My Novels

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wealthy Hypocrites

The wealthy turn stealthy as economy weakens

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Throwing your money around is so pre-recession.

As the economy weakens, the wealthy and the businesses that cater to them say it's more common - even chic - to scale back extravagant spending and play down affluence. Retailing experts call it luxury shame, or stealth wealth.

From Rodeo Drive to Fifth Avenue, that means one thing: Hide the labels.

Some shoppers are asking cashiers at high-end stores to put their purchases in plain white paper bags. Others want their expensive clothes and jewelry shipped home so they can walk out of the store without any bags at all.

"There's a sense of there being a gaucheness in spending in excess and coming home with a Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag," says Lucyann Barry, a personal shopper and stylist for New York's ultra-rich.

For one self-conscious client, Barry recently delivered a $1,200 Gucci handbag disguised as a gift so the rest of her family wouldn't know she had bought it herself.

Of course, plenty of rich people have become decidedly less so as stocks, homes and businesses have declined in value during the recession. And they're cutting back. Holiday sales were down at Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co. (TIF) and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Despite the slump, the affluent still maintain lifestyles that would seem extravagant to the vast majority of Americans - hundreds of dollars spent at exclusive restaurants, thousands dropped on shopping sprees.

What's different now is the extra care some are putting into making themselves seem more like everybody else.

"I'm trying to be more covert," said Edward Douglas, of Randolph, N.J., who owns a small manufacturing company that he says has so far been unaffected by the recession.

One of his luxuries is vacationing with his family in the Bahamas, and although he still intends to go this year, he's planning on flying commercial instead of by private jet.

Robert Jones, who owns businesses including a nightclub and two restaurants, now spends $400 on a regular hotel room for his family rather than shelling out $1,000 for a suite.

And instead of chartering a private plane for business trips, he's signed up for CoGoJets'"jetpooling" service - the jet-set equivalent of sharing a taxi.

Full story here


Really, really hate to break it to these folks, but they ain't foolin anyone!

As for my past rant, let me clarify that when I am paying $468.00 a MONTH for Cobra medical insurance coverage, I DO NOT want to hear that "Blue Cross will be unhappy with a request for a necessary test."

I'm perfectly willing to PAY for medical insurance, but let me advise those 50+ without jobs/benefits or those on pensions earned in the is optional ONLY for young folks. Last year, in addition to the monthly premiums, I spent over $800.00 OUT OF POCKET for prescription drugs. And guess what? I wasn't even sick, just taking preventing medications to SAVE the insurance companies MORE expense by hospital and/or ER visits.

I am not overweight, I have always exercised, do not have high cholesterol, or any preventable chronic condition. I do have high blood pressure due to a genetic heart issue, a serious kidney/metabolism problem, both under control for 30+ years with medication/diet, and arthritis (probably hereditary).

Something is wrong with this picture, and it's looking more and more like those who actually LIVED WITHIN THEIR MEANS, saved and prepared for retirement are getting the shaft.

The MRI is finally scheduled for tomorrow, and maybe I'll know more.

As for medical insurance, I'm planning to apply to our state health insurance which is available for those who cannot get private insurance due to pre-existing requirements. Even so, IF I qualify for that, the monthly premium is nearly $400.00 with a $1,000.00 deductible for drugs; $4,000.00 for hospital stay. See what I mean?

I think it's becoming clear for many older folks (including those on medicare who have to pay for supplemental insurance) that basically, it's eat or have medical care.

There is a reckless side of me (largely subdued by my fiction writing and creating characters who live on the edge) which often rears its head and says, "Live dangerously, let the insurance go, don't take any prescription drugs, and just enjoy TODAY."

My grandmother, who lived to be 92, always told me to remember: NO ONE IS PROMISED TOMORROW.

I just have to wonder at times, why do we think that "insurance for tomorrow" is even necessary?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day from Hell

I had the day from hell. The orthopedic doc said he'd try to get an MRI, but that "Blue Cross wouldn't be happy with that request." When he said that I felt like screaming that this issue was between me and him, not me and Blue Cross. It is just such situations that is going to bring down the insurance conglomerate, and you can remember you heard it here first.

I get out to my car, and turned the ignition: Thought I heard an ominous sound, as if the battery was dead. Couldn't believe it, so tried again and sure enough, the battery was dead as a doornail. What did that mean? Just had a NEW battery put in a week ago.

Tried to call my sister's husband, who got the new battery at AutoZone, but forgot they left for a cruise last night. Finally called Sherry (renter), because she was nearby and she came immediately. She took the battery out, took me to AutoZone, where they tested the battery; said it was dead. Duh? Took an hour to recharge before they could test it, final conclusion: Battery fine. We drove back to my car, she put it in, I got home and guess what? The car started, but the battery light was on.

Long story short, need an alternator. I bought one at AutoZone, but have no idea how I'll get it put in. Sherry and Wendell (the renters) said they can put it in, so I may let them tomorrow. ExpresX Oil Change installs alternators for $75.00...unless there's complications.

As of now, I'm stranded -- the battery is dead again in my driveway.

I'm undecided what I'll do, but one thing I know: I'm going to buy a NEW car ASAP. Tired of this crap, really am. And if I lose my medical insurance? Going on a spending spree the likes of which will be legendary.

No joke.

Oh yeah, did I mention my back is killing me?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rules for dating

Single ladies, this list is for YOU:

If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.

Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior.

Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

Stop trying to change yourselves for a relationship that's not meant to be.

Slower is better.

Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.

If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can't "be friends." A friend wouldn't mistreat a friend.

Don't settle.

If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.

Don't stay because you think "it will get better." You'll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.

The only person you can control in a relationship is you.

Avoid men who've got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn't marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently?

Always have your own set of friends separate from his.

Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you.

If something bothers you, speak up.

Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.

You cannot change a man's behavior. Change comes from within.

Don't EVER make him feel he is more important than you are...even if he has more education or is in a better job.

Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more nothing less.

Never let a man define who you are.

Never borrow someone else's man.

If he cheated with you, he'll cheat on you.

A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

All men are NOT dogs.

You should not be the one doing all the bending...compromise is a two-way street.

You need time to heal between relationships... there is nothing cute about baggage. Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.

You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you... a relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals... look for someone complimentary...not supplementary.

Dating is fun...even if he doesn't turn out to be Mr.. Right.

Make him miss you sometimes... when a man always know where you are, and you're always readily available to him- he takes it for granted.

Don't fully commit to a man who doesn't give you everything that you need.

Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

{By the way, this was written by a man.}

Monday, January 12, 2009

January, the cruel month

Ah used to be the month I'd go crazy. Whether stir crazy or just plain crazy, I can't say. But let me just say that I've done some weird stuff in this month, totally out-of-character actions. Not in a long time, mind you, but in the past. I don't feel that kind of weirdness coming over me now either, but I do always recall those strange actions fondly; it's always surprising when you sometimes remember the nutty stuff you did as something interesting, whereas day-to-day life seems dull, boring.

I am using my laptop more often now, due to backache and possibly pinched nerves that are causing tingling fingers, numb feet. Exactly why I bought the laptop, so I can relax and write, surf the web, whatever from my sofa or bed. Nice.

Perhaps it will inspire me to write more blog posts, but I'm not promising.

Today I took the dogs on a long, long walk, since we'd been cooped up in the house the past couple days due to weather. Saturday it rained and rained (AGAIN), then Sunday it was bitterly cold. My arthritis will not allow me to walk much outside when it's that cold, makes my knees act up, become stiff in my joints. Today was still nippy, around 50, but the sunshine made it fine for a walk.

I'm reading a great mystery novel by my favorite author: Thomas H. Cook. I've read all his darkly engrossing novels, due to his extraordinary talented prose and his unique theme of exploring the black depths of the human psyche. This one is: Master of the Delta. Engrossing, as usual, and I should finish it later in bed (a habit I've developed, reading in bed, and which also lulls me to sleep).

I'll probably have another date with the man I've been seeing this weekend. I'd asked him for a break, so we haven't been out in several weeks. But frankly, I miss his company for a weekend date, either a movie/dining out, or drives in the country or fleamarket shopping. Anyway, we'd stayed in touch via email, and he wants to go out again...and heck, I'm tired of being lonely on the weekends. At least he seems more willing to accept my limitations on the physical aspect, so maybe this will work out better now?

My sister will be here Thursday, and we'll visit my mother who continues to do well, considering her poor health. That night it's supposed to get down into the single digits, and I'm NOT looking forward to that!

Cats are still sassy, and in fact, I have a few photos on my other computer I will try to post tomorrow.

For now, back to the novel...

(Oh, and about the cruelest month? That is now February when DH died.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

First day of 2009

What did I do?

Let's start with last night: I dug out one of the very few old videos I have of DH and myself, watched it as a test of my progress in grieving.

I shed a few tears, I laughed, and I thoroughly ENJOYED seeing DH again, hearing his voice, seeing his sometimes silly moods, humor and his generosity toward me. I MISS him, and I ALWAYS will, that I understand. But I had not been able to look at this video before, simply because I was afraid of the overwhelming sadness and loss. I felt that too, but somehow, I'm now at a stage where I want to have my memory refreshed.

After a certain time (years) you begin to feel that your loved one never lived, that you imagined them, so seeing and hearing them on tape or DVD is a wonderful reminder that your memories of them are indeed real memories, not just something you imagined. Videos, camcorders, digital cameras allow us to capture those precious memories and preserve them, a wonderful thing our generation discovered.

I want to get this video transferred to DVD, maybe edit it and create a keepsake for myself and my family. A gift I'll leave them when I die.

I think I'm doing well emotionally, progressing through the stages of grief at my OWN pace. It takes time, and those who say it doesn't...they must be fooling themselves.

What have I learned emotionally this past year? I've experimented with dating, and actually went out a month or so with two men who were extremely nice individuals. I enjoyed their company for several dates, but then as they began to show signs of becoming "serious" or wanting a physical relationship, I pulled away. I've learned that I am NOT ready for that, and I don't think I ever will be. I'll continue to test myself occasionally, but I have to also confess I'm NOT unhappy alone. Not at all.

In many ways, I always yearned to be alone, even though I was married to a wonderful man. I am somewhat of a loner, especially in regards to my work/writing time, and though it's been an adjustment to live totally alone, I can honestly say that I would have no regrets if I remain single/alone the remainder of my life.

I may return to full or part-time employment, if I can find a job. Or I may just continue to write freelance for the newspaper, since I now have six writing assignments from the editor. I'm not sure, I'll just wait and see.

I have researched medical insurance till I'm sick to death of it! And it's all led me to believe if something isn't done soon by the new administration, that alone will ruin what's left of the shattered economy (which I won't discuss, since it's fairly obvious my posts many moons ago about the looming disaster have come true in spades)!

All the research resulted in my learning of the state health insurance fund here, and I will apply for that when the Cobra runs out. It is a bit less than I'm paying now, no pre-existing clause, has exorbitant co-pays/deductibles, but what can you do? IF I can't qualify for that, can't find employment with that benefit, then you guessed it -- I'll be uninsured, like millions of others.

Resolutions for the new year? None...except try to stop worrying, fretting about matters over which I have no control, and do something about the ones I can control.

Hopes, dreams for the new year? Oh yes, I hope that I continue to be financially stable, stay in good health, get my exercise, remain a vegetarian, keep my dogs and cats healthy and happy...and have time to dream and read and write creatively.

Simple hopes and dreams, but things many people take for granted.

Today was beautiful, so I took the dogs to a lakeside park, walked a long way, then stopped at another small park on the way home, walked them there. The wind was brisk at times, but it was an enjoyable outing. Great way to spend the first day of 2009.

And now, a cute YouTube cat video for the New Year: