“YOU’RE APPROVED!” Now, Sign Your Life Away.

I went to the bank Saturday. I told them to give me money. I fucked up my last loan, and my loans officer fucked it up even worse. It was a partial-debt-consolidation loan where the banker didn’t make my overdraft go poof. No sense consolidating debt if you’re continuing to live in your overdraft. Pity this occurred to me too late.

It was badly executed from the get-go.* I was medicated out of my mind for my back injury at the time, I didn’t talk enough with my brilliant friends, I didn’t have a good enough plan, and I didn’t even feel entitled to borrow money from an institution — as if them giving me money was some humanitarian act instead of their BUSINESS.

I’ve been literally paying for my mistakes every day since, and instead of resigning myself to the hell of trying to dig out from under an avalanche of STUPID, I’m finally trying to right those wrongs in a here-and-now way that lets me finally move past the hardest period of my life.

Tomorrow, I find out.

In the meantime, I get the smug knowledge of knowing I’ve massively improved my credit score in three years, DESPITE incredible difficulties since — with 5% improvement in less than a year. Methinks it looks good — I’ll have some kind of resolution, it’s just a matter of degrees as to how many of my current stresses the treatment can absorb

I have hope this morning. Hope is good. I haven’t had a lot of it, not on the financial side of things, for a really long time. The credit score thing? You don’t understand how huge that is for me. Even the bad guys say I’ve been kicking ass. Cool.

The whole hope thing? Began Friday night, before the bank. And it’s kind of funny and sad and woeful and exuberant all at the same time, because, really, it’s such a stupid little thing: me buying a nice warm down-filled coat and a pair of fur-lined winter boots.

A huge, huge weight lifted off my shoulders with just that one, small, under-$100 purchase — a warm coat and a pair of boots.

You see, last winter I blew my back out in October. I had money for a short period, until Christmas, but I was in agony — I couldn’t even buy groceries comfortably, let alone try on boots. Then, money evaporated, times got hard again, and I had to get through what was the worst Vancouver winter in anyone’s memories without proper winter gear while being in considerable chronic pain until about March.

I was cold, I was always tired, always in pain, always scared I’d get caught in the wrong storm at the wrong time. Scared I’d get sick and wouldn’t be able to afford to take the time off, because I’d had to use so much time with my back. Scared I’d have to get through Hard Shit mostly alone again.

I doubt there are a lot of people who really know what it’s like to live in fear of the elements for an entire winter, but those of us who understand that fear… man. You don’t get what buying that warm jacket the next winter means. How it feels.

I’m safe now.

I was never really “unsafe”. I had my home. But if you don’t even have the means or ability to clothe yourself, well, you’re left feeling pretty fucking vulnerable all the same.

Today, though, I’ll put on my swelteringly warm coat and feel gratitude as the wind’s whipping me all to bits and the rain’s slamming down, breaking November rainfall records here on the Wet Coast. It’s ironic, a windstorm raging ahead of finding out if I finally get some winds of positive change blowing through for me.

It feels good. I’m close. I’m getting there.

Money’s the thing I still need to overcome in life. I was raised always scared we’d be broke soon. I’ve always been Just On The Other Side of Black. It’s not like I’m some wild shopper racking up bills for boots I don’t fucking need or splurging on restaurants or anything. My overspending might be $6 on lunch today, but it still hurts me. I’m THAT close. I’m that spread thin on a month-in, month-out basis. Have been, for years.

Why? Because I’ve been under-employed & over-expended for years — not at my employers’ fault, either. Just dumb luck. In five years, I’ve blown my knee out three times, nearly died once with STYLE, could’ve been killed one other time, blew my back out, badly strained my right rotator cuff, had bronchitis about six times, and, oh, right, had a massive head injury that erased 6 months of my life. I haven’t really been healthy or fit or strong for more than a couple months at a time since about 1998.

Yeah, I’ve worked a little less than I maybe could have. I’d hate to see what working more than I have would have done for me.

Despite it all, I’ve improved my credit rating, I’ve overcome EVERY injury, I’ve gotten my brain back, I’ve lost 70 pounds, I’ve not only kept but improved my home, and I’ve done a few other things besides.

But on paper?

I have no collateral, I’m not impressive. I’m just some chick getting by. Some chick who nearly cried as she enjoyed a nice warm jacket on Friday night.

You want gratitude? Fucking appreciate what you have.

I appreciate everything I have. Every goddamned thing. I’m grateful I’m alive, I’m hopeful I’m on the verge of finally getting past everything that’s held me down for 10 years. I know what it’s like to almost lose my home. I know what that FEAR feels like.

Tomorrow’s a big day. Today’s a big muddle of waiting. If it goes through tomorrow, I won’t have any extra money to spend on myself, less credit under my belt, no cash to get the camera I’m dying to buy, but you know what?

Awesome. Fuckin’ A. Bring it. I’ll take Zero Changing But What’s On Paper. I’m still grateful for what I have and the chance that’s on my doorstep.

Today I spend in existential limbo nonetheless — whipped by winds and rains, left thinking about my own winds of change. And Tuesday. Tomorrow, you really are only a day away.

I’ve been so wrapped up in being so tightly confined by my money woes for so long that I can’t even write these days. I just need a change of scene, less worry, less stress, less being stretched from payday to payday like some feeble financial Gumby who’s just there for bankers’ amusement  — “Just how far can she stretch THESE pennies this week, campers?”

But most of all, what getting this debt consolidated will mean is, a little more self-respect.

It’s hard, you know? I’ve achieved SO FUCKING MUCH compared to those folks who’ve had everything handed to them or at least just found doors sitting wide open for ’em, breezed through school, got a good job, lost no one, had good health, never had to really overcome Big Things… and, yet, because they’re situated nicely, or never had the injury troubles and shit to prevent them from earning the bucks, they’re considered more real “successes” than I am, ‘cos I’m filing in the lower-middle-class tax bracket. I’d like to say fuck that shit, but it’s the way our world works and I’m stuck in the rotation, like it or no.

Frank Sinatra sang that you’re nobody until somebody loves you.

Nah. Wake up, Skippy. You’re nobody until the bank loves you.

Even when you kick as much ass as I do.

*This loan experience is with the same bank — and a 180-degree difference.