The Spool Stool

It’s 5:56am as I’m starting to type this. I’m by the Climate Pledge Arena ring. I’m sitting on a 1.5 foot tall wire spool made of cardboard and plastic which has been my chair for the past month. Today is the first day that I can come to work without a mask because I have been fully vaccinated; and I just realized that I forgot to brush my teeth this morning because I was too busy writing and making coffee.

The weather has been great this week. I commuted with my motorcycle today and yesterday. Writing and then riding the bike in the morning is good. It feels like I won’t lose my soul in the grinding forces of daily work.

This is my spool. I have had many meal-prepped lunches on this spool.

Today was payday. I even got a little extra from the IRS regarding last years unemployment benefits that were over-taxed. I used to feel giddy when I got paid, but I didn’t feel anything today because I think I have an effective budget. I hope I’ve come up with a method that works for me; in theory, I know how to budget. (I have made many, many budgets, I’ll have you know.) But living with a budget is a different beast. All I can say for now is that I have been successfully setting aside money for a camera, a trip to Japan, a house, and a couple of other things. That’s a big win for me.

I was talking with Madeline, and she said that I seem to think about money/income a lot, so it’s odd that I studied Philosophy/Politics/Economics. From a personal finance perspective, my degree is, I must admit, fucking useless. Maybe it’s holding me back because it just helps me overthink everything. Anyway, she’s not the first person to say something like that to me.

I’ve had this conversation in my head where some smart-ass guy, probably an older, fellow blue collar coworker says, “Why’d you waste so many years in school studying something useless that won’t pay the bills.”

And I smugly tell him, “I was after something more important than money.”

And then everyone watching gasps and applauds at my honesty, virtue, and elegant answer. —that’s the fantasy, anyway.

In reality, right now, I’m not so sure. I don’t have significant student loan debt. I got paid to go to school. (GI Bill). It was a good time. But I look at the question: could I have spent those four years studying something more useful?

I followed my interests. I developed myself. And I didn’t pay too much for it. There is nothing to regret about that, even if it did take a few years.

But there remains a question (one that will likely be answered in my current career in the electrical field): can you continue to develop your Self in a holistic, emotional and psychological way by pursuing a career that does not fully align with your interests?

I don’t mean to say that I’m not interested in becoming an electrician. It’s just that it’s not my ideal dream job. But it’s a good job. And it seems to suit me. Moreover, I think that I need to stick to this and come out the other side, changed. It’s going to be at least five years. But there is a reward to surviving the pressure cooker.

Sun goes down, gets eaten by the ocean, struggles a while down there, mysteriously comes back, and we call it a day. Life is a mystery.

Another thought came to mind: If I have been so worried about money, then where is my savings? How can I justify not having savings?

My first impulse is to say that I was nothing more than an impulsive spender and a fool with little to show after ten years as an adult. But I don’t think that’s quite it. If I can properly budget, increase my wealth, and maybe buy a house someday I will be able to say the following: I was not merely reckless or impulsive. I was following something. I’ve spent good money on food and clothes. I have traveled a bit. I have met many strangers. I know what cordovan leather shoes are. I know what a well-fitted suit looks like and how to get one. I know how to make friends at cafes and bars, even though I’m a bit odd. I sharpened my aesthetic intuition. —I developed my sense of taste, sophistication. I earned cultural capital. (read: paid)

A different man my age will me will earn more money than I do and have saved and invested more. He will retire well. But does he know what he really wants? Do internet ads, consumer blogs, and youtubers tell him what he wants? What does a man buy? How much joy can a new, well-equipped BMW bring a man in his 40’s? Is he one of those travelers who only goes on guided tours?

The rat race is vanity, but so is capriciousness.

If I don’t get myself (re: budget) into order, I will be a fool. But if I do get it in order, then my financial capriciousness will not have been in vain. It will have served as a guide. But yeah, maybe I could have been a little better about it, but I think we’re going to be okay.

I saw that four-winged angel again.

Probably not a good sign.

Asked my shadow for help.

Seemed to do the trick.

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