... dance, fitness, food, health, life...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Money Matters, Part 2

A few days ago, I vented my frustrations about being unable to afford the types of groceries I should be eating. Today I will add the next installation to the Money Matters two-part series...

Today I shall bitch about the quasi-needs and wants that don't fit well (if at all) into my meager budget. I'll start with the quasi-needs...

"Quasi-needs" are things that I need but won't literally die without. They are needs because they're everyday necessities to keep hygienic and healthy. I can't begin to tell you how frustrating it is when I'm doing acrobatics in the bathroom to squeeze out the last bits of toothpaste because I'm concerned about spending the money on a new tube. On toothpaste! The quasi-needs list is extensive: toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, sunscreen, chapstick, tampons, shampoo, body wash, tylenol or ibuprofen, bandaids, athletic tape, laundry detergent, dish soap, housecold cleaners, tissues, toilet paper... you get the idea.

The wants are extensive, too. They range from makeup to clothes to dance gear to gas in my car to dinner out.

"But Jessi, you don't need makeup!" Please. I know I won't die without it, but I like makeup and I'm going to wear it. Even on the most basic makeup days, I don't like leaving the house without mascara, base, blush and some kind of lip goop. I look washed-out and tired without makeup. Once upon a time, I started buying all my makeup and skincare stuff at The Body Shop. They are organic, fair-trade, and probably most important to me, no animal testing. BUT, like good, whole food, I can't afford it. So I swallow the guilt of not following my principles and use the cheap stuff.

Needing new socks or undies isn't just a matter of running out and grabbing what I need anymore. I'm poking holes through my ballet slippers and have one leotard that rotates between several classes - it isn't long before that leotard is in bad need of washing. Tights. Sports bras. Workout/dance clothes. Gas in my car to get to school, work, and rehearsals because taking the bus or riding my bike are not always viable options. An oil change. I don't even want to know what other kind of maintenance work my poor car needs, as its been way too long since the last check-up on it. And while dinner out or a movie are pretty much last on the priority lists, it gets old and embarrassing telling people "thank you, but I can't afford it" time and time again.

I know my present circumstances are a result of choices I've made. And in no way do I regret going back to school. I knew I would have to make sacrifices by doing so. That doesn't mean I'm not frustrated as hell. And tired. I mean seriously... stressing out about buying toothpaste and socks?? I never went through this during my first round of college. A change has got to come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Money Matters, Part 1

I dance about 6 days a week now, ranging from 3-5 hours per day. That doesn't count time I practice on my own, or any other dancing I might do (swing, hip hop). Needless to say, I need to eat A LOT. I had decent metabolism before, but now its like I have the giant venus fly trap from Little Shop of Horrors - "feed me, Jessi, feeeeeeed meeee!!! " - inside my belly.

I need meat. I need veggies and fruits. I need good calories, people! But my budget doesn't support it... My grocery cart gets filled with boxed mac'n'cheese, tuna, canned soup, cheese and bread (all generic store brands, by the way). Oh, and produce includes apples, bananas and potatoes. Grapefruit for occasional variety, when and if they're on sale. Figuring out how to fuel my body on the cheap but healthfully is like trying to do a calculus exam without a calculator. Impossible. "Cheap" and "healthy" cancel each other out.

I hate eating the processed food that I do. I know the calories aren't great quality. I've taken enough nutrition and science classes to know what's going on in those packages, and some things give me the heebie jeebies. And its not just "this could give me cancer someday". I need good calories so my body has quality fuel to run on and repair itself with, boost the immune system, the whole bit. Being a successful dancer for as long as possible means taking care of my body - sleeping enough, dancing smart, eating well... This really bugs me.

So what's the solution?? I can't exactly cut down to one meal a day so I can buy the good stuff... that would be anarchy from the beast within, and bad news for everyone around me. I guess for now I just have to ignore the lab-created bright yellow-orange of my mac'n'cheese and just swallow...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Week 1 Musings

Well, I got through Week 1 of the fall '08 semester in one (sore) piece. Since its been awhile since I last wrote, I figured I'd jot down some thoughts about the week and coming semester...

As expected, I was crazy sore by Friday. And bruised up. That's what happens when you only take ballet once a week during the summer, and then take the two weeks prior to school off completely. I think I'm going to enjoy my classes, albeit they will be challenging. That's a good thing, though - growth doesn't happen without a challenge. I'm taking this Pedagogy class which I'm both excited nervous for... essentially I'm learning how to construct and teach a basic ballet lesson, which is what makes me nervous. It may not seem too difficult at face value, but for one, I still consider myself a ballet novice, and second, my professor is all business. I think it's going to be my toughest class.

Besides classes, we had auditions for the fall senior dance concert. How it works is, three seniors collaborate to put together an entire dance concert as their senior thesis. It includes creating choreography, auditioning dancers, doing all the publicity, and figuring out the entire technical plan for the actual performances. And I have no doubt there's even more work than that. These concerts are a big deal and the seniors put a lot of work into them. I made it into the concert this semester!! I'm rather happy about this... auditioning last year was rough, which wasn't entirely surprising. It was my first year in the program, after all, plus I was recovering from surgery for a broken wrist. I got all kinds of discouraged last year that I would "never" make it into any piece, but lo and behold, I did this time. I'm very grateful for this!

I'm still figuring out my work schedule for this semester, too... I'm hoping (and kinda needing) to work 30 hours a week. I hope I'm not being too optimistic, in typical Jessi fashion, with this goal. In order to make ends meet, though, I need to make it happen. We'll see. I'm still shifting around my schedule and figuring out priorities, trying to find the "perfect" balance between school, work, my swing troupe, a social life, and the ever-elusive me-time. It's always a work in progress...