fatty. no good for you.

19Feb/120

Epoch Fail

Often I think I was born too late.  This comes into play mostly when I look at my favorite musical artists and bands.  The Rolling Stones peaked in 1972.  The Velvet Underground broke up in 1973.  Punk effectively imploded in 1977.  Ian Curtis died months after I was born, in May of 1980.  The greatest post-punk records all came before 1986, when I was 7.

I rarely think I was born too early.  There was an age of consent joke that should have gone here, but in all honesty - there are very few women more than a few years younger than me who excite me.  It's always been that way.  The girl I've spent the better part of 15 months infatuated with confirmed to me she was just over a month my senior this week.

I'm mostly sure than had I been born about 1975, I'd probably have been one of those Internet success stories that would have made me a multimillionaire by now.  A little capital and a few people who believed in me when I was younger and MySpace could literally have been *MY* space.  Or I would have sold a variety of domain names for hundreds of thousands of dollars based on nonsense speculation.

It would have been terrible for me had I been that successful early.  With the limited success I had as a young adult, I made more than enough mistakes.

When I was 19, I took my first job over $60,000 a year based on my perceived skills and maturity as I finished a mildly challenging certification program known as the MCSE.  The short of it was 6 short Microsoft tests to assess your understanding of their products.  I continued my education and became increasingly valuable, and used credit cards for financing the books, courses and tests to further myself.  I bought my first home at 24 and cracked 6 figures (a $75/hour contract in Miami) at 25.  This is what success was, right?  Cracking the "upper-middle class" income barrier and having more money than you could easily spend?

One of the things that was lost on me until I was about 30 was exactly how easy everything came to me.  At 28, I bought the house I live in now.  It's a fairly large home with a finished basement.  I had no need for a 4 bedroom house.  My wife and I comprised 2 people on a per capita basis, 3-3.5 by weight (I think I was around 260 lbs. when we moved in).  I bought the home relatively cheap as it was early 2008, and foreclosures were on the rise.  By late 2008, post-crash, I got a nasty wake-up call.  All my business and personal credit cards were suddenly cancelled.  Around the same time, I stopped paying the mortgage on my first home, as it had sit vacant for 6 months without any buyer interest.

Before shit completely hit the fan, I bought a new car at the beginning of 2009.  It was obvious I had learned nothing about the joy of credit and loans outside my capacity.  My wife already had a new car that we purchased in 2007.  While my credit hadn't tanked yet, it was still required that she co-sign the loan.  Throughout 2009 and 2010, I paid for virtually everything by debit card, as I had no choice.  In early 2011, I lost a job due to a lack of available work.  I surely faced bankruptcy if I didn't get a job soon.

The light finally came on.  I asked myself, "What do I really need in this world?"  It occurred to me that it really wasn't much: a room, basic utilities, clothes and food.  While unemployed, I lived entirely off of a nominal savings and unemployment income.  I didn't pay my mortgage, which set me up for trouble later that I'm still hashing out - but everything else was covered.  I was even able to finance my divorce by paying the attorney and court costs during this time - though I need to thank my ex-wife for not making the process more painful or bankruptcy would have been certain.

I've been living much smarter ever since.  I did find a job that began at the end of May that paid exceptionally.  I used this opportunity to pay for the surgery that effectively made everything good in my life since possible.  The cost of the surgery was roughly $7500 - of which $4000 came out of pocket, $3500 was financed (insurance responsibility is still being determined 5 months later).  I have no issue with the fact I used credit to cover the gap in costs between what I had and what I needed.

It took nearly 14 adult years to figure it out - but I came to realize only 3 responsible uses of credit: education, health, and serious fucking emergencies.  Even then, it needs to be a well-calculated decision with a real return on investment - furthering yourself, your well-being, or your sanity.

One of the most disappointing conclusions I reached while authoring this article is that I first looked at this chin and jaw surgery that I now view as "life saving" in mid-2008.  Had I not been so deep in credit debt at the time, I could have enjoyed an additional 3 years of a higher quality of life by having it done at that time.  That's a large chunk of time to have lost to irresponsibility, and I really should be ashamed.

Instead, I'm going to flaunt a quote from Kierkegaard, another cool dude who lived long before I had a chance to meet him, that suggests I'm a lot smarter than I am and use only to end discussions that make me feel dumb: "It is quite true what philosophy says; that life must be understood backwards. But then one forgets the other principle: that it must be lived forwards. Which principle, the more one thinks it through, ends exactly with the thought that temporal life can never properly be understood precisely because I can at no instant find complete rest in which to adopt a position: backwards."

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