Last Hundred Bucks: Graduate School Finals Edition

I took out one hundred dollars in cash on Black Wednesday and didn’t spend it. Then I decided to go full-on hermit (and straight-edge!) for finals, making it easy to keep track of where the cash went (which, let’s face it, I was stressed so my spending was focused on eating).

$8.75 – Pot of hibiscus tea and turkey sandwich (free Wi-Fi and old-school Shakira at no cost) while trying to write a paper on tax-increment financing and escaping my neighbor who thinks he is the second-coming of Jimi Hendrix. Spoiler-alert: he isn’t.

$9.97 – Container of salad bar fixins (pasta, bean salad, dolmades, cherry tomatoes) and bottle of wine for friend emergency. Then back to my hermit hut a.k.a. computer lab.

$8.00 – Tuna sandwich and the taste of despair that accompanies my inevitable once-a-semester visit to Jimmy Johns because of how I hate-love to eat it and if I went to the independent Italian joint next door, I would’ve dove into a meatball sub and couldn’t afford a digesting nap if I wanted to sleep that night.

$8.50 – Takeaway from the only Chinese restaurant in my predominantly Mexican neighborhood after leaving campus at 10 p.m. after 12 hours wrestling with Adobe design products. I am ashamed to go into detail of what it was, only that it included neon red sauce, pineapples, shrimp fried rice and a can of soda. It is still in my fridge, along with a lone apple and a hunk of cheese.

$25 – Staples. I had to print two mock site interventions from a fake consulting firm comprised of myself and three other saintly group members for a design class. I also bought a new pen because treat yo’self.

$15 – Two PBRs, one Sumpin Sumpin and a Jim Beam on the rocks because it was my friend’s birthday and I’d planned it for 10 days earlier. I meant to keep it to PBR, but it was a cold walk to the bar.

$8.49 – Head of cabbage, queso fresco, Sleepytime Extra tea. I’m stressed and I want familiar food (arepas and curtido, que rico) and had no groceries. Also something has to help being awake in bed wondering about all of the mistakes I’ve made in my final presentations, right?

$15 at least – Cups of passable coffee from 7-11, the only other eatery around my department’s building, and probably a sausage biscuit at some point because breakfast is something I’ve been bad at.

I’m holding onto these last few bucks in hopes of a cold, cheap beverage the second I’m done (which will be probably sometime Thursday afternoon). Happiest of hours!


Carmen Aiken is a writer and city policy graduate student living in Chicago. Photo: Nate Grigg



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