Of course, watching a car “roll over” is not as much fun as it used to be. I can remember my Dad packing Mom, Debbie and I into his car for a 25 mile detour so we could watch his Subaru roll 100 K. In the last half-mile we all unbuckled and leaned forward to watch the odometer, nobody in the car paying attention to the road. The numbers slooooowly crawled and all those nines rolled lazily over into zeros. We cheered.
I’ve got a digital odometer. I imagine that one second it will be 199,999 and in a flash it will be 200,000. Actually, knowing me, I’ll probably have my head up my ass and I’ll miss the whole thing. I’ll look down about Tuesday and be at 200,499. Damn!
So speaking of driving, around the forth of July I was reading on the AP that a year previously gas had been $2.98 per gallon. I was tanking up then at $4.09. Yesterday up to $4.14. Gas went up over a third. In one year.
Are you making a third more that you were last year?
Yeah, I thought not. To their credit, we all did get a 3.5% inflation raise at the clinic; which under any sane set of rules might actually keep up with the rising cost of things. Reminder: nothing sane about the world we find ourselves in now.
I work four tens. I get up at six in the morning. Shave, take my basal insulin shot and my thyroid pill, turn on the coffee pot, and take a shower. Then I check in with Amy’s blog over low-carb yogurt. Amy’s is the place to go everyday if you never want to miss anything in the world of diabetes. I mean, no point in my going to work today if they cured it, right?
OK. No cure today. So I get in my little white car and drive the sixty miles to the clinic. Now some folks think I’m crazy to take on a 120-mile daily round trip commute. First, let me remind everyone that lots of people spend an hour getting to work. Most people just use that hour traveling a much shorter distance. I also have to point out that my drive is probably the most beautiful you can imagine. I go from the mesa lands where I live into the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I watch wild weather, breath taking sunrises and sunsets. I see deer. Road runners. Coyotes. And state cops. Damn! Gotta be careful with the ol’ lead foot on the wide open interstate.
My house sits in the open mesa land at right at a mile above sea level. My office at the clinic is about 2,000 feet higher, around 7,087 feet. Sometimes I leave my place as the sun is peaking up over Apache Mesa in a short sleeve shirt and arrive an hour later, sun full up at work and in need of a jacket.
The only real downside of the commute is it turns my day into 12+ hours away from home, so there isn’t too much family time left, me needing to sleep and eat, and all. But that is balanced by the four day work week, which gives us three-day weekends together.
I was OK with the commute. Until I couldn’t pay the electric bill. What the fuck happened? Well, electricity went up in cost. As did propane. And groceries. Oh my God did groceries go up. And gas.
Sixty bucks to tank up. I found my self not thinking in dollars per gallon, but hours per tank. How many hours of work did this fill up cost me? Even in my 33 mpg Honda, a huge percentage of my income was spent getting to work. It used to be that meds were my biggest single line item on the family budget. Now it is gasoline. At what price per gallon are you losing money going to work at all? I love my job, but would I pay to do it?
My boss asked me why I didn’t move closer to the clinic. Well, because I own my house free and clear and I love where I live. Changing any of that would cost more than I would gain. At least until gas hits….
So desperate times call for desperate measures. My solution?
I now live in my office.
Well, one day per week for now, two in the fall.
So I have to take a detour here to give you some background. For years now I’ve been trying to increase my education in my new chosen field with no luck. I’ve looked into several flavors of nursing school, I’ve researched two physician assistant programs. I even looked at dietician training. Nothing is set up for working folk, and as the sole income provider for my family, taking three years off for school wasn’t an option.
I’d all but given up when the email arrived. A fiend at Department of Health tipped me off to a new program starting at one of our state’s universities: a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Community Health Education. It was to be totally online, designed for folks already working in the field. I’d only have to go to the University one time. I’d take two graduate classes per semester, three semesters per year, for three years. The information meeting was that very night.
I called to find out if it was a sales meeting or a required meeting. I’m already sold, I told the program director, just tell me how to apply.
Any way, very long story shortened: finical aid was a nightmare. In the end the clinic decided to pay for the lion’s share (talk about feeling appreciated!). Getting transcripts, some of them over 20 years old, from the six colleges and universities I’ve taken classes at on short deadline was a greater nightmare.
I was excited and scared.
But it all worked out.
So the plan is to use my two overnights, which will be school nights for Rio anyway most of the year, to be my school nights too. I’ll study my butt off after the last patient leaves and hopefully keep the weekends free for family.
I’ve got a T-1 line in my office. I’m in the “annex,” as I renamed the leaky-roofed-broken-down construction trailer at the end of the parking lot that houses our program. So basically I’ve got a sub-compact mobile home. I have my own a/c and heat. I’ve got a bathroom. What more would I need?
I bought an air mattress, brought a microwave from Big Grandma’s estate, and too old for roughing it, I bought two bottles of Carnet Sauvignon for my insulin sample fridge.
A bottle opener. A poly-carbonate wine glass. A tooth brush. Pipe tobacco. All set.
Ready for my big new adventure.
Oh, and the 200K? I didn’t miss it. E and I swerved all over the road 200 yards from the clinic, eyes glued to the odometer waiting for the big minute.
200,000. We cheered.