Archive for October, 2011

How Can You Afford Your Rock ‘N Roll Lifestyle?

We live in a world where it seems like just about the only thing our generation hears about these days feels is how things are out there in the world. Maybe I am more insulated from that than some, surrounded by many friends who have landed on their feet in whatever passes for the Great Recession these days; many of us are just a few years older to give us that competitive advantage over the poor early 20 somethings coming out now. We’ve had more time to get ourselves situated professionally. For me, that was certainly important. I spent a year unemployed and two more underemployed before I finally managed to land the gig I have now, which may as well be called a refuge for English majors given how many of us are in the Correspondent lending arm of Wells. I, like anyone else, had my reasons for wanting my security, but they didn’t involve a house or anything like that. I had to take care of myself personally, and I knew that what I needed at the time to do that was good insurance, and that’s what made the job at Wells even more attractive. Here was a big employer that was going to provide me with all the benefits I needed that would also be amenable to my situation in terms of being trans. On top of all of that, I happened to be pretty good at the initial job that I started in there. I didn’t like it, but I did happen to be good at it.

Over the past four and a half years since I joined Wells Fargo, I have managed to take care of the trans-specific issues in my life through my insurance and my income. So especially last year, as many of the costs were ebbing or already known quantities in terms of my transition, I found myself, if not with an excess of money and time, with a surplus of both. 2008 was a bad year musically for me, and 2009 was somewhat insular for me musically, but last year, I made a decision that I was going to figure out how to get to the shows I wanted to within reason and go. This is where you and I have a bit of a debate about what is within reason. What, by my count, I hit 54 last year? Something in that neighborhood. Most of them were right here in the Twin Cities, but a couple popped up in other locations like Des Moines. I am fortunate enough to live someplace where I don’t have to travel all that much and I can still see what I want to. Even subtracting travel costs, though, going to that many shows is expensive. I like to enjoy a beverage or two, I may end up with another LP or a 12″ (or 2 LPs and a 12″ in the case of the Mountain Man show), I may grab a bite at The Depot. That all adds up, and it’s on top of the cost of the tickets themselves. So yes, it’s definitely a lot of money and time. Conversely, I know that it is something important to me, something that I want to earn the money and have the flexibility to keep doing for the time being.

2011 has been no different. By my count, I’ve already been to 42 shows. I’m going to another tonight. In fact, I may spend every other night, on average, attending some sort of live music in October (yes, that’s how crazy good October is). And it still adds up. It’s a lot of my extra income. So maybe I am just lucky in that I managed to avoid any meaningful debt until I started the transition process, and I still don’t have so much that I’m worried. I am not stuck in an underwater house, and I don’t have mounting expenses relating to anything that is not entirely within my control. I can go to less shows, drink less beer, eat out less, play less poker. I have no family to take care of. That isn’t to say I don’t someday want that family to help support or that house to help pay for. But I am still young (relatively) and I know that my life situation could change tomorrow. It’s unpredictable, of course, and we all have to plan like we’re going to live a long time while simultaneously living like we may die tomorrow. That, I’ve found, is a philosophy worth embracing. So yes, I’m going to try to make to the next show that piques my interest. Tonight it’s Dum-Dum Girls. I am going to visit a friend in San Francisco for her birthday and I already found a show that I’m going to go to on that trip. Because it’s important to me. This isn’t a judgment against the money you may spend raising your child, paying for the next degree, or living in the house you’ve always wanted to. It’s an affirmation that if those are the things that are important to you, that’s what you should be doing. But we all always have to challenge ourselves to think about what is important to us. That is definitely something working in the mortgage industry has taught me. I see so many loans that make me wonder if these individuals are buying a house because it seems like it’s the next thing one should do or it’s the right decision for them. All I know is so far it hasn’t been the right decision for me. At least at this juncture. There’s a lot of pressure to conform, if not to the norms of society, then at least to the norms of one’s peer group, and many of my peers do live quite different lives. But it’s certainly not my place to judge. The next time you ask me how I do all of this, though, well, just remember, it means a lot to me, which is the same thing I think about when I see you raising a couple kids or going back to school for an advanced degree. Whatever it is, that’s why it’s worth pouring money into. Besides, it’s not like I’m taking any of it with me when I’m gone.

And if you ever wonder how I live, well, just prepare to get a little less sleep on a Wednesday night, order a PBR or a scotch and soda, and let me know. Maybe I’ll even get you a ticket.

 
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