As if to let me know who is boss between myself and Karma, I broke my cell phone last night. Or more pertinently, a combination of gravity and the ground broke my cell phone last night. I wasn’t too concerned, however, because I had it insured. For six dollars a month, I was covered for theft, loss or damage. Sounds like a good deal, right? That is, until I discovered my deductible is 99 bucks. Doesn’t that suck? Over the past 16 months I’ve essentially been paying for the privilege of buying my phone back for the same price I bought it the first time. Insurance in this country – and I mean all kinds of insurance, particularly health insurance – seems to just be a way of fucking you over. But crazier still is that you get screwed even harder if you’re not insured. Insurance, in a nutshell, is a protection racket. “Pay us this much every month and you’ll avoid bankruptcy. You’ll still have to scrape every penny to keep your head above water, but hey, we won’t take your house.”

With minimal digging through previous posts, you’ll see the two biggest things to happen my in recent weeks, are the birth of my daughter, and the disintegration of my spine. Having a baby is expensive, it would seem. Because my doctor seemed reticent to send me for an MRI, as she didn’t want me to reach my limit, and have to pay a deductible. At least I think that’s what she said, because I don’t have a fucking clue about insurance over here. Back in Ireland, you go into a hospital, they do their thing, and Insurance pays it. If you aren’t insured, then the government pays for it. Simple huh? Of course, you’re probably thinking “why get insurance at all then”, but let’s just say, the difference in care is vast. But still… free fucking healthcare. Sharing a ward with 5 other people, with no TV, and food that appears to be leftovers from the local homeless shelter might not be ideal, but it sure beats bleeding on the sidewalk.

Anyway, as it turns out I won’t be getting an MRI; just Physical Therapy, which if I’m honest, suits me just fine: I have the posture of someone a couple of places to the left on the human evolution chart, so it’ll be nice to work some of the kinks out. Literally. In general, I feel I’m ready to get back in shape. I no longer drink alcohol; haven’t done so in months, which is the longest I’ve been dry since my teens. And as soon as my back starts to strengthen, I’m ready to renew my gym membership.

My diet has improved drastically. I eat way smaller portions for dinner and lunch, and my breakfast consists of a large bowl of porridge, which is Irish for oatmeal, and is made from water and oats, and a dash of salt, and nothing else. For snacks, I eat baby carrots. I’ve actually become obsessed with the things. It’s hard for me to comprehend that something so fucking delicious and gaudy in color can be healthy, and contain about as many calories as it takes to chew the fucking things. The only downside is they’re making me look slightly orange. I’m starting to look like a chubby version of The Situation.

Weirdly, for me, none of these changes seem to take any effort. It’s as though I got sick of loading my gut with chips, and ice cream and cheeseburgers. Perhaps it’s my kids. My Dad, who was a helluva lot more clean living than I (seriously, I’ve had weekends of excess that would kill a tribe of South American indians), died of Cancer when I was nineteen. It wasn’t really justified; as I said, he was a healthy man, who exercised, ate well, drank in moderation, and, well… if he had a crack habit, he hid it well.

My son gets upset when I go to check the mail. The prospect of leaving him on a permanent basis fills me with an aching, glassy-eyed terror. And my daughter? Well she won’t miss me: she’s four weeks old, and won’t ever have known me. She’ll just spend her life without.

Of course I need to learn to chill out. Between me and you, it was probably stress that took my Dad. And I’m not the most mellow of souls, truth be told. I’m thinking maybe a change of employer in the near to mid future. Life’s too fucking short to spend half my waking life in a place that will happily fire me for the most innocent of mistakes, or let me go because profits are down a couple of billion bucks. I’m not built for that shit. I’m intelligent enough to have a higher standing in life, if that’s the kind of life I wanted. But it’s not. I work to live, not live to work. And while I need to pay the rent and feed my kids, I’m not willing to do work a job that makes me miserable just to keep my head above water. Not anymore, anyway.

Life’s whizzing by, and it’s not stopping to wait until you finish that report, or get that promotion, or clear your mortgage. You’re kids won’t look back and remember the PS3 you bought them, or the shiniest bike in the store. They’ll remember all the times you spent with them. The times you laughed with them, cried with them, sang them to sleep. And guess what? You don’t need to make $100k a year to do any of that.

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