Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why life ain't grand

The cat/no cat debate came to a swift end today when I crunched some numbers and came to the depressing realization that I can't actually, well, afford a cat. If you think that's bad, here's what's worse: according to my calculations I also can't afford the modest and non-cat-having lifestyle that I currently enjoy. Ba dum bum! Yes, even though I am currently employed (in a job that I despise with the burning fire of a thousand suns) the P&L of my life is stacking up more and more in the losing column. You see, when I first moved to our fair (and hellishly expensive) city, it was with the anticipation of earning roughly 35% more a year than I do now. But we all know how that turned out. You know it's bad when a teacher's salary is now but an out of reach dream. Anyway, as you might imagine, that 35% amounts to a pretty sizable difference when it comes to things like paying rent and student loans and the $14 farmer's market cheese I accidentally bought out of politeness today. 

(I did not even want to go to the stupid farmer's market, you see, because I already had to stay late at my stupid job but my boss had insisted like twenty times over the last week that I must go to the farmer's market after work on Thursday. I considered not going and just telling her I went, but I was worried that it would have been canceled or she would ask me a very specific question or something and then she would know I was lying to her, so blah, I went. After passing by tents selling apples and smelly soaps I spotted a cheese booth. Naturally, I made a beeline, and after sampling five or six different ones from the friendly cheese lady, I pointed decisively to a small wedge and said, "I'll have that one." 

"That will be one million dollars, please," the no longer so friendly cheese lady said, with a gleam in her eye. And what was I going to say? Oh, I don't think the cheese that you and your husband slaved over for months is worth a million dollars? Do you happen to have any less extravagantly-priced cheeses for the budget-minded consumer? There was nothing to say, so instead I opened my wallet and gave her my last twenty.) 

Even with my relatively "cheap" (ha!) apartment in a decidedly unswanky and inconveniently located part of town (complete with back alley views), and even battling the 9-5:30 or 6:00 grind of a job I hate, and even giving up my car, and shopping, and vacations (not that I'll get any paid time off until after I've worked there a full year), this is still going to be a losing venture. In the ongoing battle of Rachel v. Life, I think it's fair to say that I have encountered yet another setback. And this time I'm all out of ideas.             

20 comments:

  1. You really can't put too high a price on a perfect piece of cheese. But I really do sympathize with you. The economy must improve sometime. Until then I'm sure your writing talent and sense of humor will see you through.

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  2. I accidentally bought 35 euros worth of macarons at a French market. It's a very weird story which I won't bore you with. And they are not even my favourite things! But my friend and I did manage to eat them. Lol. I can't offer financial advice - I am not the best person to do that! But good luck. :-)

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  3. I've guilt bought so many things at markets over the years. It's too hard to say no to a nice little vendor after having sampled everything they are selling. A technique that can work well is when they say "that'll be 14 dollars", you say "oh shoot! I only have a 10 dollar bill! Do you take debit?" Most market vendors do not have debit machines of course, and so you look like you WANT to pay and it's her fault she doesn't accept bank cards.

    I know the finances are tight right now, but if you ever need to get away, come see me in Grenoble. I know you miss it ;)

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  4. Ugh, I always consciously have to ask at farmer market's how much things cost.

    But enjoy the hell out of the expensive cheese!

    Maybe this is the time to start getting your blog to make you some money?

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  5. Foster! Feline company but no long term expenses/commitment, plus the warm & fuzzy feeling that you're doing something good for a kitty in need. And if your predicament changes and you find yourself with more cashola, you can adopt! Win-win! Might be worth looking into :)

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  6. I once bargained hard with a vendor in a market in Mexico, only to realize that I had actually bargained the price UP when I factored in the exchange rate. I had been drinking a lot of tequila.

    Financial woes are very depressing; nothing panics me more. I'm tempted to offer a lot of unhelpful assvice, but I'll just offer my empathy instead.

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  7. What work are you doing (generally, not the specific employer) that you hate so much? Not worth the long-term pain, in my opinion. But eating is eating, if only rarely.

    M in DC

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  8. Rachel dear,

    One of my favorite quotes goes "There's always two ways out." You are not trapped.

    Have you ever thought about therapy?

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  9. I know it isn't appealing, but often times in my life I have worked at a part time job in addition to a full time job to make ends meet. It isn't all bad, though. I did meet my husband of 17+ years at one of those part time jobs. I was selling shoes at Sears after my full time teaching (in a psych. hospital for kids - paid even less than in a school!) job. Seriously, a job in retail or a restaurant or dealing with the public in some way can be a good way to meet people as well as make some extra cash. Jobs with tips (waitressing, hostessing, bartending...) are even better because you actually go home with cash in your pocket.

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  10. I second the therapy suggestion. It can sometimes help people out of a cycle they seem to be stuck in.

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  11. I just started working a PT job in addition to my full time job (making calls to set appointments from 6:30-9 about 4 days a week). Yeah, it's not glamourous, and yeah I don't like it too much, but the extra money that I'm making is much better than stressing out over how to pay bills. And plus, if you can find something that allows you to have a flexible schedule, you'll be able to work when YOU feel like it, and you'll be allowed to take a day off when you just feel like you've been worked to the bone at your FT job. Trust me, Rachel... they are options. Chin up!

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  12. Nothing like having strangers recommend therapy to improve your mood. Of course, I understand the suggestion because people who use the phrase "existential angst" never think about getting therapy.

    A part time job sounds like a good idea though, maybe some more translating?

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  13. More translating on the way Rachel. Likely 7 to 10 letters that need to be done very soon. I'm finalizing the English letters and hope to final approval today on the English letters.

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  14. I had a similar experience yesterday. I went to a screening of a friend's movie at Creative Artists Agency, the most powerful agency in the world. I was invited by a very well known actor who is a client there. And they charged me $34 dollars to park for a two hour screening. Said they'd given out all the validations and that they were really only supposed to validate clients. I didn't want to make too much noise about it, and Well Known Actor actually bought me dinner after (a group of us) so I guess I can't complain too vociferously except to say "wrong."

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  15. I clicked through one of your ads so hopefully that helps! Also, I have a cat and if things are tight DO NOT get a pet. We got her fixed and while she was there they ran a gambit of other tests on her and it ended up costing nearly $700. We got her free off the streets so it was our only big cost but still, if anything happens you do not want to be responsible for that bill.

    Also, I like all the therapy suggestions but I've been flat broke and depressed before AND there was no way I could afford therapy. You have anything good you can sell? That really helps to keep me afloat while I struggle with bills and rent. Either way, good luck!

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  16. I hope you find a better job: better paid with better money. You deserve it so much.
    There is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep looking!!!

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  17. I second the 2nd job suggestion. I've done it several times when money was tight, and yes, it does suck, but it's only temporary. And you meet new people. Or something.

    I went to therapy once when I was totally broke. "Sliding scales!" she promised. It turns out her minimum charge was $50 an hour. Therapy can be helpful, I suppose, but it's not for people who are barely making ends meet.

    Good luck, and P.S. Austin has pretty low cost of living...

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  18. What's with all the therapy suggestions? I think it's rude to bring this up if you don't know a person intimately.
    Life can be hard sometimes and we all go through our hurdles; we should be able to vent our frustrations without someone suggesting psychological assistance.

    I think the second job is an option, if you have the time and also why not get started on a book. You write well and even if you're not considering getting it published immediately it can be a good exercise if you have some free time on your hands.

    You're too intelligent to truly be stuck in a rut. You'll find a way out soon and in hindsight can chalk this up to 'the time when...”, it's not a permanent state for you.

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  19. I'm a bit of a therapist, you can find me at the local boozer with a pint of black stout and waxing philosophical on the problems of the world and certain individuals, i don't charge a thing.

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  20. Finally, a therapist who takes payment in the form of beer. I could totally work with that.

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