcome adversity, dressed cute, made funny posts, had the right job, the right hobbies and interests, and a man to look good with me in photos… and it was true. I secretly preened, after years of rejection in my youth and my early twenties, but in time, I realized how unhealthy it was to care about the opinions, when I didn’t care about the people holding them. As I’ve told you in more depth, I eventually deleted my Facebook and this was one of many reasons.

Despite my absence in social media, though, I still feel the pressure… to have more, be it the McMansion or the babies or the new car. Perhaps it’s because, after years of living our lives deliberately, the choices I’m making, that Jake is making with me, just so happen to fall in line with old school Southern expectations. We’re building a life in suburbia, holding traditionally feminine and masculine careers, and planning to have babies, so why not check all of the boxes? If we want to own our home, to raise children, why did Jake leave oil to build a career in hydrology, a pay cut of tens of thousands of dollars?!?!?

… because many of the men we know do check all the boxes and they miss the first steps and the bed time stories and the recitals and the family vacations.

… because we’re watching our friends divorce in our 30’s and it’s no longer because they never should’ve married, like it was in our 20’s, but because they haven’t taken the time, time to laugh and talk and argue and lean on each other and grow together. They don’t know each other and they don’t like each other and they’re too exhausted to fight the war after avoiding all the battles.

… because I haven’t spoken to my mother in over a year, because she never grew or strengthened, never overcame her worst personality traits, never became the woman she could’ve been.

… because my father is a good man now and we’re close, but it’s a damned shame that that didn’t happen until my twenties. I can’t be ten years old and live in his house and see him and talk to him and play with him every day, ever again, and we missed the chance the first time around.

So it goes, that at every family get-together, they scoff. I tell them we can make more money, but we can’t make more time, and they tell me I’ll learn, “one day.” But I’m not 20 years old anymore and this is not the idealism of youth. I’ve seen the potential fallout of keeping up with the Joneses, squandering family time, couple time, and youth to make more money, losing oneself in work and forgetting to play. I will not risk my marriage or my relationships with my children to have all the things. I will pace myself and I will make the right decisions this time, because it’s my only chance to do so. At every family party, when my rich uncles ask, I will happily defend earning less, as I pack up my children in my used car and drive home to enjoy the evening with my husband.

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Living in Fear: A Millennial without Health Insurance

I don’t have health insurance.

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That’s right. I’m 28 years old. I’ve had a house fire, a miscarriage, a divorce decree with my name on it, a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate, a master’s degree, more student loan debt than I’m willing to admit here, and a car payment. I’m an adult in all these ways, but I’ve spent most of my adult life without health insurance.

To be clear, I am not blaming anyone. That’s not the point of this post. I made my choices, starting with the decision to marry at 19, kicking me off of my father’s insurance and continuing with the decision to pursue a master’s degree, rather than enter the workforce as a full time teacher, earning me benefits. Just as the aforementioned student loan debt is no one’s fault but my own, so goes my lack of health insurance… and it sucks balls.

You hear the statistics of uninsured Americans and occasionally someone posts a Go Fund Me link on Facebook telling the horrifying tale of a 27-year-old melanoma victim who just wants to live until her son’s fifth birthday. No one ever talks about what it’s like to just be uninsured. No one really mentions the people who simply can’t justify paying a $200 monthly premium for government mandated coverage with a $3,000+ deductible, just so they can get a couple of asthma inhalers every year. The penalty for not doing so, by the way, is still less than two months of this worthless “insurance.” Personally, I’m a professional researcher and found a loophole, so I’ve never paid the penalty, but it would still be my preferred choice… which means living without health insurance.

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During college, I didn’t feel the effects of my lack of coverage so much. My mother did fund a root canal, after the dentist refused to start pulling teeth from a 20-year-old (glad it wasn’t a broken arm, Mom), but despite my morbid obesity, I was generally pretty healthy. I suppose the most profound healthcare issue I had was my miscarriage, but my state government actually has a fair resource for low-income pregnant women… emphasis on the word fair.

When I got pregnant, I received WIC and state funded doctor’s visits, so I could eat well and get the prenatal care I needed. God had other plans, though, and at 11 and a half weeks, I lost the baby. According to americanpregnancy.org, after 10 weeks, the chances of an incomplete miscarriage rise. I was nearly to my second trimester, but after a tearful few hours in the emergency room, I was sent home. I wasn’t referred to a physician, who could prescribe me pain medication. I wasn’t told to report for an ultrasound in a week to make sure pieces of my dead baby weren’t left behind, which could potentially kill me. I was sent home… without instructions of what level of pain to expect or how long I would bleed. That’s what it’s like to miscarry on low-income health insurance.

About a year later, I received a call from my step-mom telling me that I would once again qualify for my dad’s Blue Cross Blue Shield, until age 26. At this time, I was 23, so three years with insurance was a saving grace after five without.

As my 26th birthday neared, I made a half dozen doctors’ appointments. I got a pap smear and an eye exam and a final teeth cleaning. I visited the chiropractor as many times as I could and made an arrangement with one to let me pay cash after my coverage expired. Thankfully, when I hurt my back at 24, I was insured, because there’s no other way I could’ve afforded the treatment to gain the ability to fully straighten my right leg. On the eve of my 26th birthday, I prayed. I asked God to please grant me my health until I got a full time position and the benefits it afforded… as I did for the next two and a half years.

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When you don’t have health insurance, you live in constant fear of injury. live in constant fear of injury, regardless, because I regularly hit my head, but without insurance, everything is a risk. A trip to the wildlife refuge reminds you of the story you read about the guy who was bit by a rattlesnake there, while hiking. A day of swimming makes you question every mole you’ve ever had. An ice storm has you envisioning the bills attached to a fractured wrist. When your best friend buys you a heat gun for Christmas, you vow to save it for the day you get your insurance card. Even dating has you wondering about how much birth control will cost out of pocket and what to do in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. Every single sickness, no matter how normal, calls to mind the fundraiser for the woman who found out she had breast cancer at age 25. When your long-term boyfriend asks you to go on a romantic ski weekend with him, you recall the article about the woman who’s in debt for the next fifty years after being airlifted to a hospital.

It doesn’t improve your nerves that every concerned family member tells horror stories about people they’ve known without health insurance. Over Christmas, I had to explain to an aunt that, no, I wasn’t lucky I hadn’t gotten leukemia like her first husband did at 29; I was a statistical norm. Awkwardly, I also had to note that it wasn’t worth paying the premium because I was of “prime childbearing age,” because I’m not a candidate for the Mother of Christ.

I’m a pretty consistent blogger, y’all. I know there are times when I’m a bit more reliable than others, but I can usually be counted on to post every week or two, but I’ve been terribly ill. Last Monday, I woke in the morning to feverish chills and shaking. I called in to work, thinking it was a one day thing, happy I at least had paid sick leave. The next day, I woke feeling worse, after a night of getting up to pee every few minutes. After calling in sick, I pulled up my trusty physician Google, who reported I had a bladder infection. It wasn’t urgent, I read. I just had to drink a lot of water and it would be over in a couple of days. What a relief. I had an important training Wednesday morning. As long as it didn’t get to my kidneys, I was fine. Y’all, I literally felt the moment the infection entered my kidneys, during that training. After 30 minutes of sitting in rapidly increasing pain, I asked to speak to my boss in the hall… where I broke down and told him I had to go to the doctor.

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I drove 80 miles an hour to the Urgent Care clinic, sobbing to my Gramma, who told me to go and she’d pay for it. When I arrived, I was informed that my visit, which took all of 15 minutes, would cost $130. A nurse took me to the back, took my temperature, asked my weight instead of weighing me, and put me in a room. A doctor came in, asked my symptoms and agreed with Google. He literally did zero research and just prescribed an antibiotic and something for the pain.

I keep telling people that I was really sick, but no one seems to get how far the infection had apparently progressed. While the doctor seemed to think I might be able to make it to work the next day, the increasing pain seemed to disagree. My body didn’t seem to be responding to the antibiotics at all… not that I could afford to get a second opinion. That night, the pain was so intense that I went through my medicine cabinet and found some muscle relaxers, hoping they’d help me sleep… because I’d developed a sharp pain in my right side.

According to Google, I could be suffering from a number of things, from an appendicitis to an ectopic pregnancy to kidney stones… all of which would cost a fucking fortune to treat at the hospital and could be fatal if ignored. I found an old wives’ concoction that was supposed to help kidney problems and got up early in the morning to make it. The fever had gotten so bad that after mixing my apple cider vinegar/water/baking soda drink, I started to feel woozy, rushed to make it to the bed… and woke up on the floor, not sure where I was or how long I’d been there. I couldn’t tell up from down. I couldn’t stand. Thank God himself that I couldn’t reach my phone, because there is nothing more terrifying than waking up on your floor alone, with no idea where you are or what’s going on and no one to help you. In that moment, the possibility of financial ruin from an ambulance ride or emergency surgery meant nothing to me. I was petrified and had read nothing of these symptoms online. I’m also pretty sure Jake wouldn’t have appreciated the horrifying 6:00 am call of me incoherently telling him I needed help and couldn’t afford an ambulance. I mean, it’s not like my Gramma could help me down my stairs.

As a woman without health insurance, though, I did the only thing I could. I don’t know how long I lay there bargaining with God that I’d accept any emergency surgeries he had in mind, if he’d just wait until I was insured. Eventually, I was able to rise to my knees. Somehow, the glass of vinegar and water hadn’t entirely spilled. I downed it and crawled into bed in my vinegar soaked shirt… where I simply prayed I didn’t need to go to the hospital, now that the fear had subsided, and I went to sleep. A few hours later, I woke to find the pain in my side was now bearable. By God’s amazing graces, the vinegar concoction had worked.

I didn’t get well as soon as the doctor told me I would. On Saturday morning, Jake woke to me crying, because I was never going to get better. On Monday night, I left work early. On Tuesday evening, I still had a fever. At times, I wondered if perhaps I’d been misdiagnosed. I thought about returning to the Urgent Care clinic, but it was just too expensive, unless I was sure. I’d just have to wait it out.

Yesterday, I actually felt well enough to go shopping, on my day off. By the end of the trip I was exhausted. I’m still recovering from what was apparently an epic infection… not that I knew that, because the doctor I saw asked few questions and ran zero tests. I got lucky… and God gave me one last glimpse of life without insurance before mine kicks in on April 1st.

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Money Management for the Little Miss

When I was four years old, I remember my mother driving us somewhere, even though my dad was going. Wait. What?!?! Women can drive even when a man’s available?!?! When I was five, I realized that there are actually women who drive pick-up trucks and they don’t belong to their husbands!!!!! Incidentally, this was around the time I decided to give peeing standing up a go and my brother kept getting yelled at for his aim. No joke. I felt a little bad, but I also giggled.

It’s no real secret that the Midwest is a sexist place, but it was only in the 90’s that I thought penises operated F150’s, the man always makes more money, and was shocked to find my third grade teacher was a boy. I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, people. I can see my suburban town’s water tower from where I sit and I am only about 25 minutes away from several major cities. The Midwest just happens to be the land that equality forgot.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a girl. I like traditional men and their pick-up trucks. Not having to ever open a door, due to a combination of my genitalia and geographical location is the shit. My undergraduate degree is in home ec. For the most part, when my dear, dear, feminazi best friend goes on a Vagina Rant, I just pat her on the head, tell her she’s cute, and ask her why she isn’t in the kitchen. My Gramma fought for my right to make my choices so I wouldn’t have to do so. I’m pretty content. However, even I am still appalled by the photo Gail sent me of this local technology center’s curriculum advertisement.

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Could y’all, like, use some pictures instead of words… and maybe a little pink glitter?

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OH! It’s like money, but for girls!

It’s hard to type over the distracting sound of my own retching.

“A Woman’s Perspective”
I don’t like math and that is apparently the fault of my clitoris. However, from what I understand, those people (I mean men) who do like it, find it appealing that there is only one answer. It’s all the same… whether or not it’s done on a Hello Kitty calculator. What precisely will I get from “Money Management: A Woman’s Perspective” that I won’t get from “Money Management”? Based on this advertisement, I can only assume it’s shorter columns of smaller numbers.

“Designed Especially for Women”
Okay. Let’s get one thing straight. If I sign up for this class and I don’t get a choice of pink or purple feathered pens on the first day, I am going to be pissed. If you Google the above phrase, you know what you get? Medicine and shoes, both of which must be designed for women, because their bodies are different from men’s. Math is 114% about the mind. Get it? I said 114%, because I have boobs and I’m stupid. Is this class physically designed for women? Are there special ergonomic chairs built for the female form? Or is it just that the problems themselves are more feminine?

Q: If the average menstrual cycle is 28 days long and Maria’s period began on day 1 and ended on day 7, on what day will Maria need more tampons?

Now ladies, I know you want to answer “chocolate”, but really think outside the box on this one.

“Understand the Basics”
Is the class for women, because it’s rudimentary? Does the men’s class start with division and multiplication while the women start by counting the horn on a bedazzled purple unicorn? Were we just too busy giggling about boy bands over our copies of Teen magazine to learn about that math stuff?

“Learn Where You Stand Financially”
Well, you’re apparently $29 in the hole for this ridiculous Numbers for Your Vag course.

I can only assume this is referring to the money coming in versus the money going out. That’s budgeting, y’all. Even an incredibly specific budget is going to be categorically gender neutral and the amounts vary from person to person regardless of genitalia.

Oddly Specific Budget Categories for Women
Body glitter
Make-up
Gynecological Appointments
Shoes

“Where to Put Your Money”
“Why, that’s just silly! I put my money right here, in my purse!”
“No, no, sweet thing. We’re talking about investments.”

Why would a woman’s best investment choices differ from a man’s? As Gail put it, in what tampon company should I invest? Money is money. It doesn’t matter if you make it off of Women’s Apparel or Viagra. It doesn’t matter if you’re using it to buy lipstick or tools.

“What to Do Right Now!”
Apparently, these little ladies might start thinking about funneling some of that babysitting money into their daddies’ dowry funds. One goat just won’t do these days.

Again, what choices should a woman make about her money right now that a man shouldn’t? She should plan a budget. Oh, wait, so should he. She should have three month’s income in savings. Oh, wait. So should he. She should start thinking about retirement. Oh, wait…

That Condescending Exclamation Point
Let’s get these ladies excited about numbers!!!!!! If there’s one thing the women understand, it’s lots of exclamation points!!!!! Can we maybe heart the i’s as well?

“You know what? How’s about we cut this short and she can just let him take care of the money?”
“OH EM GEE! That’s totally what my final paper was about!”

I know that men and women are different. Not only do they differ physically, but they tend to think differently and act differently. I don’t have a problem with that. How much of that is biological and how much is environmental, though? Does any woman benefit from being taught a gender neutral subject in a gender specific way? Is telling a woman that she needs to enroll in “Math for the Gals” any less harmful than telling a little girl that it would be more realistic to play nurse than doctor? I understand that you have to split the contact sports up based on stature to even the playing field, but should my old high school still be calling our girls’ teams the Lady Broncos before we send them off to take Calculations for Chicks?

I’ll help you broads out, here.

It’s unknown, but this isn’t helping
No.
No.
Absolutely not.

* Reblogged from December, 7, 2012.

“I’ll just need you to sign this waiver before recess.”

I’m gonna let you in on a great BIG secret. Gail is the only person in my life who knows this…. and multiple people know that my vibrator is named Fluffy.

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It is HUGE.

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The secret, not the vibrator. The vibrator is actually fairly small, so’s I don’t stretch myself out before the next time I get the real thing.

Here it is, y’all.

I owe $135,000 in student loans.

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Yup. That’s what it costs to be a librarian these days. Oh wait… I forgot to mention something…

NO IT FUCKING DOESN’T.

Seven years ago, when I was 18, I sat in a financial aid office… alone… next to a bunch of other 18-year-olds who had competent parents acknowledging that they were still children. It was here that I was offered one of two choices: accept a little money… or… accept a lot of money!

little girl with moneyHmm…

There were extenuating circumstances here. My mother had left me my senior year of high school to go live with her online boyfriend a few hours away. It was made clear that I needed to get out of her house, so she could sell it, which she did not do for three more years. Gail and I had drifted and she was paving the way for her own shit decisions, so I clung to my ex-husband in a desperate attempt to hold onto something-fucking-anything-at-all surrounded by all that change. I was unable to transfer my job to the college town where we moved and my future ex-husband was “really trying to find work”… so we needed the money. Then, I threw myself into my studies, not allowing a lot of time for more than my video store job and my ex-husband was “filling out applications everywhere” with no luck… so we needed the money. Then there was a house fire that “started out of nowhere” and we lost everything we owned… so we needed the money. Then there was that one job and that other job and even that last job that didn’t pay my ex-husband “illegally” and totally not because he made them up… so we needed the money. Then we were evicted, even though he was “paying the rent”… so we needed the money. Then I got pregnant… so we needed the money. Finally, fucking finally, I was getting shot of him and starting a new life and buying new furniture for my new apartment where he wouldn’t be breaking in and stealing from me while I worked two jobs… so I needed the money.

No matter what happened in the past, my financial aid was how I cared for myself… even if it’s just retroactively from this point in time. I’m not sure that, given the opportunity, I’d have even let a Christian Grey swoop in and pay off all my debts, because that would mean I never provided for myself. Okay. Fine. I’m lying a lot. I would totally let a sexy millionaire shove me full of jacks and marbles in exchange for $135,000. Yeah. That’s actually exactly my going rate for weird shit. I don’t really have a problem with paying back these loans, though, because I finished my degree and ultimately accepting them allowed me to leave an abusive relationship while educating myself. I’ll gladly pay back $135,000 for the $303 it cost to hire a paralegal and get a diploma.

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My point here, is that the majority of these life-altering decisions were made when I was a child. Lawmakers can talk all they want about legal age of consent and being tried as an adult, but your basic Intro to Psych student can tell you that the pre-frontal cortex has not fully matured until around age 25*, and ironically so, because they’re likely 19 and paying for this class, that laptop, and those new shoes on credit. At 18, I could’ve signed my life away to kill for Uncle Sam, but couldn’t have owned a gun for target practice? I couldn’t rent a car, but I could get a credit card? I couldn’t drink alcohol, but I could make a binding legal commitment to an unemployed sociopath? I couldn’t gamble, but I could legally sign onto thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of debt… repeatedly?

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Sure, sure. I’ll sign the promissory note.

In Mississippi, you have to be 21 to get a marriage license without parental consent.* That’s brilliant and that’s my proposal. Pick one legal age for all of these decisions and don’t make it fucking eighteen. I work with 18-year-olds and the majority (yes, there are exceptions – end disclaimer) of them are not capable of making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives so strongly as getting married and taking on extreme financial burdens. Had I not been married, I couldn’t have accepted near the amount of loans I did, because my parent’s income would’ve been considered. Had the law said I had to be 21 to get married, maybe my mom wouldn’t have taken off. I don’t know. Maybe this wouldn’t have helped me, but it would undoubtedly help many others. Three years of brain development is astronomical, particularly when you’re discussing the part of the brain controlling….

  • Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior
  • Considering the future and making predictions
  • Forming strategies and planning
  • Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
  • Impulse control and delaying gratification
  • Modulation of intense emotions
  • Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior
  • Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information

I understand that one of the arguments against this is the Armed Forces. That’s why I exclude them entirely from these restrictions. If we’re going to allow 17-year-olds to fight for this country, buy them a round of shots. Whether or not I think we should be doing that in the first place is a different issue. Additionally, I suggest a firm 18 for medical decisions without parental consent. We allow a 15 year old to get Plan B, but not fucking cough syrup or even birth control? How about we not let children medicate themselves at all before they’re old enough to understand the potential consequences for their health? I’m not referencing a moral dilemma here. I’m referencing studies of the human brain.*

Personally, I’m lucky. I lost the baby and there’s a warrant out for my ex-husband’s arrest, keeping him away from this state. Yeah. Those things make me lucky, because my marriage only affects me emotionally… mostly. I owe three times what I’d make in a year with a full time job, but I’ve applied for an income-based consolidation plan and in 25 years, they’ll forgive what’s left. At least I actually graduated. My friend from high school who dropped out, though, after years of accepting the maximum allotted amount for a woman with three kids,  primarily due to her shopping addiction? Well, according to Direct Consolidation Loans, you can receive complete loan forgiveness as long as…

“Your servicer receives acceptable documentation of your death.”*

bling casket
To be fair, she’s probably already purchased this.

Yeah. I look this shit up.

http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_assistance/etraining/adolescent_brain/Development/prefrontal_cortex/

http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/mississippi/

http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov/

Hunting With the Game Warden

hunting with the game warden

So, earlier this month, I was planning my budget… lolzies. I’m just joshin’ ya. I was painting my nails glitter pink! Anyhoo, it was about that time I saw the above photo on Facebook. My first thought was “Jeepers, I agree! It would suck to have a fiscally responsible man with me when I’m shopping. I much prefer to just spend willy nilly with no regards to my financial situation or that of my family! I am, after all, just a silly little woman.”

Wait. That’s a damnable lie. While I do own pink glitter nail polish, when I saw this I was filled with annoyance… but the cute, non-threatening, kittenish kind, of course, because of my VAGINA.

angry kitten

I get that this is just supposed to be a cutesy sign to hang in the kitchen next to the old fashioned brass novelty cake pans that I don’t have/want, but I don’t understand why someone would want to hang this anywhere. A game warden is in charge of enforcing hunting, fishing, and trapping laws, ultimately protecting the balance in the animal kingdom. Hunting with one would probably be pretty awesome, because he’d know exactly what I could and could not target so I didn’t kill something endangered or just too frickin’ adorable to die. By this comparison, shopping with aforementioned fiscally responsible husband, who knows exactly what can and cannot be spent in regards to our family’s happiness and stability… well that sounds pretty neato as well.

Here’s my real qualm, though. I’ve never been hunting. I own and shoot pretty pink guns, but I’m strictly an indoor girl in temperatures below 50 degrees. I’m pretty damned vocal about it, too… meaning I whine and that tends to scare off deer/boar/ducks or what have you. Freezing my ass off with red cheeks and chapped hands ain’t cute and I like to be cute. Bawling my eyes out because I shot something fluffy isn’t exactly adorable either. I am way too much of a damned girl to hunt… but I’m still aware that if I changed my mind, it would by my responsibility to find out what I could and could not kill. If I shoot a deer and it’s not deer season, I can’t just point to the game warden and claim he didn’t say differently.

dead unicorn
What?!?! No one told me!!!!

We are women, hear us roar… until our throats get a little parched, amiright? We want to hold the same jobs as men for the same paycheck, but at the end of the day, we don’t want to own up to how we spend said paycheck? Not only that, we want to publicly broadcast our unwillingness to do so? The idea that I need some testicles following me around, telling me that I really can’t afford that $218 Fossil purse is just offensive. Personally, I’m a traditional gal. I’m happy with doing the laundry if he mows the lawn. I just don’t like the assumption that I am incapable of working such complex machinery as a lawnmower. Perhaps, one day when he’s sick, I can even fire up that beast myself and just mow the fucking lawn, because it’s not that big of a damned deal. Similarly, even if he is the one who manages the finances, it’s still my responsibility to follow the guidelines we’ve set. Regardless of whether or not the game warden has accompanied me on my hunting trip, the laws still apply. Regardless of whether or not my husband’s standing next to me, I still can’t afford that Fossil purse. If the problem is that he can’t allow me to look at and long for said purse without reminding me of my financial constraints, then fine. We have an issue of respect and his inability to show me some in public… and I definitely want that on Facebook, right y’all?

Financial irresponsibility is not a vaginal secretion. My clitoris does not take away my culpability when I break my budget. I don’t understand why “budget” is such a four-letter word today, anyway. In the words of Dave Ramsey, “a budget is when you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Stop acting like it’s anything else.” Personally, I’ll forever remember that summer I went on the Free-Movie-Theater-Popcorn-From-a-Trash-Bag diet. It was also known as the Belle-Needs-a-Hasty-Divorce diet. Yeah… strong budgeting skills continue to bring this girl to the yard.

 nothing
What’s for dinner? Ooooh, nothing, my favesies.