Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Confession:  one of my guilty pleasures is Craigslist.  I am always trolling for my dream apartment, wonderful mid-century-get-it-for-a-song piece of furniture (for said apartment or for my awesome future home), or something I totally don't need.  Like an RV (blame it on the summer issues of Sunset magazine).

I started looking -- seriously, this time... well, sort of -- for a daybed a while ago.  Because I can't afford won't pay for the one that I want, and because I don't want to buy new. 

Then I found a daybed.  Not the one that I originally wanted.  But one that was okay. And it fit my style more than all the other daybeds listed (white curved heart frames, ceramic finials, wood and iron combos -- no no no).  And it was cheap.  So I went for it and contacted the poster.  We traded emails, phone calls, and texts during the week, and I made arrangements for my brother to drive out with me to look at it.  By the time we got there I already felt like I had to buy it: to make the (long, traffic-ridden) trip worthwhile?  Because after three or four emails I already felt so invested in the piece?  And guilty over my brother's and the seller's time?  I told myself that I was helping  out the sellers, who had bought it, probably impulsively, for their baby (who still fits in her crib), and who were selling their house.  Besides, it was less expensive than it would have been had I bought it retail (at Ikea).  They're entirely acceptable reasons, and I did end up buying it, but in that self-imposed guilt or sense of responsibility or whatever, I forgot that the purchase was solely for me and that I should have given the choice entirely to myself -- my wants, not just my needs.  I should have asked:  Do I really want this?  Is it worth it?  Can I negotiate for a lower price?  Do I have to commit to it at all?  Rather, I ended up justifying a "for me" purchase with "for them" reasons. 

I'm not beating myself up too much over it.  After all, it's just a piece of furniture.  That I like.  And will use.  And was cheap.  And can be resold.  Yet the whole episode made me realize that, despite trying to change with this year's resolutions theme, I simply don't love myself that much.  And that I'll settle, while putting others -- even strangers -- ahead of myself.  It's humility taken to the extreme.  Which can't be very healthy.  This stark realization has been a good wake-up call; I intend to be more aware of and conscientious about my self and my decision-making.

Which brings me to the bigger things. Like finding a new apartment.  For the past few weeks I've been looking here and there (on CL of course) and even made some inquiries and gone to see some places.  Some sort of (internal, probably totally fabricated) voice is pressuring me to hurry up and make a decision.  So no one else beats me to a certain apartment.  Because something better might not come up.  And is there such thing as an ideal apartment anyway?  I chatted with the owner of one building and established a good rapport, so although the apartment itself is not ideal, I went ahead and turned in an application. So no one else beats me to it.  Because something better might not come up.  And because the owner and I are best friends now, right? 

OMG it's happening again.

The day after I turned in the rental application, the owner called me because I'd left off some information (I always wait for them to ask, just to make sure it's absolutely necessary).  I said I'd get the info to him and thanked him for his quick response (because we're best friends now, right?) and he replied, "Sure, 'course, it's business.  This is what I do."


The chime rang so loudly.  So clearly.  We are NOT best friends.  I didn't wow a potential landlord over with my personality.  He is looking to see if I my tenancy will be a good financial decision.  And the sooner he verifies my info, the sooner he knows the answer, and the sooner he can either move on to find another tenant, or move me in and start collecting rent.  It's business.  Work.  A job.  His job.  NOT mine.  My job is to find an apartment for me.  Because I'll be the one living there.  So I'd better do what's best for me. What a concept, right?  But it was a HUGE leap for me.

Instead of rushing to get the  information to him as soon as possible (to make his life easier), I am slowing down and asking myself what I want vs. what I can settle with or without.  And:  Do I really want this?  Is it worth it?  Can I negotiate for a lower price?  Do I have to commit to it at all?  Not only am I asking, but giving myself time to think about the answers:  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure (leaning towards no).  Probably.  Nope! 

I feel so liberated!  I am continuing to look at apartments, making the effort -- emailing, calling, texting, getting in my car and driving all over town etc. -- and taking steps towards the change I want to see in my life.  I am upfront with myself and the owner/manager if an apartment is out of my price range or does not meet my needs.  I am not taking an application unless I am truly interested (my car and the environment thank me).  The internal, probably totally fabricated voice is getting fainter. And there is no guilt.  And it's only January, friends. 

Ok, back to Craigslist. (Just kidding.  Sort of.)

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