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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Oh yes: it's time for another bout of financial whingeing. Not that the previous one ever really ended.

Let's just say that I'm taking back some of what I said yesterday about the abundant resources and the love-showering of Schmancy's rare books collection. Today I stuck my head into the director's office to ask her a couple of questions, and I figured I might as well ask her about my cheque, too, since I hadn't received it and I assumed she had just been too busy with a new crop of researchers to get around to handing them out.

To which query she gave me an EXTREMELY startled look, and said oh, well--she could assure me that it was in process, but it might take a couple of weeks. And that . . . wasn't a problem, was it?

To which of course I said no, not at all--just checking--but I was thinking: a couple of weeks? When this is enough money to (just barely, with some cutbacks) support me for a month? And when you knew the start date of my fellowship? (I should note that in her initial correspondence with me, back in March, she had specifically asked me to let her know my start date ASAP, so that they'd have my cheque ready upon my arrival.)

Financially this is okay--I've already paid this month's rent, I have a few hundred dollars in the bank, and if worst comes to worst I'll be getting the second half of my loan disbursement before I have to pay my August rent--but her surprise at my even asking her about the stipend that's supposedly supporting my research this month (and of which I've already spent $333.00 for a monthly train pass) just made me feel so pathetic and money-grubbing in that old familiar way. That, "but surely your parents/husband/trust fund can help you along this summer"; "but you're living the life of the MIND"; "but you don't realize how lucky you are to BE HERE, and how many people we reject" attitude that I've become a little too familiar with in grad school.

(Funniest damn story along these lines? A grad school friend of mine had to apply for a loan one summer when all of her funding options fell through, and when she mentioned this in passing to the woman in the financial aid office, said woman helpfully responded, "you know, when I was getting my M.A., my friends and I would go out to this bar that had a great happy hour, and we could usually get our drinks bought for us and we'd fill up on the free cheese and crackers and buffalo wings. It's a great way to save on groceries!")

Anyway. I just hate being continually reminded of how close to the brink of financial collapse I actually am, and I especially hate being made to feel that talking about money is just, you know, impolite. Something that People Like Us don't do.

link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:50 PM |


Blogger BrightStar commented at 11:25 PM~  

I know this frustration about money, and about how grad students (or even new faculty) are not supposed to complain about it. At my U, once I got there for my new faculty job, I was told all new profs didn't get their first paycheck on time, that's just how things worked. Well, as someone just transitioning out of graduate school, having just closed on a new (to me) house, this was very stressful. We were able to make it work, but I was offended that we were just supposed to make it work out, as if we were independently wealthy or something.

I wish somewhere in the structure of academia people would realize that we have to pay our damn bills!

All of this is to say -- I'm sorry you're dealing with this right now. You had every right to ask.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 11:57 PM~  

I feel your pain. The HR department here has fucked up my employment stuff for the third time in two summers.

Of course, our timesheets are due a few days before the end of the pay period, and THEN it takes another week before the paychecks/direct deposits go thru. So by the time you find out you got hosed, it's way late, and you're also a week into being hosed for the next period too.

Anyway, I get no paycheck tomorrow, so I get to wait two more weeks to get paid, assuming everything gets worked out in time (and it STILL isn't worked out yet despite complaining for the past 2 weeks).

Our HR department is useless and generally the bureaucracy is so horrible.. nothing ever gets done. Especially with all of the people we have to deal with who apparently spoke english at some point but are no longer capable of doing so.

Anyway, even though I make more money than I need, when I *do* get paid I put as much as possible towards stuff I owe on, so even though my income is fairly large, one skipped paycheck becomes a big deal and makes you feel like you're saying "I make bad choice with money" every time you have to ask for a paycheck you SHOULD be getting in a timely manner.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 1:09 AM~  

It's called a 'float' people. You are essentially making a generous loan to your school/business so that they can hold on to the cash Longer, and do with it as they please. Time IS money. You money is bing used elsewhere perhaps, or may have been 'diverted' for more pressing needs. Nothing unusual that Charles Ponzi would not understand. Really.

Other things your Financial Aid office may have heard but are somewhat reluctant to suggest:

1.) Becoming a part time 'exotic dancer'. Far fetched? Do a google on 'Grad School+ Dancing' see what you come up with.

2.) Forget the dancing bit just go for the stripping.

3.) Or straight to 'evening escort' work. (Go ahead and do it. Google: 'Grad Scool+ escort/stripping')

4.) Do the guy thing. Go for the building trades.

5.) But that takes Lots of time and more energy for very little pay too.

6.) Back to the age old standby of 'sex work' of some sort.

7.) Ok Auntie called it 'serial serious boyfriends'. Lots of work, but the pay is better, the time shorter.

8.) Fast food hell. (Yes, you too can eat whatever they've got left over at the end of the night. But would you dare, or even want to).

9.) Be born rich.

10.) Or be more lucky in your choice of short lived rich relations.

It simply amazes me. Constantly. Unless you have a direct contract with an outside (business) source, in academia you are much more likely to be poorly paid, never paid on time, never paid FOR your time, and your pay never taken too seriously unless you've been there 15-20 years and pull down 6 figures. Which is mostly out of the question today!

Good Luck LL, 'VJ'

Blogger anbruch commented at 11:03 AM~  

That sucks. Grrrrr.


Blogger What Now? commented at 5:02 PM~  

How frustrating! And how startling that the director was startled that you might actually want the money that you'd been promised. Grrrr.

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