Monday, October 7, 2013

The More I See of College the More I Like My Couch.

I'm hoping that one day I'll be as popular as Hyperbole and a Half and then when I only post something every few months randomly everyone will just be so excited and happy that no one is like-

 "where have you been?" "Oh are you back for real this time?" "Why don't you post more?" 
"Dude nobody cares about this blog. Give it up already."

But also that probably takes more skills than I have in my talent closet so you know, sorry again.


I'm a for-real full time University College Student now! I'm going to tell you all about it!


.....It kind of blows.

I know, I know,
a) I should be grateful I get to go to college at all- it's a wonderful opportunity and not everyone gets the chance.
b) I should reserve judgment on large universities until I have completed at least one semester. It's only fair to everyone involved.

But let's review some interesting little factoids* about my college career thus far.
                           *what's the actual definition of factoid? I hope a factoid is a fact that is mostly a fact but sometimes an opinion and consists of huge generalizations. Because that's how I'm using it.

      1.I am 23 years old. I have lived on my own and worked full time jobs for the last four years or so, supporting myself. My parents have not claimed me as a dependent on their taxes for four years.
       Yet I am still required to put their tax information on the FAFSA, which not only looks at income before taxes, it does not care how many other student loans your parents currently have, or any of their expenses beyond their mortgage.
       The result of this is that I receive ZERO financial aid and my parents and I are forced to take out massive loans for my education that we are eventually going to have to admit, despite current denial, none of us can actually afford.

      2. I'm not able to take out enough loans to actually cover all of my expenses while in college, and must therefore keep a job to continue supporting myself. This job amounts to around 20 hours a week.
       According to University expectations I am supposed to be putting in 3-4 hours of study time per credit hour for each of my classes. I am taking 18 credit hours in order to complete school as quickly as possible to save money. This means I should be putting in a total of 62 hours a week minimum when combining in class and out of class time.
       Add in sleeping and you have 138 full hours a week.
       This leaves me a total of 30 hours a week- or 4 hours a day- to complete everything else in my life*. ie: Grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, eating, showering, exercising, etc.

                                     *While technically possible, this sort of just sucks all around. 
      3. Freshman suck.
         And I mean that. As a mostly accurate generalization referring to most teenage college students that just graduated high school and are now starting this new and exciting adventure in their lives and are just super duper excited to not be living at home.
         You're all so cute aren't you? With your new college backpack and your leggings that you think are pants.
         You think you're all independent and adult now. Let me clue you in darlings- you are not. Your parents are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars so that you can "experience" college life. Because that's what college is for right? The Experience of it.
          This wouldn't be a problem except that I have to listen to conversations like this between lectures:

Look at all of you. You're so adorable pretending to study
while recounting last night's drunken make-out sessions.
Freshman Girl #1: Oh man do we have an exam in this class?
Freshman Girl #2: Um I think it was yesterday.
Girl#1: Oh I don't usually come to this class because I'm so hungover. I go to a lot of parties. With like, Seniors and stuff. Like, we get hammered all the time.
Girl #2: Well how much does one midterm affect your grade anyway? I mean, it's not like Biology is a huge part of Occupational Therapy anyway. And socializing is a more important part of college than grades anyway. I mean if I just wanted good grades I would take online classes like losers do.

     4. Colleges are being marketed not for the quality of education they provide, but for the experience you will have there.
          This annoys me to no end. 

          Thanks to new technology and a growing demand, almost every college has online versions of most of their classes, including lectures by their most revered professors. Harvard and Stanford (among other prestigious schools) offer FREE versions of many of their classes online.
           When I attended my local community college, I found that many of the classes were taught by the same professor that teaches that class at the University in town. You are essentially receiving the same education for 1/3 the cost.

          So what are you paying for to attend a State University? According to their orientation activities and website photos, you're paying for the social interaction, the chance to make friends and connections, the new experiences, and the volunteer opportunities.
            All of these things are awesome. Except that I can do all of these things for free. On my own time.

    "Ok, Miss Know-it-all-cynic-dream-crusher, then why are you attending a State University?"

What a coincidence! I asked myself this same question earlier today, inspiring the writing of this very blog post! Are you guys psychics? Golly!

The answer came to me in the middle of a class discussion about whether or not an online degree should be considered as valid as a "regular" degree by employers. The discussion went something like this:

Student: "Well it's just so easy to get an online degree without doing the work or learning anything. So there is no guarantee the person knows anything."
Me: "Ok, but it's just as easy to skate by at a university without doing your own work or learning anything."
Professor: "Ok so then why pay so much more to attend a university?"
Student: "Well obviously the social interaction and experience."*
*He means this.
Me: "I don't know about you, but I can socialize for free. I'm paying for an education not friendships."
Professor: "So, it is worth it so far?"
Me: "Honestly? No."
Professor: "Aren't you the cynic?"

          Yes sir I am. But unlike my fellow classmates, my opinion seems to be based on experience, research, and common sense. 

Before anyone jumps down my virtual internet throat, let me point out that there are obviously some huge exceptions to this opinion- I for one don't want my appendix removed by a surgeon who got their degree from Phoenix Online University. 
I would also prefer the lab tech drawing my blood to have done it on a real person a few times before me.

I'm just saying- anyone paying $30 thousand bucks a year to earn a degree in European History is getting straight-up screwed.

So, the Ultimate Question: Why am I continuing to attend an over-priced university that provides no significant difference in education while providing a host of unwanted costs, "experiences", and the inconvenience of having to leave my couch and trek through the snow to sit through a lecture?

Answer: Because I already took out the loans and paid tuition and if I drop out now I lose like $15 thousand bucks. So I might as well finish the year. 

But I don't have to be joyous about it. And, as the mere existence of this blog post proves, I'm more productive when I'm grumpy anyway.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Corporate Sagas- The Final Straw

From: Baylee Steele
Sent: Friday, 3:28 PM
To: Lindsey Gustad
Subject: the voice in my head wants me to break things.

I apologize in advance for this. If you want to just sort of skim that’s fine.
I’m writing you this email on Friday afternoon because I am so horrifically bored I want to cry because I’m at reception dealing with a tiny voice in my head that’s going “just punch someone in the face Baylee… you’ll feel so much better…”

I truly think we should have a room with a few punching bags in it. That is the healthiest way to relieve stress and anger. I mean think about it… every doctor and therapist in the world agrees that bottling up your anger and stress and not expressing it is the LEAST healthy way to deal with it.

And yet.

Company policy pretty much dictates that that is how employees should in fact handle these issues. The benefits of having a punching bag room are numerous.

All employees would be able to express anger and frustration as well as relieve stress through physical activity. And since we all have like a ton of those things, we would all be using the room a lot and be in much better shape.

Studies have shown that this type of outlet actually prevents the proverbial “going postal” event where someone has a meltdown and either lashes out at another employee violently enough to receive a restraining order, or at the very worst brings an assault weapon and mows us all down.

I’m just saying.

Because I have wanted to hit something ALL DAY and I’m not allowed to even though it would make me a better person. If I could have just gone into a back room for ten minutes and worked up a little sweat hitting a punching bag the rest of this day would have been better for everyone.

But nooooooooo any sort of inclination toward violence even if it’s not towards an actual person is a) unacceptable in a “business environment” and b) considered highly unattractive in a female.


*You should all know I put my two weeks in today. I'm going to be a Nanny now. I know, you're like "What Baylee? You..... kids.... that doesn't seem safe...."

More on this career change to follow.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Corporate Sagas: Monday Edition

From: Baylee Steele
Sent: Monday 8:32 AM
To: Lindsey Gustad
Subject: Morning saga

Here’s how out of it I am. Halfway through my cup of coffee I was like “This tastes kind of funny”

That’s because there’s protein powder in it.

 I have no recollection of how this occurred.

And I’m still going to finish this coffee.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Apologize for the Convenience: 'Merica- An Open Letter to Barry

Last week we sent out a mass email to all of our customers advertising our new summer fliers. Because of the growing demand for bilingual material, most of our fliers are in English on one side and Spanish on the other. Just like 80% of everything in most of the United States.

Because most of our customers are schools, and roughly a jillion* elementary school students and their parents speak primarily Spanish, this just makes sense. It's not really to be nice. It's just for marketing. You know, to make money because that's how capitalism works.

                       *I did a ton of research on this.

So it's no big deal and it's pretty normal. That's what I'm saying.

This morning when I got to work I had this lovely response to our friendly, colorful email from one of my favorite Southern States:

From: barry 
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 8:01 AM
Subject: Re: Summer Flier!

We live in the United States, and in the United States we speak English, and only English.
You want to be "bi-lingual"? Move to Mexico and see how well that works out for you.

Ok Barry, couple of things here.

Let's start off with the fact that a super colorful email full of flowers and pictures of racially diverse children smiling with their hands in the air got you this hopped up. Are you just going through your email finding things to be angry about and sending nasty responses to poor customer service reps all over the country who are just trying to pay for college? You lead a sad, empty life Barry. Also you forgot to capitalize your own name.

Everyone has the right to free speech Barry, I'm not arguing that. you have the right to your opinion and the right to state it loudly and bluntly for people like me, who just don't care. 

But guess what Barry? We also have that right. If we choose to print our happy little fliers in Spanish, French, Japanese and Swahili, we totally can. We probably wouldn't get a ton of orders for Swahili fliers in North America but somebody, somewhere, would probably really appreciate one.

Also Barry, get with the times. The "We speak English here" argument is so 2009. Nobody cares Barry. We care about Gay Marriage now. Which I'm sure you also have super strong opinions on.

Now let's break it down. "in the United States we speak English, and only English."

Well Barry, that's just not true. We are the great American melting pot. We speak English. We also speak Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, German, Swahili, Farsi, Swedish, and whatever that one with all the clicks in it is called. So no. 
(I'm willing to bet based on your last name that I can't reveal here that your Grandfather did not speak English at all. I'm going to hazard a guess and say he spoke German. I'm also going to assume he was a Nazi. Because I just get that feeling from you Barry.)

"You want to be "bilingual"? Move to Mexico..."  Why is bilingual in quotes Barry? It's a real word you know. It's not something we made up to sell a new idea. Now you're just misusing quotations and I really hate that. Also I think it's funny that you think Mexico is bilingual but not America. I don't think you know what bilingual means. 

Ok last thing here Barry. I know who you are. You sent that message from your company email. I know where you work, I have your address and phone number. That's just not smart Barry. Because I'm going to send you a present on your Birthday.

It's going to be a note that looks like a bomb threat but is really a birthday card but you won't know. And you'll be really embarrassed when the fire department shows up and the fireman (who looks like Mario Lopez) has to translate it because you don't have any bilingual friends.

It's also going to include a ton of glitter. Because that's just how I roll.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Corporate Sagas - Poems of Quiet Desperation

From: Baylee Steele
To: Lindsey Gustad
Subject: Too Much Crack-Gym?

Customer Service- a poem by Baylee Steele

Today a lady asked
If I thought she was an idiot.
I paused too long before
I replied.

I wasn’t trying to be rude.
It was just the shock of it.
And the lack of coffee in the corporate breakroom.
Devoid of anything joyous or motivating.

I wonder
Would we be better off
With a different kind of coke
In our machine?

The End.

BAM. Wrote a poem in 30 seconds. I’m a genius.

Want to go to the gym later?

*Tune in next week for: "Why Baylee Changed Her Major" or "When to Expect the Next Full-Fledged Meltdown." (Hint: It's soon)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Corporate Sagas

      I mentioned that I got a new job doing customer service over the phone. This is awesome for many reasons.

     First reason: Customers cannot see hand gestures or facial expressions over the phone. As long as I keep my voice up in that annoying octave that girls in pigtails and pink tank-tops tend to use no one can tell that I'm fake vomiting and drawing pictures of unicorns on my notepad instead of writing down their information. It's a serious plus.

   Second reason: I now work for a large, rather important corporation. This means a pretty awesome benefits plan as well as exposure to the sort of nonsense that suddenly makes the plot of the movie Office Space seem not only plausible, but a likely conclusion to my year of employment.

      -The subject lines alone of some of the company-wide emails I get make me want to take a baseball bat to the fax machine.

    Third reason: I work for the same company as my older sister* and get to send her emails all day expressing my frustration and general level of apathy at any given time. These email counseling sessions are most likely the only reason I am still employed and will also be the number one thing that gets me fired should upper management discover them.

        *Yes she got me the job. No I am not embarrassed by this, as I have no pride. I also lived with her and her husband for a summer and continue to mooch meals and various other things off them, with no intention of stopping.

   And so dear friends,** while I will continue to have a section of this blog for Customer Service stories entitled "We Apologize for the Convenience" I'm now starting the section "Corporate Sagas" where I will share with you some of the most tragic, desperate, and self indulgent emails to my ever so patient sister (also known as my free therapist).

       **Some of you aren't my friends. I'm saying that to be nice and because it's a thing people say. It's not that I dislike any of you, it's just that I barely know you and I'm just calling it like it is. Don't get all in a huff about it.

We're going to start today with this lovely gem sent last week, the morning of my Birthday.

From: Baylee Steele
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 8:45 AM
To: Lindsey Gustad

Good Morning- what’s left of it now that you finally decided to show up to work.
(I’m kidding)

Have you seen my desk though? It’s awesome. there's a balloon. And I got Starbucks. So that’s nice.

My leg is still all jacked up and I’m worried about it.

What time is your appointment today? Are you even coming in at all? 

Are we still going to Red Robin today? I want to… but also if it’s still snowing and yucky idk if it will be worth it. Omg unless they can make me a hot chocolate with alcohol in it. I bet they could if I told them it was my birthday.

I’m bored and it’s snowing on my Birthday. *sigh*

I’ve had too much/not enough coffee. It’s hard to tell.

Also I know I’m old because I forgot how old I am turning today… I told Brandon 22 and Kim 24.

But 23 is a better number than 22. I like it better. 22 is dumb.. like 11. 11 is a dumb number.

I just realized this is turning into a conversation with myself. Like something I would write in a journal. I guess I’ll send it to you anyway.

OMG YOU’RE MY JOURNAL. Which is better because you actually reply.

OMG I’m so tragically lonely I want a journal that talks back?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Well This is Awkward...

I just read the last post I wrote on here and realized several things.

1. It's been almost a year since I've updated this blog. More on that later*.

2. I promised to update as soon as I got back from Africa and that I would not let you down again.

3. Based on that promise, one can only assume that I died in Africa, because I always keep my promises.

4. I'm a filthy rotten liar.

I offer this embarrassed pony as an apology. You've seen him before.
I don't have time to draw you new ponies every time I lie to you.
 That would be a lot of ponies.


I could go into great detail on exactly what I've been up to in the last year and why I haven't been blogging.


 I could just proceed as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, and what do you mean "where have I been?" I've been here all along, blogging and shit.

            *For those who are super curious here's a 10 second rundown of the last year and where I stand in life as of right now.

Went to Africa- felt awesome and blessed and adventurous. Returned to Colorado- slipped into hardcore depression- sucked at life for a while.

Quit retail job, got slightly better job with a desk and a phone and health insurance, and a spiffy new apartment and boyfriend. Felt awesome- Stopped sucking at life for like two seconds.

Relationship crumbled in the midst of the annual breakdown mentioned here and here. Sucked at life more than usual, resulting in more depression and a series of self destructive incidents eventually culminating in time off work and prescription medication**.

In a last ditch effort to stop sucking at life, made last minute decision to transfer from community college to CSU, where I aim to learn things and have a purpose and make new friends and whatnot and stop sucking at life permanently.

(That was more than 10 seconds probably. Unless you read really really fast.)

        **I was going to keep this a secret from the world, because it's a sensitive subject. But I know it's going to come up sooner or later anyway since I have a tendency to over-share. So we might as well get that out in the open.

So I'm back to being my mostly normal amount of crazy, and my new job as a corporate office drone has turned out to be as chock full of comedic material as my retail job was.

"Are you sure Baylee? Because most of the funny stuff on this blog was because of your job, not because you're naturally humorous."

I'm sure. I do customer service over the phone now. So it's basically the same only I get to roll my eyes a lot.

So I hope you'll all keep following as I reconstruct this blog and move on to a real college and continue to share anecdotes about my conversations with church secretaries in Missouri and how too many people in 2013 still don't understand how email works. It's going to be hilarious you guys.

Because at the very least you'll want to tune in for the occasional breakdowns and ultimately feel better about your own lives and how much you don't suck at things most of the time.