After a rather lovely weekend, I finally got around to checking my mail and was somewhat taken aback to see that my student loan payment had jumped from a reasonable $47 a month to a ruinous $450.

I've never been prone to wild overreaction (cue insane laughter from everyone who knows me), so I called the student loan people. I was pretty sure what they would say — the six words that have plagued me ever since I reached adulthood — "We go off your gross income."

Now I make enough money for a reasonable person to live somewhat comfortably on if they live in, say, a real hole in the ground — like, oh, I don't know, let's just say, totally hypothetically, Oklahoma.

But I don't live in Oklahoma.

"Ma'am, I hate to tell you this, but I live in Boulder, Colo." I pleaded with the nice but somewhat detached lady on the phone. "There's a sign at the edge of town that says, 'Yeah, we know it's expensive, but look at the pretty mountains and shut up.'"

"We're sorry, sir," she said, a bored tone in her voice, like she was used to 37-year-old men on the verge of tears begging for mercy.

"Well, I just don't have it," I continued. "My rent is enough to make you jump in front of a milk truck if you had to pay it. Couple that with food, gas, car insurance, internet (because I'm not an animal) and medical bills and I'm pretty broke at the end of the month."


"Well, you have to pay it or we'll garnish your wages," she said. "Trust me, you don't want this to go to legal. Those people are animals. They will eat you. Literally. I've seen them do it."

"I'm wearing used shoes for God's sake. Give me a break."

"Is there anything else I can do for you?"

So I'm feeling on the verge of homeless at the moment. I've somehow managed to educate myself into complete and total destitution.

I've come up with four possible solutions, none of them any good:

1. Do nothing and hope it goes away. This has worked never.

2. Flee the country. Current financial situation makes this prohibitive at best.

3. Blame poor people and immigrants. That seems to be a popular one. But no.

3. Resort to a life of crime. I cry easily, and it wouldn't look manly on a mugshot.

The lady on the phone did mention something about federal consolidation of my loans, but I couldn't really hear her over the hyperventilation and teeth grinding. I should probably call back.

Anyway, this is the last time I try to better myself. Or check my mail. If you need me, I'll be down on Colfax and Broadway selling haikus at a nickel a syllable.

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