Lights!

This is as exciting as my day got– picking out the lighting for the bathroom remodel. That’s what they look like; bask in its room-lighty glory. Or not; we didn’t exactly go super-complicated on this particular decision. I suppose we also picked out a bathroom exhaust fan, but seeing as how the entire decision-making process for that was to authorize whatever our contractor had already suggested, and I couldn’t pick the one we chose out of a lineup if my life depended on it, it didn’t count for much.

My criteria for the lights: 1) brushed nickel, to match everything else in the room; 2) smoked glass so that I’m not staring at bare lightbulbs, and 3) facing downwards to make the bulbs easier to change. My wife argued with none of these determinations and I more or less went “Okay, whatever you want” beyond that. I think we’ve been surprising the people at these places with how quickly and easily we’ve been able to make decisions throughout this process, although I did horrify the saleslady at the fixtures place a couple of weeks ago by abruptly snarling at my wife about something or another; Bek knew exactly what I was doing and laughed about it, but the saleslady clearly thought I had decided to die on the hill of refusing to have oval-shaped pulls on the vanity or whatever it was that I’d complained about, and you could see her bracing herself to be an unwitting bystander in Marital Drama.

I suspect these people probably have a touch of PTSD, and I don’t blame them for it; we probably ought to just get along in public and not make jokes. I will do better in the future.

There’s not much more to report here, really; I planned for the first couple of days of summer break to be low-activity and I’ve successfully achieved that. Tomorrow we are heading to Illinois to finally meet my new nephew, so expect a hotel window picture tomorrow evening and maybe some baby pictures if my brother and sister-in-law will allow it. Maybe I’ll just put my hand over his face and post that; we’ll see. We’ll stay overnight– the boy is psyched about staying in a hotel for the first time in forever– and be back Sunday, and then Monday morning I start actually Preparing for Things. We’ll see how well I do.

In which I ask the interwebs for financial advice

… and, okay, ultimately I’m probably gonna listen to my wife on this more than y’all, but it’s not like I’m overflowing with other subjects to discuss today.

So like a lot of you (so many people are checking their bank balances online that the apps are crashing) we got our stimulus money today. Twelve hunnert for me, twelve hunnert for my wife, and another five hunnert for the boy. My wife and I mostly keep our finances separate; we divide up the bills, so, like, I pay the mortgage but she buys the groceries and pays for utilities, and any bills that are ours, like cars or student loans, are our own personal responsibility. The boy’s chunk of the money will probably end up going toward tuition.

We are not among the people who need this money. It’s nice; I’m never going to turn down cash, but we do not need it. We both have jobs that provide us with sufficient funds for our lifestyle and furthermore we are in a position where our jobs are at least less likely to go away because of the pandemic– she works in the health care sector, broadly speaking, and while disaster-related teacher layoffs are always a possibility I have enough seniority at this point that I’m highly unlikely to be affected by them, and they won’t happen until this fall at any rate. I may not like my job once everything shakes out, but there’s not a huge possibility of losing it.

(He said, casually knocking on wood afterward.)

So the question becomes what to do with it, and … well, like I said, I don’t have lots else to talk about at the moment. So:

  • OPTION ONE: SAVE IT. Probably the most obvious choice; the merits of saving money don’t even really need to be explained. Things are okay now; they may not stay that way, even if I think it’s probably likely that they will. Somebody could get sick; something could happen with one of the cars or the house, shit happens. Especially in the last couple of years.
  • OPTION TWO: PAY OFF CREDIT CARD. My overall credit card indebtedness has gone down enormously recently; I only have one card with a balance right now and $1200 would pay off a sizable fraction of it, but not finish it off. Yet. That said, the monthly bill for the card isn’t that high, and I’ve been paying twice that amount every month. It’s gonna go away (again, assuming no financial disasters) soon enough even if I don’t put this big chunk into it.
  • OPTION THREE: SAVE HALF, PAY OFF HALF. Probably the most reasonable option unless I decide to prioritize saving.
  • OPTION FOUR: BUY MORE BOOKS AND DICE. You can never have enough books and dice. This one is probably not the smartest idea, but would be the most fun.
  • OPTION FIVE: DONATE IT TO SOMEONE. The most socially responsible option since, again, I don’t need the money, but I think a certain amount of financial selfishness is warranted right now for the exact same reasons one might give to save the money. We’re not so well off that this money is nothing— it’s still definitely a good chunk of change– it’s just not immediately necessary for anything.

So, whaddya think? How much should I be tilting toward paranoia and safety right now? Or, alternatively, what are you doing with your $1200?


12:56 PM, Wednesday April 15: 610,774 confirmed infections (and over two million worldwide); 26,119 Americans dead.

In which there is an unexpected development

I have recently come across an Employment Opportunity that is worth thinking about and investigating. Don’t get too excited; I haven’t even decided to apply, much less done so and been called for an interview or anything like that. Nor do I know how much it would pay. But for now, just trust me that it’s an Employment Opportunity and leave it at that.

At any rate, I’m bringing it up because my first thought upon discovering of its existence was I’m not sure I want to leave teaching right now. And, more broadly, I’m not certain I want to leave teaching again.

Which is … not the direction I thought my life was heading a few months ago. One of the numerous problems with being a teacher, of course, is the limited window one has to find a new job if one wishes to 1) stop teaching without 2) abandoning one’s current students. And I am finding that I am far enough into the year and I like my kids enough (most of ’em, at least) that the notion of ending the school year early even for a much more lucrative job gives me quite a bit of pause. The most amazing thing is that I’m not currently planning on a mad scramble for a new job this summer. For the first time in forever I feel like if I ended up in the same job next year that I have this year I’d be okay with that. And that surprises the hell out of me, especially since I mostly teach 8th graders who are all going to be gone next year anyway whether I like it or not. One way or another I’m highly unlikely to be in these kids’ lives for more than about seven more months; is it really that big of a deal if I were to leave in, say, January rather than June?

Apparently it is.

I’m going to look into this job anyway, because there’s no harm in looking into it; it’s not like I’m committing to anything by putting in an application, and they may not be interested in me or it may turn out that the job doesn’t pay enough or really any number of things. But it’s odd to realize that I’m back in the position where “Yes, please, now, please” wouldn’t be my immediate reaction to escaping the classroom again, especially since ending up where I have was at least a bit of a last resort anyway.

God help me, I may actually be enjoying my job again. Weird, innit?

Some book musings

I’m basically done with the “break” part of my break; I have the weekend and then I’m back to work on Monday. Usually by this point at the break I’m climbing the walls and chewing on my extremities; for the most part, other than yesterday’s post, I’ve managed to avoid going slowly crazy. I’ve gotten a fair amount of stuff done over the break. What I haven’t done is any of Luther’s stuff. It’s all been Clark Kent nonsense over here for the last couple of weeks.

My first priority in 2019 has to be to decide what to do with Skylights. I have so many half-written drafts of the sequel, under more than one title, that it’s frankly kind of ridiculous. That may or may not be the cover. It may or may not be the title. And once I have the sequel written I have to decide if I’m doing a second edition of the first book. A second edition wouldn’t be too different, but the first book already mentions things that didn’t happen in 2018 (because 2018 was, comfortably, The Future when I wrote it) and the events of the book are at this point far too close to Now for comfort. If nothing else, I need to remove specific dates, and probably rewrite the prologue to give the story some breathing room. I don’t think I can tie the events of the story so close to something that happened in 1984, for example; it just makes Gabe too old.

(20-minute break while I research the FAFSA and explain how taxes work for a former student; I avoid using the phrase “this would be easier if I adopted you.”)

Anyway, point is I gotta figure this shit out. And I probably should have reformatted some of my books to get them away from CreateSpace and over to Ingram over the break. And maybe done a new banner, since the one vertical banner I have is Skylights-focused. I should probably have one for at least one more of my books.

Point is, I didn’t spend as much time being Luther over the last couple of weeks as maybe I should have. And now I need to figure some stuff out over the next couple of days. This week shouldn’t be too hard (he said,) so I should have some brainspace left to get things done when I get home from work. And who knows? The next couple of days might be hugely productive.

Just, like I said, I’ve got some decisions to make, and a weight to get off my back.

What have you been putting off lately?

So, my car

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 5.02.01 PMI done fucked up today, I think.

My current car is a 2001 Ford Escape with nearly a hundred and seventy thousand miles on it.  The fabric on the driver’s side door is mostly peeled off, there are big patches of rust inside all the doors, and there’s a big crack in the rear bumper.  The radio intermittently decides it needs to take a rest and won’t turn back on for anywhere from a few seconds to a day.  It leaks oil from a leak so deep in the engine that repairing it is an absurdity.  And its gas mileage… well, leaves something to be desired.

That said: it turns on when I need it to turn on and it gets me where I want to go, and while it’s loud as hell at speed it’s not an uncomfortable ride by any means.  It’s just that at 170K it is only a matter of time until something breaks that will be pointless to repair.  To get ahead of myself a bit, I was offered $1200 for it as a trade today and I think it was probably a pretty generous offer, all told.

The boy has named the car Joey Car Kristofferson.  I will very much miss having a car named Joey Car Kristofferson, to the point where I will probably insist that its replacement be named Joey Car Kristofferson II.  (My wife’s car, incidentally, is called Lisa Car James.  Don’t ask where the boy got the names.  No one knows.)

So anyway, I took that car up there for a test drive earlier today.  It’s a 2016 Kia Soul in the + trim level, with 28,000 miles on it.  It’s immaculately clean and seems to run beautifully.  It’s small– trunk space, in particular, is kind of a joke– but it fits my main need in a vehicle, which is that it rides high enough that I climb into the seat and slide out, rather than the other way around.  I refuse to struggle to get out of my car, which means I’ll never own a sedan again.  I’ve started to seriously hate them.  I test drove a brand-new Ford Escape a few months ago, and loved it, but financially I think it’s a better idea to go for a lightly used vehicle right now rather than a new one.  Unless I lease, which I might choose to do but <insert every website and argument about leasing ever> and my brain isn’t set up for that right now.

It’s just under fifteen thousand bucks, that car, and with the financing I’d expect to get I’d probably be making payments of just over $200 a month.  Which is in the neighborhood where I’m thinking Yeah, I can swing that rather than I can afford that.  To my mind, that’s a real difference; you can swing a new purchase if you can come up with some ways to cut costs that would absorb a lot of the new bill and figure you’ll be okay.  You can afford something if you don’t have to think at all about what you’ll do to pay for it.  For example, I can afford to spend $25-50 pretty much whenever I want so long as I don’t, like, do it every day.  But if I want to buy a new shirt or something?  I don’t have to think about that.  A car payment means I’m thinking things like well, I do eat out way too often anyway and I’m spending too much fucking money on comic books every week while I’m considering what it would do to my budget.  And the down payment would have to come out of our mutual savings, which my wife will likely have something to say about.  We did just drop three and a half grand on a new bed, after all.

I’m not sure I have a point here, and I don’t know if I’m asking for advice or just talking.  I just need to decide how quickly I think I need a new car, and whether I should buy a new one before I need a new one.

Go buy some of my books and make this easier, dammit.  🙂