Student Loans Saga Continues

I am glad to hear that the student loan suspension is being extended to May 1st. I just don’t think it is enough. We are about to get hit with a fifth wave of COVID. Many of us thought Delta was bad then things would cool off. When the vaccine became available we thought that would help things cool off. The goal posts keep moving and we are all burnt out.

That being said economic recovery cannot be prioritized over the preservation of health and human life. I would rather we extend forgiveness to all loans, including parent plus loans to invigorate our economy and empower our economic recover than push people to over work and potentially go back to spreading COVID. As a health worker I am tired, as a social worker I am exhausted, as I person I am beginning to burn out.

This should no longer be a party lines matter but a matter of how do we lift every person in our country out of poverty and help each individual achieve to their highest ability. I know it is a pipe dream but I have some hope.

Toxic Workplace an update

In other toxic workplace news, the colleague I have spent almost two years trying to avoid due to toxicity, bullying, harassment, and negativity is now housed in my cubicle farm, next to me. Things were alright the first month and a half but the past two weeks have been hard.

  1. As a large woman being told that I should stop drinking or eating what is on my desk, even if it something I picked up to take home to my husband.
  2. Being told I am just too fat to bother with dieting to just get wait loss surgery
  3. Being screamed at about cases that don’t involve me
  4. The person they trained who has a graduate degree in social work and an undergrad degree in psychology asking me “What is an ethics?”
  5. Having them go to my supervisor who then attacks me over text because I would not bow down to their bullying

I am tired ya’all. I am doing my best. In health care we are entering the fifth wave of COVID. It isnt pretty, it will not calm down until March or April. I do not want a sixth wave. Please get vaccinated, if you are due for your booster get it, stay home if you can. Just please help us get through this once and for all.

Favorite Winter Activities

As a rule I am not very fond of winter. I often slip on the snow and ice as I am a clutz. I also do not like being cold, my husband has intermittent hypothermia of unknown origins, I also often suffer from sinus infections and nose bleeds in the winter. However there are some things I enjoy.

  1. Snuggling under a fuzzy blanket with a book
  2. Snuggling a fuzzy blanket while watching TV
  3. Home cooked meals that warm the house
  4. Homemade baked goods that fill the house with amazing scents
  5. The stillness of the world while it snows enough to close most roads

Redacted: Gumballs Tribute

In a nice turn of events it turns out my hamsters symptoms of failure to thrive were all from kidney stones. As my husband says “she has reset”. All of her symptoms are gone and she is back to her normal attention seeking, wheel running, self.

I’m glad she is still with us but it is an emotional roller coaster I am coming off of.

Happy Yule! I hope your Yule gift was as lovely as mine.

A Tribute to Gumball

By the time this post goes live, my beloved Gumball will be over the rainbow bridge. She was bleeding from her vaginal/rectal area on Friday evening and was rushed to the vet early Saturday morning, our veterinarian could only see her if she came in before opening. So my husband drove and translated sleepy mumbled to the vet when we got there. We initially thought it was a UTI.

However, after treatment Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, she has gone down hill. She is currently constantly trembling, continues to bleed, shows sign of pain, and losing her balance. She has also stopped eating. We made the hard choice to schedule her to be humanely euthanized before she suffers more. She has reached the ripe old age of 20 months old, if we counted in human years she would be about 80 years old.

Gumball came to us for free from a chain pet store. When my husband and I were first dating we discussed childhood experiences we had and things we wished we could have done. I have always wanted a hamster, I asked for years and my parents would not let me have one. My mom had a bad experience with guinea pigs and hamsters as a child and would not allow one in her home.

John worked part time boarding on full time at a big box pet store. One of the russian dwarfs was sexed incorrectly and a male and a female were in a pair. The female ended up having babies. Since they were not in the system as sellable creatures, and were potentially inbred, all 6 were put up for adoption. Gumball who was given to us as a boy, never seemed like the anatomy matched for a boy. When she saw the vet for the first time it was confirmed our hamster was in fact a girl. I was happy I had given her an androgynous name based on her personality and shape.

I have spent the past almost two years trying to enrich her life, from etsy bought food, to toys, furniture, hides, changing the cage lay out, toys, and snacks. I tried to make sure gumball was well cared for and felt she was loved. I do hope we made her tiny life bright.

I love you my little one. Good night, and enjoy your siblings when you go over the rainbow bridge.

Self care when seeing toxic family

Even with COVID raging in our country, many families are gathering. That includes my own family. My parents and sister who are a toxic combination, will be visiting on christmas day. So I will give you my top 3 tips for how I cope.

  1. Make boundaries- I am making artificial boundaries as I know my family follows gentle nudging and will boundary stomp verbalied boundaries. I will be building boundaries by cooking early. My family will come by around 11am-Noon or so. I will have our meal cooked and ready to serve within 15 minutes or so of their arrival. We will eat, talk for no more than half an hour, and my dad will want to leave. As he is driving my mom will stall for fifteen minutes and they will likely leave.
  2. Have a plan- I have an idea of what needs to be done and what will trigger a melt down in each of my family members. My husband has been coached, the food is bought, the meal ironed out, and cleaning and stashing things has begun.
  3. Have a back up plan- Honestly, my back up plan is to use the cats as a distraction as it worked when my family visited in 2018.

BONUS: Have a self care plan- I know I will not sleep well the night before they visit and I will need to expand my social battery with my in-laws the following day. I have planned a day or reading, watching tv, napping, and nourishing my body after my family leaves. I may even take a hot bath!

Self care through emergency planning

I am an anxious person, so sometimes my self care is completed through pre-planning. Two of the things that make my anxiety a little less intense is having everything I may need for a potential pet emergency. So I am going to give you a look into my emergency kits.

Cats:

  • Nail Trimmers
  • Styptic powder
  • Chicken, turkey, or beef baby food
  • Probiotics
  • Cat formula
  • Sensitive digest cat food
  • Plain rice
  • Frozen ground meat
  • frozen vegetable and seasoning free broth
  • Manuka Honey

Most of these items focus around the fact that I have a cat with pica, but all of these items could be useful in a pinch.

Guinea Pigs

  • Vegetable Baby food
  • Critical Care
  • Hydration powder
  • Nail trimmer
  • Hair Scissors
  • various syringes
  • heat pad
  • Cooling pad
  • brushes
  • Comb
  • towels

Hamster

  • Frozen rosemary
  • nail clippers
  • various forms of protein rich snacks

My Student Loan Story

Earlier in the week I talked about how I dream of student loan forgiveness in a perfect world. Now I will tell you a bit about my student loan journey.

From a young age I knew the only way out of my families insanity was to work hard in school and get scholarships to go to college. My dad has never respected college and thinks it’s too high brow. My mom and sister both took seven years or so to finish associates degrees. Then never really used them. My sister was a nursing assistant before becoming permanently and totally disabled. My mother still works as a manager at a restaurant.

I worked myself ragged in high school, took every extracurricular, took an AP class at the school district on weekends, worked every weekend and most holidays, and kept my GPA at a 3.975 by graduation. I managed to become valedictorian. This allowed me to get the second highest tier of scholarship at my chosen college. The next tier was full tuition coverage which was reserved for student athletes. Between that, a local scholarship competition for $1,000, graduation gifts, savings from working from the age of 15, and grants I managed to pay for my first year of college. I scrapped by with 2-3 jobs during the school year, working 35 plus hours as a waitress during the summer, and scraping together every penny from christmas and birthdays to cover my sophomore and junior years.

In a bid to cover more I repeatedly tried to become a resident assistant. I had no problem with the responsibility and met the requirements. I interviewed for the position every year and even had current resident assistant references but it was not to be. When I hit senior year and having to be at an internship 16-21 hours a week that was unpaid, it cut back on how many hours I could work and still get all my 400 level work done. I ended up having to take out $5,000 a semester and landed myself in $10,000 in debt in a year.

As senior year progressed I was in a panic, after four years of partial freedom was closing I could not go back to living with my family. A bachelors in social work would not pay the bills, but I did not earn my way into a coveted advanced standing position for my graduate degree either. Knowing my own well being and career were at risk I took the leap of faith and signed off on two years for a graduate degree. I had to pay out of state tuition for one year since my family is from out of state. I spent hours of work to prove I would live in state to get in state tuition rates for my second year. I worked 20 hours a week at the on campus gym, picked up extra hours all summer, and still I ended up with $119,822 in student loans, plus my undergraduate loans, and interest. I am now at $ 135,961.71 in debt. Even with payments since 2017, a loan forgiveness grant for 10,000, and working extra hours I cannot get the number to lower.

My debt to income ratio is now too high to qualify for a mortgage on my own, even with my husband as a co signer, it will be difficult to qualify for some loans. I am not sure I could even get a car loan due to my student debt.

If I did not live with my husband I would not be able to regularly afford rent, my bills, student loan payments, and still keep food in the fridge without help. This is why it is so important to me that we have student loan reform and forgiveness.

Student Loan Forgiveness Dreams

I wish that student loan forgiveness and employer based loan repayment were larger options and compensation options. I currently have about 135K, upon my last check, in student loan dept. 10K is from my undergraduate degree, the rest is from my graduate degree in social work.

After talking with many in the field and some internet browsing it looks like student loan debt is pretty common in social work. Programs like state loan repayment grants and Public Service Loan Forgiveness are huge in our community.

In my dream world student loan forgiveness would look different than a make it or break it ten years of payments. Things change, you go into forbearance, jobs change, life circumstances change. I believe a graduated system of loan forgiveness would have a greater impact. More people would opt for public instead of private jobs and it would provide more relief on an overburdened set of graduates.

For example:

While working in public service:

1 year of payments would equal 2k in forgiveness

2 years of payments would equal 5k in forgiveness

3 years of payments would equal 7k in forgiveness

4 years of payments would equal 9k in forgiveness

5 years of payments would equal 10k in forgiveness

7 years of payments would equal 13k in forgiveness

8 years of payments would equal 18k in forgiveness

9 years of payments would equal 22k in forgiveness

10 years would mean full forgiveness of any loans left

This would incentivize borrowers to pay back, take public or non profit jobs that pay less, while also allowing borrowers to live. Many borrowers including myself have to put off home ownership, children, and marriage due to financial concerns stemming from student loans.

The system is broken and the ratio of minimum wage, post graduate experience, post graduate wages, and the cost of tuition coupled with interest rates are not matching.

Another Gus the Guinea Pig Update

*Update: Gus passed over the rainbow bridge on 12-13. We are sad for his loss. I want to continue to post his story for the purpose of education and love*

Hello All,

Gus is the senior guinea pig my hubby and I took in, he is a medical case as most seniors are, and with that we have been on another adventure with him this week.

He had stabilized after thanksgiving, but only for a few days. Since then he has been averaging a drop in weight of 10 grams or more a day. We had a follow up scheduled within a few days and kept him as stable as possible until his vet could see him. My husband did not know if we would have to make the decision of putting him down or not, he is always optimistic and the last to give up on an animal, therefore I knew it was bad when he was concerned.

The vet took a look at him, his teeth had already started to grow too much, and were bothering him, but not enough to cause all the weight loss he is experiencing. He has no infections, no potential tumors, and no other signs of illness. It could be age related failure to thrive, however, the vet wanted to get his teeth treated and his weight stabilized.

The head veterinarian was lovely enough to keep Gus fed and cared for overnight and performed his teeth trim first thing this morning. Gus got through the procedure well but is now being fed every four hours or so, pain medication nightly, and probiotics. We have started to mix safe baby food into his feeding to get more calories than just water in his food.

I will continue to keep everyone posted.

I loved every minute we had with you Gus. May you meet your fuzzy siblings over the rainbow bridge, have all the hay and treats you could hope for, and feel no pain. Good bye for now but I will see you some day my little one.