Why being admired is overrated

We are driving to cello lessons in Madison. Maybe you realize that just last week I wrote about about driving to cello lessons in Madison. Maybe my drives to Madison will be like Monet’s cathedrals: I’ll just keep popping them out, each written from a different angle, and you will learn to see the nuances of our family interactions in different lights.

In today’s story we are late. I was going to shave my legs before we left because I’ve never been great at shaving. I always tell myself I’ll get them waxed next week and then I don’t. But I just read how we perceive women to be good looking if they look like they spend a lot of time caring about their looks. So I thought I might spend some time caring.

Seeking admiration is a mental disorder.
My husband and my son are in the car, waiting. I felt bad. I could have kept them waiting for one leg, but not two. It would be too inconsiderate and I worry my son will spend adult life telling a therapist I was a narcissist.

Is it narcissistic to think my kid will be consumed with recovering from my narcissism?

People with Aspergers and people with narcissism look very similar because both seem overly concerned with themselves. The difference is that people with narcissism have a deep need for admiration and people with Aspergers don’t need other peoples’ approval.

I go to the car with my hairy legs as soon as I notice they are waiting. My son tells me my clothes don’t match and my husband tells me I have toilet paper stuck to my skirt.

I do not fix either.

My husband, who is not the official driver of our family, is driving. Here’s why:

We flew to Montana for my nephew’s bar mitzvah. And when we got back to the Madison airport, my husband could not find our car.

A few years ago I lost our car at O’Hare, and my husband said, “If I lost my car in a parking lot, I’d go straight to the emergency room to have an MRI. Because there would have to be something really wrong.”

I made a note to myself to make an MRI joke later. In the meantime, I called security and asked them to look up our license plate. My husband came back two hours later. I pretty much wanted to kill him. But it turned out he wanted to kill me more: I didn’t make payments on the BMW for four months and the bank repossessed it.

“Oh,” I said, processing the news. Then I looked up at him to see how angry he was and said, “That’s surprising that they knew where the car was. I guess it has a chip in it or something.”

He said, “How are we getting home?”

He asked because I am in charge of all things non-farm. Which includes getting back to the farm.

It’s not that I forgot to pay. It’s more like I forgot how important it is to pay. Or I forgot how much I was forgetting to pay. Or something like that. I mean, I always know in the back of my head that I need to make the monthly payment. But it’s like how I always know in the back of my head that I need to cut out sugar and carbs.

The other car we have (yes, I am supposed to make payments on two cars) is a Honda Fit. My husband picked it out and when I told him that the cello doesn’t fit and no one but him wants to drive stick shift, he told me it is his midlife crisis car and he never does impractical things and he wants to get the car.

As long as we were both in agreement that the car is impractical, I got on board.

Empathy wastes energy.
So now the midlife crisis car is our primary car and Carla, the driver, can’t drive it.

Fortunately, it’s not that inconvenient for my husband to drive it today because we have to go to the repossession place to get our stuff out of the BMW and he’s the only one who can do it because his name is on the car because when we bought the car he had amazing credit.

That seems so long ago. I have messed up his credit because I have inconsistent cash flow from my business. And sometimes I’m not just missing payments I said I’d make, but I’m also borrowing money from his farm account.

I have empathy for how he is way outside his financial comfort zone with me. But empathy doesn’t lead to action. In fact, empathy has been shown to actually undermine righteous action, which maybe means I have an oversized amount of empathy for him. But since empathy is really overrated, maybe I should preserve my energy for something more virtuous.

Shame marks an immature stage of personal development.
We drive to Madison and I am answering email, and my son is listening to Haydn in C, and my husband is stressing about people seeing him cleaning out a car that’s been repossessed.

“No one cares,” I tell him. “It’s okay. We’ll get a different car. It’s fine.”

He says it’s a shame thing. He says, “Not everyone can be like you and Donald Trump.”

“What? What are you talking about?” I have to peer around the top of the cello in the front seat to be able to see his face to check if he’s joking.

“You and Donald Trump are the only two people I know who have no sense of shame.”

I tell him that’s interesting because Putin is having trouble keeping his government together and the Economist reports that Alexei Navalny, a popular blogger, is the most viable opposition leader.  I tell my husband: “I’m thinking maybe bloggers and world leaders have the same traits.”

He drives.

Emails. Haydn. Emails. Haydn. Emails. Haydn.

Then we are at the car repossession place and there’s our BMW, parked between two cars that look like they are not worth the time it took to repossess them. My husband wants to make sure we don’t bring sticky, gunky kid junk into his midlife crisis car.

As he checks every little compartment, I rescue Monet and Modernism from under the seat. But I am distracted by a stash of disposable razors in the glove compartment. I put my foot on the seat because it’s not our seat anymore, and I start shaving. The sun shines at a perfect angle to see all the hairs I might otherwise miss.

He asks if I have to do that now and I say yes. “If I did it in your car I would make your car dirty,” I tell him.

I shave. He searches. He’s looking for stuff we might not want to forget, but I like the idea of forgetting most of it. The payments are $1100 a month. I’m sick of them. I’m happy to be rid of the car. I just wish it hadn’t happened at the airport. That’s the difference between shame and guilt: shame is thinking I am bad for having my car repossessed. Guilt is taking responsibility for not having a car to drive home from the airport.

Admiring people makes you feel good. But envy makes you take action.
We are unscrewing the license plate. My husband wants to keep it as a souvenir of the time we hit rock bottom. I don’t tell him this is totally not as bottom as my rock bottom.

My son stays in the car the whole time. He sees I’m giddy that we won’t have BMW payments so he thinks nothing bad has happened. It reminds me of when he was a toddler learning to walk and he’d inadvertently gain speed and then start running and then trip and fall and if we didn’t make a big deal about it, he wouldn’t realize he should be crying.

Cassie calls me to get feedback on her investor pitch. I tell her I can’t talk because our car was repossessed and we have to clean it out.

She talks anyway. She says she is in money trouble right now too. She says most small business owners are women selling to women and women don’t do nearly as much in the summer because they have kids at home. So basically, unless you’re selling pool passes, summer is not a good time for cash flow.

Then, because she hates when I don’t realize that she is full of brilliant insight, she sends me this link abut how Etsy sales plummet in summertime. She also sends me an article that says America is full of high-earning poor people, and people who are Internet famous have no money, and suddenly I feel very on-trend.

I wish I were a good role model. The Harvard Business Review published research that shows striving to be role models holds women back because women focus on that so much more than men do, and it distracts from career advancement. So the car repossession must be catapulting my career to the top.

So it’s not healthy to want to be admired. You could cultivate envy — because envy, more than admiration, inspires action. But I think, instead, we should strive to admire.

Psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, in his book, The Righteous Mind, considers admiration something like gratitude with a moral component. It’s the emotion we feel when someone does something good or skillful—it helps us feel transcendent ourselves. Admiration elevates life. But being admired ourselves has nothing to do with that experience.

My husband is so stressed about our financial doom that he arrives at the cello lesson early and says he’s taking a walk. That’s what he does when he’s stressed, he walks. He is working really hard to adjust to life with me: financial windfalls and financial black holes, bad credit and me constantly chasing my next idea for a business.

And I admire that. Which is an emotion that makes me feel calm and secure. And that’s how I deal with the slow cash flow of summertime months.


76 replies
  1. Maria
    Maria says:

    Today I was having a bad day. NOTHING was working right, no clients, disability rejection, broke, etc.. I was feeling shame for my situation and guilt for not trying hard enough. Then I read your article.

    Thank you for making me laugh.

    My solutions was to move into a $500 fixer upper rv so I have my vehicle and house in one package. Until the mouse moved in, then the roof leak and the black mold. I think I’m winning the battle. But meanwhile, because I’m a chicken, I spend nights at McDonalds, trying to convince people I’m not ‘just like them’ . I’m not homeless. Mice are nocturnal, so until I am assured they are dead and gone, I sleep during the day.

    I have a house I never see, because it’s too far away and I can no longer afford the taxes. It was stressing me out until I realized the benefit of having it taken away.

    Years ago, I dealt with the same thing with my car. I couldn’t afford the payments and wondered how I was going to drive 2 vehicles as I had just purchased a motorhome in a small town as I was in the process of losing everything including my apartment. Well, fate intervened. It was towed away as I had it parked in the wrong place. They wanted a few hundred dollars to get it out of the tow yard. So I called the car company and told them to come get the car that was on the repo list. Problem solved.

    Less is more.

    When your farmer gets stressed, just remind him, less is more.

    • Constance
      Constance says:

      Off topic, I know, but I’ve always found that regular scent Bounce sheets keep mice out of rv’s…

  2. David C. Baker
    David C. Baker says:

    I just pushed your blog to my 26,000 readers, so the background to this next statement is that I admire your work and I’m not trying to beat you up. Honesty isn’t criticism.

    Anyway, you tell yourself that this is a cashflow issue because that’s less shameful than a profit issue. Cashflow seems more intermittent and like you are at the whim of bad client behavior.

    But recurring cashflow issues aren’t cashflow issues at all but rather profit and planning issues. While these ups and downs might be acceptable within your own envelope of comfort, a sign of commitment to your husband would be to find some way to even them out, plan, and not fuck up his credit. That matters to him more than it matters to you.

    In spite of this weird comment, I really admire your blog and read it faithfully. Keep up the good work.

    • Mysticaltyger
      Mysticaltyger says:

      Spot on, David.

      I used to live with someone who was a financial wreck like Penelope. Never again. I hated the stress and all the ups and downs of being in the hole and then spending everything when good times came. I earn a modest income in a high cost area, and I put away a pretty good percentage in savings and investments. I’m much happier. Eventually Penelope’s husband is going to snap if she doesn’t rein herself in.

    • Ken
      Ken says:

      Well he could just tell her no. It’s his credit so he should at least take some responsibility and look at what’s going on time to time of course they need to communicate about it. But they’re millionaires who cares.

  3. Ethan
    Ethan says:

    There’s a great new documentary that recently came out called “Talent Has Hunger” about the cello students of Paul Katz at New England Conservatory. A team followed three students of his for a number of years.

    You write about driving to cello lessons a lot so I thought you might like to see the film. I think one of the students was around your son’s age when they were filming. Here’s a link to the trailer: https://youtu.be/zvnVRh2Z7xA

  4. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    That is unfortunate that your car was repossessed but if the car is in your husband’s name AND he knows you are somewhat irresponsible with money, I don’t understand why he wasn’t more involved with making sure the bills were paid. He should have made you write him a check every month and paid the bill himself.

    During your next windfall, maybe you can buy a cheaper car with cash and that will eliminate the need for credit and reduce the changes that you forget a bill.

    • meistergedanken
      meistergedanken says:

      He was probably operating under the impression she is a responsible adult.

      Bad on him, for forgetting the maxim that: an American wife is merely the oldest child in the house.

    • funkright
      funkright says:

      “but if the car is in your husband’s name AND he knows you are somewhat irresponsible with money, I don’t understand why he wasn’t more involved with making sure the bills were paid…” really? It’s called trust. You trust that your partner will make the right decisions for all concerned. That’s what a partnership is. Penelope doesn’t seem to get it.

      • Virginia
        Virginia says:

        I think there are things people “won’t” do, and things people “can’t” do. For whatever reason, I think Penelope “can’t” pay her bills. I know it is hard to think that way because she seem intelligent and capable, but there are other things that can limit a person’s effectiveness. If one partner has a shortcoming, the other partner may choose to step up and help out. Of course, her husband doesn’t have to, but it may keep their marriage together if he thinks it is worth it.

    • Bob
      Bob says:

      “somewhat irresponsible with money” is a gigantic understatement. She can’t manage money at all, as she has documented many times over. The only surprise is that her husband was surprised by this.

  5. Alihan
    Alihan says:

    Hi Penelope,
    First of all thank you for this inspirational article. Our lives are too short for spending time with shame and feeling guilty. It is not worth to think about money problems.I agree with Maria Less is more. We have to learn live with less and don’t try to have more.

  6. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I like how your husband is in charge of farm and you are in charge on non-farm. I like how in this post you said some very affirming things about your husband. I wish you’d do that more often.

    The very idea that a car payment could be four figures a month makes my head spin. My house payment isn’t four figures a month. My older car is worth about one of your BMW payments. The newer one is worth about three BMW payments. I can afford more than this, but these cars just keep working so I just keep driving them.

    And I love it that your husband’s midlife-crisis car is a manually shifted Honda Fit. Mine was a Toyota Matrix XRS, which has a hot engine. In its prime, it was tons of fun on the highway – stomp the pedal and feel your back sink deep into the seat. It’s now the car worth one BMW payment.

    I wonder what would happen if you discounted your coaching rate by 15% for the rest of the summer, whether it would push off the fence people who aren’t sure whether to call you. I know I almost did it just this week but then waffled.

  7. Ann
    Ann says:

    I admire your ability to write about money with so much candor. However, the reoccurring issue of money shortages makes me wonder about how much you really earn annually and how profitable your businesses actually are. Do you actually have separate business plans for each product line or your marketing activities ad hoc? Also do investors ever comment on your cash flow and planning problems. What is your justification for leasing such an expensive BMW when you live in the country. I also wonder if you get a rush or high over these type of crises. Normal life can be really boring. But money issues have a deleterious effect on marriage and long term relationships. Resentment is bound to occur when one supports the other. A good credit score is a must in our financial world. Credit Karma is free and will help you improve your score. Also through your actions, you are teaching your sons about money and how it is used or misused.
    It seems like you need a budget that reflect reality, not a made-up who leads a normal life. Perhaps you should focus only on creating revenue and not on bill paying. Turning over your earnings to a bill payer would go a long way to prevent the screw-ups that you describe. I am sure you could find a daily money manager who would be glad to trade coaching for paying your bills in a timely fashion. Good luck

  8. Mike
    Mike says:

    I appreciate your outlook. I agree that things are irrelevant, but people matter. Everyone should have a chance to be rich and poor. I have, and in the flush times I took things for granted. In the poor times I beat myself up. Later, I realized it was a bad idea to hurt for being poor. Your honesty is magnetic. Thanks for being you.

  9. Marc
    Marc says:

    How could you leave out shaving in a moving car on Greenbay Rd in your “formative” years??

  10. Jill
    Jill says:

    I heard that if you can’t pay off your car in three years, you cant afford it. That is good money advice, and kept us in our 1999 Minivan until it got stolen and vandalized beyond hope by DoTerrorists. (They left DoTerra essential oils, needles and a tourniquet).

    $1100/ month? Wowza! It sounds decadent to me, but if it works for someone else, great. Why have you not set up auto payments for such things? It is easy peasy.

    • layla
      layla says:

      I LOVE that you called the van thieves DoTerrorists! That is priceless. I have a FB friend who is “oily” and her van was stolen from in front of her house and she had left all her oils in the glove box. anyway. this was all funnier in my head, but whatever.

  11. Chris Thompson
    Chris Thompson says:

    Bookmarked! Thank you for such a profound read. Definitely sharing this. In a world absorbed in consumerism, this is something to think about: My son stays in the car the whole time. He sees I’m giddy that we won’t have BMW payments so he thinks nothing bad has happened.

    While money helps us live life, it is not the end all of living life to the fullest.

  12. Kitty Kilian
    Kitty Kilian says:

    Ha, sometimes I would like to be able to just like someone else’s comment. The one about shaving in the car.

    I do not understand why a lot of your readers are so outspoken in their comments, because only because a writer is outspoken it does not mean that readers can be as outspoken in return ;-)

    Bu may be you don’t mind.

    • Ann
      Ann says:

      Being outspoken has fewer ramifications that it did before the proliferation of social media venues. I perceive many people don’t employ write, read, rewrite, wait a few minutes, read again and then push send. All too often, it becomes write and send.
      Commenting on the web has many fewer social implications. In most cases, none. If I wrote in an outspoken manner in a corporate email, I could be reprimanded for violating the company’s culture. If I were outspoken at work, I could damage work relationships with colleagues or even be shunned for speaking out. Online, those sanctions do not exist.
      Sometimes, people don’t or don’t care to realize the impact of their words on others. When I was in my 20’s, I worked for the Secretary of a Federal agency. When I saw what I perceived a ill-conceived idea, I used to say “that is the dumbest idea that I have ever heard.” I could get away with it because I had power and everyone knew how smart I was.
      Now that I own my own business, I write, think about the message and then rewrite my email before I send it. I have learned that words hurt and not everyone is tough like I am. But I know that my responses online are much more direct than if I were to speak with a person face-to-face. For example, if I met Penelope in person, I would not ask her about her need for a BMW in the country or if her businesses were truly profitable. But online, I had no trouble doing that. Social media has loosen the boundaries of acceptable speech and writing and loosen the norms about being outspoken.
      From a life-long outspoken female (often not a good thing)

      • Kitty Kilian
        Kitty Kilian says:

        Thanks Ann. I realize that. It is more that I am amazed, I guess, at the lack of understanding showing in many comments. Of how personal a lot of these issues really are. Oh well.

        • Ann
          Ann says:

          Kitty I agree with you completely. It feel that it arrogant to use one’s life as the basis for advice, specially when one only knows the public persona. Via a blog. None of know Penelope or the farmer or anything about their family life. Yet posters feel perfectly free to project their Life experience and values into her. Projection in therapeutic terms is really tricky, even questions may reflect one’s own values.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      Is it outspokenness? or honesty (or candor, the much better word another commenter used above)? I think people come here and stay for the utter honesty of Penelope’s posts, which invites–or allows–us also to be utterly honest as well. Sometimes I come here and never want to leave because it feels like the only place in the world where people are being honest. Sometimes though people go overboard and get twee or insincere or sycophantic and the spell is broken.

      Anyway, people are outspoken everywhere, but it is much harder to find honesty.

  13. Karin
    Karin says:

    I’m guessing she wanted a BMW even while living on a farm because they drive a lot for cello lessons and she wanted to be safe and comfortable.
    I’m surprised they don’t have a truck. You’d think a truck would be a must for farming.
    Not setting up automatic payments seems like a passive aggressive way of saying you don’t really want the car.
    It would be nice if people would read, edit and read again. It’s so hard to read some of the comments (not here) people post.

  14. pat sommer
    pat sommer says:

    Admiration, envy, shame…?
    Nothing beats SPITE for my inspiration

    Oh, and my Fiat Pop payments are $250Mo.
    I put a cargo basket on top so that it fits 4 and luggage. Just saying.

    Also, get a rechargeable electric razor. Made life easier.

  15. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    This was one of my favorite articles you’ve written since I started reading your blog. Reminded me of your husband’s remark that these “life is a mess” posts are really what we come here for and the career advice is like the whaling chapters in Moby Dick.

    I probably like it so much because it’s so…well, Asperger’s-y. Posts like these remind me of myself and how I must look to other people. When reading it in a post, I can see the humor in the fact that what you chose to argue with your husband on was not the fact that he said you have no shame, or that he compared this lack of shame to Trump, but that it’s inaccurate to say that you and Trump are the only shameless people around.

    I can see it easily in a post – not so much when I do stuff like this myself. It’s funny. It’s like being locked in a house all your life, and you can kind of see other houses and people milling around outside of it, but you have no idea what the outside of your own house looks like.

    You should probably tag this as an Asperger’s post because so much of this is about Asperger’s, and judging from the comments, it seems like people aren’t aware of that.

    Anyway, since you’ve said you’re a fantastic cook, I’m kind of hoping you made this poor man a wonderful meal when you got home.

  16. Anna
    Anna says:

    Great read. It has to be a great read when I carefully read every word even continuing while nursing a toddler and after finishing the dishes, read every comment word for word. For what it is worth, this is good writing. I realized this when I was 2/3’s of the way through and has passed from being a reader of a piece of writing to entering the situation itself in my mind. I was there. I was encountering the crisis and paying attention to the people in it. I was encountering the underlying ideas brought on by circumstances and decisions. I was transported from my own space into another space that was in the text without even realizing it when it happened. Like the real but also imaginary vanishing point at the horizon extrapolated from two angled lines, so is this blog post. I think, but I’m not sure, it is about love and mercy. Maybe even salvation, and grace.

  17. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I think your husband is reaping what he has sown with his midlife, impractical car that he picked out. I would think he has the option of trading or selling it for another car if he so desires.
    I laughed out loud at – He says, “Not everyone can be like you and Donald Trump.” A good attention getter line. Something akin to shock and awe.

    • harris497
      harris497 says:

      Mark, “I think your husband is reaping what he has sown with his midlife, impractical car that he picked out.” This statement is not logical as the Farmer bought transportation for his use, while the BMW was for Penny’s use.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        What I’m trying to point out is things have changed and it may time to reassess his previous decision which didn’t take into account that his car may have to be used as backup. It is a logical statement as both of them live together as a family and have to take each other’s needs into account. And they’re doing that right now, it’s just that now he’s having to drive.

  18. dcline
    dcline says:

    “The difference is that people with narcissism have a deep need for admiration and people with Aspergers don’t need other peoples’ approval.”

    I hate to be a backseat writer but feel that this should have been, “people with narcissism go to great lengths for admiration while people with Asperger’s just want the normal amount but aren’t sure how to get it.”
    (Although phrasing it in the form of absolutes is a very Asperger’s thing to do. :-)

    If I’ve overstepped, let me atone by suggesting you print this blog post out and leave it where the farmer will read it:

  19. Julia
    Julia says:

    Why don’t you replace that BMW with a Prius? Don’t you drive miles and miles for cello lessons and whatnot? A Prius will hold up better for longer than a BMW, is very safe, cheap to maintain, bigger than you would think on the inside, and of course the gas mileage.

  20. harris497
    harris497 says:

    I’m concerned that you didn’t feel more concern for your husband’s feelings. At least, that aspect of the situation was not expressed as of utmost importance in your post.
    Compassion is important, and is sometimes best expressed in us paying attention to the things that mean very little to us, but alot to those we care about.

  21. Mysticaltyger
    Mysticaltyger says:

    That linked article about upper middle class people having no financial assets is sad. As someone whose income disqualifies me as upper middle class, I just scratch my head as to how people can be so broke. At least 80% of the time, there is really no good reason for it.

    By the way, I’m in the market for a used car. I’ll be paying cash. Payments suck.

    Mr. Money Mustache rules.


  22. Beatrice
    Beatrice says:

    Nope… not envy. Not admiration either.

    There’s are lots of people we admire. Some people are prone to be envious, but not everyone. No me.

    For example, we’ve been to several weddings these past couple of years, but what inspired us to get married were the three funerals we’ve attended these last couple of months. Envy is the last emotion you’d feel at a funeral, yet the emotions were far more powerful than the emotions we felt at the weddings. There’s a finality at funerals that inspires you to live your life fully. The funerals were moving. You feel compelled to stop wasting time. You feel driven to keep moving forward. Envy doesn’t reveal meaning. It clouds it.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      Admiration means “I approve” or at least “society would approve.” Envy means “I want what you have.”

      If I admire you, it’s means you’re doing what we are all supposed to do, but often don’t; and given I’m an adult, I’ve got my own very good, well-thought-out reasons for not doing what I am supposed to do, so it won’t spur me to action. Envy could spur me to action, on the other hand, because I see that you got something I want, which means there’s no real reason I can’t have it, too.

      Penelope, I think you do want admiration, if admiration = confirmation that you’re doing it right. That’s Asperger’s, I think — not knowing whether you are doing it right.

      Also, when other people (like your husband) are consistently behaving admirably, that means you can count on them. I think that’s why he makes you feel safe & calm.

      • Jennifer
        Jennifer says:

        So I thought about this a bit more last night. (Because: INTJ.)

        Admiration contains an element of obligation, of “ought to.” I admire you because you’re doing or you have something I really ought to also do, or have: I admire your fortitude, I admire your bravery. Even “I admire your car” means, to a large degree, “All cars ought to be as [x] as that car.”

        Envy is want.

  23. jestjack
    jestjack says:

    WOW….Thank you for your financial candor. I just don’t know if I could cope with having a car “repo’d”. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure this shoots your credit to Hates. $1100 a month for a car? Not feeling it….Perhaps a follow up blog on how the BMW purchase took place and what the mind set was. As for your husband….He is a saint and made a wise choice with the Honda Fit….Great gas mileage and a durable car….

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      We drive 20 hours every week because cello lessons are 4 hours away — in Chicago – and we go twice a week. This means I work out of the car more than I work at home (we have a driver) and my son goes to sleep in the car, rather than in a bed, two nights a week. We also cannot practice cello on those days, so my son needs to listen to the music he’s working on instead of playing it, which means the quality of the stereo makes a huge difference in how effective the listening is. Also, we deal with tons of snow on winding rural roads. If the car can’t drive through snow amazingly well we have to stay overnight in Chicago a 5-10 nights every winter because it’s unsafe to drive.

      This is why it’s worth it to us to get an expensive car. Before all this cello stuff I drove very old used cars until they died, and then I bought another.


  24. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Excellent article and links. I have learned a lot from your blog consistently. I would however, get rid of the BMW, permanently. Car payments are not a way to a productive life. Maybe you should spend the money instead on the cello lessons.

  25. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    An an aside to the subject of this post, I recently learned an interesting tidbit about BMW – specifically their logo. It started with taking one of those quizzes that one occasionally comes across on the Internet. The one I took was a multiple choice on identifying auto manufacturer to the displayed logo. After each answer, a brief tidbit of information about the logo or manufacturer was given. Of course, one of the logos displayed was a BMW. It was followed by the statement that the origin of the BMW logo was related to radial aircraft engines they built and it represented an airplane propeller spinning with blue sky in the background. So a day or two after the quiz I was still thinking about that explanation and wanted to verify it. I’m glad I did. It turns out not to be true. As a student of history, I think you’ll find this short article and video to be interesting – http://www.bmwdrives.com/bmw-logo.php .

  26. JT
    JT says:

    Does anyone know how the repo man found the car at the airport? Did he or she come to the farm or call and someone told them where Penelope and the farmer had gone? Hmmmm.

  27. Erin
    Erin says:

    When you care about being admired, you hide your failures/flaws/weaknesses.

    Penelope: this writing is beautifully eloquent.

  28. Alice Price
    Alice Price says:

    I’m completely zeroing in on one of the article links here and missing the forest for the trees in this blog post as a whole, but the article Cassie sent about internet famous people being poor is a really incomplete picture painted by a lower-tier influencer who doesn’t understand the platform.

    What a lot of people fail to realize about online “stars” or “influencers” or whatever you want to call them is that a lot of them spent years essentially working 2-3 full time jobs worth of hours before they were able to support a career online. 300,000 youtube subscribers, for instance, has never been enough to support someone full-time, let alone a team of multiple people. Yes, digital video is a competitive space, but this article doesn’t do justice to either the people who are aspiring to get big or those who are actually there. Penelope, this is an area where you should definitely try to be “on-trend” but this article is really not the way to do it. Read Digiday, subscribe to Tubefilter, talk to people who are successful in the space, but don’t bother with random blog posts that one.

      • David Wendelken
        David Wendelken says:

        And thus the equilibrium is maintained, because this particular author displays zero judgment.

        • Blandy
          Blandy says:

          Disagree. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Penelope is brave enough to throw her life, good and bad, out there for scrutiny. Most of us only make our good stuff available for public consumption. Glass houses and all that…

  29. cindy
    cindy says:

    This whole scenario reminded me of when I was drinking. I never had a car repossessed, but nothing happened the way it should; bills were always late, mail piled up, calls were not returned, plans were forgotten, etc…I developed a fear of my mail, phone calls, anything that appeared to be related to taxes or legal issues….It’s a very stressful way to live. I was always waiting for the next bomb to drop. I hated it. I thought that’s just the way I was, disorganized.

    Seven years sober and seven years into my business and I marvel at how on top of everything I am. Such peace. Nothing gets dropped, forgotten or neglected. Everyone and everything gets taken care of. Joy.

    I would be sick about it if I had a car repossessed that was in someone else’s name. I imagine if I still operated the way P does, I would have someone else in charge of paying those types of bills. I couldn’t take the continued stress. I am so done with it……

    • Sandy
      Sandy says:

      That would be an ideal solution. Get a business manager who would pay the bills and put Penelope on a budget. The money that comes in during the “feasting” time needs to be banked as much as possible to compensate for the time of famine. Automatic bill pay is great if the person in charge of the account is responsible and doesn’t turn bill pay off. I think the farmer bears some responsibility in that by now he certainly knows Penelope’s strengths and weaknesses. Buying a car in his name and letting her pay the monthly payments because it was a non-farm expense? Not so bright. Love them all but it’s sometimes like watching a train wreck :)

  30. Allison
    Allison says:

    This sounds like a plot line from the show “Green Acres.” Dahling I love you but give me my BMW…

  31. Ken
    Ken says:

    Hope she gets help. If the abuse if continuing she needs to go. She needs help professional.

  32. Ken
    Ken says:

    He’s obviously an abuser maybe not today but again. Blaming her. When does the cycle break. She’s not the problem

  33. Southern Man
    Southern Man says:

    You aren’t done with that BMW yet. They’ll sell it for less than the balance due (because new-ish cars are never worth what you owe on them) and bill you for the difference, plus costs.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yah. We found that out. So we are back with the BMW. I wish all my problems were just repossessed by someone else. That would be a nice surprise.


  34. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Congrats on the almost new BMW! I was wondering how that story ended.

    I give you so much credit for your honesty and ability to cut yourself and bleed for your readers, which is almost certainly related to poor inhibition – part of your brain type.

    I’m a WI guy with a “dash of autism” too, which is how Mr. Asperger defined the condition that he says destines people for the sciences or arts. Your writing shows you are an artist, no doubt with high verbal IQ.

    My observation with the BMW boondoggle is that you hate social encounters and wanted to avoid both negotiating for the car in the first place and then again negotiating for its return to terminate the lease. The judgment against you by readers (mustache men in particular) shows a lack of empathy and awareness of your (our) type of mindset. Wonderful neurotypical empathy is a fallacy – like minded people self organize and this creates an illusion of empathy.

    I just came across your blog recently and what strikes me as interesting with the BMW backlash is the near total lack of empathy for your problems which are related to your disability. Good looks and above average intelligence are poor starting points for anyone hoping for empathy among “normal” people but when you add in your flippant attitude and quirky sense of humor you just create an intolerant, angry, and judgmental reaction from top of the bell curve middle managers who have no experience with someone like you.

    The biggest mistake and poorest assumption that these “yes men” make is when they correlate your inability to be responsible with your payments (and lack of caring) with your ability to offer sound advice on navigating this odd planet. The ability to see the world as a “system” where people act and react out of habit and instinct (determinism) is part of your gift and something that random minded academics have trouble seeing. Responsible middle managers make the world go round and are important to our stable system but they can never contribute the kind of insights and value added that an outside of the box mind like yours can. That said – my wife pays the bills in our house!

    Maybe a nice picture of the BMW with the cello wearing a hat and sunglasses in the drivers seat and a couple of pigs as passengers is fitting for a welcome home picture.

    I’d love to see some articles that show your real attitude some day. People do not know how much you are holding back, essentially fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Best of luck…Mark

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is a really insightful and useful comment. Thank you, Mark. Anyone dealing with Aspergers in their life should read the comment twice. All of it rings true to me.


Comments are closed.