Monday, December 19, 2011

On how we met

Everyone keeps asking me how I met my husband. It's a tough question, because I don't actually remember meeting him.

We met in middle school, when I first moved from New Jersey to Florida at the beginning of the 8th grade. I mostly remember him from the bus, when he was sitting next to the boy who set my friend's hair on fire. On that same bus, later in the school year, he taught me the ingredients in a screwdriver.

I also remember him from classes -- mostly English classes -- both in middle school and high school. In 9th grade gifted English, he sat in front of me and had long hair that he would flip onto my desk. I had a brief crush on him -- but my crushes were always transitory, fleeting things.

We were always friends: we traveled in somewhat different circles, and we weren't particularly close friends, but I can honestly say that we always liked each other. (In retrospect, it's a little puzzling to both of us that we weren't closer friends when we were younger.) And then we left school and went in completely different directions, but somehow, 23 years later, we wound up here, together -- and now, married.

It's a pretty remarkable story, even if I can't remember the very beginning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


When we first started talking about getting married, I said that I loved the idea of being married to him, but I just I didn't have it in me to do a wedding: I have enough stress with work that I didn't want to plan anything, especially anything major. Plus, the families are all over the place, and that's a pain to deal with.

So we would elope.

The next question was where. Vegas is cliche. Going down the street to the local courthouse seemed so boring. On a beach somewhere warm and tropical? Yes, please.

Then it became a question of when -- and the answer was that we didn't want to rush into it. But then, the perfect scenario presented itself: I had an upcoming work trip to the Caribbean, and he could take off a few days to go with me. Hmmm . . . .

We read the requirements for getting married down there. It seemed easy enough. We rushed around to fill out and send out forms and certified checks, to find an officiant, to get a dress and a suit and rings. And then the preparing was over.

We flew down to the islands. We picked up our license the next morning, and then I went to work. The next morning, Saturday, the officiant came to the hotel, picked us up, drove us to a beach, married us in between rain showers, took some photos, and drove us back to the hotel. He sent our paperwork back to the courthouse for certification.

I spent the rest of the weekend divided between work and touristy pursuits. On Monday, a full day of work.

Tuesday, we picked up the certified copy of our marriage license, and caught a plane back home. And here we are. Married.

I wish everything could be this easy.

Monday, October 31, 2011


In February, when my boyfriend moved here, he found a federal government job almost immediately. They pretty much offered it to him instantaneously, with a catch: it was going to take some time for them to be able to get all of the paperwork done and have him start. Well, we know how this goes -- government budget issues, threats of shutdown, yadda yadda yadda. So, in the meantime, while waiting for the government to get its act together, he found a job with a moving company -- at the beginning he mostly worked as a mover, but now, most of the time, he schedules and supervises the movers. His job sucks, mostly because he generally works 12 hour shifts starting at 7 am.

This morning, on his way out the door, he told me he hoped that he would be home early tonight. I said, "Of course. Who moves on Halloween evening?"

In all seriousness, he said, that they have one job this evening. A guy named Vlad.

This can only end poorly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Portrait of Domestic Tranquility

Usually, my boyfriend has to get up very early for work. This morning, he did not have to be in until 10, so he made me very cute eggs and peppers for breakfast. He is very good at sneaking vegetables into my diet.

Right before I left, I told him that one of the things I loved most about him was that I am confident that, in the event of a zombie invasion or apocalypse, he will protect me and our theoretical future children. He then started planning our theoretical future weapons cache.

This is why he is my boyfriend.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Today would have been my mother's 65th birthday.

Happy birthday, mom. I miss you.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spiraling Towards Chaos

I've been reading a ton of stuff about Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99 Percent. You should too.

As it stands, I have no room to complain. I have a steady job with a salary that, allegedly, puts me in the top 10% of all American wage earners -- although, to be completely fair, my salary is probably in the bottom 25% of people with my educational background who have been working for as long as I have. I have health insurance. After years and years, I finally paid off my student loans in January, and I have no other major debt.

I am finally financially stable enough that I bought a condo, and now, just before my 36th birthday, am thinking about having kids.

But here's the rub: I have a mortgage that, if I were to be out of work for longer than a month or two, I could no longer afford. And with the government on the verge on a shutdown -- again -- this is becoming is a real possibility to me.

The middle class is something of an illusion. Unless you are really rich, you are just a few paychecks away from utter chaos.

But it's bigger than that: how are we supposed to function with our livelihoods, our government, our nation in such disarray?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Adventures in Carsharing

After much debate, I sold my car. I had been thinking about it for a few years, as I barely drive, but it was somehow reassuring to own a car, just in case. Plus my car -- my shiny blue Volkswagen -- seemed to be a part of my identity. So I kept the car -- for ten years (and only 47,000 miles).

When boyfriend moved in, we found ourselves with a new problem -- two cars and only one parking space. It became a constant cycle of searching for -- and paying for -- parking. Saturday mornings were the worst, since neither of us had to get up for work, but one of us had to get up by 8 to feed the meter, and you know, sometimes you just want to sleep in.

Last weekend, I finally wound up selling my car to a friend of mine who had recently bought a place just beyond the beltway. So this week, I embarked on a new, car-free era. I will walk, take metro, and ride buses. Perhaps I will take cabs in case of emergency. And, to some extent, I can use boyfriend's car -- on mornings when he works and I don't (Sundays and the occasional holiday) if I need the car, I can get up early and drive him to work.

There's also car sharing. Zipcar is in abundance in my neighborhood -- pretty much every street corner has at least one of the orange signs indicating that a zipcar lives there.

Today was my first zipcar experience. When I enrolled, I got a credit that expires at the end of the month, and so, I decided to rent a car as "practice," so that when I really need the car, I won't have to figure out the process -- or worse, figure out that some part of the process doesn't work right. And so, this afternoon, I brought lunch to my boyfriend at work.

The car-sharing process was the easiest thing. (1) Apply for zipcar membership (which took about a week). (2) Reserve car (using internet or iPhone app). (3) Walk to the car (when you reserve, you are told which car and where it is parked). (4) Use your zipcard (or iPhone app) to open the car. (5) Drive. (6) Return car. They even sent me a text message 30 minutes before my reservation ended to remind me to bring the car back because someone had a reservation right after me. And if I needed to put gas in the zipcar, it has its own gas card.

The only downside that I experienced was that, when I went to go make my reservation this morning, I found that of the 20-or so cars parked within a six-block radius, only two were available. I wound up reserving a silver Nissan Sentra named Sinbad, parked about three blocks from my house. (Yes, all the zipcars have names. How quaint.) So the lesson learned was to reserve early, or face the possibility that a car will not be available.

So, car-free week one was a success. On to week two . . . .

Friday, July 01, 2011

Six Months Ago . . .

Just before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in the atrium of the National Building Museum having lunch with a friend of mine from high school. We were discussing our plans for the holidays, when I mentioned that I would probably be spending my New Year's Eve with my best friend from high school, having a party at her house, in Pittsburgh. My friend thought it sounded like fun, and started thinking that if he had nothing better to do, he might join us. And then suggested that we invite a third friend, who didn't live too far away from Pittsburgh.

When I told my best friend, she thought it was a great idea, but cautioned that our third friend would probably not be able to join us. I sent him a message anyway.

Ultimately, that friend did join us, and after a long New Year's weekend of drinking -- and subsequent crazy, random happenstance -- he is now the best boyfriend I've ever had. More than that, really -- he's the best boyfriend I could even imagine. And so, every day since then, I am thankful that I decided to go back out to the living room to check on him. And I am equally thankful that he decided that he wanted to kiss me when I held out my margarita glass for him to refill while saying, "I'm an excellent drinker." Mostly, though, I am so exceptionally thankful that he decided to move here and give this crazy thing a shot.

Happy six month anniversary.

Monday, June 06, 2011


I haven't written anything of substance in weeks. Oh sure, I post the occasional quip on twitter, link on tumblr, picture on pinterest, but nothing of substance since this -- and even that was a half-assed attempt.

Even my notebooks lie fallow.

It's not just because I'm busy. It's because I'm content. And, naturally, contentedness is kryptonite to my writing.

Even last week, when I was all aggravated with United Airlines, I couldn't muster enough frustration to put together an entire blog entry. The most I could come up with was a series of tweets to express my dissatisfaction. How weak.

This must end, and soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Final Gift

When I was at my dad's house in February, I was cleaning through some stuff, just like every other time I've been down there since my mom died. This time, though, it was with a little more urgency, because Dad wants to sell the house. So I spent the week down there packing things into boxes, and deciding which portions of my childhood were to be kept and which portions were to be thrown away.

I threw a lot of stuff away. I mostly kept photo albums and books, a few housewares -- finally, an improvement over my college silverware from Walmart! -- some knick-knacks. I left the stuff I didn't know what to do with -- the collectible dolls, the artwork, the furniture.

I gave my Barbies to my friend's daughters and I brought some Beanie Babies for my nephew and cousins to play with, but I put the rest of the stuffed animals and Cabbage Patch Kids in a green Rubbermaid bin with a note that said "free to good home."

After all that, I went through some files. In the drawer, I found my birth certificate, my parents' ketubah, other various and sundry mementos that my mother held on to. I also found a red box with a pair of tiny, gold, hoop earrings. They were not my mother's taste, or even my Nana's or my sister's. They were clearly mine. In all likelihood, my mother had bought me a present and forgot where she left it. But in that moment, it was as if she knew that one day I would be going through all of the stuff, and wanted to leave me a token of her appreciation, a thank-you for coming in and trying to make order out of her chaos. A final gift.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pain Meds

I hurt my knee and my hip, basically doing nothing. Maybe it was because I wore the wrong shoes, maybe it was because I tripped while walking, maybe it's because I'm getting old and fat -- but for whatever reason, I've been in pain since Sunday night.

It interfered with my sleeping a bit on Sunday night, but it got worse on Monday. In fact, I was in so much pain when I woke up Tuesday morning that I literally cried. Instead of pouring myself a bowl of cereal or drinking the coffee that my boyfriend was attempting to hand to me, I just sat on the couch crying like a baby. If I weren't in so much pain, I would have smacked myself.

So last night, to avoid a repeat, I took a pain pill. It was the good stuff -- the addictive stuff. Twenty minutes or so after taking it, I was relaxed and mumbly. A few minutes after that, I was asleep. I slept well, deeply. I had the most amazing dreams. I woke up refreshed -- although, admittedly, my knee and hip still hurt when I try to move.

If these pills were available without a prescription, I would probably take them all the time. I can see why they're dangerous.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Things Better Left Unsaid

A few weekends ago, the boyfriend and I spent the weekend visiting his family. For reasons involving late-night pouring rain, a puppy, and his niece, I wound up forgetting my cute little polka-dot umbrella. When I told him about the umbrella, he sweetly volunteered to ask them to send it to me.

I declined.

I should have stopped there. Instead, I explained -- which is a rookie mistake.

Here is what I said:

"I have another umbrella. Plus, I'll see your family again, and I'll get the umbrella then. Or whatever: if we break up, oh well, it was only an umbrella."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It Could Have Been Different

As one of the editors of IndieInk, I again agreed to participate in the weekly writing challenges. This week, my challenge was from my co-editor James Whitaker, who challenged me to take my pick from the following writing prompts: "unthinkable." "somewhere...out there." "it's never meant to last..." "tomorrow." "they'll never know..." "it could have been different."

The choice was easy for me.

You see, I have an unhealthy fascination with the movie Sliding Doors. Before I understood anything about Schrödinger's cat or parallel universes, I found myself completely fascinated by the concept that one little chance occurrence – whether the movie’s protagonist caught the elevator or the train, or had to wait for the next one – could totally change a life.

As a result, I find myself constantly thinking about how things could have been different. “If only I had caught the earlier train. . . ” “If only I hadn’t accepted the invitation . . .” ”If only I had not gotten in the car. . .” “If only I had made the call. . .” It’s an exhausting way to live, trying to figure out which decision was the one that derailed everything – or worse, trying to augur whether any decision you make is going to be the one that changes your life. And, ultimately, things that seem inconsequential have deeper import; things that seem important turn out to be meaningless in the end.

Case in point: New Year’s Eve. I had spent the entire day (and the day before) catching up with an old friend, which mostly involved drinking and talking, then drinking some more. In the wee morning hours, I found myself getting up off of the couch, taking out my contact lenses, and diving face first into bed. But something held me back, and, as a result, I made the decision to go back out to the living room to check on him.

My entire life changed as a result of that split second decision. And I am completely aware that it could have been different.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Stereotypes and Self-righteousness

As one of the editors of IndieInk, I agreed to participate in one of its weekly writing challenges. This week, my challenge was from Sir: “He/She placed the stereotype on the anvil and began hammering it into something sharp and deadly that could be used to open the minds of the self-righteous.” And, while that’s poetic and all, it doesn’t really fit with this blog or my writing style. But it does lead into the idea of stereotypes and self-righteousness -- and, with that, a story.

When I was in my last semester of law school, I worked as an unpaid intern in the county public defender’s office. (I've mentioned it before, in passing.) I had great, lofty goals about what I would be doing there – the kind of lofty goals that only a 22 year old with no real-world experience could have. Mostly, they were along the line of defending the wrongfully accused, reforming the criminal justice system, abolishing the death penalty, etc., etc. Oh, the naïveté of youth . . .

The internship was jointly supervised between the assistant chief of the office and one of our criminal law professors. We had a classroom session each week, where we learned, essentially, the basics of how to practice law as criminal defense attorneys. And during the week, we were required to work a certain number of hours at the office. In bigger cases, we were required to work under the actual attorneys – and generally, they were busy enough to be thankful for whatever help we could provide. In smaller misdemeanor cases, the clients could agree to let us act as their lead attorneys, with assistance from the supervising attorneys.

Early on in the semester, the professor asked us what kind of cases we were uncomfortable with. My answer, as an upper-middle class sheltered suburban girl was easy: I wanted nothing to do with domestic battery. I didn’t want to envision a world where men hit women, where families were anything less than happy and stable. And, of course, if a fight escalated to the point where an arrest was made, in my mind it was clear that the man must have hit the woman. Accordingly, I, perhaps self-righteously, did not want to defend those men.

Of course my professor saw that as an engraved invitation to assign me to a pretty horrible domestic battery case. And lucky for me, the defendant had agreed to let me be his lead attorney. Worse yet, even though it was a misdemeanor, my client had been sitting in jail for days, because the arrest was a violation of his probation, and if he plead guilty or lost at trial, he was facing mandatory jail time.

My client was a stereotype: a young black offender with a history of violence and drugs. I remember going to the county jail to see him. I was frightened out of my mind. I remember the security, the sound of the doors closing behind me, the fear as I was led to a private interview room where I was to meet with my client – alone, without any of the guards to protect me. When my client was brought to me in shackles, I was scared to death.

I finally relaxed enough to start talking about the case with him – whether he would be interested in a plea deal if it meant that he would have a reduced sentence. But he kept maintaining that he was innocent. I didn’t believe it, not for a second. Not with his violent background. Not with the photo in the case file of his cute little girlfriend with bruises on her face and arms. I firmly believed that his desire to fight the charge was posturing, or a fear of having to do real jail time.

But then I remembered that I was there to do a job. I also remembered, from our classroom sessions, that we needed to examine the facts of the case carefully, avoid responding instinctively and jumping to conclusions, and instead, use our intellect. And so, I started digging through the files, interviewing witnesses, piecing together a defense. First I researched my client's alibi for the night of the attack, but it was a bit shaky.

But then the tide turned: I found out that the alleged victim, my client’s ex-girlfriend, was also the mother of his child, and that she had been pressuring my client to sign away his parental rights to the child. I also found out that the officer that helped her fill out her statement was her new boyfriend. The officer-boyfriend had taken the photo of her injuries, handwritten the affidavit detailing the fight, had her sign it, and one of his co-officers witness it.

After I interviewed her, the prosecutor dropped the charges against my client.

Do I think that the ex-girlfriend was a victim of violence? Unequivocally, yes. After all, it was before digital cameras, and the police report had that horrible, horrible picture in it. On the other hand, do I think that my client was innocent of the charges? I’m still not sure, but I am firmly convinced that the outcome of the case was correct.

If I learned anything from the case, it’s that not everything is what it appears to be. And I am certainly glad that I opened my mind enough to prevent stereotypes, prejudices, self-righteousness and biases from getting in the way of doing my job.

Monday, February 07, 2011


I remember that I was busy, and that I got back home for a two-week break in a long trial, the biggest trial of my career at that point -- perhaps still. I remember that I was tired.

I remember that my grandmother had been in a car accident that Friday, and was staying at my parents' house.

I remember talking to my mother before the Super Bowl. Dad was too busy, making chili. And yes, he was very excited about the Giants.

I remember talking to her right after the Super Bowl. Yes, Dad was happy that the Giants won.

I remember talking to her about how much money I had spent on the Catherine Malandrino dress -- too much, in her opinion. I remember talking to her about the planning of the California trip, which was in its nascent stages.

I remember her telling me that she wasn't feeling well, that she was tired, and that she was stressed out about the eye surgery that was scheduled for later in the week.

I remember having a weird dream, and that, as a result, I wanted to call her all day on Tuesday. I remember not getting any answer: no cell phone, no house phone. Dad didn't pick up either.

I remember that I still hadn't heard from her on Wednesday.

I remember finding out from Nana that she had gone to the emergency room.

I remember the phone call from Dad in the evening, from her side in the hospital. I remember him telling me that it was serious. I remember him asking her if she wanted to talk to me, and hearing her say, faintly, "Not now." I remember being shocked, because she always wanted to talk to me.

I remember talking to my siblings.

I remember talking to Dad when he got home that night. I asked him why he left her alone. He said nothing was going to change overnight.

I remember the cell phone ringing in the middle of the night. 3:40 a.m. I remember knowing what it was before I answered.

I remember Dad telling me to call my brother. I remember telling my brother, "Please don't make me say it out loud."

I remember sitting down in the middle of my kitchen floor -- pretty much the only empty space in that entire apartment -- and bawling my eyes out.

I remember booking a flight on the internet.

I remember driving to my office in the middle of the night to send an email to my boss and coworkers and gather the things I might need for the week.

I remember the flight to Florida, writing in the crazy notebook.

I remember my dad picking me up from the airport, and that I kept saying the word fuck over and over again.

I remember going to the funeral home. I remember that my dad couldn't find his credit card, which if you knew him, you would know is the most unusual thing ever. I remember paying with my credit card.

I remember the entire family sitting around the house.

I remember meeting with the rabbi. I remember hating that the rabbi didn't know my mother.

I remember bits and pieces of the services, both at the funeral home and at her grave.

I remember sitting shiva. I remember her friends bringing food, stuff she would have liked. I remember that my friends sent a gift basket.

I remember all of this, but the details get fuzzy over time. What airline did I fly? Was the last time I spoke with her on Sunday or Monday? Did I wear a black suit or a gray suit to the funeral? What did the rabbi look like? Were my cousins there? Was it babka or coffee cake?

I try to hold on to as much of it as possible, but so much of it is hazy. I want to remember, but on the other hand, it just brings me right back to that moment in time, the searing pain and the sheer panic. Maybe I should forget.

Third Anniversary

I was cleaning through some things recently and stumbled across two sheets from a yellow legal pad, folded into eighths.  When I opened it, I found that it was the eulogy I gave at my mother's funeral.  I know I did it -- I wrote about doing it at the time -- but I don't really remember it.  It's like my memory of breaking my arm in the 8th grade and getting it set -- I know it happened, I have some recollection of it, but it's oddly distant and seems like it's something I watched happen to somebody else, rather than something that I participated in.  An out of body experience, of sorts.

This is part of what I said, or at least what I wrote to say:

My mother was my best friend.  She was a good friend.  She was patient and loving and wise and understanding -- most of the time, anyway.  Sometimes she was still my mom.

Not too long after I moved away, I bought a car.  She yelled at me, via cell phone, while I was in the dealership signing the papers.  "You're just a little girl, you can't buy a car by yourself.  Why couldn't you wait for me to get there?"

Even from a thousand miles away, she hated that I went shopping without her.  And she still wanted to negotiate me a better price.

There's more there, about my mother's laugh and her sense of humor, and how much she loved being with her family and friends.  But it's not a true reflection of what I felt then or what I still feel now when I think about it:  The speech was edited and sanitized and shortened into sound bytes that I, somewhat wishfully, believed I could get out without crying.  It's the notebook that is the real record of my feelings, then and, along with the postscript, now.  Only, now, on the third anniversary, those feelings exist in smaller, more manageable, less heart-wrenching doses.

I still miss my mother.  I can't believe it's been three years.  It alternately feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lost in Translation

I have a little sniffle today, so I left work early, took some medicine, and climbed into bed.  Upon waking, I was craving soup.  And so, I ordered Chinese food -- mostly won-ton soup -- from a relatively new place near my neighborhood.  The food is decent and relatively cheap, plus they take credit card, which is important to someone like me, who always seems to have a ton of cash or none at all.

The problem, however, is that their English is bad.  Really bad.  Cliché bad.  So, not only do I live in fear that they're going to send me something bizarre, but no matter how hard I try, they do not understand my address.

In theory, I should be pretty easy to understand:  I speak loudly and clearly and I don't really have a regional accent.  (I worked really hard to get rid of my New Jersey accent when we moved to Florida when I was 12, and I've been largely successful.) Plus, I spell.

I've ordered from this place twice now, and both times, the same thing happened.  The girl on the phone takes my order, repeats it and my address back to me.  She seems to have it perfect.  Still, 20 minutes later, I get a phone call from the delivery driver -- with even worse English -- who is at a different building, on a different street, about half a mile away.  He insists that I gave the wrong address, or that the street he is at is the street that my condo is on.  I barely understand a word he is saying.  He keeps saying something about a hotel.  No, it's not a hotel, it's a condo.  After about 10 minutes of me trying to figure out what he is saying and spelling my street address for him, finally, he seems to understand. Eventually, the food gets here.  The delivery driver keeps showing me the printed receipt, which shows a different address from the one I gave on the phone.

And so, next time, I'm ordering from somewhere else.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


I generally don't make New Year's resolutions, mostly because I generally don't keep New Year's resolutions. Besides, any promise you make to yourself or to anyone else after a few glasses of champagne is likely to be voidable.

This year, however, I have a resolution. A good one. But bear with me -- it requires a bit of an explanation.

The idea started with my CD collection. Despite the move towards electronic distribution of music over the past years, I keep buying compact discs. I like listening to albums as a whole. I like reading the liner notes. I like being able to grab a CD that fits my mood to take with me in the car. I like having a tangible, physical thing, instead of just having the intangible music stored on a hard drive or a .mp3 player. And what if the electronic device fails?

So now, I have entire bookshelves filled with CDs, just sitting in my condo. Of course, I've copied each onto my computer and backed them up on another hard drive. I'm starting to think that maybe it's time to change this strategy. Maybe I should sell the CDs. I don't need them; they are just things taking up space.

Then I think about all of the other things I keep in my house. Do I really need to keep a full bookcase of the books I've yet to read, when I can get books from a library? Do I really need to hang on to my prom dress -- and the elbow length gloves that went with it? People somehow manage to live with far fewer shoes, clothes, and beauty products. What is it that I can't replace? What is it that I really need? What is it that I can't live without?

The answer is depressing: Not a single thing is necessary. No thing is necessary. Nothing is necessary. Nothing. I can live with none of these things.

Under many of the measures of affluence in this country, I am quite wealthy. I have a good job that pays well, and as of this month, when I make my last student loan payment, I am by-and-large, debt free. (Well, except for that pesky mortgage . . . ) I have no significant health concerns. I have no dependents relying on me. I have so much. And yet, I constantly add to my collection of things, and I don't save. I am a shopoholic, and not in a cute, fictional way.

According to this article, I should ask myself these questions before buying anything:

  1. Do you have to buy this item?
  2. Have you found the best deal?
  3. Have you gotten your z's?
  4. Are you buying just because it's on sale?
  5. Have you asked about future deals?
  6. Do you love it and do you need it?
  7. Can you afford it?

I know I fall into the trap of buying because things are on sale, and I know I ignore the part about whether I have to buy things, or love it and need it.

Another article gave five tips for avoiding impulse buys:

  1. Stick to Your List
  2. Get Some Air
  3. Be Critical
  4. Phone a Friend
  5. Use Cash

And so, just like the summer of 2009, when I vowed to not eat meat for a whole month, I am going to spend the first few weeks of the new year putting these tricks and tips into play, trying to not buy anything unnecessary. At a minimum, each time I find myself going for my wallet, I'm going to ask myself whether the purchase is a "want" or a "need," and try to eliminate the "wants." At best, I'm going to try to not spend any money on anything that is not essential -- mortgage, utilities, food, basic hygiene and medical care, and transportation.

Simultaneously, I am going to try to figure out what possessions I can eliminate. Thoreau said, "We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without." I'm going to test that theory.

And thus, I resolve to simplify.