Stop Whining.

NOTE: Here's something you didn't know about me! I'm intensely allergic to mosquito bites! That's right, I suffer from an affliction that combines symptoms of hay fever with massive Quasimodo-esque deformities and rabid grouchiness. This time around I didn't feel so hot and looked worse, since some particularly malicious winged insect elected to bite my face. Picture me with half a jawbone transplant from Luke Wilson. Anyway. The point of this note is that I had a little trouble blogging through the quicksand of Benadryl (non-drowsy my ass), and I apparently hit "Save" instead of "Post." So this post is a bit late. Bite me.

On second thought, please don't- I'm probably allergic.

Recently, feeling lethargic and completely unmotivated, I indulged in a few hours of free movie channel. I found myself watching Reality Bites... and I found myself completely enthralled.

What started off as snarky amusement at the dated technology and fresh-faced actors turned into amazement that a film about Generation X could still be so potent for my generation. Scene after scene was achingly familiar. I watched Lelaina Pierce's idealism disintegrate into cynicism after a string of fruitless interviews, and I thought- "That was me... minus the chain-smoking!"

Adam and I have come a loooong way- it's hard to believe that just over a year ago we spent our last pennies (literally) to make a desperate pilgrimage from Spokane to Seattle. Last year we were a cook and a bookseller, emptying our bank account each month to make rent and dining finely on Top Ramen.

Today? We have good jobs. We save money with religious fanaticism. We allow for little luxuries like weekly bouquets and prosciutto for Matilda.

And for us too... yum.

And yet... we're still grappling with twenty-something angst in an economy that isn't going to do us any favors. We're facing the traditional quarter-life identity crisis x 10: because it's no longer just a matter of hunting for career in your field, it's about realizing that your field may not exist tomorrow (design mag editor). We're finding out there's no guarantee that ingenuity and 60 hours per week can get you to the middle class American Dream- but we're busting our butts anyway. Reality bites, man.

We have jobs, but we don't have careers. Our savings seems pathetic next to a heap of student loan payments. I feel a stab of guilt every time I furnish my apartment instead of my bank account.

There it is, in black and white.

Though we sacrificed the low-paying creative jobs that we loved in order to put away for the future, our efforts seem insufficient to fund even our modest goals. We're not talking fame and fortune here- I want an old house to make new, a handful of bourgeois children with matching college funds, a big dog, a car that gets me here and there, a small business with my name on it. It has occurred to me that I might have to start erasing things from this list, and that makes my stomach hurt. Are my dreams incompatible with the times- or with each other? Will I have to stifle my imagination to breathe comfortably financially? If so, what's the point?

Fiiiiine, I'm almost done!

I think that today's economy, while universally depressing, might be particularly crushing to the young creative types. So I'd love to hear from all you young creative types out there. What are you doing to ride this out?

As for Adam and I, we're going to hold onto our good jobs with a death grip, put away $1,000 every month, and pray for a visit from Publisher's Clearing House (though I suppose we'd have to enter first, eh?). And we're going to keep blogging so that our art-starved little souls don't wither away.

3 Have Spoken.:

Jess said...

Can I ask why you're saving rather than paying down your loans? Is there some threshold you're trying to reach before you switch? I only ask because that's something I've struggled with...is it better to have cashflow, or less debt. Lucky for me, that soon will not be a question, because there will be very little cash, and accumulating debt. Decision made! ;) (My new grad-school-career is far less lucrative than the old one).

What are we, members of the "I don't want to work a shitty job" club doing to ride this out? I'm staying in school! Seriously! Luckily I'm able to do so with minimal debt accumulation, and a little bit of income, so its not too bad of a deal. I'm curious to see what other folks say though.

ShockTheBourgeois said...

Totally valid question. The answer is that we're doing both. We pay more than our monthly payment on each loan. I am still insistent on saving $1,000 per month though. My plan is to save enough for 6 months of expenses (which, in Seattle, is A LOT). I've been hugging myself for being such a saving nazi- Adam's recent medical bills would have crippled us if not for the emergency fund.

After I hit that threshold, we'll start saving $750 per month for a car (because ours is on the brink of being dangerous) and we'll pour the extra into loans. After we've got enough for a decent used car... we'll start saving for a house, school, whatever.

We also know that Adam will be going back to school pretty soon (and could come out on the other side with a fairly decent career).

Anyway. My philosophy is that really, the loans aren't going anywhere anytime soon- even if we put in the extra $1,000. However, there's always the looming possibility of an accident, a move, a car issue... you name it.

Jess said...

That makes sense. Thanks for the window into your financial situation. I'm nosy as hell, but also, hearing other people's plans are helpful. Although it really is soon to become a moot point for me, sadly. Such is life though!

What is Adam thinking of going to school for?? (And has he considered the possibility that he could get paid to do it?)