As a lifelong ElfQuest fan (over 20 years now!), it’s so wonderful to see them get the recognition they absolutely deserve!
As a lifelong ElfQuest fan (over 20 years now!), it’s so wonderful to see them get the recognition they absolutely deserve!
I’ve been here since December. December! I haven’t been trained. I came from the dealership up the road, yeah, that one. It’s a mad house! There’s never enough hours in the day to get anything done. I feel like a lunatic half the time. How can it be so disorganized? I’m not use to it. It’s crazy!
I need to learn how to do this, before I can do that, but I’m expected to train on this today. How can I train when I’m still learning? It’s crazy!
Nice having the weekends off though. I haven’t had a weekend off in years. Isn’t that crazy?
Hmmm. Yeah, it’s not that bad really. Maybe it’s just a different pace. It’s crazy.
December 10th, 2010. The day I cut the umbilical cord.
Nine months prior, I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be fun to just …
Later, an idea was conceived. Which grew into a lengthy three page outline, and blossomed into a beautiful white-and-black 88-page thesis.
After nine months I gave birth to “Mythic Archetypes: Welsh Mythologies in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.“ It wasn’t perfect, a few things bothered me. There was room for expansion in certain areas, but it was time to let go after I finished!
It’s mine. My own. My precious.
Choosing a topic was a risk. It wasn’t the most popular subject to write about. Why would you want to write about THAT? While other graduate students were debating taking the comprehensive examination or reworking their critical theories about Joyce or F. Scott Fitzgerald, I chose to follow my passion. High fantasy. How could I merge Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings with some Welsh mythological research. What could I do different that hasn’t already been discussed ad nauseam? Could I defend my thesis? Was this even WORTH exploring??
We grow to love our creations. And hate them. I’ll never forget throwing books/papers on the ground tearfully screaming: “I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I’LL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH!”
Then a few hours later I’d pick up my papers, rework a few paragraphs, and feel the delicious surge of accomplishment. A seductive thrill raced up and down my spine.
All agony is forgotten once you hold your newly created idea. That initial conception you thought oh so many times! The seed has long since sprouted branches and grown into a friggen tree! But now, that tree bears fruit and you can pluck that fruit and share it with people.
My labor of love.
Certain things didn’t completely sit well in the end. A few researched points I’ve discussed which could be reworked and tweaked. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your creation is living after all, it has GROWN and evolved. But nitpicking little details can consume you.
So, I let it go. On December 10th 2010. Plus a few extra years.
Now, I’m going back. I’d like to rework some kinks I’ve been wanting to finish.
I’ve wondered about getting chapters published, or re-working the entire thing for a broader reading audience. Am I good enough for it, precious?
I find it strangely comforting going back after a few years and reworking chapters. I’d still like to finish writing my half-finished novel.
But for now I’m visiting with an old friend, whom I love.
This gets me really excited! Now, I know, I know, it’s a long way off and it will probably only be for billionaires and world leaders. But, seriously. It’s a BAD ASS HYPERSONIC PLANE.
Science … you keep blowing my MIND!! 😀
Today, I’m writing on a subject I live with every day: student loan debt.
See, I had no loans as an undergraduate. I turned down college at UCB and UCSD to attend San Diego State University. Why? Because at 21 years old I didn’t want loan debt in my early 20s. My parents helped pay my tuition and I earned an income working part-time for Syrrx, a bio tech company in La Jolla.
While at times I do regret not participating more as an undergraduate in student events, having work experience made life so much easier! Syrrx provided free breakfast, lunch and/or dinner and my earnings went towards living expenses. I had fun working, too! Because of my work experience I found a job in Sacramento after only two weeks of graduating at San Diego State.
Now, fast forward four years to graduate school.
I could not afford graduate school unless I had student loans. I lived within my means, with a bit of credit card debt. I put a healthy chunk of money into my savings for global education. But, I could not afford the ever-increasing tuition.
Student loans let me to live abroad. I’ve always dreamt of having a global education. Without student loans, I would have remained at my job at UC Davis Medical Center only dreaming of something more. Student loans let me walk through 12th century castles in Wales, drive cross-country with friends to Scotland, listen to British professors explain Irish poets, or meet a certain someone whom I live with now. Student loans made the world an accessible and smaller place. But more than that, I finally had time to research and write to my heart’s content! Student loans made me believe I could pursue all my dreams in only a few years.
I never would have grown out of apathy if it weren’t for student loans. They gave me the chance to kick ass.
But, the world after graduating instead kicked my ass. Everything changed within a few years. Before it took two weeks to find work, now I wouldn’t even hear rejections. For every 15 CVs I sent out I would maybe receive a few rejections and, maybe, receive a phone interview. I did receive positive feedback from recruiters. People liked me and liked my experiences. But I didn’t have that extra OOMPH to land a job. I was competing against better caliber people with higher degrees and more professional experience. When I finally did get hired from a few companies they were contract only, providing barely enough money to get by. I did have a good job working as a Research Assistant in Sacramento, but I was laid off after three months. So, what the hell?!
Meanwhile, my student loan interest accrued. The little I did pay back only went towards interest, hardly ANY to the principle. The majority of the money went to living expenses.
I began to worry about my future and question my past decisions. What the hell did I do to myself?!
The Straight Up Ugly
When I finally confronted my student loan debt it was a staggering $50,000. That’s a very jagged pill to swallow. Hell, just looking at that number sends shock waves throughout my body. That’s like paying for three or four cars. Only I couldn’t sell this debt away, this was my monster creation.
I deal with that everyday.
Aside from student loan repayment misery there’s the extra added emotional turmoil. I do not LIKE having any debt. I want to get married, have kids, buy a house. I’m plagued with having too much debt. I have every intention of paying it back but let’s not forget, the cost of living increases each year. Student loan interest, if not fixed, can fluctuate. That’s a shit load of uncertainty.
Whilst I am chipping away at my debt as best I can, each month I change tactics at how to confront it. Some days I feel it best to put everything I have towards paying it off (and live on ramen) another part of me is saying don’t kill yourself! Pay it down modestly. This is not debt that will go away any time soon, is it worth living like shit? Meanwhile, I’m not getting any younger. This is my internal struggle.
Did I learn anything? Yes, you bet.
My advice to people considering student loans: know exactly what you are getting into. If I could talk to past Kassie, who was bouncing around with no plan, I’d tell her to get her shit together and focus on helping others. Take enough for a few loans, forget the rest. Focus on marketing skills like pursuing science, web coding, ANYTHING contributing to the world. Securing marketable job skills NOW. Not having a clear focus is what landed me in hot water to begin with.
It’s great I realised where my passion lies, but now I have an extra special weight with student loans. I need to plan three months ahead before making decisions. Like poor Frodo, it’s a burden that I alone must bear. No one else will pay this back I need to do it. Also, thankfully, having awesome family and friends helps alleviate some of that heavy burden when I get too hard on myself.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. This is a shift in thought people need to realise. Let’s mentor our young students! Really, truly think about what debt you’re going to inherit when finished.
Only then we’ll start tackling the root of the problem.
Hard to believe that only last week I was in London for AstroFest 2013! It’s been a loooong week.
London is a harsh mistress. Whilst I love walking the city, enjoying the night life, and finding yummy places to eat, the heavy congestion is draining. And there is so much noise!!
I do enjoy the ebb and flow, my odd little London love affair. I typically enjoy my time, but feel a sense of relief living in a smaller community. Maybe that’s from my upbringing.
This was a different experience though. It came as a surprise, I didn’t want to leave at all! I felt the visit was much too short. Kensington is absolutely lovely and very central. Hell, I even found a WHOLE FOODS! WOW! As a native Californian I have been missing carnitas and burritos. Tears of happiness streamed down my face as I engorged myself with fish tacos and soft taco carnitas. 😀
But enough about me, let’s talk geek! AstroFest is truly a rockstar affair now; it’s absolutely brilliant! As a first time visitor the visit did overwhelm the senses. Sooo much to see, sooo much to do! I’m glad it’s spread into two days.
Here’s a condensed recap of the weekend!
VARIETY OF ASTRONOMY VENDORS
Walking around, I felt at home among my other nerdy peers. Astronomy NOW magazine had a fabulous booth set up: new issues, new books, and back issues for a few quid. An energetic lady at the University of Central Lancashire introduced me to distance learning astronomy courses. I purchased a few astrobiology books from Cambridge University Press, chatted with a few science editors. And, of course, I marveled at the expansive variety of telescopes for novice and advanced explorers. Truly, there was something for everyone to enjoy – child to silver-haired academic.
VARIETY OF LECTURE CONTENT
I purchased tickets to all the events so we had quite the itinerary to sort through. I did miss a couple of lectures but for the most part I sat through almost all! NASA engineers discussed their lives as scientists living 14,000 feet above sea level at remote telescopes in Maui. Academics captured pictures of super massive stars, gave a preview of, what they believe, black holes sound like when colliding, and even explained plate tectonics on Mars in comparison to Earth!
It’s NERDY, but it was absolutely fascinating. Great subject variety! My brain totally hurt afterwards, haha!
EXCELLENT CENTRAL LOCATION
London may drive me crazy, but Kensington is absolutely brilliant. It was close to the tube line, and I loved shopping on the High Street for clothes. Much better variety of clothing instead of in Leamington. There was also a HUUUUGE Tescos within walking distance. We stopped there for breakfast and brought lunch with us into the convention.
SPEAKERS! SOME GREAT, SOME NOT SO GREAT
The only fault I found was with the speakers. Some, like Lucy Hawking, were natural, talented orators. Herself and a few others made some compelling lectures, with exciting content using videos and pictures.
Others … not so good. I can understand that the academics were quite busy, I get it, but speaking 45 minutes about galaxies in the ultraviolet to the public could be shown with pictures, not extensive graphs. Touch upon math, but keep it simple! Hopefully next year the academics will make some presentations a bit more visual and less wordy.
REMEMBERING PATRICK MOORE
AstroFest closed out with this session. It ended extremely well. Everyone wanted to see the LEGENDS, like Dr. Brian May, discuss his fondest memories of Patrick Moore and how he touched upon so many lives with his enthusiasm in astronomy. There wasn’t ONE SEAT left in the auditorium, it was jam-packed!! I hope they continue it each year, it’s a fantastic way to honor Patrick, as well as, end the conference on a light-hearted and FUN note.
Will I be attending Astrofest 2014? ABSOLUTELY!
Hello! Yes, is she not in? Just missed her? That’s okay, we’ll catch up another time.
How are you getting on though? It’s hard, I know. It’s not fair really. I know *Ms. Sassy was right upset with everything before she left. Jobs are scarce now though, aren’t they? My son still hasn’t found one, he’s been applying. He got an interview and it was down to five people. He didn’t get it though. It’s the expectation really. They expect you to have experience but you can’t get experience unless you’re hired out of uni. It’s a shame. Young people today. How’s your family? I bet they miss you. It’s good we have technology like that so you can talk on the computer. But don’t worry, we’ll get it sorted. We have all the PO stuff together, it’ll all come together in the end. You should visit your family when you get a chance, I bet they miss you.
If anything changes, I’ll let you know. Okay, bye!
* Name changed. Obviously 😉