Thursday, December 31, 2015

Proud Pet Owner With Pet Allergies

So as a person who is allergic to both cat and dog dander and yet still owns two cats and a dog, 90 percent of the time, I manage it just fine. I buy kleenex and Claritin in bulk and get on with my day. That other ten percent though . . .  Man it hits hard.

The other day, one of my cats was accidentally locked into my bedroom for hours. When I realized it and let her out, I expected an accident. I did not expect her to pee right in the middle of my bed. UGH. Then when I rolled up my memory foam topper to take it outside to clean it, poof, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see. Gagging and hacking all over the place. Two days later, I still can't stop coughing up crap and my lungs are burning pretty much nonstop.

If it gets any worse I'll have to try to find a way to go to the doctor but I'm not sure what they could do other than tell me to get rid of my cats.

Never going to happen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Guess where I'm going?

No really. Guess!

No. Not there.

Not there either.

CUBA! I'm going to Cuba!

I've personally wanted to go to Cuba ever since I first learned about it. But one, American's weren't supposed to and two, I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Talk about an expensive trip. Yikes.

But then I moved to Florida and then I found out that I happen to go to a law school that has a Cuban legal system class that includes a trip to Cuba. Hello, I was all over that. I went to all the info sessions last year even though 1L's can't take the class. Finally the application cycle opened and too many people applied that there were room for so we had to go through interviews. Finally I got the email that I was accepted and BOOM. I'm going to Cuba.

I'm so EXCITED!!!

The class is all semester long but the trip is only over Spring Break. I think it's 8 days and 7 nights. Not bad at all. Plus, although it's a little easier for American's to go to Cuba now, it's still pretty limited. So I get to go before Cuba changes too much. YAY.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Intro to Elder Law

I'm hoping that no one is surprised that this is the first class I signed up for last spring. After a year of basic 1L classes, I was so ready to start the classes that I was actually interested in. I've had more than a few people tell me that since I came to law school for elder law, I would definitely not be interested in it once I graduate. I don't know about that since I haven't graduated yet but I can tell you how the class went.

First of all, let me explain my survive class method. I sit in the very front row on the side because I'm basically invisible to the professor when he/she feels like cold calling. I'll talk up a storm before or after class but during? No. I never volunteer and I've probably been cold called 4 or 5 times (not counting this class that I'll explain in a bit) in the entire year and a half I've been in law school. My friends who sit in the back get called on 4 or 5 times in a month.

This class . . . I sometimes volunteered 4 or 5 times in a DAY. I turned into "that person." To used the dreaded word, I was a gunner. UGH. But I just couldn't help it. For one thing, they kept teaching about nursing homes, assisted living homes and in home care. I've worked in all three! And I came to the field with oh so many questions about Medicare and Medicaid, it wasn't even funny. It was a tiny class of about ten so even when I tried to not speak up, I got called on anyway! I was so ashamed but also, I had so much fun in that class. What a conundrum.

To make matters worse, my professor was writing our textbook as the class was going on and she hired me as her research assistant about halfway through the semester. It was awesome because I literally got paid to read the same material we were going to cover in class, and sometimes she would assign the cases I found for her. What wasn't awesome was that she apparently decided that since she knew I had read the materials, she was going to call on me ALL THE TIME.

I'm pretty sure the class hates me.

Out of all my classes, this was the one exam I wasn't too worried about. And I walked out of there feeling the same way. Then as soon as I got home I started panicking because imagine the horror if I had bombed the test in Elder Law. I would never be able to show my face again!

Luckily, she's the only Professor who turned in grades before Christmas so I now know I didn't bomb it. (I didn't 4.0 it but I didn't embarrass myself either) But it really showed me that just because I'm a jaded 2L, I still have the potential to spaz out like a terrified 1L. I didn't sleep for two days after that exam. Good grief.

Now I just have to wait for my other grades to come out. One thing I've noticed is that Fall semester of last year, the professors really hustled to get our grades out before Christmas. It didn't seem like it at the time but looking back, I can tell that they at least tried to hurry. This year, my first exam was on the 3rd of December. It's now the 28th and still no grade. UGH. And half of the questions were multiple choice!  

Come on already!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm still waiting on Fiancé to wake up so we can open our stockings. We limited our gifts to only stockings this year but really, that's my favorite part anyway. My Grandma continued to send me a stocking every year even after I moved to Florida but told me that this year, she couldn't. I promptly told her "No problem Grandma" and then got off the phone and told Fiancé that I've made him a stocking for 6 years now and if he didn't make me one, I'd cry. Luckily enough, he thought it was a great idea. YAY! I'm on a 30 year streak of always getting a Christmas stocking!

It's still feels strange to celebrate Christmas in a place where there is zero chance of snow. And this is from a person who hates snow! I went through it last year but this is the first time Fiancé is experiencing a December where is still occasionally gets to 80 degrees out. Everything just seems off. The street lights are all decorated with light up trees and bells and such and people string lights on their palm trees but it just doesn't feel right. I wonder how long it will take before this feels normal?

On the other hand, our hometown is getting buried in snow. My Facebook is covered with pictures of half covered cars, car wrecks and snowmen. Brrrrrr. Actually, my hometown has had much too much extreme weather this last year. Over the summer, they had one of the worst fire seasons in ages. My niece and nephew couldn't go outside for weeks because there was so much smoke. Then right before Thanksgiving, they had the worst wind storm on record. Hundreds of thousands of people without power for days. My mom and stepdad were without power for a week and my aunt's roof blew off. Crazy. It was kind of funny trying to explain the damage to my Florida friends down here. To them, the wind gusts seemed extreme but not hurricane extreme and they pretty much universally decided that the power company must have really sucked to let all these people go without power for so long. I tried to explain to them that Pine trees don't react to wind the same way Palm trees do and a single tree can take out blocks worth of power, but they just couldn't comprehend it. Eh. To each their own. I know I'm going to panic the first time I have to sit through a hurricane so I can't talk too much smack.

Anyway, I'm off to go make us brunch, have a great Christmas!  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Digging us out of a hole

I bet you thought that if I hid from the blogging world for months, I'd come back and blog about law school. (The blog is called Taking On Law School after all) But you would think wrong.

I'm going to talk about finances and confess how Fiancé and I dug ourselves into a hole this last year that we now have to find a way out of. Between Fiancé bouncing back and forth across the entire nation due to family issues, unexpected unemployment, one surgery (mine), one significant back injury (his) and the feast and famine aspect of living off my student loan check twice a year, well, we put more debt on credit cards than any one couple should ever have. This last month has been the worst in the seven years we've been together. Fiancé injured his back in November and couldn't work for two weeks. In the almost eight years I've known him, he's called in sick one time. ONCE. Since we were already living paycheck to paycheck to pay back everything from my surgery and me not being able to work for awhile, this knocked us out of the game. For the first time in my life, I had to borrow rent money. We immediately cut every bill we possibly could, stopped buying food and canceled Christmas. I also doubled my work hours two weeks before finals. I had to do what I had to do and I wanted to avoid living in my car more than I wanted good grades. We shall see how that panned out next week when grades are released.

The good news is that 1) Fiance is now back at work and 2) it made us realize that we stopped looking at our finances just because it scared us.

So here is our new plan for 2016 -

GOAL ONE: Stop Eating Out - Now, in a funny turn of events, grabbing Mcdonalds too much last semester kind of saved our butt this last month but not exactly in a good way. In September, I did my normal batch cooking for the semester but rarely had the motivation to actually cook out of it. So when it came time to stop buying things cold turkey, we had over ten casseroles in the freezer, 8 crockpot meals and numerous sides. Why didn't we eat them before? Because I was lazy. However, when I went back and looked at how much we spent on fast food, we easily could have managed to pay our rent last month. So POOF. No more eating out.

GOAL TWO: Batch Cook Easy Cheap Meals - I'm thinking lots and lots of dump chicken meals with enough ground beef meals to keep us sane. If I remember in the morning, I can dump it in the crockpot. If I don't, I can dump it in the oven. Either way, we need to stop treating ourselves with food just because we had a bad day.

GOAL THREE: Work More Hours - This is something we're both committed to. Fiancé just got a second job and will be working 6 days a week, over 60 hours a week. I'm still in school but I'm going to keep my hours higher for as long as my boss will let me. I'm volunteering for every extra assignment I can and it seems to be helping. By working more, we will hopefully be able to dig ourselves out of this debt mess and save for the next big emergency.

GOAL FOUR: Stop Being A Crutch For The Other - One reason we go in this mess is that when my surgery happened, Fiancé was working. So I relied on him to pay my half of the bills. Then when Fiancé lost his job, I had just gotten my financial aid money. We obviously have no problem covering each other (we are getting married after all) but we sort of stopped dividing bills. A big bill would come up and one would pay it without the other having any clue how much we were spending. We used to be pretty good with a budget but this last year has just been so crazy, there was no way to budget so we stopped trying. Now that things are slightly more stable, it's time to get back to it. So this week, we finally sat down and went through every bill we have and taped it to the living room wall. Our goal is to have both of us split all our bills so one, my loans aren't covering two people when it's meant to cover one, and two, my loan money doesn't run out like it did this semester.

GOAL FIVE: Keep Our Bills Low - When we crashed and burned, we went and stopped all the bills that are nice to have but not necessary. Netflix, kindle unlimited, knitting software and my wine club went out the window and I have no intention of getting them back until we pay off our credit cards. Those ten dollars or less a month bills are sneaky. Half of them, I didn't even remember we had! Good grief.

GOAL SIX: Pay Off Credit Cards - Now I'm not sure how long this one will take us but I'd like to at least double our current payment plan. It would be awesome to pay them off in 2016 but with two people making less than 10 dollars an hour, that might not be possible. We will have to see.

Now this whole post is all about the things we did wrong. However, we did do some things right. Right before this latest catastrophe, I applied for a bunch more scholarships and I was just informed last week that I got an additional $5,000 a year scholarship. Added to my previous scholarships, this basically means I don't pay tuition anymore. YAY!! Another thing I did to help avoid this mess was when Fiancé was unemployed, I got a paying job. Yes, I still have my unpaid internship too so it's been a tricky balance but it was really the only thing that kept us going as long as we did. I'm so so glad that I didn't wait until we were broke to do this because by then it would have been much too late.

What do you guys do to cut spending?

EDITED TO ADD - I literally just hit publish and I get a text from Fiancé with the news that they're cutting his hours at work again. UGH. Sometimes we just can't win.

UPDATE: Click HERE to see how I did after six months (or so).