We all have our extravagances: Starbuck’s lattes, gym memberships, plastic surgery, $900 shoes



I read Friday a story about a Blackhawk woman with a penchant for plastic surgery, luxury cars and luxury department stores. Hmm, is there any other kind of Blackhawk woman? Me-ow.

I pondered this woman’s spending habits after my blog post from Thursday, in which I raised the question of whether rich people who buy $200,000 cars and $900 shoes in this difficult economy are tacky, selfish jerks.

Let’s just say if I were rich, I would still think it silly to spend so much money on a car or shoes. To me, a car is simply a vessel to get me from Point A to Point B. I don’t want it to smell or break down, and I want the heat, air-conditioning and radio to work decently. If you saw my scratched and dented 15-year-old Corolla you would know I am so not a car person.

As for the shoes? I concede that those Christian Louboutin dress shoes I picked out to illustrate my post are very pretty. But seriously, none of us could find shoes that are just as pretty and well-made for hundreds less? After all, how many times would any of us wear shoes like that? How much would a rich woman wear them? Us: a few times. Her: probably just once. Are they really worth about $60 less than a minimum wage worker in California would earn for three weeks’ work?

I’m envious and bitter, I confess.

I also admit I have my own extravagances. I indulge in lattes and I have kept my gym membership, even those are two things that people typically cut out when they want to live more frugally. Well, the latte is a way I sometimes treat myself even though I know I could use what I spend on lattes in a year to buy those Louboutin shoes.

Oh shit, that really puts my coffee habit into perspective, doesn’t it?

OK, the gym membership. I really do use my gym. It’s not a luxury. I regard it as a health care expense, even though the IRS wouldn’t allow me to deduct it as such.

My point is that we all have our extravagances. It’s funny how we come to see them as necessities. Society tells us they are necessities, or we tell ourselves they are. We believe we need them to provide us with a sense of security, well-being, identity.

During the boom-boom years before the crash, people came to believe they couldn’t live without a home remodel, home ownership. They got themselves into crushing debt buying their pieces of the American dream in East Contra Costa, or in Walnut Creek or in Blackhawk.

Speaking of Blackhawk, the woman I mentioned above, Kathleen Dake, apparently came to believe that plastic surgery, shopping at Bloomingdales and owning and maintaining a Porsche were necessities. Dake so much needed them in her life that she broke the law and pretty much risked everything to pay for them: her integrity, her job, her reputation, her freedom.

Dake was arrested in May on charges of embezzling more than $400,000 from St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Danville, according to the Contra Costa Times. She was the church’s bookkeeper. OK, given that she stole from the Church, does that put her immortal soul at risk, too?

Dake has been in custody since May. Wow, what a reversal of fortune: from Blackhawk to County Jail in Martinez; from a Bloomingdale’s wardrobe to an orange jail jumpsuit.

Then again, the strangely gated community of Blackhawk is in its way as stifling and soulless as a cell in county jail. That’s right, if I were rich, I wouldn’t choose to live in Blackhawk.

Me-0w again.

Dake’s got another 200 days to go in County Jail. On Thursday, she pleaded no contest to five counts of embezzlement and was sentenced to 300 days.

I wonder if Dake sees her extravagances as worth it.

18 thoughts on “We all have our extravagances: Starbuck’s lattes, gym memberships, plastic surgery, $900 shoes

  1. Blackhawk is Twilight Zone. The people that live there are in a whole different world. A world that I don't envy at all, because like you, if I were rich, I would never live there! They are the “nouveau riche.”
    As long as I have lived in Walnut Creek, those people baffle me. They think they are just so darn amazing.

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  2. I didn't think I was the only one who thought Blackhawk was strange. It just amazes me that people who could afford to live in any posh neighborhood in the Bay Area or the East Bay would choose to live in Blackhawk. I would go there once in a while to interview someone for a story, and once I got past the gates, I just felt like I entered some wealthy enclave–sterile, paranoid; rigid, shiny, fake like a bad facelift– in a dystopian nightmare world.

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  3. A Karl Marx fan I see. Well lets see if you really understand the views you are espousing.

    Do you really believe the rich are taking advantage of the poor and that is the source of profits to the rich?

    Seems to me the poor continue to live like leeches on the rest of us.

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  4. To Anon.

    I have nothing against the rich, and I have some wonderful friends that are quite wealthy. I'm not poor or unfortunate either.
    I'm merely making an observation of the nouveau riche, and all that comes with it. For as long as I have lived here, I have never heard anyone envious of those living out there. Like I said “Twilight Zone.”
    I think what we are both trying to say is that if you had that kind of wealth, why would you live out there?
    Classy rich people are those that I envy. The ones that don't flaunt their wealth in an ugly way, and also give back to the community. I know this is a blanket statement against Blackhawk, but to live out there, you have to be a certain kind of rich!

    Seems like Anon. Wants to use this as a platform for his/her politics.

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  5. Calling people registered as Democrats communists is very rude indeed and totally untruthful.
    I hope that Soccer Mom exercises some control over this irresponsible behavior. Were Harry Truman and John Kennedy communists? Are the miltary service people serving in Afghanistan and Iraq as registered Democrats also commies? I don't think so.
    Likewise, we should not label registered Republicans by some inappropriate term such as Nazis. The political blasts like this are beyond the pale.
    I'm not saying we should not disagree on policy matters but we should not create an Armageddon situation at every juncture.

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  6. Hey Daffodil Hugger,

    You sound like one of the dumbocrats, are you for this massive redistribution of wealth like the other commies on this site?

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  7. You know what bugs me is no one is commenting on how the lady stole the money from the church – all those fine upstanding people who work for nonprofits…

    call me grumpy but I just read a book on how people with perfectly manicured faces are ripping off nonprofits – it's called America's Real Deficit – says the places are full of psycopaths now… that lady sounds like one – the “what's in it for me and I don't care how many people I hurt” 300 days – that's all??!?!?!?

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  8. You are absolutely right grumpy old fart!!! Yours is the best comment yet!! 🙂

    And to Anon…for someone who loves to name call democrats, you sure spend a lot of time on Martha's blog. Maybe you should find some other ones that are more to your liking. It is one thing to have an opinion, which you are certainly entitled to, but the name calling is petty and very childish.

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  9. Seems like Ms. Dake should've spent a little less time shopping & getting plastic surgery and a little more time reading the Bible. Matthew 19:21 would be a good place to start: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

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