“Kissing” My Debt Goodbye

K.I.S.S. as most everyone knows is the acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep It Simple Silly” or “Keep It Super Simple” which is my favorite because it gets the same message across without being insulting.

Dave Ramsey talks about K.I.S.S. the most when discussing budgets, but I’ve personally taken it a step further across all aspects of my personal money management, especially while I’m in the throes of Baby Step 2 – Debt Snowball, or as I like to think of it, my Debt Avalanche.

Having started my BS2 in February, I am nearing the end of my 7th month. So far, so good. I’ve paid off roughly 30% of my total debt and, despite Murphy’s best efforts, I am still on track to be debt free by sometime in 2010.

K.I.S.S.-ing works for me, so when something happens to make things more complicated, I naturally resist. I like keeping it simple. I like not having to look at all of my financial spreadsheets every day. I like not having to worry about multiple files and accounts. I like not having too many envelopes. I like doing things with actual, physical cash. I can do the details, but I don’t enjoy them. I hate balancing my checkbook – in fact I went for years without doing it until my sister found out and scolded me for it. And so one might easily see how keeping it simple would be a very appealing idea to me. Continue reading

90210 Revisited

I found a surprise waiting for me when I flipped on my Tivo this evening.  “Beverly Hills, 90210: The Final Goodbye” was in my Now Playing list. As many of you probably know, there’s been a lot of hype recently about the fact that there’s a new 90210 starting in September.  90210 for the next generation, I guess you could say. In any case, this seems to have brought about a spike in reruns and other spots featuring the original show… The one that I and many others over the age of 30 grew up with.

Laughing to myself, I instructed Tivo to play “The Final Goodbye” and found myself sucked into watching an hour of Kelly, Donna, Brandon, David, Dylan, Andrea, and others reminisce about the show which ended in 2000 after a 10-year run.

“Beverly Hills, 90210” was a show of the 90’s – a decade which served partially as a transition from the big hair, neon clothing, and leggings of the 80’s to the more sophisticated less concerning styles of the new millennium, but it was also the decade where my friends and I more or less grew from teenagers into adults and 90210 was the show that grew with us. Continue reading

That’s Me In The Corner

Okay, so I’m a total nerd.  I admit it.  Freely.  Or at least I admit that I’m a nerd about some things.  Things I’m…say, passionate about.  Things I really really like.  U2 would fall into that category.  I’m a total U2 nut.  And before you say anything, I’m aware that the title of this post is from an R.E.M. song, but Stipey and Bono are friends, so I figure that’s okay.  Plus it fits my tale here.

October 2005 was my final month in NYC before I moved back out to PA and started working at my current job.  As something of a “send-off” from NYC, I had tickets to four separate U2 Vertigo concerts.  Two of them I went to with others, two were solo.  One of the solo tickets I had was for a floor seat on 10/11.  It was an amazing show.  I got there early, stood in line, didn’t win the “lottery” for the inner circle crowd, but I was cool with that because I still managed to get a space at the outer edge of the circle right in the center.  I was within spitting distance of Bono (not that I would have dared spit on him, but the point is that I could have).  It was awesome.

The Arcade Fire song “Wake-Up” signaled the beginning of the concert. “City of Blinding Lights” began to play and Bono appeared on the stage right in front of me. With my camera poised, I was ready. Of course it was at this moment that the memory card decided to crap out completely.  I started getting error messages.  Things would blink that normally didn’t blink.  I think my camera might even have given me the finger.  It didn’t matter how sweetly I spoke to it, how much I begged or how many promises I made, it just stubbornly refused to work.  I ended up eventually sending the stupid thing back to SanDisk who sent me a replacement, but that didn’t do me much good while Bono and The Edge were rockin’ out just a few feet away and me unable to capture it with anything but my memory!  The good news is that I still had one more concert to attend with good seats so I was able to get some fabulous shots then (see the gallery at the end of this post), however I still didn’t have anything to take away from this crowning jewel moment in my concert-going history.

I was online tonight and for some reason suddenly thought, “Hey – the Internet is a pretty big place…I wonder if someone else who was at the concert that night happened to post photos of it..?” So I started to search.  Lo and behold, I found photos taken from someone who was part of the inner circle which were great, but then I also stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos taken that night and to my great surprise, you can see me in some of them! Well, you kinda have to know what you’re looking for, but still.

If you feel so inclined, you can watch the whole video (the camera angle catches me at various times throughout) but I also took a screenshot and highlighted myself in the lower right corner (just look for the blue circle).

U2 at MSG 10-11-2005 (me in the corner)

Pretty cool, huh? I’m just loving the Internet right now.

The photos below are from the last of the four concerts on 10/14/2005:

Bono & The Edge The Edge Adam, The Edge, & Larry Taking a Stroll Bono & The Edge Night Sky Me at U2

25 Things

I’ve been seeing posts of “100 Things About Me” done on other blog sites lately and, while I applaud those who can actually come up with 100 things about themselves, I personally 1) think that’s a little much to expect someone else (especially a hapless stranger) to have to read through, and 2) I doubt I could even come up with that many things worth sharing without ending the list with items like “I have fingers.”

So, in a fit of boredom and driven by my desire to be in keeping with blogging standards, I hereby present my list of 25 Things About Me.   Ahem.

  1. Coffee is my favorite comfort food. I couldn’t imagine a world without it…nor would I want to.
  2. I adore roller coasters – I laugh hysterically when riding them and I love to be in the front car.
  3. I am completely addicted to travel – I have been to 15 countries on 4 continents.
  4. They say you can’t buy love, but my dog has taught me otherwise.
  5. My biggest pre-teen crush was a tie between Bill Bixby (from “The Incredible Hulk”) and Shaun Cassidy (from “The Hardy Boys”). Continue reading

The Life In Your Years

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  Abraham Lincoln

A new friend of mine from The Well wrote a post today that resonated with me and, as I started to just type out a comment on her blog, I realized I had more to say than one probably should cram in that tiny comment box. Not pages and pages of thoughts, but certainly enough to warrant their own post, so here they are in all their semi-disjointed glory.

I’m not going to summarize all of Dorie’s post (you can read it yourself if you want), but in essence I think she’s been facing some tough questions as a result of watching her grandfather’s recent physical struggles. Since my grandfather just passed away a couple of years ago, I can certainly relate to where she’s coming from on that point. Additionally, I know that the passing of time and growing old in general has been something that has both thrilled and frightened me. Still does.

At the end of her post, Dorie says:

“So now I’m left with questions. How do I live my life? Do I need to change the way I live now in order to ensure my own happiness sixty years from now? Will the decisions I make today impact my ability to die with dignity?”

Wow. Talk about some really good, but really hard questions. I think we all go through times when we wonder what our lives will look like in hindsight from down the road as much as we wonder exactly what’s down that road. Anyone who says they haven’t thought through one or both of these questions is most likely in some form or stage of denial. For me, it’s been a persistent part of the “Who Am I Anyway?” essay I’ve been spent the last 34 years of my life writing…with more many more years to go.

In my senior high school yearbook, we had profiles we wrote for ourselves that I suppose was sort of a precursor to the resume. In it we could list out our accomplishments and memories over our high school “careers”. One section called for us to tell of our “Future Plans”.  This is what was listed in mine:

College, marriage, happiness, heaven.

I smile when I read that now and wonder what the 18-year-old me would have thought had someone come and told her that her so-called future plans were not going to go the way she anticipated or land her where she’d thought. Not even close. Instead, she would attend some college, live in Alaska, England, New York City and travel the world over. She would make a lot of mistakes, have a lot of heartache, but a lot of laughter too. She would date, but not marry [yet] and, finding herself still single at 34, would be okay because of the wealth of friendships she had been able to acquire through the years.

Dorie also says that she hopes she’ll “keep growing and changing well into retirement. I would hope that I would continue to do one thing that terrifies me each day until I die.” I know I would hope the same for myself, but I’ve also found that the older I get, the more cautious I’ve become. This is not to say that I wouldn’t still do things that scare me, but I’m definitely losing that total fearlessness that I think is only accompanies youth or great naivete. Some fear I think is healthy – it can keep us from making poor choices, as long as it doesn’t become so crippling as to keep us from pursuing our dreams.

CS Lewis says,

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

Amen to that!  If nothing else, I have learned not to try and predict my life or where I may go and what things I may do.  Staying open to possibilities and opportunities has been (and will continue to be) an essential part of what makes me me.  I doubt I’ll ever be so old that I’ll not be willing to take on a little risk in order to try out something new.  Keeping in mind that the hardest things I’ve done or been through in my life so far have also led to the best experiences or the greatest times of growth.

All this is to say I don’t have the answers to Dorie’s questions – I think there’s only One who does – but what I can say is that I find the most comfort in focusing on the eternal as opposed to just the here and now. That’s the perspective I try to view my own life and circumstances in, and I hope to continue to remind myself of this as I grow older and watch my physical body cave against the push of time, taking on wrinkles, gray hair, and God-knows what else.

Since we are so limited in our vision – so nearsighted – we tend to just look at the present. It’s when the present is weighing us down that we need to stop, lift our eyes up and center our attention on the One whose hands are always holding us. He is the only thing unwavering in this sea of life which is ever-changing and unpredictable. For myself, I find I need daily reminding of this. And, since this is a lot easier said than done, continuous reminders are certainly necessary… If repetition is the mother of habit, then the more I do something, the more second nature it will hopefully become.

Now I’ve rambled quite enough, so let me end by saying that keeping perspective is the key for me when times get hard and I feel like I’ve been struck by a sandstorm while wandering in the desert. That is when I most need to (but often least want to) focus my attention on God, His big picture (even when I can’t see it). When I do this, I find the easier it is to keep everything else in perspective – including the passing of time and all of the good and fun and difficult and sad things that it brings.

So if I were asked to write that “Future Plans” section for a yearbook today, would I even dare attempt it?