Tiger Woods Plays Golf; He’s Not Negotiating World Peace

Am I the only person in the world who couldn’t care less what is going on in Tiger Woods’ personal life?  Am I the only one who thinks that it’s none of my business?

I mean, it’s not like he’s mis-using taxpayer (your and my) money to make out of town/state/country trips to see “call girls” and mistresses. He’s not some hypocritical lawmaker preaching morality legislation while getting caught propositioning gay prostitutes in airport men’s bathrooms nor is he running for President and having a love child with his publicist while his wife recovers from cancer or something like that.

Tiger Woods is just a celebrity golf player, an “athlete”.  His personal life affects no one beyond his family and the women he cheated with.  He really has no obligations to anyone else and no one else really needs to be informed of all of the seedy details.

He’s not a world famous neurosurgeon; he’s on on the brink of discovering the cure to cancer; he is unlikely to negotiate peace in the Middle East or even convince the Democrats and Republicans to compromise on a Healthcare bill while President Obama is in office.   There really doesn’t need to be all this fuss about how his marital strife might affect his work.  It’s golf.

December 11th, the night I was stuck in the hospital when I had my appendix removed, the big story on all of the news channels was Tiger Woods infidelity.  They brought it up every 20 minutes.  Why???

With yesterday’s press conference where Tiger apologized to his fans for letting them down, the media again are busy calling in “experts” to speculate what the public are thinking.  On talking head on CNN had two “experts” come on to discuss how men and women would be receiving the message differently.  What annoyed me was the fact that no one ever bothered to consider the thought that maybe many women, especially those who don’t care for golf, don’t care.

In fact, some of us don’t care who Jennifer Anniston is dating or what Paris Hilton is doing or who the Kardassians are or what happened to Jon and Kate or any of the Real Housewives from Atlanta or New Jersey or wherever they are now.  I actually suspect that most of us don’t care about any of them.

Or is it just me?

Nightmares – Er – Tales of a Spendoholic (Episode 1)

Last night I saw an advertisement for something I could use.  It doesn’t really matter what It is.  Let’s just say that if It functions as advertised, it would make me look nice and probably boost my self esteem as a result — basically, the next best thing to magically making me a Supermodel overnight. :P

Anyway, It was one of those special deals with “order now” and “get this extra thing free” plus “get this other thing half price”.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  You’ve wanted one of those before.  You may even have ordered a few.  The whole thing was very seductive.  If you called right then, you could get the whole special deal.  (How do the sales people know when those advertisements are running really?)

Now, I’ve been reading The Budget Kit and a number of budgeting and personal-finance-related blogs lately, there’s a big focus on differentiating needs from wants, and a bigger focus on restricting the purchasing of wants or prioritizing them, especially when you are in financial trouble. So…I took some agonizing time to consider whether It was a need or a want. Clearly, It isn’t required to sustain my life — It isn’t food, water, medicine, air, shelter, wood for heat…Therefore, It is not a need.

Thus, It is a want.

Having divined this truth, since I am attempting to spend as little unnecessary money as possible, to straighten out my finances, to get back on track, I did not make the purchase. I agonizingly did the right thing. Non-spendoholics must not even have to think about such choices. They just know and do the right thing and there’s no residual disappointment.

Unfortunately for me, my new little frugal angel and my old spendoholic devil manifested themselves last night as I slept. I spent the night dreaming that I was arguing all night with my mother about whether or not she would allow me to buy It; she kept insisting that no one needs an It, but I argued that she used to encourage me to get one when I was a teenager and I had a perfectly good one in my 20′s that wore out. This It is better.

The whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I hope it will get easier.

My Heart Aches For Dead Actors

I still remember the day River Phoenix died. I was in love with him, of course. O.K. I didn’t know him enough to love love him, but I loved the thought of who I thought he was.

And I remember the day he died quite clearly in my mind.  I came home from dinner with friends and heard on the late night news about his untimely and at the time mysterious death.  I remember the devastated, crushed ache of my young early twenties heart.  As time went on, all I could think about when I heard his name or saw one of his movies was what a terrible waste his death was — all that fantastic talent gone in the blink of an eye, snuffed out because of stupidity.

For the longest time, I couldn’t watch his movies.  They just made me too sad.

When Heath Ledger died in 2008, I didn’t have the same puppy love crush and thus didn’t feel the same crushing ache, but I did feel devastated for  the loss of amazing talent that was just gone in a heartbeat.  The story is all too familiar and yet no less tragic.  Like River he had graduated from child parts to brilliant adult roles and unlike so many actors in Hollywood today, he was able to play characters other than himself.  He had a lot of promise.

It’s been only recently that I’ve been able to begin watching movies which star him again.  Still, I feel melancholy.

Britney Murphy’s recent bewildering passing brought up all the same internal sadness for me.  Britney was another promising star in my mind.  Perhaps she wasn’t Julia Roberts nor would she have ever been some Angelina Jolie, but I believe she had the promise to be a great comedienne actress — one of the greats even.  At 32, she was so young, too young.  Her life and her career were just beginning and it was all over in the blink of an eye before there was a real hint of the shine her star could have been.

One of her movies recently aired on cable, one I really like because it made me laugh, but 5 minutes in I had to turn it off, because watching her made me cry.

The thing is that it’s not just actors who die young that break my heart.  Every week I hear about tragic deaths on the news, young people killed in accidents, crime, war — their lives were just beginning but  now they are gone and who knows who they might have been, what wonderful, amazing things they might have accomplished, but for a moment of stupidity whether it was their stupidity or someone else’s?

And it makes me sad.  I am devastated, crushed, and my heart aches.

The Eat-Only-What’s-In-My-Pantry-For-A-Month Diet

Yesterday, I mentioned my “Eat Only What’s In My Pantry For A Month” diet.  I sort of invented this diet in my late 20′s, after-college, starving under-paid programmer years.  I’m quite sure there are many variations of this diet around and they probably have more or less inventive names.

Back in December when I was starting the paperwork to attempt to refinance my house, before the emergency surgery interrupted, I talked to my shrink about my options should the refinancing fall through.  I brought up this memory of one July back in my younger years, admittedly when I was healthier and more socially active, that I quite literally brought a random can of something every day to work for lunch; it would be “Oh, looks like I’m having beets today!” or “Hmmm, green beans!”  I ate dry toast every morning and at least once or twice every weekend, a friend’s mom would feed me and I was not ashamed.  I only spent money on rent, utilities, and gas.  I had less than $10 in cash in my purse the whole month and I believe I managed to end up with at least $5 of it.

I used to think once you got beyond 35 years old, you couldn’t live like that anymore.  I always get a laugh when I tell people that one of my favorite memories in college is going to Krispee Kreme at 3am after the midnight movie when the “hot now” sign is flashing and buying one donut but not having enough cash to pay for it so I had to write a check…and worrying that it would bounce before my monthly allowance check deposited.  You can only really get away with that in college, right?  I mean, try explaining that kind of expense as a 38 year old.

So, here we are on Feb. 2nd and I have begun my “pantry” diet.  It’s going to be hard because I’m going to be out of candy and chips really soon. ;)  I can make my own soy milk and soy yogurt — I have a stockpile of soy beans for some reason.  I have a lot of rice and couscous and frozen fruit, some granola.  I’m sure I have some oatmeal, canned beets, and green beans.  There’s a bean soup mix in there and a few bags of frozen veggies.  I even have the things I need to make a rather dull pot of spaghetti.  I think if I plan things out, I can make it through 26-ish days of February.

I just feel a little too old to be doing all of this…and I sure wish I’d stockpiled more chocolate bars before January ended. :P

Sometimes The Best Advice Is No Advice

My mother has a talent for offering inappropriate advice at the absolutely least welcome time.  We have a regular conversation about how difficult it is for me to save money.  This conversation has been repeating itself many times over the last 10 or 15 years.  It seems that every time I get a little bit of money in my savings, something big and unexpected occurs that wipes my savings totally out.  Then when things get tight for me, my mother has the audacity to say something to me like, “You know, it’s always best to have have about $10,000 in your savings.”  She’ll also let a day or so pass and then mention that I really should be making extra payments to my mortgage principle a couple times a year.  Meanwhile, I have been telling her things like I have to make a choice between eating lunch this week or paying the water bill or that I’m not sure how I am going to pay the $1,000 bill I got from the hospital for the emergency surgery I had last month when I also have to pay for heat.  Where does she expect me to come up with $10,000?  If I had $10,000 I wouldn’t be starting the “Eat Only What’s In My Pantry For A Month” Diet.

It’s that kind of useless advice that people offer that boggles my mind.  There’s never any additional advice attached that helps explain how you are supposed to reach the lofty goal of the advice when you are in the particular situation you are in.  It’s kind of like the obscure New Year’s resolutions “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be more healthy this year.”  There’s no specifics.  Everyone with smarts knows that in order to make a resolution you can keep, you have to have a specific goal — like “I want to lose 10 pounds” or “I want to walk 30 minutes 3 times a week.”  Then you can make a plan to achieve your goal.

The problem with arbitrary advice like “You should keep 3 months-worth of your salary in savings” is that it doesn’t take into account the financial situation the person is in already.  Is the person in debt over his head?  Is the person living paycheck to paycheck?   Is the person making more every month than she is spending already?  A person who is struggling is going to have a lot harder time figuring out how to save that much money; in fact, such a person might find the feat overwhelmingly hopeless despite the fact that the advice is painfully obvious and having that savings would in fact make life easier.  Dishing out such advice without actually offering any real direction on how to achieve this while still being able to pay bills and eat is just as useful as announcing that you hope for world peace.

But it’s worse because it’s thoughtless and hurtful; it sets the receiver of the advice up to feel like a failure because he or she can’t snap his or her fingers and magically make all of his or her financial woes go away.  It’s clear what the goal is, but the path isn’t always obvious and unless you are walking it or at least can see the same point-of-view and offer more than a trite recitation of what all the books or magazines or talking heads have been repeating for ages, sometimes the best thing to say is “I empathize” and leave it at that.