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<the best $13 i ever spent>

Somewhere amid the books, hardware, paintings, correspondence, and cat toys that fill this three room apartment, there's a reimbursement form from the New York City post office in the amount of $13. I will never cash it in.

When I started in May 1995, I intended to amuse myself, and hoped I might amuse a few other people. In over five years online, I almost never wrote about my own life.

Then on 28 July, a stamp machine ate my $13, and an overworked postal clerk looked at me funny when I asked to be reimbursed.

Just another day in New York (or any place else). Just a small, meaningless incident. But for reasons unknown, it inspired me to write. And since the tale, though slight, was too long for The Daily Report, I told it on its own page.

A few weeks later, I flew to a last-minute, one-day web conference, had a small epiphany on the trip home, and wrote about it.

Suddenly I had a series going.

Where do ideas come from? They are born in quick moments and fleeting insights. A momentary condition of light inspires a painting. A brief run-in with a tired postal worker gives birth to a series of personal essays.

Sometimes I wrote about technical issues. Sometimes I wrote about love. Not every installment was riveting, or even original. But I kept at it.

Because I kept at it, when profound changes began occurring in my life, I was unafraid to write about them. As a result of writing about them, I experienced them more deeply. As a result of publishing them here, I felt comforted; and readers with similar experiences began sharing their stories with me. That experience has been beyond price. All thanks to $13 and one tired postal clerk.

One day I will dig up the $13 reimbursement form, simply to find out that clerk's name.

I just want to thank her.

The author and his opinions.
Copyright © 1995–2002 Jeffrey Zeldman Presents
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