Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guinevere will now have less money

When I was in 11th grade, my English teacher, who we'll call Mr. Z, told me that I looked the way he'd always imagined Queen Guinevere looked, and I promptly developed a crush on him, even though he was like 50, and I simultaneously fell even more in love with literature. (Of course, my high school boyfriend claimed that Mr. Z was hitting on me. But he was wrong, because the NEXT year, my 12th grade English teacher [who was a happily married middle-aged woman] told me that I look like Ophelia from Hamlet, so apparently I just look like I was born in the wrong century... or English teachers think I have a "classic" look, either way.) Anywho, the point in sharing that little tidbit is that 11th grade was when I decided that I'd like to major in English in college, and I credit (or blame, depending on how you look at it) Mr. Z for that.

I've always loved to read, but Mr. Z introduced me to literature that I'd never heard of (he had our class read Cyrano De Bergarac, and for that I will love him forever) and made my love of books and language feel sophisticated instead of nerdy. And I decided that being able to read and write for a living would be the most romantic, wonderful thing that I could possibly do. So in my senior year of high school, when Mr. Z asked me what my college major would be, I said "English," and he said, "English?? Tova, have I taught you nothing??"

His point, of course, was that there is no money to be made in having an English degree (nor in having a writing degree, which is what I ultimately ended up getting), and that if you're going to go to college, you might want to get a degree in something that will help you get a job. (My dad used to joke that English majors need to learn how to speak English well so that people can understand them when they ask, "Do you want fries with that?") And that's how I ended up working at a job that, while it is important and rewarding and meaningful, pays less than what some of my friends who never went to college are making, and those friends have the added bonus of not needing to pay back student loans. This same job relies in large part on charitable contributions, so the bad economy is hitting us pretty hard.

This week, one of my coworkers was laid off, and my department was told that we had to cut back our hours. So starting next week, yours truly officially works four days a week instead of five. It's good in that my writing degree and I will get to sleep in late one more day a week, but it's bad in that Mr. Darling is in med school, so I (with a teeny bit of help from my writing degree) am the one who pays the rent and puts food on the table (well, we eat most meals on the couch, but you get the idea), and now I will be making less money. We also get loan money, but apparently you actually have to give that money back at some point, and we won't get our next loan check until February-ish, which means that Mr. D and I are officially poor with a capital PO. (Ok, I'm majorly over-dramatizing; we'll be fine once we get the loan check; plus, my parents only live 15 minutes away, and they would never let us starve to death, in part because they're counting on my uterus to give them more grandkids someday. Also in our favor is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service, in spite of its flaws, at least recognizes that two people living on my income cannot possibly afford to give it any money, so we'll be getting all of our income tax back.)

So, this is not so much a "poor little me" post as it is a public service announcement. Here is my advice to all of my readers who are trying to decide on a college major - for the love of all that is good and holy, if you insist upon studying English or writing in college, make it your minor.

23 comments:

Adriana said...

Bummer on the money stuff. I sometimes laugh when people say "oh you are married to a doctor"...actually I married a really poor college student and then had to help him through med school, and now that he is in residency "real money" still seems really far away because of the small mortgage we own in student loans. Feb. is not too far off and we will be glad to get a little ck back from the IRS too. BTW have you guys submitted your rank list for match day?

That damn expat said...

My father in law made me fall in love with literature. Only I was smart enough to pick poli sci :-P

The Darlings will be fine. I just know it. I'm smart that way. Must be a poli sci thing ;)

Tova Darling said...

Hahaha, I know exactly what you mean, Adriana! I used to tell people that I was a gold digger with a ten year plan.

Nope, not yet! I think the first day to submit is tomorrow (at least, that's what I wrote in my calendar.) Mr. D has two more interviews next week, and then we'll submit the list. Only 64 days til match day! :)

Mrs. Newlywed said...

Isn't it funny how one teacher can change everything?

I always loved to read, but I never fully APPRECIATED it until I had my AP 11th grade english teacher.

I fell in love with it so much more than I majored in English Lit...all because of him.

Former Fat Chick said...

One day you two will look back and laugh (we do all the time) and wonder how you survived on such little money...My archeology professor once told me I was the "archtype" of motherhood...I was 19 and balancing my tot on my hip..yeah bud, it's called teen pregnancy!

Ann's Rants said...

Two things: both your teacher were in fact hitting on you, in the safest most literary way possible.

Also, I majored in Theater. As a freshman I told my Mom I planned to major in something more practical...sociology! She gave me the best advice as she tried not to laugh, major in whatever you love, just get a degree.

Sassy Britches said...

It's lovely to live in a generation where we can say that our parents will never let us starve, (not to mention are counting on our uterus). I am quite thankful, actually!

It's also kind of odd to live in a time period (I never thought I'D be living in what is being touted as the second worst economic times since The Depression) where I can say to my mother, "Well, I got $600 this month from Edward Jones. A step up from losing like $3000 each month for the last 8 months. So there is that." Very surreal!

Have fun sleeping in Guinnie! We gotta make the best of it! :)

.::~P~::. said...

Minor. Gotcha.

Janet said...

Is it weird that, even with everything that you've written here today, I still find your career choice bold and rewarding and oh so romantic?

I guess this is where YOU write: JANET! Have I taught you nothing?!??!

BTW, I thought you were a housewife, and i remember thinking the other day while cleaning my house, "Hmm. If Mr. Darling's a med student, how the hell do they pay the bills? Maybe their parents are rich."

Now that I know that you're supporting Mr. D through med school, I admire and respect you THAT much more. Holy crap woman, you are amazing. Mr. D is very lucky.

And you just reminded me about Income Tax season. Thank GOD for that check.

Moi said...

Someone else I know has read Cyrano De Bergerac! We really should be friends!
I took your advice with the English stuff - I took writing classes and extra hours in college "for fun" because I wanted to be a writer but knew I needed a major I that would provide a job.
Sorry to hear about the hour cut backs for your job---that really sucks.

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

I was in love with my English teacher too. Damn it why can't the hot teachers be Science or Math teachers. Degrees I could be actually makiing money in? :)

Gwen said...

Where were you 20 years ago when I chose a major in English and Journalism? With an art minor? (I ended up in law but only after realizing my degrees were not doing me much good and I went to grad school.)

BTW, ramen goes a lot farther and fills you up more if you add an egg. Just a tip from my salad (ramen?) days.

Kristy said...

Oh my gracious- poor with a capital PO?? HILARIOUS!
I am a teacher- so I am always feelin' PO! *sigh*

Call Me Cate said...

Hang in there. You're not alone. So many going through it right now - we just narrowly escaped a layoff (this time).

This IS why I switched majors to computers though, even though I'd rather it be a hobby than a career.

Cora said...

Oh, sooo been there. Well, not for the exact same reasons, but still. Money ebbs and flows. Unfortunately.

I wanted a writing degree, but my parents talked me out of it, so I went for a Psychology degree instead. Then my favorite Psych professor held me after class one day to tell me my essays were fabulous and that I belonged in the Creative Writing field. It was like a loving hug and a slap in the face all at once. I switched my major to writing, but hated every professor they had to offer there. I got frustrated, switched my major again to Photography (which I adored) but I still felt oddly lost and uncommited. Then I flushed that down the toilet to run off with a loser (hubs) and you know how that turned out. Boy, the 90's were some ODD years for me!! Now I'm a single mom with no degree, working as a Nanny, of all things. Bizarre. Never thought I'd end up here. But, hey, one day I'll get my book done and then who knows, right? :-)

Cheryl said...

My boyfriend is heading to medical school come August, and when I finally make my way back to North America, I'll have to be the one putting food on the able, and I really don't know what to do with my degree.

Autumn Joy said...

...so switching my degrees was a BAD thing? Lol. Just kidding. I picked communications as my major and yes writing as my minor...though that could still change: I just got a bill from the student loans I took out this year (and only this year) and all I can say is YIKES!!
The good news is, while we are not promised an easy life, we are promised that God will take care of our needs. Matthew chapter 6 honey, gets me through a lot :D

Cynnie said...

I married my high school english teacher..
his minor was drama..( eyes rolling)
next husband was a painter who made shitloads of money..

Guess which ex husband I have the fond memories of ?

yeah, drama dude..I get painter mixed up with Benjamin Franklin

pj said...

I also think back that I wish I was an english major. Then I read things like this, and well, very well written it sure gets the point to the reader.

Dingo said...

You know that I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. I love, love, love my English degree. Actually, it was my minor but I wish that I had majored in it. I love teaching and it's a field that I find constantly challenges me in ways that my law career never did and although my law career was financially lucrative, it did nothing for my soul. So, I'm broke but oh so much happier.

Oh2122 said...

Music Major.

Bachelor of Arts majoring in both in Mass Communications and Music Theory and Composition.

And now I blog.

Rawk!

Hope things level out for you. Strike that. Hope you find a pile of money in your bathtub.

Preferably before you turn the shower on.

wendy said...

I have a degree in English. What can I do with it? Teach. Now THERE'S a financially rewarding career! Way to think that one through! :)

mindor said...

Hahaha that's so weird and cool, being Guinevere.
For some reason I always imagined you as Dita Von Teese. I think it was the pole dancing posts that did it.

In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes