Friday, May 25, 2007

Today I was reminded, yet again, why I love music so much.

It's hearing a song when I need it the most.
Listening in awe as to how much it stirs the emotion.
The lyrics tell, the keys push, and the tone hurts- it is almost too real.

"Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy
is what I needed the most.
With everything that has happened this week: the heartache, the tears, the pain, the frustration, the fear, and finding out the truth; this song was the hug I needed.

It may sound sappy, but I don't care. Because even the closest of friends don't always have the right advice, the dog or cat offers a limited level of comfort, therapists have a formulaic right answer for every problem, and the more drinks consumed the emptier the heart feels.

It's hearing that song that makes it a little easier to push on. It's why I love music.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Maybe I will win the lottery

Because that might be my only chance I have at finishing college.

I was talking to a friend earlier this week about college life. I had just been approved for more financial aid, a result of my father being denied a PLUS loan. My friend, thirteen years older than I, was telling me about his series of college transfers and degree changes and in the back of my mind all I could think about was my five-figure amount of debt. He continued to tell me about about being a in a fraternity, blah blah blah, and then he asked me what I thought about sororities. In one answer, it all came out, perfectly.

"You know, it's not the designer jeans and purses that I envy. I'm not jealous over the SUVs or the fancy get-togethers. I don't care about that, it's just stuff," I said. And then with one sentence, I heard myself say what I really felt about the situation,

"The only thing I envy about people like that is that when they're done with college they will be debt free and I will be twenty grand plus in the hole."

I am not angry at them. No one chooses what financial situation they are born into. What I am most upset about is the system.

Financial aid, on both federal and state levels, is determined by your parent or parents income. In my case, I am awarded financial aid based on my father's income. I am not rich enough to have my father pay for it and not challenged enough to qualify for grant (free) money. About a year ago I did receive some grant money. My father had lost his job and was unemployed for almost a year. When we filed for aid it opened the door for grant money- a whole year after he had been without health insurance. This grant money came after my grades suffered because I was working to make sure I could afford to see my doctor, eat, pay rent, and buy my prescription. And grant money is considered a source of taxable income. I had to pay taxes on the grant money--- money I received because of a financial hardship. Thanks Uncle Sam!

The bottom line is this: I am going into debt to earn more money.

Oh, but student loans, that's good debt.

Debt is debt. Interest rates, low or fixed, still create interest. You have to pay the loan plus interest back, no matter what. Declare bankruptcy and student loan debt is still there.

Now, I am facing the point where I am quickly approaching the max amount of student loan/financial aid given for obtaining an undergraduate degree. I've been in college since the Fall of 2002, withdrawn from two semesters, and struggled to make it through each semester. College hasn't been easy. I've had friends and family die, personal health issues, and financial situations hinder me from being the academically gifted student I was in middle and high school. I could write, and need to write, a separate essay about my first three years at NC State. But that shouldn't be the focal point of my financial aid evaluation. I am still in college. I've finally figured out what I want to do. I am making progress towards earning two degrees. And, I will graduate.

I will find some way to pay for college. And when I am done, out in the real world, and have my student-loan debt payed off I will start a scholarship fund. There will not be a focus on academic performance or extreme financial hardship. I want to be able to give money to those who have no other option except student loans. I want to encourage and help someone to finish their education, perhaps give them an opportunity to study abroad- something I won't be able to do. I want to help prevent their debt from reaching the twenties. So they don't have to cry, and stress, and worry about how college is going to be paid for.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"I feel like I oughta come to at least one of the thousands of concerts you've told me about"

quote of the day

~Avett Brothers at Schoolkids at noon in Raleigh NC~

Monday, May 07, 2007

I came into the office today to get the mail. I was hoping that one of the prisoners had written me back so that I could add another level to my paper. No letters from prisoners, so I dug through the overflowing box of envelopes looking for any packages that seemed suspicious. "Sky Blue Sky" was supposed to be here last week. I grabbed three cardboard envelopes that seemed too generically corporate. Checking my email I opened the first one- no luck. Steve walked in and opened one and shouted,


"What, really?!?"

"Hah, just kidding." Freaking bastard.

"Man, if I don't get that Wilco album today I am not going to play it at all, " I said in exaggerated frustration. "It was supposed to mail out two weeks ago, or at least that's what they told me," I complained as I began to tear open the last envelope. I pulled the CD out and removed the piece of paper wrapped around it,

"WILCO!!!! It's about damn time. Woooo-hoooo, WILCO!"

I would have played it even if it didn't come today- I just don't like being at the mercy of larger labels, especially when I could have very easily downloaded it. But I waited and it has made for a wonderful start to the week.

Time to write one hell of a term paper. It's due at 4. I guess Nonesuch Records and I do have something in common- professional procrastination.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The end is near

Two exams down and two papers left.

B- in Spanish 101, which is pretty good considering I didn't do any of the homework
C+ in Quantitative Analytical Chemistry, not my favorite class so I'll take the C

I have a paper due tomorrow by four o'clock for my journalism class. It is about the relationship between WKNC and the area prisons. The station has a dedicated listener base in correctional facilities which has provided for an interesting history of fan mail.

My last assignment is due on Tuesday at 1 o'clock for my memoir writing class. I will be reading a two page excerpt of my revised memoir. Because of this class, I now know what I want to do with my creative writing degree. Through out the course of the semester when I would run into people and talk about how classes were I would always say, "I'm loving my memoir writing class." Everyone would respond the same way- they would ask how I was writing a memoir a such a young age. You don't have to be in your fifties, or thirties for that matter, and have led a daring life to write a memoir. I am twenty-three and have enough content to fill a book, but content is only half of the equation. You have to know how to recall your memories and recreate them, bring them to life. The writing skills must be strong and there has to be a certain sense of fearless exposure. My memoir I am revising for my final assignment spans many years of my life and focuses on a feature of my skin. I am hoping to have my professor help me fine tune it and then I will send it off for publications. I will post it on either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Until then, here is a quickie-playlist I threw together. Get your poolside drink on and keep one cold for me.

[Dream job- poolside DJ]

Yes, there is a Fountains of Wayne song on there, and yes, I despise Stacy's Mom, but I'll be damned if Traffic and Weather doesn't just make you want to dance. They are pretty damn good at making catchy pop songs, those bastards.

Fountains of Wayne Traffic and Weather

Muse Supermassive Black Hole

The Gossip Your Mangled Heart

The Ettes Soft Focus

The Fratellis Flathead

Elevator Action Start a War

The Majestic Twelve Condoleezza, Check My Posse

Love Of Diagrams The Pyramid

I’m From Barcelona This Boy

Honeycut Tough Kid

Just Jack Starz In Their Eyes

LCD Soundsystem North American Scum

Joakim Lonely Hearts

Lily Allen Take What You Take

Louis Armstrong I Still Get Jealous

The Love Kills Theory The Love Kills Theory

The Low Frequency Jimmy Legs

The Knife You Make Me Like Charity

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I really need to be studying

But I am not. Rather, I am in the east wing of the library on one of the new Mac computers. I discovered someone's library of music on iTunes and I am fairly impressed. I found what I thought were a few old songs from Wilco that I weren't familiar with. I googled a track title and it turned out to be from their upcoming release "Sky Blue Sky." Now let me clarify, I did not download the new Wilco album. I have been waiting patiently and eagerly for it to arrive in the mail. I could have downloaded it. I've heard it's all over the web. But I haven't. Rather, I called Nonesuch records and Warner Brothers and reminded them that WKNC is one of the top 12 college radio stations in the nation, we broadcast at 25000 watts, and to please make sure that we get the new Wilco. Still no album.

Hmm, for some reason that library of music just disappeared. I guess that person logged in on another computer. Go figure. The Wilco tunes were good while they lasted. Maybe "Sky Blue Sky" will come in the mail today. It's supposed to, that's what Warner Brothers told me.

Maybe, just maybe, they will send the 12-inch. Probably not, but after listening to those songs I would love to hear it on vinyl. Ear pleasing, vintage dancing, sweet soothing summer vinyl.