I’ve never been really loaded but I was comfortable, at least the last couple of years and because I’m frugal, even before that. Now, I have to contemplate going back to a world where an $8 take-out dinner is something I need to skip. I had my injury from MSG looked at this week and it turned out my doctor’s x-ray machine wasn’t covered by my insurance. My doctor offered to charge me the Medicare rate of $50 (I’m a patient of almost twenty years). I had to say no. I think that’s something you give up a lot: convenience. A walk instead of a subway ride, whole carrots instead of pre-cut vegetables, seeing another doctor so you can save $50 on an x-ray. I also am giving up fancy food. Like I’m back to high fructose corn syrup. What can I say, it’s cheap. I also bought the store brand honey this week instead of “blueberry honey from Vermont.”
When I went to get my x-ray, I handed over my insurance card. It felt strange in that in a week, it will be useless. I have good insurance and it’s worrying to give it up. Columbia has a decent plan but not as good so I’m a little freaked out. On the other hand, they have an urgent care center with an x-ray machine and I get to use it for nothing. That’s something.
I’m a planner and I have an Excel spreadsheet with my finances mapped out to a minute degree. I have for ten years, ever since I got my finances in order and paid off my credit card bills. If you knew me in the 90′s or before, you will be kind of shocked at how I turned myself around. I was one of those people who just threw everything on a credit card like it was a big pile of dirty laundry and it didn’t matter too much if more got mixed in. It was 20 or 25k at its peak. It started in college, as with many people, where I had little money (I made about $25 a week and my parents funded my tuition, rent, and meal plan only). I got into a lot of trouble with the attitude that one day I’d have a real job and could pay it all off. Somehow, my balance always grew commensurately larger.
But that’s the past. I had a large expense in ’99 and drew up this spreadsheet to get things in order. Within a couple of years I had paid it off. I still keep my budget spreadsheet religiously and the top thing on each tab is my paychecks. Not getting any paycheck is going to be freaky weird, and scary to me beyond reason. Again, I hope to get some part-time work, but it shakes me to my core to not have that security.
I may have mentioned, I plan to sell rugelach and maybe other baked goods on Etsy. The hold up at the moment is designing the logo and banner. I used to have a graphic designer in my life, not so much anymore, so I’ve hired one and we’re going back and forth. It also took me months to come up with a name as I wanted one unconnected with this blog. I have no idea how much money this will bring in, but even if it’s just a little, I’ll be happy doing something I like. As a planner, though, it’s hard to have so many variables.
If you have no kids, back-to-school time means little to you. Now, suddenly, I’m back to caring. Everyone seems to have a back-to-school sale, even places that don’t really have any products that fit the bill. Or, maybe it’s just that anything can be good for school. Take drugstore.com. I hadn’t realized it but I may need extra cotton balls for school. Of course, the biggest engine of back-to-school is clothes and school supplies. When I was in grade school and high school, I shopped for new clothes because last year’s didn’t fit me. These days, the fact that I’m going to school means that I can’t afford new clothes. It’s sadly ironic.
In terms of school supplies, our “what’s pimpin’” assistant has carefully hoarded things for me. So I have some spare notebooks and pens and paper clips. It’s been a long time, but I don’t think I’ll need much more. I got a day planner when I visited Hopkins and it has a week at a time view and stickers for things like exams and papers due. I’m weirdly excited by it. It may seem odd for a person who has a phone number from Google and is doing a tech degree, but I am a total Luddite when it comes to calendars. At work I have a Day-Timer and at school I will have my planner with the Johns Hopkins logo to remind me of what life felt like when I was drowning academically, no doubt.
I picked classes this week and on the TC site you can see who is also registered. Some people are in two or three of my classes. I just know we’ll be BFF’s! Another thing that’s changed (and for the better, lemme tell you) is that now you can get cheap textbooks in lots of places. One place will even rent them to you. So I keep going back to look if they’ve posted books so I can start shopping. I worry I won’t know until the class begins and then I’ll be forced to spend $250 on Fun With Java so I don’t fall behind. On the Columbia site you can also upload your own photo for your ID card. I find that odd. How do they know that’s me? I have this thought of sending Niece3 who is a brilliant computer whiz at 17 and having her get the degree for me. She loves this idea. We’ve also hatched a plot where I go to HS instead of her and take her classes. If you are a Hollywood studio interested in this idea, call me! Ironically, I ended up uploading a headshot that was taken for my last promotion at work.
Between work and school I left one week (it’s actually more like ten days with the weekends and the Tuesday orientation) for a “decompression vacation.” I didn’t really know whether to plan it or leave it free so at the moment it’s sort of a combination. I have a lunch with a dear old friend who will be in town, the Nine Inch Nails concert with KP, and several days of possible tennis. The Qualifying round at the US Open is free so I can go any day I feel like it. Not only can I not really afford the real US Open this year, but school starts on the third day so it’s really out. David Nalbandian is also unable to attend this year, so at least I won’t miss him. At first I was devastated to miss the highlight of my year but as time has passed and classes have been chosen and my focus slowly shifts from sales programs to programming, it feels OK. Back-to-school is an exciting time! I know because the K-Mart e-mail blast told me so.
One week from today, I’ll walk into and out of my job, building, and industry for the last time.
Although the first line of this is “waiting at the station,” I really chose it because this is the mood I was in when I wrote this post. I even included a YouTube link for those who aren’t signed up with Napster.
The Devlins – Waiting