Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Figure Out How To Make Grown-Up Money Week

This week is declared National Figure Out How To Make Grown-Up Money week. I'm devoting myself, all swollen itchy breasted bubble stomached 155 pounds 5 foot 7 inches of me, to moving toward my goal of not being The Working Poor anymore. Tangible steps must be taken, which can include speaking to a person about how they did xyz, checking into a college, emailing a question geared towards moving me toward the goal, and cannot include abandoning myself to delirious daydreaming about such frills as affording health insurance for my whole family, paying bills before the absolute last possible day or ELSE, replacing my husband's tennis shoes before the rips in the sides actually hang over his feet, paying Lola's Brownie fees on time and canceling our trash pick up so we can avoid having that monthly expense. Dakota's first cavity got fixed a month and half ago. The next one was canceled twice, so far, and I'd like to afford it before it becomes a root canal.

I've never ever been able to come up with a career goal that didn't make me sick with despair. I haven't been able to think of anything that makes a livable income which also wouldn't drive me to a higher zoloft dose and large amounts of red wine. Writing is and always will be my first love, what I have dreamed of doing professionally since age 5. I might have been able to make a living at it, had I started at the 'normal age' and finished school, but getting pregnant at 19 and becoming completely totally and thunderstruck in love with my baby boy changed all that. I worked full time as a nanny, making poverty level wages- less than minimum wage per hour- and went to school at night while my mom watched Dakota, but in the end the grind won, and my classes got fewer, stress and stressful events piled up, my illness sapped my energy and focus, and I finally came to a stuttering halt 3 classes short of my Associates Degree- 2 maths and one Biology Lab.

Speech Pathology. This is what I'm thinking of. I am still working on my novel and expect to complete it before baby arrives. I must also decide on a reasonable career goal day job, and begin heading that way. Speech Pathology doesn't bore me to tears, makes a liveable wage, is always open for job opportunities, and I could do a year and half program and begin working- after achieving my AA. I have to figure out how to afford my AA classes. They are cheap at the local community college, but even cheap is more than we have. So working on that. Also have to figure out how the hell I'm going to pay for year and half of school when California has a worse bank account than I do. I'm negatively thinking that the school won't be able to completely cover my costs. Job for tomorrow: call the college that has the Speech Language Program.

My aunt is a Speech Pathologist and her career has moved forward at a nice rate, and also stayed fresh and ripe with new research and applications, which I must have to stay happy. I have to take Statistics to get the SP degree and this is TERRIFYING. I am worse at math than my sons are at cleaning. That's bad. With a weekly tutor I can manage, another financial obstacle: paying for tutor. Without tutor, I flunk. Trust me. I tried. More. Than. Once.

Outside of this, I feel lice crawling on my head all the time, but when I look, I see nothing.

I'm fine!

Allison the Meep said...

You're so awesome. I'm so happy for you that you're going for a career that will keep you interested AND pay well. All while being a full time mom.

In the tutor area, do you know any people who would be willing to trade services? Trading has helped me a lot lately with the bakery at the farmers market. All my leftovers that would normally get wasted or just given away get traded for some awesome produce. Maybe you could work out some kind of deal with a tutor?

SJ said...

Somehow I managed to completely SUCK at math (as in, sometimes, I can't even multiply) and still managed to get a masters in public administration.

I do a bit more of a "desk job" than I think you would like (or hell, sometimes more than I myself would like!) but I'm happy to help you out anytime if you ever need any resume help or whatever. For whatever that's worth :) But I am pretty good at it.

Seriously -just take the classes. You'll be better at them than you may think. I was better (ten times moreso) in grad school than I ever was in college, because i wanted it more and I had real-world experience under my belt. School didnt seem so scary anymore.

Hang in there. I want you to be published SO much.

Shaista said...

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

It is like a fire raging through me, a hot ball of fire in that single lymph node, a chimney of soot in my neck.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Therese said...

I can't wait for your novel. I also hate math. Hate isn't strong enough. I LOATHE it. I detest it. I would rather pluck out my eyelashes than take stats. But I did it. With a LOT of help. It sucked. But you know what? Each day afterward has been a little brighter simply knowing that you are BEHIND ME abhorred Stats - BEHIND ME!

You. Can. Do. It.

Shana said...

You are fine! That's the most important part. Please, please, please... achieve your goal without enlisting the help of Sallie Mae or any other financial aid. I am 44 and paying off student loans and OMG BULLSHIT. Other than that, GO FOR IT.

anymommy said...

You can do it. You're amazing. And once that novel hits the shelves, you can focus on researching the next one.

PS Can I pick for you, just for fun?? Doula. Or midwife.

Annje said...

I hope you figure something out to go to school, but more than that I hope you find a career that you like and that pays the bills (besides writing, which will come, I am certain, with time). Education is always an answer. Don't be terrified of stats. I am not a math person and I had to take it and actually use it in a real study. It is theoretical, in some ways, more than mathematical. There are formulas that you have to practice with, but in real life there is fabulous software that does it for you, you just have to understand what it is doing. It is hard to wrap your head around, but you don't have to be a stats major. You CAN do it!

Alexandra said...

Please keep pursuing the novel. I know in my gut it'll be fantastic.

Miranda said...

that's fantastic! I do stats as part of my psychology degree - trust me, no one could be worse than myself at maths!
From what I have found though, it isn't really maths so much as learning to interpret graphs and results. Its very dry, and can get tricky.. but with a tutor you'll be fine. :) Good luck with it!

Elizabeth said...

Yes. I understand that there's a terrible shortage of good speech pathologists. Learn augmentative communication skills along with it and you'd really be in demand given the numbers of nonverbal children and all the sophisticated new technology. Oh, good luck, Maggie. You are so young and your life will be good. I just know it.

Mwa said...

Great plan!

I am so sad for so many Americans though that medical things have to be figured financially. If I had to worry about that as well, I would go crazy! I hope Obama manages to get a little more of what he wanted past the naysayers. Before it all becomes root canal.


Ms. Moon said...

Let me know when you figure it out...
I know you can do this, Maggie. You are amazing.

Anonymous said...

I hate math too- suck at it (we should all start a group). It helped me to take Statistics at a local community college in the evening- somehow it was a smaller class and seemed more low key!
Speech Pathologist-hmmmm.... interesting!
Money- now that's a hard one.I was always a waitress before/along with social work.Great money, great hours- hard on the feet and not so good for pregnant women. Grants? Can you write grants? Are there those for devoted mothers who are dying to get some money?
Hugs and rocket fuel for your dreams!

Rachael said...

If we lived in So. Cal, I would offer to tutor you in statistics! I had to take it long ago - in college and then again in med school.

When I was in college, there were always free tutoring sessions in each department. There were kind of like group study halls, but you could get the one on one time in there too. I used to teach the chemistry one. I used to ATTEND the calculus one. (Oh, how I hated calculus, but thank goodness for geeky math majors who were really good tutors!)

Your plan sounds like a good one. And it's language related, so it suits you. I hope you sell your novel too. Maybe you could use the advance to buy BOOKS...for school. =)

Jessica said...

You'll get there.

Unknown said...

It sounds like you have set yourself quite a little plan here. Good luck, I think you can do it little Mama!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I left behind a journalism major, in part, because I so despised statistics. I felt I would NEVER EVER be able to pass it. To top it off, my professor was foreign and had very bad, broken English. I couldn't understand a damn thing.

Good luck with everything, Maggie.


Wine and Words said...

I chose my major for the fact that at that time it was the only one with no math requirement!

Anyway...look at you, trying so hard, being strong and looking forward. Go for it girlie.

erin said...

AHhhhhh! Every time I get uptight or nervous about anything, I feel lice all over my head. I've never had lice, but I know that they're there.

Money. Fucking money.

Katya said...

you can do it! focus on the things you can do. It will happen if you want it too.

Blunt Delivery said...

ah yes. how many times i have changed my career path.

no worries, as soon as your novel comes out you will be rolling in the dough. i know i will be first in line.

Speech pathology sounds like a good choice though - but i'm in the same boat as you as far as finishing degrees and such. it's really hard to come up with the cash right now.... or ever.

Bluefemme said...

I hate Math too! Thank God I only needed one Match classes for my career. Good luck! I'm sure you will achieve your goals!

Rebecca said...

Statistics was way easier than college algebra and many of the other math classes I took throughout college. Some of those classes were even 'easier' than the other two. Elementary algebra and intermediate algebra were both killers....but statistics............much easier. MUCH

I don't know if they have First Steps where you live, but if they do, you can almost make your own hours working with kids from birth until the age of 3.

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,

It's possible, quite probable, you would qualify for a Federal PELL Grant to continue school. PELL Grants do not have to be paid back. For general information and qualifications, here's a link to the federal government site:

Here's the site for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which includes applying for the PELL Grant: You apply right online, and it doesn't cost anything to apply.

Regarding Math, most community colleges offer free tutoring labs for enrolled students.

You could schedule an appointment with Student Advisement at the college you want to go to, to find out which of your credits are still good, how to apply for student aid, and what you need to do to finish your degree.

Speech Pathology is a great, worthwhile field of study.

I used to work for a Community College as a Disabled Student Services Advisor and as a Veterans Affairs Coordinator.

Good luck finding out about everything!

On another note: I wish I was rich, and I could publish your novels, and collections of your poetry and personal essays. You are a great writer!

Julia Christie said...

Listen. you need to check into grant money for college. The government is full of programs for mom's just like you. check out - the process is simple, just need your tax return, and you will get grants (free money) and possibly some loans(although at a lower income level it is more likely to be mostly grants)and they pay for childcare too.

My daughter has had her full tuition paid for so far by GRANTS!


Catherine said...

You can do stats - just look at things in different ways as much as possible. Pracice. Figure out what your weaknesses are by testing yourself, and iron them out slowly. Test yourself again and realise you're getting better.

But you are a wonderful writer. What about taking creative writing courses? Or teaching English? Somehow building on your previous college courses? Writing some Mills and Boon? :P

I totally empathise, I am 27 and career-less. And penniless too!

Angie Muresan said...

Statistics isn't really math. It's mostly common sense. Keep that in mind, and you'll be fine.
So happy for you, Maggie. You've made the right decision.

Lydia said...

I completed my sophomore year of university then moved where my ex- was accepted to law school. Thought I'd finish after he graduated, but got a divorce instead. Years of office jobs followed. I even got my general lines insurance license but hated selling insurance.
In 1996 I was a support staff supervisor in the state auditing agency. The professional staff of auditors was comprised of financial auditors (most of them CPAs)-auditing financial records of state agencies and performance auditors-who did fraud, waste, and abuse audits of state agencies. That year I got student loans and began the 18-month adult degree completion program at a private Oregon university. (Two years of college are required to qualify.) I cut my work hours from 40 to 35 per week and did school one four-hour evening per week with some Saturdays on campus. This particular program for a BA in Management was writing intensive, made to order for me. Everything was pretty much a snap for me until........STATISTICS! OMG it was so hard. My husband is a CPA and brilliant with statistics and he became my tutor for that course. I absolutely know what you mean that you wouldn't make it through Stats without a tutor, because that was totally the case for me. But I opened up my brain and he poured in the knowledge. I even remember some of it today.
When I graduated (at age 47!) the audits director asked me what my plans were now and I told him point-blank that I wanted to be a performance auditor on his professional staff. It was a huge day for me when I reported to work on the other side of the building. The work was great, real career stuff with real career pay, and I enjoyed it for two years before my mother became terminally ill. I left work to care for her and since her death I have not worked. We are still paying off my college loans, and maybe it's sad that I am not "using" my degree but there is a sense of completion in me now that just feels so right.
Quite a few of the people who were in the adult degree completion courses with me had gotten AA degrees with the planned intention of going for the adult degree completion BA while working.

Sorry to be so long, but wanted you to know that it's never too late to make a plan and jump through all the hoops to realize your dream. You can do this, Maggie!

magnoliaamber said...

Maggie May keep working:)

Valerie Loveland said...

I wish I read this when I was going through this same thing a year ago! I never thought of Speech Pathologist!

I am an optician apprentice right now at an optical shop. I am really lucky I can apprentice instead of going to school because I can't afford school either.

Miss M said...

I totally agree with everyone that is telling you to try for financial aid. I was a mother in college and I got a completely full ride (within the last ten years!). I did not pay for one single tuition payment or book. Nothing comes for free though, there are a MILLION hoops to jump through, but having your education paid for is priceless! Stick with the process. It can be tough, but it is completely worth it the day you walk across that podium and see your kids faces smiling up at you!

Amanda said...

I know exactly how you feel and you couldn't have described it better. It's uncanny.

I recently decided that I'd be pursuing writing a lot more. It's what I've always loved and I never want to look back and regret not trying. BUT, for the reasons you described, I also need a job. It's going to be a bit unsavory, but that's life.

No doubt you will make it though.

michelle said...

One more bit of advice. Take statistics as a summer night course. That's what I did. I so do not have a brain for statisics, but it was condensed down to the basics and more manageable.

You can do it. And in the process set a great example for the kids.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

You would make an excellent public speaker about how you have made a life. I am not kidding. Did you know that people with far less talent than you possess write their little books and speak on tour in little book stores. People line up to buy those books.

Give your blog to your publisher. Now. Whole. Don't change a word.

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