Thursday, March 23, 2017

"I can't help how you feel..."

Today's blog post is inspired by something Bill's ex wife used to say to him whenever he mustered the courage to complain about her behavior.  When they'd have a disagreement, he would try to tell his ex how he felt.  She usually responded with, "I can't help how you feel, Bill."

I remember how Bill sounded when he first told me she'd said that to him.  He'd adopted a cold, almost snarky tone to his voice.  If you knew Bill, you'd know that when he's snarky, it's always in a playful, cute way.  But when he was imitating his ex wife, he'd adopt this mocking tone in his voice.  By the way he imitated her, I could tell that she plainly didn't care about Bill's feelings.  She only cared about her own feelings.

Of course, Bill's ex wife would shriek like a banshee when she was offended by something Bill said or did.  I remember years ago, when she was still trying to maintain control of Bill, she'd send him emails full of shaming and recrimination about all of the things Bill did or didn't do, or said or didn't say, that made her life worse.

Yesterday, Dr. Tara Palmatier, a "shrink for men" and co-author of the book Say Goodbye to Crazy, posted a great "red flag" meme about personality disordered people like Bill's ex wife.  Bill's ex would never apologize for anything.  She expected people to bow down and kiss her ass or even flat out grovel, which Bill did a few times.  On the rare occasions when she did offer an apology, it was always followed by the word "but".

"I'm sorry, but what do you expect?"

"I'm sorry, but I can't help how you feel."

"I'm sorry, but you shouldn't say or do such stupid things."

Or she would share the blame.  "We both did things we shouldn't have."

Never did she ever offer any true indication that she was remorseful.  Never did she take any responsibility for her part in the many messes of their relationship.

I'm writing about this today, not necessarily because I'm feeling upset.  I'm actually not.  In fact, lately I've been feeling pretty well recovered.  I'm not even that angry with Bill's ex kids anymore.  I still think they're assholes, but I don't seethe with rage like I did a few months ago.  In fact, I could say I'm actually feeling empathy toward them, even if I still wouldn't want to have a glass of Kool-Aid with them (no coffee, tea, or alcohol for Mormons).  I hate to admit it, but maybe it was a good thing that Bill's ex kid showed up in Bill's "people you may know" section on Facebook.  He did get a rather lame apology from younger kid, but it's better than nothing.  At least she didn't express the same vile hatred she did eleven years ago, when she demanded that he give her up for adoption.

I'm writing about this today more because I know there are a lot of people stuck in relationships with people like Bill's ex.  In fact, right now, the whole world is dealing with a massive narcissist.  Donald Trump is probably one of the biggest ones any of us will ever encounter in our lifetimes.

I don't want to say that a person is never right when they say, "I can't help how you feel."  Sometimes, if you're dealing with someone who whines incessantly or tries to blame you for everything that ever goes wrong, it's right to say that.  However, just like "tough love" and the concept of "rock bottom", that statement can be bastardized into something very toxic.

It's healthy to say, "I can't help how you feel." to a person who tries to make you responsible for all of their hurts.  It's abusive to say it when a person tries to hold you accountable for your part in a bad situation.  Moreover, I'm pretty sure that if Bill had turned that phrase around on his ex wife, she would have hollered like a stuck pig.  The words "How dare you?" would probably be uttered, followed by a lengthy diatribe of insults and uncontrollable rage.

You see, narcissists are the only people in their own worlds who are allowed to have grievances.  And anyone in their world who tries to hold them accountable will be shamed, ridiculed, abused, and demoralized until they either run away or submit.  I write about "I can't help how you feel" to remind anyone out there reading this that in almost any situation, there's blame to go around.  And if someone regularly diminishes or discounts your feelings because they can't help how you feel, they are probably not worth your time.

Anyway... below is a link to Dr. T's excellent book.  I recommend it to anyone, especially men, who deal with an abusive partner.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Not everything needs to be debated...

Yesterday, I shared a funny comic I saw on Facebook.  For those who don't want to click the link, it's a depiction of Donald Trump watching Sesame Street.  In the picture, Big Bird is standing there and the caption reads, "Hey Donald, today's letters are..." Big Bird is holding a sign that has the letters F and U.

I shared that comic without comment because I thought it was funny.  Many of my friends did, too.  But then, as the sun began to set here in Germany, I got a comment from one of Bill's military friends.  This guy openly admits that he didn't vote.  In fact, he said he never votes because he's in the military and feels he should be apolitical.  Fair enough.  

Anyway, this friend of Bill's apparently supports defunding PBS.  He posted this comment.

So when you grew up and your parents stopped paying for everything did you tell them "F U" also?
It's a funny meme but has no basis in reality

My response to his comment was a flat "Whatever."

He persisted with this comment.

Yea......"Whatever" I want the millions of dollars that were spent on it in the past few years back.....

I wrote, "If I could, I would tell the entire Trump administration to fuck off for many, many reasons. But I posted this merely because I think it's funny, not because I'm interested in debating."

That comment was apparently not enough to send the hint that I didn't feel like a debate.  So he wrote this.

I's hard to be objective when petty and hate are all you want to focus's pretty common these days.....

To my surprise, a number of friends had my back.  Even Bill chimed in, which he rarely does because he doesn't like to appear to be fighting my battles for me.  He thinks I'm better at it, anyway.  But Bill's buddy eventually came back after a few folks explained how he could make it so he doesn't see my posts.  He wrote this.

I got the satire Bill, even stated it:
"It's a funny meme but has no basis in reality"
But the reality is that its getting old and it's particularly starting to bother me about this double standard.

Even Amy stated that its the same sentiment.....
A program that was provided funding for years no longer needed it as it is now commercially successful was shut off as part of an effort to control Trillions of $$$$ of debt spending.
But Trump is a jackass for making a smart decision and taking steps to control it?  
Yea, I want the money back that Obama and Bush spent on funding PBS while it pulled a fucking profit. Go on and take a portion of your retirement pay, put it in a fucking hole in the ground and burn it.
I chuckled at the meme but let's be clear, this is part of the problem; the President has made himself an easy target but in reality he is making some very real decisions that make sense but this is the exact kind of thing that works counter to it and is the reason our Government continues to waste Billions of dollars on shit that does not need it.

I'm perfectly aware of how to unfollow or unfriend Jenny but it's not necessary, Facebook goes both ways and you can post anything you like but people get to comment on it.
Thats how a discussion works!
But "whatever"

I left one more comment.  It was this.

You commented, and I told you I wasn't wanting a debate. I can do that on my page if I want to.

A lot of people seem to think that if you post something on Facebook, it invites commentary.  I don't necessarily disagree with that.  If I post something and you leave a comment, generally speaking, I won't delete what you've written, even if it's offensive.  But your decision to leave a comment doesn't compel me to have a discussion or debate with you.  And, if I say I don't want to debate, I mean it.

There are some people on Facebook with whom I will have discussion, even though I almost never agree with them.  Those people are folks who regularly interact with me on things other than politics.  They are mostly people who have proven that they have some respect for me as a person and aren't just wanting to engage in intellectual masturbation on social media.  I don't actually know Bill's friend that well.  I've met him a few times and Bill likes him a lot.  I think he's funny, but he never interacts with me as a general rule.  So I was a bit taken aback when he tried to rope me into a debate when I made it clear that I wasn't interested.

When it comes to Donald Trump, debates with me are utterly pointless.  I think he's a vile, despicable man.  He lost me forever when he bragged about sexually assaulting women.  I do not think he should be president.  I do not have any respect for him.  No matter what, it's HIGHLY unlikely that I can look at him as anything better than a lowlife scumbag.  So debating with me about his value as president is a complete waste of time.  

Some people felt the same way about Bill Clinton and George Bush.  I never had feelings of hatred this strong about either of them, despite what went on in the White House when they were in charge.  To me, Trump is a different beast.  It does no good to appeal to my sense of fairness when it comes to him.  I just plain despise him.  I realize that he's the president and we're stuck with him for now, but I don't have to like it.

Something else some of my friends may not realize is that I am not in the same time zone as most of them are.  So while their day is gearing up and they're online, feeling full of fire, I am sitting on the couch with Bill watching TV.  I am not at my computer, although I do have my iPad (mainly because I like to play games while I watch TV).  I don't want to get into a debate with someone at 8:00pm because I'll be going to bed soon.  If I'm on my iPad, typing responses isn't that easy.    

I grew up on PBS.  I realize Sesame Street is no longer on PBS, but Sesame Street will always be associated with public TV.  I do think it's worthwhile to support things like education, healthcare, arts, culture, and yes...  good TV for children.  I think I have the right to state that without entering into an argument.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No... castration is NOT the same as a vasectomy...

Today's blog post is brought to you by a dumb comment from an American that I read today.  Here it is.

The difference is males only have their furballs snipped off. Females have their insides removed. Imagine the difference between a human male having a vasectomy and a woman having a hysterectomy. One is done at an office visit the other is full-blown surgery. The males always have it easier 

The above comment is in reference to a thread in a local Facebook group about dogs getting "fixed".  I have mentioned before on at least one of my blogs that here in Germany, animals aren't as likely to be spayed or neutered.  More than once, a European has been confused when looking at Zane's and Arran's genitals.  They expect to see testicles hanging there and are surprised when they don't see them.  Nevertheless, we Americans are all over spaying and neutering, to the point at which some people are very nonchalant about the surgery, particularly for male animals.

Now... I totally understand why Americans tend to be hyper-vigilant about spaying and neutering their pets.  We have a serious problem with pet overpopulation in the United States.  A lot of rescues and animal shelters require that any animal adopted through them is spayed or neutered.  It's very common for an American dog or cat to be "fixed" well before they have fully matured.

In Europe, many vets recommend waiting until the pet is fully grown before spaying and neutering.  This is because sex organs provide hormones that are necessary for normal development.  Moreover, there is evidence that dogs that are fixed too soon may be at an increased risk of developing cancer.  Surprisingly enough, in Norway, it's actually illegal to spay or neuter unless there is a medical reason to do so.  

I've been learning more about spaying and neutering lately because four of my dogs have had cancer at relatively young ages.  In the course of learning about spaying and neutering, I found out that dogs can get vasectomies and ovary sparing spays.  And those procedures leave the reproductive system in the animal, but make it impossible for them to breed.  Vasectomies and ovary sparing spays have their drawbacks.  For instance, if a male dog gets a vasectomy, he'll still have sexual urges and it will take some time for him to get rid of all of his sperm.  But, he won't be able to father puppies and will still have those hormones produced by his sexual organs.  Female dogs who have an ovary sparing spay will still act like they are in heat and will be attractive to intact male dogs, but they won't have any significant discharge.

Anyway, I suppose I could have responded to the above comment in our American group with the above information.  In fact, I was very tempted to do that.  Ultimately, I decided not to chime in to that lady's comment because this is a rather controversial subject and I don't want to spend the rest of the day arguing with people about it.  So I'm posting here, because I feel compelled to vent my spleen.

Besides the fact that castration and vasectomy are definitely not the same procedure, I guess I was just taken aback that this lady is so blase about a dog having his "furballs snipped off".  I guess castration is a "walk in the park" if they aren't your balls being removed.  However, while a female dog gets internal parts removed and that's certainly not easy, I hesitate to dismiss what the poor male dog goes through when he gets castrated.  Obviously, if you're a person, you don't know how the dog feels.  But, if you're a human male and you have your nuts cut off, wouldn't that be kind of traumatic?  What human male would prefer having his testicles completely removed as opposed to a vasectomy?

For the record, I am in favor of spaying and neutering.  I certainly don't like the idea of dogs being put down because no one wants them.  I just think it's time Americans rethink when they get that procedure done on their pets.  I also think more vets should offer alternative procedures that allow the animals to retain their sex organs as opposed to completely desexing them.  

Although we have a significant problem with teen pregnancy in our country, it would be ridiculous to suggest sterilizing teenagers at risk for reproducing too early.  Why?  Because it's unethical and potentially unhealthy.  As a matter of fact, if you're a human adult under a certain age, many doctors won't want to do a tubal ligation or vasectomy on you because someday, you might want to have children.  Even if you seriously wanted to get yourself "fixed", there's a good chance that your physician will try to discourage you from doing it unless you've already had kids or are over a certain age.     

Naturally, dogs and cats are not the same as human beings.  We do have a terrible problem with pet overpopulation.  However, I submit that animals have reproductive organs for a biological reason, just like humans do.  And while not every pet needs to reproduce, they do have a need for those body parts that we so carelessly remove when the animal is still growing.

Off my soapbox now...  although I still badly want to shake that woman and ask her if she thinks any creature with balls thinks that having them "snipped off" is no big deal.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

You MUST always be nice... or else, you're a bitch.

This topic is on my mind this morning, mainly due to a rant I just wrote about on my music blog.  The incident that prompts today's rant has already been fully described there, so if you want to read about it, you can read about it on the music blog.  Here, I will simply write about this topic in general.

Have you noticed that many Americans place a HUGE value on being "nice"?  As a culture, we smile a lot.  We're mostly friendly.  This is especially true among women, who are expected to be nice over all other things.

I don't actually have a problem with being nice, as long as the behavior is genuine.  I genuinely like being around most people and I value kindness.  I try to be kind when I can.  However, there are times when someone does something that doesn't make me want to be kind or nice.  Sometimes, people say or do things that are annoying.  I would prefer to be honest and tell them they are annoying, but because of my programming as an American, I feel like it's safer to be nice.

Well... here's the problem with always being nice.  Sometimes, people need to be called out on bad behavior.  You can be nice when you call someone out, but there are times when nice doesn't cut it.  If you don't send a strong message, the message gets lost and you have to repeat it.  When the real message eventually comes out, it's liable to be more hurtful than it could have been.  And you've also wasted a lot of time and energy trying to be nice and not getting your message across.

One thing I like about Germany is that people here tend to be more blunt about things.  I will admit that when I first came here, it was a shock to be yelled at by a stranger (and it's happened more than once).  It was a rude awakening to have some random German snarl at me about something I did, mainly out of ignorance.  I couldn't understand what they were saying, either, which made things worse.

But then, after awhile, I came to realize that being honest and blunt is often a time saver.  Because if you address something from the get go, there are usually fewer misunderstandings.  You are less likely to find yourself in a situation where you let things slide so much that you end up exploding.  I would rather deal with someone being firm and/or stern one time than hanging around with someone who is faking being nice and is actually pissed off.  Then, when they reach the end of their proverbial rope, they go off and you're left wondering WTF!

Some people find it easier to be "nice" than others.  Bill's ex wife, for instance, has the ability to sound sugar sweet when she's dealing with people.  However, Bill's ex wife is, underneath that layer of sweet bullshit, actually a very nasty and dangerous person.  She can sell ice to Eskimos (or so Bill has told me), but she has an agenda and is dishonest the vast majority of the time.  So you may think she's fabulous when you first meet her, but then after awhile, you start to see what's under the layer of sweetness.  It ain't pretty, folks.

I am definitely not as sweet as ex is.  I tend to "go ugly early", as Bill would put it.  However, I am also not nearly as fake as she is.  What you see is mostly what you get.  You might not always appreciate what I have to say, but most of the time, you can bet that what I've said is how I feel.  And you will know where you stand.  The exception to this rule is on SingSnap, where if you don't tell everyone who joins you how great they are, people think you're horrible.

I think being kind while being honest is a big challenge, although that is what people should probably strive hardest to do.  Have some regard for the person's feelings, but tell them the truth plainly and assertively.  Unfortunately, our culture doesn't do enough to teach people how to be assertive.  In our culture, most people are too "nice"... which doesn't always translate to "kind".  In fact, it's usually easier and lazier to always be nice.  You don't risk upsetting the person, but you also don't communicate effectively and sometimes you even end up lying.  I don't like liars.

In our culture, especially in some sub-cultures such as the military, we also have a problem with people being too aggressive.  There are some people who don't have a problem with simply steamrolling or bullying people to get what they want.  Those are the people who are loud, threatening, and "in your face".  They don't communicate with respect.  The person who bitched me out on SingSnap last month and accused me of being "full of myself" and "lacking character" was being aggressive, rather than assertive.  She did not respond to me with reason or respect.  So my reaction to her was simply to banish her from my world.  Who's got the time for people like that?  Other people might have taken her comments to heart, which would be a tragedy.  Because if you have to be so aggressive with strangers, it's likely that you yourself are a wounded child who could use kindness and assertiveness.  And no one deserves to feel like crap because of someone else's psychic wounds.

It's a challenge to be kind without being too "nice".  More of us, particularly in the United States, could probably stand to learn more about being assertive-- honest, but basically kind and respectful.  Unfortunately, even if you're assertive, people will still think you're a bitch.  Especially if you're female.  That's my Monday morning rant.  Hopefully, things will get better as the day wears on.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Facebook purge...

I don't know why, but every once in awhile, I clean out my Facebook friends list.  It usually happens after someone unfriends me, which someone did the other day.  For some reason, that prompts me to go through my list and see if there are any people I need to drop.

When I do a purge, I usually just drop people I never talk to or who I know have died.  I know at least two of the people I purged yesterday were people who had passed away and I had never met either of them in person.  Next, I removed several people with whom I'd had contentious arguments.  For instance, I finally deleted ...tom... and Papa Smurf, two guys who have inspired me to write several negative blog posts.

I also deleted a couple of people with inactive accounts and a few people who haven't posted in over a year.  I usually don't do that right away because sometimes those people come back.  But one person I unfriended was an aunt who never posts on Facebook.  I will admit, though, that I didn't unfriend my Uncle Carl, who died in early 2015.  I'll probably do that eventually.

I have to admit to feeling somewhat guilty about unfriending people, which seems kind of silly when you think about it.  Facebook has kind of changed the way people communicate, though.  It used to be you could do the slow fade away.  Now it takes breaking ties online.

Truthfully, I kind of admire people like Bill and my sisters, who keep their friends lists very small.  That's probably the best thing to do.  There may come a day when I cut a lot more people.  In fact, I could do that today and not miss most of them at all.  Sadly, Facebook has kind of turned a lot of relationships into something a lot less meaningful than they might have been.

I recently read an interesting blog post written by a guy who analyzed the whole unfriending phenomenon on Facebook.  He wrote about how deleting "dead wood" actually improved his experience a lot, since he found he was engaging more with people he actually cares about.  He says that even deleting one or two people will change the look of your feed.  You start rediscovering people you used to know.  Or you start having more meaningful interactions with people.

A couple of days ago, I had 515 Facebook friends.  I now have 492.  I could probably have fewer friends and be just as happy if not moreso...  But I guess, having grown up at a time when you had to talk to people to be friends with them, it's just hard to let go.

The Fade Away...  a song about breaking up.

And Happy Birthday to my loose acquaintance...  a song about the Facebook experience.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Yet another Duggar babe...

Evidently, Josh and Anna have another baby on the way.  It's a boy, their fifth child, who is due sometime this year.  I doubt TLC will be showing the birth, so we will be spared seeing the poor lad being born on the toilet.

If we're keeping score, that means this year Boob and Michelle will have three new grandsons.  Jessa's second boy was born last month.  Jill is due in July with a baby boy.  And Josh will have a new boy sometime soon.  Add in the fact that Joy Anna is engaged and Joseph is courting and you know TLC will be working hard filming the oversized brood.

I'm sure it won't be long until Jeremy and Jinger start babymaking, too...  It's enough to make you want to puke.  It's like the Duggar family is exploding all over the place.

Facts and Figures...

I loved this book, even if it was hopelessly dated in the 70s and 80s.

I am the youngest of four daughters.  There is an eight year gap between me and my next oldest sister.  Even though there is a large gap between my sisters and me, I inherited a lot of their stuff when I was growing up.  One of my favorite hand-me-downs was a book called The Golden Book of Facts and Figures.  Published in 1962 by The Golden Press, this book was loaded with information that was accurate circa 1962.  I was fascinated by it.

I don't have that book anymore, but I did find a fun blog post about it yesterday.  Click here to see a picture of the book and its innards.  You will see that there were many colorful pictures on a huge array of topics.  I remember reading about everything from U.S. presidents (up until 1962, anyway), the five senses, zoology, astronomy, and anatomy.

I'm pretty sure my favorite part of the book was the part about the planets.  The author, Bertha Morris Parker, had constructed a chart that offered a visual comparison about what the planets were like (as they understood them in 1962).  One of the columns in the chart was the question "Capable of sustaining human life?"  For each of the planets, there was the word "no", except for Venus.  Apparently, in 1962, there was a belief that someday we might be able to live on Venus.  I find that hilarious now, but when I was a child, it opened up a whole realm of fantasies and possibilities.  I remember marveling at the idea that someday I could visit Venus.

I also loved reading about carnivorous plants, which if I recall correctly, was a subject that was covered in this book.  I loved looking at the illustrations of Venus Fly Traps and Pitcher plants, plants that would trap and eat hapless bugs that got caught in them.  I remember having my curiosity piqued by the subjects within this book and wishing I had more information.  I guess, in a sense, that's what made this book so good.  It whetted my appetite for learning and made me want to know more.  And that required looking for other sources of information, which is one of the best ways to learn something new.

At some point, my copy of this book disappeared.  I'm sorry it's gone, because I distinctly remember drawing and writing all over the inside cover.  I remember drawing a crude picture of a naked woman and writing mild expletives.  It was very childlike and I'm not really sure what possessed me to defile that book in such a way.  I think one of my sisters might have drawn in it first and I just decided to follow suit with my own artistic and verbal renderings.  Even those crude drawings remind me of something else from the past, though.

In my grandmother's house, there was a little closet under the stairs.  When my cousins and I were little kids, we used that closet as a fort/clubhouse of sorts.  I was usually on the fringes of the "cool clique" at Granny's house and was relegated to playing with my younger cousins, who have since grown up to be very cool people, but back then were strictly B List.  I remember my cousins and I wrote on the walls of that closet, just as I wrote on the inside of my book.  Many years later, my uncle remodeled the closet and removed our childlike graffiti.  I wish he'd left the graffiti, since that house has been in our family for probably 70 years or more.  My dad was actually buried near the house for about a year until my mom moved him to the family church's cemetery.  I guess she worried that someday, no one in the family would own the house anymore.

I'm not sure what made me think of Facts and Figures yesterday.  I guess the older you get, the more things like that pop into your head and you start feeling nostalgic.  I'm almost tempted to see if I can buy another copy of this book and relive the wonder.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Amount owed... $0.00

Yesterday, I paid off my last credit card.  This is the first time since the mid 1990s that I haven't owed anything on a credit card.  I had to pay them off before I went in the Peace Corps, but then halfway through my time there, it became possible to get cash advances from ATMs.  That's what I did those last months to stay afloat... and to be honest, I was pretty tired of not having enough money.  My mom kept the minimum payments up for me.  Then I went to Europe after the Peace Corps and ran it up to a couple thousand bucks, which seemed insane at the time.

The years after the Peace Corps were financially challenging.  I didn't make a lot of money and went off to graduate school, where I became more indebted.  Then I married Bill, who was broke.  It wasn't until about 2007 that things started getting better for us financially.  He went to Iraq and earned extra pay.  I put it toward paying off his debts and reducing my debts.  Then we went to Germany the first time, where we got extra money for utilities that we never used.  I used that extra money to pay off one card and pay down another.

Last time we were here, I also talked Bill into refinancing our car loan.  It wasn't easy to do that, because he was still very ashamed of his financial nightmare history with his ex wife.  They had gone through bankruptcy and foreclosure and he was afraid if we tried to refinance, we'd be turned down.  As it turned out, PenFed was only too happy to refinance our car loan at a much more reasonable interest rate.  Suddenly, our $500 payments to Toyota Motor Corporation were cut in half and going to PenFed.  When we bought me a new car in 2009, they financed that loan, too.  And we paid both cars off early.  We are still driving both of them.

By the time we left Germany in 2009, I had almost paid off my second credit card.  But then we got to Georgia and I decided to buy a bedroom set because I didn't want to sleep on an air mattress for a month.  I also bought us a refrigerator because the house we rented didn't have one.  Up went the bill again and it's taken me since then to get it completely paid off.  I was getting close when we were in Texas, but then I had to use it to pay for moving expenses.

When we got back to Germany in 2014, my bill was well over $10,000.  It's taken me a couple of years to get rid of the debt.  Until recently, we were spending over $1500 a month on my two credit cards alone, aggressively attacking that debt.  Now that money can be used to pay off Bill's credit card.  Then we'll put the extra money into savings so we can finally buy our own house someday.

I will probably incur new debt in May because that's when we're paying off our next cruise.  But I already have some money saved to pay down that bill.  Aside from that, Bill told me last night to up my student loan payments.  I am already paid ahead by almost $13,000, but with this new aggressive payment schedule, I will probably have that debt paid off in about two years... if we are able to keep it up for that long.  Once that debt is gone, it'll be GONE.  We won't have to worry about it anymore.

I've learned that it really does make sense to "pay yourself first", if you can.  Put money in savings and pay more than the minimum on debts when possible.  For instance, when I started paying down debts, I started small.  I added another $20 to my student loan payment.  It wasn't much, but pretty soon, that massive loan payment started to look more whittled.  Gradually, as we could afford it, I added more to my extra payments.  Instead of $20, I paid an extra $50.  And so on and so on until the extra money became very substantial and really started making a dent in the loan.

I am now paying quadruple what that initial minimum payment was in 2007 (granted, the minimum payment did balloon in 2011).  My original minimum payment before the balloon was $180.  In 2011, the minimum payment went up to $389, but I was already paying close to that voluntarily and was paid ahead on the loan.  It wasn't too painful to adjust to the new minimum payment and before long, I was paying significantly more on the minimum for that, too.  As of last night, I'm voluntarily paying $1000 a month so I can get rid of the debt sooner.

The faster you pay off the loan, the cheaper the loan ends up being and the more you can afford to pay it off sooner.  If all goes according to plan and I succeed in paying off that loan in two years, I will have finished about eight years ahead of schedule.  That's a lot of interest we won't have to pay.

Of course, there is no way in hell I would have been able to accomplish this goal without Bill's cooperation.  When I told him what it would take to finish paying for grad school, he told me to go for it.  I told him I wouldn't divorce him when the last payment goes through.  Of course I'm kidding.  I wouldn't divorce him anyway.  He's an amazing guy.

We've been blessed with good luck and good health.  Parental alienation also spared us from having to put Bill's ex kids through college.  The military lifestyle spared us from having a mortgage.  And it's only a matter of time before I owe again.  But for now, I will enjoy being more debt free.  It's a good feeling.

It may take time and effort to develop the mindset of paying yourself first and paying off debt faster, but it really works in getting finances under control.  After awhile, saving and paying ahead becomes less painful and more rewarding.  That's my pearl of wisdom for the day.

ETA: I wrote about this topic in 2013, too.  At that point, I was only $4000 ahead on my student loan.

Moving on...

Yesterday's topic was revisited on Facebook when a woman, who is not American but is apparently married to one, wrote that she agreed with the German journalist that Americans are building too much on Panzer Kaserne.  She basically wrote a post shaming Americans for being wasteful and ungrateful for Germany's gracious hospitality.  A huge, all day thread began.  It's still sort of continuing.  The funny thing is, almost no one arguing about the new commissary that is slated to be built will ever shop there.  By the time it's operational, most of them will have probably moved on to their next station.  As for Bill and me, I don't know.  I have a feeling we could be in Germany for a long time if we don't get kicked out over Trump's antics.

Again... amazing what passes for controversial in these parts.