As the CSO and I are buying my folks' old house (which if you're pretty sure you're the sibling who will be financing your folks' retirement anyway, is not a bad way to go…) I've had to curb my spending a bit. One of my former ministers liked to remind us ad nauseum "if you want to know what you value, look at your check register." Judging by my check register, I value having gone to college, utilities, food, books and giving money away.
Having gone to college and utilities are pretty non-negotiable. The food budget can be tweaked by eating out less. At least for now, the book budget stays.
So it comes down to giving money away.
CC has never been good at not giving money away. Actually, saying "no" itself is something of an issue, but it manifests itself particularly badly when it comes to my checkbook. The policy that the CSO and I came up with gives me a certain amount per month to give away without prior approval from him. That number includes what I give to church.
This is an extremely reasonable policy, I know. I'm still not going to be perfect at it. There's something about street musicians, appeals to support a museum I've just enjoyed and pleas on behalf of starving kids in Africa that CC just finds irresistible. As a kid, I was notorious for inviting near-strangers to our thanksgiving dinner just because I found out they had no place to go.
I'm trying to think of it as like whack-a-mole, that arcade game where the little plastic moles spring up and you're supposed to hit them with a padded hammer. When a generous impulse pops up, I at least consider whacking it down.
Someone I don't even like is driving through DC and could use a place to stay? Whack! I'm out with a friend and get the urge to buy her dinner? Whack! Doctors without Borders could use another donation? Well, I'll think about it for a few days…
Saturday afternoon, I'm walking through Old Town Alexandria and an affable hippie tries to sell me an arts magazine she and her friends are putting out. Uh, ok, young artists are cool, and it's only a magazine, so what the hell? I dig through my wallet. I only have a 20. She says, "For that you can have a tank top, too." The tank top has "Stop bitching and start a revolution" across the chest. I have a lot of sympathy for that sentiment, especially the first part. So I say ok and she loads me up with a magazine, a bumper sticker and a tank top.
On the subway yesterday, I pulled the magazine out of my purse and read it for a while. It's called Zendik and I noted that it mostly seems to be about some guy named Wulf Zendik. If you google that name and read up on it, it turns out that the hippie's friends live in a small community in West Virginia. You know, one of those small communities run by a charismatic leader who discourages worldly things like, you know, personal bank accounts.