Friday, November 3, 2006

From The Desk Of The Jeremy Crow R&D Department - Volume 5

Well I took a trip out to Big Lots on my way home from work last Friday. This is a tradition of mine on the days when I know I don’t have to get the kids off the bus or whatnot. It gives me a sort of instant gratification to be able to go into the place and pick through the crap that nobody else wanted and see if there is any of it that I want, and with the prices so low, I can afford to buy myself a few comfort items and perhaps some for the kids. If the things break in a few weeks it really doesn’t matter because I paid about one tenth the original values. Shopaholism is a disease that most of us drunks start suffering from the moment we put down the toys and pick up the tools, and the trick is to figure out a way to stifle the progression of that as well before we become out of control, broke, and with a house full of shit we don’t need.

I’m bringing this up because I had a moment of clarity last week that actually did me some good while I was in there, and like with anything that was actually common sense, it was originally uncommon to me. When I finally started using my brain for an intellectual device as opposed to a pornography making device, I happened to be in the right place for a change. There were bins full of Digital Plus rechargeable batteries and chargers, along with all the replacement refills, and a few other really cool gizmos to go along with them. The light bulb didn’t initially go off over my head, but when it finally did I had arms full of these things. I had two of the chargers {which happen to come with both wall outlets, car adapters, and 4 double A sized batteries}, and two of the expansion packs {which included 4 double A batteries and the slide over covers to make them into C or D size} and all of it came up to about 21.95 which just for the batteries would make them about 1.50 each, which initially seems like a lot of money. It is still cheaper than buying them at Wal-Mart even if it is more expensive than simply buying alkaline batteries. I had a replacement remote for all of the remotes that the kids broke as well to the entertainment room which was what I initially had gone in there for.

When I got home and plugged all of the batteries into the wall outlets I then realized that the new remote uses Triple A batteries and felt rather stupid initially but I am here a week later after changing all of the batteries on 3 wireless mice and two other remote controls in the house saving me from having to go out to the store and plunk down at least 8 dollars for all of those batteries, and I have fresh batteries waiting on the chargers for whatever is next. For this I am rather proud of myself because it falls under the heading of “getting my life in order” even if it is mostly about saving myself the time of driving to the store, despite having to drive back to the store that day to get batteries for the remote. Now with that said it also changes my perspectives on other things that I had been putting off, like getting wireless speakers for the entertainment room and the office that I keep this computer, as having to buy batteries has always been the main reason I never cleaned up those messes. Even if I have to stop and get a couple of more battery packs and chargers, I should still be way ahead of the game, and the feeling of satisfaction is there despite how stupid it might seem to some people. The fact remains that I feel good about myself simply because I did the next right thing even if it appears frivolous in the long run.

This translates into a lot of things really now, as I don’t have to find an extra 5 dollars here and there to get things like batteries, and I watch the money in my savings account grow. I looked at my account the other day and I actually had 328 dollars in there. Again this might not seem like much, but all of my credit cards are paid. I have no car payments because I paid for those in cash and took advantage of the “rebates” {which is techno speak for the money you LOSE if you finance at 0 percent … that is such a scam … aka if you get a 3000$ rebate for paying with cash or by bank credit you lose it if you finance at 0 percent so it is the same as paying 3000 dollars in interest on a 15 thousand dollar car that is 20 percent or as I learned way back when … dumb} which was another thing I learned along the way. I have no mortgage, and realistically I just paid the property taxes, so I am going into the Christmas season {better get more batteries} way ahead of the game considering that I have two empty credit cards, should I need those. 328 dollars sounds like a small fortune now, doesn’t it? This is a victory of self that I usually wouldn’t have taken the time to pay attention to had I not purchased rechargeable batteries from Big Lots, and again I am proud of myself.

This all goes above and beyond all of the other things that I take for granted in my life, but it still depends on the day or other environmental as to whether {whether not weather … different type of environmental} I have the ability to be grateful or not. The counterbalances to everything are staggering depending on whether or not I want to participate in my rebuilding or my ruination. I have been sober 17 years, which is a great thing but can be translated into two totally different things, and the inner struggle is amazing on it based on my gratitude level. On the one hand I could be cranky that I am not out hanging out in bars picking up chicks, which quickly translates in “gratitude speak” into “like you ever picked up chicks, you got trashed made an asshole out of yourself, and lost all of your money” if you are simply honest about it. I know that is what happens when someone starts whining about wishing they could have one beer. The honest approach and what my grateful mind will translate that into is “you never wanted one of anything, and come to think of it, one beer sounds like a shitty time from someone who doesn’t know how to drink properly like me! I want to just have 90 beers, so I guess I won’t!”

I don’t have to go out and buy the newest and coolest gadget on the market today. This can be a real struggle which if I keep myself in that foray long enough I usually end up winning and in the end beat myself up about a lot less. I have gone to the stores around here and stared longingly at those widescreen LCD TVs and my credit cards are after all empty. The better part of my mind knows that Christmas is coming up so I don’t have the money available to get one, and I am not stupid enough to think anyone is getting one for me. For the most part I have been able to remind myself that if I get through Christmas in good financial shape then I should be able to buy one {cheaper mind you as the stores will be desperately trying to get rid of them then} and have a feeling of doing “The Next Right Thing” which aids in getting me to “The Next Right Thing” and a better view of myself.

This translates very well when I look at my financial situation because unfortunately there are variables in my financial situation that are horribly unfair and dwelling on them would make me miserable with no hope of getting out of it. I have an ex wife that was totally irresponsible when she was the custodial parent of the children who never had to go without a child support check while I was paying them. The state of Maine made it very well known that I was going to jail if I missed one. She has made 7 of her weekly payments since 2002 and simply moves when the state finds her, and quite frankly it is futile to assume that anything will change in that regard. Sitting around mired in my muck while I was struggling to make ends meet was not an option because it wasn’t the next right thing. I take care of my children to the best of my ability and sometimes that’s all I can do. The gratitude in all of that is that I could still be paying half of my paychecks to her so she could spend it on booze and drugs, and new boyfriends. I could watch my children fall farther into hopeless circumstances. I could pick them up in dirty clothes with lice, after walking through an apartment that the bathtub was full of dirty dishes, and all of their dirty clothes were in piles in the corners, with no hope of them being washed. I could simply feed them well, buy them new clothes, and cry myself to sleep because I had to bring them back there every other weekend, or I could simply be happy that that is over. Despite her making them all homeless and finally getting up the balls to take them away, she was able to take every last dime I had saved through legal fees and lawyers, and endless appeals. Nothing is going to change her, and all I can do is change me, and hope it is for the better. I now have a couple of battery chargers, my kids and 328 dollars in the bank. I’ve come a long way baby! ;8o)