Monday, December 27, 2010

Money Monday: December 27, 2010

Wow. A whole year, almost gone already.

We’ve made a lot of progress around here. I’ve used my paycheck like a club. And guess what? Bills can’t duck, really. So if you decide to do something like that, you’ll find that whatever weapon you choose to hit them with will connect.

And if what you’re doing is dedicating almost an entire net paycheck to them, well, that’s a mighty big club, right there.

But it hasn’t just been cash I’ve been using to pay down those bills, either. I’ve paid for it with late nights and long weekends, with heavy lifting and hot stoves, with sunburns and blisters.

With Tylenol, and heating pads, and sometimes a long, long hot shower into which I wept because god-god-god, are you KIDDING me, I have to go do all that again, today?!

I’ve paid for it with all the stuff I didn’t buy for us, with making do and making things last and over-dyeing “ruined” clothing and putting patches in the oddest places.

I’ve paid for it with all the rewards I may well have ‘deserved,’ but chose to give a miss.

I’ve paid for it with creativity that sometimes I thought was about to just run out on me.

I’ve paid for it with exhaustion and the occasional feeling that it was goddamned unfair, really. Everybody else gets to {whatever}, but me? Ooooh no, me, I hafta {whatever}.

In the rare times I had the leisure to think about it much, I really didn’t think it was worth it. Especially in the early part of this year, when progress was painfully slow and it seemed like every month had a “oh, wait, no, can’t make any big payments this month either, because etc. etc. etc..”

But here we are, at the end of the year. The garden is sleeping under a winter cover of weeds; I’ve been focusing on the long-neglected inside lately. Lots of organizing, and cleaning, and finishing up those last few things that needed canning or drying or freezing.

The pantry is bursting at the seams, with sauces and soups, with grains and vegetables. The freezer is still nicely full with Ashley’s steer and Cheyenne’s hog. My laundry room is packed with supplies from EcoStore USA, ready to allow my laundry water to pour back into the garden next year, when today’s rains are long gone and our drought status returns to ‘elevated concern’ levels.

The pace has slowed, considerably. (Recent holiday madness being set aside for a moment.)

Today, I spent a little time looking at what I’ve actually accomplished over the last twelve months with all this huff and bother.

There’s the purely quantitative stuff, sure. We’ve whacked a good forty grand off the outstanding balances, altogether. We’ve got a nice little pile of emergency cash, to tide us over any blocked sewer lines or paycheck gaps.

But there’s something way more valuable we’ve gained, something intangible, something that is hard to really explain.

But it goes like this: Right now, I’m coming to end of my current contract with MegaBank – it expires February 10. I have no idea if my manager has any intention of extending the final three months possible, or if we’re going to be shaking hands and parting ways in seven short weeks.

Thanks to the firm MegaBank policy that says a contractor can only be on deck for eighteen months total, and then must take a six month sabbatical before being eligible for rehire, no other department is likely going to pick me up for merely three months.

Here’s what I’ve gained with all the crazy I’ve inflicted on myself this year: I’m not worried.

I’m really not. My desire to know one way or the other has more to do with curiosity and trying to plan what-all I’m going to plant next year, and when I’m going to plant it, and whether or not I care to go ahead and have lunch with the overly-eager recruiter from Contractors R Us to discuss their client(s) urgent need for a no, really, SEASONED-seasoned database analyst than anxiety about a vanishing paycheck.

I have options again. I have the precious gift of time. The ineffable feeling that is knowing you’re OK no matter which way things fall out.

It’s a priceless thing to give yourself.

And the only way to get it is to give, of yourself, to yourself. To work for you, and those you love. To do things when you’d rather not, because you deserve the ultimate reward you’ll get. To lift your eyes up and look ahead of today, when maybe you’re tired and maybe you just really want a something and maybe it doesn’t seem fair somehow that somebody else has it and you don’t…to focus on the things you really-really want that are impossible today, but, if I just keep working, if I just keep going, if I just keep trying, if I don’t give up on me.

To realize that what seems like a sacrifice at the moment is actually an investment in tomorrow.

It’s been a hard year. But a very, very worth-it year, too.

I’d do it again a hundred times.

And then I’d make a mint selling my memoirs, because I’d be a hunnerd and forty{COUGH!} years old and still out there with a shovel digging up sweet potatoes and c’mon, that’s gotta be worth something, right?!


Tola said...

i love these posts

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mother Chaos, for your inspiration throughout the year. And $40,000 off your bills? Nothing to sneeze at! Congratulations.
Nancy FP in Ferndale