I'm home for the holidays. After a flurry of final cat-herding, I got a paper submitted and was able to leave town unencumbered by the usual obsessive thinking about work . Cricket flew into BWI from Chi-town two Fridays ago; I picked her up, dropped her off at shopping-ville in WorkBurg, finished my workday, grabbed her, and went into the city.
Nam-Viet on Connecticut Ave. in Cleveland Park sucks. The service sucks, the food is forgettable, even the difficult-to-fuck-up pho, and the people dining near us were douchebags.
There was puttering about the house, and packing. Her parents gave me much-needed kitchen implements. They're delighted that I cook, and surprisingly OK with the fact that I don't really have much by way of gear. I guess the degree has perks. Does getting presents from an SO's parents mean you are now truly committed? In the morning we left for Mexico.
I'll post about Mexico later, when I have pictures to link to.
Friday I got into LAX and was picked up by high school friend Smith, who was on his way home from his perch in the Santa Cruz mountains. He's scruffier than usual, and weighted down with the responsibilities of real job (with people under him!) which is difficult for me to wrap my head around. But he's my oldest friend and seeing him after too long a time is like a cold compress on a fevered brow.
I'm in suburban San Diego now, with the parents. They keep asking me about Cricket, which is cute and not yet annoying.
I bought all my Christmas presents in Mexico. They are all nice gifts, but due to the vagaries of haggling and the third-world economy of rural Mexico, there's an order-of-magnitude difference in price between what I gave my Mom and what I gave my Dad. I'm secretly guilty about this, but also secretly glad that I didn't spend too much money on gifts.
I'm pondering the awkward mysteries of income right now, too: my friend who I caught up with the other day who is a business-manager type at a bustling youth camp that also does corporate/group team-building stuff, pulls in about $1200 a month net, after a small retirement socking-away. I pull in more than twice that, after about the same retirement sock. But I have a car payment ($300) which he does not. I have collision/comprehensive car insurance in the District, making my car insurance $950/6 mo to his $250/6 mo. I pay $1300/mo for a small 1-bedroom apartment in DC, whereas he pays $100/mo for a place on the grounds of the camp where he works. I have a student loan ($100/mo) which he does not. And, finally, I have a elephantine credit card debt that I am aggressively paying down, springing from my PhD years and some youthful indiscretion, which he does not. Neither of us has cable or internet (I steal it) and our cell bills are about the same, and we use about the same amount of gas. I also have decadent habits like rotgut, book-buying, and a girlfriend, none of which he shares.
The upshot? He has waaaay more disposable income than me, and certainly waaaay more savings. It makes me feel glad for him and very sorry for myself.