Finances


So I was thinking about putting together a few New Year’s Resolutions for myself, which caused me to realize a few things. First, I realized that absolutely nothing that I hoped for last year came true for me. Then I realized that this was because pretty much all my hopes were bound up in Carlos making good on all the promises his flirtatious behavior had seemed to make. I had kindof a half-formed goal of becoming a better dancer, but I hadn’t thought much about what that actually meant. My dancing has improved immensely, but if I were to judge the year’s success by my current relationship status, things would look pretty bleak. Sure, there was the Actual Date with Basil, but at year’s end I’m pretty much where I started. So this year I decided that not a single one of my goals should involve romantic relationships in any shape or form. For a while I toyed with the goal of having gone on another Real Date, but in the end I decided even that was too much. Instead, this year I want to focus on other things, like:

  1. My dancing. I have some basic things I know I want to work on (my balance, spinning, not drifting when I spin, relaxing into the lead, etc.), but those are things I’ll be working on probably my whole dancing career. This year I want to work on my solo Charleston. Specifically, I want to be comfortable enough with it, comfortable enough with my own body, that I can dance a whole song by myself without needing anyone else dancing along side me. One of the very few sad things about PittStop was that no matter how infectiously Charleston-y the song was, I couldn’t get anyone to form a Charleston circle with me for love or money, and I wasn’t confident enough to go it alone. Lucy has traditionally been my steady Charleston-circle partner in crime, but there’s a good chance that she might be leaving town later this year. So I need to work up the chops to go it alone. We’ll see how that goes.
  2. My friends. There are too many people I really care about whom I hardly ever see. This is partly because for the last two years I’ve been consistently choosing to spend my available free time dancing, and too many of my friends don’t dance. Still, I care about them and I don’t want to let them slip through my fingers for lack of a little effort. I’m a person who needs structure, so I’ve been trying to think of ways to structure friend time into my life. So far what I’ve come up with is having friends come over to watch TV with me, now that I actually have a TV night again. I know there’s got to be other ways to work this in. I’d be happy to hear other people’s ideas on this.
  3. My finances. I’m not gonna lie – I’m pretty much a spaz when it comes to money. I do stupid things. I buy stuff I don’t need. I either don’t plan ahead or I don’t follow the plan I have. I’ve bought the financial software, but I don’t use it. I never turn necessary paperwork in on time. I’m just awful at this stuff, and I know it. The accumulated impact of failure after failure becomes so overwhelming sometimes that I become emotionally paralyzed and can’t do anything at all until something snaps me out of it. However, little by little I’ve been improving, planning ahead, taking necessary steps to make sure every thing’s covered. I’m still far from perfect, but I have hopes that finally, this year I’ll get my stuff together.
  4. My writing. I took first prize in a poetry contest in 2007. Now I have two publishing creds under my belt. I’d like to have more. I don’t want to set a goal for acceptances or prizes, but I would like to send out at least two submissions every month. It’s not a lot, but I think it’s an important step for me. In his latest letter Joe sent me information on a poetry competition for a magazine he reads. I think I’ll start there.

And that’s what I have. I think they’re pretty good goals, challenging but achievable. The best part? None of them involve romance!

I’ve been thinking about Christmas a lot lately. It’s fun to do it now, before the marketing push completely starts up, before the pressure hits, before there’s any urgency to actually do anything about it. It’s all anticipation at this point, no stress or anxiety. No one is blaring Christmas songs in my ears or strictly enforcing the Christmas “cheer.” This is when thinking about Christmas is easy. I like it.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about presents, what I’m going to give which people. (Don’t worry – no spoilers.) This requires some ingenuity because I am more than usually poor this year (I’m your stereotypical Impoverished Student, although I no longer live in an attic garret). The gift I’m most excited about right now is for Uncle Greg. My extended family draws names each year, and I was delighted to get him because he’s one of my favorite uncles. One thing he likes is being introduced to new music, so I decided to make him a set of CDs containing music that I was introduced to or love because it’s music I dance to. I’ll have one CD each for Lindy, Charleston, Balboa, and Westie. The main difficulty is separating out the Charleston and Balboa songs. Although some songs are clearly one or the other, too many could easily go either way, depending on your mood or the types/number of leads available. I’m still working on the playlists for each one, but my rough drafts look something like this:

Lindy
Baby Workout by Jackie Wilson
Movin’ and Groovin’ by Sam Cooke
Smooth Sailing by Ella Fitzgerald
Massachusetts by Gene Krupa
Up A Lazy River by Michael Buble
Jersey Bounce by Ella Fitzgerald
Love Me Or Leave Me by Sammy Davis Jr.
Bop Ting a Ling by Laverne Baker

Charleston
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate by Madeleine Peyroux
Ballin’ The Jack by Eddie Condon
12th Street Rag by Sidney Bechet
When The Saints Go Marching In by Louis Armstrong

Balboa
Juicy by Better Than Ezra
Honeysuckle Rose by Count Basie
Crazy Baby by Louis Jordan and His Tympani 5
The Sheik of Araby by Sidney Bechet
Buzz, Buzz, Buzz by Jimmie Lunceford

West Coast
Ain’t No Sunshine by Al Green
Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Blue & Stevie Wonder
Be Bop A Lula by Gene Vincent
Buttons by The Pussycat Dolls
Early To Bed by Morphine
Boombastic by Shaggy
Born Under A Bad Sign by Etta James

I think he’ll like it.

Oh, my friends, it is so freaking cold at my house!  Right now I’m huddled over my morning bowl of hot cereal, trying to absorb, not only its nutritional value, but every calorie of heat it’s radiating.  Last night I slept in thick socks, sleep pants, a thermal long sleeve shirt, and the thickest sweater I own.  I still had to pull the covers up over my head to get warm.  I know that Liv hasn’t turned the heat on yet because she’s trying to save money (we’re both, you know, impoverished and all), but it was 62 degrees Fahrenheit by the thermostat downstairs this morning when I woke up.  Couldn’t we have perhaps even a little warmth?  [insert pitiful big-eyed face here]

I’m afraid that Essential Pieces of my Princess Pupule Halloween costume, which I ordered online, won’t be here in time for the dance on Saturday.  [insert anxious, possibly sad face here]  However, they’ll definitely be here in time for the dance on Wednesday!  [insert gleeful, excited face here]

In dancing news, Lucy and I have been discovering the joys of Solo Blues.  We never knew there was such a thing before, and it’s lovely!  Dancing Blues has always been problematic for me.  I know I’ll really, really like it – but will I respect myself in the morning?  In my brief forays into the Blues world, there have been times when I was just fine with it, and times when I… wasn’t.  Then I followed a link on a friend’s dancing blog, and found this: The ULHS 2006 Solo Blues Finals.  It was awesome.  And there were some amazing dancers in it, dancers I recognized from Charleston videos.  Dancers that Lucy thinks are demigods and I think are really, really cool (I have my own pantheon of dancing demigods).  It was a revelation.  So I sent Lucy the link, and last night we both tried it out on the dance floor at the Wednesday night dance.  We have some kinks to work out.  For example, how do you make this distinctively Blues and not just booty-shakin’?  And all the dancers in the finals were dancing barefoot, but I love the noises I can make with the heels on my new dancing shoes. There’s a whole new dancing world to explore!  Hurrah!  [insert ecstatic solo-blues dancing face here]

I didn’t do the college thing right out of high school.  I was smart enough, but I wasn’t ready.  I wanted to go out and have adventures.  So I did.  A little political protesting, a couple different cities, a couple dysfunctional guys – like that.  I spent a couple of years going to chef school, a couple of years taking care of my grandmother as she drifted away with Alzheimer’s, a couple of years travelling the country with a travelling youth ministry team.  It was a good time.  Then I found something worth taking out the student loans, and at the ripe old age of 29 I found myself a Freshman at my local Catholic university, sitting in class with all the kids ten years younger than me.

Soon after I started back to school, I started working my current job.  I’m a student assistant at the engineering research institute attached to my university.  This means that I do all the jobs that the real secretary doesn’t want to do.  It’s a good job.  My boss loves me, they’re flexible about my schedule and taking time off for exams and things.  It doesn’t pay much, but then it doesn’t require me to use my brain cells much either.

Recently, however, a friend challenged me on whether having this job is really worth it.  I’m stressed all the time, she said, and having to get extensions on papers.  The job doesn’t pay all my expenses, so I have to take out student loans anyway.  Wouldn’t it be smarter to take out slightly larger loans and use the 15 or 20 hours a week to get my schoolwork done on time?  It might even make financial sense.  When I’m paying off these loans, after all, I’ll be making a lot more than $8 an hour.

And… I don’t know.  I’ve been working full time since I graduated from high school.  I’ve never not had a job.  And it’s odd enough to be a 30-something college undergraduate.  I see the looks on peoples’ faces when I tell them I’m a student.  It’s more acceptable to be both working and going to school – taps into the good old American dream stuff about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  But gosh, it would be nice to sometimes have a little space to, I dunno, breathe.

So – I don’t know.  I’m researching my options.  We’ll see what happens.