“Hope” Ain’t a Four-Letter Word No Mo’

Shit, man, it’s over! The loan from hell! It’s OVER.

I has a shiny new loan. With mo’ money, fully consolidated debt, but much lower payments, but only adding 18 months on. Insane! With it, a new lease on life.

I’m not gonna be all moneybags all of a sudden. No. The only outward sign of change will be a new image, a new look, a new wardrobe — but still on the cheap. It’s about getting ahead now, not just treading water and trying to stay on the surface, but also embracing life in the small ways it’s now available to me.

People don’t get how much not having money hamstrings you. Take my hair, for instance. I have an ultracool rockabilly-girl ‘do again, but it’s one I haven’t been able to afford on a regular basis for years. Paying $45 for a look’s a lot different than visiting the $13.95 no-appointment-necessary joint when you have unruly thick most-women-would-die-for hair like mine and a penchant for wearing helmets.

This week, my hair looks awesome. I fucking love it. And, me, I really do need good hair. I’m a cool person, but when I don’t look it, I feel like a fraud inside. “How can anyone this edge be this frumpy, man?”

So, the problem is: Neck down.

No, no, not my body. Pokey and pudgy, it’s still a better, hotter body than it has been in 18 years! GO, ME. The problem? My clothes! I need a new leather jacket. Like a junkie needs heroin, I NEED that jacket. When my leather jacket was stolen this summer, I felt like I’d had my brand-new identity ripped right out of me. I was stuck again with shit oversized jackets, and, worse, no money to replace that blow to my image-ego.

I NEED good jeans. I need shirts that flatter my still-full figure, and that remind me how much I’ve accomplished from the Fat Blob I was a couple years ago, but push me to do even more.

I don’t need to spend $2,000 on a new wardrobe, or even more than $500. It’s not a lot of money that I have to spend, I don’t need name brands. I can make something work on the cheap. But it *does* take money, and I had NOTHING to spare before now.

Freeing up money on a monthly basis means I hopefully never have to get to this point again where trying to maintain my identity and self-esteem is something I can’t even begin to afford. But it also means I can afford now to go out and have a beer or two with friends once or twice a week.

This anti-social gig of mine has been necessary on the financial / self-image front. But you think I felt like admitting that? “Oh, I’d love to come out but I literally have nothing to wear and I’d rather buy groceries”? Um, no. Pride’s a bitch and I have oodles.

This financial development means my heart can stop breaking a little every time I hear people talk about vacations I’d kill to be taking. Sure, I won’t be taking those vacations any time soon… but there’s hope. There’s promise. Fuck, there’s even likelihood of it.

It also means I can invest in myself and my body again — I can get the gym membership I’ve considered a “luxury” for the last year. It’s fantastic I’ve lost so much weight WITHOUT a gym membership, but more resources for self-improvement mean more opportunity for achieving it.

Finally, maybe it means that I can go to sleep without worry for a change. Maybe I can learn what it feels like to be able to sort of take a standard of living for granted for a change.

I’m not under any illusions that I’ll be wealthy any time soon. Maybe one day. But at today’s salary and the constraints of living in this town? Not yet, not now, not soon. But at least I won’t be having a monthly shortfall that just keeps snowballing on me as the years pass me by and my debt swells. And look what I’ve achieved on so little! I can’t imagine what breathing room might do for me.

It’s funny, you know. Hindsight’s an amazing thing. The loan that has crippled me all year long, I negotiated it from a place of fear & desperation. Then, what did it do? It kept me living in a state of fear and desperation.

This time, I operated from a place of knowledge and feeling like I sort of deserved it. I didn’t trust that THEY would see it that way, not even if I presented it to them that way, but I had some hope they might be fools and do so.

Then I got the surprise: I might’ve been in the red the whole time, but I was managing my Life of Red as well as I could, and my credit score shot up as a result. It wasn’t about paying EVERYTHING off all the time, it was about paying the right stuff off at the right time. Knowing that now, it sort of tells me that, yes, I’m brilliant, I’m right, I did earn this new future that bank contract gives me, I wasn’t deluding myself when I thought “I’m trying so hard! Why am I still treading the same water?”

I laugh now, you know. The closer I get to the end of this year, the more it feels like it’s been a Foundation Year. The kind of year where you lay a whole lot of foundation for the things you plan to build in the years to come. Next year’s gonna be fucking amazing. This year isn’t what I thought it’d be, but I can’t argue with where it’s led me. I love the direction I’m going in.

Having now sorted my money out, this puts me in the position to truly focus on where I need to focus: My health and my writing. Distractions are a killer, and money problems are probably the worst creativity-killer there is out there. Fear about money is this unease gnawing at you from your guts up. It swallows you whole and chokes any source of hope or promise about the future. Without that, what are you going to be creative about? Your woes? Good luck with that. And being an emotional eater, I really don’t need to explain what all my recent stresses have done? I haven’t gained anything, really, but I’ve lost muscle tone in the last 6-8 weeks.

In many ways today, it’s like the light’s been switched on. And I haven’t even signed my papers or paid down all my debts yet! That’s this weekend. :)

I wish I could put into words the lightness and the ease of breathing, the actual physiological change that comes with getting this good news and sleeping well on it for an evening, but… I can’t. The feeling, however, I’m trying to hold onto and remember even while it’s happening, because I know how long can lapse before these days come ’round again. Despite hoping that’s not the case now. Not for me. Not anymore.

Still, gratitude is never misplaced. Nor is the cherishing of a moment.

Life’s short. Make a point of remembering to help great moments really become Great Memories.

This is my new start. The start of awesomeness. I’ve been getting closer and closer to awesomeness all year, and now? I’m there. Awesomeness.

Hear me roar!