Looking back on what I spend my time and money on, I see a pattern. That pattern is that I am phase driven. I go through phases where I'm fascinated by something or really into something and then some time later that interest wanes and it is replaced by something else. These phases run the gamut of almost anything under the sun.
What I've not quite been able to do is figure out exactly what triggers a new phase to start or one to end. These phases also overlap sometime with the same genre happening at the same time. A few phases that I've gone through include:
I'm sure the list could go on, but you get the idea. I'm not really sure this is a bad thing. Yes most of these phases do involve some monetary expenditure but if I didn't spend it on one thing I'd probably end up spending it on something else. Maybe this is the down side of having some disposable income, you end up with disposable hobbies.
It has been a little over two months since I returned my 350Z to the dealership at the end of my three year lease. I really loved that car. Its teardrop profile, smooth handling, fully featured interior, and get-up-and-go made it a joy to drive. Alas, winter in New England did not mix with a rear wheel drive car outfitted with high performance summer tires. Yes, I could have switched tires for the winter months, but the thought of dropping another thousand just to pretend I could drive in winter never really appealed to me.
I debated quite some time about what I would do after I returned my Z. I researched plenty of cars, went to a few dealerships, but never made it past just looking. The nail in the coffin of getting the Z in the first place was the first time I drove it. Part of the reason I didn't want to go any further in the process was a conscious realization that I was "becoming" a yuppie. Some that known me content that is already the case. I still delude myself and say that it is more a case of selective affluence.
While I could have bought and afforded many of the cars I was looking at, it felt wrong. Not wrong at the level of being evil, more wrong at the level of I should know better. I grew up modestly and while I lament that I can't remember as much of my childhood as I would like, what I do remember is not cause for alarm. The most recent issue of Details has a series of articles about yuppies and one of the comments mentioned in Jeff Gordinier's "The Return of the Yuppie" piece reminded me of my car debate:
Douglas Coupland told People "When you've 27 or 28, your body starts emmiting the Sheraton enzyme. You can no longer sleep on people's floors." By 37, the Sheraton enzyme mutates into the Four Season endorphin.
The same thing was happening to me, but with cars. The Dodge Omni I had as my first car was a distant past to what I was considering now. I had to step back and really wonder just what was going on. It wasn't so much shying away from what limited success I've had in my career, but instead wondering more about how I wanted to express it? I'm still trying to figure that one out. Inspiration should come from groups like "Living Life Below Your Means" which is active on the The Motley Fool. Alas, I've not found myself perusing those forums.
Instead of jumping into something that I might regret, I instead chose to delay the choice. I'm now a member of Zipcar. Easy access to a car when I need it, but not close enough to be more tempting than I want it to be. Two months car less has helped me discover what I would really want a car for. Highest on that list is the mundane task of grocery shopping. This is just what Zipcar was designed for. Enter in that not quite as close as I would like factor and it is a trade-off.
Peapod has filled the grocery gap, but not always to my complete satisfaction. Last time we went shopping online which was a couple of weeks ago, Peapod did not offer Eggnog as an online option. There are also many other products that are easily found in the stores but not online. Some of them fall into the yuppie category, but in general I'm willing to put money there as the hippie-go-crunchy products I feel are better tasting and more sustainable.
This leaves me in the position that I still might want to get a car, since while grocery shopping is highest on the list, trips to visit friends and explore the area are also on the list and full day Zipcar rentals get to be as bad as a car payment. I will have to see what inspiration the new year brings.
Where has this year gone? I know I could look back on posts that I have made to this blog, particularly during the first half of the year when I was making a post every day, but that wouldn't completely fill the gaps. It is the compression of time that bothers me the most. Every day almost goes by at the same pace, but the weeks and months are getting lost in a blur. Maybe it's my thirtieth birthday that is coming up soon that causes me to ponder this moment more than others.
My pessimism says that as much that has happened in this last year, much more has not happened. While some of what didn't happen was a direct result of what I chose not to have happen, much more was laziness. Am I wasting away the best years of my life or am I enjoying them. Best can have so many different connotations. Are these my best productive years when I could be creating something that changes the world or are these years the ones that I can have the best fun? I'm not sure how I would define best.
What I do know is that I feel best when I've accomplished something. At times it is a simple thing like racking the back yard. Other times it is sorting through old files and throwing out the junk. Funny that the examples that come to mind first revolve around controlling my environment and entropy reduction. I do get that same sense of accomplishment when I've created something, but that comes much less often since inspiration doesn't hit often, while there is almost always cleaning to do in one form or another.
This discussion seems to have focused on work instead of enjoyment. This year has included many hours spent in enjoyment. While those were relaxing and often times very needed, that sense of accomplishment does not accompany them. Maybe it is time to find and dust off an old book that I have lying around called, if I remember correctly, The Acorn Principle. It was a self-help book I picked up based on a review back when I was nearing graduation from college and trying to find my way into the "adult" world.
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A friend recently pointed me at GOOD Magazine.
We see a growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a shared interest. This revolves around a passion for potential mixed with fierce pragmatism and creative engagement. We sum all this up as the sensibility of giving a damn. But to shorten it, let's call it GOOD. We're here to push this movement and cover its realization.
They are currently running a campaign where your entire subscription fee is donated to a worthy organization of your choice.
In looking at my web logs today I noticed something very odd. I was getting referrer entries for iamnotstephencolbert.com. I did some digging and for reasons that I can not explain. That domain points at my server's IP address. The bigger mystery is the fact that it has been pointing at my server since the middle of August. I guess whoever registered the domain isn't using it. As a result I present to you http://www.iamnotstephencolbert.com/. View it while you can, I suspect someone may catch on.
Update: My friend who registered the domain finally found the page. The above link now points to a cached copy of the page I put up.