cluttering the net since 2001

college of hard knocks

Saturday, Nov. 06, 2004
From an email from my direct supervisor at the U.

As soon as your 90 days are up, you can start taking classes for free. If you want to start earlier than that, you'd have to use financial aid. SO, wait a few more days and you can apply for the full tuition waiver. WHICH MEANS that all of the financial aid will come directly to you for use in paying bills while you are at school (books, a new computer, house payments, etc). Some if it will be a grant which you wouldn't have to pay back, some of it will be a low interest loan (2.77%!!) that you would start paying back 6 months after you finish school. Catalina can help you with the FA process. It's very cool.

Full tuition waiver….which means ALL of the financial aid will come directly to me? Wow. So the U. pays for my tuition and I get the entire financial aid amounts for my own personal use at 2.77%. Unreal. So I get an education and I can straighten out my financial life. How many times does any individual get such an offering in life? Not many.

After all that I have been thru in my lifetime I somehow feel like this is retribution. For all the things I have endured and suffered thru and lost….I know what it is to live in public housing (did that in Pennsylvania for ten months in 1992 with a 4 month old son and a loser husband who lost his job in Texas because he had so many speeding tickets he never paid and had to serve them out in ten different counties in Dallas), I know how frustrating it is to eat macaroni and cheese while your lazy jobless neighbors eat steak on the government dollar, I know what it is to have a car repossessed (had that happen on three separate occasions to my own vehicle and once to the ex-spouses vehicle…watching the taillights of your car leaving your driveway is NOT fun), I can however tell the difference between the early morning garbage truck and the early morning repo one. I have had a house foreclosed upon (painting over all your stenciling and painted poetry at 2 a.m. with no air conditioning and buckets of tears…also NOT fun), I have been homeless (albeit for only about ten seconds until Rick came to my rescue…thank you honey!!!), I know all the colors of all the late notices for cable, electricity, telephone, water and sewage in 3 states!! (This is useless knowledge these days!!!), I also know that IF they turn off your electricity and or water you CAN turn it back on yourself and buy yourself at least a week to come up with the money to pay the bill your loser spouse didn’t pay even though he could have. I know that if you write a check at Walmart and get cashback of $20 you can do whatever it is you need to do as long as you have 2 days to cover that check. I know how to make three gallons of kerosene heat your entire shitass trailer in the spicks of PA for a week if you’re frugal and careful. I can also heat a not so big room in a trailer with a hairdryer to keep a baby sufficiently warm, although I never did quite figure out how to do so without at some point making said baby roll around in a frenzied fit about the horrid noise hairdryers make, but I’m thinking duct tape might have worked. I know how to raise a baby on garage sale items, I can make 112 tasty meals with Ramen Noodles if need be, I can check my own oil, fix a slightly faulty hair dryer, I know how to stretch all household items such as shampoo, spaghetti sauce annnnd laundry detergent. You CAN use q-tips to get another faceful of foundation out of the already empty bottle and cap and if you wear the same Nikes for two years you can keep them clean “enough” with a capful of Tide with bleach every month. (hint: do not dry sneakers in the dryer if you need them to last 2 years) I know that you can “share” cable if you make GOOD friends with a trusting neighbor. You can also make quick money on those last minute Garage Sales selling anything and everything if you truly have no other income source. I once had a woman tell me that she plugged her electricity from her refrigerator into the apartment complex’s electricity source on her outside light fixture for two weeks to keep her food available, and I know that a past co-worker of mine at HSN used to recycle her children’s milk from cereal on Monday for their cereal on Tuesday, ( I think this is disgustingly germy but if you have 4 kids and little income you do what you need to do and I counted myself lucky to never have been a milk recycler! Eewww how slobberly gross…) I once lived on spaghetti and cereal and nothing else for 2 ½ months. I know it can be done. I once lived on nothing but corndogs for a week, that can be done too. I know how to drive on gas fumes and just how long and how far you can go in most every car I’ve ever owned pre-truck days. I know that you can buy some pretty darn nice things at thrift shops, secondhand stores but mostly the best places to scope out are garage sales in ritzy neighborhoods. My son wore gap, carters and Oshkosh his entire infanthood off of one rich bitch ironically from Richland, PA. No one could figure out quite how I pulled that one off, but it was a Sunday and she saw my pathetic car and my adorable baby cooed at her just right and WHAM I had bagfuls of clothes and he lived the threaded high life his entire first year and a half of life off of her husbands well paid job. He was soo darned cute too. Ahhh memories… I know that you can beg borrow and never steal and still make it. You can in a pinch call up the Pampers hotline and tell them that your baby’s diapers aren’t sticky enough and when he crawls they fall off, they WILL send you coupons for free bags of diapers and you will make it thru that particularly rough week with baby ass intact. You can do that same thing with laundry detergent (lumps in my bottle…) and hairspray (smells bad…) too. When you find yourself in bad situations you do whatever you have to do to survive.

But being someone who knows these things doesn’t make me someone who wanted to know these things, nor am I someone that lives this way anymore. I can buy any shampoo I want (I’m addicted to the $3.79 bottles of Pantene thanks to my future brother in law), I can afford name brand laundry detergent (but I seriously love the smell of one of the cheapest on the market, Purex $2.99 for a huge bottle, this addiction thanks to my man who’s clothes always smelled so yummy). I get my nails done at $17 a fill and I spring for a pedicure once a month at $30 a pop, and I usually still bask in my own ability to do this. I find it to be unfrugal and I tend to love every pedicure moment as though I were starved for years. I can buy most anything I want within reason and I usually do. I work hard, I have two jobs, and I deserve to have certain things and because of my past I enjoy every moment of self indulgence to the fullest.

College was something I always wanted but was never an option. I was 19 when my mother kicked me out. I had to go build a life and that life just didn’t include the option to go to college. The money wasn’t there and I had to earn it and survive. I moved to Texas with only my belongings in my car and bought a bed and started with nothing. I had one pot, one pan and the spaghetti months ensued. I don’t regret those lean and ugly years, I do hate my ex for his part in making them harder because of his irresponsible nature, but I do NOT regret the lean years and the lessons learned. I am a stronger person for it all. But…now 15 years later I am grateful for the opportunity to not only go to college but to do so with some help and a lot of opportunity to concentrate on my studies. I have nothing whatsoever standing in my way. Nothing at all. I feel giddy and excited and so damn rich in spirit and hope. I have the support of all of my bosses and my son. My fiancé ….he’s planning on going to school as well. I went to the college of hard knocks, now it’s time to open the books.

To know that I won’t be eating Ramen Noodles and snagging free bottles of shampoo to do it….oh god what a blessing…what an absolute and utter blessing….I am so damn lucky. Oh but I have longed for this moment, now haven’t I?

First person to get a copy of my diploma you ask???? My mother who said I'd never do anything but push a broom at McDonalds, with a note that says "want fries with that?".

10:42 a.m. ::
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