Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Add it Up.

My friend Amy, showed me this New York Time's article back in October. Since then, I've thought much more about "The Cost of Being Gay."

I think people (my family) assume that because I'm a professor, I make a lot of money. I don't. I make less being Professor Holzhauser than I did counting and weighing artifacts, digging holes, and drinking too much in cheap hotel rooms.

I make about 11.50 and hour. Before taxes. Yes, this is what I earn teaching English to college freshmen, our country's future leaders. Since Mindy isn't here, I'm not going to tell you how much she makes, but I'll hint that it's not very much more than what I make.

We have a nice house, but didn't overpay. We didn't take out one of those huge loans we couldn't afford (we bought our house just seconds before wall street fell). We have a budget and we're usually close to sticking to it. We don't buy much. What we do spend money on is beer, eating out and scrapbooking. But, really, we only eat out about 4 times a month. For a European that might sound like a lot, but to an American, I'm sure we're way under average.

With the widget on the way (in 4.5 months) we've been trying to think of ways to save/earn money. I'm applying to be a Census worker: It pays more.

Besides our house payment, one of our biggest bills is our students loans. It totals 500$ a month. That's like another house, you guys.

I called one of my loan places and asked if I could have an economic hardship deferral. I told the guy that my family size is 3 (as defined on the form), but of course, it didn't actually work out that way since 1. I'm single 2. I have no dependents. I explained that I was married (we live together and share the bills), and my wife is pregnant. It's not that he was rude, he just sort of ignored all that, since it doesn't actually matter. He said I wasn't eligible.

I've checked out getting food stamps, but we make too much. Of course, there isn't a section on the form for, like, *very high student loan repayments* so they think we have 500$ more a month than we really do.

Oh, I know, you're judging me. Normally, I wouldn't condone people trying to get food stamps when they don't actually need them. But, I pay the same taxes you do, and I get much less in return.

I can't have Mindy's health insurance.
If I had health insurance through my work, she couldn't be on mine.

This is a total bummer because, well, the widget will always have to be on her insurance. Even if I got a nice paying job and Mindy wanted to stay home, we couldn't do it because the widget needs health insurance.

I get so mad and I just fucking cry sometimes.

My taxable martial status is "Single." In fact, on all legal documents, I have to check single.

At our first OB appointment, Mindy had to write down an emergency contact and her relationship to that person. She put my name on the line that read "Spouse." The next time we went, when the receptionist handed her the paper and said, "Make sure everything on there is right," we saw that my name had been moved down the list to the line that read "Other."

Since my name is long, it looks something like this:

Emergency Contact
Relationship: Other/Christina Holzhau

So, no, receptionist, everything is not right. It's incomplete. In fact, it looks very, very wrong.


  1. When I read this...I wanted to fucking cry too. And I'm not going to say anything reassuring because it would be a bluff.

    All I'll say is that I wish you guys could have what you deserve. What EVERYONE deserves. And that I believe in you.

    And I believe that the widget is lucky as hell.

  2. I had this brilliant idea for someone with more entruepunrial (I know I spelled that wrong) spirit than I do. Everyone who makes a promise to not get married until gay people get married should wear a rubber, rainbow band on their wedding finger (rainbow might be cheesy, but it is symbolic). Charge a couple bucks per ring, and use all the proceeds towards lobbying and activism and whatnot. Of course, people might make that promise in good faith and later break it, but that's okay. The other possibility is just for people who beleive in gay marriage, but aren't willing to make that promise to not get married themselves, but it seems like it's about that time for some sort of stronger statement. So yeah, I think that rainbow rings would pretty much spread like wildfire.

  3. So, as I opened your blog to read it this afternoon, Nadia pointed to the picture of you and Mindy kissing. She pointed to you and said, "it's a mama." Then she pointed to Mindy and said, "it's a mama." Then she turned to me and said, "kiss, mama" and gave me a big kiss. From a kid's perspective, I can think of nothing better than having two "mamas."

    Being denied rights as a same sex married couple is a civil rights violation, pure and simple. I wish it were different, my friends.

  4. M.-thank you

    Alison- I've always known you're a mad genius, but your ring plan is, by far, the maddest!

    Jane- That is the coolest thing I've ever heard.

  5. Random stranger asking questions: Have you looked into the different jobs that would give you partial student loan forgiveness? It sounds like your completely overqualified, but if you taught at the K-12 level in certain districts there appears to be some form of Federal loan forgiveness?

    Another thing- I'm totally shocked your university/college doesn't offer DP & DP dependent benefits. The tax implications suck (you have to pay taxes on the value of your DP and DP dependents benefit), but still better than nothing.

  6. Meredith-People who teach hourly, the vaste majority of people teaching composition in America, are contract employees who are not eligible for benefits. They are the wal-mart workers of the academy. This is unlikely to change. As it stands, most adjuncts (which is what Christina is) are not allowed to teach more than 5 classes a year per institution, so for many in order to make up a living wage they have to teach for multiple institutions.

    As an aside, many of the programs which forgive part of student loan payments are disappearing as it is an easy and relatively politically cheap budgetary line item to simply cross out.

    C as you intend to adopt the baby (right?), you should be able to take a 3 year break from payments on the new parent deferment as soon as you make a move towards adoption.

    Further, if you haven't already make a move towards it, get onto a payment plan which bases your payments on your earnings. Then every time there is a break from school make them re-do the paper work. It's a nightmare, I know.

    Not that that helps the point you are making here. I wonder if a phone call in to the ACLU might force a change in the deferment rules. Afterall, federal employees have partner benefits. It makes good sense that federal loans should acknowledge the same.

    And I'm totally buying a few of those rings.

  7. rachael, in missouri, i'm not sure there is such a thing as second parent adoption. so, like, i might not be able to adopt MY OWN CHILD.

    secondly, the income based repayment is only available on stafford loans. my most expensive loans are through alaska, so that sucks.

    and meredith--yeah, there is something about public servants getting better loan repayment and forgivement. except...i'm not qualified to teach k-12 (only college), and to be honest, i'd rather stick a hot poker in my eye than deal with parents.

    keep coming with the ideas, you guys!

  8. You can totally do second parent adoptions here, or something similar, so don't fret on that count. One of my coworkers was going through that a year or two ago. I know there was a lot of paperwork (when isn't there), but everything worked out. They constantly deal with these same issues though on taxes/loans/insurance/etc.

  9. It's funny that you'd rather stick a hot poker in your eye than deal with parents... since you're about to be one.

    Also, this situation sucks. I don't know what to say to you, but I would buy as many rainbow rings as I can afford, which wouldn't be many because I'm an adjunct.