Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vaguebooking Explained

Traveling down, this road
Watching the signs as I go
I think I'll follow, my heart
It's a very good place to start...

Vaguebooking: the act of making a Facebook post that unwittingly confuses people. (The term is coined by my pal Tim M.)

I haven't always made the best decisions in my life, and I'll always be the first to admit it. Oftentimes, bad decisions can lead to crises in your personal life, your financial life, your work life, etc., and I've got a track record to prove I haven't always followed the right signs.  I was never fortunate enough to have been taught from a young age all of the dos and don'ts of making sound financial decisions. Neither of my parents were ever very good with money and so I sort of picked up right where they left off.

Unfortunately, in this 'great,' capitalistic culture of ours, we learn from an early age to covet things we don't need and are encouraged to pay for them with plastic.  It's a dangerous game in which unwitting pawns (many of us!) end up so deep in holes that climbing out of them often seems like an impossible task.  From when I got my first job at Sterns Department store at the age of 19, I was handed my first credit card and thus began years of bad financial decision making and the digging of a deep hole I've been fighting to get out of for pretty much my whole adult life.  

I'd like to think that I am in "the know" now.  In the eight years since I became single again, I've had no choice but to tighten my belt some and choose better signs as I went.  But of course the inevitable car and house repairs, Christmases and birthdays, and many other unexpected expenses always seem to come up and they either gobble up what little I've managed to save or force me to take out the plastic again, leaving me still clawing to get out of that hole I began digging up so long ago.  

Once in awhile, admittedly, I still lapse into bad decision-making.  Shopping therapy, dinners with friends, or taking little trips are the occasional pleasures I allow myself in to escape the other problems in life, but they always leave me feeling worse about myself and of course still stuck in the mire.  When you're in the situation I am in, you tend to think sometimes whether it's really worth it to scrimp and save and deprive yourself of everyday pleasures because you've got bills to pay, or just say "screw it" and enjoy.  After all, who cares if I die owing money?

I've started the new year...well really the last couple of months of last year, making real progress.  I'm tired of having money for one day, on pay day, and then being broke for the next thirteen days till I get paid again.  I want to be able to enjoy my life a little with the decent money I do make.   I want to be debt free, and I'm getting there, which brings me to the whole point of this post...

I made a Facebook post earlier in the day that went a little something like this:

Just had to make a really difficult decision, one that I probably wouldn't have made in the past, but I have to believe that it's the right one and it'll make me better off in the end.

I didn't think anything of it when I wrote it.  I'd taken a short break during the school day and wanted to let out a little pride in this particular sign I followed.  Little did I even realize I was vaguebooking!

Throughout the next four hours of work, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree, seemingly every five minutes.  People were commenting on my post, texting me, and sending me private messages on Facebook.  A lot of people thought I'd quit my job.  Others were just worried that something bad had happened to me.  I tried to fend off the worriers by making a second post, but to no avail:

Wow, looking at the responses to my earlier post, I can see that my vagueness caused people to think something super-serious was going on. No worries! It was just a personal decision on something that I wouldn't ordinarily make and though I'm a little disappointed, I'm also proud of myself for my ability to take control. worries.

The notices kept coming.  People shared inspirational videos with me, made offers to talk, all kinds of things.  Finally, I commented that I would make a blog post to explain it all and voila!  Here we are.

You see, I'd actually been waiting to post here that I was going on my school's Europe trip again this spring.  Last year's trip was awesome, and up until a few days ago, I would have been rejoining two of my favorite people on a brand new adventure.  My participation in this year's trip had been iffy all along, but at Christmas break I submitted my information to the tour company and I was all set...or so I thought.  

With tensions over the Paris terrorist attacks a short time ago, several parents expectedly pulled their kids out of the trip and so I received a call on Tuesday that I was no longer needed as a chaperone.  If I still wanted to go, I'd have to pay a nominal, yet decent portion of the price in order to remain with the group on the journey.  Here's where the vague post comes in...

If this had all happened just a few short months ago, I know I would've jumped on it. From the moment I was given the news, in my head I was going to pay the money and go.  Something nagged at me, though. When I told my friends the news that very same evening, I could tell from their reaction that they still thought I was going to go.  They know me well!  

That got me to thinking about what the consequences would be.  Though the amount is still a fantastic price to pay for such a cool jaunt, it was still money, precious money.  Combined with what I would probably spend while I was over there, I'd be at least a few inches deeper in that hole when the trip was all said and done, and with summer fast approaching, I'd have to possibly cut, or at least curtail, some plans so that I could just survive those two months without pay. 

I mulled the whole thing over during the next couple of days, not really discussing it with anyone.  In the back of my head, I knew what I should do and that was to say no.  And so early this morning, sometime before that Facebook post, I passed on the opportunity.  Of course there were mixed emotions in the aftermath of my decision.  I that I'm going to miss out on this year's adventure. But on the other hand, I am proud of myself that I made a decision out of character for me, and in doing so I get to stay within my forecasted striking distance of getting out of this hole.  That's why I posted what I posted today.

So to all of my friends out there who showed their concern, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It makes me feel so good that so many of you genuinely care about my well-being and I am touched by you reaching out to me.  I also want to apologize for my vaguebooking. I truly did not realize that you would have no idea what to make of what I wrote and would take it negatively.  Yeah, it's a bummer that I won't be going to Europe this April, but at least I know that I do indeed have the mettle in me to follow a good sign when I see one, even if it makes me a little sad.  Who knows, maybe this decision will bring me a little bit of confidence that I can reach goal and start living life a little more easily down the road.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lost in Lotto Dreams

What would you do with $1.5 billion?  That's what a lot of people across 44 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are pondering tonight.  The grand prize jackpot in tonight's Powerball lottery is the highest in history, and had been climbing since no one claimed the prize this past Saturday.  I'm not sure if I, nor anyone else for that matter, can fathom just how much money that is.  A winner could opt for equal lump-sum payments of the prize over 29 years or settle for a lump sum payment of $930 million. Yowsah!  Even after paying 39.6 percent in federal taxes (the government ALWAYS wins!), that's quite an earning, and even though the chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292 million, like the popular slogans say: "you gotta be in it to win it" and " all you need is a dollar (um, scratch that....two dollars) and a dream."

So what would you do with all that money?  Even though most of us know that there's not a chance in heck that we're gonna hit all of the five numbers plus the Powerball number, it's still kinda fun to dream if for a couple of hours.  

Oh, there are so many things I would those I know who could use some extra moolah, pay off the mortgage, car and credit cards, fix up the house.  Heck, that much cash would allow me to quit my job (I'd find something to do!).  I'd travel, maybe buy a couple of vacation homes, ride lots of roller coasters, and, and...whew!  That was nice to write it all out.  

Of course, I'm not counting on anything...that'd be simply stupid, but it never hurts to daydream even for a little while.  Actually I heard somewhere that if these winnings were divided up, every single American could get a million bucks.  Wouldn't that be nice?  I bet that's stir the economy to all time heights.  But that would never happen.  Once a lucky winner gets his or her (or their) hands on the prize, the rest of us can go back to keeping our heads above water and to keep on dreaming until that next big jackpot comes along.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Own Little Rabbit Hole

My drinking is killing me
My smoking is killing me

My diet is killing me

My heels are killing me

My shopping's killing me
My ego is killing me
Can't sleep, it's killing me
My label's killing me

My friend Rich is always reminding me that I haven't been writing lately.  Well, he's right, and for good reason...actually two good reasons.  First of all, ever since school started I haven't had much time for writing on here, and second, I haven't been inspired to write.  That's a sad thing, I know. Anyway, today is the first...scratch that...second and third day, of the new year, 2016, and I usually get to writing some sort of reflection/looking ahead piece around this time, so here goes...

My phone is killing me
My email is killing me
These hours are killing me
My tour is killing me
This flight is killing me
My manager's killing me
My mother's killing me
My landlord's killing me
My boss is killing me
The TV is killing me
Your nagging is killing me
My boyfriend's killing me
My talking's killing me
Killing me
Killing me

I lost my iPod on New Year's Eve.  I think that was the straw that just pushed me over the edge.  One minute it was there, the next it was gone.  Ugh, the new year has already started off just like the old one left off and I think I am just about ready to check, nah, I'm not really gonna do that, but I'll honestly say that I don't think I've ever been as low as I am right now, and it's not the iPod (though that IS a killer!).  I feel so lost these days, and I no longer seem to have a handle on what I'm searching for anymore.

Can't sleep, it's killing me
My dreams are killing me
TV is killing me
My talking's killing me
Let go, you're killing me
Ease up, you're killing me
Calm down, you're killing me
My god, you're killing me

By now you might be wondering by now what the heck is with these strange lyrics and the Robyn video.  Well, it's kinda how I'm doing right now.  I think there are some of us who get a little self-destructive every once in awhile, especially when there's something not right in the head and that'd be me right about now.  When I feel like this, I tend to jump into my own little rabbit hole, cut myself off from the world and feel sorry for myself. Well I know that's not productive, and heck, by even writing this at least I'm trying to do something...

Well anyway, it's taken me three days to get to this point in my post and now it's Sunday night, the end of Christmas vacation.  Sigh!  At least I climbed out of my rabbit hole for a bit today, and maybe the order of life will set me off in a good place tomorrow.  We shall see!  To be continued...