Life in the Desert: The Troubling Need for Cars

We've read lately that Americans are driving less than ever. Apparently, this cannot be explained simply by economics, but still: driving is expensive! AAA exhaustively details the costs of driving in this pdf. TL;DR: when you take into account gas, maintenance, financing, insurance, and registration, even a small sedan driven 20,000 miles a year (it gets cheaper the more you drive) costs $0.398/mile to operate. Does that seem maybe like not so much? Consider this: my old commute from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to midtown Manhattan would have cost $6.76 (plus unimaginable aggravation, plus parking).

As New Hosts on AirBnB, My Husband and I Sort of Break Even

My husband’s dream of moving his band’s weekly practices from a high-rent industrial building to the cottage crumpled, and we realized that in order to avoid financial ruin we would have to use it as a source of extra income. Since we still wanted to banish certain out-of-town company to the cottage, we decided to furnish the space and offer it for short-term rental on AirBnB.

The Cost of Being Exposed to HIV While Uninsured

To spoil the end before the beginning, this is a story about being exposed to HIV while not having health insurance, taking actions to prevent infection, and ending up successfully still HIV negative (several years and counting). Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (taking a combination of anti-retrovirals (anti-HIV) medications as soon as you know you've been exposed to avoid being infected) works in many cases. It worked for me, and I am endlessly thankful that I had access to credit and adequate care to make it happen.

The Cost of a Solo Trip to Montreal

I chose Montreal because I could get there by train: the trip is scenic in its own right, winding up through the Hudson Valley and traveling parallel to Lake Champlain.

Expenses Relating to My Wedding That I Couldn’t Possibly Have Anticipated

"This is your dress?" she asked from behind a wall, around the corner of which I could see a huge wooden table covered in lace and pins. "Oh, good. It’ll be ready tomorrow."

Concerning Inflation, Pants, and Getting Old

This is how it starts. This is the feeling of turning into an old person.

I am aware, and have made my peace with, the much remarked-upon phenomenon of musical tastes frozen at the time of adolescence. While I try to make forays into This Noisy Music All The Kids Are Listening To, I always come back to Big Daddy Kane, KRS-1, EPMD, and the like. I will be this way until I die, and it’s OK. But there is another way I am stuck: in my conception of What Pants Should Cost. This is much more problematic.

I moved out of my father’s house when I was 17, and I have been solely in charge of pants acquisition during the 20 years since (with some periodic, half-hearted intervention from romantic partners). In those two decades, I have become appreciably better at many of the things I started doing at 17, but not buying pants. I am irrevocably stuck with the notion that I should be able to acquire a decent pair of khakis or other office-worthy slacks for $25.

The Cost of Living in Shanghai

I moved to China in 2005, and among the many culture shocks I experienced during the six months I spent studying Chinese in Beijing was incredulity at how cheap everything there was. The exchange rate had been fixed at 8.2 renminbi (RMB) to the dollar and prices were low; I used to groan whenever I came into possession of a 100RMB bill, because I knew no taxi driver or store clerk would want to break it.

On the Purchase of New Pillows

When we moved in together, PT and I combined our pillows without thinking about it. We just put pillowcases on them and piled them on the bed. Two of them went to the bed in the furnished extra room that we rent out as often as we can (n.b. we have not used Airbnb yet!). Some were mine and some were his, but all of them—save for the one Ikea pillow I picked up at some point in the past seven years in New York—were of unknown provenance; and they were gross.

The Cost of Dual Citizenship

I successfully applied for Irish citizenship last year. Here's what it cost me.

The Cost of One Resolution, Halfway Through the Year

I made the mistake of revisiting my New Year "action Items" the other day. Since we’re almost halfway through the year, I thought it was a good idea to check my progress on the goals I had made for 2014. Nestled in between "lose all the weight I gained from emotionally eating my way through a job that made me cry every day before work" and "floss every day" was this: Have one friend, couple, or group of friends over for dinner once a month.