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2019, eh? New Year’s Day Open Thread

By David Futrelle

I hope you all are having a nice lazy New Year’s Day as we all prepare ourselves for whatever horrors (and possible good things?) that 2019 is going to bring us.

Here’s an open thread. Post your resolutions, if you have any that you want to share; your thoughts on the coming year or the previous one; or just whatever the hell you want to talk about.

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A. Noyd
A. Noyd
3 years ago

epitome of incomprehensibility says:

Apologies to @A. Noyd if it took a long time to type, since it’s not very important and I just asked that on a whim instead of looking it up.

Well, sure, you could have looked it up, but I answered because I know from experience that it’s not so easy to find a comprehensive layman’s explanation of the various options. So a little time on my part would potentially save a lot on yours. ?

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
3 years ago

There’s that one saying, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Growing up, I was frequently told to smile more for no reason apparent to me other than to look “normal.” Norms of politeness and manners were never actually explained to me, either. So a lot of social interactions just kind of felt like a facade to me. It all felt fake.

I eventually learned that the quote is misleading. It’s not supposed to be about faking anything. Speech and expression are powerful and can have a large impact on others. A key component in right-wingers’ sham concept of “free speech” is to ignore the effects that their speech and expression have, while exaggerating the effects of others’ speech and expression on them. Human communication simply isn’t about transmitting a statement with a truth value, devoid of all other consequences. So, I can feel angry and upset, and there are multiple ways of expressing that. Some of these ways have the effect of making other people angry and upset with me. For many, expressing anger the wrong way could get them hurt.

Nowadays, interactions with certain people feel even more fake than they used to, but at least I can trust that some people are being genuine, at least in a way that the situation calls for.

I’m not entirely sure where I was going with all that, but I’ve only gotten responses from two out of ~8 people about my issues so far and I’m continuing to feel rather restless knowing there’s not much I can do to improve my situation right now. Maybe next week will be different.

Viscaria
Viscaria
3 years ago

I kind of didn’t want to reply to you, Surplus, since you’re sucking all the air out of the room, but

so that erroneously cutting off the wrong customer for nonpayment of some other customer’s bill could not happen from one single cack-handed employee fat-fingering a single button on a control panel somewhere.

You have invented this scenario out of whole cloth. There is no reason to believe that this is what happened, particularly since Ontario utilities cannot shut off electricity in winter due to non-payment.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/3840717/ontario-ban-disconnection-hydro/amp/

There is no reason to believe that your power outage was the result of someone pushing any button or making any kind of mistaken or deliberate choice to do so. You have created that idea based on nothing but your sense of persecution, and you’re proceeding as if it’s proven fact. Happy freaking New Year.

Catalpa
Catalpa
3 years ago

@Surplus

First thing. Your problems are real. The pain that they cause you is real, and that pain is no less awful whether other people are experiencing greater or lesser levels of pain. The things that cause you suffering are shitty, and I am sorry that you are facing them.

That said, your attitude towards your problems and your attitude towards others is… Unlikely to lead efficiently to any relief of your suffering. You claim that the people must rise up and work together and overthrow the corrupt system (which, no argument here), yet any time someone offers their viewpoint or resources, you berate them for not providing a 100% perfect solution. Can you see why this will not make people inclined to work together with you?

Sure, if you’re operating on pure logic, people should act to serve their interests and work together to fix the system that is causing them all suffering, no matter how awfully they may be treated by people who are rallying for this better thing. But humans don’t operate on pure logic. We are emotional creatures and being belittled and berated every time we try to offer any kind of effort doesn’t make us inclined to try doing that kind of thing again.

You see the world as rigged against you, you see other people either as tormentors or unwitting pawns of the tormentors, you’re constantly on the defensive and unwilling to compromise, consider, or listen. Everyone else is an enemy, is hostile, is not good enough. This mindset is not going to help you.

Yes, having a positive attitude isn’t magically going to fix your computer or your power lines or anything else. But do you know what might be able to fix that? Other people. Maybe sometime knows what kinds of errors could be causing your problems. Maybe someone is facing similar issues and has already come up with a workaround. Maybe someone knows a someone else, who’s getting a new computer and you can replace your old machine or the faulty parts with their old computer. Maybe your neighbours know why the power keeps going out and you can rally together with them to get the power company to sort that shit out. Maybe speaking to the power company and not expecting the representative to be able to instantly solve your problem will reveal what the issue is and let them take care of it. Maybe there are people at the municipal or provincial or judicial level who you can petition for recompense. Maybe there’s someone else who also keeps struggling with constant winter illness and has some recommendations about what the problem might be or how to alleviate it. And people are a lot more inclined to help when you’re not acting angrily and hostile towards them.

Essentially, yeah, smiling while you walk to the gallows isn’t going to change your fate, but screaming at the assembled crowd that they’re all to blame and that the deck has been stacked against you also isn’t going to change anything. Having enough allies in the crowd who want to help, though, that just might do the trick.

Also, feeling constantly persecuted and angry and helpless is… Well, it makes you feel really shitty and it’s only going to increase the suffering that is already happening because of your problems. And, yeah, those feelings are understandable reactions to the challenges you face. But it also sounds a lot like the struggle I have with depression and possible additional mental illnesses, the viewing of everything as hopeless and pointless and not good enough. And mental illnesses are real things that cause suffering. It sounds like in the winter, your body produces horrible mucus and sore throats, and right now your brain is providing these horrible thoughts. Nyquil helps out with the one, I suggest also seeking help for the other. And I know that Canada’s mental health system is abysmal. I know that you don’t have budget to pay for a private therapist. I wish this would be easier for you. But I do suggest that you try to get yourself into a waiting list for a public therapist or other mental help professional.

There are resources available to try to help you through this. And, unfortunately, a lot of them are a long way from perfect. But just because they aren’t perfect doesn’t mean they are worthless, and it doesn’t mean they can’t help, even if they only help a little. It’s incredibly frustrating that the world can’t be made better in just one fell swoop, I know. But making incremental gains and pulling together isn’t nothing.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
3 years ago

@Valentin:

threatening lawsuits

A misunderstanding there. I didn’t say they actually threaten lawsuits. I said they look well-to-do enough that if they were to do so it would be unwise to assume they were bluffing. Such people get better treatment from corporate reps than people who they know lack the financial means to respond to sufficiently-abusive treatment by taking the company to court.

It’s a bit like the hazard stripes on bees: everyone goes out of their way to avoid angering bees because they might otherwise get stung. The stinger rarely needs to actually get used. The mere advertising of “I have a stinger” is enough to deter abuse. And a human in a suit and tie or otherwise evidencing middle-middle-class-or-above socioeconomic status is advertising “I have a stinger”, silently, whenever they interact with any large organization. Someone in slightly-shabby street clothing that clearly came from Target or Wal-Mart, likewise, is unlikely to have a stinger worthy of fear, and can be given the run-around and delayed and stalled and pushed off without negative consequences. So if doing that will save money compared to actually honoring their obligations to that customer, that’s what they’ll do.

Another misunderstanding: I don’t mean to claim to be the most oppressed evah. Obviously, I’m not. People in despotic countries who have become political prisoners, for instance, clearly have it worse. My claim, to clarify, is that I get significantly more of the “ordinary bullshit” of first-world life than average first-worlders of similar economic means and otherwise theoretically in the same spot in the kyriarchy — evidence that there’s a missing factor to the kyriarchy that we haven’t identified and characterized fully yet, and that I’m on the oppressed rather than the privileged side of that additional factor.

In particular, I’m probably less oppressed than most of you, given the high percentage of women, transpeople, and POC here. But I’m more oppressed than, say, any of the other tenants in my apartment building, of that I am equally certain and not without evidence.

@Scildfreja:

PF Variations

These are outright outages: for a few seconds, everything including the lights are off, to say nothing of any electronics. Things don’t just reboot. They switch right off, no fans, no lights, no anything, including ceiling lights and desk fans and the fridge compressor if it happened to be going at the time, and a few seconds later everything comes back on. Old dumb hand-me-down CRT TV turns off, same as if the plug was pulled, too.

I’m quite certain a multimeter hooked to an outlet would show the amplitude go completely flat for a second or two before the 60Hz sine wave returned, though I don’t actually have one to test this with.

Are you implying that such outages don’t occur at all where you are, not even during severe weather? If so then I’ve actually underestimated how shoddy my power situation is! I had assumed that that much, at least, was a shitty-but-unavoidable-part-of-life type of thing and only the ones without a visible meteorological justification were, in fact, unjustified.

I’m a stoic, if you want to classify me. My beliefs have a long heritage of being sober, rational and a clear path to objectivity.

It’s interesting that they might also be rather convenient to our ruling classes. A population who will stoically take it on the chin without getting mad and fighting back is precisely what they want; a population whose dominant philosophy makes them likely to respond to any degradation of their living conditions with strikes, sit-ins, marches that clog up the road network, and other actions is what they strive to avoid. So you may wish to ask yourself whose interests your stoicism most serves?

Note: I intend to accuse no-one of being intentionally complicit. But as you yourself have said many times, these things get buried deep and are hard to root out.

You’re missing my point by a mile. I’m not telling you to “smile on the way to the gallows.” I’m telling you that you’re seeing gallows-scaffolds where there are streetlights.

Remarkable to read this less than 48 hours after I almost froze to death due to one of those “streetlights”.

(This is where you say “stop gaslighting me,” usually. I’m not gaslighting you, either. Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic in which an abuser fucks with someone’s reasonable perceptions to make them pliable for abuse. I don’t want to make you do anything outside of helping you feel better.)

The manipulation here is getting both of us (or trying, in my case) to accept a certain level of shoddiness in the things and services around us as “normal” rather than “unacceptably low quality”, and getting us to minimize to ourselves the harms we are experiencing is one way of doing that.

I want to go back to your “I get colds a lot more frequently than other people” line here. I’m sure that you are objectively aware of having the sniffles frequently – I’m not going to quibble about a misplaced universal. How can you possibly know that no one else does?

Let me clarify my earlier claim. I’m not saying that literally no one else does. But it is sufficiently uncommon that in any random sample of 20 or 30 people I don’t see anyone else who appears to do so. That would appear to be sufficient to put me in the category of “unlucky” with respect to this one specific nuisance. Now add in the fact that I’m in the bottom few percentile of “luck” in such a huge number of other things simultaneously and it starts to look an awful lot like there’s a pattern there.

To add one more data point: intercity buses. Greyhound has a guess what? Monopoly, of course, on the service in my region. I’ve had a few occasions to use it. Every single time something has gone severely wrong, and two of those times were potentially life-threatening, to the point that I told the relatives whose place it was needed to travel to that either they came by car for me or I quit visiting them. First time the bus breezed right by my stop at the Kanata Town Center and the earliest place I could get off was in downtown Ottawa, whereas they were expecting to meet me at the KTC. I ended up roughly 12 km from them with no car, a phone with little battery left (the one I had then liked to hemorrhage charge when taken into the countryside where the cell towers were farther from it, and it had just spent several hours traveling between cities), and next to no money to hand, with no clue about finding either a local ATM or local bus routes. So, stranded and lost, basically. Fortunately I got off a phone call before the battery died and they came and found me.

I didn’t fail to ding a little cord; you’re not supposed to have to with this intercity bus. It’s supposed to stop at every stop, period. And it didn’t.

Second time, someone stole my phone. I hope they enjoyed the shoddy battery life.

Third time the bus was four HOURS late getting to me to pick me up in the first place. Not four minutes. Not even forty minutes. TWO HUNDRED and forty minutes. It did let me off at the KTC — four hours after the relatives had given up on my ever arriving and gone home. Had to call them again.

If you don’t consider this life threatening, ask yourself what would have happened if either of the other two incidents and the phone theft had happened on the same occasion, or if the older phone’s battery had run down a bit faster. I’d have been stranded late at night on the streets of the city, with no accommodations, possibly on a night with cold or inclement weather, and with no way of communicating or traveling very far. So unable to get home or tell anyone I trusted that I needed a ride or anything. Instant homelessness, without the need for debts and bankruptcy first! But with all the risks and reduced life expectancy that it implies. My only hope would be that I’d be missed enough for a search to be mounted, and that they did the intelligent thing and started at every site the bus could have dropped me and spiraling out from those.

That makes three severe failures in three uses. A 100% failure rate. Impressive even for a monopolist. And presumably not the experience most of their customers receive. I expect most of the them merely get occasional late pickups, late dropoffs, or petty thefts, but not stranded in questionable neighborhoods twice in three cases, nor something serious going wrong 100% of the time, or even the monopolist would find itself driven out of business. Nobody would dare use them if every trip with them might end with spending the night sleeping in a cardboard box.

So you can definitely count be in the bottom few percentile in “luck with buses” as well.

Those predictions depend on how our brains craft that conscious surface, and it seems like your brain crafts a surface that sees a lot of threats out there. More than most people, by far.

That’s your problem. That thing, right there. That’s what you have to fix.

I don’t see how changing my perceptions would result in the lights in my home going out less often per year. I just don’t see how.

That’s a lot tougher than it sounds. Usually that break happens early in life, when our perspective on the world is forming.

So, somewhere around the “other kids tackle me and rub snow in my face while the adults allegedly ‘responsible’ for us look the other way, and I’m constantly being blamed and punished for stuff the others did while the adults’ backs were turned” stage of life then? Aka elementary school?

@various:

you’re constantly on the defensive

Wouldn’t you be, if you were constantly under attack? With me, it’s just one damn thing after another (combined with a steaming pile of victim-blaming a lot of the times). Now I’ve apparently been sentenced (in absentia, without notification or due process, without being able to present a defense, etc., natch) to sleep reduction: I’m only allowed five or six hours a day now instead of the nine my body seems to need for full function. After that the snowmobile parade starts outside my bedroom window. Somewhere, some human made a decision that effectively took control of my alarm clock away from me. Someone else has set that to six-thirty sharp and I can’t change it back.

If people kept doing things like that to you, every single day of every single week, wouldn’t you be “constantly on the defensive”? Every criticism is a likely prelude to yet another summary judgment and punishment of one bizarre sort or another. At least in my case. Trying to argue my way out of it rarely works (of course — trying to anything rarely works, if I’m the one doing the trying), but it’s all I’ve got. 🙁

making incremental gains and pulling together isn’t nothing.

I think the election of Trump alone is sufficient evidence that we’re waaaay past the point where incrementalism can be anything other than “too little, too late”. Clinton ran on a platform of incrementalism and got sufficiently little enthusiasm from her base that she lost. To Trump.

I don’t think it’s productive to continue this discussion here

I’m open to suggestions as to where else to continue it. Though, I’m unaware of any other venue with the same people, other than that epitome apparently is on Twitter (which I’m not) … I’d particularly value Scildfreja’s thoughts. I think we’re somewhat talking past each other but there’s something there in the middle we’re both not-quite-grasping that might offer useful insights to both of us.

This will be my last comment on this topic, though, if you wish it to be.

Catalpa
Catalpa
3 years ago

we’re waaaay past the point where incrementalism can be anything other than “too little, too late”.

Right, cool, then I honestly wish you all the best of luck in finding a solution that will instantly solve every problem you have and allow the entire world to skip the all the incremental steps of improvement in between.

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
3 years ago

Yes, Surplus, no one else in the world has it as bad as you.

And i have been bitterly envying you, and the fact that nyquil apparently works for you. I finally managed to get some sleep last night (more than the 2-4 hours of broken coughing sleep i have been dealing with for over a week) after mixing medications in a way i probably shouldn’t, because other things i am dealing with got to a point where i had no choice.

And this is after being perscribed something much stronger for my cough. I am very concerned about going back to work, because i won’t be able to pull this trick to sleep at night because it also makes me hella drowsy during the day.

cornychips
cornychips
3 years ago

I feel like im witnessing mr als greatest opus

Valentin - Emigrantski Ragamuffin
Valentin - Emigrantski Ragamuffin
3 years ago

@surplus,

I *love* that from everything I said you chose 2 words to argue against. “threatening lawsuits” and two words that I didn’t even say.

??

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
3 years ago

@David, I started writing this before realizing you’d asked the conversation to stop. It’s been edited down to be relatively nice, though I get snippy at one point. I thought it would be okay, but please go ahead and delete it if you feel like it isn’t contributing anything!

I’d particularly value Scildfreja’s thoughts. I think we’re somewhat talking past each other but there’s something there in the middle we’re both not-quite-grasping that might offer useful insights to both of us.

Thanks. This’ll be brief, I’m not going to do this by the numbers, though I will poke at some things you’ve written. It’s been edited down pretty heavily, and I’ve tried to strip out as much of my own irritation as I can.

Before all that, though, something to consider.

You said that you denounce that part of yourself and that you aren’t responsible for what it does, you’re a victim of it. Be aware that the aggression you get directed at you is because of that, and it isn’t the responsibility of the people you interact with to accommodate for it. That’s your responsibility.

It isn’t easy, I know. We’ve all got beasts, yours is a bitey one.

Some of my replies may be bitey as well. I’m just defending myself from the beast you’ve got between us. As you’re reading, Also, something to consider. Those words that seem most hurtful to us can show us where those hidden wounds are.

Your stoicism (and by extension you) are a tool of the ruling classes

Do you know any Stoic thought? Read and Aurelius or Epictetus? Because it looks the world to me like all you’ve done is hooked onto me calling myself a “stoic”, asked your brain, “Brain, how could I turn this new knowledge into something to support my beliefs?” and your brain said “Gosh, being tolerant and patient would be useful for the capitalist overlords.” And then you said it.

That’s how the Capitalist Overlords showed up in this conversation, too. Someone mentioned them, you hooked onto them and added them to your argument. Before that they weren’t but as soon as societal problems were in the discussion they were added to your evidence.

This is called an “ad-hoc rescue” in the rationality world, or more nerdily a “unfalsifiable hypothesis”. Anything that exists can be pulled under its aegis. It’s really hard to beat, because a smart person can pretty much always make another just-so story that explains away issues. It’s also a pretty surefire way to tell when something isn’t true.

The manipulation here is getting both of us (or trying, in my case) to accept a certain level of shoddiness in the things and services around us as “normal” rather than “unacceptably low quality”, and getting us to minimize to ourselves the harms we are experiencing is one way of doing that.

Okay, repeat after me: We aren’t talking about systemic oppression. We’re talking about how you, particularly and especially, are subject to extra-unfair abuse.

This is a classic red herring. You can’t say “I’m subject to special punishment in society because capitalism.” We’re all living in a late-stage capitalist dystopia. We’re all suffering in it.

Get colds more frequently by my personal random sampling

Personal samples aren’t random samples.

Selection Bias: when an observer fails to properly collect a random sample.
Recall Bias: when an observer doesn’t recall things correctly.
Observer Bias: when an observer projects their expectations onto the results.
Survivorship Bias: when an observer doesn’t observe a category because that catgory was already selected-out.

My training instructs me that these biases are expected, and without correction will create a false data set. How did you correct for these biases in coming to your conclusion? Did you just go off of your memory and assume “I’m objective, I’m rational, I’ve got this”? Because that’s the same methodology that Flat Earthers use.

Memories are deeply fallible, and deeply biased.

Intercity busses

Okay, this one made me angry.

Event 1, The Kanata Drop-off: 12 km is scarcely a good walk. When snow’s not on the ground I try to get 20 daily. And you only having a little charge on your phone and no money sounds like you failing to plan ahead. Bring a USB cord and a fiver when you go on long trips.
Event 2, The Stolen Phone: Sucks. Maybe get a jacket with zip up pockets? Also, theft isn’t a random occurrence, theft happens more to people who are habitually unguarded or unobservant. (Not that I’m saying you are that – it just is more likely to those groups)
Event 3, Two Hundred Fourty Minutes: Sucks. Sure is nice we live in an age where we can accommodate these minor issues by calling and saying “hey, busses are late.”

(My dad worked on charter busses for years. They’re notoriously finnickey machines, prone to all sorts of issues. 3 for 3 sucks, but I know plenty of people who say “Every experience I’ve had with X is bad” and mean it, too.)

As for any of those being life-threatening? Aheh, what? You were in the downtown core of the capital city of Canada. With money and a phone and a family nearby. Your complaints are an insult to anyone who’s actually skirted or experienced homelessness, or to the disabled or disenfranchised who don’t have the ability to walk more than a block. Your greatest inconvenience would have been asking someone where you can get your phone plugged in.

I’ve been waist deep in the muskeg, 72 hours with no food or water, in the sweltering summer heat, an hour from the nearest road. Nearly fallen down a fifty meter gorge. Sleeping overnight in a hole in the snow in -30C. Had to wait seven hours at a tiny tropical airport with machinegun-swaggering soldiers walking back and forth as my plane fought through a storm, then flew back through that storm with me on it. And I don’t consider those to have been particularly life-threatening.

Call it Oppression Olympics if you like, but all you’re doing is robbing yourself of the chance to ever beat the beast that’s got you.

I don’t see how changing my perceptions would result in the lights in my home going out less often per year. I just don’t see how.

Okay, here’s how this works. You know how many power outages I had last year?

Couldn’t tell you. My perception of them is sufficient for the moment that they’re in, and once they are over their significance fades in accordance to their prevalence. It happens, I deal with it, I move on and leave it behind me.

The fact that you can give me an itemized list of all of the ills you suffer gives me a very strong suggestion that you’re not able to do that. To you these events have a much greater significance in the moment they happen, and then they don’t fade as time passes to nearly the same extent as others. They hook into you and stay there, pulling at you like a dug-in barb that gets deeper with every new slight.

(Because they are unconsciously useful to you, I suspect, but that’s just a suspicion. It’s a common reason.)

If you could get rid of this, you’d think back on the year and not even remember the momentary outages, the late busses, the colds. Because they wouldn’t matter to you.

And that’s the only thing that actually matters in this situation, whether you stop hurting.

So, somewhere around the “other kids tackle me and rub snow in my face while the adults allegedly ‘responsible’ for us look the other way, and I’m constantly being blamed and punished for stuff the others did while the adults’ backs were turned” stage of life then? Aka elementary school?

No. Most of this is already set in motion by the time we hit school anyways. It’s more of the “learning how to walk and talk” and “object permanence” stage that this stuff starts. Everyone has a different sort of distortion of their perspective lens, so I can’t tell you concretely what yours is. But I can give you hints, and I can make guesses.

Hints: Look for the things that hurt, and look for the first things that come to mind when confronted with something. For example, I said “our perceptions are hard to fix because they form very early” and you lept to being bullied at school. I’m going to assume you were bullied as a schoolchild here. This suggests that you’ve never been able to get over that, and that you now more easily perceive other people as being bullies, and that the world itself is bullying you.

Note the wording there. I didn’t say that the world is bullying you, I said that you feel as if the world is bullying you. I’m suggesting that it’s happening in your perceptions – you’re interpreting people as being more hostile than they actually are.

But as I said, it usually goes deeper than that. We typically form our methods of interacting with the world with our parents, even before we can speak. It’s in the ways that we’re rewarded, how we get affirmation, and how we are denied affirmation.

Most boys get their strongest affirmation when they demonstrate being smart, because of this they can be very defensive when their positions are challenged when they become men (hashtag notallmen). The root of this is a fear of being found wrong, and/or a fear of being found inadequate.

Now that I’ve said all that, I’m going to finish with the line I started with. Look for the words that hurt the most, that feel the most personal and cut the most deeply. That’s as close as any of us can get to seeing the cracks in our perspective lens. That’s where you start searching.

All the love and healing.

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
3 years ago

Okay well I have something I’d like some feedback on if anybody wants a shot at it.

I’ve been fearing for a while now that there’s going to be an ideological conflict within the church community I’ve been with, and it really looks more than ever like a sizeable chunk is sliding into fascism, and I would rather not be around for when such a conflict escalates into something really nasty. Yet another reason I’d like to be rid of it all as soon as possible.

Another issue is my student loans haven’t been paid back yet. Some time ago, my somewhat misinformed mother told me that my loans could be forgiven. She wouldn’t listen to the idea of such a thing not existing or having other consequences, so I went ahead and entered the “Repayment Assistance Program”, under which the provincial and federal governments would pay off my loans over the next 10 years. There are two problems with this. First, it’s not an actual loan forgiveness initiative (something I also attempted to explain to my family to no avail) and I’m pretty sure that they might ask me to start forking over some money again now that I have some form of paid work. So that’s a considerable unknown in any budgets I try to make. Second, as I found out much later, entering the RAP locks me out of borrowing more student loans if I want to go back to school, until my existing debt is fully paid off. I had an interest in continuing what I studied in undergrad, but I deemed it impossible under my current environment where my family actively hinders me from studying. That said, hypothetically I could pay off the remaining debt within a few months.

So now, from what I can determine, there are two things I could do here:

1. Focus on getting out of here as soon as possible. I’d set aside time every day to aggressively search for legit-looking rental listings that I could maybe afford, stretching my potential budget to do so. Before starting a job, I paid $450 a month out of my disability payments to help pay the bills, so that seems like a reasonable post-rent starter budget to go by. I honestly don’t really know, though. The average single’s budget seems to run into the $500 range, more if there’s a lot spent on entertainment and dining out (stuff I don’t really mind not having, but still). Plus there’s that student loan thing. One thing I find a little frustrating is that there’s often a contradiction between an online listing and the vacancy signs at the actual location. Just today, I found two buildings across the street from each other. Online, there’s a listing for one of the buildings, and the other is marked as vacant. At the scene, the second building is the one that lists a vacancy! Not only that, but I only know the price for the first building, but only found reviews — really good ones — on the second.

2. Save up money over the next few months in the hopes of paying off my student debt and possibly being in a more stable situation financially. I might get a raise, or I might get a better paying job. Even if I don’t, it could make the option of returning to school more immediately realizable. As much as I’d rather not stay here any longer than I have to (I’ve found myself on the verge of tears on several occasions, including today), waiting and seeing seems like a “smart” option on the surface. At the same time, I feel like I’ve been burned a lot before from waiting and seeing. That and I’d have less of a cushion to fall back on when I do move out.

Again, I’d be grateful for any outside insight on this stuff. Or we could talk about AGDQ. I dunno.

Shadowplay
3 years ago

@An Impish Pepper

(Which I read as Prepper for some convoluted reason – took 4 tries to get right!)

Different country, so I can’t give you any specific advice on the loans/education aspect.

Stay or go is nearly always a tough call and is highly subjective, so you’ll get as many different advices as there are people.

My first thoughts on reading:

1/ Are you physically and emotionally living in a tolerably safe place at the moment? I say tolerably because only you know your limits, and you have to make that call. None of us can.

If not, leave! Today if possible, but certainly sooner rather than later. Your well being is the most important thing. Full stop.

If you are though, my inclination would be to stop there and get rid of the loans first – since they’re going to be hanging over your head regardless of what you do, and are currently limiting your future options.

2/ You are considering “saving for a few months to pay off the loans.” Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this suggests the amount is not huge (or your job is exceptionally well paid!)
For planning purposes, I suggest you add a couple of extra months. If you run the numbers and you can pay off in 6 months with a lot of scrimping – aim for nine months with almost the same level of scrimping. Life continues, and other things will inevitably crop up that require money, so factoring that into your plans before you even start is wise. If things somehow don’t crop up, well, you’ve got a little bit of a laiunch pad laid by for whatever is next.

Good luck!

epitome of incomprehensibility

@An Impish Pepper – First off, sorry you have to deal with all that. For one, the way financial help is managed in North America often seems counterproductive – benefits get cut off or reduced so easily.

For the housing situation, can/would you room with someone else? Not long ago, I checked some roommate options on Craigslist with my friend – they’re searchable by budget and location, and often the people looking for roommates leave detailed enough messages. E.g. saying they’re queer-friendly, have specific amenities, etc.

Now, I haven’t contacted anyone on that site yet. I did have a good experience renting a room when I was doing my Master’s… but the house owners were contacts of my dad, and if your family is acting crappy you might not want to feel dependent on them like that. If you have friends or friends of friends you can ask about this, I’d do so.

@Surplus – Not blaming you for not having Twitter. I just thought of it because David regularly posts there and it’s the only large social media platform that I’m on.

@Catalpa – Thank you for articulating what I couldn’t (at least not well). And this goes for @Scildfreja too. Brains are super frustrating sometimes; e.g. I panic way too easily. Just last night, I woke up with my left ear ringing loudly* and thought, “Help, this isn’t normal, I must be dying.” The problem? Stuffy sinuses, therefore a blocked ear.

*Relatively. I have chronic tinnitus so my ears are always ringing, but usually I don’t hear/notice. It seems louder if my ears are blocked or everything’s quiet. Anyway. 🙂

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
3 years ago

@Scildfreja and @Catalpa have expressed this very well. It’s awe-full (and often horrible) just how much our brains and senses routinely conspire to misinform and misguide us (something Scild has often been very good at explaining to us, I think). The one many of us are most familiar with is probably the way depression lies to us and how difficult it is to see through that when you’re actually in it, but of course it goes for many other things too.

It is absolutely not the individual’s “fault” in any sense, but sometimes it helps to try to remind oneself how incredibly good the brain is at manufacturing patterns/agency/intent even where there isn’t any (and wow but the brain is amazingly good at doing this. Which of course is sometimes useful to us and can sometimes be harmful to us).

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
3 years ago

@An Impish Pepper,

Hi! I will try to help you!

First, gosh that situation with your church sounds horrid. I hope that you are able to extricate yourself. Don’t feel like you have to stop their slide. I mean, it’d be nice if you could, but one person against a social group is basically a no-go. Protect yourself and those you care about as best you’re able. Pull the rip cord.

As for the student loans issue, that sounds like something you can solve with math. And I’m always in favour of solutions that use numbers that have squiggles between them. I’d suggest sitting down and writing for an evening. Three little budgets:

1) A pessimistic budget, which over-estimates your expenses and under-estimates your income;
2) An optimistic budget, which under-estimates your expenses and over-estimates your income;
3) finally, a realistic budget, with your best guesses of each.

Do the realistic one last. And they don’t have to be detailed or heavily researched, just do your best and get’em done. That will give you a good idea of how long it might take to pay off your loans and let you plan an escape route.

My loans hung over my head for years, until my circumstances changed. At that point they got paid off in a matter of a couple months. It may be the same for you. Moving may open new opportunities; new jobs or new interactions. Hopefully your loan repayment schedule is kind.

Oh! Yes, and of course, you should do the same budget thing with your living expenses for moving out. That always has hidden expenses too, so do be careful. The urge to escape will push you out of the house, and you shouldn’t ignore that, but taking a long-term view may suggest that staying where you are for awhile to help pay those off might be best.

Not too helpful, that! Here, let me try again: You’ve been burned from “waiting and seeing”; staying in your rut isn’t healthy after all. So perhaps stay where you are but start planning your escape. Make your launch the most well-planned, well-prepared project in history. Make the Apollo Project jealous of your contingencies. Keep it in your head – you’re leaving. Schedule it. Get it ready. Clean your place up and box things you aren’t using over the next few months.

I know you can do it!

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
3 years ago

Re: the church thing

I guess the gist of it is I don’t believe anyone’s in danger but I’ve never felt really safe talking about my problems with people in that community. There used to be some okay people in the past, but people have come and gone over the years, and so have my beliefs regarding politics and religion. I guess I was always kind of left-wing with some centrist views, but over time I was pushed further to the left and stopped believing in a literalist god who has a mysterious and arbitrary obsession with people’s personal lives at the expense of the world as a whole. I started hanging out with the newer crowds to see if it would be reasonable for me to open up with them, but around the same time, there was this fundamentalist who came along…

I don’t know how much of this is worth elaborating on. My last comment was from hours after being in the same group as him going out to lunch. It’s possible that he just wants people to believe that more people are “on his side” than there actually are. Or maybe I’m wasting effort second-guessing my assessment/interpretation/communication of the situation. The most obviously liberal people have seemingly all left and moved on, and most of the rest are mild Peterson admirers at best.

@epitome of incomprehensibility

I’ve been reluctant to live with roommates due to my own lack of self-confidence. Having a roommate for a prolonged period would expose my daily living, my habits, etc. to someone else, and vice versa. It’s scary to think about for me. I guess I’d be open to it if I really had to, though.

Finding friends to room with sounds like a better idea, but I’ve lost touch with pretty much all of my friends. I have some of them on Facebook, but I seldom use Facebook and don’t even have a profile picture so I’m not sure how successful I would be at reaching out to old friends from university or high school again. I’ve hardly met any new people since I graduated, and they’re mostly people I’ve met in employment agencies so I don’t know them all that well.

@Shadowplay and Scildfreja

My debt at graduation was not as high as it could have been due to scholarships early on as well as disability payments. Plus, it’s been hacked away at for the past four years now. I have a part-time minimum wage job now, and it’s put me in this weird situation of having too little money to know what to do with. I already ran a small surplus most months, but now I have over half the debt amount saved up and it does actually seem like it could be paid off within a year, at least if my debit and credit history are any indication.

As far as living expenses go, I’ve been able to ballpark some of them. I’ve seen some of my family’s grocery and utility bills, so I have somewhat of an idea of how much those would eat up. I’ve been meaning to pay more attention to that stuff. Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I’ll do my best!

Catalpa
Catalpa
3 years ago

I’ve been reluctant to live with roommates due to my own lack of self-confidence. Having a roommate for a prolonged period would expose my daily living, my habits, etc. to someone else, and vice versa. It’s scary to think about for me. I guess I’d be open to it if I really had to, though.

You live with your family right now, right? I can almost guarantee that any roommates you have will be far less nosy and judgemental than your family. In my experience, as long as your habits aren’t intrusive/inconsiderate (e.g. loud music during night hours, lack of hygiene in common areas, damaging/stealing other’s possessions), then your roommates really don’t care what you do.

Source: Almost 10 years of living with various roommates while being an incredibly introverted weirdo.

That said, you know your own comfort zone best. If it’s not something you want to deal with, that’s your call.

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
3 years ago

Now that we’re back to New Year’s resolutions again, here are a few of mine. For the amusement of those still reading this thread. 😀

I’m going to try to get halfway caught up on all these craft projects I’ve left lying around for years, so they can be displayed and enjoyed by everyone, not just reside in my imagination where it does no good. I also want to brush up on my drawing/art skills that I haven’t touched in years, so I can revive my dreams of being an artist again.

And I want to learn how to knit and crochet things. I found the neatest poseable dragon on Ravelry, and I really want to try it out sometime soon.

Also, I want to fix my credit history and pay off enough of my outstanding debts to be able to get a bank loan again, if/when I need that kind of money for something, like a car repair. And save up money for my 401k, as I’m tired of letting someone else’s bad financial decision (done ‘for my own good’ >.< ) continue to rule my life.

Will I actually get off my duff to do all that plus more (like getting myself fit enough to try martial arts stuff)? Stay tuned.

A. Noyd
A. Noyd
3 years ago

If I ever make a list of the things I ask my cats, the first thing on it will be, “Is that actually edible or are you just being stubborn?” The second thing will be, “Can you please stop making that horrible grinding noise?”

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
3 years ago

@Catalpa

There have certainly been a number of times I put myself in situations I was unfamiliar with and it turned out not nearly as badly as I had feared. I still suffer from a lot of self-consciousness and have trouble looking at myself in the mirror, though I think I’ve improved on that despite everything. Rooming with strangers still seems like kind of a mixed bag from what I’ve heard, but at this point I’m pretty sure I’ll never have a future plan in place if I try to make it depend on the safest and most ideal scenario.

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