Romance Novels/The Year of Saving Dangerously

I drafted this post in early June and then promptly forgot about it. Here it is now, happily merged with a more recent draft on a different topic!

First of all, let’s take a look at this awesome blog: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Next, check out this ridiculous article about how romance novels will make women crazy and ruin their marriages. Yikes.

Now, let’s shift gears for a moment and discuss the fact that I’m 23, living on my own, working full-time, feet away from completing my masters degree, and I’ve just put myself on such an extreme budget that I may actually have to go back to eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner like a dumb freshman because I can’t afford my stupid student loans. This week I have to choose between tampons and milk, which is both sad and disgusting.

I shared this article, about college students or recent graduates considering the prospect of prostitution in order to deal with their debt, on Facebook a few weeks ago and it definitely got a lot of responses from my friends.

A day or two after that, my friend Chris shared this with me – it references the previous article, and then elaborates further on the other options which some students are choosing.

Finally, I came across this piece a few days ago, about yet another bursting bubble in this absurd economy.

(And then Georgia shared that same link in her wonderful blog, too!)

From where I sit right now (and I am still stubbornly clinging to a small glimmer of hope that I will soon be proven wrong), I honestly wish I had not gone to college. Everything in life is a potentially risky gamble – attending college and finding success afterwards was never going to be a totally, 100% sure thing. I could have been caught doing any number of illegal or “immoral” activities (hi, I went to a Catholic school with a dry campus), lost my scholarship and been forced to pay more or get out. I could have not been a naturally serious student, partied too hard, and then just failed out entirely. I could have not been blessed with an aptitude for taking blue book tests and writing essays. A variety of other scenarios could have arisen and somehow corrupted my ability to pursue a degree, and afterwards, even in the best economy, jobs are still something people must compete for – unless your last name is Carlson-Worthington III, people don’t usually just get their dream career handed to them along with their diploma.

However, none of what I just said actually happened. I tried to stay very much within the lines of acceptable behavior, and took great care to not be caught on the rare occasions that I stepped out of those lines. I was lucky to not have any outrageous familial or other disasters occur that would have forced me to return home. I studied and I was also fortunate enough to write and test well, I made good connections with my professors, I had a job for all four years, worked summers, I did the internship thing, and I did volunteer work, too.

Basically, everything that could fall into place did just that, and I did everything in my power to turn attending college from a gamble to an investment, and I graduated on time and with honors. But none of that matters.

Of my closest girlfriends from high school, I was the only one who went to college and I was a giant snob about it a lot of the time. As rightfully aggravated as they may have been with me, however, I’m pretty sure that I’m at least as frustrated now by the fact that we all make about the same amount of money (somewhere between minimum wage and maybe $5ish above) but their $8-$15 an hour doesn’t also have to pay off thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt. They have their own financial disasters to deal with and I’m not saying they’re necessarily better off than I am, but it’s extraordinarily disheartening to have put so much effort into something that was supposed to be both the time of my life and the best foundation I could possibly lay for my future as well, but so far, it’s just been an albatross around my neck.

Anyway, this is how I shall tie two seemingly unrelated topics of this post together.

My mom and I met up at the laundromat last night and sat around outside, just talking and waiting for her clothes to dry. In the course of conversation, I relayed some of the information I’ve gotten from those students-turned-sex-workers articles I’ve been reading lately to her, and this was her response:

Mom: You should write a book!
Me: Mom, I’m not going to write a book about how I read some articles about some other people who chose different paths to deal with the same problems I’m dealing with. I’ll write a blog entry about it, maybe, but that’s all.
Mom: Okay, so I’ll write a book!
Me: Mom, no. No one wants to read a book by an almost 60 year old woman who’s heard about how some people in her daughter’s basic situation made some different choices than her.
Mom: Okay, so let’s write a book together!
Me: Mom…
Mom: No, it’ll be a romance novel! People love those! And it can be about greedy corporate CEO’s and seedy politicians and university presidents and loan agencies [screwing] barely legal students on the verge of adulthood! You and I can just get together and drink wine and write together, it’ll be fun. Invite your friends! We need lots of different stories! And we’ll get it published and make a million dollars and then we can pay off your loans!

She’s a goofball, and I love her.

I’ll leave you with these select Scumbag College memes.

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