Getting it Together

20140625-142704-52024098.jpgBeing an adult is hard. I’m thinking about this as someone types the exact same thing to me. It’s a general feeling that I’ve had for the past week. This probably has everything to do with the fact that I am now 40. I have all these preconceived notions of what 40 should be and I can say for sure that I am not there.

I have been evaluating my life to figure out exactly where I am. As a person who has lied to himself on several occasions during my 30’s, self evaluation has become critical to my ever growing development as a person and as a man. It’s not easy to really admit one’s faults but I’ve come to realize that is a young person’s game. At my current age I should have my shit together and its sad to say that I don’t.

I guess you can say that I’ve been “Faking the Funk” when it come to certain portions of my life. I think life can be divided into sections like work, love, family, and financial (to name a few). For the most part, the majority of my life is good and I can’t complain about much. I’m so fortunate to have people that care about me. I’m grateful for my friends, family, and a wonderful job. Yet the financial part of my life is in shambles.

This has nothing to do with whether or not I get paid enough. This has everything to do with a problem I have of ignoring my issues. I can’t even explain why I do it. I will only guess that there is a fear of numbers. I feel like I owe money to the world and it can be a little intimidating. Which is why, at 40, I’m starting to feel that I need to get my shit together. I need to stop pretending that these bills will magically go away because they wont. In short, I need to start acting like a grown up.

blogMaybe I had a little bit of Peter Pan syndrome where I would just fly around shit and just enjoy the things I wanted to do while ignoring the fact that the real world exists. I cannot do that anymore and for many men, that is the crux of the problem. We ignore shit thinking that perhaps things will go away. For many guys, it’s a doctor they avoid and for me it’s my finances (dentists are a close second…smh – don’t worry I have an appointment tomorrow). But, I realize I cannot do this anymore. Forty year olds are supposed to have all this figured out right?

Even if they don’t, I need to get my shit together. I sat down last week in a panic mode trying to figure out how to improve this part of my life because I know I can get out of this mess I created for myself. In order to do this, I need to improve all aspects of my life as well. I created some reminders that go off everyday on my phone such as, creating and checking my daily to-do lists, create an additional budget plan for debt management, going to bed early, and being on time. These are just small things that will lead to larger goal management since, clearly, what I was doing before was not working so I have to try new things. It is very easy for me to NOT do something and it gets easier to be complacent as I get older. So it is all about being intentional to do things outside of my comfort zone.

The sad part about this is that I know that I’m not the easiest person to deal with. I can be defensive and dismissive when people who care try to tell me about my bullshit, but in the end they are absolutely correct. I do need to get my shit together and it has to happen now. I have to start thinking about life as an older man and that requires the type of planning I wasn’t willing to do when I was in my thirties.

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Syracuse’s Last Laugh

The best thing about being an event planner is this acute perception of the larger world. The reason is because one has to plan for anything and everything. If something goes wrong, there must be a Plan B. So, needless to say that when it came time to move from Syracuse to New York City, I had to make sure that I had a plan in place to make sure that I can survive until pay day…even if that pay day is on Halloween.

If you recall, I made my announcement on August 8th and I left Syracuse on September 16th. I had about 4-5 weeks to plan my return. I needed to make sure my move was carefully planned with the packing of all my stuff and the throwing away of the things I didn’t want. I also had ensure where I was going to stay and make sure, as well as have enough money to survive. All these things were done and I thought of everything, at least, that is what I thought.

I knew a while ago that once I leave SU that I was going to have to take money out of my 403b. I needed to be able to replace an lost income so I can do things like eat. I would hate to have to borrow the money or have to rely on anyone. Besides, the plan was full proof. I would not have to miss a payment on any of bills and I would be straight.

The Plan was simple. Fill out some paperwork right before my last day and just wait for the check. Now, I understood that there were going to be some small hang ups. First, I could not do direct deposit because I changed my bank along time ago and when I opened a new checking account a few years back, I never ordered checks. So, instead of ordering a new check book with a Syracuse address, I just decided to have them send the money to my old house and then have my buddy mail it to me. Of course, the question is…why do I not simply change my address? (I am glad you asked).

The process of changing your address and it getting verified takes three weeks, which was more than I was willing to wait, yet hindsight being 20/20, I suppose I should have. But, I still went with my gut because this was very good plan to me. I had already planned the move so getting paycheck after I get to NYC was going to just complete my master plan and make me feel comfortable until I starting getting my regular checks.

Well a funny thing happened in Syracuse. You see, I never got my check from TIAA Cref. I found it hard to believe that this could be there fault. I followed their process to the letter. But, every time I called my buddy, the check was never in the mail. So what was I to do but call the company that wrote the check in the first place? As expected, they tell me that the they sent out the check, but what I didn’t expect was for them to tell me that it was returned by… THE SYRACUSE POST OFFICE.

The lady had the envelope in front of her when she read it to me. It stated that my former address was an “undeliverable address.” I was flabbergasted. The lady was almost beginning to wonder if my address was real and I had to assure that it was. I told her a funny joke about this whole thing was that I did get mail from TIAA Cref that same week because I had my buddy send me some of mail down and what I got was some retirement benefits information. That alone tells me that if I can get those damn booklets, then I should be getting this check.

Her suggestion was to call the Syracuse Post Office that handles my mail. Of course, I called the main branch in the area which is located on Teal Ave. I have been there several times when it had to do with buying the house and making sure they knew I was the owner of the property. I spoke to (what I believe is) the Post Master and I explained the situation. He tells me that the US Postal Service would never just send any piece of mail back (really? tell me more). The person who is ultimately responsible for doing this is the individual mail carrier.

So he puts me on hold after I give him my address so he can check what is going on. After some time, he comes back and informs me that my address is valid (I was shocked). I told him that I need this check and that I am getting another one mailed out. I was reassured that there should be no problem. I call TIAA Cref back to say that the address is all good. So I have to do the one thing that I really did not want to do and that was wait and survive. But, of course, the best laid plans never take idiots into account.

That was 2 weeks ago. They sent the check back… again. While I want to be so angry at this whole situation, I can’t help but think that the city of Syracuse wanted to make sure that they got their last laugh on me. Do not get me wrong, I love my alma mater, but the city itself has just wore out its welcome with me. Just the idea that it can take them more than 15 years to try to expand that mall was enough for me.

So Syracuse can have that laugh, I have already made arrangements with direct deposit and the money that I am waiting for will be put to better use.

Summer Projects

I know that the summer has been upon us for a week or so now and I still have a lot of work to do. Selling the house has been pretty flawless in the logistical process but the physical move has been stressful. I have now taken the time to do a personal inventory of things and it just confirms to me that I have a lot of personal work to do. Of course, not all summer projects should be work related or stressful but perhaps a time to get the things done that I couldn’t when school was in session.

It terms of writing, I am hoping to get more posts done. I have been scaling it back based on life issues and the whole notion of doing less talking and more doing. I think that I have made great strides this year with just getting stuff done however, I need to focus on things that I love. That means I have to do more reading outside the classroom. My list of books have been centered around my class and I should read recreationally.

With that said, I started reading 50 Shades of Grey. I chose this book for two reasons. The first was because I was curious to know what the hype is about. I always want to know what people consider to be a “good read.” The second reason is because while I may have not been posting on this blog but I have been keeping up with my short story writing. Most of my stories are adult themed in nature and sometimes it is best to get a feel for how others write. On the other side, I have been reading a lot of comic books. I have made it my business to catch up on the comics I have missed out on for months.

Speaking of comic books, The Amazing Spider-Man comes out next week and I am mildly excited about it. I know people who have already seen it and I am told that it is not bad at all but the story line leaves something to be desired. I can tell just by watching the trailer that there will be multiple sequels Perhaps they are trying to tell a larger story and I will have to make that judgment. But, I will tell this… The Dark Knight Rises is going to be the one movie I have been waiting all year for. Yes, The Avengers was spectacular and, at the moment, still remains #2 on my all time Comic Book Movie list. However, Chris Nolan has knocked it out of the park with so many movies…is it wrong for me to expect anything less with this last Batman film?  Oh we will see…

I have also decided that I am going to put a number on the amount of jobs I should be applying for. It just a number but it would make me feel better if I reached this number. By the end of the summer I would have liked to apply for 20 available job postings. This does not mean that once I go over this number that I will stop, I just think that this is a nice round number to prove to myself that I am indeed doing my best to get back home. As of today, I have applied to three with one of them landing me a phone interview.

The other project or goal is to figure out how I can save money and still function at the level that I want. I was strategic enough to figure out how to get out of the house, but now I have to figure out how to get out of debt. I have thought of a few ways but they may make things harder rather than easier. This is why it is essential for me to get a job that pays more. Truth be told, consolidation is probably the key. There is no way I can sit here and think that there is going to be some law or bill that will be passed that will magically make my student loans disappear.

Finally, I would really like to get my health back in order. This is not to say I am sick, but it is time to see the doctor. I think all the physicality that took place with the move and the attempt to run again, I may have strained or pulled something. It is getting better as the days pass but I will make sure that I can handle that with knowledge.

Indeed the summer looks promising. I can just hope I continue to be on the roll I have been all year…

If I had $250 Million…

Yesterday was a very interesting day in sports with Albert Pujols signing a huge deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. For those who know anything about baseball or just sports in general know that Pujols is the best player in Baseball right now. In fact, I think he may go down as one of the top 10 players ever. With this being the case, of course he has the ability to get top value for his talents thus signing a 10 year, $254 Million deal. That is about $25 Million dollars a year!

But, it makes me wonder what I would do with all that money. This amount is just about unfathomable to me because it is so ridiculous. I am sure there are is a certain lifestyle that one would automatically live with that kind of money, but I gotta say that being debt free would be amazing. My first checks would be to pay off the car, the house, and that damn Salle Mae. I would take care of all and any debt that I currently have because I cannot stand bills.

Before people start any thoughts toward judgement, one must walk in the shoes of people who have been divorced. It is damn difficult to live a life in which two incomes were needed to live the life they had. It is not like any bill collector has a divorce option. It is not like they will reduced payments or take into consideration that there is a hardship. So being debt free is something that is would be far more liberating than having the money to do just about anything.

The next thing I would do is pay off mortgages and/or student loans for those whom I love. Various friends and family would not have that burden. My nephew would get a free education from this moment on. This would be my way of paying back the people who have always supported me. Life is so much easier when you do not have to worry about paying off things that you own.

I would start my own publishing company. I feel that books and reading are so important in this life. It would be an upstart company for those who want to be published but do not want to self publish. This would be my full time “job”. I would travel the world not only to see things I never seen before but to also gain inspiration for future writing endeavors of mine. I would also go back to school worry free of tuition and the time constraints of employment.

It would also be great if I could create scholarship for students who apply themselves academically but also are involved in their campus communities. There is much to be said for student leaders on campuses across America. I am not so sure they get recognized for the hard work they do to put on programs and workshops. Leadership skills should be rewarded to those who demonstrate how to be a leader. I would start that scholarship at Syracuse University.

I would invest my money in projects of fellow alums that need someone to believe in them. I would also invest monies in the market so that I cant continue maintaining that large amount of money in order do things I want to do. I would give money back to communities that need building. I am not out right saying I would be a landlord but I think fixing up houses and buildings in dilapidated neighborhoods helps build confidence within any community.

No, I would not live in a mansion. I do not desire to do that. I don’t even think I would live in a house, although I would own land. I would like to live in a place that is suitable for me and a possible small family in NYC. I would own one car that would probably be expensive but that would be my personal gift to myself. While I would have nice things, I doubt that I would spend crazy amounts of money on articles of clothing or unnecessary things.

Having all the money opens up so many things for me and for the people I care for. It would be nice if my children could have an education free of student loans and not because I work for a university. Clearly I am writing this as a broke 37 year old man so I would hope that money would not define me. But the things is, I just don’t know. Money has a way of change people as well as circumstances. Just like that saying goes.. “absolute power corrupts absolutely

What I do know is that I know what is to survive on less than a 100 dollars between pay checks. I am mature enough to understand that even though I cannot take the money with me when I die, I can leave a legacy…

…and leaving a legacy is much easier when you have $250 million in your pocket.

Anxious About Spending?

We are entering the Christmas season and I have no idea what I am going to do. I am finally catching up on those bills and the extra money is making me anxious. It is not that I want to spent it frivolously, it is because there is so much I have not gotten myself, outside of the essentials, over the past year. I am afraid to actually get something for me that I may enjoy.

I am concerned that I will regret getting a Nook or a Wii because what if I may need the money for something else? I would love to get a new Macbook but there is something in the back of my mind that is stopping me from pulling that trigger. Don’t get me wrong, I need clothes too and chances are that I will be more comfortable with getting a new suit, or boots, or maybe even a new pair of gloves rather than a flat screen TV. It is horrible to think that the chance of finally upgrading to an iPhone 4 (which will cost me about $200) has arrived and I do is get anxious about it.

Then it gets me wondering, do I really need video games? Most likely not, but I know that I do not have any new consoles. This is something that I am not complaining about but, I know that video games was something that once entertained me immensely. When I was in BestBuy this past Friday, I saw the Wii Black on sale for like $140. I almost died thinking about how easy it would be for me to purchase it right there and then. Either way, I am glad I didn’t do that because I do have the desire to get some gifts for people in my life for Christmas.

There is the thought, of course, that perhaps I do deserve to splurge just a little since I have been hard on myself. However, I have purchased books and I go out to drink every so often. Yet, there is this thought that I need to save as much as I can just in case something else goes wrong.

So I have a lot of thinking to do before the year is over on what I should do. I have another trip to NYC to make for another holiday and I will once again be looking to have fun so I may just save the money until then.

MyMindIsRacing

It has been a very long month. I cannot seem to focus on anything. I have tried to come up with a decent blog today, but it is just not happening. I also did not want to skip today either. I need to write in order to express myself. I know I am at a crossroads in my life and I am finding it difficult to take that next step.

This goes beyond moving on and letting go. This has to do with stability, that is so hard to come by in this recession. I am really starting to see how all this stuff is starting to effect me. Gas is getting too expensive again and that is making it hard to just make trips to New York City. Of course, once I get there, it would be hard not to spend money. I find myself shopping at the dollar store (which, I should have been doing all along). Things are just so tight lately that I feel constricted.

Personally, I am dealing with so many things. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a good friend. The loss of Michael Jackson. It seems like this month has been a total loss for me. I wont mention becoming 35 and the fact that the New York Mets cant seem to get a win when I need it the most. This also seems like the month that everyone is dying in, so that is never good. I am trying to find the little the things that can keep me going.

There are things I am looking forward to. I am going to Florida in 2 weeks. This will be a treat for me and I hope to have fun with my parents. I will definitely blog about them and the heated pool (my father doesn’t like the water to be too cold…yet I sweat in the damn water). I have my grad school classes to look forward to. I will also say that I miss my students. They tend to give me more energy than I give them credit for.

The point is…I need June to be over..

Money

March is almost over. I am so very surprised by this. It has been a pretty long month. Usually, these months fly right by, but since I have blogged everyday, it makes me actually stop and look around. Otherwise, I might just say how fast this year is going.

The economy is still bad. Which makes me wonder how long it will before we start thinking this is the norm. One of the things I use to say in my old blogs was that the ghetto is expanding. While I meant it in the way of the Hip Hop culture taking over, I feel that now with more and more rich people being broke, well the ghetto is starting to expand.

What will the rich white people do? The ones who gained all that wealth on the backs of others? The ones who never worked a hard day, what will they do? I know they wont be picking grapes. They will be cleaning rooms in hotels. So what are they going to do? Perhaps they will make tent in a middle of big state park and call it Tent City.

Money is the root of all evil and we know this. While, it is unfair to point out every person who has lost jobs and money, you have to consider that for most people who live paycheck to paycheck and have riding the poverty line, not much has changed. Their economy has always sucked and life goes on.

I have been fortunate to still have my job and I know that. I hated working for corporate America and I may just add to the archives the blogs I wrote on how bad it was. While money can be good and used for good things, in corporate America, if you are not about making money then you are not valuable.

We are all valuable! Each and everyone has value. We are a part of the consumer market. So we have value. But the problem is that only a certain percentage of us have the power to control who puts value on us.

Bailout…

I need to get an HDTV! It has gotten to the point where too many people I know have one of these things, like my brother pictured above. We have talked about getting one but have always pulled back because of the prices. Now, with the economic downturn, I see these prices dropping rapidly. So, really it is just about what brand I want to pick.

Now, with all that being said. I still do not want to pull the trigger. I do not want to part with the money because I am always thinking about what if I may need this money later. The last thing I want to do is end up regretting making this type of purchase.

Buying stuff like this is not a show of success for me. If I want something I usually just get it, but this type of purchase just doesn’t sit well sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to play the wii on this thing. I would so much enjoy watching sports or movies on screen that is wide and crystal clear. Then, I think about what else I could use that money for.

Thinking about this sparks another thought, “Just what could I use my money for?” Well, besides the fact that I am going to Florida in July, I am not sure there is another purchase outside of bills and food that I absolutely need the money for. I do have hobbies, like comic books and music. Then there are clothes that I like to buy. So, I don’t really know.

The other problem I have is the need for me to use my money for Christmas shopping. Sure, it is along way out, but it happens to me every year. I will be hurting for money by the time Christmas comes around and then I will be dying to get my tax check. I need to reverse this trend.

I need a bailout!