I got my first paycheck today, sorta. I got a paycheck for 10 hours of testing, paperwork and assorted bureaucratic tasks that occurred before my first shift. The pay rate for this kind of thing is 1/2 pay, so after taxes I proudly deposited a cheque for a little over one hundred US dollars in my badly abused bank account.

"Maybe now I can keep a positive balance for more than a week!" I quipped to the bank teller.

He laughed. He's a jolly fellow.

Even better, my physical for the nursing home gig is tomorrow and the hiring paperwork is going down this weekend, so I am in full $$ mode. I'll only have 6 days off per month for a while (maybe less if I take extra homecare shifts on the weekends), but after not working for so long (almost 2 years!) I'm looking forward to socking some money away, paying off some debt and contribute to my sister's education fund. No more scrounging for quarters to buy beers and coffee!

Most of all, I'm looking forward to spending money on myself again. I haven't had what you'd consider "disposable income" in quite some time, so the possibilities for my new $1200+ per week income are fun and exciting to think about. Let's brainstorm a bit, shall we? In no particular order (except for the first one).

1) Computer upgrades: Number one with a bullet. I used to upgrade my computer every six months and PRN, but haven't continued this practice in quite some time. Thankfully I'm crafty with my upgrade schedule and have managed to keep my computer serviceable through routine software maintenance and wise hardware choices. A while back, however, I noticed that my computer couldn't even run some of the latest games (the last high-performance game I could run smoothly was Oblivion with some of the settings turned down). Time for that AMD XP 2800+ and Geforce 7800 to go! It'll require a new motherboard and new RAM in addition to the CPU and GPU, which is why I've held off for so long. Storage is running low, too, A measly terabyte doesn't go very far nowadays.

2) Medical gear: Now that I'm really getting in to (and starting to dig) home care nursing, there are some exigencies that I'd just love to pack into a bag and carry around with me. I wasted a lot of money on equipment I'd never use back when I started nursing school, now that I have experience under my belt there are a few toys I want to snag, which include; temporal artery thermometer, new stethoscope (the electronic littman served me well but it's time to get the littman cardio with pediatric bell), glucometer, pulse oximeter, ambu-bag....hmm, what else? What other non-invasive non-drug goodies can you think of to carry around? As soon as sequential-multiple-analyzers-on-a-chip hit the market, you can bet I'll be first in line to snag one.

3) Console Gaming: I grew up with video games, since the days of black and white Ultima 3 and Captain Magneto on my hard-driveless all-in-one black-and-white macintosh with 128k of RAM. The current generation of game consoles are unique in that for once, I want ALL of them. There are some games on Xbox360, PS3 and Wii that aren't available for one reason or another on the others, so I'll just get them all. Unfortunately, between work and aikido I'll have far less time to play video games than I did while I was a slacker of a Student Nurse, but I guess that's just how it goes.

4) Lodging: I'm glad I decided to stay at my parents' house as long as I did, it gave me a chance to develop an adult relationship with them (and my sister) I might not have had otherwise, and it's a comfortable situation; having the only room on the ground floor, able to have scores (literally scores) of people over until sunrise, inhabiting a splendid house on a lake in a nice suburb just 3 minutes from town...there's a lot of plusses. On the other hand, I am getting to a rather unseemly age to still be living with my parents (I turn 28 next year), and girls tend to look at you funny when they hear you still live with your parents (some people apparently have such fucked up relationships with their parents that they can't imagine anyone WANTING to live with them), no matter how pleasant a situation it is. On the OTHER other hand, they graciously extended the offer to continue living there for $350 a month in rent, in a place that would probably cost me 7-8 times that amount to inhabit alone, when utilities are figured in. On the OTHER other other hand, for however long I still live in this corner of the world, the idea of living within walking distance of my favorite coffee shop and favorite pub is very appealing, and having more personal space than just a room would let me set up the turntables and other music-making equipment on a more permanent and less cluttered basis. Additionally, my sister is chomping at the bit to take on the curator role of my Library (a series of bookshelves that cover nearly every vertical surface of my room).

5) Gassless personal transportation technology: A drunk-biking accident claimed my trusty $50 wall-mart special road bike many years ago, maybe now's the time to get back into biking. Driving a hybrid helps, but the cost of driving is still unreasonable, and I'd still feel that way if gas cost half as much as it does now. Maybe I can get something spiffy and plug-in electric, like these battery powered assist bicycles or just the modules themselves that one of my bike-making friends could mod into a bike.

6) Glyconutrition: Earlier this year when I went to the NSNA convention in Grapevine, Texas, I ran into some marketing agents for a company called Mannatech. They talked a good game, and pointed me towards some research suggesting that most of the food available in our supermarkets and restaurants are missing several key glyconutrients, the lack of which may have a hand in the rising incidence of cancer and auto-immune disorders. Maybe I'm particularly gullible, but it made sense to me, to the point where I'd be willing to shell out a couple hundred dollars a month for their nutritional supplements. Admittedly there are some shady things going on with the company, like not subjecting their research to the peer-review process (a process I'm more than a little cynical about anyway) and some sharp criticisms of the underlying glycobiology (from famous glycobiologists, no less), but I'm willing to give it a shot for a few months anyway to see what happens. Hell, it's basically just powdered cactus, kelp and aloe (and some other whole food products), what could go wrong?

7) New laptop: This one should probably wait for a while, since upcoming advances in battery, display and microprocessor technology would most likely make whatever I purchased in the near future painfully obsolete in the slightly less near future. Still, though, my venerable Alienware is on it's way out. I've already replaced the motherboard once, and I'm still getting thermal-failure events when I try to play a video or game full-screen.

8) New goban and stones: I have a few gobans and a set of stones, but frequent use and carrying it around in my trunk has resulted in dents and cracks in the boards, as well as many cracked or lost stones (which were cheap anyway). I'm thinking something like This and These. Purely for the home, not for carting about in the trunk of my car.

9) New mobile phone: My HTC 6800 was working great until I dropped it and cracked the screen, reducing the working area by half. I don't want to cash in on the insurance and go without a phone for 3 days, so I might as well just plop down the obscene amount of cash to get a new one un-subsidized. As soon as an Android phone comes out for the Verizon network, I'm there. Don't make me laugh with your iPhone piffle.

10) Aikido equipment. Mainly bokken and jo. Maybe four or five of each so I can practice with friends outside the dojo.

11) Reiki lessons: I got turned on to several good teachers in my area, I just lacked the customary biosurvival tickets to exchange for their services. I think this would have a great impact on my Nursing practice. As an added benefit, there's an opportunity to get an attunement from an old friend, which I think would complete a rather protracted cycle of hurting and healing.

12) Health care services: It's been way too long since I've had health insurance, and a combination of my Family History and my age suggest I should get on participating in some diagnostic studies sooner rather than later. I'm thinking colonoscopy and chest x-ray for starters, then there's the whole back-pain issue (which started during nursing school).

13) New DJing gear: Although my schedule wouldn't permit me to go back to DJing for quite some time, some things need to be replaced to practice/create at home. Specifically my Scratch Amp, which lost the functionality in a couple of the line-level inputs (some rather important ones). Rather than a simple replacement, I think an upgrade is in order. Also, my Korg Kaoss Pad 2 is getting a bit worn down, and the upgrade (the KP3) has been out for an embarrassingly long time for me not to have one. Not merely DJing gear, this device is a powerful performance tool all on it's own, probably my favorite musical instrument next to the Trombone (which would also benefit from a trip to the repair shop).

14) New MP3/MP4 player: I loved my Archos dv700 dearly. Despite it's ungainly size, the fact that it sported a 100GB capacity, a 7" diagonal widescreen and video/audio in/out ports allowed me to wave it in the face of foolish iPod users with glee. Having a device that allows me to play or record any audio or data format to or from any device is something that I've grown accustomed to, and the past 6-8 months that mine has been broken have been difficult to bear. Fortunately, in the meantime, the technology has improved. I'm thinking this one.

15) Miscellaneous: On the internet I come across at least 5 things per day I desperately want but can't justify buying, many of which are on ThinkGeek. A light-up LED shirt that plays drum samples when you touch the picture of the drum-kit, for example. A Kaossilator. A titanium spork. I could go on and on.

Afterthought: There are a few things, now that I think of it, that I want to buy for other people. For a bunch of the faculty back at the nursing school (say, maybe 9 or 10 of them), some thank you cards with personal notes in each, ranging from short to embarrassingly long. For my former classmate's RN brother and his father - who put up with my bullshit for two semesters while I crashed there in between clinical shifts, a letter and something nice. An expensive bottle of exotic liquor maybe.

My horoscope at freewill astrology says:

"Write the number ten followed by eleven zeroes. Our Milky Way Galaxy has that many stars. Write a ten followed by twelve zeroes. That's the size of America's national debt in dollars. Now promise me that for the next month, you will avoid absorbing any scary, overwhelming data like the kind I just threw at you. Worrying about the big financial picture would not only be fruitless, it would also distract you from your main tasks, which are as follows: Regard the crisis as an excellent opportunity to shed materialistic obsessions and live more humbly and creatively. Sublimate your buy-ological urges into biological urges. Stretch yourself to get into closer touch with your spiritual core."

But I say,

fuck that guy.

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