Apartment Hunting: A Love Story

When I started trying to get out on my own, I didn’t expect this emotional roller coaster.

We met, of all places, on Reddit.  I was browsing, looking for good recommendations: someone mentioned you, and I sent you a message.  You responded that same day– with pictures, no less, and immediate availability.

It was love at first sight.  You were so cute, with your claw-foot bathtub and your 12′ ceiling, your quirky neighborhood, your standing fireplace.  I loved your loft and your basement bedroom.  I loved your location, your off-street downtown parking. And your landlords– oh, they seemed perfect, friendly and responsive and prompt!  I would have signed your lease right then and there.   I would have signed your lease so hard.

Alas, reality kicked in– it always does, doesn’t it?  Your rent, even with utilities included, was higher than I expected.  You swore you could change: a hundred dollars less a month was doable, wasn’t it? Compromise is the foundation of a good relationship.  And yet you couldn’t change the lack of central air, the still-high price, the inconvenience from the highway.  I drive a lot, in my job: despite your best efforts, you would add a good fifteen minutes to my commute each morning.  Some parts of a relationship you can negotiate, but I couldn’t ask you to change who you are.

And yet I tried, O one-bedroom downtown apartment, I tried! I wanted to make it work, I kept negotiations going with your landlords.  They badly needed someone to take you, and I did want you.  But something, somehow, held me back.

And then I saw the suburban apartment. On Craigslist.

Two bedrooms.  A separate garage, no fees.  Ten seconds away from the highway but in a quiet, lovely neighborhood.  Washer and dryer in-unit. Same ultimate cost, but far far more for my money.

You would have looked too.

I clicked the link.  There was a number listed, and I called it.  The apartment was available.  The pictures were gorgeous, the kitchen was to die for.

Forgive me, one-bedroom downtown apartment.  I strayed.  But I chose to stay with you in the end.  Why, you may ask, would I choose to stay with a smaller, beat-up, worn-down place like you?

This year has been hard on me for a number of very personal reasons.  Over and over again, my decision to open my heart or do the right thing has bitten me square on the ass.  And each and every time I’ve asked myself: do I want to be the person who makes that mistake? Do I want to be the person who falls in love only to be broken-hearted, who opens their family to a friend who only takes advantage of them? Do I want to be the person who makes good-hearted mistakes?

The answer has always been yes.

So I asked myself: do I want to be the person who lives in comfort in suburbia? Or who takes the leaner place downtown, with a little hardship?

You’re not the only apartment I like, one-bedroom.  But baby, you’re the one I choose to spend my next eight months with.  At which time we will revisit the lease, since that’s the start of rental season out there.

Let’s make ’em count.

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Happy Secular Christmas: Why I Celebrate Holidays

My non-theism is not a major part of this blog, but I’ll out and say it: I’m an atheist.  No, I’m not that kind of atheist: I won’t berate you for being religious, and I’m a big fan of theological discourse.  I have a draft post sitting around on why I consider myself an atheist as opposed to an agnostic, and why I still consider myself Jewish when I don’t believe in God, and all that jazz: I’ll write about it later.

But this time I’m going to write about why I celebrate the holidays.

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People, Read Your Children Inappropriate Books: A Rant.

This is an irregular Saturday post, because I have something Christmassy planned for Tuesday.

When I was a little kid, my mom and I had this great tradition: before bed, we would gather up all my books and dump them in a pile on her (impossibly-huge-to-a-six-year-old) bed, curl up with a snack, and read together.  Mom tells me that we rarely even planned to read the books I piled high around us, I just liked to be near them all.  We called them “Read and Eat Parties”.  It was the best, and I’m convinced this is the source of my lifelong love of reading.  Books are safe to me, and comfortable, and a huge connection to my family both as a kid and as an adult.

But while every parent knows that sitting down and reading with your kids is important, Mom did something a little different.  We didn’t read Dr. Seuss or Judy Blume, or even Artemis Fowl or– with the exception of a brief stint that lasted about two of the seven books– Harry Potter.  I read books about people my age in my own time, in my own space.

No, Mom and I curled up with huge tomes of Jules Verne and Doyle.  Books about explorers who were engaged to their cousins, undersea terrorists, and opium addicts that solved murder mysteries.  At age six, my mom read me books about women nearly burned to death in a funeral pyre, about stepfathers who tried to marry their stepdaughters for their money, about speckled bands and venomous snakes. We look back on that and laugh about how completely inappropriate that reading material is.

It was one of the best parenting decisions she ever made.

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Chances Are, You’re Editing Wrong.

In the wake of NaNoWriMo, there are legions of us sitting around trying to figure out how to edit our books.

This isn’t a straightforward process.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a ton of mental notes: I need to change this part of the plot and make sure these characters don’t vanish, edit through this scene because it makes no sense, edit the jokes that fell flat, etc.  When you’ve got a huge manuscript with a lot of work that needs doing, it can seem daunting.  You don’t always know where to start.

My process for editing has usually been to just read through and “edit as I go”, which has resulted in a lot of half-edited manuscripts.  If you’re doing it the way I was, you’re probably doing it wrong.

This is my plan of attack.

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The NaNo Experience

This was my first NaNo where I actually finished something.

I tried a bunch of times in high school and college. Every time I got about 20,000 words in and just lost interest, or got distracted, or wrote along at my own pace. Most of those books eventually got finished and then sort of forgotten, or I started re-writing halfway through.  I always sat back and told myself, “It’s fine. I didn’t really *try*. If I’d tried I would have kicked ass at it.  God, I’m awesome.  I’m just a great writer.”

Well, this year I got off my lazy ass and actually did it.  And I learned a lot.

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