December 26, 2018 • Musings
¡Katie B Funk¡ is the Program & Marketing Coordinator for Minerva Financial Arts. Occasionally, she shares her food-related financial musings. Find her creative work online here and more about her role with Minerva Financial Arts here.
As a recent graduate with an MFA degree under my belt, I find myself in the all too familiar pickle: mounting student loan debt with a forbearance window dwindling down to mere days, and the scraping sound of nickels against dimes in my bank account. I would consider myself an illustrative writer, in that as I write, I often imagine what it is I am writing about down to the color of the object or the more abstract scent of a memory. Naturally, now I’m thinking about pickles. And the horrendously tinny sound my change bucket makes when I’m desperately fishing around for a sixth quarter to get my laundry into the basement driers of my apartment complex.
If you knew me in person, you wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw me donning my pickle sweater. I’ve got a cheeseburger sweater too, as well as a pancake version, one showing an impossibly tall stack of doughnuts, even a Ramen noodle one! But the pickle? It has a certain aura about it people tend not to forget. It really is as great as it sounds – the material itself is your regular poly-cotton blend, with a printed pattern of whole, wet and shiny green pickles covering every inch, as if you were a pickle inside the restaurant grade jar itself.
I like a good dill pickle as much as the next person, but I think sweet gherkins are the absolute best. Also up for debate is whether or not I believe that I can pay off my student loan debt…
Even with the most earworm “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” mantra from “C’Mon N’ Ride It” repeating in my head, I in no way, shape, form, or pickling process believe that I can pay off my student loan debt. There is simply just too much to be paid back with too little income in return. Things are especially tight with all the other monthly bills and fun things I want to do like buy more food sweaters. I imagine endlessly scooping up and throwing money out of a mountainside window when I remember the even nastier monster called interest that comes with this two-for-one nightmare. Barely remove any money from my savings account to pay for bills and it feels like exsanguination; letting debt sit there as an alternative and it feels like living with a ghost. At least the loan company is being kind enough to wait until the day after Christmas this year to suck $832.10 automatically from my account… – cue to me running to the bank right after this and closing all my bank accounts, stuffing that money under my mattress 1920s style.
So what should I do? Make more comparisons of money to pickles of course, because what good is procrastination if it’s not at least creative?
With pickles and money, the amount of similarities are rather striking: both are green and white-ish, both take time to make, both present themselves in various forms i.e. chips v. coins, spears v. dollars, whole pickles v. big fat checks, and so on. With loans too, I’ve got quite the variety: graduated (classic dill), fixed (roof-of-mouth-burning fried pickle), extended (inferno spicy pickles that never leave your tongue), standard (bread and butter pickles), simply ignore them & see what happens (those tasty, alien-green fast food burger pickles), and the beautifully merciful option: income-driven (hellllllllllooo sweet gherkin!).
So here’s the deal: loans are scary, but they help us do things we really want to do, like spend two years learning mind blowing art theory, and push work to places I never could have done alone; awesome mentors, peers, and professors along with me for the sometimes-rollercoaster-sometimes-car-crash-ride. Debt is a sensitive subject for most people; sometimes I completely forget it’s there and sometimes it’s all I can think about. The ebb and flow process of saving and paying things off is much like that of brining a pickle to perfection: too much vinegar and the flavor is wrecked, too little salt and the texture is mushy. With the distraction of my foodie fashion donned, I plot to distract the monster called student loan long enough that it won’t notice my plans to eviscerate it one sweet gherkin slice at a time.