Sunday, September 23, 2012

Special People

Now that I’m back in school, I’m facing a dilemma. The more I’m involved going back to school the less I want to be at my day job. This isn't much of a surprise. It’s not like my current job is joyfully fulfilling. In fact, it’s downright boring and frustrating.

I currently work for the state government. Every day I get to interact with a variety of, well, let’s just call them special people. Most of the people who come in are just honest folks with questions about how to get things done. The special people, however, are just plain stupid or mean. The worst are those who are both stupid and mean at the same time. It’s hard to blame many of them for being frustrated, though. The laws that our Utah legislators have passed, mostly to get people vote for them rather than serve the common good, are confusing, conflicting and in some cases downright stupid.

It seems that the special people have somehow gotten it into their skulls that I make up the laws by pulling them out of my ass. They don’t seem to realize that the laws are made by our very special Utah legislators. They blame me, instead, yelling, threaten litigation and question my parenthood over things I have no control of. I give them the information they need to solve their problems, but when they don’t like what they hear, they get hostile. Worse are those who think they already know the answer and argue with you. I often wonder why they call if they knew the answer in the first place.

Sometimes I wonder how the special people function in life, or why we allow them to breed, vote, and drive cars. Unless you are one of these people, it should have become obvious why my job satisfaction is waning.

More and more I’d rather take my time to work on my degree. I’d like more time to practice my musical skills and do something for money that relates more to my field. Then again, I’m not sure the lack of job satisfaction is because I’ve gone back to school. Instead, I suspect it’s one of the reasons I went back in the first place.

Does the fact that I’m frustrated over this make me one of the special people?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Joy and Horror of Student Loans

Like many people, at least those who aren't independently wealthy, whose parents are wealthy, or have a wealthy sugar daddy, I have to get financial aide to pay for school. At my age, and with a degree already, that amounts to student loans. Forget the Pell grant. I’m old, white, male, and underemployed. I have to borrow money.

I don’t like to borrow money. As a general rule, I hate debt. You wouldn’t know it, considering how much I’ve got, but I’ve learned over the years that earning interest is better than paying it.

There are three things I think it’s generally okay to go into debt for: a home, an education, and emergency medical treatment. The first two are nearly cost prohibitive without loans. The last can be unavoidable. When loss of life, limb or bodily function is concerned, you really don’t have many options.

There’s one or two more that some people might argue for: a car and vacations. I’m not a big fan of going into debt to take a vacation, although Richard Nixon was. Save up for it, and you’ll enjoy happy memories of a vacation, instead of cursing the fact you went as you make out each over-priced credit card bill.

Cars are trickier. I admit I’ve paid for card repairs with a credit card. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t feel I had a choice. I live in a car state. Public transportation is a pain, takes three times as long, and doesn’t go everywhere I need to go. Just to get to work, I need a car. It’s almost like an extension of a medical bill. Still, I’d rather not go into debt if I don’t have to.

The happy thing about student loans is that I get to go back to school. That means I can repurpose my life and create better employment opportunities leading to better ways to care for my family. I have a greater opportunity to pursue happiness in my life, instead of giving in to depression and hoping I get killed on the freeway so that my life insurance will pay for my wife and kid's livelihood.

The problem is that student loans add up fast, and are deferred. Don’t get me wrong, as a soon-to-be starving student one more bill is NOT what I need. But when I'm done, I've got pay them back. The payments come on fast and hard. Because the debt it high, they don’t get paid off very quickly, either. Not unless you suddenly become wealthy. That’s not a situation most college students find themselves right after graduation.

I didn’t go into debt lightly. It was a decision I thought quite a bit about, but the benefits seemed to outweigh the challenges. I will still be working as much as I can while going to school. I will still be supporting my family the best I can. I am sacrificing some things to try and create something better.

Now if I can just get my homework done.

Photo credit: Gabriella Fabbri

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coming Back From Limbo

You may not have noticed it, but I’ve been in limbo. The only way you didn’t notice is if this is your first time at this blog. My life took several bizarre turns into unexpected terrain over the last few years. Some of the scenery was quite nice, but frankly, most of it was treacherous.

The bottom line to this odd rambling is that, after all this time, I’m back in school. I’m not looking at being a chiropractor, anymore. Instead, I’m pursuing a degree in music therapy.

Why the change? Good question. There’s no quick answer. I thought about a lot of things, and a lot of things happened to me. I have older children and building a new career, requiring so much more time away from them, seemed unfair. There was also the cost, fear of failure, and the fact that making music is an integral part of my being.

I’m a musician; a composer. I already have a degree in it. I have to make music. It’s as if a part of me dies every day I don’t make music in some way. Whether it’s sitting down and composing, playing the piano, or singing songs and playing the guitar, it doesn’t matter. I have to make music or I go insane. Trust me. It isn’t pretty.

I actually started classes this fall at the USU extension in Tooele. The plan is to take as many of the psychology and human development classes that I can, here. Next fall, we’ll move to Logan and finish the degree at the main campus. This will allow my oldest daughter to finish high school in Tooele and give us more time to sell our house. This works out for my wife, too. She’s already pursuing a degree in Family Life Studies at USU Tooele.

So life is in flux again. That’s okay, though. I don’t mind, this time. As many uncertainties as I’m facing with this move, at least I have a direction to move in. The journey continues.