It was the historian's birthday a couple of days ago, and I had the pleasure of piling up the presents around him when he first woke up. And cooking him a favorite breakfast. Also sending a couple of birthday-ish e-mails during the day. The real news is, however, that when I was buying the presents, I was buying only presents for him. Rather than the sad but pervasive, 'one present for him, a couple for me' strategy that I happen to know other people besides me practice.
And that's because (throat clearing, drum rolling, a hush falls over the room) I have made a resolution not to buy any more (a) clothes or (b) books until June.
(small print: 1. the book buying retrenchment does not count the redeeming of gift certificates at Sam Weller's. 2. the book buying retrenchment allows for one exception, to wit: attendance at academic conferences where there is a book fair, such as AWP. 3. clothes buying retrenchment includes a moratorium on accessories purchases, to wit: shoes, handbags, jewelry. 4. clothes buying retrenchment allows for purchase of necessary underclothing. 5. clothes buying retrenchment may allow for symbolic clothing purchase in vacation situations, to wit: over President's Day holiday, when historian and megastore are on a little trip to Santa Barbara for anniversary, which may call for shopping of a symbolic nature, really, you know, just to be able to say, "I got that [clothing item of a symbolic nature] in Santa Barbara when the historian and I were celebrating our X anniversary." We'll just have to see.)
In the meantime, I am engaging in furious amounts of replacement behavior, such as organizing, sorting, and discarding all sorts of stuff that has crowded into all sorts of spaces. The sheer amount of floor space in my at-home study is breathtaking, and not just to me. I bring people around to show it to them. Bruiser and Betty can scarcely believe that they are allowed in, because there's room for them, and all the things they might have heretofore chewed up are put away in a tidy fashion.
The historian has hardly indicated any disbelief in my sincerity nor my ability to carry out this resolution. Friends, however, have openly scoffed. My daughter said, "That's a ridiculous resolution," but relented when I explained that if I kept on bring new stuff home, it was harder to see what old stuff I needed to give away.
In the meantime, I have allowed that I may still download (legally!) music and buy an occasional cd. I have been called by the allure of several items of clothing recently, but have talked myself off the ledge, as it were, and gone home with nothing more than toothpaste and magazine-sized file boxes to show for it. We're at about two weeks and counting, and I think it's going to stick.