Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Money Room

Deep within the bowels of the university, U of T has a special room. It's triple-locked and carefully guarded at all times. There is a dark and sinister corridor leading to this room; one whose floor is always slick and whose overhead lamps are always mysteriously swinging. It's deep underground, below the subways and the scurrying rats, and it holds all the money I've ever given to U of T.

Someday - mark my words - I'll find this room. I'll knock those guards out and emerge, triumphant, from this den of remuneration, carting my cash away and cackling as I go.

Seriously! Why is university so damned pricey? And it's not just the tuition, which my school has thoughtfully jacked up this year. It's the cost of living in an urban center. Yeah, yeah: I know Toronto is, like, way down there on the list of expensive places to live. It's not a surprise that Tokyo requires a bindle full of cash in order to subsist. But their international university is shockingly cheap - basically on par what I'm paying here. What makes U of T so special that I might as well open a vein every time I need to pay for a textbook?

Toronto ain't the Harvard of the North it claims to be: that distinction is fought over by Queen's and McGill, and rightfully so. U of T is more of a machine that either of those worthy schools. Toronto churns out thousands (like, the size of a small town) of undergrads per year, all the while charging more and more tuition and cutting and resizing programs. At what point does a university with a 1.2 billion dollar endowment need my sweet cash? Especially one with 3.1 billion dollars worth of real estate, including Queen's Park. As in, they own the provincial government buildings. What a crock.

Look, yeah, I know that I've spent a shit-ton of money over here on my so-called education, all the while desperately clawing my way towards irritatingly large student debt. And I'm not saying I would have rather gone to Algoma, which I'm sure is cheaper...because Algoma is in Sault Ste Marie, and I do not want to live in the Soo. It's just frustrating, because being in school is expensive, and it's usually an adventure taken on by poor young people.

As a poor young person, I will shut my trap about the whole thing, because, as sucky and expensive as school is, it's still a choice. I could have graduated high school (go Rams!) and gotten a job as a shopgirl, a waitress, a mother...a veritable buffet of high-paying and powerful jobs! But instead, I chose to wander the educational desert for forty years (practically), running up debt and researching exactly what my money is financing.

As far as I can tell, I personally am paying two month's salary for the girl who works at my registrar's office. Now, since I like her, I've decided not to be mad. But is I ever track down that mysterious room in that devilishly well-hidden corridor...I am bringing a wheelbarrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's All Happening!

Dudes and dudines, I am tired. I am tired like Pirelli, yo. Sorry, I've been re-watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother and there's a lot of wordplay. It's infectious. Like the flu.

Anyway, I've basically been running for the last week. I think the next time I really get to sit down, take a breather, have one of those TV-only baths where people light candles and drink wine in the tub, will be sometime around Christmas. There's been a lot of stuff on my plate. Actually, "my plate" is a bit of a misnomer, since I've been too crazed to really have a sit-down meal lately. There's been a lot of stuff in my burrito wrapper.

Not that I'm complaining! (I'm obviously totally complaining.) It's just...hectic. And the hecticness is nice, in a way: it's getting me out of the house, I'm doing new stuff, it's all very exciting and educational...but sometimes, I just need to take a couple days where I do nothing. And I mean nothing. I need serious hours logged as a housecat would: staring at the windowshade, napping, staring at the linoleum, not wearing pants, and screening my phone calls. Plus naps.

Here's the thing: I'm not lazy. I like to-do lists and tasks that challenge my brain. I love cooking up new ideas and, like, accomplishing shit. Just today I had three meetings, and they were all super different from each other. My whole brain was lighting up like Times Square on New Year's.

But that's exhausting sometimes. I'm not lazy, but I am sort of like those old rechargeable batteries you keep around for like, four years past their expiration date: I need a long time to get back to full power.

It's not just a question of a good night's sleep, either. I sleep okay; sure, most of the time I fall asleep with a book in my hand and still wearing my glasses, but that's okay. At least I'm not all Edward Norton in Fight Club with my snoozes. It's more a question of being able to process. I take an awfully long time to process. Just like my geriatric computer, I run all the zeroes and ones - it just takes me a little longer to get there.

This is making me sound like I have a serious case of the slows, but that's not right either. I am, as evidenced by my interminable education, a student. I like to learn, but part of the student brainpan is a big chunk devoted to critical thinking. Critical thinking is one of those job-interview phrases that people cook up to make themselves sound fancy and educated, but it's true that thinking things through requires a little more energy than just doing and letting the chips fall where they may. Studying is hard. Writing is hard. know where I'm going with hard. It's not hard in the way that building houses is hard, but it's a trial sometimes.

I'm not asking for pity, because I know I won't get any. Which is fine, because everyone I know is in the same boat. I have several different jobs right now, and only one nets me a (teeny weeny) paycheck. The others are just as important: educating myself, getting healthy, volunteering, interning. It's just taken all together, it's a lot in one burrito wrapper.