When country singer Clint Black sang “One More Payment and it’s Mine” in 1990, he had NO IDEA how many years I would sing it, chant it, think it, and wish it to come true. And today? It became a reality… Bye, Bye, Bank of America Gold Line of Credit! You. Are. Gone.
Here’s the back story… Years ago, during my acting/singing/dancing/catering/staffing/modeling/PR temp-ing years, I lived hand to mouth and paycheck to paycheck. Not always, but sometimes. This was largely the result of destroying my ACL at a dance audition one month after arriving in NYC full of Broadway dreams and lore. This was in 1997. The result? I had to walk — okay, limp — away from four shows I had already lined up and inherit a $26K surgery with no insurance and no full-time employment. Ouch. That price tag was actually more painful than the injury, which stopped the audition cold, mind you. Remember the movie version of “A Chorus Line?” The kid with the knee that goes out? Yep. You get the picture. Full stop. Believe it or not, I actually stayed to read and sing, even though I knew my ACL was shot. I just leaned on the piano the whole time. God, I was young. Makes me laugh to think about it.
Anyway, after my knee injury, I persevered, landing jobs that paid well and not so well, all the time feverishly working to pay my surgeon, pay my anaesthesiologist, pay the hospital, pay the x-ray facility, pay the physical therapist, pay the rent, pay utilities, pay the WORLD! And, of course, all of this occurred while on crutches, taking the N/R from Queens’ Ditmars Blvd. into the city to try and to land work to support myself outside of the entertainment field while go through rehab on my knee.
It was a challenge, but I figured if the city could dish it out, I could take it, dammit, and vowed — however stupidly — to stick it out and make it all work. And I did. Through the generosity of strangers, of family, and of friends — through so many different means — and, ultimately, Benevolence, Kharma, and Newbold/Sperry doggedness and romantic idealism, I healed and prospered. But not without a little help along the way from a credit card or two. “No food? No job? No paycheck? Well, not for a week or two, but I do have a few jobs lined up the week after next…” So, groceries go on the credit card. You see the dilemma and the pattern. While the debt-to-income ratio stayed fairly neutral for a while, the initial surgical costs started gaining on me, and then 9/11 hit, and all the catering/staffing work dried up in NYC. I was working Off Broadway, at the time of the attacks, in a less-than-stellar show wearing less-than stellar-anything, and things got fairly bleak. But whoo hoo! I was a working actor! Suffice it to say I probably could have made more money at the time on unemployment.
So, to help me fight back, I needed a debt consolidation solution so that I could get my head back in the game and pay everything off (…enter Clint Black and those lovely lyrics from 1990). In the process, I made the HUGE mistake of taking MBNA ( a bank later acquired by Bank of America, which immediately prompted an interest rate hike on this “gold line of credit” to 23.4%) up on a “debt consolidation” offer with all the bells and whistles of “your debt will be gone in three years!” Stupid, stupid, stupid! And did I check in with my family or friends about this? No. Proud, proud, proud! Suffice it to say that I have since waged a bitter, angry war against nearly $21K combined into a single debt consolidation loan. We’re talking since 1999! And today? Roughly 11 years later? I won that battle! I PAID THAT SUCKER OFF! Bye, Bye, Bank of America! Hitting “submit” on that final eBill was one of the best moments of my adult life! Toss the albatross! Raise a glass! Sing praises all around! Life is good. This weekend truly IS memorable.