Work


So it seems like my Higher Power has decided that I will have a Midterm Break whether I like it or not. And for that I say meekly, “Thank you, Higher Power!” My planned schedule had involved:

  • a full day of classes Wednesday, plus teaching Swing I that night,
  • a Cooking Day with Jenn on Thursday,
  • a full day of work and a wedding on Friday,
  • lots of house chores and a birthday dinner for Michelle on Saturday,
  • then going to Indianapolis to dance Westie on Sunday.

In other words, a pretty normal Bernadette schedule. Then half my classes Wednesday got canceled, Jenn had to cancel on me, my boss asked if I wanted to change my work schedule for Friday since it was Midterm Break, and the birthday dinner got turned into a birthday brunch. Sunday (so far, at least) is the only day that has remained the same. The great thing about Jenn pulling out is that I had already made all the arrangements for my jobs at Theology On Tap to be covered, so I had this wonderful and unexpected thing: a completely free evening. It was lovely.

I finally figured out what I’m going to do for my costume for the Halloween swing dance. The Dorothy costume I had planned with such loving care just wasn’t getting finished, and the way my schedule has been, it’s not going to. I knew I needed to figure something else out, and after all the talking about my other costume idea, it needed to be good. Last week I was dancing with Doug to one of my favorite songs, a silly novelty song about a Hawaiian princess with lots of papayas, which she generously distributes to the populace. (“She loves to give it away, I mean papaya…”) The next day I googled the lyrics and discovered that the song was Princess Pupule Has Plenty Papaya by Harry Owens and the Royal Hawaiians. So now I’m figuring that I’ll get a grass skirt, some leis, wear them over a dancing skirt and a tank top with a tiara, bring a basket of papayas, and be Princess Pupule for Halloween.

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.