December 26th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

Christmas recall

I didn't get much for Christmas this year. Which, oddly, is very good news, because I didn't give anything for Christmas this year. One of the reasons that this journal has been blank for a couple of days is that I couldn't sleep, wracked with guilt over having missed every shipping deadline and still, even on Christmas Eve, having no idea even what kind of things I should have gotten for all but a couple of the people in my lives. I'm afraid the schedule on Brad's Christmas Presents 2006 is going to slide at least as far as Microsoft has slid the schedule for the sequel to Windows XP. If they ship at all.

But I've been studying myself to try to figure out how I screwed this up this badly, even worse than my usual procrastinating self. And I've come to a realization that is taking some of the pressure off of myself. It wasn't for lack of trying. Nor was it because of my usual inattention. Nor was it for lack of motivation, nor because of depression. What bit me was two things. First of all, I'm spending so little time with most of my friends that I really did have no idea what to get them. I miss around 80% of the opportunities to hang out with them. Why? Because nearly all such events are half a mile to a mile from the nearest bus route, and nearly all of them end after the last bus has run. Secondly, I spend almost no time in stores seeing what's available, and do almost no shopping except for groceries at all. Why not? Because for me to get to a store other than Walgreens or Shop-n-Save requires more logistical planning and preparation, and more work in advance, than I used to have to put into organizing a party for 60 or so people. Even when it's all on one bus route, I have to time the various stops to the nearest 5 minutes or so or count on spending almost an entire afternoon standing out in the weather waiting for the next bus if I mis-time a connection; each mis-timing involves an hour of standing outside on weekends.

What these two factors have in common is that it is costing me too much not to own a car. Not in money; it is costing me my health and my life. No, I'm absolutely saving a bundle of money, and not just from reduced opportunities to spend it. But I'm being cut off from 80% or more of my actual life from it. It's even sharply impairing my ability to maintain my health; all of the alternatives I've come up with for getting into better physical condition than I'm in have run up against the obstacle of how I'm going to make it to a health club and back by bus, and whether (given the longish delays on each end, again out in the cold, at the time of the year when I need exercise most) I'd actually do it.

So screw this. It's not working. Period. I'd do something about it this week, if it weren't for the ridiculous expense of paying an entire year's property tax for a vehicle I'd own for a couple of days this year. No later than the second week in January, I need to call Alienne's and Kukla's insurance agent (they're both ecstatically happy with her) and get my insurance set up. As soon as I get that done, I need to beg somebody with a small car with an automatic transmission to take me to a driver's license office to untangle my reinstatement and to retake my driver's test. No sooner do I get that done, by the end of January, I need to spend some time on Cars.com and find something small and cheap, like a used Plymouth Neon or Hyundai Accent.

The good news is that I have an ample down-payment saved up. The bad news is, there goes the reason why I have an ample down-payment saved up. My expenses have been running $200 a month less than the disability income, and I've been throwing that into savings. But $100 a month for a car (and that if I'm lucky), $50 a month for insurance, and $50 a month for gasoline and oil changes and maintenance and such, and there goes the entire cushion in my monthly budget. Which means that unless the US housing market crashes even harder than even I think it's going to, unless even houses in the least inflated markets drop by over half, there goes my getting a house. Ever. The parties aren't going to be at my place ever again, unless I'm wrong, so sorry.

But, I give up. In this town, especially on the schedule that my friends and I keep, living without a car is something that just can't be done. It'd probably be easier to live without feet.