Spoons

Not sure what I’m talking about today. I don’t really feel very well, physically, and mentally/emotionally, I’m just not feeling today at all. Haha

Yesterday’s post about my Star Wars jacket got me feeling all nostalgic. I was even looking at it again last night, hanging out in my living room’s sweet display. So much awesome nerdy stuff, I have! Prop replicas, toys, trading cards, memorabilia, autographed stuff, some old money and odd coins and souvenir plates and the like. Programs and ticket stubs from theatrical productions and concerts I’ve attended over the years. Scrapbooks, including one I made largely of old clippings from Starweek, the Toronto Star’s TV Guide. Also an abundance of stuffies more recently acquired at the zoo.

Hoping my latest mailing from The Mysterious Package Company arrives soon. Last time it got lost in the mail and had to be re-sent. I love mail, so I hate when mine doesn’t arrive!

I used to have a spoon collection, as a kid. It started because my grandma had one, and she had a spoon commemorating the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana (nee Lady Diana Spencer), which I admired so greatly that she gave it to me. I got a little spoon rack and hung my one spoon on it…and it kind of exploded from there.

It was an easy gift to give me, and something that I spent the next several years getting for myself as souvenirs from various places or special events. I ended up with a ton more Royal spoons, and spoons from pretty much everywhere we went in England on our high school band trip. I had spoons from other people’s trips, even. They’re everywhere, and so very shiny!

I had more spoons than room on the racks I also picked up over the years. When I stopped trying to display them, I packed them away in not the greatest of storage scenarios, but even then, I would often pull them out and go through them, always being surprised by the ones I’d forgotten I had, but always enjoying the rediscovered memories behind them.

Now, a good decade after we’d moved from the house in which I grew up, I have no idea where they currently reside. I’m fairly certain I don’t have them in the city with me, but I’m also fairly certain I actually packaged them up differently for the move, and I can’t for the life of me remember what I did, specifically. I don’t think I would have left them at my mom’s, but at the same time, my vinyl collection was still there until recently, and I don’t know why I didn’t just bring my records with me when I brought everything else from the house. So maybe there is somehow more of my things there, in the garage, or something. Or maybe they are so cleverly packed that I have them and just haven’t come across them yet, depsite moving a couple of times and having a vague memory of going through everything one time looking specifically for the spoons.

Maybe I should do that again, just in case.

I wish I could just Google where I put them.

My Star Wars Life (Part 1 of Infinity)

lukebespin%20esb

I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t love Star Wars. I was 5 when it was released in theatres (though I think I fell asleep during the matinee where I saw it for the first time; I remember droids in the desert, but nothing about a space battle at the end), and if I recall correctly, my first action figure was Bossk, who appeared in my Christmas stocking after Empire came out. Once my younger brother and I got started with the toys, what had started as a child’s playtime hobby would quickly grow into something far more. By the time Jedi was released, I was old enough to fall in love with Luke Skywalker, I’d begin to equate The Force as my first real understanding of religion and the nature of faith, and Star Wars took its place in my heart as a life-long obsession.

I joined the Official Fan Club right around then, and really never looked back. I wasn’t so much a collector as just a kid who wanted everything I could get my hands on, and I’m happy that most of it has more or less survived in my possession to this day. It’s all in terrible shape, but I wasn’t collecting it to one day sell it for an atrocious price – its value was far greater to me than to anyone else. To me it was priceless; as much so to me now as it was then. In some cases, even more. Star Wars – the whole scope of that galaxy long ago and far away – became more than just a fandom to me. It became a part of who I am.

I even got Carrie Fisher to sign one of the old photos I got in my original fan club membership kit – water-stained, pin holes and all. It hung on my bedroom wall for years and had seen its share of the ravages of time. The photo is of Luke and Leia on the Falcon after Ben dies in A New Hope (spoiler alert), and it’s always been one of my favourites, so having her sign it was a huge honour. Now I just need Mr. Hamill to make it to Toronto one of these days!

Bantha Tracks

Anyway, one of my biggest regrets, however, was in giving away my Luke Skywalker Bespin Fatigue Jacket – an exclusive of the official fan club, and something I’d begged my parents for what seemed like forever before they finally agreed to buy it for me. I can still remember going to the post office and buying a money order in US funds and dropping it carefully into the mailbox with my order form, clipped out of an issue of Bantha Tracks, the club’s newsletter. I think I’d rarely wanted anything so much in my entire life, before or since. Then, of course, I had to wait another forever for it to finally arrive in the mail, but when it did, it was perfection. All I could have hoped for and more.

Which was rare, really. Usually when I really want something, it ends up being not nearly as great as I thought it would be. That jacket, though, was even better than I’d dreamed, and I wore it everywhere, imagining myself to be Luke’s young Jedi sidekick or sorts.

Until I out-grew it.

Not emotionally. Physically, I grew too tall and it would no longer ever fit me again. I was kinda devastated, but reluctantly agreed to give it to our friend down the street, who was the same age as my brother, and therefore smaller than me. I cut the tag out of the collar to save as a memento, and gave away my greatest treasure. I mean, our friend was a huge fan, too, so I knew it was going to a good home, but still. It wasn’t my home.

Years – nay decades – went by, and I could never quite get that jacket out of my mind. Because my real obsession didn’t kick in until Jedi was released, I’d never gotten the action figure of Luke wearing it, so one day I bought a pretty sweet loose one in a comic book store, just on a whim. He was in better shape than many from that era, though missing his blaster and lightsaber. I didn’t care, though. Again, I wanted it for me, not to re-sell some future day. I even keep him separate from my other action figures, just because that one is a little bit extra special to me. Even still, though, the jacket – I couldn’t get the jacket completely out of my head. I wished I still had it so I could make a display for it – the smaller the jacket, the easier to display, even. It would have been perfect!

I’d occasionally peruse Ebay, looking for sellers who were getting rid of theirs, but on the rare occasion that I would find one (they only made so many in its very short original run), they were absurdly out of my price range. I knew I’d likely never find another one, and even went back to the mom of the guy I’d given it to, and asked if it was still by any chance in a box at her home or in storage somewhere. Zero luck.

searchvader

Until one day, during another supposed fruitless Ebay search, I found one. Not only had it been in storage since it had been purchased, but the seller even still had the original packaging in which it had been mailed! What’s more, I could afford it. What’s even more, there was a Buy It Now option that I could use, instead of bidding on it and risking losing it to someone richer than I. The only problem was that I no longer had any credit cards, because bankruptcy.

That’s where Tim stepped in and saved the day!

He bought it on his credit card, and I gave him cash a few days later once we’d gotten paid (and once we knew the conversion rate after shipping, etc, of course). To this day, I can not believe my luck! I tracked the shipment – multiple times a day, just in case it got any closer without me knowing – and waited with bated breath for my new old treasure to arrive.

When it finally did, I was almost in tears. Actually, even now, just thinking about it. It was perfect. As good as new, and so soft – I’d forgotten how soft it was. The tissue paper and brown sturdy paper envelope with the fan club’s original return address label on the outside, even the 80’s postmark…everything about it came rushing back in an overwhelming wave of emotion and memory for me. The seller hadn’t even known what size it was, but again, I didn’t care. I wanted to display it eventually, not wear it around. Now my Jedi sidekick-ish-ness is mostly done incognito, after all. 😉

Naturally, though, I tried that sucker on.

And it fit.

What the Force?! How did a kid in her late 30’s/early 40’s get so lucky as to find her one regret, her missing treasure, decades after having given it up because she’d grown too tall for it – and then find one that she could somehow afford and that actually FIT? I may not have eaten the healthiest for a few weeks there to make sure rent was still covered, but come on! That’s freaking amazing!!!

My next task was to sort out exactly how to display it. My initial plan had been to get one of those glass-doored display boxes for baseball jersey’s and bats and such, because I wanted to include my Luke Skywalker Empire Strikes Back Lightsaber hilt from Master Replicas – signed by Mark Hamill, the man himself! But I also really love the custom display case that it came with, and putting that in a second case seemed silly. So instead, I got a frame for just the jacket, and then rearranged some shelves on a bookcase in my living room to fit all of it – the framed jacket as the centrepiece, the lightsaber and loose action figure in case, along with a few of the other little Star Wars trinkets I’ve acquired more recently. I even added a couple of original Empire trading cards in the frame with the jacket – doubles, of course – featuring Luke wearing the very same one.

Luke Skywalker Jacket Display

It’s pretty spectacular, I have to say!

I have a ton of Star Wars stuff, from then, from the in-between years, from more recently, and even a bit from the newest film in the franchise. My collection is always growing, but it is still every bit of it for me. It’s a part of me; a part of my memories, and a part of my life. Even more a part of my very foundation as a person. They say the years before 5 last the rest of their lives, but I think sometimes, in the years which follow, things can also happen to change and shape you into the person you become. I think part of me will forever reside in that long ago and far away place.

In the meantime, though, my next ongoing project (among so many others) is to acquire loose versions of the original Kenner action figures:

KennerFiguresPosterFullSize

And yes, I have a checklist on the go.   😉

Bankruptcy

I guess you could say my credit issues started right around the time I first got credit. Well, unless you count student loans, which I don’t. The first time I got credit by myself as an adult was after I was accepted to teacher’s college.

Prior to that, I’d moved out of my happy little home into the home of the person with whom I was in a relationship at the time. I gave away my bed and stored a bunch of my stuff in the spare bedroom, and chipped in what I could for rent and bills and the like for close to a year. When I was accepted to another year of full time education, though, I knew things had to change, as I wouldn’t be working for the majority of the year.

I was told not to worry about getting a student loan; I’d be taken care of.

I was told not to bother getting a credit card; I’d be taken care of.

I was told a student line of credit was unnecessary; that I’d be taken care of.

I was assured that I could quit my job outright, rather than stay on for a day or two a week through the school year – because I’d be taken care of.

I decided that I would rather have all of those options and not really need them, then need them and not have them, so I applied for everything, and – being a student – I was approved. I figured I could at least build a great credit rating by making small purchases and then paying them off each month, and if anything came up over the year I was being edumacated, I had back-up.

Turned out something came up pretty quickly, before school even started. I’d quit smoking when I’d learned of my acceptance, and then the blatant cheating began, the relationship ended, and I moved into a spare room in the apartment a good friend shared with his girlfriend. I paid rent, chipped in for bills, bought my own groceries, and basically lived off credit for the entire year.

You know, since I wasn’t being taken care of.

I also worked 1-2 days a week at the job I didn’t quit, and went back to full time after I graduated.

Over the next several years, I continued to build my credit rating by making regular payments and carrying a balance. Most of my credit limits were raised occasionally, to the point where I had an absurd amount of credit to my name. Like, more than I make in a year. That worried me some, but I figured I was getting good at the whole system, and so long as I stayed responsible, I should be okay going forward.

Then I tried to move in with the next person I was in a relationship with – who was in the US – and maxed everything out over the course of two and a half months of not working at all. I couldn’t find a job quickly enough in the diving economy of the time, and in my desperate attempt to keep trying right up until the last minute (well, past the last minute, if we’re being honest here), I’d spent pretty much everything I had left by the time I returned to Toronto. I had been under the impression that my being here was a short term deal; that I would just couch surf and work for a month or two and then head back once things settled down, recession-wise. I knew that, so long as I could earn enough to make minimum payments, I could just cycle money around and still stay afloat until I got back to where I wanted to be.

However, I was informed two days after my return to TO that I had over-stayed my welcome, so to speak, and of the demise of that relationship, as well. There was no chance of me going back any time soon, if at all. And since I was now stuck where I most certainly didn’t want to be, I had to find a way to make a go of it somehow.

I went back to work in a different position from the one I’d left, and slept on a generous friend’s floor for a couple of months. I had the opportunity to stay rent-free in a house way out in the east end, so long as I could leave no sign of my having lived there. It was an amazing deal, but the house was also full of spiders, which was my own personal horror to live with, so I was just as happy to leave there when the time came.

Since I was failing so fully at life, I found one of the worst apartments ever to sublet, and kept the majority of the things I had with me still packed, while leaving everything else in storage until I lived somewhere that felt safer. I started seeing a therapist, and got my cat back (though I apologized to her for giving her such a cruddy place to come back to), so at least we were together again.

The main problem was that, since I was paying rent and bills again, I could no longer make even the minimum payments on my maxed-out credit. The calls started coming in regularly, and I felt worse and worse about my very existence with each one. I tried going to my bank to see if I could just consolidate everything into one payment, but they would only cover their own stuff, and I was on my own for the rest. Since I couldn’t even make that work out, I finally broke down and went to a trustee.

I filed for personal bankruptcy that summer. And the person I was subletting the shitty apartment from got evicted, so I had to move out or sign my own lease, meaning I was stuck in that hole for over a year, all told. 2009 – pretty much the worst year of my life, thus far.

It was humiliating, and difficult – I had to keep very close tabs on every single bit of income and every single expenditure. I’d under-estimated how much I’d need for food and other basics each month, so I juggled with the other areas of permitted spending and made it work out. It was super stressful, though, because I had to give the trustees everything else, and justify whatever I didn’t hand over.

At least the collection calls stopped, though.

I was eventually discharged, and the trustee told me she never wanted to see me in there again, to which I heartily agreed. I still had my student loan from teacher’s college to finish paying off, but I worked out a payment plan with them that I could afford, and made that my first priority – after finding a better apartment.

That would, of course, prove to be hella difficult, too, because no one wants to rent to a bankrupt person, even if they’ve recently been discharged. I couldn’t get accepted back into the building I’d left when I tried to move to the US – and it had a sweet pool. I couldn’t get accepted to any of the places I’d applied, and I was starting to get desperate when I tried a Hail Mary with a little 4-story building in the neighbourhood I most wanted to live. I knew walking down the street that there was no chance, but I kept the appointment, anyway, and as soon as I walked into the space, I was kind of in love.

I flat out told the guy I’d recently been discharged from bankruptcy, and that I had a cat, and he said he’d seen people with worse credit move in, and that many people in the building had cats, so hope suddenly came alive.

Days later, I got the apartment. I still live there now, and I am staying as long as I can afford to, because I know how difficult it can be for me to find a new place now. And I still kinda love it there. It’s still home for now, a place for me to heal.

Plus, Kate the Kitten died not long after we moved in (she barely got to enjoy the non-shittiness of it, unfortunately), and now I live with three cats and a dog. It might be even more difficult to be accepted in a new place now, in some ways.

I was discharged from my bankruptcy on April 22, 2010. At just over 6 years ago, it should be purged from my credit report for one agency, and has just under a year left on my report for the other. I have a secured credit card, upon which I continue to make regular payments and carry a balance and, at $500, it’s low enough to not be a huge worry in comparison to my salary. It reports to both credit agencies, too, so I am already re-building my credit rating, albeit very slowly. It’s still better than nothing.

Am I gun-shy about ever having to file for personal bankruptcy again? Absolutely. When I was already feeling most worthless, that was the nail in my proverbial coffin. My failure at life was complete. I don’t ever want to feel that way again, if I can help it, especially since it’s never really gone away. I carry my failure around more than my successes, in part because I don’t think much of myself, but in part so I can hope to learn from them. I still can’t pinpoint exactly where I went wrong, but I think it might have been a series of mistakes on my part, and I am terrified of making any of them again, lest I lead myself back down that same self-destructive path. I can’t fool around with this stuff anymore. There are now 3 little lives depending entirely on me – and a 4th who depends mostly on me – for their survival and for the quality of their lives.

And then there’s me. I depend on me for all of that, as well.

If I can help it, I don’t intend to let myself down so completely again.