I’m starting to seriously second-guess myself with this whole military thing. I find myself wondering if I’m only doing it as a way to stop borrowing money to get by. I’ve said any number of times that I’m only really doing it for the free school, and that’s still true. I’m just starting to wonder if there isn’t perhaps a different way to get a similar result in the long run.

I want to go to school so I can make more money than I could otherwise (and also so I can do something I think I’ll enjoy). I want to make that extra money so I can buy myself shiny toys (we all know how much I love my toys), a house, and other such quasi-essential things. Also, that money will make my life a lot easier when I decide to have kids of my own, which while it is not something I plan on doing in the immediate future, it is something that is definitely on the table for within the next 10 years, assuming I find someone who is worth actually procreating with, rather than just practicing the act. A pension would be nice in the long term as well.

I’ve always said that I won’t have kids until I can afford to give them a less financially limited upbringing than I had. Not that I ever wanted for anything, for sure. Everything I ever needed was always there for me in abundance, as well as many things I thought I wanted but turned out not to. But money was always a concern for us. Whenever we went anywhere, we usually had a limit of “each person can get a meal of no more than $X cost.” Or “we can do X or Y, but we can’t afford to do both.” This is not to say that I plan on giving my kids whatever they ask for, far from it in fact, but I’d rather say “No, you can’t have [shiny object] because you were a shithead this week” instead of “we just can’t afford it right now.”

Now that I think about it, that’s probably one of the reasons I historically tend to be less than fantastic at resisting impulse-buying things (though I’ve become a lot better at it in the past couple of years). For me, money was something to be hoarded and spent on something that made me happy in the short term, some kind of “treat,” rather than something I would save and put away for a rainy day.

The military career would give me a pretty reasonable salary, all things considered. Certainly much better than I would make without going to school at all. But, taking the degree on my own and working in the private sector could set me better in the long run. The military has a set wage progression, which realistically caps around ~$110-120k/year at best (or maybe as low as ~$90k) after set incremental yearly increases. This cap would be reached around the time I hit 50-55 years of age for the high end, or age 46 for the low end. The civilian route however has essentially no wage ceiling. For the first year or two out of university, I would most likely be making roughly the same amount in the private sector as I would be in the military, with most likely around 5-10% more salary as a civilian. Around year 5, my salary as a Captain in the navy would be roughly $70k/year. In the private sector however, my salary range would be a bare minimum of $70k, a realistic estimate of around ~$85k, with an upward limit of well over $100k. If I were to sell my soul to the petroleum industry for those five years, my salary could be double that, or more. That possibly puts me at or above the realistic maximum military age 50 salary cap by age 35, a minimum of 10 years earlier. The military plays the trump card of the pension hours starting as soon as school starts, but with foresight and relatively intelligent planning, proper investing with a private-sector job would more than make up for that lack. I could also most likely count on having a reasonable pension from any company I work for until I start my own consulting or engineering firm.

I was extremely lucky as a kid to have a relatively stable life for the most part. My parents both did their best to make sure that I didn’t have to move, that I was able to go to good schools, and that there was as little major turmoil in my living situation as possible.

The military lifestyle is definitely not conducive to raising children. Is it possible? Of course it is. Thousands of families are doing it as I write this. But is it optimal? I don’t think so, at least not for my personal set of values and ideals. As a naval officer, I would be required to spend a not-insignificant amount of time away from home, at least for the first 10 years or so of my career after school, roughly until age 40. That means missed birthdays, school concerts, and I’m sure a lot of “firsts.” First words, first steps, first broken bone, first love, first fight, first “A”, first job, first car, first broken heart. That’s not even considering the fact that in addition to all of that time away, my family might have to move across the country any number of times if they want to be able to even consider seeing me on a semi-regular basis. That could mean moving schools, losing friends, and changing everything for kids at a time in their life when having something (anything) stable in their life could be all that they really want or need. I’m sure the life of the army brat does have some advantages. Travel and exposure to many parts of Canada perhaps? With a high-paying private sector job (and, ideally, a wife with the same) we would have the ability to take vacations to wherever we choose, rather than where the military decides they need us. We could do it on our own time, and see places the military would never take us. We’d be doing it on our own dime, but also our own terms.

In the short term, especially the next four years, the civilian route is without a doubt the more difficult one. With no government salary, I would be forced to continue to work my ass off just to pay my bills. But, I have a decent paying job at the Keg, and I should be getting more money soon. With a relatively stable $15+/hour job, I could afford to pay all of my bills. I’m managing now on $12/hr, but it’s tight. At $15, which I should be making soonish, it’ll be a lot easier. I won’t have much left over, and I won’t be able to pay down any of the debt I’ve accumulated, but I wouldn’t expect to have any extra on a government salary either.

I would have no problem getting student loans. Well, no difficulty anyways. I would rather not if at all possible, but that’s life. At the high end, I expect those loans to total around $60,000 for four years of school. At the low end, half of that. Once done school, my loan payments would balance out with the slightly lower pay and extra deductions taken off my paycheque as a government employee, so that would balance out fairly closely in the long run. I would most likely be able to have that debt paid off within 5 years of school being completed, if I could manage to keep my belt fairly snug for that time. That would put me on equal footing 5 years after school in both paths, with the probability of a higher salary on the civilian side of things, but at most 5 years of pensionable time in rather than the 9 I would have via the military program.

I don’t know which route I’m leaning more towards at this point. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The military would be easier in the short term. The civilian route is financially better in the long term.

In the private sector, if my boss tells me to go drive around in a circle in an area where there were a bunch of people who wanted to kill me because of who I worked for, I could tell him to get fucked. One can’t do that in the military. I’m a big fan of not dying, believe it or not. And I don’t believe enough in our military’s current operations to think that throwing my life away would do any good. I’m quite happy to be Canadian, but I don’t think I’m ready to die because we’re trying to “stop bad people from doing bad things.” Sure, we’re supposed to be out of the sandbox within a few years, but who knows what the US/UN will drag us into next time. Libya maybe? While the current operation is relatively low risk for our navy, that doesn’t mean the next one will be. I certainly don’t want to have to take that chance just because I don’t feel like going further into debt.

Might be holding your hand, but I’m holding it loose

“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.”- Kurt Cobain

At the present moment, I am nothing that anyone would have expected or wished for me to be. However, rather than the typical reaction of panic and concern for the opinions of others, I am perfectly at peace being in complete acceptance of all my imperfections and shortcomings.

Bob Dylan had it right. Kurt Cobain had it right. All those whom we respect and admire had at some point in their lives chosen the path not often followed. And that is how they made history. What I think people still seem to overlook with their lives, is that they can be whoever they want to be. They can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. EVERYONE knows this, and yet they still have a hard time accepting it and following through with it.

And when it comes down to it, no one can tell you what will or won’t make you happy either. No one can say that going down the path you are currently on will leave you stranded and disappointed. Only you determine your own happiness. And who are we to judge?

I do not train because it is healthy for me. I don’t write because I am expecting a reciprocation from others of all my thoughts. I do these things because I want to, and because I can. I have bad habits of my own. The only time I know when it is good to come clean, is when I see it affecting me negatively and I begin to wish that I did not have that habit. In which case, I will do my best to break it so as to not add any unnecessary misery to my life.

But never let anyone tell you that what you love to do, and what makes you happy, is not what you should be doing with your life. Think about what you want to do, and then go do it. You only have one life to live.

You are never too young to love, and you are never too young to die. There is no such thing as shortening your life, or extending it. Life is the longest thing you will ever get to experience, whether that is 12 years, or 90. What you do during your life is what counts. I just hope that joy comes from whatever you decide to do.

And at this point in time, if I have a seemingly bad habit, well so be it. I still have a heart that beats, and a body that breathes, and it makes me no less of a person than anyone else. I am still biologically programmed to do all the things that humans ought to do, and if I deviate from that natal plan somewhat, then I am perfectly content with that.

I will not judge you if you dye your hair green, or if you get a sex change. If you wear brightly colored mismatch clothing, or a jump suit walking downtown. If you have different goals, likes, or feelings, that is okay. How terribly dull life would be if we were all the same, and listened only to what others thought would be best for us.

No one can create you. You only create yourself. You were not put on this earth to decorate someone else’s world. You were coincidentally gifted with a life to live however you so choose to live it. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you were born to please others.

A life lived in fear of disappointing those around you is a life not lived at all.

“All I can be is me – whoever that is.” – Bob Dylan

* * * * *

Stolen from the cookie monster, with some minor edits by me.

It’s a beautiful day, and a short life. Enjoy both.

I get the feeling I should be writing something here today, but I just don’t know what it should be. Some undirected rambling follows.

I assumed that with it being mother’s day today, Costco and Walmart wouldn’t be busy… silly me. Both were absurdly busy, which I guess makes sense as everyone is probably scrambling to get their last minute things before having to make dinner tonight.

Kettlebell swings are hard. Doing 75 reps is a lot harder than one would believe when watching someone else do a few. I’m really glad I followed jt’s advice and picked up some sports tape to wrap the handle of my shiny new 50lb kb with, otherwise it might have gone through the wall in the middle of my set. Knowing my luck it would have landed on Alisha’s cat. I’m thinking 50lb is maybe a touch too big for my initial starting weight, I probably could have gotten away with starting with a 45lb, but this way I have a little more room to grow into it.

My three month review is today before work at the Keg, hopefully they’ll give me more money. I’m getting trained to do saute and plating in the coming weeks, and once I get competent at those, then that’s more money again. Huzzahs.

Feeling great, feeling good. My body seems to be a ton happier on a very low carb diet, I’ve got a ton more energy and my mood is both better and more stable. I’m thinking I might stick with this style of eating for the foreseeable future.