now i’m back

Dropped the ball on this journal. It’s as easy as falling off a wagon. But now I’m back.

Spent the Summer traveling around the American West in my van. It was good. Got the solar system hooked up in Casper Wyoming. Wandered up and down California some too. Saw lots of friends. Learned you never play Uno in Prather, CA.

Saw some things that need to be changed in the design, but much of it will stay the same. Mostly I’ve refined the basic design I had settled on. And those refinements are largely to make the office space bigger and better.

But the van is on hold right now. I thought I could get a few hours in every evening after teaching full time at the college, but it’s not feasible. I’m writing for an hour each evening (I’ve been transcribing old journals into a digital format so I can back them up, but I’ll be posting here again too, going forward), practicing on my guitar for an hour, and working out for an hour. Those commitments, along with the (not so) occasional unpaid overtime, are about all I can handle.

My plan for the van is to stay my ass here next Summer and work on it full time. I’m now hoping to teach at the college for one more year after this one. That would suffice to have the van paid off and have a good chunk of savings too. Then I can try to find a programming gig I can work non-local.

I’ve started paying into a retirement account for the first time ever. It’s exciting to have some real investments. I want to increase my salary so I can max out my yearly contribution. Which means I need to do something other than teach.

It’s gonna get cold here, come January. I’ve been walking to work, and as it’s only about 1.1 miles away, I don’t want to commute in my diesel van. I thought about buying a used electric car, but the cheapest I could find was like 10k. I was then tempted by expensive Canada Goose parkas. But I’m going to try to keep hoofing it on the cheap. Layer up good.

When I moved into this apartment, I had to sign a waver saying I acknowledge that the building has never been tested for lead pipes. So I bought a nice under-sink RO filter system. 500 bones on that, but I’m glad to have it.

Another reason I’d like to teach here another year is so that I won’t have to move again so quickly. It’s a lot of work. And I’m actually trying to set this apartment up like a real living space, which I haven’t done at my last few places. The investment in time and work (and money) makes more sense to me if I’m here for a few years.

Teaching full time is tough, though. It’s so emotionally draining, it makes it hard to do my own work when I get home. I’ve been averaging about 1 evening per week that I don’t do anything but rest after work. That seems excessive, and I’m working on being more consistent. It’s a steep transition from teaching online, though.

Covid is bad here right now (like 45 new daily cases per 100k in this county), and MN saw the largest percentage increase over the last two weeks of any state in the union. Fucking nobody is masking up inside. It’s frustrating. The school is still holding to good policies, and we’re not seeing much spread among the students, though I wonder how much asymptomatic spread is occurring. I wish they’d do random sample testing to estimate that invisible spread.

I’m doing meal-prep on weekends now, and taking my lunch to work. It’s nice.

I’ve spent a good amount of money moving into this apartment–water filter, room divider, and lots of basic housewares. But it’s nice. And I made my first extra payment on the van this month, 1000$ over the minimum. Gonna pay it down aggressively for about 4 or 5 months, then start saving for the coming Summer. The more I can pay down, the less I’ll pay in interest every month.

The next major step toward my own land is to get a job that pays well and can be done non-locally. Likely a coding job of some kind. Then I can move into the van, and after a year I could likely buy a piece of land. If I teach for one more year and then work remotely for another year, and accounting for the rest of this year and some time to find that next job, I’d be buying a piece of land in about 3 years. Brutal, but workable.