Friday, March 27, 2009

Thank You


Lest anyone think that the feedback I receive from you guys is not taken seriously, listen to this:

As some of you might recall, in my last draft budget I allocated $70 a month for gym expenses. A couple of regular readers (Miss Scorpio, Nebula, several Anons) suggested that I cancel my gym membership and focus on alternative exercise methods. Now, you have to understand that I’ve always considered a gym membership to be an absolutely necessary expense. I assumed that I could only get a proper workout at a gym stocked with a variety of free weights and exercise machines. Boy was I wrong. I’ve since fallen in love with these nifty resistance bands:


If used properly, these super cheap bands can give a person a truly awesome workout. And while I’ve already had one break on me, it only took about $12 to get it replaced. And, in the process, I have already cancelled my membership, something that will save me over $800 a year.

Note that I will probably have an updated budget to share sometime next month. It will reflect additional cuts following advice from many of you.

Bottom line, I wanted to thank all of you for your comments, thoughts, criticisms and assorted feedback. It continues to keep me on my toes and challenges me to seek additional simplification where it counts. Thanks everyone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Simplicity

As the days get longer and the grasses grow greener I’m becoming more and more aware of my own mortality. The chill of winter has given way to glorious sunshine, budding trees, and a yearning for more.

Renewal is in the air and I am embracing it like never before.

I’ve made a decision. It terrifies me, even as it exhilarates me. More to follow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Sexism: Women Should Know Their Place


“I would never hit a woman in my life…but I’d shake the shit out of her!” Chris Rock.

Since the inception of Adventures in Voluntary Simplicity I have worked hard to create a forum for readers to express their views openly and without fear of censorship. That is why I’ve decided to devote an entire post to the issue of sexism as it relates to this blog.

While I don’t think this post quite fits the “voluntary simplicity” rubric, I think there is some value in allowing readers the opportunity to express their views on this topic. The reality is that, rightly or wrongly, poor old Jack has been occasionally accused of being downright sexist, both in thoughts and deeds. As a refresher, here are some posts where this sentiment might have come up:

Picture If You Will

Last Night’s Call

A Day in the Life (Part 1)

On Marriage

Dear Mom: FUCK YOU

And let’s not forget the commentary in response to the provocative “Girls Riding Mechanical Bulls are Hot” post. I definitely dug that discussion.

So, where do I come out on this? At the risk of polluting the discussion that may follow, I will say the following:

  1. I don’t see myself as sexist in any way. I have, even through some of the darkest, most frivolous times in my life, been a dire-hard supporter of woman's rights. Being sexist is wrong. Period.
  2. I am, however, aware that I have chosen to embrace a journey that may ultimately realign most if not all of my core beliefs. I can’t discount the possibility that the person I am today won’t be derided by the Jack of tomorrow.
  3. I sincerely believe that the bulk of readers who believe I have sexist tendencies are either (a) misinterpreting my often imprecise narrative; (b) not regular readers (in which case they are reading posts in a vacuum and don’t see that I am trying to move away from certain patterns of behavior); or (c) sexually repressed and/or easily offended.
  4. I absolutely abhor political correctness. It corrupts discourse and is a short-cut to thinking.

And speaking of political correctness, here’s a little bit of wisdom to brighten up your day:

“What's the first thing a woman does when she gets back from the battered women's clinic?
The god damned dishes if she knows what's good for her.”

“A man is driving along in his car when he suddenly gets pulled over by the police. The man pokes his head out of the window and says "what seems to be the problem officer?" The cop looks bluntly at him and says "are you aware that a woman fell out of your car about 2 minutes ago?" The man let out a sigh. "Thank you for that, I thought I had gone deaf!"

And for good measure, here’s one of my favorite Family Guy segments of all time:

Stewie and Horse Sperm

Sharing similar gems about how men might be ignorant, dirty, and all-around assholes is definitely welcome.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Embracing My Inner Nerd


This is just sooo frickin’ awesome!! I’m sitting in a cafĂ© near Dupont Circle thinking about next steps and my mind is just spinning with possibilities. It feels as if “the rest of my life” has finally come and there appears to be no end in sight. Spread out before me are several copies of Lonely Planet, a map of the world, a copy of Outside magazine, and a cup of green tea.

But while the urge for travel, adventure and assorted international mischief beckons like never before, something else has begun to monopolize my every waking thought: the potential to expand my education to its furthest possible limit. That’s right, my dear reader. When Jack is not discovering the pleasures of yoga and meditation, enduring endless carnal temptations, and/or occasionally imbibing to his heart’s content, he is absolutely, completely, positively, and without question embracing his inner nerd!



Call it the Plan, after the Plan. Maybe Plan #2 is more appropriate. Or even The Plan, part deux.

Whatever you call it, I feel it has the potential to exist at the very core of my being for the rest of my life. It is nothing short of embracing education as a lifestyle.


At any one time I want to immerse myself in books and/courses focusing on (1) themes involving history/culture/philosophy/politics; (2) literature; and (3) foreign languages. Throughout, I want to be able to combine all three components as I travel. For example, I could learn a much Hindi as possible before traveling to India where I could take a course on partition. Or maybe I could brush up on my Spanish while taking a course on the Incas before heading out on a trip to Machu Pichu. For me, the sky will be the limit.


I know, I know. This post is just oozing nerdyness. But can you blame me? I just wanted to share a little of my excitement as I embrace a new-found freedom I am only now discovering. Besides, I can’t be the only one that finds this super cool. Seriously, are there any fellow nerds out there?

Note that those of you interested in this aspect of my journey can always check out my progress at my other blog: Adventures in Intellectual Stupidity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009



One cold Friday afternoon several weeks ago I walked out of my office for the last time. I spent most of the morning tossing memos, binders and assorted law firm crap into a giant trashcan. In the afternoon, I met with Human Resources to talk about my final paycheck. At some point, I returned some library books and walked my firm-issued laptop over to the IT department. In between, I said my goodbyes to those partners, associates and staff members that have earned my respect over the past several years.

In the end, it was as simple as putting some picture frames and assorted personal effects into a backpack and handing my Kastle key to the security guard at the front desk. And that was it. I was free.


Those of you who have followed this blog since its inception know well that I had originally planned to work through the end of this year. The advantages were obvious: the longer I worked, the more I could save and the more options I would have following my departure. And then, a chance meeting made me realize that living my life NOW is more important than any Plan. So I decided to leave early.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder whether working through the end of the year was ever going to be realistic. Those of you still in the trenches know full well how uncertain the legal market is at the moment, particularly on the corporate/M&A side. I am almost certain that if I was still following the original Plan I would be increasingly preoccupied with my billable hours, checking the internet for layoff rumors and otherwise making the kind of contingency plans that led me to leave my law firm early in the first place.

And maybe this is why I feel lucky to have left law firm life when I did. In the end, I was able to leave on my own terms and at my own pace.


I am still surprised by the number of emails I get from other lawyers who are contemplating life beyond law firms. When I first started the blog, the vast majority of emails came from lawyers who, like me, were struggling to deal with the long hours and the intense pressure this particular branch of the legal profession demands. I am now receiving more and more emails from lawyers who have been laid off and from law school students who are frantically trying to find a job.

Regardless of the author, the common theme in all these emails is always the same: how does a person find happiness in a profession that is seemingly antithetical to one’s core beliefs and innermost goals and demands so much of your personal time in exchange for what our culture has conceptualized as the upper-middle class American dream? More importantly, is it all worth it?


If there is one thing I know, my dear reader, is that I don’t have all the answers. I’m still feeling my way through this wonderful journey and have no real sense of how it will all turn out.

But I do feel that I have gained some valuable insight. And I am willing to share it with you, if you let me.

My journey began in a place where meeting and exceeding billable requirements was paramount. Where drafting perfect work-product was expected every day. Where success was measured by your paycheck and your law school pedigree. And you know what? I am now at a point in my life where I can say the following unequivocally:

*Fuck billable hours.

*Screw the bonus.

*Fancy cars, houses, furniture, vacations, credit cards, etc…have the potential to imprison your mind, your ego, and, worst of all, your spirit.

*The so-called upper-middle class lifestyle absolutely sucks and can go fuck itself.

If you want to find freedom as well, here’s my advice:

  1. Figure out your own personal definition of freedom.
  2. Come up with a rational, flexible way to attain it.
  3. Start changing your life from day one.
  4. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way.

Don’t look back. Don’t wait. Don’t second guess. Take the plunge and do it now. Before it’s too late.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Country Music is the Real Deal

For those of you who are not in the know, the Grand Ole Opry, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is the soul of country music and still broadcasts the longest running radio show in the history of the medium. This was reason enough for us to pay that place a visit.

And you know what? For someone whose only experience with mainstream country music was watching a loser with a mullet sing “Achy Breaky Heart,” going to the Grand Ole Opry was nothing less than a revelation. How could I have completely discounted a whole genre of music for so long? What an effin’ crime! Seriously. Going in I figured I could probably groove to some of that blue grass stuff (which I've always sort of liked) and maybe some of that old-timey stuff ala Jonny Cash. But I actually enjoyed pretty much every act on stage. Maybe it was the booze and/or the caramel corn but I tell ya, this was truly music heaven.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Going to Graceland

“The Mississippi delta, shining
Like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war

I’m going to Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I’m going to Graceland”

After a good night’s rest we woke up early and scrambled to do the basics in Memphis. First, we took a ride out to pay our respects to the birth of rock: Sun Records. For those who have never had the pleasure I would highly recommend taking the tour. For me, just being in the same room where Johnny Cash recorded Folsom Prison Blues made this whole trip worth it.

Next up, Graceland. And what can I say about Graceland itself? I can’t quite cop to being an Elvis fan, but I will say this: I did get a chill or two walking into the TV Room and the Jungle Room.

And yes, my dear reader. That is, in fact, a peanut butter and banana sandwich purchased at the Graceland restaurant. For all you Philistines out there, this little culinary delight was a favorite of the King himself. And you know what? It was pretty tasty.

Our final stop of the day was the Lorraine Motel. As somber as it was to walk up to this place, we all felt it was necessary to pay our respects.


Next up, Nashville and the Gran Ole Opry.