Wednesday, August 6, 2008

State of the Union Address

My fellow citizens of the world,
We have had a very difficult year in 2008. Our GNP has dropped precipitously. Debt is not yet an issue, but it may become one in the coming months, and this is the reason for this speech. As the proprietor of Flying Houses, I am seeking your advice in order to provide you with the best possible blog-reading experience. You may read that and say, "Well, what do you want my advice for? You're in control of your own life. You know what's best for you. I don't need to comment." Yes, and in a way, the outward motive of this speech is to clarify my position on these issues, and I will not be offended if you fail to leave a comment.
The first issue to be discussed is the Kaplan LSAT prep course. This is the element upon which all other elements depend. That is, the course goes from 8/09 - 9/27. One week after it ends is my registered test date. A little bit of background information is necessary:
The LSAT is hard. True, when one looks at each question individually, and considers the similar guiding principles to each answer, it does not appear quite so hard. However, when one is expected to read and answer 100 questions in a roughly three hour time span, anxiety and pressure enters into the equation. I bought an LSAT Test Prep book in March, back when I was seemingly "on the ball." My unemployment began, (and to update the previous posting on the topic, my appeal for my declared-to-be-ineligible benefits did not go well--another serious factor in this speech) I was not concerned, I was focused on performing well, and I scored a 148 on my first practice test. I scored a 150 on my second practice test, not too long after. Last night, I tried to take the third practice test, because I was going to be starting the course on Saturday, and had a whole new slew of practice tests to attend to, and I didn't want to waste one.
Now, for those of you familiar with the LSAT, the first section on this particular practice test taken last night was Analytical Reasoning. This threw me off terribly and I had an awful time with the clarity of the conditions for the different logic games. Logical reasoning was section two, generally my favorite section, but I found it this time to be unbearably difficult--forgetting to read the question stem first, and then the passage itself. The pressure and anxiety filled me to the brim and I had to stop--I could not complete the practice test. I decided just to use the questions for practice without trying to do them all at once.
I woke up this morning and felt an unbelievable amount of anxiety over the fact that I needed to buy more ziplock bags and Q-tips. Also, I was nearly out of food in the house, and I was going to need to replenish the supply. I reflected upon the fact that I made $1700 a month, had roughly $1000 in monthly expenses, had to pay for gas which was at least $100 a month, which left $600 a month for all other expenses. With a budget of roughly $20 a day to include food and whatever other necessities presented themselves (note: when I first realized $1700 was all I could make in a month, I decided I could no longer afford to buy that illicit flower which is probably responsible for my precipitous financial ruination), this morning I decided that it was no way to live.
It is simply too difficult to live with those kinds of restrictions on one's head 100% of the time. Too difficult to be constantly worried about how much one is able to spend. Since I had a friend visit a couple weeks ago, I have been as big a penny-pincher as ever. No social events are allowed. I could not have brunch twice (despite actually being invited somewhere) because I couldn't afford it. The $1300 for the course is on my credit card, and if I pay it off, I have to take the course, go through with it, and take the LSAT in October, despite little hope that I will be able to score somewhere in the range of 165-170 and have a chance at the schools I most want to attend. They are: NYU, University of Chicago, UCLA, UC-Berkeley (Boalt Hall), Harvard, University of Texas at Austin, Loyola Marymount University, and DePaul University.
To make matters more complicated, I have been told to ask for a raise. I am going to do that tomorrow, and while a raise of several dollars an hour might put me in a more affordable situation, I am extremely doubtful it will happen. Furthermore, a job may be opening up for me at a law firm in the coming months, that would pay slightly more than I make now, probably making it affordable as well. However, I do not know what the timetable is on that position, and it would be downtown, whereas my LSAT course is in Westwood--though there was an option to take one downtown, I preferred to have a class on a Saturday. I was thinking this was all going to be okay, I could work at my current job in Beverly Hills and go to courses on Tuesday and Saturday in Westwood, improve my score drastically, submit applications by Thanksgiving, go home for the holiday feeling somewhat accomplished and proud that I pulled it off.
I didn't even mention what happened on Sunday. But to get a more intriguing picture, I must say what happened on Friday. My neighbor knocked on my door. She told me that her car had been broken into. It was parked in the apartment parking lot, which I never used. There is no security gate, and street parking is always available just as close by. Well, she told me as a "heads up" and I felt so horrible for her. Imagine my surprise when, on Sunday, I glanced out my window and saw an abnormality on the front end of my car. I went outside to inspect closer and found a giant dent in my left front bumper. This was understandably traumatic and I put in the claim with State Farm Insurance (another issue of approaching debt in this speech) today and they told me it would have to be part of the $500 deductible plan to repair it. Now, I am going to stand up for myself in this situation, but it is truly the final straw. Not only was my car keyed by some horrible person in Culver City, but now it has been dented by an extremely rude, either uninsured or irresponsible driver in Silverlake. The price, the idea of being without my car and having to rely on the bus, all the while being near-broke, is just about enough to induce a nervous breakdown.
But I have been able to keep my head about things. This morning at work I told my closest co-worker (who trained me) at the Flavia coffee machine and I told him I might be leaving L.A. He was rather taken aback, but he said he had been in a similar situation before and knew how hard it could get.
The hardest part about leaving will be finding a sublettor. I believe at this point it is prudent to cancel my LSAT course, to cancel my LSAT registration, and hopefully begin anew a year from now with the process, either for law school or potentially a graduate english program, again. While I hate the idea of putting things off another year (as I begin to wonder about how much longer I can live with the shocks to which this body is subject) I feel I am too financially and personally unstable to make my best application effort. It is not impossible to think about still taking the LSATs in December in Chicago, and potentially even taking a Kaplan course there, but I cannot continue to pay rent at this rate. As much as it pains me to say so, my time in Los Angeles must soon come to an end. I regarded the hills of the San Fernando Valley today as I drove home from work and I instantly became sad that my scenery was soon to become so much more mundane and lacking in natural beauty.
There will be a few positives to returning to Chicago, but in general I am not going back because I am unhappy here, but because I have made a series of truly terrible decisions that have landed me in a position of encroaching debt. It is my own fault that I must go. I wish I knew a way I could make it work. I could get a second job, but with LSAT preparation, it would prove unbearably exhausting.
I am ashamed of myself for allowing my life to come to this. The last several nights I have done my usual business of praying to God to let me die in my sleep. I have not been granted my wish, however the first night I did have a roughly two-hour dream that seemed to last an entire weekend in dream-time, and that was a welcome respite from the harsh restrictions and requirements of the waking world. It bears mentioning that it was a beautiful dream, and I would gladly never wake up if I could be assured of living in a world utterly without stress, pain, anxiety, paranoia, and fear of others judgmental attitudes.
I am also scared of focusing so intensely on the LSAT and Law School applications that it would cripple my fiction writing. I would like to finish S/M in October and do the NaNoWriMo or whatever the fuck it's called where you compete with thousands of others (who knows how many) to write a novel in the month of November. Though writing has given me zero monetary gain whatsoever, I am still convinced that it is my duty to fulfill on this Earth. Whether I make my living off of it is another thing entirely. Perhaps I will post the two personal statements I wrote for Law School applications on Flying Houses just for fun. I didn't intend them seriously, but I wrote them as a way to get ideas about what to write about.
My message has been conveyed, and I hope you are satisfied with the wealth of information provided. Citizens, if you believe I should leave, please vote 1. If you believe I should stay please vote 2. If have any commentary to provide on the LSAT/Law School side, please provide as well. The decisions must be made in very short time. I thank you for your patience, and wish you a pleasant day.

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