Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Bring In December, Bring In the Funk

I had a rant all prepared to post on Monday, but I think I left my disk in the computer at the school library, so I have to see about getting that back. November was an interesting -- albeit highly stressful -- month that thankfully is over, and I'm praying that December is better.

For one, tips last month were horrendous. As in worse than our worst time of year, after Christmas and New Years. This is supposed to be our money-making season, but everyone seems to be holding on to every dollar with an iron fist. It's not even a question of working more shifts; during the week, even on a night shift, people have been making like $12 for the entire night. I could work seven nights a week and still not even come close to coming out even.

So it's been very frustrating, because I have been working hard, working extra, pulling split shifts and BDs (which means I start during day shift and work all the way through until dinner business declines), and still have not had enough money to cover all my bills and rent. I've been at a total loss as to what to do, since there is no such thing around here as a better-paying job for me, and I can't seem to find any way to make some extra cash. I mean, one solution would have been to donate plasma for an extra $200 a month, but they deferred me indefinitely, citing that I may have Mad Cow Disease because of my exchange year in France during high school.

That and the fact that finals are next week, this semester is almost over, and I've been facing the fact that I can't register for classes -- or get any financial aid -- without my measles/mumps/rubella immunization records. I had those shots in 8th grade in San Francisco, and I sent to my old school for them, but they never came.

Stress, stress, stress. It kills me that the sole cause of stress in my life is money. If I had money, even just enough to cover everything, I would be so incredibly less stressed. But around here, it's just beyond impossible to get ahead. My motto lately has been: Alena: Always Getting By, Never Getting Ahead. I've honestly been at my limit as to what I can take with all the stress. I've felt completely drowned in it and there really didn't seem to be any option. It's not like I can work more, or even get another job. Can't donate plasma, can't sell crack, can't become a prostitute. What's a girl to do?

So anyway, the other night, I was lying in bed feeling really swamped and depressed -- I had just accidentally erased my entire hard drive -- and I finally just prayed for help. I prayed hard, poured my heart out, asked for some relief to my financial quagmire, since I do believe I've honestly done all I can do and that there are no options available to me. The odd thing was when I prayed, I felt that someone was listening, and when I finished, I had a real sense of relief.

The next day, I checked the mail before I left for school and I had a satisfyingly thick envelope from my school containing my financial aid/student loan approval package. Everything finally got processed and I'm to get a substantial chunk for both this semester that's ending, and for next. They quoted me a total of $6,675, both financial aid and loan amount for both semester, but I know it's going to be less because I'm currently only half-time. Still, if I get even half of that, it would help me so tremendously.

On top of it, I went to the financial aid office with the envelope to be sure I did everything right on the form they wanted me to return, and I found out that if I get my MMR shots within the week, I can pick up my financial aid check for this semester next week. Next week! It honestly could not be a better time.

I'm going to Italy over the holidays, as I mentioned, which means I'll have to drive up to Pittsburgh to get to the airport. I was very concerned about this, not only because it's been so long since anyone looked at my car that I'm afraid it'll die on the way up there, but also because my car is totally illegal still and I'm petrified to drive, lest I get pulled over and they take my car away. So this financial aid check will mean that I can get my car registered and insured before I leave, and most likely I can also have someone take a look at it and make sure it's running all right.

Before anyone yells at me about misspending my aid, let me point out first that my tuition was paid up front and I have been waiting to be reimbursed. Also, technically, I think I'm allowed to spend my aid on transportation costs. At least, I'm allowed to spend my loan money on things like transportation costs and living expenses, and that, to me, includes maintenance of the vehicle that gets me to school. Unlike my psycho ex, who, amongst other things, used $300 of her student loan money on a down comforter, I don't plan to abuse any of my aid or loan money. I recognize what an absolute gift it is -- thank you taxpayers -- and I plan to use it very wisely. You won't see me buying a car or down comforter or anything like that. I will use it to help me get by and try to save what I don't spend so I have a bit of a financial buffer should anything go wrong.

So, on one hand, I feel a tremendous relief. I still have all the problems looming and no cash in hand, which is why my relief isn't complete. I think also because I don't know exactly how much I'm getting, and that I won't have the loan money until January or so, I'm still a little worried. But my tuition was over $600, plus I spent about $150 on books, so I figure I should get at least that, and if that's the case, that should cover everything I need to cover right now. If it looks like I don't have much left over once I take care of my overdue bills and car stuff, I will put my ticket on hold until I get my loan money. I have until January 17th or something, anyway, and my second round of financial aid should come through around that time.

I'm thankful -- no, extremely grateful -- for this bit of providence. God, the universe, whatever you want to call it, does look out for us and will provide for us if we live good lives and have faith. It's hard sometimes having faith that the universe will provide for you, no matter what, especially when it seems like you're stuck with no way out. However, if you don't have faith, you have nothing.

I leave for Italy on the 15th, and I'll be gone until January 7th. My mom has internet, though, so I'll likely be blogging from the winter storm-swept Mediterranean coast over the holidays and filling you all in on the nothing that happens in Monterosso during this time of the year. :)

Plus I will have my mom's digital camera finally, so I'll be able to take all sorts of pictures.

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