Winter 2022 Updates

People climbing a glacier.
Our parents walking to school. Image by aatlas from Pixabay.

Well well, look who’s writing another update. Remember when I swore, in a fit of poverty-induced rage, that I’d never blog again? Guess how well that’s going?

My pledge to never blog again is going about as well as my life, which is an unmitigated disaster. More on that later.

Later

Things have not gone well over the past seven months. For starters, I dropped out of school.

I haven’t written much about the past two years, but from what I’ve posted, you might be able to gather that they were stressful. There was a lot that I hadn’t processed before starting my Ph.D. program, and I found that I was less able to cope with stress than I used to be. That’s not a great way to succeed as a Ph.D. student.

A train wreck.
A metaphor for my life. Photo by WikiImages from Pixabay.

Money was also an issue.

I’m no stranger to being broke, by American standards, since I just finished two years earning practically nothing in AmeriCorps. But trying to make it in Maine on a graduate stipend was nearly impossible. Some numbers:

  • My stipend was $20,000 a year, paid out monthly for nine months. Before taxes, that would result in a monthly income of about $2,222.
  • Before accepting my Ph.D. position, I constructed an estimated budget based on the above numbers. I figured that money would be tight, but that $2,222/month would be enough to be somewhat comfortable.
  • However, I didn’t realize that I’d be sending $378 right back to the university each month for insurance and fees. This pretty much destroyed the estimated budget I’d made, and severely restricted my housing options.

Long story short, I ended up being considerably more broke as a Ph.D. student than when I was a full-time volunteer, and living in ways that I swore I’d never do again.

As a result of the above factors – and others that I’ve chosen not to share – I withdrew from my Ph.D. program. I’m not thrilled about this decision, but the way I was living wasn’t working, so I had to make room for something better.

Maine

Mount Katahdin
I didn’t take a single picture in Maine, so here’s a photo of Mount Katahdin, which I never got to see because I was poor and spent all my free time working. Mount Katahdin 5 Day Expedition by Russell Toris. CC BY 2.0

The good part of my Ph.D. misadventure was Maine. I met many good people in Maine, and made more friends in a shorter amount of time than anywhere else I’d been.

In fact, the Northeast in general seems like a nice part of the United States. I’d consider living there long-term, provided I could make enough to be financially stable.

Blogging

The good news for you is that I now have the space to figure out what to do with this blog.

I have lots to process from the past two years, so in the short term this blog will become my platform for working through my memories of Colorado and Montana.

In the long run, I need to either streamline and update this site to make it faster and more SEO-friendly, or transfer The Jaguar and Allies to a new platform.

I should also let you know that you’ll be seeing more guest posts in the near future. I’ll be working with a marketing company to let them publish relevant posts on this blog about four times a month, as a way for me to publish content more regularly without having to spend all of my time on this blog.

I won’t be getting paid for anything related to these guest posts, so please don’t report me to the copyright gods. The main way I’ll benefit from this marketing partnership will be through repairing this site’s search rankings, so that I can keep growing it. The Jaguar and Allies now has over 6,000 subscribers, despite my attempts to kill it, so it’s time for me to take this blogging thing more seriously.

Expect new posts soon.

14 Thoughts

  1. Hello Josh,
    It’s great to see another post from you. Your presence has been missed. I can painfully relate how life happens and doesn’t always go an according to plan, and am sorry to hear you went through some challenging times.

    Please do continue to take things one step at a time, and take care always. Wishing you a safe and healthy, happy new year.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Takami, it’s great to hear from you! It was certainly disappointing to walk away from the Ph.D. program, but I think it was for the best. I’d been trying to do too much for too long, and it finally caught up with me.

      I’m wishing you a great new year, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry that you experienced such stress Josh. It is disgusting how one must often become impoverished to receive a higher education in our country. I have hopes that your decision was a sound one, and that as this door closes, other, better ones, will open for you. I wish you ✨ Happiness in The New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your understanding, Cindy. I’ve made myself impoverished several times before, mostly for service projects, and this time I wasn’t willing to go back to that lifestyle. There were other factors that led to my decision to withdraw, but many of them were related to not having enough money.

      I hope that this decision was a sound one, too. It was my only realistic option, but it still doesn’t feel good to make such a drastic choice.

      Happy new year, to you, too!

      Like

  3. I echo these previous comments, always enjoy seeing your writing and appreciate you reading mine. It sucks to have to go thru poverty in order to study something you’re interested in, but it sounds like it was a move you needed to make right now. You’ll find your way in time, I’m sure, and even if it’s not the route you’d wanted, I hope things work out for the best for you.

    A piece of advice a writer gave me years ago: never give up writing! Ever! if you need to take a break, fine, but there’s a reason you were drawn to it, and you’ll figure things out as you work thru these big life changes. I always struggle with the desire to pursue more lucrative writing as well as the blog, or give up the blog entirely because it doesn’t pay, but it gives me great pleasure to write and I appreciate the freedom of choosing whatever subject I want. Take good care and I look forward to more posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Irene, and thanks for your comment. I’ve put myself through poverty (according to some standards) many times before, but this time I wasn’t willing to go back to that. Now that I’ve been out of school for a few weeks, I’m realizing that leaving was the only realistic option for me. Oh well.

      Yes, I’m much healthier when I’m writing regularly. I also struggle with what to do with blogging, as you know, but for now I’ll use it as a personal creative space while I learn more about the business side of the internet/writing.

      I’m glad that you’re still blogging though, since it’s good to come back and see some familiar faces.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy New Year Josh
    Glad to see you back on these streets on a regular tip.
    Thought this site was on its way to the delete button glad you still around and working on getting it back to good ranking.
    Looking forward to catching up on the Colorado adventures and on to the next adventure that follows
    All the best
    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Beaton!

      I thought this site was on the way to the delete button, but fate intervened. The marketing company reached out to me as my PhD was falling apart, which I took as a sign to get the blog up and running again. We’ll see what happens 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

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