Thursday, September 30, 2010

You Know You're Becoming an Adult When...

There are some signs that responsibility is gaining a foothold in your previously fun and carefree life. Here are a few that I've begun to notice:

When you arrive to your work-study job ten minutes early so that the shift before you can get to class on time.

When you're the reliable "sober person" on campus because you don't get hammered or high three to four times a week.

When your fridge has more fruit in it than your pantry has junk food.

When your desk is covered in homework and textbooks, and you haven't seen the surface since you moved in.

When you can be counted on to make sure the bathroom stays reasonably clean.

When you can be counted on to be in your room reading a book almost every Friday and Saturday night.

When your "goals" for a week-long break from school include cleaning out your old closet, starting a savings account, and sorting through your childhood art portfolios.

When you have "goals" for a break, instead of plans to party.

When you start sorting trough your clothes and giving away the options that show too much cleavage and you mutter to yourself "I would never wear this to work."

When you compulsively hang up or put away any clothes that are lying around the room, muttering about the mess.

When you do laundry at least once a week, even if you really don't have to.

When you wash your sheets every week because it's just better hygiene.

When you start making lists like these.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can I Get a Refund on Adulthood?

It's hard being an adult. Mostly because I don't actually feel like an adult yet. I feel like a tall teenager who suddenly has a bit more money at any point in time, and a lot more responsibility. I want lots of things in life: clothes, food, movies, (insert expensive desirable here). The problem comes with how I was raised to treat money. Thanks, Mom.

I worked two jobs and volunteered at a third over the summer so that I could build up mu bank account, and not be eating not-so-great cafeteria food all semester. I wanted the better things in life, and I worked my butt off (quite literally, in the case of being a farm hand) to get there.

And Mom comes in. I was raised that, theoretically, I could spend my money on whatever I wanted. If I wanted to eat candy until I puked I was going to pay for every piece. And when that candy was gone and I had no more money for, say, comics, well that was too bad. I had wanted candy, and didn't look ahead.

Granted my parents weren't evil. they understood that I was still new at the whole "responsible money management" thing, and helped me along with my finances when I was growing up. "Do you really need the Bratz Mall?" Probably not.

But now I'm an "adult", so people keep telling me. I can sign contracts, get a real job (or several) and make really, really stupid financial mistakes. When you suddenly have a lot more money at your disposal than you're ever seen in your entire life, those designer shoes you've always wanted are starting to whisper your name.


I'm pretty.

Don't you want to buy me?

I'm only absurdly expensive.

It's an investment, I promise.

Trust me!

The sweet call of designer clothing is one I hear quite keenly. I want to dress myself in beautiful things and drown in diamonds and platinum until I simply cannot stand the sight of them.

Savings banks have ridiculously low investment returns for small savings accounts. Earning pennies for fighting not to spend money hardly seems worth it. Unfortunately I know that if I spent all of the money I fought for that I would hate myself, and no amount of movies and clothes could comfort me.

I want the nicer things in life. i want them now. But I also want to have the nicer things in life twenty years from now, and not be living out of a trailer because I wanted a nice skirt now.

Money management really doesn't have as sweet a song as Italian leather...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Dorms and (OH GOODNESS!!) Creepy Crawlies

There seems to be a universal problem with older dormitories, especially ones that back to trees and other wild flora. That issue is bugs. Creepy crawlies that sneak into your bedroom slippers and scare the living daylights out of you. They hide under baseboards and fly in your face when you least expect it. And besides the obvious stigma against them, they just freak me out.

I suppose as a Conservation Biology major I should feel kinder towards these insects. I should find a cup and piece of paper and gently release them outside. However, when i am apprehensive about living in a new place I do not want to be looking at carpenter ants first thing in the morning.

My dorm is relatively nice. It's not too far from central campus, and I can pretend that it's peaceful sometimes. Bugs are the main problem.

My first week on campus I nearly had a meltdown. The bugs were stressing me out! I had big fat juicy carpenter ants appearing out of nowhere and crawling down my walls. I had silverfish hiding in the footwell of my desk. I had fruit flies. I had bugs.

I broke down when talking to my mom over Skype, and she sent me the cavalry. A nice care package filled with poison for bugs. On an Environmentally friendly campus, this would not generally be seen as a favorable method for getting peace in one's homestead, but I had enough of these bugs.

I sealed up all of the cracks in my walls, floor, and air conditioning system. I laid down Borax dust, thoroughly enforcing the fact I would almost never be able to have a small furry pet in my room. I sprayed Raid everywhere.

Still, the bugs got in.

I was beyond frustrated. I just wanted peace in my room, and the creepy crawlies were giving me the heebie jeebies. At College X you're supposed to feel all touchy-feely about all parts of the environment. Forget that, I said, when it comes to bugs there's no touchy-feely, only ouchy-bleedy.

As a method of last resort (after all that poison, what more could there be?) I tried a suggestion that seemed to work for a friend of my mother's: Windex+Vinegar. I was skeptical. Windex?? All these serious poisons weren't working, and Windex was supposed to fix my problem??

I tried it.

I had one last confused ant scurry across my floor a few days after I first sprayed, and for some reason I haven't seen any more since.

I'm not really sure which of my extreme methods really did the trick, and I honestly don't care. My room is my own, and I (sometimes) have peace.

Although, I still haven't worked up the courage to look under my dresser and see if the Borax finally killed the Silverfish under there. Honestly, I don't really want to know.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Get It In Writing

Most of my updates seem to come from my college campus, to no great surprise. College is where fledgling adults lean over the nest and notice that it's really quite far to the ground and the forest floor isn't a soft landing pad. Luckily, those of us who are lucky enough to have parents who smile and help you back into the nest when you get a claw stuck on a thorn have some kind of safety net.

I am very fortunate to have a safety net. I may not always like them, but they're there.

But this post connects the past summer with the current school year, because it has to do with finances. This summer I worked two jobs, and volunteered at a third. I had a business internship at a private Montessori school, I was a home organizer for a woman with M.S., and I was a volunteer coordinator at an animal rescue farm. Busy summer! Profitable summer!

The woman with M.S. payed me on a day-to-day basis, and was always grateful for my services, and it was always nice to hear her praise. The private school was a little shaky on how they were going to transfer my funds, but I trusted them because I used to attend that school, and I was friendly with the principal (my boss). I worked for them on a four-week internship, and after turning in copies of my final work, I was informed I would most likely get my last paycheck within a few days by mail.

This would have been great! I would have gotten my paycheck before I left for college once more, and I wouldn't be weighing the pros and cons of buying a five-dollar book.

This did not happen.

I waited a week. No check.

Two weeks? No check

two and a half weeks, e-mail the principal, only to find out it hadn't gotten in the mail yet. She guarantees it got in the mail that day.

In an area with one-day turnaround for same-area mail, half a week later... No check.

As a student with something of a limited income, I'm very familiar with the idea of dog-earing money for something long before you get it. I am now getting into the point of spending the money before I get it, which is very bad. I keep thinking, "This will be covered by my check when it comes, so it's okay to just eat a little bit into my savings now!"

No good.

But Mom was right, yes, get a payment plan in place before you start working for "The Man."

And find a squishier safety net.