Sunday, April 25, 2010

...and Small Is Better than Big least when it comes to houses - I'll stay out of that other argument.

There are a lot of challenges to living in a small house. My 3-member family started in a 1300 sq.ft. space with a double-car garage and a 900 sq. ft. basement. We didn't really worry about space. Now we live in a 2-story cottage that has (maybe) 750 sq. ft. of useable space. Even after selling a lot of our belongings on Craigslist, we still have too much for this house.

It's a mess. And, yet...

I love it.

When I was eight, my parents bought two acres in the middle of nowhere in Northern California. While we waited to break ground on my parents' dream home (something that, sadly, never happened), the four of us lived in a tiny little 16' travel trailer.

I remember learning long division and some rudimentary algebra in that trailer. I read "Where the Red Fern Grows" over and over and learned the lines for my first starring role. We didn't have a television, so we played board games and read every night at the little table that folded into a bed for my mom. My brother and I slept on the top bunk, just above her, and my dad had the sofa bed near the back of the trailer.

I lived in another travel trailer, an even smaller one, when I first went to college in the early 90s. It was cheap and there was a pool at the R.V. park. I would hang out at the clubhouse with the retirees, putting together puzzles and playing checkers. I had a small t.v., but the only thing I remember watching was Conan O'Brien.

Our little house definitely needs organized and could use a deep clean, but some of my best memories are from the smallest places - small houses, small salons, even small towns...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

...and Saying Good-bye Is Better than Wishing You Had

I talked with Sheldon last week. He told me he was spending time with his family and then saying good-bye. I promised I'd always be there for Abby. He squeezed my hand and thanked me.

It's a powerful thing to have time to say what needs to be said. The saddest part is knowing that we do have the time and often don't use it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

...and Cash Is Better than Credit

...although you wouldn't know it from the credit industry's assessment.

I heard a story today about a man who didn't believe in using credit cards. A man who bought his siblings' shares of a house they had inherited and paid cash. Whenever he wanted a new car, he would save for it.

Then there came a day when he needed a loan. He went to the bank, they looked at his credit score and turned him away. He got a couple of cards, hoping to build some credit. He bought his groceries and put some gas in his car.

And paid off the bills every month. Oops!

The bank told him he still didn't have the credit score he needed. He needed to start carrying a balance on those cards in order to get credit.

I know this is almost common knowledge anymore, but who really believes this is a good practice?

Once a week, I still cut hair. I don't take plastic and, until last year, no one had ever written a bad check to me. I'm hoping I've seen the end of bounced checks, but who knows?

To me, cash is king. Unfortunately, there are times when people need to borrow. You got accepted into a great college, but your parents can't help pay? Fill out your FAFSA. You want to buy a house? Either you'll need to have saved $100,000+ or you'll be applying for a mortgage. Cars...well, the two I own cost me a total of $360, so I'm kind of over financing something on wheels. I really hate car payments. But most people want to drive a car with a/c and a warranty, so most people finance their cars.

I know credit history is the only thing banks have to base their decisions, but we need a better system.

Any ideas?

Monday, April 5, 2010

...and 38 Is Better than 18

Dear 18-year-old Self on our birthday,

Don't worry about dropping our cake after the dance recital and forgetting our keys in Mom's car - it all works out. Aaron drives you forty miles out of his way and tells you he loves you for the first time. It's worth the embarrassment.

In the twenty years since I was you, a lot has happened. Let it. If I tell you that our parents are SOOOO wrong and that student loan debt is NOT like other debt, you will go off to a great university on the east coast and a certain curly-headed girl might not exist. Every bad thing will have been worth it once you meet her, I promise - so disregard that stuff about our parents being fallible.

I also promise that the bad things aren't as bad once time passes.

I can't say that you'll become famous or rich by the time you're 38, because I can't lie to you - even though I have in the past. I'm sorry for that, too. I'll try to be better to our Future Self, okay?

I can tell you this:
  • You're tougher than you think. You're tougher than anyone thinks.
  • Practice makes you better. Actually, practice makes you excellent. Now it's up to me to be braver so that excellence gets noticed - another thing I will do for our Future Self.
  • Aaron is not the great love of your life. I know you don't believe me and that's fine. You'll know what to do when the time is right.
  • Devanie really is one of your "best friends forever." Have fun getting ready for the Ball with her. You'll end up redoing her hair after some hair stylist makes her look fifty-four. It turns out great (foreshadowing...). If you can get her to not spend her money on it, do it. I don't think she'll listen, though. Michael is not the great love of her life. Don't bother telling her that - I think she already knows.
  • You still have great skin and your hair isn't grey (in fact, it's darker).

Go and enjoy our birthday.
p.s. Mom lied. A lot.