Friday, August 16, 2013

The $50,000 Epiphany

It has been over a month since I walked down the aisle at Roy Wilkins arena to take home a gold stamped leather binder showing the Rasmussen College school crest (Doctrina, Concretio, Successio with a rockin Moose for a mascot) with a piece of cardboard that set me back around $50,000.  My wife sat in the upper deck besides her dad and my parents of 38 years, all of whom I owe my life to both figuratively and literally.  Sure I opened the padded folder a few times just to see if my name in fancy calligraphy proclaimed that my time as a student has ended and new path would present itself after shaking the hands of an academic dean I never met and would never see again.

Willingly give up 3.5 years of sanity and free-time to break a corporate glass ceiling that might as well been made out of Kevlar wrapped around the insulation used for the Space Shuttle seemed like a much easier task sitting over a bonfire in northern Minnesota.  It didn’t take Toby Robbins or Henry Rollins to shout in my ear that stasis was slowly killing whatever momentum this life had after breaking out of the haze of a head injury.  Sure, work was going in the right direction with accolades and praise for taking on extra work for the same pay while staying in the poker blogging game covering every –COOP tournament series PokerStars could come up with.  Giving up at this point would have been a trout slap in the face to me and anyone who invested even a nice word in my general direction.

There was no need for a life coach or religious schema to tell me that God would guide my rum-soaked soul to the promise land of fiscal and conscious independence if certain rules of life were followed.  What was needed was another complete detachment from day-to-day life, not completely unlike a certain wheel-assisted ride down Las Vegas Boulevard.  Letting go of a secure job for the chance to become that skinny third grader with the bowl cut and bright blue eyes who could shout out multiplication answers so fast some kids didn’t even try to contest.  Until a few weeks ago, that kid represented the last time I felt whole.

Strangled by insecurity despite a good, solid base at home, I let assholes into my head to plant doubt strong enough to grow a stalk to take Jack up into the clouds for his fight with the giant.  Every glance at a mirror was one of pity and pain wondering if life was supposed to feel that way.  There was no Facebook or Twitter back then to seek out a group of like-minded individuals who perhaps were struggling with similar depressive depths.  Maybe for the better as the brutal landscape of social media likely would have been more devastating than a chant during recess about the inability to hear and communicate like a normal elementary school student.  In retrospect it’s easy to look back on such events and blow it off like a flame on a birthday candle.  As a parent it is easy to go “you know what, in [XX] years you won’t even care or remember how kids at recess made fun of you”.  Yeah, 30 years later after the most amazing stretch of personal advancement, I’m sitting on a couch secure with my skin recalling a bunch of fourth graders throwing around a partly chewed up Nerf football not letting me play with them anymore.

I remember being curled up against the brick underneath the newly painted letters proclaiming the building was Cedar Island elementary during most recesses just wishing I could hide in the library despite my love for sports.  Thanks to my bump on the headspot I cannot recall many good times except for a select few that I follow on Zuckerberg’s peep show that allows me to feel good about their new step into parenting, offer condolences to the death of a parent, or question their life choices while posting a selfie with a Green Bay Packers jersey on.

The core of this whole epiphany was not receiving that $50,000 piece of cardboard or what it took to get to that moment that was captured by that offers a SPECIAL DEAL of only $50 UNITED STATES DOLLARS FOR A DIGITAL PRINT MUST ACT NOW!!!!  Seriously, the grad is probably strangled by the amount of debt they just ran up for the past four/five years, do you really thing they have $119.99 for the specially embossed 3-D pic of them wearing an article of clothing that will get used the same amount of times a wedding gown does?  Fuck. Off. 

Sorry.  That’s a rant for another time (luckily my father-in-law takes awesome life stills without directing me to a credit application for the honor of possessing one of them).

As I sit here now into my third drink and re-finding my love for writing in non-APA formatted structures, or any grammatically positive formations for that matter, I see a lot of good in my future despite this new debt sitting over porch’s roof.  Just like when entering adulthood, parenthood, or maybe a familiar neighborhood time is supposed to slow down.  No more parties that end up with a threesome in a cardboard box while others are discussing the superiority of grape over cherry Kool-Aid on a deck at 5am while waiting for McDonald’s to open to grab a Sausage McMuffin and hash brown (yes I’m old enough to remember the golden arches when they actually closed for the evening).  The epiphany came down hard yet landed softly into my timeline.  Stop rushing, hug more, accept more, put up with less.  Enjoy yourself or no one else will, stop expect each day will be filled with glowing unicorns blowing rainbows and perfectly distilled vodka out of their asses.  There will be times you will not like your spouse, there will be times a parent will want to take a full roll of duct tape and stick their tantrum-filled kid on the roof of a jet liner bound for Sri Lanka, there will be times that make a person question is it worth it.

It is.

Life may seem like shit if the manager just informed the department of cutbacks, a best friend suddenly goes AWOL from the friendship, or finding out that Axe Dark Temptation body spray really does not turn panties moist from grinding on that very special lady in the navy blue tank top with three visible bra straps and frayed daisy dukes when Blurred Lines takes to the DJs rotation at TGI Friday’s.  I thought like this for waaaaaaaaaaay too long and it hurt my relationship with my wife, my kids, and my friends.  Opening eyes to notice, hey people may seem ok through the veneer paneling they present in public, but likely have the same insecurities and issues about Christian Ponder throwing forward passes that you do.  Yes, I will struggle to upkeep this new direction but its better to state it and point a finger in the mirror call one’s self out on their bullshit versus not realizing it at all.

This scribbling tonight is the result of writing this post over and over in my head for the past month but never breaching the gate of turning on Microsoft Word to bang out 1,223 now 1,224 words.  At first it was a cautionary tale of after-college doldrums of how college students are not prepared for the utter financial clusterfuck they are about to enter (I just got my “guide to paying your student loan” from the college BEFORE getting my official degree).  But, to expound on this when I am relatively better off (married, just got promotion which breach previously mentioned glass ceiling, and no credit card debt) seemed very hypocritical since I’m not in the same fiscal state as a 22 year old trying dig their way out of the well-used county fair demolition derby port-a-potty of bank interest on top of their student loans while job humping LinkedIn,, and mom’s good friend who owns a collection agency might hire the bachelor of accounting as a financial relief consultant to those that have not paid their Citibank Student MasterCard in two years or more.   

Instead a few words came out about the stressed yet calm currently in this author’s life.  My kids love the fact that daddy does not need to sit behind a laptop and expound on the different moral viewpoints of Martin Luther versus Immanuel Kant as it relates to a reversing subledger accounting journal entry.  My wife gets her friend back instead of the highly strung, over-sexed husband.  Well, he still wants sex just not at a Bree Olson pacing and enjoying quiet nights together to critique the Chopped contest’s use of pickled deer hooves as a base for the dessert round. 

Personally it’s a new life, one that should have started 15 years ago as a fresh out of college student but I wouldn’t trade my life experiences for anything, except a Vikings Super Bowl win and maybe some MN State Fair cheese curds with Dogfish 90 minute IPA to wash it all down.  But my life is just that my life.  It is not yours, nor should I or anybody tell you how to get to your one of many destinations.  Judging others for not making enough, like the story I heard at work about a young accountant working 12-13 hour days 5-6 days a week at a Big Four firm and being judge for leaving “early” because he actually had a life outside the office, seems short-sighted by most but some are driven to such career aspirations.  Yes, I was initially aghast but know that I should try to learn from both sides of such a situation.  Hey, if you want to retire by 45 and rock your millionaire lifestyle, go at it until those zeros pile up on the bank statement because that person is getting to where their goal path ends.  No different than my route to a bachelor’s degree while maintaining some degree of social interaction with my family and friends. 

And getting the college degree was not my goal.  My goal was to get to this point and being able to see that cute third grader again in the mirror before the glasses, acne, and depression.  I wanted to like myself again versus panning for praise from those around me. Yes, it cost $50K, yes it took almost four years, but I sit on this beige couch in suburbia-land with a sweaty Captain and Coke after tucking in the kids that I enjoy being me and accept the faults and awesomeness that come from it.