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Unbalanced – The Tipping Point

Scale by MConnors @ MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/XPvHct
Scale by MConnors @ MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/XPvHct

So I’m on a quest.  Sort of.  For $20,000 in a year.  Yup, you read that right.  I foolishly sat down and realized that with tuition, travel to and from school for both my residencies, a trip to the AWP in March, a WorldCon in August, and vacation in August, I need to somehow find an additional $20,000 in this year’s budget. 

Now, once upon a time, I had an uncle who offered reimbursement for tuition for school, but I have a feeling it’s too late for that.  I could always take out more loans for school, but I would much rather pay some off instead of take some more. 

I find myself falling back into overwork – less enjoyment but goals being achieved.  I’d like to find a balance, though.  How do I find it?  How do I make it work?

Meanwhile, we’re paying off debt, paying for Patrick’s MBA program, dealing with unexpected expenses that always seem to show up (like last year’s animal emergencies, a hot water heater that broke, etc, etc.).

I suppose the biggest problem is that what I enjoy doing the most pays the least.  And even what I like doing doesn’t pay enough.  Doing taxes was horribly depressing – it made me realize that since I’ve gone from full-time to “part-time,” I’m working twice as hard with little to no vacations or benefits, yet my earning were down by almost $10,000.  (But that’s a whole ‘nuther blog about the issues in higher education and the undervaluing of adjuncts….and, yes, I have decreed that undervaluing is a word, regardless of whether it really is or not…just accept it.)

Bridge at Night by JasonH at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/zfkTG8
Bridge at Night by JasonH at MorgueFile, http://mrg.bz/zfkTG8

Anyway, the main point here is that I’m trying to find my balance and handle everything from my son to school to work to life in general.  And somehow in all of that, I need to find a get rich quick scheme.  Anyone wanna buy a bridge? 

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Professional Student? Moi?


I love Calvin & Hobbes.  They have all the best answers to homework and tests.  When Calvin couldn’t do math, he wrote that answering the question was against his religious beliefs.  And when he was asked to define a pronoun, he said it was a noun that lost its amateur status. 

According to Calvin, then, being a professional means that you’re no longer an amateur.  We would say that a professional gets paid. 

So how can I, who gets paid nothing but instead expends time, money, and effort, be a professional student? 

How can I, who searches for jobs at least three days a week, be a professional student?

 How can I, who acknowledges just how much I have to learn, be a professional student?

Sure, there are those who get paid to be students (not loans – that’s a whole different blog posting!).  They get stipends and grants that pay for both their education and their living expenses.  They scoff at those of us who have to work to support ourselves while we study.  They come out with their graduate degrees, never having spent a moment in the real world, but instead constantly and consistently hidden in their ivory tower, complaining of being a “poor student” but emerging without the cocoon of student loan debt to break out of.

Okay, so maybe there’s a little bitterness there.  Maybe I would have loved the change to not have to pay out of pocket – and worse, to take student loans – but my choices were more limited for numerous reasons, and while I may be a bit bitter about it, at the same time, I’m happy to say that I’ve been out in the real world, and I’ve had real world experiences.  They make me a better student (and a better teacher).  And while I sure wouldn’t mind being a professional student sometimes, eventually, I’m not one now, and I doubt I’ll ever be.