Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From the Source

I keep clicking on things on the Internet repeatedly thinking they'll update even though I just checked them a second ago.  I also realized that I click on things on the Internet thinking it'll give me some sort of incredible power/inspiration, but I've realized that I've got to be the one to create and make that inspiration.  Now to just get the motivation...

--Till then...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Money, Money, Money

This is a pretty raw post.  If you're reading this Mom and Dad, well....  Sorry.

Now that I'm living on my own and supporting myself and not living a stressful college student life, I don't have nearly as much anxiety as I had a year ago (and about 2000-times less anxiety that I had two years ago).  But the one thing that totally stresses me out and angers me is the topic of money.  My current financial situation, while not terrible, is still pretty bad.  I have one (rather small) credit card bill, a loan my parents made to me, and lots and lots (but not as much as some) of student loans to pay off.  With this transitional period I'm just getting out of now, my primary struggle is with the late fees.  The payback of my loans just happened to start the month I moved to Japan.  But thankfully, I've wired some money over and that should be taken care of for now.  I guess it's time to explain my long, complex history with money

My first "job" where I got paid was when I was 13.  I baby-sat two boys and made $5 an hour.  This gig lasted for a couple of years.  Then I had my first "pay-check" job at age 14 working at the Wisconsin State Fair for 4 or 5 days as a bus boy.  I earned about $200 or so from that, which is pretty dismal for the crap I had to endure.  And then, I hit the big time, and got a part-time job at Walgreens a month after my 16th birthday.  Whoo.

Starting, I earned $6.50 an hour which went up marginally every year.  I worked there continuously from February 2004 to September 2006, but worked over winter breaks of 2006 and 2007 and summer break of 2007 (after winter break of 2007, I ceased working there for good, thank the Lord).  I worked on average about 20 or so hours a week and even more during the summer.  You'd think I was rolling in dough and set for college, but that's laughable.  Anyone who thinks they can pay for all of college by working a part-time job in high school is seriously dreaming.  All it got me, materially, was a bunch of video games (a majority of them used), two computers and a DSL Internet hookup (that my family ended up using, too), and extra spending money during my first couple of months in college.  What it got me academically, mentally/emotionally, socially, and physically was a much-worse-than-I-should-have-had GPA, a sense of constant anxiety because of this, a bleak outlook on humanity due to the many instances of human cruelty, greed, and selfishness I witnessed over the course of 2 and a half-years, the loss of 3 people that were my best friends, and a bum right shoulder from over use in scanning, bagging, stocking etc.  I wished more than anything to just quit the job for months and months, but my dad forced me to keep it, even though I feel that the cons of the job far outweighed its meaningless pros.  In his mind, money came before anything, even pointless, more-work-than-its-worth money.

During this period, though, I was very good with my money.  I saved enough to get larger things that I wanted and I didn't blow it all in one place. This sense of being "good with money" persisted into college.  Even though I only earned like less than $600 a month, I didn't smoke, drink or go to clubs, so I managed to not be one of the many people in college who was constantly broke and unable to go out to eat or see a movie or do other fun things.

Then, at the end of fall quarter of 2008 or 2009 (I blocked much it the incident out of my memory, so I'm unclear on the year), I ran into my first big financial nightmare, something that only a couple of people know.  I had opened up an account with WaMu/Chase at the beginning of 2008 to have access to while in Japan.  It was my first checking account.  I had no clue what an overdraft was and thought that it was something people did as sort of a loan and something the ATM would alert you to if you did it.  But no.  I over drafted (something quite small), and there was a $50 charge that I had no clue about.  Then I got these letters in the mail that I just thought were junk mail.  Then......  I started getting phone calls.  They started off once a day.  Then they kept coming.  It was driving me insane.  I answered a few of them and figured out the situation.  I panicked.  I had no clue what to do.  I tried to pay it online or check how much I owed, but I discovered that my Chase account had been closed because of this.  I didn't have enough money for what was now a $400 charge.  I went home for winter break and was still getting calls.  I could hide it no longer.  I finally admitted it to my mom.  After a humiliating phone conversation with the collection agency, I finally made a deal to pay it off.  My mom realized how anxious this whole situation was making me and gave me my "Christmas present" of bailing me out of this situation.  She asked me why I didn't just ask her for help in the first place.  Heheheh...  Parents are so naive to think it's that easy...  But this incident not only scarred my credit report but also my brain.  I still jump any time a phone rings.  And I even got a call from another collection agency angrily asking me for the same money from the over draft.  When I told them that I had already paid it, they looked it up in their system, and quickly (and weakly) apologized.  A nightmare.

So that, among many other reasons, is why money is a subject that you should never bring up in front of me.  I don't want to hear about how much your family makes.  I don't want to hear about how your dad put this much into your bank account.  I don't want to hear about how you are too broke to go out.  I don't want to hear about your new car you got for your birthday.  And I especially don't want to hear about your lack of student loans.  All of it will send me into an internal rage.  Bottom line is, once I get out of this debt, I'm damn well saving up and paying for my children's (first four years of) college.  It'll just solve so many problems down the road.  But they sure as hell will know the true value of a dollar.  Because I'm sick of being around people who don't.

--Till then...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Time is Now

Long ago, in a kingdom far away, there rose a terrible king who set out to conquer the world.  He fanned the flames of greed and power in many hearts and amassed a mighty army that took over scores of villages and neighboring kingdoms.  It seemed as if the wicked king's vice-grip of terror would know no end.  But it was prophesied that on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the king's reign, a girl with hair as red as the autumn leaves and eyes as gray as slate and skin as rich as copper born under the sacred tree of ash would rise up and restore the world to order.

The girl was born just as prophesied.  She was spirited away to some secret location for fear that agents of the wicked king would try and find her and kill her.  Her name was Eryspei, meaning "Red Hope".  She trained under the tutelage of the resistance force leader, a skilled warrior and thief.  Her footsteps soon became undetectable and one blow from her sword was enough to take down even the most fearsome soldier.  A few more years passed and she was finally ready to fulfill her destiny.

The final preparations were made for her quest.  Her family loaded the horse with all she'd need for the task.  They said their tearful goodbyes, knowing in their heart that their own flesh and blood would soon bring about peace.  Eryspei saddled up the horse and took off towards the king's fortress.  But while crossing a narrow bridge, her horse got spooked.  She was thrown from the saddle into the river and drowned.  Her body washed up in a tiny village.  Soon news spread of the prophesied hero's demise.  Despair grew amongst the resistance forces with many choosing to take their own lives than to live in a doomed world.

But then a boy -a simple ordinary boy -got an idea.  He had pale skin, brown eyes, and golden hair.  He had been in the resistance force for just over a year now.  In the middle of the night, while the others in the village were mourning their fate, he packed up his horse and headed towards the king's fortress.  He climbed over the wall undetected.  He sneaked past the guards with ease.  He made his way into the chamber of the wicked king, and with his trusty, dull dagger, he leaped out and stabbed the king right in the heart.  Without their mastermind monarch, his empire of terror quickly fell and peace was restored.  All because of an ordinary, non-chosen boy and one idea.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: it's obvious and if you don't get it, then just go on doing what you're doing.

--Till then...

Delayed Reaction

How dare you.  How fucking dare you.  You are supposed to be my friends.  How could you not stand up for me?  You know for a fucking FACT that I would stand up for you in a heartbeat.  I have never been more embarrassed or humiliated or angry in all my life.  A whole lot of effort ruined because I cannot count on people that I thought I could.  It still hurts.  It still pisses me off.  I try to write it off as no-big-deal, but it really hurts.  I'm a second-class citizen in your eyes.  I'm not worth the effort.  God forbid you step out of your comfort-zone to help someone else.  After I go out of my way to help you.  And look where it fucking got me, no?  Such a great time.  And such a great time having decisions made for me against my will.  Having to put out more because others wanted to give less.  I really highly doubt I mean much to you anymore.  And it's making me think you don't mean much anymore either.  What a great fucking ending to a PERFECT day.  I'm so honored to be in your presence.

--Till then...

I'm a Bad Friend

I'd like to think I'm a good friend because my friends mean so much to me, but the truth is that I'm a bad friend.  I always forget birthdays, I never follow up with things, I forgot what people are up to, and I never send letters or anything....  I suck.

--Till then...