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01.19.06 6:03 p.m.

Trouble is a part of your life, and if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.  

-Dinah Shore


Previously in Xenology: Xen had the wrong major.


I have to come up with an additional four hundred dollars a month for student loans. While I was aware that I would have to repay my student loans, Emily only pays seventy dollars a month and I can afford only a little more than that. I am going to meet with my father and make a budget, which Emily said is the sort of helpful gesture she would resent if her parents asked her to do it with them. Only time will tell if I will feel the same way.

It feels ridiculous that I have such an enormous student loan bill for what has turned out to be a useless and self-evident skill. Had I stayed studying English exclusively, there is a relatively attractive English professorship at Dutchess Community College. Instead, I went the route that I thought was more practical and am now feeling the squeeze. This is not to say that I didn't apply for the professorship as well, because I do know how to teach English courses at a community college and I have a few friends who seem to get jobs for which they are not even remotely qualified simply by virtue of applying and appearing confident.

Higher education is like gambling to me. I could have cashed out after I got my BA and gotten a job that paid more than I am getting from subbing right now. Had I spent the two years it took to get my Master's working instead, I would be making much more than I am and would not be $40,000 in debt. I let it ride and I lost big.

I did not yet consolidate my loans, primarily because I thought I only had one loan and all the mail sent to me looked suspiciously like junk mail. Likewise, I missed my first payment because it looked identical to the other letters the bank sent me that said nothing more than "you have student loans." I suppose I have only myself to blame for not really getting all of this, but I wish someone sat me down and explained what the bills meant.

I am trying not to panic, to give air to the hopeful part of me that thinks I will figure a way out of this to a monthly payment I can even remotely afford to shoulder. What they want from me a month is more than I pay for rent.

Yesterday was not a good day for money. Google killed my adsense account. They claim they did this because I encouraged you lovely readers to clicks their ads. Apparently, they do not want you to click them. Doing a bit of internet research, I found many, many people complaining about Google closing their accounts just as they transcended the payment threshold of one hundred dollars. Additionally, two bills came, both of which are under my name, though Emily and I share the burden.

Emily tells me I am wrong, but I feel that I am absolutely sucking at being an adult. I can barely manage my money, though I am very careful and write down every purchase. I have very few frivolous purchases of late. I want to blame the economy on our surplus devouring president... and I think I will. Right now is simply a horrible time to find a good job, if my experience is any indication. I have a good degree in a field that... well, teaching pays very little. We all know that. Education is not respected in this country and teachers are primarily those people who could not find better jobs. Were the pay for teachers increased, I have no doubt that the standard of education would shoot through the roof because you would have interested and vivacious people teaching the next generation. We as a country would be much better for it. But I digress.

I had trouble falling to sleep because this issue was on my mind, as is usually the case. I feel like I am in very deep trouble, like I dinged some fuckwit's SUV and now he expects me to fork over forty thousand dollars. If they are going to charge me that damned much, I better be able to leave their god-forsaken college and step in a job that pays at least double what I am currently receiving, with benefits.

Romeo Must Die

"So, aside from the money, everything else is good?" my father asked during our meeting to plot out just how sincerely fucked I am.

I took a sip of my ice water, all I ordered. He had taken me to the 84 Diner, as the house had the added distraction of my mother and their pets, neither of whom would make him diner food. "Yeah, everything else is fine. My writing is going really well."

"What about Emily?"
I love her  
"I love Emily"

"I love Emily," I said immediately, feeling defensive. There have been a few times of late that my parents have confessed to uncertainty toward M and I find it best to just continue to reiterate that I do not have issue with her. I'm glad I am not some moony teenager, as parental disapproval has been the foundation of "passionate" love since well before Romeo and Juliet.

"Sometimes people are just to close to see a problem."

"Do you see a problem?" I wanted to read his mind right then and wondered if I would see the name "Corinne" embedded on his frontal lobe.

"Do you feel she is contributing enough money?"

"Definitely. We split everything really fairly." The question struck me as additionally strange given that Emily paid the rent while we lived in Walden. Sure, I managed to keep us both fed and vaguely recall kicking in toward bills, but most of the money came from Emily's pocket.

"What about her trip to India?"

I had been awaiting this topic, as had she. "What about it?"

"Are you just going to be paying everything while she is gone?"

"No, she is leaving me money. She's working really hard right now to prevent any sort of future problems. I understand that it is something she needs to do."

"You just don't seem happy," he said, perhaps retreating a little.

"I would love to see her more, but that isn't her fault, this is just a rough patch for both of us. We are both working like crazy." I did not feel the need to add that this is the roughest patch either of us has yet endured in the cohabitation phase of our relationship, though not directly because we are cohabitating. More than five years ago, Melissa warned me against working, saying that you are never poor until you become an employee. Correlation is not causation, but it has an element of truth and it is much worse to know you technically have more money than you have ever had before in your life but that the number and degree of places that require twenty percent more of that money vastly increases.

It is especially hard for me to think my family does not approve of Emily because she very much regards them as a second family, more so given the tumult into which her own immediate family has been thrown. To recap briefly, her mother and father are separated for his infidelity with his models. He has terminal cancer. The only member of her family that is doing well is her sister the doctor, who is implicitly used as a weight against Emily's success in life.

When I told my father that Emily regards him as something of a second father, he laughed and said he wasn't sure he could handle that given the status of the first father. I pointed out that it was my mother who gave people terminal cancer, not Emily. He then told me, when pressed, that he liked Emily but could not date her.

"That's fine, I'll keep doing that then."

Like You with the Darts in Your Eyes

I rushed home to listen to the message on my phone. The battery had died just before the man could relay the pertinent information, the recording of him was still demurring when the phone went dead.

I am superstitious, I suppose. I had been getting so many subbing jobs of late that I was certain he had to be calling me to offer me the position at the Beacon Academy. They were even looking for a full time English teacher, so I had slight hopes the news would be better than a simple permanent subbing job. But in my mind, the glut of jobs could only be an omen that I would be offered something better.

But no. Once the phone was plugged in, the man who interviewed me said that he appreciated getting to know me, but they were offering the position to someone else. I am bitter through repeated rejection, though I tried not to get my hopes up this time. Stupid helium hopes. I am sure that someone related to a board member needed a job and nearly as certain that they will quit in a few weeks. If you want to know why that eighteen-year-old is mugging you for drug money, rest assured that it is because of this kind of nepotistic corruption in your school districts installing the unqualified. The entire school exists because so many students drop out of Beacon High School (See Also: Nepotistic Corruption) and needed a place to get GEDs. I certainly hope someone halfway qualified was hired and not some crony that will mysteriously get a five dollar an hour raise at the behest of a school board member.

Yeah, I'm really bitter.

Soon in Xenology: Job prospects hopefully.

last watched: American Beauty
reading: Flowers for Algernon
listening: Tender Buttons

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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