I’ve had a seriously bizarre day.
But in a good way. In a validating, reassuring, your-choices-are-taking-you-where-you-want-to-go kind of way. I’ve had the kind of day that comes along occasionally to keep us on our toes, to propel us forward, to calm our nerves and reignite our spirit.
In a religious context this would be referred to as “a God thing”. In the context of my life it’s less concrete than that. It’s karma. It’s faith. It’s outlook and attitude. It’s carrying an open mind and reaping the rewards. It’s the upside of consistent flexibility.
It’s everything happening for a reason, and it’s those reasons coming to light and making you either smack your forehead and curse your hardheadedness or shake your head and revel in the crazy beauty of it all.
These are pretty heavy concepts for a seemingly small (and seriously bureaucratic) situation. But small splashes make big ripples. And the ideas translate.
In the big picture, I see thinking that everything doesn’t happen for a reason as youthful naivete. Such a belief can only be held if you haven’t lived enough life to see things played out (or, in some cases, haven’t opened your eyes to enough silver linings or subsequent opportunities). I think the belief (or should I say disbelief) can also exist if you’re stuck. But these stickings become rarer with age. Many adolescents get stuck in angst and apathy. Few in their sixties do.
In my life I cannot deny the hand of fate.
If I did slough through shitty things…
If I didn’t deal with them using seriously unproductive coping skills…
If I hadn’t left then, or stayed long after, or met you, or missed her…
If a+b+c didn’t lead to xyz I might not be me. I might not be here. I might not be sound. I might not be happy. I might not know contentment. I might not have a family, or a home, or a future. I met my husband pretty completely by chance. A lot of chances. And so I have to believe it was meant to be. My whole life is meant to be.
In this specific situation there is a long back story and a shitload of red tape. There’s no good place to begin (and you likely won’t understand the whole thing) so I’ll just jump in and do my best, with the limited (really limited–it’s quarter after nine and I’ve been up since 5am) time I have.
I get financial aid each term to pay for school and I take out federal loans to pay for expenses. This allows us to live as if I had a part-time job (or was in some other way contributing to the household income) when, of course, I do not. Mostly this allows me to spend more time with my kids, keep the house in order, dedicate time to home-cooked meals, keep baby out of daycare, and most importantly operate on a much lower stress (and higher sanity) level than I would otherwise. We also get to spend much more time as a family than we’d be able to if I had to work.
To get any sort of federal assistance one must take six credits per term. In years when I’ve attended school full-time (12+ credits) this was never an issue. This past year I completed all the requirements for my program except for a year-long field placement. Seeing as I had M&M this year I delayed my field placement but maintained my enrollment. Spring and Summer terms I ran out of requirements, but I still needed to take six credits.
In the normal academic year (basically not Summer Term) I also get a childcare grant. If I don’t take six credits that doesn’t get disbursed to me. In many ways school is my job. We get a lot of perks from me attending. Although, just an FYI, these perks and grants and even loans don’t just fall into your lap. I spent months applying for everything under the sun and have now spent years maintaining eligibility in various programs.
Anyway, summer term. I decided to take on a Women’s Studies minor this year since I had a few extra classes to fill. I registered for the last class I needed this summer. It was going to by a hybrid course meeting in NE Portland every other Tuesday night. Kind of random, but okay. Better than trekking downtown to campus 2x per week like all the other courses.
A few weeks ago I got an email saying the class had been switched to fully online. Okay, not too bad. Last week I found out my typical $3k-$4k disbursement was going to be $500. My tuition was almost double that. To fuck things up just a little more, the class I need was four credits so I was taking an additional two-credit weekend seminar to hit the magic six-credit mark. The class I needed was $585. The other $346. I had to “spend” the $346 to “make” the $500. What. the. eff.
Tony and I went back and forth. Should I drop the bonus class? Should I drop all classes? Should we cut back on daycare? Should I get a job? Do we need to take out a private loan? The last question was mostly me being dramatic and seriously sad not to get what I consider *my* money. Being the dependent is hard sometimes.
We decided that I would keep the load, we’d pay the difference in tuition and go from there.
Meanwhile we are still dealing with a bunch of bureaucratic BS in the form of hospital bills from M&M’s birth (I know! I still haven’t finished that story. Probably never sitting down, like, ever has something to do with that). First it takes them two months to even get the bill to you. Then it was a couple months of phone calls, haggling, and re-billing. Then I realized we might qualify for financial assistance. So it was a month going back and forth with them. Then we waited. And waited.
One of the reasons I was so upset about the lack of aid was these bills driving me up a freaking wall. As soon as we got the amount we were responsible for I was set to pay it and bid the whole mess good riddance. And, oh, it was a mess. More bureaucratic bullshit involving crazy amounts of red tape with school, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, state laws, etc. A flipping mess. And now that M is six months old I am just ready to be done.
Saturday (of course Saturday. All urgent mail comes on Saturday!) we got a collection notice on our $1200 hospital bill. I am livid. Today I spend a good hour or so on the phone with a bunch of different departments trying to figure out WTF is going on with our assistance application. Everyone says they have no record of ever receiving an application. Things are starting to get seriously creepy because we faxed everything to the girl who was working with us (taxes, bank statements, bookkeeping, award letters, etc.) and the more I insist that I am right the more they all start acting like I’m crazy.
Finally Tony steps in and makes some heads role. We re-fax something and within minutes hear we are approved for 100% of our bill [to be written off]. Now I’m not sure if this is all our bills (yes, there was a collection) but I am over-the-moon even if it is only the biggest one. I was just hoping for some reduction; I never thought they’d just *poof* them away.
Not ten minutes pass before I get an email that my summer class has been canceled due to low enrollment. I’m numb for a few seconds. And then just calm. Being upset won’t do anything. I can’t replace the class. I don’t need the credits. There is nothing within my control to “fix” the situation. And thank the Lord, and the stars, and all that is holy that I didn’t get a large disbursement last Friday. Because it surely would have had a dent made in it by now. And then I’d be looking to fill the hole in my schedule with some filler course. And thank God I didn’t get that disbursement and pay those hospital bills before we followed every last path to the end.
As it is I am not taking any classes this summer. That’s right,
I’m taking the summer off!
I haven’t taken a term off since the Summer of 2008, when I wrapped up a three-term break to focus of family and Ali when she was a babe. This was going to be my 12th consecutive term with as little as three, and as many as seven, to follow.
But now I get a break. And I didn’t even have to shirk my responsibilities to get it.
I’m interested to see what the next few months hold. Who knows what my time has been freed up for. Who knows when I may find myself in need of one singular class and be carrying a nearly-completed minor in my back packet. Who knows? I don’t. But I do know that things are going to work out. They always do.
Just don’t give up.
Don’t walk away.
Don’t close your eyes. Don’t close your mind.
And don’t rush the process.