November – The yearly reminder from The Great Lakes

wolf-graceperiodwolf

 

Something happened that November right after my grace period was over. I inducted myself into an Income-Based Repayment plan, now known as Income-Driven Repayment plan or IDR. Ever since, I’ve been fortunate to pay only the mysterious amount up to 10% of my monthly income. So for a while, I was repaying anywhere from $49 to $300 per month to my loan provider, The Great Lakes. But this is calculated provided your income is above a certain bracket. Once I became a full-time freelancer, my income has yet to reach the point where my monthly payment is above $0, and thankfully because I’m not sure how I would afford it – or why I would spend 10% of my income on that instead of ever saving to have home of my own. To this day, I still live paycheck to paycheck, for the most part, salvaged in big part to the fact that I now am part of a family of 2 incomes where my boyfriend and I share everything. But a day will come when payments will have to be made again. Payments may be $0 today, but my annual interest of about $6,000 keeps piling up for FREE!

Oh, dear Higher Ed, I cannot believe I once thought you were only giving me “financial aid” (or should I say “burden”?) because you were going to take care of me to pay it back. I was such an entitled little fool. I remember my mother warning me about how the loans were too big and questioning how come they were offering me that much money. Of course, my parents had failed to teach me a lot of lessons about money by then, and I wasn’t about to take one from the people who had accustomed me to depend on them only to one day call me to say they could no longer pay all my bills for me – which in another story caused me to go into my first maxed-out credit card debt, fun. At the time in my life when the decision was to be made, these loans were going to allow me to a)move to the city of my Dreams: NYC, b)enroll in the ONLY master’s program I was ever interested in, and c) become fully independent from my parents. I firmly believe nobody could’ve talked me out of that moment except my future self, who is now financially fucked – even then I probably would’ve done it anyway because “lo cantado y lo bailado nadie me lo quita” (what I’ve sung and danced nobody can take away – Mexican proverb). Sorry, I didn’t intend to be so mean to myself.

You get the picture.

These days, November comes with an expected wave of unbearable pain, sleepless nights of stress and shame. Ironic enough, because my grace period for repayment was over on November 21st, and now my deadline to re-apply for my IDR is November 27th. Having to pay $0 monthly is beautiful all year round until I get to face the accrued interest on my loans, the new total balance on my debt, and just let it sit with me for the minutes-to-an-hour that it takes me to fill out my application. IT FUCKING HURTS.
And if I could scream it to the registrar or whomever at NYU, I would. Many times, I’ve thought about posting myself out there and just shed all the tears and yells I have for them. But I’m not trying to get arrested or labeled insane, so here I am, blogging about it instead as the very civilized person I am.

This year I’m trying not to procrastinate and let the process hurt more than it needs to. I received a “friendly reminder” from The Great Lakes today, and I’ve decided to schedule a date with myself and my loans on the coming Monday. I’m not jumping right on it because I am reflecting on the situation (hello, here we are), I have work to do tomorrow, and much needed resting to do this coming weekend. After all, I am glad I have prioritized self-care and living my best life despite the burden of my debt. By the time December rolls around, I will forget about it all once more. I only hope one day all my hard work will be reflected by me throwing cash Wolf-of-Wall-Street-style at my loan provider so I can forget about this nightmare all together and never shed a tear of debt ever again.

Enter Title Here

Life.

It gets in the way of everything,

Even though it’s here for the exact opposite,

There is a balance to everything

Until you consider thought,

Because thought is what has allowed

Life to get in the way

 

We are born already drowned in

Oceans of systems,

Lost within

Ranges of conflict,

Indebted to

Constellations of expectation.

 

We get only one chance

With every passing second

With every taken decision

With every step forward.

 

The rest is an amendment

 

Tonight there is a full moon,

As I begin to see it

It will start disappearing for others,

It is already tomorrow somewhere

And the cycle will start over

 

I got only one chance

And I can only chase the moon with my eyes.

Contemplating it

Has been the most irresponsible use of my time

Given how much I ought to do,

How much I am expected to do,

How much sleep my body needs.

 

Thought just got in the way of me and

This natural state of beauty

A free luxury from existence

Which now gives me a little bit of regret

Having had it

 

But we get only one

Chance

And then

The rest is an amendment

Ball and Chain

Income increase = Higher loan payment = Still unable to save

Income increase = Tax increase = Bringing home the same $$ as I was while waitressing

Income increase + ObamaCare plan = Owing $2,000 in taxes this April

Income increase = The worst financial shape I’ve ever been in

SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS.

D O M I N A T R I X

DO, RE,

It was like a song,

one day the dreams you didn’t know you had came true

the next you are poor and left alone and what are you supposed to do?

you can do or not do,

you can make or not make,

you can struggle in one way

or another

or another

or another
DO, MI,

Sing to me

tell me how you want me to hurt you

for I will

I will hurt you with all your permission

I will hurt you with the accumulated anger of my generation of starved geniuses

I will

I promise you

We will pass the stage of tears

We will make this all so pleasurable

Until you pay me for your pain

And you will

Because we are under a contract

And we will pass the stage of tears

by so much
That is what I am told

That is what I was sold 

when I graduated,

before,

when I enrolled
You’ll be an artist

you will struggle

it will hurt 

and you will sorrow
but oh it will be worth it

one day tomorrow

when you succeed

or when you give up
but oh it will be worth it

because at least you tried it

because at least you had a taste of it

and at least we’ll get our share
but oh will it be worth it?

Creative Confidence

When we started this project our goals were two-fold. For this post, I’m only interested in one of those goals because it has been the most difficult to keep up with – being actively creative despite our debts. For months, I have been avoiding this post and it took around 6 hours today to get me to this point of typing. Fear has something to do with it. Lack of confidence does as well. Guilt that I have abandoned my creative child and the lack of credibility I have been feeling in calling myself a theatre practitioner lately. Can you call yourself a theatre-maker if you haven’t made theatre in over a year? The longer the lull, the harder it is to jump back on that’s totally for sure. How do we make it go away?

The guilt of not pursuing a life in theatre for the past year has been hitting me hard lately. I spend my time seeing plays, applying for theatre admin. jobs and “liking” all of my friends production photos on Facebook. It gives me the illusion that I’m involved – the quick-fix. The more time that passes from the last show I was a part of, the harder it becomes to define what “I do.” I surely haven’t been “doing” theatre and I’m not confident in saying that I “do” anything other than theatre. So my answer to this question has become what I want to do/should be doing/ did in the past. But then people want to know what I’m working on now and I haven’t much to offer in terms of examples. I have no confidence in that conversation. But I want to break through that barrier and get on with it. It feels like starting from scratch again and it’s hard because you have to face your un-confidence (its a word now!) in the face, swallow it, and come to the plate humbled and ready to build a new network and prove yourself (again).

I’ll try my best (and hard) to go through this process with “grace” – get it!? The artistic process and career of an artist doesn’t have a deadline and ground rules. Their careers ebb and flow in waves of working and drought. They live untouched by the  measurements and parameters of career success that other professionals live by. I will show compassion and mercy to myself and my lack of creating this past year or so because that’s what living gracefully means. Many other areas of my life have flourished over the past year and for that I am thankful and so very happy. Now I can take the time AND GRACE to focus my attention back on my craft. And now, after clicking “Publish” I am officially back in the game! 🙂 wahoo I have something to say next time and it feels soooooooo good 🙂 Next up on my agenda for establishing myself again is to 1) pull my website together with updates, services, and portfolio. 2) write regular posts on my blog to build more traffic. 3) Join play-writing and script-reading groups to expand my network and practice my new-found confidence. 4) Order new business card with “Creative Consultant: Theatre Performance” as the title. Cheers to starting over and continuing.