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Throughout my life, I've learned to live with the unfortunate predicament of having my birthday on New Year's Eve. It's a bit like with those poor souls who have their birthday on Christmas, as it tends to both get ignored by others -and- I usually get shafted with regard to presents.
However, with a birthday like that, the calendar year and another year in your life fall neatly together as well, making the usual end-of-year ponderings twice as hard.

This year, I'm turning 35. Time to reflect.

As I am writing these lines close to midnight on the day before my birthday, I'm treating myself well - I'm rested comfortably on the bed of a four-star hotel room on the 12th floor, having travelled here in 1st class. A Mercedes saloon is available for me to pick up at the car hire facility at the nearby international airport tomorrow afternoon, after which I will swiftly transfer to attend an exclusive party with eighty guests taking place in a mediaeval location, returning home the next morning in my luxury hire car after another night of sleep in a comfortable hotel room, and I'll still have enough money in the bank to pay for January's food and bills. Yep, I'm definitely treating myself well.

However, if you'd have happened to follow my old blog over at LiveJournal, around, say, 2004, you'd know this hasn't always been the case.
In my early 20s, I went through a long period of mind-numbing joblessness after a cruel twist of fate that left me deeply in debt and I didn't manage to pull myself out of it until the age of 27, so I effectively lost the better part of a decade. The bankruptcy proceedings involved took six years to go through and only cleared in 2013. When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, the last remnants of court orders that still linger around at the various credit bureaus will expire at last, so I'll be a clean slate again, nearly fifteen years after originally getting into this mess (I lost a very well paid IT job due to a car crash back in 2002).
Yet the psychological situation did leave its scars - just when I was getting out of the whole debt thing in 2013 at last, I flipped a lid and lost it in a relatively mundane situation. I'll spare you the details, but the other party involved was a cop and tried to pull all the stops when I went ballistic on his poorly parked car. I even made it into the local tabloid rag back then.
It took me another two years, about five grand in legal fees, punitive damages and court fees to get this thing sorted out, which set me back -another- two years. Thankfully I had a very good lawyer who managed to defuse the criminal case nearly completely, so in the end this was just money lost. Still, I just paid off the last bits of it in September 2015, and I spent the past three months getting out of the red again.

Only a few close friends have previously known about this. It isn't entirely sorted out yet, but I haven't given up the hope to get some proper psychotherapy at some point in my life. It's just so damn difficult when you live out in suburbia, work shifts and generally you're stuck in the most soul-crushing job imaginable...

I've been diagnosed with strabismus two years ago, which means either an operation with doubtful outcome or frivolously expensive special glasses for the rest of my life. Recently, my knee has been acting up. Sometimes, my shoulder just hurts for no apparent reason. There are many things left in my life that I need to tackle, and they're all building blocks stacking on top of each other. Physical disability reduces my chance of finding a new, better job. So does the anxiety toward going back to living on my own. Obesity decreases the likeliness of... well, geting laid. And so on, and so on. I'm still trying to figure out which one of the many Jenga pieces I have to pull out to make the whole thing come crashing down in the end without too much collateral damage. That's the battle I'm fighting today.

If things don't go well, I might have another 35 years left to live. If I'm extremely lucky, another 60. If fate decides to strike again, I might get hit by a bus when trying to cross the street tomorrow morning. Who knows at this point? I won't be as daft and claim that I've seen death in the eye and laughed at it, but I've certainly been bruised by the Grim Reaper's scythe at this point. Until it is inevitably time for me to go, I might as well try to live life as good as I can. It's physically impossible to go on at 100% all the time, but there's something itching in me, a burning desire to prove I'm not done yet. I want to do all the fun things I've postponed, go the places I've wanted to see, meet the people I may have overlooked in the past. And, at least I hope, one day wake up on my birthday next to the man I love, whoever that one may turn out to be. I'll keep looking...

Bochum, Thursday the 31st of December 2015.
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