Today is a momentous day in the life of Schmutzie. I have a meeting with a representative at the bank, and we are going to discuss my getting my first credit card.

That's right, my first credit card.

I am a woman in my thirties, and I have never had one before. Well, that's not exactly true. I had one for less than a day once. When I took my first swing at a university education in the 1990s, I applied for one of those credit cards that credit card companies hawk to students all over North America, luring first-time adults into their first serious brushes with personal financial debt. I was suspicious of the happy faces on the brochures, and I resented having to pay exorbitant interest rates to pay for money to pay for things that I couldn't afford in the first place. After staring at its carefully designed, shiny rectangle sitting on my desk for about half an hour after receiving the card in the mail, I took scissors to it and threw it out. Frankly, it made me very uncomfortable.

Money makes me very uncomfortable.

I would prefer to talk about most things other than money. Let's talk about the time I was told that my cat was dying from the same thing that killed half the members of my father's immediate family and I hit my head on a paper towel dispenser when I passed out from shock. Or let's talk about the specifics of exactly how disgusting it was to be kissed wetly on the face every Sunday by that old man with mouth cancer when I was fifteen. Or you can tell me about your favourite kind of snot, both in consistency and flavour, and how you like to stick the especially large, thick ones under one of your co-workers' desks when they go for smoke breaks.

Under most circumstances, I will do anything to avoid talking about it. Ever since I was a little kid, the idea of money has sat in my brain like a weight I could not properly measure. It makes me anxious to think about saving it or not having it or spending it or making it "work for me". So, when I received a call from a bank representative last week, and she asked me if the Fiery One and I were at all interested in buying a house and started talking about mortgages and interest rates, my chest began seizing up. Interest rates? Large debt? A house? Ack. I felt like I was under some kind of assault. She must have heard the tension in my voice, because she backed off and went with something less crazy-making: a credit card.

I was so freaked out by all the house and mortgage talk that I threw my metaphorical hands up in the air and said Yes, yes, let's talk about a credit card.

Why do you think you want a credit card? she asked.

Oh gawd, now we were going to talk about finances or some such crap, and frankly, I didn't even really want a credit card before she mentioned one. Fuck. In a mad attempt to shut the conversation down as quickly as possible, I blurted out Well, I've never had one before, so I have no kind of credit rating whatsoever, and if my husband ever kicked the bucket, I'd be screwed.

She paused. Yes, well, that does tend to happen to us. By "us", I think she meant "women", because apparently, women are financially screwed without men. I just meant that I would be screwed, because I'm a freak when it comes to finances, not that all people with vaginas are financially screwed without people with penises. I hate society.

My maladroit I'd-be-screwed-if-my-partner-kicked-the-bucket approach did the trick, though, because she wound up the conversation immediately. The problem is that she had me on the ropes from the get go, so I ended up agreeing to make an appointment with her for today at 2 pm talk about this credit card situation. Now I am going to have to go and talk finances with the woman in person. This sort of thing feels like going to an internal examination with a gynecologist or having a therapist ask me about my earliest sexual memories. I would almost rather go to the dentist.

Of course, this is good for me. This actually fits very tidily into my as yet loose plans to alter my present life into something a hell of a lot more satisfying, because I am going to need some kind of financial history behind me other than old student loans. As long as I can adequately fake rushing off to another appointment and avoid any other terror-inducing subjects such as retirement savings and business loans, I'm sure I'll be fine.

I'm doing this changing-my-life thing in baby steps, people, one irrational fear at a time. Today, it's credit cards. Tomorrow, it's plugging in household appliances!

Oskar rushes the camera

And learning to live fearlessly with the ever charging and bitey Oskar!

Places I've been recently: 3 Quarks Daily, you live your life as if it's real: poetry by ray sweatman, and 10,000 Reasons Civilization is Doomed.

The Greatest Nancy Panel Ever Drawn