Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why I Haven't Written in Months

There are three things I've come to hate during the past few months since I last posted on this blog of mine. Those three things are 1. People, 2. Graduate School and 3. Being Broke.

Now I know the first one may appear to be a bit extreme, but allow me to explain because this is all linked together. Over the past few months I've been forced to come to the conclusion that I was, and to an extent still am, terribly naive about the way the world works. I used to believe that with enough hard work and sincerity people could advance in their given career or field, but I have been, in short, disillusioned in a most brutal and unforgiving manner.

While I won't go into too much detail, the simple facts are as follows. 1. I've been interning at a non-profit for almost a year getting paid a pittance while people without degrees, or even high school diplomas, make 2x's as much as me because they're part of the "family" ( and if that sounds like something out of a mobster movie, believe me, it almost is). 2. When the state of Illinois, god bless it's corrupt, malformed, and broke as hell heart, failed to pay up the program support money it owed the organization, I was summarily canned (i.e. - fired). Now this was understandable at the time given my intention to go to graduate school in the fall, so I wasn't too fazed at first. But then things went down hill. Fast. Like a bullet train headed straight to Hell kind of fast, but more on that later.

Anyway, numero 3. When I asked my supervisor, a pretty cool and understanding guy actually, about possibly finding some kind of funding to stay on he managed to wrangle up a position through a volunteer organization. Now at the time I thought this was a god send as I was broker than broke, in the middle of paying for a math class (which ended up costing me about 500 dollars) in order to get some university credits in order to take up another major, and was floundering in student loan debt. However, as it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.

The position paid (or should I say pays, since I'm still there for a few more days) federal minimum wage, which puts me exactly at the poverty level (Yay me!), and doesn't really offer me diddly squat as far as benefits are concerned. On top of that, much to my horror and dismay upon my return, I found out that no one, other then me, had been fired. That's right; out of who knows how many people, I, one of the few people with an actual degree, had been fired while people who slept most of the work day kept their jobs and continued their naps. Now don't get me wrong, I know these people need jobs too. Really, I understand that completely. But seriously, what the fuck?

Needless to say, I will be gone by the end of the week after a month of trying to make this crap work out. Now, to address the bullet train to Hell that was my experience attempting to enroll in graduate school.

It should be well known by now that the U.S. economy is sinking faster than a dingy which sprung a leak, and this sinking has had serious ramifications on every facet of society. From healthcare services, to programs designed to aid the working class and those in poverty, to education; all of these things have faced serious budget cuts or have been cut entirely. And while this is true on the federal level, it is even more true on the state level, especially in the wake of the of the mid-term elections. Many states are now headed by Tea Party governors, governors' who have the idea that salvaging their state's finances involve budget cuts, the dismantling of unions (I'm looking at you Wisconsin), and developing policies that favor corporations over the middle and working classes.

And this is where my applying to graduate school comes in. The good news is, out of the 4 schools I applied to, I got in 2 of them. The bad news is that one school was a private school charging a ludicrous amount and didn't even offer assistantships, and the other one was located in Michigan, which pretty much equated to the same thing since I live in Illinois and would thus have to pay out-of-state tuition for a grad. program. In both cases I could take out student loans totaling over 30,000 dollars for the next two years or so, or I could simply forgo going to graduate school...again. Now, considering that anthropology, in the best case scenario, will allow you to either teach or get paid around $70,000, maximum, for a job in the private sector, you can imagine what my decision was. That's right, I flipped anthro. and the two grad. programs the bird and took my grumbling ass all the way back to step 1. It was around this time that I was "let go" from my internship/job at the nonprofit too.

So now we arrive to the third thing I've come to hate, or, more accurately, have always hated. Being broke. As stated, my current "job" at the non-profit is currently paying me federal minimum wage (i.e.-poverty pay), and even before that I was only able to work part-time hours for burger flipper pay. So, yeah, my bank account is currently weeping and writhing over the amount of money, what little is still left that is, I will not have as I pay for a paralegal program, which I can ill afford and which will put me 7,500 more dollars in the hole in terms of what I owe the government.

So, yeah, I'm broker than broke, living with my parents (shudder), and going into even more debt.

So, yeah, I haven't exactly been in the best of moods to write. However, if I still have some readership left, I would like to apologize for just disappearing without a trace. I've been busy busting my ass and getting nowhere, when I could have been typing up witty satire, movie reviews, and more for you.

I'll try to keep my priorities in line this time. ;)





8 comments:

  1. Happy to see you're back! (You ARE back, right?) I missed you.

    I don't know what to say about the whole mess, except that I understand. No, really. I understand. I know what is like. And it's awful, and it's horrible and humiliating and it makes you feel both pissed off and helpless.

    But I was surprised about some of the things you wrote. Like corruption and people doing nothing at the work and the whole "being part of the family" sort of things. I was surprised because I thought it's not really like that in America. Unlike here. It's how the whole system works here, and nobody's even trying to pretend it isn't. In short, I know the whole mechanism, and it's disgusting beyond belief. But I thought these sort of things don't happen in the West. (Not because I thought west was "better" or more honest, but because I thought west cares about the money, and will do anything to get a good worker, connections and nepotism be damned. It's different here, where nepotism and corruption make the system. Virtually, you can't do anything if you're not part of that mechanism. But I thought it's a bit different in the US).

    And there's nothing I can say to make you feel better about the whole minimum wage/not being able to afford grad school problem. It's horrible, horrible. You don't deserve this. Nobody does.

    Ugh. Back at step 1 might seem scary now, but at least you're young enough. You have time for this. So, have you decided about your new major? The problem is finding something that is profitable enough but also interesting enough so you can invest your time and energy in it.

    About being broke... Eh. I know how you feel, and it's horrible, and again, it can make you feel bad and anxious (well, at least it's what happens to me). Just try not to think about it all the time. You don't want to torture yourself more. As for living with your parents, I understand it's tricky, but most of the people here live with their parents at your age (due to economic problems), or my age for that matter, and they end up fine. So don't worry about it. But it can be very tricky, I know.

    So, what's the solution? You need to keep fighting, and you need to keep yourself sane and strong when shit like this comes. So, escapism. Escapism. You need it, you need to have at least something you enjoy completely, something that can make you relax and forget about the problems.

    I know it sounds cheesy, but you can write to me any time (mira at jefflion dot net). I'm not just being polite; I'm going through the same problems and people around me are sick of me "whining" about it. Plus, I live in a country that's in a constant mess of the sorts you're describing. So you could say I'm an expert on this stuff.

    In any case, glad to see you post again. I hope you're back. Yes, we need more posts and movie reviews and whatever you'd like to share. :)

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  3. First of all-

    @montanna: Srsly? Spamming a blog page? Classy, really classy.

    Anyway.

    @Mira:

    I'm really sorry for the delayed response, family problems I'm afraid.

    Yes, I'm finally back and thanks, I missed you too.

    I'd agree with your sentiments about being pissed off and helpless, but I don't think I feel that way any longer. I mean, yes, at first I certainly felt down and out, but if the past year has taught me anything its that feeling down and out only makes things worse. Now I'm not saying my new outlook on life is any better, but I've found that not allowing myself to get down and to keep trudging forward seems to make things a little more bearable. After all, in many instances, the only person who's going to make sure that you succeed in life is you, and it's never too late to start over and find a new way if that's what you have to do.

    And you're never too old either (Especially when you're on the good side of 30, because, as we're starting to say in the States, 30 is the new 20.)

    As it concerns corruption in the U.S. let me tell you how that works, or at least what I know about it. You say that in Serbia it's all about who you know, well that's exactly how it is in the U.S. I've found. Sure, if you got to the right school (Harvard, Yale, MIT, University of Chicago, Vanderbilt, etc.) you can find success through hard work and dedication, but that's only because you have the name of a globally recognized university to your credentials. For the rest of the population, networking and making friends with people in high places is the only way to truly get ahead. Everyone is looking out for themselves and their own (family, friends, etc.) in most cases, though you do have some altruist here and there. However, overall, the only way you get a good job in the U.S. is either through a friend or an internship, and in order to get a good internship you usually have to know someone.

    And we only pretend like nepotism isn't the order of the day when the rest of the world is watching. When you live here, you come to understand that in the U.S., unless you're willing to claw your way up and take down (both literally and figuratively) anyone who gets in your way, you've been screwed by the system.

    As it concerns being broke, well at least I'm not starving... :D

    And I agree wholeheartedly, escapism is the only thing that can make the world a little more bearable at times. That's why I've come back to writing this blog, and writing in general.

    And thank you, Mira, I really appreciate it. And the same applies to you; feel free to email me whenever you like. I'll definitely try to reply as promptly as possible. ;)

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  4. Glad to hear you're not feeling helpless and pissed off anymore! I sure do. I mean, it comes and goes. One moment I am fine, and in the other I'm so anxious I can't sleep. Don't do something like that to yourself.

    I'm glad you're ready to start again. I was about your age when I did that; I picked a new major at the university and I graduated last year as one of the top students in my class.

    And I know I am not old, but I'm female, and I do want to have kids. Biological clock and all. Not that I oppose to having kids in your 40s, but I want at least two kids.

    You say that in Serbia it's all about who you know, well that's exactly how it is in the U.S. I've found. Sure, if you got to the right school (Harvard, Yale, MIT, University of Chicago, Vanderbilt, etc.) you can find success through hard work and dedication, but that's only because you have the name of a globally recognized university to your credentials.

    I had no idea it was that bad. I mean, I knew corruption existed, but I thought it was more of isolated cases. I guess I assumed capitalism works differently, that everyone wants a good worker to make a huge profit, regardless of connections.

    Well, here good university doesn't help much, you still need a connection (you can be jobless with a PhD if you don't know anybody - that's why so many educated people emigrate). But essentially, it's how it works, and yes, I am shocked to learn it's similar in America.

    And I agree wholeheartedly, escapism is the only thing that can make the world a little more bearable at times. That's why I've come back to writing this blog, and writing in general.

    Glad to hear that!

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  5. I guess I assumed capitalism works differently, that everyone wants a good worker to make a huge profit, regardless of connections.

    That's actually partially true, but what one has to understand is that the good worker is hired only after everyone in the "family" is taken care of.

    Well, here good university doesn't help much, you still need a connection (you can be jobless with a PhD if you don't know anybody - that's why so many educated people emigrate). But essentially, it's how it works, and yes, I am shocked to learn it's similar in America.

    Heh, you need to meet a few more Americans with PhDs then. There are quite a few PhDs working for minimum wage or are homeless in the States. But I guess that's what happens when you commercialize education. Yay capitalism?

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  6. It is true I have a very limited idea on America and Americans. The fact many Americans believe in the image their country wants to portray doesn't help, I guess. (But that's not surprising: most of the people believe in the image their country/culture projects, whatever country and whatever culture that might be). I know it. It's the same here. Talking bad about politicians and economy is just part of the culture here. So is nepotism, but that's a hprrible thing that won't go away.

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  7. I wouldn't say you have a limited idea, I would actually say that you have the idea that most Americans want you to have.

    Other than that I'm not sure what to say. It's true; nepotism is horrible and it won't go away just like corrupt leaders/politicians and the most disadvantaged being ravaged by the greed and poor economic policies of their leaders. I used to believe that revolution was the only way to resolve such issues, but I've come to find that revolution is simply like shifting the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

    I don't know, I guess that sounds a little cynical, but I guess that's what happens when you come to understand that a lot of people are motivated by personal interests and/or greed. Thanks a lot anthropology and psychology for that lesson. XP

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  8. I wouldn't say you have a limited idea, I would actually say that you have the idea that most Americans want you to have.

    I'd say that is correct, at least when it comes to this issue (nepotism and corruption). Plus, it's basically what makes my culture the way it is, and I don't expect to find it on the West.

    But when it comes to other issues, I don't usually buy into myths America builds of itself. To me, it's easy to see through its propaganda and I don't get how Americans can buy it.

    I'm talking about stuff like freedom, democracy, patriotism, evils of communism, evils of free healthcare and that sort of issues.

    I used to believe that revolution was the only way to resolve such issues, but I've come to find that revolution is simply like shifting the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

    I used to believe that, too. And I was involved in a revolution. Turned out it wasn't as I hoped it to be. Not the revolution but the aftermath.

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