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The Syndicate

 On the Couch.   
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Wednesday, July 23 2003 @ 03:07 AM PDT
 Viewed:  915 times  
LifeToday I crunched a bunch of numbers and worked out a budget that should cover everything once I start getting paid for the new job. The feeling I had when I realized that I should be in the black again by the time I start college was hard to describe.

A couple years ago, the roommate and I decided to go spelunking. More accurately, the roommate decided to go spelunking and asked if I wanted to join him. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so a couple weeks later we arrived in a little town about 50 miles west of Harrisburg whose name I can't remember.

We were just making a long weekend of it, so we only really had time for one excursion. The guide got the idea that we might go to this one particular cave, and since we didn't care much either way, off we went.

The first observation that I made is that spelunking in the kind of limestone caves that exist in southern Pennsylvania is best done by thin, wiry people. At the time I think I was carrying more weight than I am now, and there were a couple of points where I needed to contort a bit to get through.

The second observation that I made is that real caves are absolutely nothing like the ones you see in movies. Pretty much the only similarity I could find was the color scheme, and that was a rough approximation at best. You see, the thing that's incompatible with filming a scene in a cave is that real caves are formed by water. Water flows downward, through the path of least resistance. This makes the chances of a level dirt floor exceptionally poor. The other obvious difference is that real caves generally don't have enough room to have a fight scene or move out of the way of a cave-in or whatever.

The third observation, and I can't stress this one enough, is that moving in 3D is remarkably disorienting. I have a very good sense of direction and a high capacity for spatial reasoning, and at one point I realized that the room we were in, according to my reasoning, should be somehow suspended in mid-air in front of the cliff face at which we had entered.

So anyway, spending four hours crawling around in a cave is a hell of a lot more exhausting than I ever thought it would be. I'm not particularly claustrophobic, but with my height and build, there was just no way for me to get comfortable in that particular cave. When the group decided to call it a day, I was pretty relieved. A half an hour later we emerged from a hole in the ground covered in mud, and I lied down in the grass for a good ten minutes or so just reveling in the ability to do so.

That same feeling was definitely there as I closed my budget spreadsheet, but there was more to it than that.

When I was 22 years old, I made more money than either of my parents. By the time I turned 26, I was making more than both of them put together. The summer and fall that bracketed my 26th birthday, I spent traveling between three different cities, living out of hotels, eating at amazing restaurants, drinking at amazing bars. I had acquaintances in each city that I would call when I flew in that would take me out on the town to do pretty much whatever I wanted. Luxury box seats at NHL games, that kind of thing. It was as close to the rock and roll lifestyle as anyone would be likely to come in the world of electronic commerce.

The following year, I had something like $5000 of income for work that I did. I stretched my severance, claimed unemployment, emptied my 401(k), and still ended up over $4000 in debt to the roommate. I can't remember the last time I was at a restaurant and ordered wine.

It wasn't just the money either. Just when the whole September 11th stuff was starting to settle down, I got a phone call from my sister telling me that I needed to drive up to Lahey Clinic because my father had had a heart attack. I spent the next four days commuting from my apartment to the hospital, spending the entire day there, then driving home in the dark to try to get a couple hours of sleep that wouldn't come.

The days following that were spent handling funeral arrangements, buying a suit, seeing relatives, spending almost an entire night at Kinko's printing out programs for the service, memorizing the reading I was to give at the mass, and somnambulating back home for more sleep that wouldn't come.

As it turned out, two years ago I had everything but time.

Now, it seems, I should have enough of everything to get by, and for that I'm grateful.

I still miss what I had.

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  • In the Black
    Authored by: Dan4th on Wednesday, July 23 2003 @ 10:30 AM PDT
    I don't remember the last time that was happening. (Actually, yes I do. It was when I was working for the circus. I actually was out of non-student-loan debt. Once.) So, does this mean the job is confirmed? When do you start - and when are we getting you drunk?