Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, January 6, 2006

So this is the new year, and I actually feel kinda different

It’s the 6th of January, and I’m writing this outside, next to my parent’s pool. The palm trees sway in a gentle breeze, and the birds chuckle and coo to one another.

It is 85 degrees out, blue skies, dry and sunny. I cannot see a cloud in any direction.

When I was growing up, Phoenix was a punchline. An upstart L.A. without any culturally redeeming qualities to recommend it. Phoenix was where you went if you wanted to commit suicide, but didn’t have the guts to get it over with all at once. It might take you years to die in Phoenix, just because it sucked so much.

Times have changed, or maybe just me. I don’t have anyone to hang out with, aside from my lovely wife and my folks, but I have been supremely content. I’ve been in Rivendell…

Aside from a few small, desperate inconveniences. They’re my fault, no doubt, but still, it’s been trying.

So I get the check from my roommate for rent and sundry expenses on New Year’s Eve – no time to put it in the bank, as we’re leaving first thing in the morning, and why rush? There’ll be plenty of time! I’ll deposit the checks in the bank first thing on Tuesday (Monday being a bank holiday) write a check to the landlord, and have done with it. Easy!

Except I forget my checkbook. OK, no problem, I’ll still deposit the check, get a bank check, mail it out, and still be fine.

Did you know that Citibank has not a single branch or ATM in the entire state of Arizona? No, neither did I. After driving all over God’s green earth to fucking Scottsdale of all places, only to discover that the ATM I was directed to by the ever so helpful Citibank website was not, in fact, a Citibank ATM, but only one owned by one of their affiliate networks. Of course I couldn’t deposit the checks there. Of course.

My brief and, understandably, terse conversation with Citibank revealed these facts, along with the helpful advice that I should “buy a money order and send that.” Cocksuckers. With what money should I buy this money order? And will the extra that I pay for this miraculously purchased money order be reimbursed by the gentle benevolent blockheads at Citibank? No it will not.

Keeping myself in check, I decide to go with this dunderheaded new plan, nothing else leaping forward to suggest itself.

Frankly, I’m boring myself, but suffice to say that the money order was purchased, only I had to buy two, and Walmart kept refusing my debit card, and Citibank told me I could only purchase $1,000 per 24 hour period, and every time I tried to call Citibank to discuss it, my cell phone would die and I had to go back and forth to Walmart four times, and Steph and I got in a wicked argument about money, which was made all the worse by the knowledge that it was all my fucking fault, and had I simply brought the fucking checkbook (or better yet, paid the rent before we left) none of this would be happening. Arguments where you know you’re wrong have the tendency to turn into vicious personal attacks, just to keep the focus off of the fact that a) you’re wrong, b) you’re stupidly defending your wrongs and c) you’re just wrong, wrong, wrong. A process that could have taken fifteen minutes and a stamp took 3 days, 4 trips to Walmart, fourteen dollars to express mail the money, an argument with my wife, two hour-long conversations with various fuckwits at Citibank, and the admission to my parents that, in spite of living on my own for well over 15 years now, I’m still an irresponsible twit.

It was as if the ghost of 2005 wanted to get some last licks in before I could really arrive in 2006.

That’s Steph’s interpretation. My thought is that I asked for this.

Through various methods, I have recently asked that the universe provide me with opportunities to increase my “Strength”, that is, my ability to deal with the world effectively and to control my own character flaws. Now, most of my life, I have had the ability to coast by on sheer luck – good karma, good timing, call it what you will. I watched that rug get jerked right out from under me this week, and I think that that is the lesson the universe is trying to teach me. In watching the lives of my friends and loved ones, I have noticed that the kind of convergence of events like the ones I experienced this weekend happens pretty frequently – people get kicked out of their apartments on holidays, simple arguments escalate into trips to the hospital, promised funds don’t come through, trusted equipment fails. But I was always amazed to watch it happen. But now that it’s happened to me, I realized something. I have lived a charmed life up to this point, and there is no guarantee that it will continue to be so charmed. I have asked to become stronger, and the universe has obliged by removing the net, the net I barely recognized was there, but which I now know was essential. That little bit of wiggle room, that space to procrastinate which I always had because “hey, everything always turns out alright in the end” is gone. The training wheels are off, and now I get to play for real.

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting year…


  1. You really should have paid your rent before you left =P. You asked for strength - I respect that. Happy New Year - I hope 2006 is a marvelous year for you and Steph.

  2. Happy new year Scotty!

    Did you know that "dunderhead" is my word for 2006? I kid you not.

    I'm guessing the training wheels have been off for a while and you're only just looking down and noticing they're gone now. But hey, you were doing fine before you noticed!