Traveling Teeth

Today was the mother of all dental visits. I got my fractured crown on the upper left removed, fitted for a temporary, and had two fillings on the lower right. I was numbed on both sides and spent about two hours there having everything done. It was exhausting. At one point a few tears slipped out because they’d put in a dam and I was just so tired of all of it. But it was almost over so I just bore down.

The really great news is she did it for half price. She said it was because the crown was done so recently, but I think part of it might be generosity and charity on their part. I saved about six hundred bucks and may not have another bill to pay there until my next cleaning in November. But I still can’t feel anything and I’m starving.

Tomorrow Charlie and I are heading to Chicago for an overnight trip. I found a really great B&B online that’s a lot more hip than your usual quaint country-style frilly stuff. Or, at least, that’s what I imagine when I hear “bed and breakfast.” Except we’re staying in one of their separate suites in the “coach house” with a kitchen and whatnot so we don’t get breakfast. That makes me sad. But we do get a two-story townhouse named after a local celebrity. All of their rooms and suites have Chicago-area journalists, poets, and writers as themes.

A few blocks away is an independent coffeehouse that was featured on one of Rachael Ray’s many television shows. I didn’t know this when I found the place, so now I’m a little worried it might run a bit on the touristy side. Within walking distance of the inn are several cool restaurants, bars, and shops.

When I first made the reservations I thought the whole thing sounded just great. Then I realized it’s almost like I’m picking up everything here and moving it a few hundred miles north. We’re staying in a townhouse, a block or so away from a local coffeeshop, with a few independently owned cafes nearby. I guess I like what I like. But at least we won’t be at home.

Remind me to take my denture cream for the inevitable first bite of something delicious, at which point my temporary pops right out.

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The Tipping Point (Or, the Point of Tipping)

tipsOccasionally I hear someone make a remark about tipping. You know, “In Europe no one does it.” Or “They already worked a tip into the price of the food. That’s why it costs so much to go out to eat.” Or “Companies refuse to pay their employees well and push the cost of the employee off onto the customer by forcing them to tip.” Or I’ll come across an Internet argument on some silly message board that inevitably becomes a race or class issue as someone says that “black people never tip” or “I hate serving white trash because they don’t have any money.” And other such pleasantries.

Sometimes they say it like it’s my fault. As if, since I work for a company that allows us to put out a tip jar (labeled “Karma”), I’m somehow a part of this Tipping Conspiracy. Except I don’t expect it and I don’t get angry when people don’t put their eleven cents in the jar. I make enough that tips are merely an added bonus. No one I work with has ever spit in someone’s drink who didn’t tip us. I swear. But I’m not going to lie and say I’m not just a little bit friendlier to the guy who drops fifty cents or a buck every morning for his coffee than I am to the woman who clutches her purse and orders a five dollar mocha.

Since I’ve worked in coffeehouses for a few years (and only very briefly worked in a restaurant for, like, two days when I was 18, before discovering I was a terrible, terrible waitress), I’ve noticed people tend to bring up the issue more. I used to work for Starbucks, which, in the coffee industry is almost as bad as working for Wal-Mart, but I won’t try and defend it. I’ve been employed by a local coffeeshop for two years. Neither place requires that customers leave tips; it was merely a suggestion since the employees were paid at or significantly above minimum wage. Some people actually ask if they can add a tip to their credit receipt and apologize profusely when we tell them we don’t have that option.

Tomorrow morning, our oldest dog Trinity is getting Seriously Groomed, like possibly a haircut and this undercoat shampoo-and-brushing thing they do that makes all of those disgusting chunks of summer shedding fur disappear. The first few times we took the dogs to a groomer we didn’t realize tipping was customary. Not required, just “appreciated.” I was really embarrassed one day, upon leaving with the dogs, when I thanked them and one of the girls shouted at my back “And the groomer thanks you, too!” As I was driving home, I realized she was hinting that we never tipped.

Now, I’m a relatively modern gal and I generally feel like I “get it.” That time I didn’t, so the next time we had the dogs groomed I overtipped. I’ll leave five dollars on a $12 bill at the Indian buffet because the guys are always so nice. I’ll leave 25% or more on just about any bill. As far as I’m concerned, tipping at restaurants is an absolute requirement. I make a pretty fair wage at my service job, so I don’t rely on tips, but these kids are making somewhere around $2 an hour, most of the time signing over their checks directly to the IRS to cover next year’s inevitable taxes.

I’ve read, on these Internet Tipping Arguments, people stating “If you don’t like it, get another job,” in response to a server complaining about people who refuse to tip. I’ve heard people make the claim that, when they traveled abroad, servers looked at them as if they were mad for trying to tip. That’s fine, but I don’t think servers in London are getting two pounds per hour. In fact, I looked it up. It’s more like 6, 8, or more pounds per hour. I realize that’s not a lot, and perhaps it’s the equivalent of Next to Nothing since it’s so expensive to live in London. But it’s better.

You also don’t have to pay for healthcare in jolly ol’ England, nor is public transportation the oddity that it is here, especially in Indianapolis. Those added bills, and I can only speak for myself, make up a tremendous part of our outgoing cash. After taxes, of course. Two cars, dental bills, doctors’ visits, gas, insurance, plates . . . something like 25% of our combined annual income.

The tips I get from the coffeeshop usually pay for my gas and groceries. I do make a decent amount in tips there, unlike Starbucks which managed to find a way to give tips only on an hourly basis. As in, the total tips were divided weekly among the employees, per the amount of hours they worked. Never mind that the manager never worked on the bar and frequently hung out in the office, surfing the Internet. She still walked away with a huge portion of the tips and made about fifty grand per year.

As far as I’m concerned, services for which it is customary to tip are luxuries. There is no such thing as a “dog grooming emergency,” a “coffee emergency” (but tell that to the guy banging down the door last Saturday at 5:50am shouting that he was late for a flight and needed coffee before we were even open), or a “restaurant emergency.” Certainly no one has found him or herself in a “tattoo emergency” or a “stripper emergency.” If you cannot afford to tip the people providing these luxuries, you either don’t, or you don’t need them and shouldn’t get them. I can understand haircuts, but if you must go somewhere to have your hair styled, and cost is that much of an issue, you can always go to the nearest Great Clips and save up to give them the ten percent, or $1.20.

I don’t know if this anti-tipping attitude is a Midwestern thing. Or a Hoosier thing. Or just an American thing. But, to me, the point of tipping is to ensure good service in the future, or to reward the previous good service you just experienced. It supplements the income of a rather poorly paid person who, despite what you may believe, cannot easily switch to a better-paying job.

Existential Dilemmas

i hate my job
Today is Charlie’s last day. Ever since he started the office job almost four years ago, he has been secretly planning his escape.

A lot of people I know from there either hated their job, or hate working for the company, but love books and literature and enjoyed the theory of working for a publishing company. Either way, though, it’s never exactly been what some would call a “healthy” atmosphere in certain departments. Like the one where the manager shuts her door and blinds when she doesn’t want to be bothered, even though the whole point of her having that job is because people frequently actually NEED to speak with her throughout the day about issues with books. Or the one where no one ever speaks to anyone else when they pass in the hallways, despite sitting right next to one another all day, every day. Or the one where the creepy troll sits in his dark office waiting for young women to produce folders for him, rather than walking his fat ass to their desks, then ogling them as they stand there uncomfortably. The same troll who’s worked for the company for over a decade but never, in the two years I was there, did he EVER turn in anything on time to me. Ever.

Charlie just thought of it as bread and butter, plus health insurance and paid time off. He’d told me for years prior to that, that he never wants to work in a cubicle, and would despise having a sales job. Both of those things he’s been doing for three of the years he’s been there.

Ever since he first start talking about going back to school (about the time he graduated and got the job), I’ve been totally supportive. I don’t care what he does, as long as he enjoys it or gets something out of it. When he got the sales job and met his incentives the first time, that check was too enticing to leave before getting it. Then he made his sales quota again. And again. Then he made his annual quota, plus another 40%, and he couldn’t very well leave that behind without winning the lottery instead. It was too much money to pass up. Eventually, however, I’ve began telling him “You can’t keep waiting around another three months for another check. You’ve got to quit at some point.” This time it worked out because he was so over his projected sales that they bumped them up exponentially for the next year. It’s like they’re saying thanks for making us so much money, here’s a measly percentage of that half million we got. Now, you have no hope of getting even a fraction of that in the future. Keep up the good work and just try harder!

The idea of going back to college didn’t exactly pan out because he’s not sure he wants to start teaching right away. The primary objective, originally, was to get his teaching degree, on top of his previous BA with a minor in Economics, with an additional minor in, say, history or math. Ideally, he’d coach high school football, then perhaps move on to a college coaching position and, who knows? Maybe NFL when he’s, like, fifty.

Point being, we both tend to go around and around quite often about what we want To Do With Our Lives and both of us have accepted the fact that neither of us is cut out for a “career,” in the sense of sitting behind a desk from 9-5 Monday through Friday, although health insurance and paid vacations are appealing. Just not worth it to have your soul sucked out in a position you don’t really want to do. It’d be one thing if either of us had gotten jobs there that we found fulfilling.

Charlie hates sales, but I didn’t hate my job. I hated being The Bitch No One Wants to Talk To, because if I was calling, it was because you’re late meeting a deadline. I think I was actually pretty good at being nice and diplomatic, while still conveying a sense of urgency about those deadlines. But there will always be people who resent being told what to do. I have considered going back after I graduate, working a few years in editing and possibly doing freelance for a while, if I could, teaching during the days at a community college before I decide whether or not I want a graduate degree.

So Charlie had his own shit sorted out for the time being when the nightclub he works at on the weekends threw an offer his way. They found out he was quitting his day job (his one excuse to avoid working during the week or too much on the weekends) and asked if he would consider becoming their full time assistant manager. The base salary offer sucked, but they also threw in a week of paid time off for the first year (not great, but at least it’s paid), and a certain percentage of the club’s monthly sales.

This threw him off. He wasn’t expecting it so he didn’t know what to say. Of course, my first reaction was No Way, because I’m tired of that place. I haven’t been to a show there in a couple of years because I hate going in there so much and it takes so much time from my significant other. So I resent the place.

Then the manager and owner want him to be there full time, at least four or five nights per week where I’m sleeping by myself. It’s not like I can’t handle it, but I’ve been counting on him quitting at some point in the near future.

So he takes some time to think about it. He went in Wednesday night and turned them down. But I’m still waiting for the call-back; where they offer him five grand more a year, plus an extra percentage of the profits. I hope it’s not something he really wants. The idea of having a more flexible schedule is nice, but the added responsibility would make it so much more difficult for him to ask time off in the future. That’s why they want him full time – so he’ll always be there.

Point being in all of this (I know, convoluted, huh?), it’s funny how we define “success.” A lot of people seem to look at it as only in terms of how much money you make, and how prestigious the company is for which you’re working. If you’re “working towards” something they consider to be successful, it’s okay (for the time being) if you’re doing something “unsuccessful.” Say, working at a nightclub on the weekends to, say, save money to buy a home or move out of the state. Or, say, working in a coffeeshop part time while you’re, say, working towards a college degree.

It’s another one of those situations where neither of us is especially concerned with what other people think, but occasionally find ourselves in conversations where people ask “why” we’re doing what we’re doing and we then define in based upon those people’s concerns. But, truly, who gives a shit? If he’s leaving a job in sales that he hates to work in a carpentry job that he enjoys . . . why is it necessary to qualify it?

Lucky Me

Today I’ll be returning to the dentist for a pleasant change: just a routine cleaning. Because of my failure to do this regularly in the past, I’m on the three month schedule, so they can check for cavities as often as possible. As my previous dentist, the Butcher of Broad Ripple, mentioned I “have tartar like an old man.”

It’s taken me about two months to get this last root canal and crown taken care of. First they wanted to make sure I actually needed a root canal before they began an $800 procedure with a $600 permanent crown. Then they discovered it was infected and gave me the root canal. At my next appointment, two weeks later, it was and discovered I didn’t have enough of my natural tooth left to create the device in the office. Then, once the crown was actually made, it was sent to their other office, which was off for vacation that week. When I came back for the official placement, I had a nice card and a Starbucks gift certificate waiting for me, apologizing for all the inconvenience and saying how nice I’d been about all of it.

Little do they know what a relief it is to see a dentist who’s nice, calm, patient, and kind, and the Starbucks card is totally pointless. I get the gesture and it’s a thoughtful one (someone there knows I like coffee, they just didn’t realize I work for a competitor), but I’m just grateful to be a patient in an office where no one’s a sadist.

I’d gladly trade all of last summer’s endless hours spent having my gums poked in fascination by a woman who has no sense of time or urgency (and an office full of assistants who are too busy looking at their fingernails against different backgrounds to know what tool she’s asking for), and who enjoys drilling on arbitrary teeth for no reason. She at least gave me bite blocks, but there were several appointments where I was supposed to get one thing done and she accidentally started on the wrong side, or would work on a different area saying “Oh, I just like to pick!” This is what my insurance got maxed out for? No wonder United Healthcare dropped her; it took one root canal, one crown, and one cleaning before I had to pay full price there. At my new dentist, it’s been two cleanings, two root canals, two crowns, and one filling. And I think I’ve got another $150 left to go before I reach the annual maximum.

I made a card to give to everyone at the office when I go in today, thanking them for the gift and the gesture. But I did mention that I have not felt in the least bit inconvenienced by the missing devices or a couple of appointments where I showed up, didn’t have to get shots, and just went back home. What matters is being a patient in an office where all the people care what happens to you and call you from their homes after a procedure to make sure you’re feeling well.

I think I’m really lucky to have both a dentist and a doctor who seem genuinely concerned with my well-being, I don’t think a lot of people have that luxury and I’m not sure, if they don’t suffer from anxiety, that they realize how important it is for some of us.

I’m sad that we’ll be losing health insurance soon. Although my GP is covered through IU’s health insurance, my dentist is not, and the insurance is really expensive. I can afford the routine cleanings on my own, but if anything negative pops up in the future, I know my dental anxiety might return as I sit, sweat beading on my forehead, heart racing, under a 24-year old student whose hands are shaking just enough to make my stomach do flip-flips.

Speaking of Nausea

coffee cupping

Speaking of vomit, I had to attend a coffee cupping yesterday morning. A tasting usually involves a French press of several regions or blends, accompanied by complementary flavors. For example, African coffees tend to have citrusy aftertastes. The average coffee drinker might not immediately recognize the undertones or aftertastes (sort of like when people describe wines and you’re like “What?”), so you eat something right before drinking a sip like lemon pound cake or a bit of orange-flavored chocolate candy.

Cupping, on the other hand, is a much more hardcore and intense version. The Cup of Excellence has a series of possibilities upon which the cuppers vote. You don’t get to quietly sip a nice Asian Pacific with a bite of raspberry jam to bring out the winey notes.

There are three main steps to start, all having to do with the aroma: you face a round table with four or five sets of five small cups holding a few grams of recently-roasted dry coffee. You smell it, then add hot water and let it steep. Then you huff the wet coffee, then break the crust that forms on the top and sniff that.

Once you’re done, it’s time to taste. You have to choose a number between zero and eight to describe everything from mouthfeel (the body or weight of it in your mouth), the acidity (the brightness or “zing” of the coffee, not whether or not it gives you indigestion), to flavor to balance to aftertaste. There are eight different subjects, not including the three involving aroma, or the math involved with taking off points for defects that you notice. When you taste it, you actually run a spoon through the top to pick up a little bit (after cleaning out the grinds that rest on the crust, but not pulling up any that have settled on the bottom), and slurp really hard, then spit it out right back out. I actually noted a “taint” on cup number four that tasted slightly like an onion, as well as cup number three having a distinct overfermentation. It was sort of like a spoiled fruit aftertaste.

We cupped eight different Brazilians yesterday, each of which we had to do a total of three times after identifying the aromas, on five different cups for each coffee. There were five of us, slurping, spitting, and rinsing off spoons for a grand total of 120 different times per person, for about an hour.

As you may or may not know, I have a really sensitive gag reflex. I want to puke just brushing my tongue and gag frequently when I’m doing so. Tuesday it wasn’t so much all the other people spitting and slurping and coughing when they accidentally slurped coffee directly into their wind pipes. It’s just, the more I do it, the more my body wants to continue the procedure and keep spitting everything else in it out.

Apparently I’m now considered “qualified” to be a part of cuppings with the owners and Cup of Excellence people.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I declined. They’ll do 12-15 different coffees in one cupping, anywhere from one to five sessions, and I was still queasy two hours later. As much as I’d like to be a part of the tasting and selection process, I just don’t think I can.

Juicy Steak, Red Wine, and Cat Vomit

weber grill restaurant chicagoWe went to The Weber Grill last night with Liz and Kyle. It wasn’t my first choice, considering it’s a chain in cahoots with a device that aids in outdoor cooking and somewhat expensive, but both Charlie and Kyle were positively drooling over the idea. We’d had plans to try it on a trip to Schaumburg, Illinois, to visit IKEA last year. But, of course, those plans fell through, with our opposite schedules and the fact that it costs about the same to board the dogs as it does for us to get a hotel for a couple of nights. It’s kind of difficult to reconcile the added cost (hotel for us, or hotel for the dogs? Pick one). At that time, Cavan was taking 19 credit hours and working a lot, so he couldn’t be expected to skip classes or call in to work to accommodate our desire for food and housewares.

We were expecting them to be a bit late so Charlie and I got a drink in the bar beforehand. The restaurant did have a dress code: according to their Web site, men’s shirts must have sleeves. I told Charlie and Kyle they’d have to leave their Hulkamania tank tops at home, then. They didn’t dress up much, but I was wearing dark jeans, heels that made it impossible to stomp all over downtown, and a cute white, brown, and green top. Not to mention the fabulous earrings, bracelet, and matching handbag. As we were standing in the bar, a young woman who was dressed in an eerily similar outfit, was checking me out. Not in a hot girl-on-girl sort of way, but in either an I-don’t-like-that-you’re-so-obviously-low-class-and-we-have-on-the-same-thing way, or perhaps she just thought “Oh, no, she does not need to be wearing that.” I admit I’m not 110 pounds anymore, but I do tend to fill out jeans and a top rather nicely. I don’t know what the bitch’s problem was, but I gave her a catty look back and refused to let it dampen my spirits. Mostly because it’s a bar in a chain restaurant in Indianapolis, honey, you’re not exactly Being Seen at The Ivy or anything.

I’d seen an orange-mango cosmo on their menu online, so I decided what the hell, I don’t have to be anywhere until 10 on Tuesday, and I ordered one. It was a bit of a mistake. At first I had a pretty good buzz because it was mostly pure alcohol and my stomach was empty and I have liquor, on average, once every three months anymore. But then I had all those spices that made my catfish “blackened” (and I’m not a big fish eater, but the options other than barbecue and red meat were extremely limited) so I was regretting it when we got home last night. Nothing horrible happened; I just didn’t feel “good.”

Besides seeing our friends and treating them to a post-wedding dinner, having a good fru-fru drink, and trying someplace different, there was one other really good thing that happened last night. Charlie was, literally, in heaven. In some aspects – and I mean this in the most positive way – Charlie can be a very simple man. He’s happiest when provided with a juicy steak and a glass of red wine. It was nice to see him so content, for that moment, just eating.

And just because I care about you and don’t want you, if you happen to be a fan of juicy steaks and red wine, to feel too hungry this early in the morning, I should let you know that someone let forth a stomachful of Eagle Pack Indoor Cat Food and hairballs yesterday. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue. With all hardwood floors, it’s relatively easy to clean up those inevitable – and frequent – accidents. Yesterday, however, when I was greeted with this mess, I had been at work all morning, and could not tell how long the barf had been on the couch. Yes, it was on the sofa. Sunken in to our great, expensive, green couch cushions. Right now, I’m reminded of that because, despite my best efforts to thoroughly clean the cushion, I keep getting whiffs of stale, vomity fabric.

It’s All Over

I can’t believe Harry Potter is over (that’s not a spoiler, I just mean the series). That’s it. The seventh book. And I finished it in less than 24 hours – that includes sleep and driving out to Jennifer’s for her boyfriend’s birthday for a few hours.

I really tried to slow down my reading, but I was too excited to find out what happens. I won’t give it any reviews until the rest of you have finished it. Suffice it to say I was satisfied. Then again, I don’t have as much invested in the books as other people do. I didn’t have a lot of expectations and I don’t remember details the way other people do. One woman came in with her fresh copy yesterday morning to get coffee and read, and she started picking apart the fifth movie and what inconsistencies she found in it. I didn’t start reading them until the second movie came out and, after a couple of years working at the bookstore with people constantly badgering us for Harry Potter, Harry Potter, I was over it before I got started.

But I have enjoyed them and manage to suspend my usually unsuspendable disbelief for this series. I thought the final two films were coming out in November of next year and July of 2009, but now I’m hearing Book Seven might not be out in theaters until 2010. Who knows.

Speaking of films, I was merrily sewing the lining into a bag I’m making for my friend’s daughter when Charlie shouted back to me that “the original” Ocean’s Eleven was on. I said thanks for letting me know, but I was busy with some handles. A few minutes later I came out and I saw Brad Pitt and Matt Damon on television. I said how odd that two stations were showing both movies. Then I realized Charlie meant “original” as in “the first one he’d seen.”

For shame, Charlie. For shame.

Miss Anthropy and the 749-Page Book

My pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was waiting for me when I got home from work a little after noon. I was beat from being up at five and on my feet all morning, running the bar, but I promptly showered, changed, and cracked it open.

I squeezed in as much reading between then and about four (a couple hundred pages), when we got ready to walk and feed the dogs, then head out to my friend Jennifer’s boyfriend’s 40th birthday party. I saw Julie, and her mom was there. As promised in an entry from several months ago, she did mention the way I dressed when I was in high school, referring to me as “avant garde,” which is what my high school shrink called me, but definitely a step up from “that little girl in ‘Beetlejuice’.” Still, she’s never going to let it go.

Now I’m home, the book is waiting, and you probably won’t be hearing much for a day or two. I intend to polish it off quickly, but will try to slow down and enjoy it. I’m sure all of you have your noses in the same novel. Isn’t it wonderful how one story has the entire world reading?

And So it Begins

I don’t want to seem like I don’t appreciate the opportunity to go to school. I do, really I do. I especially appreciate the opportunity to finally get out of the community college transfer program and get back to the “real,” four-year university (although if you asked Indiana University, they’d tell you it wasn’t “really” IU or Purdue).

Today I plan on heading down to campus to get a list of ISBNs for the textbooks I need when classes start in a month. I like to be prepared and I’ve been pretty excited to go back these past four semesters (and two summers), but was disappointed to learn ISBN numbers are available only at the bookstore, not online. Their bookstore, by the way, is now the IUPUI/Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Sellouts.

I clearly remember having issues with IUPUI when I was there in 2004/2005, but the way things were handled at Ivy Tech (much worse), I was so looking forward to my return. For example, that funny-at-the-time letter I received that told me both that my GPA was under 2.0 so I was ineligible for any more financial aid, then listed my term and cumulative GPA: 4.0 and 3.75, respectively. I laughed then threw it away, until two days ago when I got a letter from the Indiana scholarship people, telling me my academic probation made me ineligible for grants I would have gotten otherwise. There were some nasty phone calls on my part, a lot of stalling at Ivy Tech, and I finally spoke to someone at the program who calmed me down, letting me know that as long as I wasn’t returning as a student there, I needn’t worry about it. However, for my own peace of mind, she recommended, I may want to go ahead and get it fixed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that this came back to bite me in the ass.

Then there’s the woman in the financial aid office years ago when I first considered going to school who wouldn’t explain to me the difference between loans and work-study programs when I asked (I didn’t even know what the bursar or registrar did, so I was pretty clueless). When I asked if she could explain the options I had for getting money for school, she said (and I am not making this up) “Honey, if you can’t figure this stuff out, you’re probably not smart enough to go to college.” I sat in my car crying afterwards because it was such a cruel thing to say, replaying the conversation with a bunch of comebacks, mostly centered around that woman’s lack of intelligence and education. But I never said anything to her. I just went home and gave up going to school for a couple of years. Pretty pathetic, I know, yet my worst fear was realized; as someone who’d barely gotten through high school, maybe I wasnt smart enough to go to college.

IUPUI has its problems; parking (passes have increased in cost by almost half since I was first there and there’s rarely anywhere to park without finding yourself with a ticket), food (there really wasn’t any), transportation (I don’t understand how to use it), and, my least favorite: the sheer volume of required texts for each course and the incredible cost a student incurs to get all of those books.

Last night I was able to get a list of the textbooks I need. The absolute minimum for one class was two, while the highest required is five. Five books. For one class. Grand total for all courses? Five hundred bucks. And that doesn’t include my 5-credit Spanish course’s “recommended” audio CDs. If you tallied the books for one semester and parking pass for two, I could pay the entire rent here for one month.

Oh, yeah, now I remember why I took the transfer courses at Ivy Tech. Books were still ridiculously overpriced and, I found out last semester, you cannot sell any of them back without your original receipt. They neglect to tell you this at any point, mostly because they probably don’t want anyone selling their books back. I never saw one used textbook in two years there, so I just assumed they didn’t have a buyback program. Surfing their Web site in May, I saw they did, but in teeny-tiny little letters at the bottom of the page, it said you have to keep your receipt from the beginning of the semester to sell anything back. Oh, well that’s convenient for them. They also never mentioned this to me.

I took everything to Half Price Books, including some stuff we didn’t get rid of in the yard sale. I walked away with fifty dollars, and I know that was part charity from my former co-workers. Imagine my surprise when, upon cleaning up my office/sewing room one afternoon, I found a receipt for two hundred dollars worth of books. The swearing that came out of my mouth would have made a sailor blush (and it did, as Charlie was in the living room shouting “What’s wrong?! What happened?!”)

Now I have to spend the next few weeks trying to find all of these texts as cheaply as I can through Amazon.com, at Half Price Books, through other sellers online, or from students trying to get rid of last year’s editions for only about ten bucks less than they paid. I found one guy who had posted an ad for the three required textbooks from my Writing for the Web course, but he never wrote me back to tell me how much he wanted. Jerk.

And so it begins. The last two years of my undergraduate career. Well, that doesn’t start until August 25th, so we’ll consider this the Beginning of the Bitching About School. It’s taken me three years to get to this point, mostly because I just can’t afford to take as many classes as I’d need per semester to graduate in four years. I’m on the five-year track and the idea of grad school is getting less and less appealing.