It feels good to be free

It’s over.

As of today, nearly $20,000 of credit card debt is paid off. All those groceries,CDs and Doctor Who videos I bought back in college belong to me, not the bank. I know I only have myself to blame for burying myself under so much debt, and paying it off isn’t an achievement so much as an act of responsibility, but I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of relief.

Of course, credit is owed to Pantaliamon who manages our financial affairs and obsessively monitored our “War Against Debt” until we won the final battle. To tell you the truth, I didn’t do anything but earn a paycheck, so really she’s the one who did this. I was just a bystander.

This is what it says now on the credit management website:

Account Paid In Full

Our records indicate all of your listed debts with Genus Credit Management have been paid in full. For information regarding your account, please phone our Customer Service Center to speak with a representative.

I feel like putting that on a t-shirt.

I tried listening to “The O’Franken Factor” on Air America Radio today, but Al was doing some ridiculous skit where he pretended to be Henry Kissinger. I don’t listen to conservative talk radio, but I just can’t see Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly doing stuff like that. Franken’s funny, but only when he talks about issues. Most of his Saturday Night Live work didn’t appeal to me -- especially the Stuart Smally stuff. He should focus on what he’s good at, rather than make an ass of himself.

Well, the media blackout still stands -- my Air America experience didn’t even last five minutes. Although I’ve glanced over the headlines on the newspapers at work, I’ve successfully avoided television news for a couple of days. It’s a nice feeling not knowing what John Kerry and George W. Bush are saying about each other.

What I have been doing instead is research for the trip Pantaliamon and I have planned for the fall. Since we no longer have any debt -- and for the first time in our lives have some disposable income -- we’re going to go to the U.K and France for a week in the fall. I’m both excited and scared. We’re going to do the international travel thing in baby steps -- start with Western countries, and then branch out to Asia and Latin America. Although I’d love to visit the Middle East and parts of Africa, I think we’ll stay clear of those places until the world security situation stabilizes a little.

It’s very ironic that I work at a foreign affairs school, but have never traveled outside the United States. I’m embarrassed whenever I tell my colleagues the truth of my inexperience. Once that’s done away with, I can’t think of many other major milestones that need to be accomplished. Maybe fathering children, but that’s something that can wait a few more years ...