It’s A Beautiful Day!

This sounds strange since today comes on a different day each year, but I prepare for today all year. I can’t predict when today will happen until I wake up in the morning and it’s just here. You can’t plan for it or predict it or do anything to ensure it goes according to plan. In fact, by the end of the day, I’ll probably be miserable and exhausted from waking up too early.

After the massive storms we’ve had in the area recently, the temperatures really dropped and the humidity leveled off. It went from being in the 80s but feeling over 100, to sweater weather in a matter of days. Right now my weather app is saying it’s 48 degrees and sunny right now.

We turned off the AC a few days ago, only turning it on when it rains. I’ve been able to sleep with the windows open the last few nights as long as I keep the fan on. The precious and tiny Bowser Kitten is in his glory, sitting in every window he can, sniffing the fresh air. I keep finding his little cat toys crammed into the window pane up against the screen.

Last night I opened the window to let the slight chill in and threw on my little shorts and a tank top for bed. As much as I love my Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, sleeping next to him is like wrapping your body around burning hot coals for eight hours. In the summer, I need a fan and tiny pj’s to make it through the night. Usually, when he wakes up for work, I steal his blanket for an hour or two to nap and cool down after sleeping with him all night.

Today, I woke up shivering a little. I was already snuggled up to AAB and starting to steal his blanket and had a very warm Bowser Kitten asleep on my feet. With the window open and the fan on full, the room was damn chilly. After AAB left for work, I curled up under his blanket with a fuzzy kitten on my feet and tried to fall back asleep. He leaves for work at 6 am, and I don’t work today until 4:15 pm, so I needed a little more sleep. I just laid there, shivering and staring at the ceiling, a big grin spreading across my face.

It’s the first day that it really, truly feels like fall.

So I got up and dug through the tea cabinet, looking for the Christmas coffees that only come out at Bulk Barn right before Christmas. I save a few for a few special days each year: one for mum’s birthday celebration (she’s the Christmas Queen), one for the day I put up the Christmas decorations, and one for the first day that feels like fall. Today was Hot Buttered Rum coffee, followed up a giant mug of cinnamon tea.

Even though it’s cold in here, I’m still wearing my little shorts and the tank top I slept in. Instead of throwing on my usual morning flannel and slipper boot combo, I stole AAB’s blanket off the bed. It’s this big, soft blue blanket my grandma kept on her couch that AAB and Bowser Kitten curl up in all the time. This morning, I just wrapped myself up in it like a giant burrito, with only my face and hands sticking out.

So here I am, curled up like a giant blue fuzzy turd, sipping cinnamon tea, listening to Halloween tunes on Spotify, and just reading. I’ve been up for like 5 hours now, and would just be making my breakfast and coffee right about now most days. But today I’ve had my coffee, ate my bagel, moved on to my tea, and read some useless random knowledge from my newest Bathroom Reader.

Every summer I look forward to this day. I’m not a huge fan of the heat and humidity here and tend to get lazy in the summer months. But autumn, that’s MY season. That’s when I take longer walks, open up all the windows and clean more, and just get really motivated to do ALL the things. I eat better, I work out more, I read more, and I’m just more focused. It’s like my body and mind are clearing themselves out and de-stressing before the clusterfuck that is the Christmas season for me.

So have a beautiful day! Treat yourself to something small. Find the beauty in the things around you. Smile a little longer at that cutie you check out at work all the time. Throw on your favourite tunes and dance around the house with your cat for a bit. Just enjoy this day Sunshine!

Advertisements

The World is Full of Well-Meaning People

So I’m a little lost right now, as you know. I’m working a customer service job that I absolutely love most days. Problem is, I went to university and took out a shit tonne of loans. Then, to afford basic survival right out of university, I lived on very sporadic shifts at work, my life savings (which wasn’t a whole hell of a lot, to begin with), and credit cards. I have the education, the skills, and the knowledge for a whole bunch of jobs out there that pay a hell of a lot better than Customer Service Representative wages. There’s a tonne of competition out there from other people with the education, skills, and knowledge though, so shit is rough.

I’ve talked a bit about my struggles with job hunting. I’m not too worried about it because I have a job. I’m saving up to get more permanent residence in the next year or so, and trying to focus on the things I have in my life as opposed to the things I’ve been told I SHOULD have at this point in my life. I used to focus on those things a lot, and it puts me in a very dark place. I don’t like that place, the music is depressing and no one will dance with me. I know something else will come along at some point, and I’m not about to stress myself out any more than I have to about my job hunt right now.

But there are so many well-meaning people out there who just want to help, and it’s driving me crazy right now.

I have a few people in my life who send me job ads online. They’re usually accompanied by the usual “I thought you might be interested in this jobs, it seems perfect for you” message, followed by repeated “did you apply” messages in the days to follow. I always read whatever it is they send me, and I’ll tell you that a good 95% of the jobs are things I am completely NOT qualified for. It’s not even like “well they want 5 years of experience, and I only have 4 years” or anything super close like that. I mean, if I meet around 60% of the qualifications they want in an ad, I’ll apply to that job. But the job ads I’m sent are so far off of what I’m actually qualified to do, I have to wonder if these people actually read the ads before they sent them to me.

Case in point: a relative who will remain nameless (hi mom!) keeps sending me these job ads. I’m pretty sure they just see the company name, assume it’s something I could do, and send it off. She seems to think that, because she knows a few people who work for that company who have less education than me, I should be qualified for pretty much any job there. By now, she starts pretty much every job ad message with something along the lines of “I know you don’t like when I push you like this, but I just couldn’t pass this up”, followed by a job I am in no way qualified for.

Today’s job ad was for a company whose website I check weekly for ads. I knew for a fact that there were three jobs on there, none of which I am qualified for. The one I was the most qualified for (I don’t have the necessary experience, but I can’t pass up applying for a job that actually requires a degree in Criminology), I met maybe half the qualifications. This wasn’t the one she sent me. This job required at least 5 years of call center management experience, an advanced degree in Business, knowledge of computer programs I’ve never even heard of, classes in advanced statistical analysis using software I’ve never used, and bilingualism (English and French, since this is Canada). Like, the only things in the long list of qualifications that I had were customer service experience and the ability to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

So I messaged this relative that may be my mother, and I told her all of the things in the ad that I’m not qualified in. She didn’t believe me. It didn’t seem possible to her. She knew two or three people who got jobs at this company (in their call center, not in the positions available right now) who don’t even have degrees, who had jobs that have nothing to do with the industry, who had no experience. In her mind, because these people got jobs with this company, me and my multiple degrees should have no problem getting any position at all there. It doesn’t matter what the qualifications are, or what the position is. The fact that someone without the education I have got a job somewhere in this company means that obviously, I can get any job there I apply for.

This totally pisses me off and puts me in the foulest mood. Like, I was in a pretty decent mood this morning, drinking my coffee and planning my shopping trip to the local international market. Had a cat at my feet, flannel on my back, and caffeine in my veins. I was ready to get my day going, and then that message came through. I was in such a shit mood after that.

I know she was just looking out for me, and thinking about me. But all she did was see the company name, not the ad, and decided to send it off. The way most people send me these messages, it’s almost like they’re guilting me into applying for a job I either have no interest in or am totally not qualified for. Like I said, I have a job right now. I’m not going to rush out to take just any job. I like the job I have, even if other people seem to think it’s below me (I hate that thinking, but that’s a whole other post for a whole other day). I still continue my job search, but I limit my applications now. I’m only applying for jobs that I want, that I think I would be damn good at, jobs that make me think I could really make a difference doing that job. If I’m going to find a career, I want to make sure it’s not something that will make me completely miserable until I (maybe, possibly, hopefully, someday) retire.

We all have those well meaning people in our lives. They’re the ones who, without asking you what it is you want, push you forward in the direction they think you want. They’re the ones who say things like, “But you’ve always been so smart! Why wouldn’t you go to university” when all you’ve ever wanted to do was be a mechanic. They’re the ones say things like “well hopefully soon you’ll find a real job” when you really enjoy your job. They’re the ones for whom your life is just never good enough somehow. They want you to get a better apartment, or buy a house, or change jobs, or relationships. They’re totally supportive when you’re doing something that plays into their concept of you and would bend over backward to help you. But it’s that concept of you they’re trying to push, not the real you.

I have no clue how to really handle these people, Sunshine. Like I said, I have more than a few of them in my life. None of them seem to want me living where I live, working where I work, or writing what I write. In their minds, they’re just pushing me to be a better me. But for them, nothing is good enough.

Do you have these well-meaning people in your life too? Comment below, or drop me a line at thefailedgrownup@gmail.com . We can find a way to deal with them together.

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

Well, here in my little University town, it is officially move in day for the residence students. That means that not only is campus flooded with new students and their folks, but the 7-11 I go to every freakin Sunday for my junk food meal of chicken wings and a corn dog is going to be beyond packed and utterly destroyed. That also means that Casa del Failure is packed again.

Once again it’s me, your favourite failure, with my precious Bowser Kitten and the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend taking care of the place. I do most of the general cleaning int he common areas and small repairs; AAB does all the yard work, the really dirty work, and scrubs out rooms when people move out; and Bowser Kitten is in charge of pest control. We have our quirky and quite strange roommate A, who failed to learn how a slow cooker works in his 46 years on this planet (at least I think he’s from this planet), on the main floor with us. In the basement is our young student C, who Bowser absolutely adores right now, taking up the most recently vacated room. And our newest addition is a recent masters graduate we’ll call J, whose girlfriend was my next-door neighbour and babysitting charge more than 15 years ago in a whole other city.

Yes, once again I am living in a house full of dudes. This is a two ovary household still.

So far, things don’t seem too bad. The only real problem we had was with the people moving OUT of rooms. Over the years that I’ve been here, our basement has become quite the collection of randomness that people seem to think I either want or have a burning desire to get rid of for them. Seriously, our little storage area in the basement (which is really just a wide open area when you first come down the stairs with no organizational structure at all) is beyond filed, with things spilling out into the basement common area (where we keep the really really comfy couch).

 

Yes, that is a random tire, a whole bunch of styrofoam, an old broken fan, and a box of old used beer pitchers.  Seriously, what the hell do people think I’m going to do with this crap? It’s not like they left it behind and said, “I don’t have access to a truck to haul this off to the dump. Can I leave it here so you can take it the next time you go?”. They just left it behind in a big pile down there. And that’s not all that’s been left behind over the years, either.

 

That right there is most of a Christmas tree, a treadmill, a box of Christmas lights (which I am actually keeping and putting up in the living room because the lighting sucks in there), and a box of Christmas ornaments. A few of those ornaments were made for the guy who left them here by his freakin son!  So now not only do I have to find a way to get all of this crap to the dump, I have to haul a fucking treadmill up the ridiculously awkward basement stairs!

It gets worse too, Sunshine. When AAB moved in here, the landlord cut a deal with him and paid him to clean out the rooms and bathroom in the basement. Why? Because the last tenant who lived down there (who left the tires, a box of wires and chords, and a few old alarm clocks) was a huge pig. It looked like he had tried to sweep before leaving, but just left piles of dirt and debris all over the bedroom floor. There were old McDonald’s bags from months before, random school papers everywhere, and the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned once in the year he was living down there. AAB spent days down there hauling up garbage, scrubbing layers of mold off the bathroom shower, and basically sanitizing the entire basement.

Sad thing is, this isn’t the first or last time this has happened.  The most recent dude to leave here left behind the tree, Christmas things, random end tables everywhere (who the hell has so many tables for no reason? I mean besides me now), and just garbage everywhere. And of course, no one can forget the guy who lived in my room before me who didn’t vacuum for more than a year. Even after vacuuming the carpet multiple times, I wound up having an allergic reaction to something that had been ground in there and was covered in hives for 94 days.

Yes, 94 fucking days of hives. In the middle of summer, when sweat made the hives worse.

Living in a house you don’t own doesn’t give you free reign to trash the place or disrespect the owners (or your roommates). There are so many simple, little things that you can do to avoid pissing off everyone and someday ending up on some random person’s blog as their Roommate From Hell. So, here for your reading pleasure, I give you…….

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

#1: Clean Up Your Fucking Messes

This doesn’t just mean “scrape the berries off the ceiling after you try to make a smoothie in a blender with no lid and cause a giant purple delicious explosion in the kitchen”. Did you use the kitchen counter? Then grab a rag, or a clean sponge, or one of those disinfectant wipes, and wipe the fucking thing down. Use dishes? Fucking wash them!

It’s not rocket surgery here, but it’s the one thing I hear the most complaints about from people I know who are living with roommates. There’s nothing worse than coming home at the end of a long day, wanting nothing more than to throw a bunch of shit into a pot on the stove and make random deliciousness, and finding out that every fucking pot in the damn house is dirty and sitting in the sink. What makes it even worse is when you realize you haven’t touched the pots in days, they were clean right after you used them, and it’s the same fucking roommate using up everything all the time and just leaving it for you to clean.

This isn’t just in the kitchen, either. I could’ve avoided 94 fucking days of hives if someone had just picked up a vacuum every now and then and ran it across the carpet. It’s not a huge room, it only takes a few minutes. Hell, I got a shitty little handheld vacuum with a hose attachment to spot vacuum when I need it in here!

Just generally, clean up after yourself. You know all the shit your parents always bitched at you for, like picking up your socks and not leaving wet towels on the floor? I mean that shit. Pick up things you drop on the floor. If you take stuff into a common area, unless there’s a specific place you can put it, take it with you when you leave. I’m fucking horrible for this, always have been. I’ll take a pile of books, papers, and pens and just leave it somewhere when I leave the room. It’s something I consciously try to avoid doing, though, because I don’t want to be an asshole.

#2: Unless You’re Actually Trying to Wake the Dead, Pipe the Fuck Down

The student life is fucking weird, and you keep the most bizarre hours sometimes. I can remember staying up for like 36 hours sorting through research once, taking a nap at like 10 am and then waking up at 2 pm to start writing for the next 5 hours. Between the classes, the class work, working a job or two, volunteering, clubs and societies, parties, and some semblance of a social life, you find yourself doing strange things like going to 7-11 at 3:30 am for coffee and a RockStar, and then going back again at 3:30 pm for the same thing. There is no one set schedule that all, or even most, students live on. That’s why it’s so damn important to pipe the fuck down.

If you have roommates, unless you’re sitting in the same room together right this very second, you don’t know if they’re sleeping. Or, at the very least, trying to sleep. I once had a roommate who had this big old tv in her room, which was right next to mine. She didn’t care if I worked late the night before, or was up all night writing papers. By 10 am her TV was on and cranked as loud as it would go. I could go downstairs to the living room, turn on the tv down there, and STILL hear her TV. I couldn’t sleep during the day in my own room, let alone take a quick nap unless I had hit the point of total exhaustion where I could sleep through anything.

I admit that I’ve been the loud and annoying roommate at times. Sometimes, if I know everyone is awake, I love to blast some tunes in the shower and sing along. And just so you know, the Bowser Kitten has a better singing voice than I do, and he’s a fucking cat. Still, I now try to do that only when I know everyone is awake and most (if not all) of them are out of the house.

You generally don’t know when someone is sleeping, or napping, or trying to concentrate. I’m not saying you have to tiptoe around the house as quiet as a fucking mime. Let’s be honest here, mime’s are fucking creepy and I would never tell you to act like one! Just be a little considerate. Keep your shows and music at a somewhat reasonable volume.

Why am I sounding more and more like my mother while I write this?

#3: Not Everyone Is Your New Bestie

I’m a pretty solitary person usually. I practice voluntary hermit-ism. If it wasn’t for AAB, I would only leave my room to go to work and take a shit. I’m not totally anti-social or anything. I mean, if I run into a roommate while we’re both in the kitchen or something, I’ll chit chat. I’ve had roommates before who I was friends with, and we would sit around at night and watch tv together. I’m not living here to make friends, though.

All those TV shows where random people live in close proximity to each other and instantly become inseparable best friends for life are a lie. A bold-faced, spit in your eye, slap you across the face, help you move into a new apartment while they fuck your girlfriend in the closet at your old place, LIE!  Living under the same roof does not instantly make you best friends.

My one roommate “A” is constantly trying to strike up a conversation with me. If I’m chilling in the kitchen, I’ll chit chat for a bit while I cook. That’s fine with me. But just a few minutes ago I was cleaning the basement out. I was picking up mattresses and throwing them into a pile, moving the junk people have left behind, and “A” came downstairs. So there I am, hoisting a mattress up over my head while trying to walk around piles of junk, and he just starts rambling on to me about something-or-other. Next thing I know, he’s trying to push mattresses around back into the spaces I was pulling them out of! While I’m pulling stuff out of a tight spot, he’s pushing against and just rambling on about random bullshit.

I know, he’s lonely. He’s always trying to talk to anyone within earshot around here. I’ve taken to hiding when I hear his door open sometimes. It’s just annoying. Like, I just wanted to throw some old mattresses around and check all the Christmas lights that were down there in total peace. It’s my procrastination from writing. I clear my mind, blow off some steam, and lift heavy things over my head for a bit. I didn’t need him undoing my work while rambling my fucking ear off.

Don’t think that everyone in your house will want to sit around and let you talk their ear off. I have had roommates that I grew to be good friends with, some that I actively hate, but most of them were just sorta here. We didn’t chat, or hang out, or go out anywhere together. Sure, we talked when we were in the same room. I can tell you a few things I learned about each of them, and we had some laughs. Hell, I had a roommate I never spoke to outside of our kitchen who I bonded with over a few very large bottles of red wine while we tried to learn about wine tasting in an effort to sound smart at networking events (we failed massively and wound up very hungover instead). He’s moved out since then, and we don’t keep in touch. It’s not a big deal, we’re just not friends.

When you’re renting with random people or people you don’t know very well, don’t try and force the friendship. You might wind up friends with some of them, you might not. It’s no big deal, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend.

And NEVER, under any circumstances, try to force a new roommate into a “fun-filled” night in with you and all your favourite things. A friend had a new roommate try this, and said roommate pitched a fit when my lactose-intolerant vegetarian friend wouldn’t sit around eating burgers and drinking milkshakes for hours during one of the busiest weeks before exams.

#4: Is That Yours? Then Why The Fuck Are You Using It?

Years ago I had to walk home in the pouring rain, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of grabbing my biggest pot and making ALL the pasta for me and a friend. Like, we were walking in the freezing cold, rain soaking through our clothes, umbrella ripped to shreds from the wind, and all we could talk about was smothering pasta in butter and sopping up the butter with fresh hot bread. Pretty sure the rain was washing away massive amounts of drool. We finally get to my place, change out of our wet clothes, head to the kitchen to start cooking……. and all my pots are gone. I had four fucking pots, and they were ALL gone! A few minutes of snooping and we found all four of them, full of my roommate’s food, used up in the fridge.

This wasn’t the first time, or the last time, this particular roommate took my cookware. I’d come home from class and my stuff would just be gone. When I announced I was moving out, he actually had the nerve to try and hide some of my stuff from me! In the end, I did lose a few things in the move because of him. He grabbed stupid random shit (a toaster, a fan, frying pan, three plates and a bowl from a 4-person place setting) and locked it in his room for the week while he was out of town.  I couldn’t get them before I left.

If you’re my roommate and you ask me if you can borrow something, 99% of the time I’ll let you. I can’t help it, I’m Canadian to a fault and way too fucking nice to say ‘no’ to someone in need. All you have to do is ask. And I know a shit tonne of people who are the same way.

If you’re the one who needs to borrow something, don’t just reach for it unless you know you can use it. Don’t assume that just because your roommate doesn’t hoard their things in their bedroom, they’re fair game for everyone to use.  This kinda brings us to my last point for the day……

#5: Treat Everyone’s Shit As If It Was Your Shit

An old roommate had a bunch of roommates over the years in his house. Most of them were pretty chill, easy enough to live with. One turned out to be a disrespectful piece of shit who cost my friend and his landlord money over the time of this guy’s lease. Carpets had to be replaced because he never vacuumed them or cleaned up spills. He would burn cookware and just throw it back into the cupboard. He’d borrow a jacket or a sweater and just leave it somewhere random. He peeled paint off the walls, left food to rot on the counters, and even put holes in one of the walls. Nice enough guy, just a fucking nightmare to live with.

You’re paying money to live in someone else’s house. Don’t treat it like you’re Motley Cru and it’s a hotel room in 1986. It’s someone’s fucking property, their home. How would you feel if this was your place and someone treated it that way? Nevermind the anger from being disrespected, you’d probably be fucking pissed off about the money you’ve got to shell out for repairs!

If you borrow something from someone, treat it like it’s your own. Take care of it, wash it, give it back in one piece, and if something does happen to it then you damn well better replace it. Don’t treat your place and your roommate’s stuff like this is your personal playground.

 

All in all, if you want to not follow any of these tips, just remember one thing: someday you might need a reference. Most of the apartments in this area require AT LEAST one former landlord as a reference and more and more are asking for references from former roommates. So if you’re a giant dickwad to your roommates, lose and destroy their things, destroy the room you’re renting, and are just a horrible fucking human in general when it comes to renting, what are the chances anyone would want to give you a good reference?

Well Sunshine, the sun aint’ shining anymore today. I’m going to grab my sandwich and a glass of whiskey, throw on the comfy pants, and throw on a horror movie or three. Hope any of you moving for the start of the school year made it through the move safely, and without losing your shit (literally and figuratively).

Everyone’s Favourite Customer

The security gates have been pulled halfway out and the ends locked in place. Most of the cashiers have cashed out for the night, with the last two waiting on the few stragglers wandering the store. The end-of-the-night regulars have come and gone, and the cashiers have started their countdown to the end of the night.

“Four GLORIOUS minutes!”

That’s when he walks in.

“Good evening sir, we’re just getting ready to close for the night. Is there anything I can help you find?”

Grunt is too nice a word for the noise that somehow comes out of his throat, like a dying goat choking on dry oats.

“Looks like I made it just in time then. I know exactly what I want, I’ll be quick.”

But quick, he isn’t. He wants to make sure we have enough time to properly take in his majestic presence. His asscrack peaks out every-so-slightly from his two sizes too large jeans, which have managed to drag down the pot leaf print boxers providing the only barrier between denim and bottom. Those proudly displayed boxers match his slightly too small t-shirt and the filthy crooked trucker hat crookedly perched on his head, both emblazoned with pot leafs. He can almost hear the thoughts of every girl he passes in the store, “Wow, he is such a badass. I bet you he smokes pot. I need that sloppy pile of man meat all over me!”.

He slowly slinks through the aisle, with the swagger of a real suburban gangsta. Picking up each and every bottle, he examines them closely, as if to read each and every work on the back of the bottle. After all, it’s important to know the copywrite details of a winery’s label.

“Sir, the store will be closing in three minutes. Is there anything I can help you find?”

His smell. It’s not something you forget quickly. While the unmistakable smell of weed accompanies his marijuana-themed attire, there is a certain odor about him, a manly musk. It’s a mix of three days gym sweat, Cheeto dust, and a bottle of Axe body spray, and it lingers as he moves down the aisle.

“Yeah, I had this pine nut grigarion the other night at a restaurant and I was looking for it here. Do you have it?”

“I’m sorry sir, is it a pinot grigio you’re looking for?”

“Yeah, that’s it! Pine nut grigarion! All I see here is the white. Do you have a red pine nut grigarion? The one I had was red, but it was definitely a pine nut grigarion.”

He looks at all the pinot grigios in the section, insisting they should be red. He’s shown to the pinot noirs and says they’re not the right wine. He hems and haws over every bottle in the aisle, making sure he finds the exact ‘pine nut girgarion’ he’s looking for, reading every single label. Finally, he finds it: Bodacious Smooth Red. A somewhat sweet, fruity wine, it is nothing close to a pinot anything.

“Attention shoppers. The store will be closing in two minutes. Please bring your purchases up to the front, or ask a customer service representative for assistance. Thank you.”

He wanders around the store, a bottle of red in hand. Strolling into the beer fridge, he seems to have no intention of checking out anytime soon. He carefully picks up and examines random beers, pausing every few steps to pull up his falling trousers. The line-up at the front cash grows longer with last minute shoppers hurrying to leave before the store closes. This man is not among them.

“Sir is there anything I can help you find. We’re getting ready to close up the store now.”

He wanders, seemingly unaware of the employee trying to help him, or of the growing line of people at the checkout, inching his way along the giant wall of coolers. Again, he picks up random cans and bottles, examines them, and puts them back with a sigh.

“Sir? Do you need any help?”

“I’m not really sure what I’m in the mood for. Do you have anything on sale? A sparkling wine? Or maybe a whiskey? I’m not sure what I want. Is there a sale section here?”

Inwardly cringing, you lead him to the very small clearance section in the back of the store. Again, he feels the need to pick up each and every bottle, examining it closely. You stand there, waiting to help him and answer the inevitable questions you know he’ll have for each and every product. He mumbles to himself, staring at each bottle like he’s looking for some sort of hidden message on the label.

“Now this bottle here, with the fancy looking label, what is this? Why is it on sale so much? What does it taste like? Is this anything like the pine nut grigarion here?”

“Sir, that’s whiskey. It tastes like whiskey. It’s on sale because we’re not going to carry that specific brand anymore. It tastes nothing at all like the bottle of wine you have there. Are you looking for something like it? Or is there something else I can get for you? We are trying to close up the store for the night.”

He stares at the bottle again, seemingly having not heard a single word you said. His attention went back and forth between the bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Advocaat, and a can of Four Loko. None of them is anything close to the bottle of white wine masquerading as red he has clutched in his hands.

“This orange stuff here. Is that like, watered down red? Or red mixes with that yellow wine over there?”

He stared at the Advocaat, a liqueur whose thick and creamy base separates from the rest of the liquid when left sitting for more than a minute, wondering what kind of wine it was. The automatic lights above starting turning off, indicating the store was now officially closed. By the light of the emergency light boxes in the corners, he stared at the bottles.

“Sir, it’s a liqueur. It’s not a wine. It’s meant to be mixed with other things, like Sprite. I can bring it up to the front cash if you’d like, but the store is now closed for the night. The cashier is waiting to ring you out, and then we are locking the store for the night.”

“You’re closed? Why didn’t anyone say anything? I thought you guys were open until 9:45 pm! It’s barely 9 pm! You really should’ve told me you were closing, I would’ve just gone to another store. That’s horrible customer service.”

He storms off towards the front of the store, only to be distracted by a shiny object: the foil tops on the sparkling wine bottles. Stopping only a few feet from the cash register, he pushes some bottles back on the shelf, mixing them up into the bottles next to them, and puts his bottles down in their place.  Cautiously, like the top might explode at any moment, he picks up a bottle of sparkling wine and examines it closely.

“Sir, do you want me to bring these up to the cash for you? “

“Now hold on a minute, I’m the customer here! You need me! I’m done shopping when I say I’m done shopping, not when you decide I’m done! I’ll stay here all night if I want to, I’M THE CUSTOMER! I pay your wages! Now, what the hell is is this shiny wine here?”

By now, he’s shaking the bottle violently, inches from your face. His face is a shade of red you’ve never quite seen a human turn. Sweat, emitting that ‘musk’ mixed with Axe, roll down his face and soak through the arm pits of his good marijuana-leaf shirt. Thinking quickly, you try to find a way to calm him down and get him out of the damn store.

“Sir, I don’t mean to seem like I’m rushing you. It’s just that our systems are controlled by our head office. That’s why the lights turned off at exactly 9-o-clock. As a safety precaution, if our registers are not cashed out and turned off by 9:15, our silent alarm is triggered and the police are called. The last time that happened here because a customer was a little indecisive, the police threatened to press charges against him for causing a false alarm to be triggered. I’m just trying to avoid that from happening again. I would hate for you to get yelled at simply for wanted to be sure of your purchases before you buy them.”

It’s a lie. A bold-faced lie that anyone with half a brain could see through. Yes, the lights go out automatically, but the alarm isn’t triggered by not cashing out. You’re sure he’ll see through this, yell at you even more for trying something so obvious just to get him out of the store. He can’t be that stupid that he’d actually believe it.

“Oh, well I didn’t realize that!  You really should have signs posted or something, so customers know! Here’s I’ll run up to the cash right now with my stuff, we don’t need to get the police involved. I have some stuff in my truck they may not like, heh heh.”

He grabs his bottles and scurries off to the register, his ass crack bobbing up and down as he jogs. Finally, you think, we can get him out of here and close! It’s not 8 minutes past close. The tills are normally counted by now, and all that’s left is the safe and paperwork. He puts his bottles up on the counter, finally noticing the young woman behind the counter.

“Well hello there beautiful. Is that smile just for me?”

She grabs the bottles, making idle small talk while trying to scan everything in. Somehow, the Advocaat doesn’t want to ring up.

“Not ringing up? I guess it’s free then! Ha! It’s free then, get it? Because it won’t ring up, you won’t charge me? I figured you needed some good jokes to cheer you up at the end of the night.”

Inwardly cringing at the joke she’s heard at least two dozen times in this shift alone, she smiles and finishes ringing up his purchase. She asks if he has an Aeroplan points card like the register prompts her to do.

“Nope, I’m afraid of flying. They took my plane away. Ha ha! Why? You want me to rack up those miles, take you on a nice vacation?”

She hits ‘no’ on the register, and tells him his total. Purchase bagged and paid for, she tells him to have a good night and asks if he wants his receipt.

“Why, is your phone number on there? It should be. How about I take you out sometime? I could show you a real good time. I’ll even let you pay. That’s what you enlightened bitches like these days, right? That whole pretending you’re equal thing? Come on, I’ll let you buy me a steak, we can split this fancy orange wine here, I’ll show you my sword collection. Sound good little girl?”

You can actually see the poor cashier’s skin starting to crawl. She can’t leave her till or cash out until that man is out the door, for safety reasons, so she’s stuck standing there until he finally wanders out the door. He leans in closer, trying to sweet talk her into leaving the store with him and running off into the darkness together in his 1992 Ford Tempo his mother lets him borrow. Thinking quickly, you pick up the back phone and hit the page button.

“Sarah, Mike’s on the phone. He wants to know why I haven’t let his fiance leave for the night yet.”

“Oh, you’re engaged? I didn’t see a ring. That’s false advertising! You can’t do that to a man! I’m done with this store! You guys have horrible customer service! I’m calling the manager tomorrow and filing a complaint about all of you! I know him personally, you know. We grew up together. He lived next door! He was the best man at my wedding!”

You try as hard as you can to hold your tongue. You know exactly what you want to say to this stinky, sweaty, overgrown man-child standing in front of you.

“Oh, so you grew up in Slovakia with our manager, KAREN? And somehow ended up in the same Canadian city as her, shopping at her store? I’m surprised SHE didn’t mention that! Be sure when you call tomorrow to talk to HER, you don’t get HER confused with whoever the hell you’re talking about right now! Now, sir, we are closed. We have been closed for almost 15 minutes. We told you we were closing, we helped you pick out your booze, and now we’re helping you out the damn door. You can come back during our normal store hours to shop if you want, just don’t do it when I’m here or I’m going to freakin lose it!”

You know you can’t say that though. You’ll only wind him up more, make him stand there and yell even more. So instead, you walk him to the door to let him out, handing him the manager’s card so he can call her in the morning if he really wants to.  You close and lock the doors behind him, and then turn and lean back with a sigh while telling your last cashier to finally cash out. It’s now almost 20 minutes past closing time. As you’re about to pull out the security gates for the night, a pounding on the door makes you jump and turn.

It’s him again.

“Hey, I forgot to get something while I was in there! Let me in, I’ll be real quick! I promise!”

“Sir, we’re closed. All of our registers are turned off for the night, so we can’t make any more sales for today. You can come back tomorrow at 10 am.”

“You can’t be closed, you’re still in there! C’mon, I’ll be really fast! I’ll even pay cash! Just let me in or I’m calling corporate! I’ll get you fired! I’ll have your job for this!”

‘Sure buddy, you do that’ you think, as you pull the gates closed for the night. You head into the office to get your team cashed out and get all the nightly paperwork done. With everyone’s help, you’re able to get it all done in 15 minutes. You set the alarm, grab your things, and head out as a group to the main door to leave for the night. As you open the door, the smell of old BO and Axe Body Spray invades your nostrils again.

“See, you’re not closed! The door is open, just let me in! I’ll be fast, I promise! I just need to grab some vodka, and a few beers, and maybe a gift card too. It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, and I didn’t get her anything yet…….”

You tune him out as your turn, lock the doors, and head out into the parking lot with your co-workers. As you roll down your car window before driving off, you can still hear him complaining to no one.

“This is horrible customer service! You’re barely closed! C’mon, just let me in! I know the president of the company, and I’ll sue you! You’re all getting fired for this!”

You drive off into the night, as his tirade fades into the night behind you. Hopefully, he won’t come back tomorrow night.

 

 

*so this is pretty much just an amalgamation of a bunch of different customers and situations I’ve had to deal with closing up the store. It’s the worst of the worst, all rolled into one Super Aweful Customer. 

Mental Health, Mental Help

 

This is the fourth time I’ve started this post in 13 hours. Woke up twice last night trying to figure out what to say. I spent years trying to ignore it or deny it. When I was younger and my symptoms first popped up (9th grade, right after I started at a new high school in a new city where I knew no one), I was made to feel like certain people wanted me to be sick because it made me wrong, and then they could laugh at my family because they had the weird little freak in high school.

During my lunch break, I would get this strange feeling. My heart would start racing and pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest and run down the hall. My breathing would get fast like I couldn’t get enough air in a regular breath so I switched to tiny micro-breaths. Sometimes I’d break out in a sweat, or I’d get too dizzy to stand. On more than one occasion I threw up in the bathroom by my locker. I went home on my lunch maybe 10 times by the middle of the semester.

I can still remember the very last time I dared to call home and have mum come pick me up. There was a full office staff, a few teachers on their spare periods, and maybe half a dozen students in the office with me that day for whatever reason. Mum came into the office to pick me up, and one of the secretaries pulled us aside where no one could hear us talk quietly. She suggested my mother have me speak to the school counsellor, and maybe get recommended to a therapist for a short time, because I appeared to be having some sort of issues with anxiety.

Well, mum was having none of that. She fucking exploded on that poor secretary, in front of everyone in that office.

“What do you MEAN she should see a counsellor? She was perfectly fine before I sent her to this school! How dare you tell me my daughter is some sort of freak! A psycho! Don’t you know what happens to people who see a therapist? They’re branded FOR LIFE as a crazy psycho! You want my daughter locked up in some NUT HOUSE for the rest of her life? Is that it? Have you seen her grades? She’s getting A’s in all her afternoon classes, could some FREAK do that? How DARE you tell me my daughter is damaged, how DARE you tell me my daughter is some sort of psycho FREAK!”

It’s been like 20 years since then, so that’s not exactly word for word, but you get the gist of it. She ranted like that for a good 5 or 6 minutes, referred to me as a freak more than a dozen times in front of a few of my classmates. The car ride home was a total joy! She ranted on even more, telling me that there was nothing wrong with me, that she couldn’t believe someone would think I’m some sort of psycho, that if I ever let myself see a therapist or psychiatrist they would just put me on meds and then no one would ever hire me because the whole world would just know I’m crazy. The rant went on even more once we got home!  I swear, that woman ranted on and on about this for a good two hours on and off that day.

After that day, I stopped telling my mother pretty much anything for many years. I made up some stupid story about a problem with the ventilation system in the hallway my locker was in, and that was why I got sick at school so much. It was the stupidest story, so totally obvious that I made it up on the spot, but she believed it. Hell, she still believes it. We saw an article about my old high school online, and she started telling people about the ‘ventilation problem’ and how it could’ve killed me. She was more willing to believe that the ventilation system in a newly built school was faulty in a way that only affected one student than helping me work through my issues.

So, for years I tried to ignore what was happening inside me. I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control. Instead of working to understand the racing heart and quick breaths, I locked myself away in my room so no one could see the panic. I did the same for the suicidal thoughts. The one time I did hurt myself and opened up to my mother, she flipped out on me again. She said that if I didn’t “cut it out and just act normal” no one would ever love me, I’d be shoved in an institution, and I’d die alone. Totally what you should say to a 16-year-old trying to deal with mental health issues, eh?

I tried to ignore all of this for years. I’d lock myself away from the world so they couldn’t see me struggle. I drank, I did a lot of drugs, I pushed myself to somehow be “normal” in the most fucked up ways. My parents were high school sweethearts who married and had three kids, for example. So, I thought if I found love early enough, I could be normal like them. But the forced isolation made it hard to meet people I could connect with, and I wound up engaged to a drumming ninja (he once put “ninja” on a job application as his current occupation), and got kicked out of my parents’ house to be with him. He treated me like shit, abused me, starved me, and burned the only copy of my first (and to date, only) novel I had written as punishment for something. But in my head, being with him made me “normal”, because…………. I don’t even know anymore.

It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first incident in the school office that I finally sought help. I had gone back to university, and the school had free counseling services. By that point, my anxiety and depressing were pretty bad, but I was still trying to cover them up. I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating like crap and chugging cheap malt liquor while I “studied”. Before a big panic attack, sometimes it feels like all my emotions drain into something deep inside my skin, where they can’t escape or be really felt. I feel this mix of heaviness and nothingness like I’m going to burst out of my skin and run ranting and screaming into the night. I stayed up for three days and finally passed out in our living room (I was living with friends near campus by that point), and rolled over on a pair of scissors in my sleep. The pain was some weird sort of release, and I started cutting myself right after that. It was the cutting that made me finally made me go to counseling services.

I wish I could tell you everything changed for me that day, that everything was magically fixed and I’m living a perfectly “normal” life like my mother wanted. That’s not how things go, though. I’m still fighting through this, learning how to handle both depression and anxiety. I’m learning the patterns they tend to follow (the depression gets bad right before or after a major panic attack usually) and am able to tell the people closest to me when I can feel my anxiety getting worse. I still don’t open up to my family about any of this, though. I tried to years ago, when I first sought help, and my mother denied everything I said. It’s healthier for me to just not tell them about any of this.

There is no magic cure for this. There is no one-way to deal with mental health issues. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years; some of them worked for me, others didn’t. That doesn’t mean those other things don’t work for other people, though. Going back to school brought out some huge stressors and triggers for my anxiety, and a lot of people I know who suffer through this have said the same thing. So, I just want to give you a little help, a little guidance. You don’t need to follow everything I say, or even try any of it. It’s just options, things to keep in mind when nothing else seems to work.

It’s not easy dealing with this shit. I still get panic attacks. The night I started posting about back-to-school help was because I was trying to work through a major panic attack that kept me up until almost 5 am, drained me of all my energy, and left me with a dark cloud over my head that made me wish I could just stop existing. I’m pulling through though, and I know you can too Sunshine.

Tip #1: Grounding

A friend recommended this to me years ago. It’s what she would do when she was living in a dorm and her anxiety would get bad around exam time. Basically, you’re distracting your brain from the inevitable overanalyzing of the ridiculousness of your panic. In my support group back in school, one thing we all agreed on was that our anxiety attacks made no sense to us. It’s like, there’s no reason for you to be panicking, but you still can’t seem to calm yourself down. You try to calm down, and you’re reminded that the fact that you’re panicking makes no sense, so there must be something wrong with you to be making you panic. And that makes you panic more. The more you try to calm yourself down, the more focused you wind up on the panic, and the worse it can get.

Anxiety Grounding.jpg

I know it says right in the little picture thingy there from Tumblr that it helps “when you feel like you have lost all control of your surroundings”. If you get that feeling in your more panicked times, then you can definitely give this a try. I don’t get that feeling, but this still works for me for other reasons.  That kind of leads me into my next tip….

Tip #2: There Is No “Right” Way to Be Have a Mental Issue

Sometimes having anxiety can mean heart palpitations and sweat. Other times, it can mean completely blocking out the outside world, staring off into space, unable to process the things going on around you. Some feel frightened, some are jittery, people get tense or worried or can’t focus on anything else except that anxious feeling bubbling up inside them.  Some of the happiest looking people suffer from depression. It’s not all locking yourself in a dark room and staring off into the nothingness around you. As a master of the Customer Service Persona, I can honestly tell you that it is entirely possible to feel hopeless and worthless like your entire life is one giant failure after another, like the world would be a much better place if you could just stop existing in it, and still slap a smile on your face and laugh about things. I mean, Robin fucking Williams suffered from depression. That man, to all outside appearances, was the exact opposite of depression.

There’s no right or wrong way to have anxiety, or a panic attack, or a depressive episode, or any form of depression in general. I check WebMD for a lot of things (even though somehow, no matter what’s wrong with me, it tells me I’m dying a slow and painful death). According to them, a panic attack should last like 10 minutes, and I should have fear of dying and a sense that I’m choking. I have NEVER had any of that. That panic, that feeling of terror, like my heart is going to burst out of my chest and the world is going to collapse around me, it can last for hours for me.

There is a tonne of different things associated with each and every mental issue out there. You don’t have to tick off every symptom or every box to have a “proper” mental disorder. You don’t have to take medication or see a therapist or psychiatrist long term to have a “proper” mental disorder. You can have the same issue as someone else, have different symptoms, handle it differently, and you can both STILL have that disorder. There is no one way to have an issue with your mental health.

Tip #3:  Regularly Practice Self-Care

I have a list of things that I consider “comfort things”. They’re things that I somehow find soothing, for whatever reason, and I fall back on when my brain starts to feel all fucky. They’re things that comfort me, that bring me to a place where I feel safe and secure, even if that place is just in my head. And the list is all over the fucking place.

  • soup
  • Vine compilations on YouTube
  • the movie Hackers
  • the movie Tank Girl
  • books about serial killers
  • books about cults
  • books about random facts
  • hugging my snuggle pillow
  • flannel
  • slipper boots
  • throwing a blanket over my head while I watch random shit on my computer so it’s like I’m watching it in a tiny blanket fort
  • painting my nails in dark colours
  • 90’s grunge music
  • 80’s new wave music
  • indie music from the 80’s and 90’s
  • Chilean red wine
  • fuzzy socks and lots of lotion

Now I don’t use all of this at the same time. I’ll throw on my slipper boots, maybe a flannel shirt or sleep pants, throw a blanket over my head, and watch a few short Vine compilations while I hug my snuggle pillow.  Or I’ll throw on a bunch of lotion and my fuzzy socks, paint my nails, and watch Tank Girl. I’ll throw on some Talk Talk and Psychedelic Furs in the background while I curl up with a good book about serial killers.

Everyone has their own little comfort things. You need to figure out what it is that is comforting to you. I doubt Charles Manson and Tank Girl will bring most of you much comfort, but it works for me.

Tip #4: Exercise, Get The Fuck Outside

I walk everywhere.

If I don’t get out of the house for a day, I make sure to at least open the blinds for a bit. The cat likes to sit in the window so I tell myself I’m doing it for him, when really just getting a little bit of sunlight can really help me some days.  If it’s nice enough out, I’ll open the window and let in some fresh air.

When I’m in mid panic attack, I completely close myself off in my room as much as possible. But when I’m not, I try to get outside at least a bit each day. I really should be exercising more, but I don’t. It really helps some people manage their mental health issues, and I know it’s helped me in the past. I have too much going on around me right now to focus on that though.

#5: Don’t Eat Like Complete Shit

Again, this is something I’m complete shit at. I have my good weeks, where I’m packing celery and carrots with me at work, and sipping tea all day. Then I have my days (or weeks even) where it’s nothing but pizza, french fries, and red wine.

Usually, the more hours I work in a week, the better I eat. If I have to pack a lunch or dinner to bring to work, I wind up with shit like veggies and hummus, soup, and mushroom meat (I also eat less meat and eat shit like “mushroom meat”, which is faux meat made out of mushrooms and soy, which I can only find at the Multifoods a little ways from my house). If I’m stuck at home, working 4-hour closing shifts every fucking day, I wind up eating a lot of frozen pizza for dinner, a lot of leftover pizza for lunch, and a pot of coffee for breakfast. This is usually when my anxiety starts to flare up a bit too.

For a lot of pizza, there’s a strong correlation between what you eat and how you feel. Eat like shit, feel like shit, basically. If you find that eating certain foods, or eating a certain way, worsens your mental state, then don’t fucking eat like that if you can help it! I know, that’s pretty fucking hypocritical of me to say, considering how I eat usually. This isn’t the easiest advice to follow, and no one is going to be perfect at it. Give it a whirl and see if it helps you out at all, though. Keep a food diary or something for a few weeks or months. No need to count calories or any shit like that. Just keep track of what you eat, what you drink, and how you feel.  If you see a pattern emerging, then fucking run with it.

#6: Stop Fucking Self-Medicating!

Again, fucking hypocritical of me to say this, considering how much wine I drink. I admit, there have been times when I could feel a panic attack coming on, and I reached for a drink. Working in a liquor store, I have constant easy access to alcohol and have to learn about it somehow. So, probably more often when I should when I feel the panic building, I grab a bottle of Chilean cabernet sauvignon, my book about wine (flavours, pairings, smart sounding shit), and curl up with a giant fucking glass or four.  Sometimes it calms me down a bit. Other times, I wind up still awake and drinking wine at 4 am, mindlessly reading through Not Always Right posts and going through old notebooks from 2003.

I’ve had friends who swear by smoking pot as a means of controlling their anxiety. Others have had a hard time controling it, using the anxiety more as an excuse to smoke than anything. I’ve known people to buy medication off the street instead of getting it prescribed. Yes, it’s a great way to get it cheap when you can’t afford your meds sometimes. But you’re playing with doses, and brain chemicals, and all sorts of stuff that can royally fuck your day up.

Don’t use substances that aren’t prescribed to you as a means of controlling your mental health. Yes, a drink or smoke from time to time can be fine. It’s a social thing, a way to calm you, a way to feel normal. But you can really easily start becoming dependant on these things just to feel normal. It’s a short fall into addiction when you let something be the only things making you feel “normal””.

#7: Find Your Fucking Triggers

I know, triggers are a joke to a lot of people. “How are you going to make it through life? There are no trigger warnings in the real world!” Except there are, fucking everywhere. Movie ratings, video game ratings, music ratings, content warnings on TV, allergen warnings on food, warning signs on the road, warning signs on heavy equipment, warning labels on medication……… The only difference between these and a trigger for mental health is that mental health isn’t always taken seriously. You can take a sick day for the flu, or for a broken leg, but most jobs and schools don’t give you mental health days.

Are there certain things that trigger certain feelings in you? No, you can’t avoid them completely, you can’t yell at people for bringing them up (unless they’re really fucked up shit and that person knows how it affects you), and you can’t hide from them for the rest of your life. One of my biggest triggers is finance. I’ve got a metric shit-tonne of student loan debt, a bunch of credit card debt, and feel like I’m going to die in debt someday. The thought of not making my bill payments sends my heart racing, more than it does for the average person. I know that when my hours at work take a drastic cut, there’s a good chance I’ll get thrown into a full-out panic attack at some point.  I can’t avoid that though.

Know your triggers can help you better prepare. Like I said, I KNOW that getting my hours cut can result in a massive-ass panic attack, which then leads to a depressive episode. I make sure I have some of my comfort items ready and waiting for me. I recently went from getting 40 hours a week at work to being scheduled for 15 hours. I know that by next pay day, I will most likely get thrown into a major case of anxiety. I have my soup stuff (powdered mix, noodles, and dried veggies from Bulk Barn), a 10 hour Vine compilation video, a new nail polish, some new murder books, a bunch of flannel ( I am Canadian after all),  and a copy of Tank Girl ready for that. No, I won’t be able to stop a panic attack. But I can help ease my way through it, or through a major anxiety episode.

 

I wish I could say that following all of this has somehow cured my mental state magically, Sunshine. I wish I could say that I’m a happy, mentally healthy, productive member of society now. I’d be lying to you though. Just today, I got so overwhelmed with my current situation (so many roommates, showing the house to prospective other roommates, hours cut at work, things with the boyfriend) that it started really getting to me. I sat there wondering what the hell would happen to this place if I just ceased to exist. Where would my Bowser Kitten be? Who would take care of this house? What kind of shape would the boyfriend be in? Have I really made a difference, or would there always be someone else could’ve stepped in and taken my place for each of these things? What’s the point of being here?

So, I made soup. I threw on some old Vines, and then a bunch of Rage Against the Machine. I typed, I read random useless facts, I played with eyeliner. I can’t fix myself completely, but I have to leave for work in 35 minutes and need to be able to fake my way through my shift. Luckily, I have the Work Bestie with me tonight. She’s one of the few people I actually open up to at all about this, so I can let her know I can feel it building again.

 

Moving Anxiety, or How to Stop Worrying and Move to a New Place

True story time!

Once, I agreed to help a friend move. I had just helped her and her roommate had just moved into their place a few months before but had a lot of problems with their landlord. He had covered up holes in the foundation, so there were bugs creeping into the house, and he refused to fix anything. Basically, it turned into a hellhole pretty damn fast.

I showed up the morning of the move ready to move boxes and lift heavy things, maybe even corral cats (she had a bunch of them) and keep them calm while we moved shit. Instead, I walked into a house that had barely packed.

Now, when she moved in there she noticed problems right away, so they didn’t unpack everything. There was still a bunch of stuff in boxes all over her living room, and they just rearranged their lives around that. But that was stuff that she didn’t need at the time: baby books, Christmas decorations, childhood memories, extra plates. Everything else in the house had been unpacked, and a good 75% of it wasn’t packed up yet the morning of the move.

Now, we only had the truck for a few hours, and the guys helping with the move had an event they had to attend that night. We had a very set amount of time to get things done in and weren’t counting on nothing being packed. So instead of just loading shit onto the truck, bringing the truck to the new place, unloading the truck, and then repeating this, we had to completely rethink our plan. We wound up breaking into two teams: one on the truck moving shit, and the other back at the house packing. I got stuck on the fucking packing team with one person who insisted on sorting and organizing clothes hangers for an hour, and another who cut out super early.  We were all stressed, snapping at each other and fighting, trying to just get a shit-tonne of shit done in a small amount of time.

This totally could’ve been avoided with a bit of planning. I’m super fucking anal when it comes to planning and organizing shit for moving because I’ve been through and helped with some pretty fucked up moves. I wrote once before about looking for a place to move to (and I’ll probably make an updated post like that again soon), but there’s so much more to it than just finding a place.

So here’s some tips and shit to help you get through your move, and prevent you from having The Move From Hell.

1: Figure Out What The Hell You Need — Dorm Room

College Check List

For a lot of you out there, moving into residence or dorms at school is the first time you’re going to be moving out on your own. There are a shit-tonne of lists out there on the internet, like the one above, telling you every little thing you’ll need to bring with you.

Please, ignore these lists.

Most lists will tell you that you need to bring cutlery with you when you move into a dorm. I know someone whose parents went over a list like that with him and decided he needed cutlery. Like, ALL the fucking cutlery. They bought him enough cutlery for like 8 place settings, PLUS a giant knife block, PLUS multiples of all the utensils you can think of (ladles, vegetable peelers, spatulas), PLUS like 4 cutting boards. Thing is, the kid lived in a dorm room in a residential tower, had a full meal plan, and had to share a 10’X15′ room featuring very little storage space with a roommate. They each had a desk, bed, and dresser, and that was it. Where the hell was he supposed to keep all that shit?

There is a tonne of stuff on these lists that you probably don’t need, like my friend above.  And there’s a lot of stuff that’s not on the list that you will probably need. It’s all about you, where you’re going, and what you’ll be doing. If you’re heading down to Florida for school, you’re not going to need a parka and snow boots. If your dorm room is some tiny little rinky-dink space that you have to share with another human being, then bringing a mini fridge, floor lamp, area rug, and a bunch of stackable drawers is probably a really shitty idea.

Dorm Check List

You’ve gotta think about what you fucking want and need, too. Do you want monogrammed towels and mugs and socks, so you always know when someone else is using your stuff? Then fucking do it up! Maybe you want to bring your annoyingly cute Emoji pillows to decorate your bed or your favourite stuffed lion you’ve had since you were 2 (yes, I have both of these things in my room at this very moment).  I’m comfy just sitting around the house in sweats and flannel shirts (ALWAYS flannel!!!!), and just switch into some old jeans with the same shirt when I need to go anywhere. I can honestly wear the same sweats for days. I’ve had friends who just CANNOT do this, and need a fresh outfit every day. They need a hell of a lot more clothes for their week than I need with my two pairs of sweats and my cozy flannels.

You’ve just gotta know yourself a bit, bring what you think you need. And if you forget something stupid, there’s always a dollar store somewhere. Need forks? Loofah? Socks? Ramen? Pens? They’ve got all of that at the fucking dollar store. Don’t stress yourself out too much about packing every single little thing you may possibly ever need.

2: Figure Out What The Hell You Need — Apartment

Ok, moving into an apartment is a bit different than dorm life. You have things like a kitchen and a bathroom that isn’t shared with 30 other people. You’re still going to need all the things you’d bring to a dorm, you’re going to need so much more than that too though.

The first thing you should do is talk to your roommates. Most young people today can’t afford an apartment all of their very own, so there’s a really really good chance you have AT LEAST one roommate. Hell, I have 4 roommates and a cat to help pay the bills around here. You NEED to talk to the people you’ll be living with to figure out what you need.

first_apartment_checklist

Figure out what you guys will need. Is someone bringing a TV? Anyone have a couch? Does your place have a microwave? What essential items are each of you bringing? I mean, it makes no sense for you to have three roommates, all four of you bring a microwave, and no one has a lamp. If you don’t want to go off of one of the lists online of everything anyone could ever need for their apartment, then at least look around you where you’re living now.

Do you have books? You’ll need somewhere to put them. Do you like to eat ever? You’ll need shit to eat off and with. What is your morning routine like? Some people need a single cup coffee maker, while others need a 12-cup pot, blow dryer, straightening iron, and lighted mirror to apply their makeup in (and there is NO shame in that, we all do it at some time!). Figure out what you need for your day-to-day life. Then figure out the things you’re used to that don’t seem all that important. Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I loved a squishy bathmat until I had nothing but an old towel and a cement floor. Then figure out who can bring what.

You’ll probably have some shit that no one just has lying around to bring. So start pricing shit out! Bathmat, microwave, cheap-ass dishes, a big-ass shelving thing for the kitchen and/or storage area, Tupperware that isn’t already full of your mother’s casserole….. it all adds up. Figure out what you really really need, buy as much cheap shit from dollar stores and second-hand stores, and check out things like yard sales and free online ads.

While we’re talking about talking to your new roommates, make sure you’re not bringing duplicates of things you have no room for. I have a large love seat that converts to a sofa bed. It was my grandma’s and she gave it to me before she died. It is very dear to me, I throw on slipcovers to match my roommate’s furniture, and it fits in fine. Fortunately, I only had a regular couch and big comfy chair to compete with for space in our living room. In the past, I’ve had to fight for room in my own bedroom, because a roommate had enough bedroom furniture to furnish a few rooms. She thought she was doing me a favour by displacing my stuff and letting me use her crappity-ass furniture she collected off the side of the road on move-out day the end of last semester.

Are all four of you planning to bring microwaves? Toaster ovens? Stereos? TVs? Figure out who has the best of what for where you’re living. As long as no one bought their shit brand new (which, to be honest, I have known only very few students and first-time apartment dwellers to be able to do), sell off what you don’t need to buy what you do need. If you have four TVs coming in, write up some paperwork saying you can all own it equally, and sell off the other three. Then use that money to buy other things you can all own equally. If, when you all move out, there is any dispute over who takes what (usually it’s the original owner taking the shit, unless everyone sold off really expensive shit), sell everything off and divide the proceeds.

But that is for Future You do worry about. Right now you have better shit to think about, like……

3: Pack Up Your Shit So You Know Where It Is

Don’t throw everything into one giant bag or box. You’ll wind up having to unpack EVERYTHING before you have to go to bed, and that shit fucking sucks. Even on my family’s ridiculous Move From Hell, we had the basics all separated: there was one bag with emergency underpants and all the hardware for the bed frames in mum’s van with the cat; we each had a backpack as an overnight bag (toiletries, jammies, change of clothes, my stuffed lion Pokey) with us during the move, and there was a box of stuff marked “First To Unpack” with shit like toilet paper, cleaning stuff, towels, and a shower curtain in it. Believe me, after the day we had, we needed that.

——-Ok, really long story short, my family’s move from hell back to my home town involved the movers bringing a van 1/3 the size we needed, calling extra family members from 2 hours away to come help us, some of mum’s good China being thrown under dad’s power tools in the moving van, bugs getting into almost ALL of the liquor (except what 18 year old me took for her own stash), and a day starting at 7am and going on until almost 2am. To top it off, our rental house we moved into had mold (which I turned out to be super allergic to), my parents’ bedroom had no heat, the laundry shoot emptied onto the furnace, and the dishwasher was plugged into an extension cord pulled through a hole in the floor that also had the washer and dryer plugged into it. It was fucking paradise.

Your move should be as painless and stressless as humanly possible. Moving to a new place itself is rough enough. Having to deal with misplaced shit and unpacking EVERYTHING just adds to the chaos. Take a few simple steps to help things go smoothly.

First, pack a box labeled “FIRST”. This should be left out in the open, where it’s plain to see that it’s the first box that needs to be opened. It should have essential shit you wouldn’t pack in an overnight bag, like toilet paper, bed sheets and blankets, cleaning supplies, extra towels, and maybe even a few dishes. If you know you can’t function without coffee in the morning, then pack the coffee and fucking coffee maker in there too. Whatever will make that first night and morning in your new place easiest should go in there. And don’t get into the trap of thinking, “Well, I’ve planned everything out, and the move should be done by 8 pm, which gives me plenty of time to unpack a few things”. That Move From Hell my family did was all planned out too. We didn’t know the truck would be too small. We didn’t know the movers would have only their newest employees working. We didn’t know there would be accidents on the highway extending out 2 hour drive time. There was a whole tonne of shit that extended our day. Our simple, “Get the cat unpacked into the bathroom upstairs, and get everyone’s basics unpacked and bedrooms set up before 10 pm” plan was WAAAY off. I stayed up until almost 2 am because I’m fucking stubborn and wanted the bed frames set up and sheets on the beds. And this had all been carefully planned to be done by 10 pm AT THE FUCKING LATEST!!!

Basically, plan for the worst first. Pack one bag as a weekend bag: all the things you’d pack for a weekend away at your folks’ place. Throw in anything you seriously are worried about too. My grandma always put a special wedding bracelet in her bag, because it was supposed to be passed onto every woman in our family on her wedding day. I used to pack my laptop; now that I use a desktop computer I backup everything to an external and pack that along with my iPad and chargers for EVERYTHING. Then, back extra shit you know you’d need for the next day or two in the FIRST box. You know you’ll need a shower, need to wipe your ass at some point, maybe need a fucking drink or four, so pack all of that in there. I like to pack snacks, cat food (for Bowser, not for me), a fresh flannel shirt (it’s calming, I’m Canadian), a book, and enough caffeine and coffee for a week’s worth of Irish mornings.

#3.1: Pack Shit Up Logically

Everyone has their own methods. I’m not here to give you 97 different methods of packing up to move to a new apartment. You want to know what I do, or what I want to do, you read my fucking blog. Don’t like my advice? Tweek it, or look for some more advice online somewhere.

From what I’ve found through my dozens of moves (both my own and helped) is that colour coding really helps if you’re moving somewhere with multiple rooms. Moving into a dorm? Just pack like shit with like shit, label the boxes, and you’re done. Have shit going to the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and possibly multiple bedrooms? Use a different colour Sharpie (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to designate rooms. Red is the kitchen, blue is the bathroom, purple is the living room, and so on. You can even grab a piece of bristol board from the dollar store in each colour and throw it on the wall or door (whatever you would see first) so everyone knows where to go. And fill people in on your colour scheme: you never know when a colour blind person is amongst your helpers, or someone just didn’t notice the blue paper outside the bathroom and decides to put a box in storage.

Don’t want to colour code for whatever reason. Then just label the shit out of your boxes! “Beth’s room, last door on the right” gets rid of any confusion as to where shit goes. Even labeling something a little more than just “kitchen” can make a world of difference. “Kitchen – spices”, “Kitchen – bulk foods”, “Kitchen – shit to eat off”…. all of these little add-ons to the box label make your life just a tad bit easier. Chances are you’ll want shit to eat take-out pizza off of before you want your 10lbs bag of rice.

#3.2 Check Your Fridge and Freezer — Before AND After

So when we first left my home town, my aunt decided there was no possible way we could leave behind all the veggies in the massive vegetable garden in the back yard. Seriously, this thing was bigger than the room I pay almost $400 a month for in a shared house. We had corn, three types of peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, lettuce…… picture the world’s biggest salad bar, and we could fucking stock it.

My aunt decided we need tomatoes as memorabilia.

So, she took those tomatoes and threw them in the cooler with the frozen food left from the freezer in the kitchen. Her job for the move was “cleaning supplies and food”, and she was on top of things. When we moved stuff into the kitchen, she started putting food into the fridge and freezer to keep it from going bad. Those fresh tomatoes went into the freezer.

Months later, when I (the oldest of three) was babysitting, we found half a dozen rock hard frozen tomatoes in the freezer. The only logical thing to do was to whip them at each other. We had a frozen tomato fight until I whipped one really hard and high, hitting the low-hanging beam in the kitchen. I fucking dented the metal studs on it with a tomato.

When my parents finally noticed the damage (a few years later), they asked what the hell I hit the beam with to cause such a big dent.

“One of Judy’s frozen tomatoes from the garden”

When we left that house, they fucking took inventory of EVERYTHING.  They knew what was coming out of the freezer, and exactly what would be going back in. There were no stray tomatoes freezing into rock hard murder spheres at this house. There also were no forgotten chickens hanging on a hook on the wall by the basement freezer (dad did this once when I was a kid. Took us weeks to find where all the flies were coming from, since I was the oldest and couldn’t climb up on the freezer to see what was behind it). Keep track of your food, all of it.

In the week or two leading up to the move, stop buying food as much as possible and just eat what you have (I try to do this once or twice a year, just because I tend to stock up on shit when it’s cheap and then run out of room in the kitchen). Eat as much of your frozen food as possible. Treat yourself to frozen pizzas from last month’s sale for breakfast on Saturday. Eat frozen corn with every meal for a week. Whatever the hell you have to do, do it. I like to make stew, chili, and soup with just whatever is laying around the kitchen. It’s a hell of a lot easier to transport, keep track of, and unpack three or four Tupperware containers of chili and stew than it is making sure your massive fucking collection of chicken breasts stays cold enough to not thaw on moving day.

If you’re moving in with roommates and you all do your own grocery shopping, then it might be a good idea to inventory EVERYTHING. Like, write down what food you’re bringing into the house with you, so you no one “accidentally” takes any of it while you’re unpacking. I had a roommate who would take my food “accidentally” all the time. She even had the nerve to steal my cheese (repeatedly) and use it to make dinner for “everyone”, meaning she made tacos and shredded all of my new brick of cheese to hide in the back of her fridge for when she wanted it.  I did what any rational, normal adult would do in that situation: I wrote a passive-aggressive poem about my cheese running away (which I just spent a good hour digging through old notebooks looking for), and left it on the fridge for her.

Running Cheese

#4: Pay Your Fucking Movers

Most people use their friends to help them move. The universally acceptable method of payment for helping a friend move is pizza and beer. You don’t have to get all fancy with craft beers, but don’t pick on the vegetarians for wanting no meat on their pizza. You’d be a real asshole if your friend busted his ass all day moving your shit, and you piss all over him for his food choices. Unless he wants mayonnaise or pineapple on his pizza, shut your damn mouth and fill his with copious amounts of ‘za.

#5: Unpack Your Shit Logically

Now, after you spend all that time with the colour coding, and the “First” box, and an overnight bag, don’t fuck it up now. Get your bed set up. Put your furniture where you want it. Then start unpacking the stuff you’ll need first. Get your clothes in the closet, the food in the cupboards, and cleaning supplies under the sink. Plug in the coffee pot, and put the coffee grinds and filters by it. Get anything you’ll want to use early the next morning out of the boxes and on the shelves.

Don’t start with your books, or DVD collection, or anything that will take time to sit down and organize because it’s on display. Yes, your shit is going to look pretty rad once it’s all unpacked. But things like eating and properly caffeinating are a bit more important deciding if you’ll group your DVDs by genre, alphabetically, or by colour. Maybe get things like your closet and your kitchen set up first. Then you can curl up in your nicely unpacked clothes, make a drink in your unpacked glasses, and work on your stuff.

Back To School Anxiety: The Financial Side

Ok, so every year (even though I’ve long graduated, but still live near campus) I check out my old university’s Welcome Week. I volunteered with it for a few years, and know how much free food and stuff gets tossed out because no one takes it. So, I make it my mission to take stuff every year, to help decrease surplus waste.

And every fucking year they’re giving away copies of the same book: The Debt-Free Graduate. Yes, I know that they say every year is the new ~revised~ version with all the new tax and RESP law stuff in there, but 99% of the book is still the same. I have owned 7 copies of this book over the years. There is on my bookshelf, and the other 6 have gone to GoodWill. I figure it’s doing more good there than on a free table on a university campus.

The DEbt Free Graduate

Why?

Because a bunch of the tips have to do with stuff you have to do BEFORE you start school. RESPs, applying for scholarships in high school, getting summer jobs all through out high school and college/university, applying for loans and bursaries as a high school student. Seriously, they should give this out freshman year orientation of high school so that kids can start preparing themselves. Everything else in the book is just common sense tips that you can find online. And again, most of this shit would be most useful to you before you start classes for your first year of higher education.

Now, there are hundreds of sites out there saying the have fantastic advice on how to save money on life while you’re a student. I’d say a good 75% of these articles in some way, shape, or form mention Ikea as a decorating option. Now, I went to my local Goodwill today (it was my day off, so I thought I’d treat myself to some $2 books and $4 slippers), and they have a shit-tonne of old sturdy wooden desks there. The most expensive one I saw there was $35, plus $15 for delivery if you didn’t have a friend with a truck to grab it for you. Even still, $50 for a super solid desk is really not bad for someone who will spend a good 60% of their life at their desk for the next 4-6 years. And that’s on the pricey side of what I’ve seen! The desk I use now came with the room I rent. At my old apartment, I got a desk off the side of the road when some students were moving out and just discarding furniture. That being said, a lot of these “money saving” articles for students think that something like this is a good deal. For those of you who don’t want to click on random links, that a desk for students at the super bargain price of more than $400!!!

Ok, so I know that for a lot of us, $400 seems like nothing once those student loans roll in. But a $400 desk to save money? Even with that fresh cash in your bank, you don’t need to be throwing down big bucks for the basics. Like I said, paying $50 for the purchase and delivery of some old-school super sturdy wooden desk build back when people wanted their shit to last 500 years is a bargain for me. I’ve also used desks pulled off the side of the road when I didn’t have that $50 to spare.

So if you haven’t been saving for college or university since you started high school, don’t have a metric shit-tonne of scholarships to help you out, have very little or no don’t have RESP or any sort of educational savings from your family to help you, what the hell are you going to do. I mean, if you’re “lucky enough” to qualify for student loans, then you have those to fall back on. Or do you?

Basically, here’s a bunch of shit to remember when you’re trying to navigate financially in your post-high school education.

#1: They’re loans. It’s not free money.

PowerBall Winnings Student Loan Debt

I have seen student loan money blown on the craziest shit. I had a friend who needed a new mattress, and instead of getting something basic to last her through her degree (since she would be moving back home probably once she graduated while she looked for a job), she spent $1700 on a damn good mattress. Her rent was late at the end of the semester while she shoveled driveways to make up for the $300 she was short.

I once went to a fraternity cocktail party at a bar the beginning of winter semester. Three guys each had bar tabs in excess of $800, with two of them using their student loans to pay them off. Most of their tab was buying shots and rounds for their friends all night.

Another friend bought a car. Nothing fancy. Hell, not even something reliable. The tailpipe had to be rig-welded together with soda cans because she couldn’t afford repairs. Bought it in her first year, the damn thing barely made it half-way through the second year.

We all do stupid shit with our student loans. Hell, I know there are a bunch of things I spent way too much on over the years that I’m still trying to pay off now (flannel shirts, cheap boots, booze, and pizza are the big ones here). Loans are meant to be spent on tuition (which in my province, is automatically taken out by the school before you receive your loan), your rent, your books, food, and little important things like your phone bill. They’re not throwing a tonne of cash at you to go on a shopping spree, buying beds and cars and booze. You are getting the bare basics plus a little bit to live with.

And this money is NOT free.

If my friend had taken his $800 he spent on booze and just put it in savings, that’s an $800 payment he could’ve made on his student loan. Believe me, every tiny bit counts when it comes to your student loan repayment so that $800 could’ve covered interest for close to a year depending on how long he went to school.

The $1700 my friend spent on one mattress she had to abandon when she left the city after her degree is worth more than 6 months worth of her current student loan payments. Imagine not buying something extravagant, and being more than 6 months ahead of your friends in being debt free.

In the end, this is all being paid back. And having a ridiculous amount of student debt is a major stressor on most people. Ever wonder what triggers my insomnia-inducing anxiety more often than not? It’s debt, with the vast majority of it coming from student loans.

If you want to spend big bucks on something for yourself, mow some lawns or shovel driveways. Get a babysitting gig or something. Earn the extra coin to pay for it, or else it’s just being added to the debt that will be hanging over your head for years to come.

This is NOT your money to go out and spend! Yes, it’s in your account. But it’s a loan. A LOAN! Someone is lending you that money to use, and then pay back later WITH INTEREST!!! It is NOT free money like so many of us (myself included) spent it as.

#2: Why the hell are you buying your textbooks already?

Textbook Meme

Iknow you want to get a jump on things. It’s not easy keeping up with readings and assignments and getting a head start is better than nothing. Your professor sends out the syllabus a week or two in advance, so you can do this.

But do you really need to buy all the textbooks?

From what I’ve heard from friends from all over both Canada and the USA, most profs put a copy or two of their current textbooks in the library. Want to start reading early? Go check out a damn book! I found there is always a damn good chance that the prof with either only uses one of the 7 books they assigned, or only sporadically make you read from the main text. You have your syllabus in front of you. Why not go the library a week ahead of time, take out that textbook, read and make all your notes, and be done with it? It sure as hell beats spending $150+ on a damn book you’ll need a handful of times in a semester.

If you absolutely must have your textbooks, for the love of all things sacred, follow the advice of pretty much every “how to save money as a student” article out there: buy them used. At my old university, students could sell back certain textbooks at a greatly reduced rate, to be resold as used books to new students. I mean, I paid $100 for a book I used three times, and the used book store wanted to buy it for $20. Mind you, they were reselling it for $50.

If you need a textbook, check out used textbook websites. Just type in your college or university named followed by “used” on Facebook, and you’ll find pages for used books, furniture, clothes, everything. Pick up books for less than half price. If you have old books, get a bit of money back for them. If only one prof uses that book, and you took very careful notes and highlights, you could possibly get into a bidding war (had it happen a few times one year) to get your very coveted used text.

Don’t want a bunch of used books cluttering up your shelves? Think about renting them. There are a bunch of websites that will let you rent books from them. You can’t mark them up with highlighters, but you can take notes from them, read them all you want, and then return them at the end of the semester so they’re not cluttering up your bookshelves (or taking up room boxed up in your meager storage space, like mine are). Hell, your own school may even have a rental program set up for books!

#3: Know yourself when buying school supplies

 

*quick note: my school supplies have NEVER been as pretty, coordinated, or themed as the ones I see on Pinterest.

I don’t know why, but I can’t start the semester with old notebooks. Doesn’t matter if I’m taking notes in them or not. Hell, I probably have more than two dozen half used notebooks in my room right now, I could never use them for school. I always needed a fresh notebook to start the class off with, with a nice pen to write with.

So right there I know that I can go to any dollar store and buy notebooks. I’m not overly particular about them, just as long as they have paper in them. Some people are a bit pickier than that. They need the notebooks that are divided into different subjects, with pocket dividers and removable bookmarks. Others use binders, anything from a plain three-ring to one of those giant monstrosities I have for my old writing, full of pockets and accordion files and little zippered compartments.

I know that I can cheap out on notebooks at the dollar store, but I need good pens. Some people are fine with cheap pencils but need the organization and flexibility of one of those fancy huge binders.  You need to figure out what is most important to you when it comes to your note-taking, your organization, and your budget. To this day, I still buy my notebooks at dollar stores. I save every free pen I can find (**tip: free pens are usually really good quality, and last quite a while. Stock up on them anytime you can. Check campus tables, welcome week events, anything with a table and pamphlets really.), and grab a two-pack of nice pens every few months from the drug store. But even though I can get one for free on campus (they’re always over-stocked, so I take what they would throw out), or get one cheap at the dollar store, every Christmas I treat myself to a new day planner from the calendar stand at the mall. It’s $30+ (nowhere near as expensive as the Kate Spade ones some of my friends get, or the leather one my dad always swore by), it has stickers (I’m big on stickers for colour-coding), and has things like to-do lists and shopping lists at the back. I know that this is essential for me, whereas a notebook with compartments and pockets isn’t.

Basically, know what you need. Don’t go out buying the Kate Spade planner if the free one from campus works for you. Don’t buy a $14 pen if you lose pens constantly.

#4: Get your ass to the financial aid office NOW

Financial Aid Jar.jpg

I don’t care if you’re paying with loans, or scholarships, or your parents are paying your way. Go to the financial aid office, see what they offer. I know at my school, they had a wall of scholarships you could apply for. Going to their website brought up even more. I found out that just by receiving student loans, I qualified for Work Study (120 hours a year at an on-campus job at $12 an hour), plus I was eligible for more than half a dozen bursaries. Some of these bursaries weren’t awarded until part-way through the semester when my tuition was already paid up. That meant the financial aid office would just cut me a cheque for whatever I had gotten, and send me on my way.

There were a few semesters where I got an $800+ cheque more than halfway through the semester. Now, I know I should’ve taken at least half of that and applied to towards debt, but I was a stupid student and probably treated myself to sushi once or twice, went out for a girls night a few more times than usual, and bought more books before saving the rest for a rainy day.

It’s not just your financial aid office that can help you, either. Just go and Google things like “Scholarships + [your major]” and see what comes up. Sign up for scholarship websites. They have you fill out huge profiles and questionnaires, leading you to so many things you may not have realized could get you money. Then, Google “Scholarships + [that thing]” and see what comes up. I’ve had scholarships come up because I have family members who have worked for certain companies, or have been part of certain organizations. I had one come up because I did a lot of charity work with a Greek organization, without being a member of any Greek organization. I’ve had LGBTQ+, harmonica players, writers, cat owners, sufferers of anxiety and depression, and mature student scholarships pop up.

After that, look for contests. Your school’s financial aid might be able to help with that. I entered contests through my bank (they totally bastardized a story I wrote, which made me lose horribly because I was too ashamed to attach my name to it to promote it), writing contests, a stop smoking challenge, and two read-a-thons for money. You would not believe what some people will give you money for when you’re a student!

#5: Use what you fucking paid for!

I am the first to admit that I was the absolute worst for this, and I totally regret it right now. As a student, you pay student fees, which pays for a shit-tonne of things for you. As a student, I had prescription coverage, dental coverage, optical coverage, a free gym membership, access to academic counseling, access to psychological counseling, and a bunch of free stuff through student organizations through my major. I took advantage of almost none of this.

As a working somewhat grown-up right now, what do I miss most about school? The dental plan (my first wisdom tooth started coming in a little over a year ago, and needs to be monitored, which can get pricey in the long run). The optical plan (I can afford an eye exam during the busy season at work. It’s the glasses and contacts, which I desperately need in order to see, that I can’t afford. Even using websites like Clearly Contacts, which is so much more affordable than getting my glasses through my eye doctor, is way too expensive at this time due to my prescription).

Do you have any idea how expensive this stuff is once you’re out of school? My glasses are like $800 a pair! I can spend a good $250 easy on contact lenses, and that’s with me stretching it out until my eyes hurt! My mouth is in pain randomly because of my wisdom tooth, so I spend a ridiculous amount on bubble gum (the only gum that seems to relieve the pressure) as sort of a band-aid for the time being. Really, I should just get my eyes and teeth checked. But I have no insurance at all. Neither do a whole tonne of my friends at the moment. The worst part is, I didn’t use up all my benefits the last year I was qualified for them. I could’ve gotten my teeth cleaned, get x-rays done, saw what my wisdom teeth were o and made a plan. If I had gotten my eyes checked, I would know what fucking prescription to get for myself, and been pretty ok right now.

Have a meal plan?Make sure you use up as much of that damn things as possible! I never lived in campus residence, so I didn’t get a meal plan while I was in school. My brother was in school the same time as me and worked in residence, so he HAD to get a meal plan. There were so many students who, at the end of the year, had a bunch of money left to spend on their plan and just left. Have some money left over the last few weeks of school and know you won’t spend it? I saw some students buy meals for others who didn’t have a plan, for cash of course. My brother went to the school variety store at the end of the school year. They had a clearance on stuff they couldn’t keep for the summer months (mainly junk food and ramen), and he stocked up. You should’ve seen the look on my grandma’s face when he walked in the door with a whole CASE of Snickers for her, that he paid like $5 for. He’d stock up with whatever money he had left, and that way he’d save money over the summer by not buying this crap. Ramen is cheap enough, 3 for $1 at the dollar store. I saw people buying a case of 24 for $3 at the end of the year. What student living on their own doesn’t need cheap ramen?

Check out your school’s websites, see what your student fees buy you. If you get a free transit pass, use the fuck out of it. Explore your town, even if you grew up there. Learn where each and every bus route goes, in case you ever need to know. Check out exactly what your health plan gets you, and use it up as much as possible. Go to all the workshops, presentations, talks, extra classes, and hit the gym from time to time at least. Get the absolute most out of what you’re paying for tuition, to help unfuck your future.

 

Well, this is it for now, Sunshine. I’ve got a tonne more back to school advice coming up. My computer is just acting all laggy and crazy riught now, and it’s a real fucking pisser to try and type anymore.