Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My ongoing quest to improve my life has been, of late, focused on paring things down. Paring down my debt, of course, but also objects, unhelpful relationships, and dumb ideas.

It’s surprising how much stuff I own but I don’t need, even living in a small studio apartment. I’ve started looking at things and deciding if I haven’t used them in years, I’m probably not going to, and out they go. Exceptions can be made for items of sentimental value, but that anthology I haven’t looked at in 15 years? Gone. The martini glasses that ended up in my possession after the bacon party five years ago? Gone.

(I realize that you are supposed to be alarmed when people start giving away their possessions, because maybe they are suicidal or something, but trust me - I’m getting rid of cheap glassware, not heirlooms.)

I’ve stopped putting energy into friendships where most of the effort is on my side, not that I had a lot of them. I’ve dumped Facebook friends who post nasty rants. Now, I don’t want to live in a liberal echo chamber, at least not most days, and I do have friends with differing political views. For example, among my Facebook friends are two college classmates, one a professional libertarian (I mean that in the most literal sense) and the other a conservative Catholic. Do we disagree on a lot? Yes. Does that include not only fiscal policy but also highly charged issues? Yes. I’m sure the Catholic and I would agree that abortion is a human rights issue - we’d just disagree about whose rights are at stake. That said, I respect that their arguments are internally consistent and expressed in a polite and respectful way. I just don’t have the energy to deal with people whose posts read like a Dr. Bronner’s bottle.

As far as ideas, that’s a little harder. They cling, persistently. One recent realization is that I tend to hold on to mediocre things in my life too long. Things that are bad? Gone. But things that are just okay - jobs, relationships - I tend to stick with and not aggressively pursue alternatives. I mean, if my soulmate (which I don’t believe in) came along but I had to move to Greenland to be with him … you know, I am pretty sure my landlord would let me break my lease. Not that I want to, but my landlord could fill this place easily enough; I wouldn’t be on the hook for over a year of rent. But I think of my lease as an absolute obstacle. It really isn’t, not in the way that, say, having a liver transplant next week would be.

(I am not having a liver transplant.)

So that’s where I’m at: Getting rid of stuff, and saving money. I have several financial goals, but the next major one I'm likely to achieve is finally having a $0 net worth. Not impressive, maybe, except that I have a negative net worth now. I'm looking forward to my assets outweighing my debts.

Just monetary assets, mind. No useless martini glasses here.

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