One-score and five years ago, I diverged mightily from my peers and dropped out of college. Or failed out, whatever. (Technically I should’ve been a medical withdrawal as I had a horrendous case of mono, but a couple of dickhead teachers went ahead and gave me Fs anyway since my attendance record was somewhat spotty prior to the (in my case, inaccurately nicknamed) kissing disease. Again, whatever.) This led to a brief period where I tried to live at home (that lasted like two days) and then I moved back to where I went to high school and eventually picked up a few shifts at Taco Bell. Pretty classic case of being a shithead loser that couldn’t handle college and putting oneself on track to have a neck tattoo and three kids before the age of twenty two.
Although my reasoning for not giving a shit about college was pretty sound – I looked around at the 30,000 other kids eventually destined to graduate from my bottom-of-the-SEC-academically-and-that’s-probably-saying-something not-alma mater and wondered what would ever really make me different from all those other dipshits in the eyes of future employers. A valid concern, and as I now know I had a few lucky breaks that sent me down a more lucrative academic pathway. Back to 25 years ago…
Working like ten hours a week at $3.45/hour presented me with a few dilemmas, such as how to provide myself food for consumption. I also wasn’t technically living anywhere, staying at my then-SO’s house (she lived with her parents, and they were unaware that I was sleeping on their couch – chastely, might I add) – for a few hours a night. Some nights I slept in my car – I had the ingenious strategy of pulling my car into a used car lot so that nobody would give me shit like if I tried to crash in the Wal-Mart parking lot (before they were open 24 hours). While a 1981 280ZX shares many attributes with a plush recreational vehicle, retaining warmth was not one of them. This lean period frequently caused me to rue my failure to endure collegedom.
Eventually I sort-of moved in with some former coworkers – there were about 8 people living in a 600 sqft apartment at one time or another. I added additional jobs to my resume – donut cooker at a grocery store in the morning, tough guy who collected on newspaper subscriptions in the afternoon, Taco Bell closer at night. I got canned at Taco Bell (at the time for showing up late and having a bad attitude; when I saw my old manager a few years ago at a reunion he claimed they knew I was capable of more and needed to get the hell out of Dodge. Revisionist history.) and eventually got a far more lucrative job as a waiter, which allowed me to finally scrape together enough cash to get my own place before joining the Navy. (I was 19 and that was my second apartment I’d had on my own – old soul.) Other than eating at the Ragin Cajun restaurant, approximately 85% of my meals were Goober Grape-based. (At the communal apartment, when someone would bring in a block of ham, it was ironically like that scene in Hannibal when those pigs ate that dude.)
I have generally felt that those bootstrap-pulling times provided me perspective later in life. If that’s the case, I’m setting myself up to REALLY have some perspective about ten years from now….Let’s take stock of present-day Chilly: unemployed for going on five years (okay, sure, that was largely of my own volition, but I’m trying to draw parallels here), savings largely sapped (thanks AAPL, I’m not even a fucking fanboy and I got lured into big (well, relative to account size) bets based on eye-poppingly modest valuation multiples and insane cash flow and margins, not realizing that options have truly become the tail wagging the dog in a huge way), again semi-estranged from my mom (my dad passed away in January – no need for condolences, it was a relief after suffering from stroke complications for 18 months), I weigh close to 230 (my goddam foot still hurts from the plantar fasciitis) and the 49ers lost the Super Bowl because they acted like they didn’t give a shit for about an hour and a half. So, yeah, it looks like a full circle deal.
Getting into this situation wasn’t the same process as in 1988, where I kind of rejected the do-what-you’re-supposed-to-do thesis. Then, my thoughts were more along the lines of “look at all these dickheads, going to classes and stuff”…in the present I never really thought “look at all those dickheads going to work and stuff” – it was more born of being tired as shit. Being on a submarine, and then being a banker does not mix well for a classic Type B (translation: lazy) person. I wanted to take some time and just do whatever the fuck I wanted. I mighthave gotten a little carried away with that – I doubt many leading life coaches would embrace the “just fuck off instead of working during some of your peak earning years” approach.
So what is next for the Chillster? I did what any rational person would do – I packed up three suitcases of shit and drove to Austin, Texas where I rented an apartment for $600/month. Luckily, the girl leaving the apartment let me have her crappy furniture (my nice furniture has been in storage in Brooklyn for seven years – don’t ask) which may or may not be bedbug-infested. Yesterday, I bought two plates at Goodwill. Today I went to a different Goodwill and bought a pot and a spoon. (Reminder: six years ago I paid $87k for a car without thinking twice about it.) Tomorrow, I’m gonna buy a fork. And maybe look for a job. I’ll keep ya’ll posted.
Anyway, this post was meant more as an announcement that I’ll finally (for real) be posting more, as I will try and document my Phoenix-like rise. And I realize this post sounds like whining and bitching, but really it’s all good in the hood (extra appropriate since I actually live in the hood): some of my happiest times were being poor as shit, fighting it out with a bunch of other poor bastards for a hunk of ham.
And completely mitigating all other downers is the fact that, this Christmas, I finally achieved one of my life-long goals: owning half-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. More details on the gigantic Reese’s Cups here.
And a have a really cool roommate: