New iMac

So, my flat-screen/round-base iMac (the first flat-screen iMac, ordered within hours of being announced) died last year.  And my iBook (the last update before they switched to intel processors – which I received barely in time for NaNoWriMo 2004) is growing weary under the weight of being my full-time work computer.  It crashed a couple of times during NaNoWriMo 2008, literally going completely to off without warning, and has been slowing down & giving trouble more and more lately.  I need to take the strain off it – perhaps if I put it back to light use, primarily for word processing and web browsing, it will survive?

So last November, I started shopping for a new Mac.  The decision between a Macbook Pro and an iMac has been (still is, to an extent) a difficult one.  On one hand, the Macbook Pro costs more while giving less (less screen being the biggest point against it, but less processing power, less HDD, less powerful graphics are all factors, too), but on the other hand, a laptop is portable & is what I’m currently used to for my primary computer.  Portability is important to me, and if my iBook actually does die, the only portable I’ll have is my several-years-old Walmart-black-friday-sale HP laptop which has pretty much been relegated to staying plugged into the TV full time so we can watch Hulu & Netflix on TV – this has been its only task for so long that I recently cleaned off so much dust from its screen that it had literally been opaque and unusable with dust.  Anyway… I’d get another lower-end laptop, like I have in the past, and probably be served well by it, but Apple didn’t put a single firewire port on the current generation of Macbooks.

I need firewire.  The audio and video equipment I bought last year for my business all connects via firewire.  I have at least two external HDD enclosures that connect via firewire.  (Although apparently I have one that can do both FW & USB.)  So the decision, last Fall when I started shopping, was between the Macbook Pro and the iMac.  Preferably the 24″ iMac – more screen real estate seems very, very welcome after my primary computer for the last 4+ years being a 12″ iBook with a fixed resolution of 1024×768.  The Macbook Pro was looking to be over $2k by itself (all prices excluding tax & including education discounts) well-configured.  I could configure an “okay” 20″ iMac for under $1.5k and really wanted the 24″ iMac which brought the price up between $1.8k & $2k.  A lot of money.  An opportunity cost.  But the iMac line hadn’t been updated in a long time, so – because that’s how Apple does it – the value of the iMac line was going down all the time.  I knew Apple would update the line with new hardware, keep the prices the same, and the old models’ prices would drop… soon.  So I decided to wait until either: Apple updated the iMac line & I either couldn’t resist the exciting new updates or the old models became more affordable, or my iBook died & I literally had to get a new Mac ASAP just to keep working.

Apple updated the iMac line 9 days ago.  I spent a full day studying the new models & reading forums to try to get a handle on the differences between the old models & the new models, thinking about pricing & money & configurations & how differences would effect the work I do and would like to do.  (ie: I do a lot of audio work, but haven’t been doing video because my computer nearly buckled under the strain of it – I would like to be doing a lot more video)  I considered rumors going around.  Before the new hardware was announced, there was speculation that Apple would announce new hardware on March 24th. Since which time, new iMacs, new Mac Pros, new Mac Minis, new iPod Shuffles, and updated Airport & Time Capsules have come out, and Apple has officially stated that on the 17th they’ll be showing a preview of the iPhone 3.0 software.  Maybe there’s still going to be an announcement on the 24th – speculation points to a software announcement (my research & brain says probably Final Cut Studio 3 will finally be announced/released on the 24th, if anything – which is why I didn’t add Final Cut Studio 2 to my cart last night), but there’s no way to know except to wait.  There’s the possibility that it will be something to do with Snow Leopard, their next OS upgrade, but that’s not expected to ship until summer.

My determination on the new hardware was, mostly: if I can get a good deal on previous-generation hardware, I’ll still be satisfied.  The new hardware is better in a few small ways, but none of them are knock-your-socks-off ways.  If I ordered a new iMac, I could configure it with a 1Tb drive, for example, or put an optional ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB into it for another couple hundred bucks.  Apparently the mid-line card (ie: the one I could actually afford) is simply the old top-of-the line card with a new name – I haven’t been paying attention, lately, but it seems nVidia is trying to confuse people my intentionally re-branding their video cards in confusing ways and re-releasing them.  Regardless, I’ve been watching for a refurbished previous-generation iMac in a configuration I’d be satisfied with for the last week or so, while watching for new announcements/rumors.  Apple changes the options in their refurbished computers listed online as their stock changes (it literally changed while I was posting this, from the 4 iMac configurations listed last night to 7 different configurations right now – there’s a pretty reasonable 20″ model for about half what I paid on there, right now…), so it’s good to have a level head, know what you want and what you’re willing to pay, and keep yourself updated.

Last night they had a configuration I wanted at a price only a teeny bit higher than I would have liked (but certainly in range of what I’ve been considering), and I applied for their 12-months-same-as-cash offer … and was approved.  Which is weird, if only because I reported my income at the new, lower, effectively-single-income level & they ran a credit report on me… Still, I was approved & could either order immediately or hope the card arrives within the 30 days I had to make the order & still get the same-as-cash offer.  So I ordered the following:

Refurbished iMac 24-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

24-inch glossy widescreen display
2GB memory
500GB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB memory
Built-in iSight Camera


The processor is slightly faster than the current top-of-the-line iMac, I’m about to go shopping for 4GB of RAM for it (if I can’t find it for under $50-$60, I’ll just wait and use the 2GB it ships with until the price drops), 500GB should be enough room for a while, especially if I can get the HDD out of my dead iMac and into an enclosure, and that graphics card is the old top-of-the-line; it’s the one I would have wanted in a new iMac.  I tossed a Mac Box Set Family Pack (Leopard, iLife ’09, & iWork ’09 for up to 5 Macs – the new one will have Leopard, but not the ’09 packages, and the other 2 Macs in the house don’t even have Leopard yet) into my cart & some new headphones for my iPhone (I broke mine a year ago, yesterday), so they’d be 12-months same-as-cash, too, and according to, the whole thing is already “prepared for shipment”.  In a few days I’ll have a new work-horse in the house.  A tax-deductable one, since I literally only expect to use it for work, right now.  It’s very exciting.

And, yes, I know I just wrote around 1300 words that could have been summed up in a sentence or two.  Something like: “My old iMac died last Fall and I decided to wait for the iMac line to be refreshed, which they did about a week ago, before making my decision. Last night I ordered a refurbished previous-generation iMac which is comparable to the new top-of-the-line, but $500 cheaper, at $1599.”

Opportunity cost

This is a post about money.  Over the years I’ve discovered that generally the “haves,” the people who have money, do not like to talk about it, not in any meaningful or personal way.  They find discussions of one’s own money to be distasteful, perhaps even vulgar.  The “have nots,” on the other hand, are not subject to this problem.  Perhaps there is some distinction we (the people who don’t have enough money) can’t yet see between talking about our own money and talking about other people’s money – because the “haves” have no problem talking about other people’s money and what they think should be done with it.  If you are among those who will experience a bad taste in your mouth reading me writing about my own money, either go away or become a benefactor/patron-of-the-arts so I can get out of this “have not” situation and stop bothering you by mentioning money.

Note: this post is over 2600 words long.

Continue reading Opportunity cost

What am I doing?

I can’t constantly be working.  Sometimes, a lot of times, I feel like I’m responsible to, anyway.  For example, tonight, it’s late, I’m up late, Mandy’s already fast asleep (for hours, now), I’m tired but I don’t feel like sleeping yet, but I don’t know what I want to do.  Probably nothing.  I don’t know.  Not a movie, I didn’t feel (two hours ago, when this started) like I wanted to be up that long.  Maybe a video game, but which one, maybe this, maybe that, maybe lay in bed tossing and turning and disturbing Mandy’s sleep.  I don’t know.  Took a nap, earlier, accidentally, because I was feeling bad and went to bed to pout and curled up in a ball and then it was two hours later and Mandy was waking me up, and she wanted to do something, but she didn’t know what and an hour later she was near to passing out, herself.  It was a day today.  An Art Walk day.  Local.  North Phoenix.  Angel’s Serenity – no longer slash Intatto Coffee.  Intatto Coffee closed.  Apparently two weeks ago, without me noticing it.  Or a lot of other people, apparently; people were trying to go in for a coffee all day and turning away disappointed.  I hear rumor someone else will open a new coffee shop in that location, though.  Weird choice, if you ask me.  So, up early on a Saturday, get stuff ready, load the car, yadda yadda Art Walk yadda yadda, come home, unload, it’s eight hours later and I sold one mini-painting and one book and made $25 for eight hours work, well, plus a couple hours’ work on the painting, plus … how do you figure time and effort into the book?  It was a copy of Worth 1k — Volume 2, actually, which prior to today I believe I have never sold a copy, so that was … different, interesting, good, really good actually, because she stood there and read nearly the entire book, then walked off for a bit and actually came back and still bought it, so she must really have liked it, yes?  Awesome.  But let’s see, not counting the hours I spent thinking about and writing the thing over the course of three months last year and focusing instead on the 40-100 hours (I didn’t exactly keep a log) I spent scanning in pages, cleaning up images, re-typing all the poems in their extremely specific visual constructions, getting the layout print-ready, writing copy, designing, modifying, redesigning, and re-working the cover image (look how much better the Volume 2 cover is than the Volume 1 cover – that took a while), and everything else it took to get it ready for print, plus the >$100 (I don’t feel like looking up the actual number, right now) it cost to get the title set up with my printer/distributor, and not accounting for the cost of the couple dozen copies of the book I ordered to be able to have the opportunity to sell them at all (in person – you can always order from your local/online bookseller and a copy will be printed and sent to you), selling one $10 copy of the book today brings the value of my time to…  wait, it doesn’t even make up for the money already spent, so I guess it’s like negative infinity dollars per hour if I calculate it that way, but let’s pretend it was just 8 hours at the art walk and two hours on the painting and $25 revenue and we’ll pretend the gas to get there and back again was free, so that I’m earing the round value of $2.50/hr for my work today.  Which may relate directly to why I passed out, curled up in a ball, this evening.  It may also relate to my recent post about money where I noted that an acquaintence of mine sometimes earns $250/hr or more for his creative work.  There’s hope, of course, because someone said they really wanted one of my paintings (I only brought the cheap ones out today – 18 paintings, 16×20″, with a “Halloween Special” price of $66.66 – that apparently didn’t help move them…), and would email me about or save up for it or something, and the same thing happened at the last art walk and they actually did email me about it later, so maybe that’ll happen again, and did I mention that my art apparently targets an audience in the 13 to 16 year old range?  Seriously, that seems to be who is most interested in and excited by my work, who really really, sometimes jumping up and down and dragging their friends and family over to see it, wants my art and who -because they’re teenagers?- can’t afford to buy it, even at my current (depressed) rates.  Which may also have been a factor in my feeling bad this evening; the mini-painting I sold today was also to a teenager, but I suppose that’s part of why I wanted to have paintings under $20, and I know that teenagers and young people generally seem to like my work.  But it’s still somewhat disappointing, because teenagers don’t exactly spend enough money on original art to support me.  Anyway, so, Mandy went to bed and Heath went to work and I was feeling ansty, tired from working all day, trying to make sales at the art walk, I think I got a bit too much sun, but my olive/italian skin will just turn that pink into a winter tan by Monday morning, and I didn’t want to really go to sleep, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but there was still this nagging feeling, this first reaction I seem to have to every time I wonder, what do I want to do, what should I do, what am I doing, and it’s that I should be working.  So, right now it’s that I should be typing up my new novel – another 77 pages to go of the rough draft, then a once-over, then print a copy and do another reading, then maybe get several copies printed for advance copies to go out to try to get blurbs (I’m thinking of sending copies to Max Brooks and The Lizardman at the very least, since I mention them in the book, and a blurb from either of them would be neat, though getting their addresses perhaps less so) and editing help from friends/family/pets, and I was hoping to already have the typing done but I’ve been having trouble concentrating lately, focusing, really, and I’ve had several bad days recently, even one where I couldn’t get myself out of bed before noon because I felt so bad, and anyway, right now there’s that stack of pages sitting there, taunting me, making me feel bad for writing this blog post instead of typing away at that, not to mention church in the morning (do I have to go?  Right now I don’t feel like going, I don’t feel up to it, especially since my ‘life group’, instead of doing a normal gathering/bible-study tomorrow evening is having a halloween party that I really don’t want to go to, and the whole social thing has me feeling pretty lousy right now, and … ugh. If/when we go to church in the morning, they’re going to be there, along with everyone else, and everyone’s going to want/expect me to be friendly and happy and social and right now, and probably in a few hours, I don’t feel like being there much at all, especially with people) and I’m supposed to get up in a few hours for that and I ought to be sleeping if I’m not getting any work done, not goofing off, not playing games or blogging or twittering or plurking or reading feeds or whatever else it is I might do with my time, and it always goes back and goes back and goes back to the same thing, the I should be working thing, the why aren’t you painting or writing or typing or recording or something, something, something, accomplishing something, and then on the other hand that just fuels what’s been bothering me the most lately, which is money, and the value of my time, because if I put in another 10hrs typing this thing and then probably 20 to 50 hours designing the cover and writing the copy for the cover (unless I decide to paint the thing on canvas, and then probably a lot longer), then spend $110 getting it set up at the printer, account for the cost of the ISBNs, then spend more to get copies printed, then again disocunt the hundreds of hours over the last 4 months I spent actually writing the first draft, then there’s the ten to twenty hours reformatting the thing for eight eBook formats and getting it online in three different places, and until/unless this one sells more copies than any book I’ve ever put in print it still won’t reach the break-even point where I can divide income by time and get any sort of reasonable number that has to do with what my time is worth.  I keep having to see that my art, which isn’t making a lot of money on its own, is literally paying for my publishing business to keep operating.  I keep having to see that my time, based on the money I’m actually bringing in right now, isn’t really worth anything – and is worth less than nothing if I try to account for the publishing side.  Not worth anything, monetarily.  Not worth a hill of beans.  So all those people who think time is money, they think my life is a waste.  A waste.  A total waste.  And since they’re also the ones who control things like the supply of food and power and most everything else, their opinion matters, and matters enough to make me feel pretty darn bad.  But then there’s the value of what I’m doing to me, to my family, to the handful of people who have risked a few dollars here or a few hours there to see what it is I’ve been doing, and hopefully to more people in the future.  There’s the value of not working a job I hate, the value of being able to do what I love, the value of being able to follow my talent and my inspiration and to be creative instead of economic.  And that value is unfortunately diminished by this constant feeling, this oppressive feeling that I ought to be working all the time, that if I’m not sleeping or cooking I should probably be working, that somehow I don’t deserve to relax.  Just sitting still for an hour or three in the evening after Mandy comes home from work is pretty anxious for me most nights, when it should be relaxing, because even in the midst of watching some program we both enjoy, I’m thinking, in the back of my mind, that I ought to be working, I ought to get up from the living room, go sit down at a computer, and type.  That I should find a piece of paper and a pencil and sketch something, a canvas and paint and get something going, that sitting still isn’t accomplishing anything and I’m wasting time by not working.  And that feeling is diminishing the value of the work, diminishing the reward of doing what I love by turning it into something I have to do.  By making it feel like it’s work, work, work, or starve.  By making it feel like sitting down and typing up my next book is always, always, a better choice of things to do that anything else, than relaxing, than sleeping, than playing games or watching movies or being social or helping friends in need.  By making it feel like none of those other things have value.  Which, with the added weight of the recent thoughts of the hourly value of my work coming in somewhere between negative infinity and $2.50/hr most of the time, gives me an overwhelming feeling that my entire life is without value, and meaningless.  Like no matter what I’m doing, it’s a waste of time.  Like working is more valuable than anything else, and working isn’t even able to bring in more money than it costs to get the work done, like my whole existence, even when doing what I love (loved? can I get back to that place?), is worthless, valueless, meaningless, and that… well, from there, where can I go?  What can I do?  I become paralyzed.  It’s punishing to work (if aware of the existence of money), and it’s worse to do anything else.

Did I mention I met another local author, today?  A published author of ‘Speculative Fiction’ whose comments -mostly not because that was what he was intending- made me feel like crap.  Made me feel like my choice to start my own publishing company was wrong, like the ignorant fool that I am for a variety of reasons ranging from my not ever having been part of a writing group, to my not writing in a particualr genre, to my not joining any of the major, national associations of writers, to my views of the future of publishing, and even to -apparently- my writing itself, after he took a brief flip through one of my books.  But he let me know about his writing group and gave me info about where and when they meet, so maybe after I’m done feeling sorry for myself I’ll go meet with them.  Or not.  Always easier to not do, right?

I need to find a way to relax, to let go, to stop worrying about working all the time, to stop freaking about about the value of my time.  To have faith that God will provide for my family – He always has, He’ll always love us, and did you see how well he took care of the birds of the air?  I’m sure we’ll be fine.  I was excited a couple of weeks ago because I’d reached a point of profit, according to my accounting software, and barring any unforseen expenses, all future sales this year would have been profitable.  If the profits actually reached $400 or more, I’d even have to pay social security taxes!  But then I realized that I’m planning on publishing two new books before Christmas, and that between the up-front costs of that and paying for the Art Walk for November and December, I’ll have to have some pretty sweet sales to get that far into profitable.  Which is to say that after working hard from March through the end of the year, the next financial contribution of my work -according to accounting & tax rules- will probably come out to nearly $0.  If I were counting all the money I spent on “assets” (which actually costs me money, right now, thank you very much bookkeeping principles) this year I’m way, way in the negative.  But the near-$0 is somewhat refreshing, perhaps, for my mental outlook because hopefully it can take some of the pressure off.  Because even without my contributing financially at all since I left ICE in March, we’re doing fine.  We’re taken care of.  The money we’ve needed has come at the right times to pay the bills.  We’re not getting ahead of our pre-existing debt any time soon, but we’re not delinquent on any of it, either, and there’s food on the table.  Every day.  Every night.  Instead of seeing this in the negative, instead of reading this as ten months’ work worth $0, I’m going to try to look at it as a sign that it’s safe not to be worrying about the cost/value of every minute, of every hour, of every choice about what to do.  I’m going to try to look at this as an indication that if I work hard and do what I’m led to do, and if I take advantage of the opportunities, inspirations, et cetera that just keep coming at the right times, and if I follow my talents naturally, I’ll continue to be taken care of, our needs will continue to be met, and things will just get better and better.  I’ll feel better about the work I’m doing and -if the waxing and waning of this year, and the thirty that came before them, are any indication- I’ll get more done, and better work done, not thinking about it and not beating myself up about working all the time.  I’ll create more art, better stories, and sell more of both by letting go, by letting myself just do what comes naturally, by letting go of worry.  I know what needs to be done, I understand deadlines, obligations, and my own over-amplified perfectionism / high standards / desire to create value, and I can and will create great things if I just stop trying, stop worrying, and start doing.

One more thing.  I’ve been thinking of trying to adapt one of my paintings to another format.  Maybe poster prints, maybe t-shirts.  What would you pay for a poster of it, and what would you be willing to pay for a shirt?

Thinking about money makes me nauseous

Ugh. So, whatever and ever, I was taking a break from typing up my new novel, poking around on the web, on Twitter, on Plurk, and I was reading a blog post by someone I know (actually know, in person; not just some internet friend, but someone I’ve actually spoken to, more than once, face to face), and I got nauseous and had to go lay down for a few minutes. First I tried just sitting down, away from the computer, but I felt really sick, and it wasn’t enough; I had to lay down in the cool of my bed and close my eyes and try to recover.

The blog post itself, its subject, wasn’t the problem. Tyson Crosbie, a local photographer, made this blog post about some trouble he’d had with a potential client. The client claimed to have business experience, but wasn’t familiar with professional photographers’ practices and rates (apparently), and tried to negotiate a significantly lower price in a somewhat dishonest way (read the post for all the details), and Tyson was letting his community know as a sort of warning about not just that particular client, but dishonest negotiating tactics to keep an eye out for, generally. To make the situation clear, Tyson provided both a link to his standard pricing schedule, and gave a detailed account of the specifics of what was being negotiated. (Again, follow the links for all the details.)

Now, I’m aware I’m not familiar with what professional photographers charge for their services, especially with regards to the purchasing of the rights to a particular image, so just looking at things like the first two items on his pricing page, setting the value of a single image at upwards of $300-$500, already made me a little queasy. This is not something I’ve ever looked into, partially because I knew it was more than I felt was reasonable, and I didn’t find it worthwhile to bother to investigate any more than my doing price-comparisons between various models of Ferrari would be. It’s out of my financial range, there’s no point to look. But, it was a friend’s blog post, a friend’s business, so I went ahead and looked, so I could follow along with the post. The numbers in the pricing schedule made me feel a little worse. But I read the rest of the post, anyway.

And that’s where I really started to get sick. Apparently Tyson earns, in a single day working for a “National” client, a multiple of my business’s year-to-date Gross Revenue. That includes all art sales (several times what I’ve earned in previous years), and book sales through all channels. Even at significantly discounted rates on time and on the price per product shot, the proposed amount Tyson would have earned for a week of work (I don’t know, maybe there’s more time involved than the number of days he’s listing, but even if it were two weeks’ worth of work, or a month’s, the comparison I’m about to make is still a very strong one) for that client would be enough money that (combined with my wife’s salary) all our expenses would be met for well over a year, without my having to earn another penny in that time. Now, I don’t know how much business Tyson is getting right now, how much work at these rates he’s able to draw in consistently, but if he worked just four weeks like that, it would replace my wife’s salary, too. Which is to say that theoretically his earning power individually is perhaps as much as twelve times that of my dual-income family. Practicably, he probably isn’t working 5 days a week, 50+ weeks a year, but it’s still an about order of magnitude more income, if he’s working half as hard as I know I am.

I had no idea. Well, I knew that this society allowed vast disparity in income (which equates directly to quality of life below a certain threshold) between the richest and the poorest of its members, but I know I’m not the poorest, and I know he’s not (quite) the richest. Ethically, though, I have trouble understanding how such disparities can be allowed to persist. How can one person be allowed to have enough income to comfortably support a dozen families, while there are families struggling to simply have their basic needs met? It isn’t just. Thinking about it literally made me feel so sick I had to lay down and shut my eyes to this world.
Continue reading Thinking about money makes me nauseous

Not going back to school right now

I don’t remember if I mentioned it here before or not, but after I left ICE to begin working on my own projects full time, one of the things Mandy and I considered was that one of us might go back to school full time. A major factor of this is that student loans / financial aid are designed to cover all the costs of going to school, from tuition and fees to transportation, room and board – if I could get sufficient financial aid, I could go back to school, finish my Studio Art B.F.A. (which I believe would help not only with creating art but with integrating into the ‘Art World’ and with selling art to all the people who keep asking where I studied), and have several years of lead time to get my projects paying enough to cover the difference between Mandy’s single salary and our living expenses. ie: I’d get an education, that fancy sheet of paper that so many people seem to think proves you’re worth something, we’d get the immediate financial assistance we need to get by right now, and we’d get the time to build my businesses up to a point where their income might be more steady and significant. It sounded like win/win/win/win/win, so I submitted my FAFSA and applied for re-admission to ASU.

Due to a “paperwork” problem (which is insane, since the entire thing is digital), my transcripts took several tries and over two months to get from PVCC to ASU, so I didn’t get officially re-admitted to ASU until a couple of weeks ago. I promptly went down to ASU for advisement and to submit some paperwork to their financial aid department, neither of which I could do before being re-admitted. The financial paperwork was a revision of our financial position, since the FAFSA was based on last year’s taxes and this year I’m not working full time and expect to make something like $20k less as a household this year over last year, depending on how sales go in the next six months. (Anyone want to offer $20k for a painting? It would be the height of irony, far better than buying ‘I Am Rich’ for your iPhone.) Show the change in financial status, write a letter about it, fill out a form, and they’ll re-consider your financial need and revise their financial offer.

While waiting two months for a file to be electronically transmitted less than 25 miles, we had time to consider -at length- many of the pros and cons of my attending school, and its feasibility. Notwithstanding the immense increase in our personal debt that the student loans would create (student loans being one of the least terrible forms of debt on your credit report), there was plenty to consider. If attending school full time, would I have [any|enough] time to work on personal projects, new art, new books, et cetera? How much money would need to be offered above the cost of attendance to cover living expenses, including the cost of driving back and forth to Tempe? What is the real value of a degree? Would I be able to cope with Academia on a constant basis for three to four more years? Would I learn anything worthwhile that I couldn’t just teach myself? On and on, back and forth, in conversation, thought, and prayer while we waited…

By the time I managed to get PVCC to actually send the relevant information to ASU and get re-admitted there, I had determined both what the financial aid offer needed to be in order to attendance to be financially possible (ie: without causing us to starve even faster) and that if re-admitted and appropriate financial aid was offered I would be attending this Fall. The initial aid offer was based on “zero need” from last year’s tax numbers, and was about 60% of what we would actually need, all in Unsubsidized loans (which means that interest accrues while you attend school). Friday I got the letter from ASU advising of their updated offer (which I had seen online this time last week, but wanted to wait for the paperwork, in case that wasn’t their final revision) of aid, which was based on a need which they had adjusted by almost exactly the amount more we needed to be offered to afford school. Except that despite the significant change in calculated need, the dollar amount of the “new” offer was exactly the same. A little over half of it was now in Subsidized loans (which means that interest doesn’t start accruing until you’re done with school) and the rest was still in Unsubsidized loans.

Well, fuck. That doesn’t help, not at all. Not in the slightest. Except that it does make my decision for me: I cannot attend ASU this Fall.

So I’ve already gone through, this weekend, and declined their insufficient financial aid offer and withdrawn myself completely from classes. I should probably send a couple of courtesy emails to my adviser and a professor in the Art Department I’d emailed to say I was coming back… thank them and let them know I’m not… But otherwise, that thought, that dream, is over for now. It’s back to the grindstone for me (not that I’ve really been away), back to trying to make enough to eat from my art and my books.