Friday, August 13, 2010

On Lights and ends of tunnels...

Friday the 13th. It's been an ominous date ever since Philip IV of France ordered his unholy rout of the Knights Templar back in 1307. A bankrupt king declares war on his creditors, arresting, torturing and executing virtually the entire Holy Order and bullying the Pope to disband the remnants.

Hmmm.... Sounds a bit like the medieval precursor to the AIG bailout. Absolution of debts without all that messy inquisition nonsense or charred flesh.

My Friday the 13th is not nearly as onerous as the original, though it does smack of financial tumult. I awoke this morning with the dread and apprehension of one as overextended as King Philip.

I graduate from college this month.Technically, my degree confers on August 31st after final grades post and I sweat over tenths of percentages to maintain my magna cum laude status. It will be a rather unceremonious event, a trembling peek at a website followed by either a ridiculously embarrassing happy dance mid-office, or a mad dash down the hall to hide the tears. Yes, GPA is that important to me. After that I'll get a large piece of paper in the mail - no robes or mortarboards or Pomp and Circumstance, just that coveted piece of parchment.

After three very long undergraduate years at Rollins, I will finally have my very belated Bachelor of Arts degree. (Side note to anyone thinking of going back to school, but feels they're too old to - just do it - sorry, Nike.) I've achieved this milestone through sheer stubbornness (more on that in a later blog) and by amassing twice my annual salary in student loans.

Friends, family, colleagues and co-workers are all so excited and proud of me for finishing school. "Congratualtions!" and "Way To Go!" and "Great Job!" and "Knew You Could Do It!" pepper my e-mail and my Facebook wall. And I am truly grateful for all the moral support so generously bestowed upon me. I really do have some of the bestest friends in the whole wide world. (I know it's not a word, but I'm an English major. I can say "bestest" if I want to.) They have been encouraging and helpful, always reminding me that "there's a light at the end of the tunnel."  ...I wonder.

I am proud of me. I have achieved a very self-fulfilling personal milestone. I applaud myself for not giving in to the temptation of quitting and settling for just getting by in life. I believe in myself and I know that life holds more for me now than it would have before completing my degree.

The all-consuming question is, will I be able to afford my life when the student loans come due without a major lifestyle overhaul. I'm coming under some serious financial fire these days, as are we all. I find myself arrested by collector's phone calls, tortured by the monthly vaciliation between payments to either Peter or Paul, never both, and executing my monthly budget diligently, much to the chagrin of my pantry and gas tank. I wish I had a rich uncle in Washington. But, alas, I am bereft of benefactors, which is probably just as well - they love flaying their pounds of flesh as much as ol' Philip.

My grandparents worked for the railroad so I have a long and endearing history with that light and tunnel analogy, but I think my grandmother said it best. "Of course there's a light at the end of the tunnel, the question is: is it daylight or another train."

My degree confers the end of August.
The invoice arrives in February.

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