Karen Bone’s living room has two bookcases, well stocked. On one side of the sofa is a pile of books, actually three piles, maybe twenty in all. On the other side is another, equally impressive pile. “One stack is what I’m reading, the other stack is what I will tackle next.”
Tucked under a small table sit the equipment of Karen’s other passion – roller derby skates. Karen is a regular on the Lubbock women’s roller derby team and competes at the state-wide level. “My mom says, ‘why can’t you just play softball?’” but Karen loves the jostle of the rink and, considering the accolades hanging from her wall, she’s pretty good at it.
Karen’s a Victoria TX native who came to Lubbock when her husband came to graduate school at Texas Tech. Their marriage is over, but Karen remains, working as a research administrator, playing roller derby, and reading. “I’m don’t see myself here forever, but I like it well enough. I’m still learning a lot in my job. I stay in one place until I stop growing there.”
Karen is not just a voracious reader; she is an astute one. Throughout our evening’s conversation, a comment would trigger an idea, she would spring to the bookshelf, pull out a volume and reference an author far ranging as Tolstoy to Alan Alda. Since Karen received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, she quotes foundational and contemporary psychologists with ease. She’s particularly keen on Daniel Goldman’s, Emotional Intelligence.
“We’re not a balanced world. As a culture we’re pressed to over perform. In my life I have a 40 hour workweek that doesn’t require additional time and stress. It’s what I want. It’s either your money or your life. Put your money and energy into what is truly important.”
Karen and I went shopping for dinner. Karen shops at Market Place, an upscale alternative to Wal-Mart with a Whole Foods vibe. She made a list. She’s prudent but not frugal. “It costs a bit more, but I like the experience and the food selection.” While preparing dinner our discussion turned to money. She cited Barry Schwartz’s, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less and Elizabeth Warren’s The Two-Income Trap as her fiscal guides. “I acquire things with an eye toward what they cost and how important they are to me. We all need to determine our social value of money; do we want security or travel or being out of debt?” At age 32, Karen is almost finished paying off her college debt. “I pay a plane ticket a month to pay down my debt.” Within a year, she will be debt-free and plans to put that money to actual plane tickets.
Karen is the only person I’ve met who found virtue in her student debt. “I’m thankful for my student debt because it made me come to terms with budgeting and money.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I would like to think we will get more open to each other. We are too isolated. I went to San Francisco and met some people from Argentina. I travelled to Argentina to see them. My parents worried, but I met more great people there. These experiences helped me be more open.
“If we follow Trump we will be so deep in fear we can lose our vulnerability with each other. I like what Brene Brown says, ‘When we’re fear driven we don’t know the actual story that’s happening.’
“Our nature is, ‘group in / group out’. With so much global communication we have greater capability to fear and greater capability to exist in isolation. If you travel, you expand your tribe. You can find kinship with other places.”