Sigh. How I cherish the memory, a mere ten years ago, of filling my car's fuel tank for just $.90 per gallon ($.899, to be exact). I never thought I would actually feel nostalgic for $2.00 per gallon. Things have reached the point where even $3.00 per gallon would be a pleasant relief. My glorified roller skate, which not too long ago shocked me by drinking $20.00 worth of fuel in one gulp, now regularly requires over $30.00 worth just to keep it going for a couple of days.
I don't have anyone to carpool with. Where I work, public transportation is no help. I simply must drive my car, and there's nothing to say about it. And this is my punishment. I have to fill the car up every 2.5 to 3 business days, mostly because of my daily commute, though some driving around town (to church, to symphony chorus practice, shopping, etc.) also takes its toll. I reckon I need to set aside $75.00 for fuel each week.
Lately this has proved challenging. This isn't altogether a bad thing. I think I may have lost some weight by eating out less. But what hasn't been fun is watching the needle on my bank account swing toward "empty" before the end of a pay period. So when the needle on my fuel gauge does likewise, I have to try new things. Such as selling every book I can bear to part with to Dunaway Books. Typically a box of books (the limit that I care to schlep from the nearest parking place a block or so away) accounts for about a tank of gas.
And today, for the first time since I started doing my own laundry, I actually performed "laundry triage." I sorted my laundry, not according to color or fabric, but according to whether or not I could live without it until the next laundry day. I got through the laundromat this afternoon on $5.00 flat.
My parents used to define a car as "a bottomless pit you throw money into." Perhaps the word "black hole" would be more apt.
I haven't been treating myself so much. At least, not in the lavish way I had been doing. By not eating nearly so much restaurant food, I have probably done tons for my physical health. And, to be quite frank, I am developing more of a taste for the simple fare I prepare at home. My last grocery run was another first for me: I bought two whole gallons of milk, knowing that I had a whole pay period to drink through them, as well as some frozen concentrate (which I haven't bothered to make in years). I bought extra loaves of bread and popped them in the freezer. I even picked up two (2) jars of sauerkraut, which is a major part of my nutritional program, along with Limeade (from concentrate), tuna, and extra-sharp cheddar cheese. (I don't typically eat them all at the same time, however.) I checked dates on everything to make sure it would be good for at least two weeks, and I looked for "2-fer" deals. Next thing you know, I'll be clipping coupons!
I haven't been attending the symphony (except when my symphony chorus privileges include a free ticket). When I have gone, I haven't parked in the pay lot, even though it means parallel-parking in a bad neighborhood and walking a couple of blocks in tux shoes. I haven't been seeing my usual "movie of the week," either. Last weekend, when I had sold a box of books for a whopping $70.00, I did spoil myself a bit and took in Ben Stein's Expelled movie, which makes a very entertaining case against the evolutionist agenda in the U.S. (and is also very interesting to look at).
Then I spoiled myself a little more and tried a steak-and-fried-plantain-on-ciabatta sandwich at TGI Friday's, a recipe I had seen on TV the last time I vegged out with my parents. The sandwich's flavor was excellent, but its architecture was a disaster. As soon as I picked it up, the steak rolled out one side and the plantains rolled out the other, and I was left holding a pile of lettuce, tomato, and southwestern-style mayo on ciabatta bread. Which, to be sure, was very tasty. I used my fork and knife to eat the meat & plantains, and I do think they make a good combination. But the Earl of Sandwich would not have approved. If you can't eat it without touching anything but bread, it's not a sandwich!