The Bluth-McDucks: Merging Our Finances and Debt

I got drunk with Jake and ordered a Google Home last weekend.

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I’d been considering the purchase, having decided against the Amazon Echo, after Jake made me listen to some comparison reviews. He considered both products frivolous and excessive, but really didn’t want me to spend $50 more on the one with worse reviews. So, after a few drinks, I finally came to the conclusion that I had to have a Google Home. Fortunately for me, the purchase only went through once, because I do vaguely recall confirming the order three or four times. So, all in all, it was a well-researched decision, but still… I got drunk and ordered a Google Home last weekend.

As a 29-year-old Millennial, I’m constantly reading articles about people my age wailing over an inability to find a job utilizing their degree in feminist dance theory, refusing to show up on time or display any real work ethic when they do, and despairing over the injustice of having to pay back the money they knowingly borrowed to do so. I saw this immaturity firsthand when I was wading through the sea of Lost Boys that was online dating: grown men living with their parents and “still trying to figure it all out.” I even witnessed it in my year as a manager, when I had to explain the importance of not wearing pajamas to work to 25-year-olds.

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My OKCupid search results from 2011 to 2015

So, yeah, I’m familiar with the generalization that anyone born after 1985 is fundamentally irresponsible… and it still kind of pisses me off. Gail’s a mail carrier who graduated high school and entered the workforce, never borrowing a dime to find her place and discover a career she loves. I, myself, took the more stereotypical Millennial route: entered college at 18, borrowed six figures, and got a masters degree in a field everyone assumed would have no career path. Then, I got a great job making about 50k a year in one of the states with the cheapest cost of living in the country. I pay my private and federal student loans on time, am eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness in 2024, and carry a small balance on a credit card, which has helped to raise my credit score above 700. For every gum smacking 20-something ironically ignoring you for their phone behind the customer service desk at Wal-Mart, there’s another Millennial working their ass off to make their own way… and I’ve always been the latter.

I had two jobs all through grad school, worked up to 65 hours a week and still found time to write papers and complete my portfolio. When I wanted to splurge a little and buy something I didn’t really need, I never felt bad about doing so, even if I didn’t have the money right then. It would all come together somehow and I would be the one solely responsible for making that happen. No one else was effected by my financial decisions… until I got engaged to Jake; and while I may not consider myself to be bad with money, I’ll admit I’m pretty much Lucille Bluth next to Jake’s Scrooge McDuck.

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At 32 years old, Jake has zero debt and quite the nest egg. Though he’ll spend his money on the things and experiences that are important to him, he’ll neither touch his savings nor take out any credit to do so. He’s determined that we continue to live this way as a married couple and it’s not like I can really argue with that. Over the next year, we plan to live as frugally as possible, so we can buy a house sooner rather than later, but… I think we might have different ideas of what “as frugally as possible” looks like.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’m finding some truth to the idea that when a couple marries in their late twenties/early thirties, the learning curve for existing with another human being can be a bit longer. We’ve already faced this with home décor tastes and communication styles.

Me: “I love you, but I do want to take premarital counseling, because if you don’t get better at communicating, I’m going to fucking cut you.

In a few short months, though, Jake and I will have to blend our finances, which means adjusting to the idea of consulting one another on how we spend our hard earned money after making those decisions all by ourselves for our entire adult lives. When my Gramma asked me last fall, what Jake thought of my having taken out an Amazon payment plan to buy a Kindle Fire, I told her it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t his money. While Jake asked why I needed my Kindle Voyage and a Kindle Fire, making no effort to hide that he thought it was a superfluous purchase, he never told me not to buy it. Similarly, when I spent $80 on my Fitbit Alta, he thought it was silly and that I wouldn’t use it, but he also acknowledged that it wasn’t his business… nor was the final cost of redecorating the bedroom… and ultimately buying a Google Home after too much whiskey.

Likewise, when Jake insists on $3000 worth of catering and bar service for what I consider an overly lavish wedding, I keep my mouth shut. That’s his money, which he earned without me and he can spend it as he wishes. At present, we operate on a more or less unspoken agreement that as long neither of us is accruing more debt, the other doesn’t get a say… and on that note, on May 06, 2017, not only do my future financial decisions effect Jake, so do my past ones. While I’ve been careful not to charge up my credit card or get behind on my car and student loan payments, since we’ve met, I still have a lot of debt from my college days… and now so will Jake.

debt-load

While I might be able to control any future urge to buy matching Kirk and Spock costumes for the cat and dog… I mean, why would I need to again?… I can’t change the fact that at 18 years old, I began accepting thousands of dollars a year to pay for college and life in general, when my ex-husband wouldn’t work. Honestly, I don’t even think I would. That money fed and clothed me. It put gas in my car and rebuilt my life after my divorce. It got me my dream job of librarian. I am where I am because I took out student loans and I’m not sorry. I’m not bitter that I have to pay them back, either. I’m bitter that Jake has to pay them back, retroactively taking care of miserable and lost 21-year-old Belle, because my debt will become his debt. Any and all interest accrued will no longer be mine, but ours, which is why Jake wants to spend a huge chunk of his nest egg paying off all but my federal loans from day one. Why rack up interest over time, when he can pay it all off now? Well, because it’s mine.

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It’s so tempting to stamp my foot and insist that Jake can’t clear my financial name, because if he pays off my debt, not only does that mean I can’t take care of myself now, but that I never could. When I consolidated my private loans, agreed to a terrible interest rate on my car, signed up for my credit card, I did so with a bit of begrudging pride, knowing that one day I would pay it all back, because I take care of me. Despite all my jokes about how I’d let Christian Grey hang me from the ceiling and gut me like a deer if it meant paying off my student loans, I never thought I’d actually meet someone who saw value in ridding me of that debt. I would happily pay a thousand dollars a month for a couple of years, from my own paycheck, but Jake would rather we spend that money building something than trying to dig me out of a hole, which makes a lot of sense. It’s just… it’s my hole.

So, as a compromise, I’ve insisted on adding this bit to the prenup we’ve already agreed to sign for the sake of the family ranch. If Jake wants to take care of my past self, I insist on taking care of his future self, by legally agreeing that I’ll pay him back if our marriage lasts less than 10 years. I’m too pragmatic and quite frankly, I love him too much, to let romance get in the way, here. If he can protect me from further financial ruin, I can protect him. Still, it wounds my pride far more than being told I don’t need another cat costume… and I always need another cat costume.

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Big Girl(?) Woes

You know, for someone who doesn’t make a dime off her blog, I’m incredibly reliable, fueled only by your follows, likes, and comments. Maybe it’s because I think too much and without some kind of outlet, beyond Gail, I’d drift slowly into madness…

… or quickly.

It’s a unique disappointment though, when a favorite blogger writes less and less consistently, gradually weaning themselves into oblivion. If you’re anything like me, in your blog reading, you become truly invested in the characters. You want to know what happened with that interview/date/visit to the couple’s therapist. When I’m following a blog and reading about the trials of new marriage, the heartache of divorce, or the stress of watching children grow up and move away and then they just stop writing…

Maybe I put too much stock into the lives of strangers. The thing is, I love reading someone’s story as it’s happening. When I read your dating blog, I’m not just experiencing your disastrous online dating efforts. I’m watching the montage at the beginning of the love story and who wants to stop after the montage?!?! And so, it is with this little rant that I apologize for my sporadic posting, as of late. I have been working 60 hours per week, saving for a summer without substitute teaching, in addition to…


… drum roll please…

Big Girl Woes.

Y’all, I love being an adult. I see and hear constant complaints and ecards about how “being an adult isn’t going to work out for me” and I’m all whhhaaaa?!?! Being a grown up is the greatest and I mean that in a Tom Hanks in the first half of Big sort of way. I get to stay up late for no reason, eat candy for breakfast, have random snack foods for dinner, never fold the laundry, make the bed only when I change the sheets, and have trashy Netflix chick marathons all summer long. Even better, no one hits me, the bills get paid, and there are no compromises at all.

The last few weeks, however, everything has just seemed to snowball. It started with needing new tires… then my phone died forever… then my Judybug cost me $250 in X-rays to diagnose him as a drama queen… but through all that, I didn’t accept a dime of help, because I have an awful lot of pride tied up in the fact that I take care of me. I haven’t accepted help on that front since my daddy paid for my last graduate course, so I could get my diploma. Then the washing machine broke down…

Dad: “I transferred $100 to your account.”
Me: “I’ll pay you back by the middle of next month.”
Dad: “Don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”

$100 does not a Big Girl make. That’s not so bad. Right?

… then finally my car (with its new tires) was no more.

Mechanic: “Well, what’s wrong with it?”
Me: “It just.. stopped working.”

I’m an articulate gal. I promise. Just don’t ask me about cars.

By God’s infinite graces, I was able to get back to my sub job in time for class and borrow my daddy’s Jeep in time to be at the library by 5:00. I didn’t have to rent a car and my car insurance covered the towing. I however, did not receive the news I was hoping for, that my repair would be Cheap As Free.

Mechaninc: “It’s going to be expensive.”
Me: “How expensive?”
Mechaninc: “Well, I don’t know for sure yet. $1,500 to $2,000?”

Fine. Lesson learned. That wasn’t just water leaking from the undercarriage after the rain we haven’t had lately. Don’t just turn up the radio, when you hear that noise. Also, never buy a car from a company that prompts the question “Wait. They make cars? I thought they just made motorcycles.” If it hadn’t rattled like a box of nails, I might have considered said noise to be more significant and if it weren’t so low to the ground, I might not have blamed a puddle.

So, it is with this stroke of fortune that I spent last Thursday evening shopping for a new car, rather than writing my latest blog post.

Dad: “Well, if you need another $500 for the down payment, just holler.”
Me: “Yeah… I’m just gonna take you up on that, then.”

Me: “I had to accept $500 from my daddy to even be considered for financing. Growing up takes so much longer than I had planned. I’m 26. I have a master’s degree and work two jobs. Is it ever going to happen?”
Gail: “You know, people don’t talk about borrowing money from their parents. This is really just something people do sometimes… which is why it’s so scary when your parents die, because you are truly on your own.” 

Bee tea double ewe, if you ever find a friend who will spend her only night off that week, suffering through the pain that is buying a car, keep her forever and let your kids call her aunt.

I did it, though. Almost on my own. I made the negotiations. I went all Rosie the Riveter and quoted Kelley Blue Book, when they tried to get me to double my down payment. I signed the papers for my very first car payment… and only had a small panic attack while doing so. I got all the documents sent into the financing office and switched the insurance. I even paid the mechanic and made the arrangements to have my deceased roller skate of a car towed to the salvage yard and picked up the check. Still, everyone seemed to think it was the wrong move.

Bo: “70,000 miles on a Nissan isn’t bad. But if you’d had dad cosign, you might could’ve gotten a new car for the same payment.”
Me: “I’m 26 years old. I don’t need my daddy to cosign on a car, if I can get approved. I want to do it on my own, as much as I can. Besides, I don’t think Lena would be cool with that.”
Bo: “It’s really none of Lena’s business.”
Me: “Um, she’s married to him. His credit is her credit. That’s totally her business.”

I figured that, surely, my daddy would agree when I told him the next day.

Dad: “Well, I’m gonna help Bea out, when she buys a new car.”
Me: “Yeah, but Bea’s 20 years old and in college. I’m 26 and could get approved, just at a higher interest rate. I’d rather do it myself and refinance, than be tied to you financially for six years.”
Dad: “Yeah, but if I’d cosigned, you might could’ve gotten a new car for the same payment.”

Today, all the trouble was supposed to be over. The Freon was supposed to be charged, as agreed upon in the initial sale, when the car salesman assured me that’s all it was. Alas, another lesson has been learned: never buy a car with a broken air conditioner. Fortunately the dealership will cover the repairs, despite the fact that the warranty doesn’t apply for a preexisting issue… all but $100 that I just don’t have.

Me: “Can I have $100 if I promise-”
Dad: “Well, sure.”

God’s infinite graces? Certainly.

But I may have officially lost the title of Big Girl.

S#^t I Can’t Do (Part 2): Drive… At All

Preface…

Over Lent, Father shared a series of homilies focusing on the Seven Deadly Sins. Each week, he focused on a different one. This is the same… exactly the same.

Shit I can’t do:

Date Without Being a Jackass
Time Management
Cook on the Stove
Express Sympathy Appropriately
Manage Heartbreak Without Humor
Drive… At All
Share Important News Like a Normal Fucking Person

Drive… At All

It happened. I was in my very first car accident… just hours ago. The story is typical… damn near boring. I was in a rush, tried to change lanes, and was hit by a Saturn Vue. The other driver and I immediately traded information while waiting for the police to arrive. I called the insurance company, the claims department, the body shop, my dad to ask to borrow his Jeep for a few days, my Gramma and Gail to tell them I was alive, my step-mom to tell me it was just an accident, and then my actual mother who ignored my calls because she’s mad at me for some fabricated-batshit-crazy reason… and I did all of this while waiting for the aforementioned cop.

-Phone conversation-
Gail: “Hey. You get everything handled?”
Me: “If I were a rape victim, I’m pretty sure the semen sample would no longer be viable. I am still at the side of the road, waiting for the police. I have been here since the beginning of time.

In all honesty, outside of the inconvenience and 90 degree plus weather, it was pretty much the best car wreck ever. Like, for realz, if there are collisions in that town from Big Fish, they look like mine.

big fish town

If she wasn’t from Spectre (I would make sweet love to Google), I’m pretty sure I hit a fucking Sesame Street character when the word of the day was “understanding”, because that woman could not have been more pleasant. When the cop finally showed, he was the kind of friendly that makes you wonder if he’d gotten into the supplies in the evidence locker and basically told us both that he didn’t have to write a police report unless we really wanted him to, so no one (like the person at fault ::cough:: me ::cough::) had to get a ticket. Then the lady actually apologized to me for making me wait. I was fully responsible.

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Is she serious?

In addition to all of that, my dad has a habit of collecting cars he does not need, so I don’t even need a rental while my car is in the body shop. My deductible is only $500 and I needed a new bumper anyway, because…

I am a terrible fucking driver.

I’m not even kidding or exaggerating when I say that I don’t know how I’ve been driving for nearly ten years and this is the first collision I’ve been in, let alone causedI curb check daily, people. I make split-second decisions that are more often than not really bad, like braving flooded streets after a tornado when I drive a hatchback that is about four inches off the ground.

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Three times, I have managed to use this picture. Fucking Southern spring.

I run out of gas almost as frequently as I get lost and most of those times, I had the money to fill up and just… fucking… forgot. Each and every time I sputter into the station, I scream “Fuck yeah! This car runs on prayer!!!!” like I’m Grandpa Joe, just saw the golden ticket, and leaped from bed for the first time in twenty years.

grandpa joe

Then there are all those times I’ve misplaced the car… with me in it. Gail and I once went shopping… or planned to… with me behind the wheel. The destination was the north side of the city and Gail was supposed to be giving me directions. She took a phone call and looked up to exclaim:

Gail: “What the fuck did you do?!? How did we end up at the Capitol?!?”
Me: “I don’t know! You were supposed to be giving me directions!”
Gail: “I looked away for two minutes! How did you even do thatBelle?!?”
::silence::
Me: “So… um… you wanna tour the Capitol?”
Gail: “Eh. Why not?”

We live in a grid state. Our roads are probably the easiest to follow in America. I have gotten on the wrong Turnpike, taking myself 30 miles out of the way at least four times. I’ve gotten lost on the way to the college where I received my master’s degree more than five times in three years. I was an online student. I don’t even know if I’ve been to that school more than 15 times total. The town of Springfield practically merges with my hometown, Shetland. It’s a Shetland family’s answer to sit-down chain restaurants, the one department store, and the movie theater. Gail and I spent most of high school driving around this town and giggling in the bookstore. I once had a Springfield address and I have gotten lost there recently. It’s sad, y’all. Mice can navigate mazes, on the first trip through, better than I can navigate my hometown. Not only that, but… well… I tend to hit shit. I tore a panel off of the side of the car the day I bought it, because I didn’t see the curb. Luckily it only cost $25 to reattach it, but that was only the beginning.

Incident 1: My extended family is huge. On Christmas day, we rent out the gymnasium of one of the local Catholic schools, where the kids put on a nauseatingly cute talent show, the women fight over their Dirty Santa theme, and the men grudgingly pretend they give a shit which Home Depot card they take home, because their wives made them play. It’s a blast and last year’s was no different… save for the ice. In my area, we don’t get a lot of snow, so when we do, everyone freaks the fuck out. My dad sent me a text Christmas morning telling me not to get out, because of the ice and insisted the party was canceled. My cousins all told me otherwise on Facebook. While I enjoy my solitude most of the time, it was Christmas day and I was not going to stay holed up inside alone like the star of some depressing as fuck Peanuts Gallery special. However, the storm had been raging for days and when I went outside, the entire car was encased in ice.

haird dryer on car

I know what you’re thinking, mostly because I got the same responses when I posted this picture on Facebook.

“That’ll break your windshield!” – Ward
“What the hell are you doing?!?!” – step-momma

But, no. That is not how I damaged my car on Christmas day. That is just an example of one of the “brilliant ideas” of which I researched no possible consequences. Gail actually refuses to listen to anything I preface with the quoted phrase. Close-minded bitch. After about an hour of scraping, during which I slipped on the ice only once, I finally cleared the window enough to drive through the ice and fallen tree limbs to the church. I fishtailed a few times, texted my dad at stoplights to ensure him I wasn’t leaving the house, and finally arrived, no damage to my car. Whew. Then, I pulled into the parking lot and didn’t realize that that curb was a half-wall and rammed the fucker. That is correct. I drove through a Southern apocalypse unscathed only to crack my front bumper in two on a wall while parking.

Incident 2: Shetland is a suburb and I work in the city, so I drive about 70 miles per hour on the highway, to and from the library. The speed limit is somewhere between 50 and 70. I couldn’t tell you for sure, because I don’t pay attention.

texting and driving

My Gramma is the most adored, most paranoid person in my life, with my dear Gaily taking a close second on both counts. Every night, when I get off work, she calls to make sure I’m no longer in the “bad” (read: not “wealthy and lily-white”) part of town. She’s an elderly white woman from the South and I mock her for it, but she worries, so whatev. I’ll appease My Favorite Lady. This particular night, she called right as I got on the highway. I don’t know that the reason I busted my bumper is because I was on the phone. It probably didn’t help, however, that I only had one hand available for any possible evasive maneuvers when I saw a dead pony in the road. Fine. It was a dog, but it had to be fucking Falcor, because that thing was huge.

falcorI saw Falcor in plenty of time, there just weren’t any options. I was going 70 miles per hour with only one free hand. Had I not had the phone plastered to my ear, I don’t know that I’d have had any other options than to hit it, either, because there were cars on either side of me.  Were I a typical Southerner in a pickup truck, this wouldn’t have been a problem. I, however, drive this…

little tykes car

The guys call it my “roller skate” and the four-year-old boy that Chad and Jay babysit once asked verbatim “Why do you drive that?” It’s a reliable car and I don’t want to replace it yet. It’s cute… because it’s small, and not meant to be driven over stray cattle. Having been the only one affected by said accident…

Me: “Hey, I’ve never even been in an accident, thank you very much.”
Chad: “Technically, hitting that dog and busting your bumper was an accident.”
Me: “That dog was already dead!”
Jay: “That dog could’ve been napping!!!”

… I didn’t bother to make an insurance claim. I know how much the parts are for my car and I know they couldn’t replace a single piece, but would instead need to replace the entire front bumper. It wasn’t worth reporting an accident to my insurance for cosmetic damage, so I… got creative.

hill billy bumper

Psh. I’m kidding. I’m classier than that. I used zip ties. That brings me to today, my “very first accident.” As far as accidents go, it was peachy, since I happened to be driving through the town from the Hidden Valley Ranch commercials at the time.

$500 to fix my bumper / (three separate accidents that destroyed my bumper + the damage done to the other vehicle) = $125 per incident and/or vehicle.

hidden valley ranchThe car won’t actually be serviced until July 9. What can I say? Don’t get into a car wreck during tornado season. I’ve had worse days, though. At least I’m not married to a man who’s insisting the oil was changed and the engine just fell out of the car for no reason, amiright?!? Perspective people.

“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.

secret

It is HUGE.

sinkhole

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.

shocked face

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.

bargains galore

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?

kids in suits
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/

How Nobody is Ruining My Christmas

‘Tis the season for mild stomach ulcers, yes? Christmas is, sadly, one of the most stressful times of the year for many people. This time for love, annoying music, and glitter has become the disaster of which the Mayans foretold. Pretty much every advertisement on television is designed to make me hate all children as I watch these greedy little parasites state that their parents have finally appeased them on Christmas morning. Then the parents sigh in relief, making me hate all parents. Everyone stresses themselves out trying to cook the perfect dish, putting up the perfect number of lights, and elbowing each other in the ribs to get the last IT toy of the season, because we’re all materialistic and insane. So, I’m taking a stand on the following issues to keep such madness from ruining my favorite time of year.

The Work Party
If I want to go (define: don’t have anything better to do), I’ll go. If I don’t, I won’t. Period.

The Decorations
I’m not going to lie. I pretty much had to rape that fucking Christmas tree to get it to do what I wanted. I knocked it over and broke the stand that was glued on. I hit myself in the knee with my pretty pink hammer getting the old stand off and gave up on the new one once there was glass all over the floor and the tree leaned so far to the left that it was practically horizontal. Then I tearfully texted C and told him I was the worst handyman ever and that I’d even put on a bra and pants if he’d come over and fix it. He had it up in under 10 minutes and I called him a bastard for it. But I love my tree. It was worth all of that trouble. However, aside from this, I have some glitter snowflakes on the wall, a couple of stockings, a wreath on each door, and some patio lights up. That’s it. I am not Tim The Toolman Taylor. I don’t need to prove that I have the most awesome decorations ever. I know my hot pink tree is the heroine of all Christmas trees and I don’t need a trophy for it. People fall off their houses rigging up their lights to connect to music on some random radio station and then bitch about how much trouble it was, because they didn’t even want it and only did it to make other people say “Huh, that’s neat.” Why would I stress out for a competition that doesn’t even actually exist when these minimal decorations make me happy?

beforetreeBefore and after a big strong man had to help me. Pathetic.

The Expense
I really don’t believe in credit. Maybe it’s Gail constantly talking about her dampened “I ❤ Dave Ramsey” panties (how much is too much to spend on a gag gift?), but I think it’s irresponsible to pay on time for anything that is not an actual necessity or a house. Taking out a line of credit to buy other people crap they probably don’t even want? No. I’m not doing that either. Regardless of whether or not they get a Wal-Mart credit card to do their shopping, though, the expense of Christmas is one of the biggest complaints I hear from pretty much everyone. I don’t get that. The people for whom I’m getting gifts are either people I know well enough to choose something they’ll like for $10 or… they’re not. The latter, I just feel obligated to buy something anyway, in which case, why the hell would I spend more than $10? I don’t have children, thank God, but I do have children in my life who I don’t think should be raised to be materialistic, greedy, and entitled little bastards. So… their gifts are also going to be $10. Maybe I’m not mommy, so I don’t get a say in whether or not Santa brought my niece a 32″ flat screen for her freaking third Christmas, but I can do my part by making it clear that while Aunt Belle cares, that won’t be reflected in material items and she doesn’t owe anybody anything. In general, if Christmas is getting too financially stressful, just forget it and give everyone hugs. Christmas is about family and love and stop action movies. I’d rather know that my Gramma had a fun holiday and get nothing but a kiss on the cheek than hear her tell me a week into December that she’s ready for Christmas to be over. But I can’t control what she does. I can only control what I do and that’s to spend $10 on your gift… unless you’re Gail or my Gramma, the only two people who would actually accept a hug as a gift with no hard feelings. Ironic, huh?

The Shopping
I finished most of my Christmas shopping in November… via Amazon. I spent Thanksgiving night watching a movie with my little sister, not telling the cashiers at Wal-Mart to screw themselves (read below) and have a Merry Christmas. We live in a digital age, people. Why the hell are you standing in line to buy that Furby? I even make a point to do my grocery shopping on a Monday morning, because I’m not dealing with that crap.

The Customers
Thank God I don’t work in retail anymore, because people are asshats to customer service representatives during the Christmas season. Lady, I’m sure Jesus Christ, himself, would fist bump you for trying to get that man fired for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Yeah. That’s a thing. Welcome to the Midwest, y’all. I’m even happier I don’t work in a movie theater anymore. Sir, if the movie reel messing up “ruined” your holiday, you have shit priorities. You’re supposed to be loving on your family and treating people well, not screaming at a teenager about how you couldn’t see the bottom two inches of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because seriously, that guy is in everything lately. Library customers are much more mild-mannered, thank goodness, but the number of times I’ve been yelled at over Christmas candy has stuck with me. Now, I make sure to give every cashier a smile and even the occasional apology for the jackass in front of me.

I Want
One of my family members has this super tacky habit of sending out text messages instructing people on exactly what to get for her and the children. I’m not exaggerating. “We want Garden Ridge gift cards this year. The kids want Lego’s.” I didn’t even ask. My Gramma really stresses out about these detailed instructions, because she wants to pick things out and buy what she wants with her money. So, I’m ignoring any such mandates and buying what I want with my money. I don’t care if you want a Garden Ridge card. I already did my shopping and you’re all getting homemade hats. Fucking deal with it or I’ll just donate them to someone more grateful.

The Family Drama
I love my family and I’m looking forward to the 93 and a half Christmas parties that will require me to supply Oreo balls, which are a huge pain in the ass to make. We’re a fun, loud, and offensive bunch. I’m genuinely excited. However, everyone has that one family member they don’t love, but someone loves, so they’re required to be polite… even when they cause drama. Being polite, however, does not mean humoring you if you’re going to be cruel to me. I am 25 years old. I pay my own bills and take care of my own life. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it. No one is going to bully me or manipulate me otherwise. Nasty text messaging, catty voicemail, creative rumors, none of these things are going to get a response, because I don’t have to respond. I won’t yell. I won’t trade barbs. I won’t hide an insult in a smile. I will sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and skip that get-together, because I don’t have to sit through that awkward dinner with people I don’t like while they make snide remarks. You can thow that tantrum as loudly as you want while all of your friends agree that I’m a bitch. In the meantime, I’ll be at home, eating raw cookie dough in an oversized t-shirt and my granny panties, reading trashy fiction and blogging in front of my bitchin’ hot pink Christmas tree.

me jude and treeMy view of your fit.

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.

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

pinkmoney

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.