It was recently my 35th Birthday. The first birthday in I in ages where I was not depressed. For too long early July would roll around and I would list all things I had not done with that year or did not have yet. This year I broke the trend. 34 was a tough year, it through too many downs and too few ups. The cat crisis extended from her morning flight on July 30 2014, to into February when at last we were fully rid of the fleas. The adorable sweater manages the one long turn issue. Unemployment and the slumps that went with that ran in parallel with the cat issues. So I was down but I started fighting to get up again.
Change was slow. It took a long time to learn, I did not want to return to the corporate life I had been trying to live. It was a dead end, I could not care for it, it made me miserable. Signing on to be a Temp worker pawn saved my ass. After months of spinning my wheels applying for jobs I did not want, and would not get and work was a needed. An alternative to flinging resumes into the internets like monkey's fecies was greatly welcome. It has been grunt work, low paying grunt work. Work that gets me out in the world, work that lets me be good at something. Most importantly it is work that can free me from my employment past. Translating geology work into terms useful for civilian life has proven more difficult than I would have expected. Right now it looks like I will have steady work into September. Full time, normal hours and more less sane working conditions and coworkers.
So I pondered this birthday, my small apartment and my cat and thought, we made it. The Lady Baroness von Softpaws of Gallifrey, made it just barely. The temp work slowly brought in enough hours to cover the needs. We made it. I still have my apartment, my cat and my health. The apartment will go soon enough, even though I can hold it, it takes too much of my pay to leave me piece of mind and room to play. So in the spirit of of moving forward I gave myself three gifts.
The first a little trip, hastily planned, with imperfect execution, and bad timing. A little journey was taken to Nanaimo to visit some friends. Who unfortunately were working the majority that weekend.
The second was ink. A tattooed. A crow in flight boldly displayed on my right calf. This art is the product of several trains of thought roughly as follows.
I can no longer think of a reason not to. Interest in hiding my quirks is long gone. A socially dysfunctional nerd I am, and I am not sorry for it, I will be sorry for individually offences but for my nature not one bit. I have to own my quirks, my history, and my mistakes, it is unclear how exactly the tattoo expresses that, but the boldness of the design and placement, and its large size were chosen in part because I need to remind myself to be bold. Casting aside fear and doubt and doing something bold is not my usual style but something I need to do and do again.
A minor reason has been the simple fact that even in my near poverty of high rent and low wages there is nearly nothing I could get myself. My material needs are largely met, nothing I could get from a store has enough meaning to go with what seams like a mile stone birthday. All the things I could buy that could mater are beyond my reach anyway. So I chose something with meaning, art for its own sake.
As important as having reasons for art is having an artist to execute it. I have been fortunate to watch an acquaintance's body of work develop over the Facebook. Her work has found its way on several friends with good results, and consistently I have thought as I saw the posts, she makes me want to get a tattoo. So I challenged myself and took the plunge. Was I nervous, yes, did it feel like a risk, not so much, I know I can trust my taste now. Any image I am choosing place on my body will be carefully chosen and in good taste. I am proud to wear this, will continue to be so.
The third and final gift is fixing a mistake. For a fleeting two and a half years I had a well paying steady job. During that time, I was half wise. Although I placed money away for 'retirement' I failed to pay off my medium sized student loan. Perhaps it was my isolation that kept the wolves away, I was in the Northwest territory with no phone service. It was also a stubborn urge to not sink my income straight into that dept. Not the best moves but wisdom and being in your 20's are not the best mix. The wolves found me after I came back to civilization and demanded their dues.
Things were under control for a while. A return to school kept them at bay a little longer, but that reprieve was finite. For a time I managed the debt like a good pawn, earning enough to make the payments regularly, but failing often enough that calls happened. A windfall during a second fleeting period of stable employment allowed me to take a big chunk out of the debt, but they still hounded me when they I slipped up, and I did. The good days ended and the debt followed me.
Through the first part of my unemployment I had repayment assistance, that silenced the collectors but solved nothing, in the end they kept asking for money that I could not spare. Fast forward to now, where I know my credit rating if falling into the toilet, joining my income there. Doing nothing just lets the debt grow. There was only one option one I should have done long ago. Kill it, kill it with paper work. I don't want repayment assistance, I don't want to negotiate a new payment plan, I want it dead, gone. To never hear the phone ring and see that Ontario number, I just want it out of my life. So I have fixed am mistake of my youth.
The phone calls have been made. The forms were prepared and sent. The balance owing was found and confirmed. The cheques were deposited and the payments made this after noon. Some time around 5:50pm I paid off my student loans.
There is no material reward for this, no certificate, no change in the material quality of life. There is only the knowledge that what little money I earn going forward is truly mine and I can properly start to look forward. Forward to what I don't know. I need to start saving again and with luck I will trip across the next thing.