Tuesday's card was The Devil.
I don't remember what the previous few days' cards were; I know I drew them, but I didn't write them down, which is kind of not the point of this exercise. The point of this exercise was dual: as a mindfulness exercise, and to help me memorize all the card meanings. But I'm also sort of using it as a diary.
This week wasn't very successful in terms of mindfulness, or, predictably, any of the things that mindfulness is supposed to result in, like inner peace or productivity or all of that. I was not, as I was painfully aware but not really up do doing much about, at peak performance. In fact, I am so not at peak performance that I'm taking tomorrow off in the hopes that having an extra-long weekend will help me recharge and I can get back to work on Monday ready to actually write some stuff.
Anyway. Last weekend was fun, but it was long and expensive. I remember Sunday was the Nine of Wands, the "strength in reserve" card, which I assumed was going to refer solely to the task of taking Tim grocery shopping, a task that frustrates me at the best of times. This was not the best of times. The best of times is when Tim is relatively uninjured and is paying his own way. This was the first time he'd been out of the house since having his knee surgery, and since he has been unemployed for nearly six months now, I was footing the bill for mom's birthday party. Our cousins were bringing dessert but we were still picking up the stuff for dinner, appetizers, and drinks for eight people. In an attempt to rein in the chaos and spending I had Tim send me a list of what ingredients we actually needed beforehand; this resulted, of course, in our having an argument over cabbage, with me insisting it was not on the list and him insisting it was definitely part of the recipe and we needed to get it. I eventually relented, and it turned out that it was indeed part of the recipe, he just hadn't sent it to me. He was quite smug about this, considering himself to have won the argument, because he was right that we needed the cabbage. I considered him to have fucked up the one simple task I gave him, and I'm never, ever, ever taking him grocery shopping ever again under any circumstances. Next time he can send me the list and I will go by myself.
This was only part of the day. I got up early to complete a freelance assignment before going over there, which I was grateful for, although I still think it would be nice if I got paid enough on just one job. I tried not to do the math in my head about how what I was getting paid from the extra income I've brought in doesn't quite cover either the income I've lost this month (from either increased fixed expenses or the 401(k) reduction in my paycheck) or the extra money I was spending just this weekend by covering both the part expenses and the present for Mom that I was "splitting" with Tim 100/0, at least for now. After the grocery adventure, there was the party for eight hours, which was quite a lot of fun, and would have been nice but a bit tiring if I had started it off fully rested and calm, because I'm an introvert, but instead turned out to be nice but fantastically tiring since I'd started it off already tired, frustrated, and trying to smother the flareup in my now near-constant state of financial panic, which basically makes me feel like I've got a rubber band around my lungs at all times.
Sunday morning woke up exhausted, slightly hungover, and afraid of looking at my bank balance, so I went home and took a nap and knocked out the rest of my story for BSpec and tried not to think about the fact that I had to put gas in the car Monday morning AND I had to go grocery shopping AGAIN because I had to get actual everyday food for myself.
Monday evening we went to get Tim and I new phones, because planned obsolescence meant mine had run out of room and Tim's wouldn't download necessary updates. We discovered that the previous plan we'd had, where you got to upgrade for a greatly reduced price after two years--in fact, last time, it had been free with turning in my previous phone--had been replaced by a new plan, where... well, where you just buy a new phone at full price on an installment plan, basically. They gave us two new iPad minis for free. I took one, although I don't really want an iPad mini for free on top of a five hundred dollar phone; I wanted a phone for less than five hundred dollars. I have opted not to be a dick and to try to resell the iPad, because I probably couldn't get that much for it. My phone is the one bill Mom still pays, and I feel bad that I really can't possibly even think about taking it over, so even though I wasn't even paying for it, I was still so super tilted by how many additional expenses they were able to squeeze out of us compared to last time. Trading in my old phone barely covered the price of a screen protector, which is now Highly Recommended instead of optional, because the new screens are more fragile than the old ones. Whether they are more fragile as the result of some awesome technological advancement or just were made more fragile in order to force us to buy screen protectors, I resisted the urge to ask because I know that is something that my Dad would absolutely have actually asked and I didn't want to piss Mom off by imitating Dad when she was being so nice as to buy me a stupidly pricey phone. I did not get a case at the store because I didn't like any of them and I thought I had a cash back deal with Zazzle on my credit card reward program, but it turns out is has expired and now I get to wait and see how long I wind up putting off buying a case for because they tend to cost money. Anyway, basically the entirety of Monday from 6 pm to 10 pm consisted of either standing around the AT&T store watching Mom get nickel and dimed to death so that we can continue to in any way participate in modern society, or entering the same three questions and my password into the phone repeatedly at each step of setup. (Oh, and at first Tim an I accidentally got our phones switched and backed up our information to each other's number, so we had to wipe the phone and go through the whole setup processes again.)
Monday's card, ironically, had been The Star: Hope.
Tuesday, as I mentioned at the top of this post, was The Devil. The Devil stands for bondage, materialism, sexuality, self-imposed limitations, all that sort of thing. It is not a great card. Tuesday was not a great day.
It started off okay; I got in early and conducted an interview with a poker player that I think went fairly well; he was nice and has been in the scene a while so seemed fairly used to talking to media, and I think I got some good stuff out of him. I have a bunch of pieces I have to write, which is what I want to be doing.
Then I met with my managing editor and he told me that the CEO says that they're on a salary freeze and so I cannot get a raise, even though everyone agrees I deserve one and I am doing significantly more work than I was hired for, because I am doing a bunch of the stuff that had previously been done by the two other reporters who LEFT BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT GETTING PAID ENOUGH AND WHO WE HAVE NOT REPLACED for christs's sake I'm literally asking for like two percent of what one of them was making. Like I know how irritating it is to be asked for money you don't have because it keeps fucking happening to me too but unless you're telling me you would have straight up laid off both of them by now if they hadn't left of their own volition, you can pay me an extra $2k out of however you'd have been paying both of those salaries.
The self-imposed limitation: I do not, do not, do not, want to leave this job until I can leave it with the experience and qualifications to look for new work as a writer, and reporter, and a gaming industry SME, instead of just as a copy editor. Since I am not racking up new experience as quickly as I would like to--the fastest way would probably be for me to get out from behind the copy desk and go to more conferences and industry meetings and poker tournaments and shit, and that all costs money so it ain't been happening--it'll probably be a damn long time before I could jump ship to another gaming media outlet as a journalist. Sometime in between now and then, though, I have to be able to pay all my bills. Which I could theoretically do if I both take on extra work and manage to somehow take it on at a higher rate than extra expenses happen, I could last a while, but that is eventually going to burn me out. It's one thing to copy edit for forty hours a week and the copy edit for five hours more. It's another thing to learn a new career and actually develop and write stories for forty to fifty hours a week depending on where we are in the magazine cycle and then come home and copy edit for an additional five to ten hours a week.
I'm not going to lie: I felt like I had been punched. I've largely been getting through the past few months without losing motivation on the idea that this was a temporary period of extra stress and it would end at some point, and I'd have a little extra income to offset the increases in rent and car insurance and Internet and Netflix and the retirement withholdings, but apparently this is not the case.
And to add insult to injury, the industry I'm so fucking intrigued by that I'm hesitant to unilaterally walk away from it over this? Is basically covering a bunch of dudes around my age who had the intelligence to avoid getting a job and instead travel around living on their wits. And they win or lose entirely on their own merits. Nobody can come in halfway through a tournament and say "I know you had the best hand there, but we're on a salary freeze so actually we're going to chop that pot" or "I know you came in first and we're very grateful, but we're only going to pay you the third-place payout because the economy's bad." When the economy's bad the prize pools get smaller, sure, but the numbers are pretty much just objectively whatever they are. Also, the poker economy is in such as state that the idea that I could possibly get good enough to become a breakeven player outside of anything but the very softest games, let alone make any additional money out of it, is laughable. My goal with poker is pretty much just to develop skills for the fun of developing skills, and to have it be my least expensive hobby instead of my most.
That's not going to help me get through, like, this December, though.
I was not very productive on Tuesday afternoon. I was not very productive when I got home Tuesday night. I did not do a card draw on Wednesday. I did manage to drag myself to the gym, but I forgot to wash my hair. The coffee machine at the office was broken. Halfway through Wednesday morning I realized I had been staring at my computer without writing for an hour, and I went for a walk down the greenway outside the office, sat on a park bench, and cried. Then I came in and tried to do more work. G2E is next week so there's more thinkpieces going around about the Why Millennials Don't Gamble As Much As The Same Goddamn Rich Baby Boomer Businessdude Fucks Who Called Us Financially Irresponsible For Going To College Think We Should topic, this time featuring some at least middlingly informed pushback from some actual younger people, whose argument is basically: Because we're young and broke. Shut up until we're less young and not broke.
Guys, congrats on doing more reading that most of the industry, but if you really dig around into the reports on millennial finances, you'll find that we're actually projected to never not be broke. The ramifications of the Great Recession will fuck us up and permanently alter our spending patterns for life, the same way your Depression-era grandmother won't ever throw anything away even though the Depression was eighty years ago.
Wednesday night I went to Irish class, because I'd already paid for it, but couldn't focus. When I got home near midnight, there was another freelance assignment waiting for me. I said I could do it by noon today.
Today I got up at 6 am and edited twelve pages for $45 before going to work. I also did a card draw, because why not.
Today's card was the Ace of Cups.
The Ace of Cups stands for "The Stirrings of the Heart" and in its upright form represents new love, emotional renewal, the beginning a new close relationship, a new phase of emotional life, or that you are about to be blessed with love and happiness. Guys, what the fuck? I don't know. Oddly it made me feel a bit better and I was able to ask for what I wanted at work, which was a deadline extension on one of the pieces I'm writing and to take tomorrow as a personal day/work from home so I can focus on either getting other shit done or possibly just drinking tea and watching Call the Midwife for hours. I also wrote back to a dude whose article I critiqued claim the barter for it, which is a free poker lesson. I'm not entirely sure how that'll go but it'd be silly of me to give up a chance to talk poker with someone who knows what they're on about.
It is ten o'clock at night now and I have not met any dreamy new people or feel especially blessed with love and happiness, but the funk is starting to lift. Sometimes, asking for what you want works, at least a little. Hopefully sleeping for fourteen hours will further renew me emotionally.
Update: It is now closer to ten-thirty and I am still working on getting onto the Internet to post this stupid thing, so good mood is largely gone. Holy motherfucking Jesus the entire week is like this. Can one thing, one tiny little thing, at any point, just fucking WORK?