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Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Week. New Me.

I am going to intentionally take this week off from blogging. I started out the new year with a new schedule for maintaining this blog. And in the first month, I've already realized that some adjustments most be made. I love Singlutionary and I love the experience of becoming a happy, well-adjusted, confident and satisfied single and I want to continue to share that experience. But I often find that I am so busy enjoying life now, that I would rather be offline than on. I know that I need to reduce the number of hours I expect from myself and come up with way to maintain a presence here while living the full offline life that has unfolded for me in the past year.

I WILL pick up where I gave up last week on Thursday with a giveaway post. But I will be reducing the quantity of posts and hopefully contributing more to the conversations by posting comments and reading other blogs and developing a larger presence on twitter.

Honestly, I don't know how I want to continue this blog but I do want to continue it. I also want to enjoy the fantastic life that I'm living.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Check Back Tomorrow for Thursday Giveaway!

I am postponing my review of Cherie Burbach's book Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza until tomorrow.

It has been a wild week and all I want to do right now is go to sleep!!

Singlutionary's House Kicks Ass!!

Yet again, I am going to postpone posting my not-so-weekly Wednesday homeownership article.

But I did enjoy some raucous laughter tonight with my two remaining -- and very sane and fun roommates. We've taken back the house from Hoggle and we're loving it. It was nice to come home and relax in good company.

The past few weeks have been full of stress and full of wonder at the same time. I have a clarity in my mind and a simplicity in my day-to-day life that I've never quite managed to have before. I eat well and simply and in moderate proportions. I work daily, Monday through Friday, yet I miss the peak traffic rush. My chickens now produce one egg daily amongst the tree of them. And once I week I see my sister, and one a month we see her sister/my best friend.

This has nothing to do with owning a home. But life does feel settled and grounded and easy in a way that it never has before.

Of course last weekend I had a dead cat followed by an evil roommate. And, as always, I have suitors who fall to the wayside, just as the peak my interest.

But everything in life is OK as long as I can just come home to a peaceful, comfortable place with good people and good pets.

I've realized over the past several days, that despite everything, I LOVE having roommates. I never though I would say that. But good roommates become best friends. And multiple roommates create a community. Through my house, I've been able to provide an improved quality of life, not only for myself, but for the individuals that I share it with. And I am super excited about it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Singlutionary Kicks Crazies to the Curb

Last week I wrote about finding a perfect roommate. And then I went and rented to a psycho. I spent the greater part of the last three days trying to manage said psycho until I finally kicked her out tonight in a whole bunch of Jerry Springer-esqe drama which was followed up by a trip around town trying to buy beer past midnight with one of the awesome roommates.

So. For next week I will write about what NOT to do when looking for a roommate and what to do when you have a crazy one that you need to get rid of (not that I have a ton of experience in this category but I have now kicked one lunatic out in the middle of the night).

Basically, I disobeyed rule #3: Trust Your Gut.

I took one look at this woman and thought: Oh Hell No!

But then I felt bad because she was fat and ugly and I felt like that was petty and judgemental of me to eliminate her based on looks.

The part where I went wrong is here: When you look at a person, you don't usually just see FAT or UGLY. The first thing that you typically notice about a person is their aura, their personality, their energy, their vibes. I know plenty of heavy people who don't look heavy to me. And plenty of less-than-beautiful faces which I would never ever think of as ugly.

This woman was ugly on the inside. Real ugly. She had a negative, ugly, crazy, piece of work demeanor. But I felt bad for judging her so I let her move in.

And immediately began to regret it.

There were so many moments where I could have and should have turned and run in the other direction. But I was trying to be positive. I thought: It is only for one week, how bad could it be.

BAD. Not fear for your life bad. But she definately disrupted my personal peace and the peace of the house. I had immense gut wrenching anxiety all day at work yesterday and today, fearing what I might come home to. She was crazy. Crazy people are scary because you don't know what they're going to say or do.

So the moral of this story is: Trust Your Gut, even if it says things which sound petty and rude. Trust it anyways.

The blessing at the end of this story is that I still have two awesome roommates who rallied around me. And I have two more ex-roommates and a sister who further rallied around me and tried to make me laugh during this whole ordeal. Now that it is over and my house and my roommates and my dog and my chickens are safe, there is plenty of humor in the whole story.

But more importantly, I will never override my gut again!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Moments When it Does Suck to Be Single

I don't have many moments where being single sucks for me. I am not even phased by valentines day, for example. But tonight I had one. It isn't so much about having a shitty experience as a single as it is about having to do horrible something entirely alone and having no moral support or physical support or any kind of support.


My most recent moment where it pretty much sucked to be single:

Moving cat carcass from my driveway.

I really could have used some moral support but nobody was available. Could this have happened if I had a loyal loving husband? Yes. Totally. Loyal loving husbands are not always available either when icky things occur.

But tonight, for the first time in a long time, the following thought went through my head: :I really wish I had SOMEONE to help me deal with this".

This is a BIG cat. I was pulling my car out of the garage. It was dark but I saw something large and fluffy lying across the lower part of my driveway, almost at the street. I got out to investigate and sure enough it was the large cat that poops along my house. I don't mind cats pooping along the side of my house because I am rarely over there and I figure they ought to enjoy pooping in a place that I rarely frequent. So this cat, more like the size of a dog, is dead, at the bottom of my driveway in all his fluffy orange glory with a decent stream of blood flowing from his opened jaw.

I got back in my car and just sat there. I called my roommate to see if the cat had been there when she got home. I called my parents twice -- no answer.

Most of the time I know what to do about a situation pretty much immediately but this one had me stymied.

So I finally maneuvered out of the driveway, around the giant dead cat and went to the grocery store, thinking the whole time: "What are the logical steps to take in this situation."

I was pretty sure that moving a giant dead cat is a fairly unpleasant task.

I had gone through the dead pet process at Thanksgiving time with my roommate's hamster. But this isn't MY dead cat. I felt wrong moving another person's dead cat. But I also didn't want the cat's young owners to find it lying there in the morning. I also didn't want a neighbor to think that I had carelessly run over their cat while backing out of my driveway.

At a certain juncture, I finally quit freaking out, summoned my inner grown up, found an old towel and a big cardboard box and approached the dead cat.

And that is when I thought: "I really wish I weren't single right now. I really wish that there was someone to stand next to me while I try to pick up this giant dead cat carcass and place it somewhat ceremoniously in this empty toilet box."

I ended up having to scoot the cat into the box and then when I righted the box, the cat thumped to the bottom. Oh. It was a fairly awful experience. I then wrote notes to my two next door neighbors inquiring as to the ownership of the big orange cat. I did not put in the note that their beloved Garfield was now resting in peace in a cardboard toilet box with a cement block on the top to keep out the possums and stray dogs.

And that was my Saturday night Singlutionary adventure.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Giveaway: Internet Dating is NOT Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach

The box of giveaway items is still lost in my garage but I was able to unearth this book which was sent to me by the author for a review. That was, like 6 months ago. Of course, I still haven't finished it but I did start it and it isn't bad advice. The book, Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach, is this week's giveaway item.

I still hate internet dating.

I still love ordering pizzas.

So I read the book this weekend and then next Thursday I will do the review. If you want to enter to win this book, you can comment once this week and once next week for a double entry! I'll announce the winner in two weeks.

Why am I so behind? This week has been a whirlwind. I couldn't post yesterday out of sheer exhaustion. I've been working 9 hours straight, going to job interviews, renting out my rooms (one down and one to go) all while maintaining relationships with my roommates, worrying about money and taking care of my house/pets/self.

Its been a great week but I am pretty ready for the weekend. And I haven't been able to post as often as I like. I was especially bummed when I missed yesterday's homeowner series AGAIN!

But the good news is that things turned around this week. I got my first paycheck yesterday and was able to pay my roommate back. I was also able to fill my car with fuel and get groceries for the first time in 2 weeks. I now have vegetables to eat! I never thought I would be so so so grateful for every single carefully selected item in my grocery basket. Yesterday I was down to pumpkin seeds, cereal, soymilk, rice and beans. Today I have cucumber and fruit and bread and cheese! These small things are huge blessings. I've NEVER been this broke before in my life but I am very grateful for the experience because it taught me how grateful I need to be now that the experience is over. I think I will never shop for groceries in the same way again. My life will be far less wasteful. And I am so so so grateful and in awe of all the generosity which was offered to me. I always knew that I would get work just in the nick of time but folks showered me with loans and delicious meals and supportive advice.

Also, my chickens finally started to lay eggs this week providing me with another source of food! YAY!

And I have a renter for my room which guarantees that I will be able to pay the mortgage in this coming month!

It feels good to have some stability in my life after so much instability! I look forward to keeping a more stable writing schedule and to getting back to my usual posting style (instead of these rambling updates).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Singlutionary's Guide to Finding Awesome Roommates

When I lived in San Francisco, (a city where people rent closets for $400/mo and have multiple roommates just to get by) I decided it was time for me to "grow up" and have my own apartment. I was 24 and dead set that I would live alone and that I would live alone for the rest of my life.

I did live alone that year and then I lived alone again when I moved to my current city.

And then I bought my house. Most of the time now I have 3 roommates. And instead of being something I tolerate, it is something I am massively grateful for. My roommates put up the chickens when I can't get home before dark, they share food and advice and sympathy. We also share in the excitement of the chicken's first eggs or the garden's first sprouts. My roommates have helped me to mop up toilet overflow, given me rides and loaned me money (when no bank in their right mind would loan me a cent).

It is also my roommate who is letting me tag along during her wedding preparations in India. I will see all of the traditions in preparing for the wedding ceremony.

And it is another roommate who built my chicken coop, sourcing all the materials for free with the promise that, oneday, she would have all the free eggs she could dream of.

Not only are these folks my roommates, they are my family, my support system, my friends. They offer me new experiences, new concepts and help with the most basic and most necessary parts of life. They offer their company at the grocery store.

How do you find roommates like these? Honestly, I think it is part magic. But the other part goes like this:

1. Be Comfortable with Strangers
I've rented to people I know and I've rented to friends of friends. These have often been the folks that I had MORE difficulty with as roommates. The best roommates are the ones that I didn't know before I moved in. I think it is easier to BEGIN a relationship as roommates (or in my case roommates AND landlord/tenant) than to begin as friends and change the dynamic along the way. Also, because I don't start out being friends with my roommates, the friendship is a bonus. I don't expect them to be my friend at first and they don't expect that of me, so if we aren't kindred spirits, its no big deal -- as long as we keep the kitchen clean.

2. Be Honest About What You Want
You need to be honest with YOURSELF about what you want from a roommate and how you like living your life. If your favorite part of the day is coming home after work to a quiet house, then you DO NOT want a super social person who will have friends over all the time. Really think about your lifestyle, write it down and be ready to articulate it to a stranger. It may be more important to find someone with a similar expectation for how the home is used than to find someone who also likes to swim or eat at your favorite restaurant. The better you can articulate who you are, the more likely the right person will be attracted to your advertisement. Also, you need to be honest if you meet someone and you KNOW it will not be a good fit. For example, when people come to meet me and look at the house, and they ask if they can have friends over, I say: "This isn't a house where we have people over very often-- it just gets too crowded". This gives people the opportunity to weed themselves out if they wouldn't be a good fit.

3. Trust Your Gut (This Should be Number One)
You are allowing this person into your home. The wrong person could wreak havoc on your life. So trust your gut, not only to weed out the bad eggs, but to hone in on the good ones. Make sure the person fits your criteria but is also someone you feel comfortable with. If something doesn't sit right with you DO NOT ACCEPT THEM as a roommate, even if it makes you feel prejudiced or judgemental. I always feel bad when I reject someone. I feel like I should "give everyone a chance". But this is YOUR HOME and some caution is in order.

4. Require a Deposit and Charge What You're Worth
It doesn't matter if it is your house or if you're the main lease holder. If the person is going to be using your stuff and your the person who manages the household, charge a deposit. I charge deposits, not because I expect people to ruin things -- I have never had to keep a deposit -- but because responsible, reasonable people expect to pay a deposit and they have the money to do so. It can be as little as $50 but it is symbolic of the value of your things and the trust that you are putting into them to NOT ruin them.

Also, don't under charge. If you charge too little, people will wonder "what is wrong with it". Don't charge too much either but set a reasonable price and stick too it. If you get desperate and lower your price, you'll get a desperate roommate. If it is a tough time of year and you feel that you need to offer an incentive -- offer a discount on the first month's rent ONLY. This is better than bringing down the price (and the perceived value).

5. Love One Another
This goes without saying, but you're going to get better roommates and have better relationships if you're a good communicator and if you communicate with love. I hate to be cheesy but that is a fact. Don't be a drama queen or king. When your new roommate doesn't clean her hair out of the bathroom drain don't pitch a fit or get your panties in a bunch. It is NO BIG DEAL. Just say next time you see her (in a nice casual tone): "Oh, by the way, when you're done washing your hair, will you be sure to clean it out of the drain." People need to know when they're doing something wrong so that they can fix it. The worst thing you can do is decide that someone is a douche bag because they did something minor and they don't even know what they did! Yes, maybe they should know that leaving a drain full of hair is totally gross. But maybe she was super busy and forgot. Or maybe she forgot her towel because she just moved into a new place and is all scatterbrained and had to run from the bathroom naked to her room and that is why she forgot.

And that is it!

As far as advertising goes, this will vary a bit by region but I have had plenty of success on craigslist. There are a lot of flakes on there but I write a long advertisement about the room and about how straight laced I am and about how clean the house is, etc. The flakes are too flakey to respond. I also state the deposit on the post which eliminates another group of flakes.

Any other advice? Any roommate success stories?

As singles, roommate are often a big part of our lives so share your stories and your roommate love.

*Stevi, I am just waiting for you to write about Manette!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Moving Abroad: Special K

Today is Monday which means it is time for me to write about another awesome Singlutionary.

(I am still developing this weekly program and eventually I hope to have some guest posts here as well. But I haven't gotten that far yet.)

This week I'd like to redirect you to Special K's blog.

The theme for this month is MOVING, especially as a single person. Well, Special K moved all the way from the USA to Germany as a single woman. I find that immensely brave. I moved to another state by myself and there are many folks back home who find ME immensely brave (aka crazy). But moving to an entirely different country?

You can read about your adventures here:


Do you have any awe inspiring stories about moving? Are you about to move? What are your questions and/or fears? Have you always wanted to move but there is something holding you back? What is that something? What are you waiting for?

If you'd like to write about your experience with moving as a single, please let me know! This spot is open for next week!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Singlutionary Job Search

All this week I've been agonizing over my job situation. Before this month, I was unemployed for two months without a clue as to what I wanted to do next. I just knew that I didn't want to return to anywhere that I'd been.

I also struggled with accepting that I NEED a job. I mean, I don't NEED a man/partner/relationship/spouse so why would I NEED a job? Can't I just do it myself and have my own business and make a life for myself that way?

Well, I can. But right now I need income.

So. I NEED a job.

(It took me two whole months just to accept that).

Anyways. I am looking now, diligently, for a full time job. This week I had two interviews and at the same time I was working full time, for 2/3 of my usual pay, at a temp job in a call center.

Talk about desperate!

But the thing is that this job, which I took so reluctantly, only out of desperation, has been the best thing ever. I even got a mini-promotion there after just a couple days. I feel appreciated, I feel that it is OK to be smart. I feel rewarded for being smart and quick and a good worker.

I have been pretty beaten up by jobs lately. This job lifts me up. This crappy little temp job with a not-so-nice commute and lousy pay is a TOTAL BLESSING.

So, while I know that this job is not long-term material, I've decided to stay there until after I get back from India. This way I can focus on negotiating a salary when I get a full time job and not take lower pay just so that they'll let me take off time in March to travel.

Also, this way I can go to India for longer since most of the expense is in the plane ticket.

This jobs pays me just just just enough to scrape by and to save a tiny bit of money. But it is so much fun. It is Friday and after working a 40 hour week (which I am not accustomed to) I feel energized, not drained.

I never once had to defend my integrity or my abilities this week. I never had to sit there and take it while someone tore me apart. I didn't get bitched at for not taking enough initiative one minute and then bitched at for taking out the garbage or using too many swiffers the next.

I've been in abusive relationships. Both with men and with employers. And it has been so long since I've been treated WELL that I kinda forgot what it was like. I forgot that I am deserving of praise and respect. I forgot that I AM smart and a good worker and employable and promotable.

At my last job I was refused a promotion for a job that I was already doing. And then I got fired. That was after my boss told me that I had a horrible personality and condescended to me every single day for three and a half months.

Before I became Singlutionary, I was so desperate to be in a relationship that I would take any kind of treatment (for a while at least) because I thought that if there were problems, I just wasn't trying hard enough. I've never been in a relationship where I was praised and respected and valued, where it was OK to be smart and hard working and funny. I've always been viewed by my boyfriends as inherently wrong either because I don't like music enough or I didn't want to have orgies during the full moon or I don't want to bear his children within 8 months or because I need time to work on my car instead of playing with his balls. (You think I am joking about some of these things but ALL of them are true.)

I need to apply the Singlutionary approach to jobs. I am unwilling to work in an environment that does not value me, where I have to pretend to be something that I am not in order to avoid punishment, where I am abused, lied to, taken advantage of and clearly disliked.

This temp jobs is a blessing just in the nick of time. It is saving me from financial ruin, it is reminding me of my better qualities, rebuilding my self esteem and it gives me a platform from which I no longer have to be desperate in my job search.

No, I can not pay off my debts in any reasonable amount of time working at this job. No, I can not buy my country ranch with this job. No, I can not afford to eat out or buy a car or remodel my bathroom with this job.

But I can afford to be choosy.

I can afford to wait for a good job to come along for a good company with the right benefits. I can afford to wait until a job opens up in an office where I would fit in. I can afford to interview my interviewer just as much as they are interviewing me. I can refuse to work at a property that I don't like.

Of course, no job is perfect. I am not looking for perfection. I am sure there will be days when people grate on my nerves and there will be policies which offend me. But I'm not going to get fired again. I'll quit before that happens. I'll quit at the 1st sign of insanity.

But more importantly, I now have the luxury of carefully considering every job offered to me.

I've been extended a 2nd interview for a permanent job which would pay almost twice as much as my temp job, plus benefits. But I know I don't want it. I know that it is not a good fit, that I am too smart and too ambitious for the office, that the company is too small and that the property is not expensive enough and the residents are unsophisticated.

(That last part sounds REALLY judgemental but if you work 40 hours a week in an apartment complex, you want to be in a nice one. TRUST ME. Otherwise there are a lot of evictions and collections. Also, things fall apart faster in lower rent complexes and they don't get fixed and there is more crime, etc. But nicer complexes often have lots of very interesting people, many of whom are single, who travel and explore the world and have interesting careers and hobbies, etc. )

So I am going to work at this temp job until India and then for a little while after that. I am so excited to KNOW what I am doing for the next 2 months. I've been living life day-to-day, instant-to-instant for the past 3 months now. I am excited to commit to this job for a short period of time, knowing that eventually I'll have to move on. I am excited to be working, to know approximately what my schedule is like. I am excited for payday.

But most of all, I am excited to have the ability to sit back and enjoy my job search, to feel less frantic about it and to quit being desperate!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Giveaway: A Random Screwdriver

No. I am not really giving away a screwdriver. I am just still slacking off. Tonight I was busy looking at Indian clothes to wear to my roommate's Indian wedding in March. I am going to India in March for this wedding come hell or high water. Even if I have to eat beans and rice and work 7 days a week for the next two months, I am going to go! So my roommate says that I will want to have Indian clothes to wear for all the celebrations so we were looking online at all these different styles. I was totally amazed.

Also, my roommate (who already pays me rent) loaned me the money I was short for my mortgage payment this month. Tomorrow I have to go to the bank to pay it on my lunch break.

But now that I am working again, everything will be OK!!! This is as broke as I have ever been in my life but I have NEVER felt more gratitude for the people around me and all the security that I do have in my life. While I do feel insecure about the future, I do feel very secure about the present and about myself.

So. What does this have to do with a screwdriver? Well, one of these months I am going to give away one essential do-it-yourself-tools-every-person-should-have every week. I'd love to give away home improvement KITS full of all the basic tools I wish I'd had when I moved into my house but in order to do that I'd need a sponsor.

This week I am merely here to announce the winners of last week's giveaway: DatingTopics ToGo Cards sponsored by SingleEdition.com.

I actually have TWO sets of cards! And I had three fantastic entrants, all of whom wrote hilarious and insightful additional questions to add to the pack. I put everyone's name in a hat (twice) and the winners are::::::::::::::




I already have Stevi's address (from the last giveaway) but Samantha, if you could email me at singlutionary@gmail.com with your snail mail, that would be great!

And Kathryn, thank you for entering!!!

And thank you to SingleEdition.com for making this entertainment possible!

Please check back next week. The next giveaway item is out in the garage with all the stuff that kinda got shoved out into the garage during my move into the master bedroom. I don't have any shelves or furniture in here yet so there are lots of paper bags sitting out in the garage that I don't want to have lining the walls of my big ass room.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Singlutionary's Bath

Today is Wednesday and according to my new posting schedule, today's post should be part of the Singlutionary's House series. But in celebration of cutting myself some slack and wanting to catch up on my blog roll before it rolls off the face of the earth, I'm not going to do that.

Instead I'm merely going to tell a story. Not about remodeling or any kind of home improvement related metaphor regarding my bath, but literally about bathing in my bathroom.

I moved into the master bedroom in my house last week but tonight is the first time I took advantage of having my very own shower. I'd been reluctantly using the toilet in the master bedroom while still preferring the hall potty which had been my own personal throne for the past year and a half. And for the past week and a half I've been rejecting my private shower and going all the way upstairs to bathe.

Why? Blood, sweat, tears and multiple coats of eco-friendly paint have gone into both the upstairs bathroom and the hall bath. Over the past 2.5 years I have truly made them mine. So while the master bath has a window (the others do not) the other bathrooms are a window into my soul.

I just compared a bathroom to my soul. But seriously, I spent over an hour picking out the water saving shower head. And DAYS painting and decorating.


Tonight I finally decided it was time for me to grow up and use my own bathroom. I've been forcing myself to break my habits and use the master bathroom toilet. Tonight I took it a step further and moved into the shower. No, I didn't make a bed in the bathtub. I went upstairs and gathered up my soap and shampoo and other scrubbie things and brought it all downstairs. And then I did something I've never done before: I took a shower in the master bathroom.

And it wasn't as scary as I thought. I spent a bunch of time trying to find some temporary cover for that window because it was freaking me out but I finally gave up. I turned on both lights and left the door to the bedroom open so I wouldn't feel so trapped.

It turns out that it is nice and bright and clean in there and not creepy at all. I can spread out my bottles of various products without concern for other people's things. The shower head may not be a window into my soul, but it is quite adequate with different settings for water velocity. But the best part is that once I was done with my shower I was able to reach out and grab my towel from the hook without having to contort my body into any weird positions.

And then I was able to finish getting ready for bed all in the SAME ROOM. I didn't have to then dry myself off, run downstairs, go into the hall bathroom to moisturize and then go into my room to get dressed. Everything was RIGHT there. I have a new appreciation for the layout of my house now. This master bedroom setup is really very convenient.

Usually at about this juncture in a post I would find a way to tie this whole story together into some sort of parable about being single. But not tonight.

I realize that I am working full time while looking for a full time job, trying to find a renter and running around town collecting the dregs out of all my bank accounts in an attempt to pay the bills before they're late.

Fortunately, I've started earning money again, got a mini promotion at my temp job-- which boosted my self esteem after being fired from my last job for being "rude and disrespectful" and having an "impatient personality"--, will be paid in a week, have two job interviews this week and one for next week and am generally in good spirits.

So. The moral of this story is this: Master bathrooms are awesome.

And so is working for a living. It is truly underrated.

Oh and Kahnee over at Single and Blessed posted about my Singlutionary's House series and posted her own house to-do list this week:


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Singlutionary's Guide to Letting Yourself Off the Hook

For the New Year I came up with a schedule and a plan to manage my time better so that I could post more often! After one week and one day, I realize that it is time for a revision!

So Tuesdays will continue to be Singlutionary's Guide to Whatever day. But some Tuesdays I am going to let myself off the hook and merely post the topic for the NEXT week.

So. Next Tuesday I'll post Singlutionary's Guide to Finding Badass Roommates, Part 1: Renting out a Room.

To be followed on another Tuesday this month by: Part 2: Renting a Sweet Pad in a Peaceful House.

Today I am letting myself off the hook. There isn't one good reason that I should do this. There are lots of small reasons and I'll list them here:

Yesterday I was surprised by a phone call from someone investigating my ex and I had to deal with that situation and rehash that whole shitstorm. Of course, when the shitstorm was over, I had risen from the asses (ashes) as The Singlutionary, so on some level I have to be grateful for the experience but I still felt shaken, remembering how I was ready to commit the rest of my life to this psychotic neurotic liar.

I am flat broke which is putting me on an awesome diet where I have to eat all the healthy stuff in my cabinets that I have been avoiding eating for the past year.

All my roommates are moving or have moved out and I don't have any new renters yet (but I know that I will-- I always do). But change is good.

I've had one job interview so far with a woman that I liked at a property that was OK but I know that I do not want the job and I suspect that it will not be offered to me.

I've been working a regular work week this week doing temp work. I call depressed people and interview them to see if they qualify to be in a research study. Most of them fail to qualify. This job makes me so grateful for every little thing in my life and for being able to be happy and being able to see through the fog when I am not.

One of my former roommates has declared bankruptcy.

Last night there were Possums under my chicken coop. Fortunately my new room is at the back of the house near the chickens so I'll be able to hear if anything goes wrong tonight. But I hope that by the time I hear the squawking, I'm not too late!

It is already 10pm and I still need to read my blog roll!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Independent Women Homeowners!

I was excited a couple weeks ago when I began to be followed on Twitter by Ginny Mees. Ginny has created a website for independent single women which, as far as I can tell, is pretty awesome and has potential to be even awesomer.

So on this Monday, I'd like to highlight WomenHomeowners.com


Check it out and tell me what you think and then come back here on Wednesday for my Singlutionary's House series!

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Moving into the Master

This past week I moved. I didn't move very far-- just from one room down the hallway from another-- but it was a move none-the-less.

One of the ways I make ends meet is to rent out cute furnished rooms in my house. Last week, a longstanding roommate moved out-- she had rented the master bedroom from me before I began renting out furnished rooms-- and I had been sleeping, for a year, haphazardly, in the room which used to be my office. It was never a permanent situation and I never put it together. I rented out cute furnished rooms but I kept for myself a room which looked very much like a half-assed storage area/art studio/office/dog room. It was cluttered and it was crowded and it was a mess.

This week I finally moved into the master bedroom. Finally. So much space. My own bathroom. A walk-in closet.

The funny thing is that I have no bedroom furniture. Most of the stuff that was being stored in the first room was linens and art which ended up staying in there. I merely scooted my airbed down the hall and I was pretty much done.

In some ways I moved from one impermanent space to another. One day I will move out of this room and this house and start over again. But life feels so different. Moving is always a fresh start, even if just down the hall. And now there is breathing space, space to grow. I have the remaining artwork that I've collected leaning up against the walls in my new room, waiting to be hung. Stuff from the shared bathroom is now sitting my bathroom the counter, waiting to be sorted. Nothing is settled yet, but it is tidy and it is somehow incredibly beautiful in this transitional way.

I never thought I needed the master bedroom before. I didn't need that much space for just me when I could rent it out for income instead. Maybe a part of me was waiting for a partner to share the master bedroom with. Houses like mine are built for a traditional married couple to occupy the master bedroom with space for their growing family in the secondary rooms. A master is big enough for two, so isn't it just a waste of space for only one?

Since buying the house I have become the master of my home. I have stopped waiting, in small subconscious ways, to be partnered before beginning my life. So it makes sense that I would quit living in a secondary room and move on into the master bedroom.

I am taking up more space in other parts of my life too. For so long I have been holding this extra space empty, waiting for someone to come and and fill it. I remember for so long, sleeping only on one side of my queen bed, practicing to share it with a partner. In so many small ways I have not been taking up the space in my own life, leaving an empty area for someone else to fill. One side of the bed it only a few feet but it is a huge emptiness.

My life is big and I am going to grow into it. I have filled this whole house with peace and positive people and and I am going to fill my life outside of this house with the same.

I was always afraid that by filling up my own life to the brim, I was eliminating the possibility of having a partner. Maybe I am. But maybe life is big enough and flexible enough to continue to expand. And maybe living a masterfully awesomely big life is the ONLY way for me to find a suitable partner.

Either way, I'm just glad that there's no more wasted space! And excited to put together this last little corner of my home.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday Giveaway: DatingTopics ToGo Cards

When I began this blog, I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. Lots of singles blogs fall into the "Dating Blog" category. Often times, when I tell people that I write a blog about being "single and happy" they ask me if it is a dating blog.

In 2010, I am finally ready to declare that this is NOT a dating blog. There are so many wonderful dating blogs out there but this isn't one of them.

So now that I've established that this is NOT a dating blog, I can introduce my giveaway item for this week: DatingTopics ToGo cards. The back of this cute 40 card package reads "Let DatingTopics shoulder the conversation-making burden on your next date! Get to know each other better with forty engaging questions guaranteed to entertain as well as enlighten."

*You get an extra entry in the giveaway drawing if you can come up with your own question to add to this deck. *

Too bad christmas just passed because this would be a great white elephant gift for all us non-daters out there.

This giveaway is sponsored by SingleEdition.com. I am currently one of the "Solo Spotlight" people on their home page, so please go check it out and submit your own solo spotlight story!

SingleEdition.com is an online magazine with LOTS of content for singles. It seems to be equal proportions dating/finding-finding-a-mate advice and being happy and healthy and single without the search for happily-ever-after. Kudos to Sherri Langburt for creating a website that shows more than one side of singledom! The site also features a "Buzz Boards" section, an online community for singles where Elsie from Singletude has been contributing regularly already.

So, this is how the Thursday Giveaway work:
All you need to do to enter is post a comment. I'll draw a winner next Thursday from all the commenters and announce it on the next week's giveaway (so you have to check back to see if you won so that you can send me your snail mail address). The winner will get their prize in the mail within a couple weeks.

If you have a product or service which you think may interest my readers, please consider sponsoring a giveaway!! You can email me at singlutionary@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Homeowner Series: Singlutionary's House

Every Wednesday I'll be posting on a topic related to homeownership. Sometimes I'll write about buying a home and sometimes I'll write about fixing a home and sometimes I'll just tell stories about owning a home. If you have a specific question you'd like me to try and address please email me or comment.

Homeownership isn't for everyone. There is nothing wrong with being a life-long renter. I am not of the opinion that people who rent are not "grown-up". You can be a Singlutionary and live in a tent or an apartment or a hotel penthouse. Whether you rent or own does not affect your awesomeness.

I have a house. And I am single. So that is what I am going to write about right here, every Wednesday: Homeownership from a single woman's perspective.

I've been slowly coming into my own in the past two years as a homeowner. I always wanted to have my own house, am fascinated with real estate, with buildings and with the spaces people live in. Basically, I love home. I'm a homebody.

Two and a half years ago I finally bought a house. The funny thing about buying a house is that it seems like this great accomplishment. I felt like I had made it. I had joined the ranks of the land holders.

But the real work had just begun.

Owning a home is a responsibility and a commitment and an ongoing learning experience. And it is a big one. A big huge one. Traditionally, couples bought a house when they were ready to start a family. My parents went that route. But somehow I never got the memo. I never thought that it was strange that I, a single woman in my 20s, would buy a four bedroom single family home all on my own. I didn't stop to think that it might be easier to keep up a house and a garden if there are TWO people instead of just one. I just new what I wanted. And I knew that had always wanted it.

Shortly after I bought the house I became so overwhelmed that I became emotionally paralysed. I remember going over to a friend's house with my sister and staring at the TV, feeling totally incapable of moving or making any decisions about what to do next. I felt literally frozen in place. I was completely overwhelmed but I couldn't even articulate what was wrong. I wasn't depressed. I was just terrified.

When I bought the house, I thought I'd have it in the shape I wanted it to be in within a few months. I knew everything I wanted to do and in my mind's eye, I could see how beautiful it would all be when done. It has taken two and a half years to accomplish 75% of my original to-do list. Two and a half grueling, no-time-to-socialize, paint-splattered clothes, project cluttered years that I wouldn't give back for the world.

Unless you move into a place and have a TON of money and about a month off work to go shopping, meet with contractors and have your entire life turned upside down, it is going to take a while.

Unless your house is brand new. But even then . . . .

Even if you buy a condo . . .

And then, when you get your house into that perfect condition that you've always dreamed of, something goes wrong. And it usually costs a heck of a lot of money to fix it.

For me, a house is not only a home but a sanctuary. It is also a work of art. I consider myself a homemaker. It just so happens that I make a home for myself, my dog and my roommates instead of for my spouse and children. Still, the amount of time and thought and energy and grace that I put into creating a home is immense.

My home is an extension of me. It is an expression of myself. I want it to be clean and beautiful and peaceful because I want to bring clarity and beauty and peace into the world.

I am also very critical of my house. I see everything that is wrong with it. I see the tiny spots where the paint isn't perfect and I see the lack of landscaping in the front yard and I see the books, unceremoniously dumped on the bookshelf and the old aluminum windows that are SO inefficient. There are so so so so so so so many of these imperfections that others don't even notice but which nag at me every day. When I first moved in, there were so many things that needed to be done that I simply couldn't pick which one to start with.

But somehow I got through my new homeowner stupor. And I got down to business. I needed to learn fast and be strong if I was going to figure this all out.

So I started learning. Something broke and I figured out how to fix it. I learned to start thinking about how the plumbing works and how the air conditioner works and how screen doors work and which things can be fixed by a quick trip to Lowe's and which things need more than one set of hands to fix and who to call for what. A big part of owning a home is problem solving. And for me, it was also problem solving on the cheap.

I'm still learning-- often the hard way. There is no "done" when it comes to life or home ownership. If the building is still standing, there is work to be done.

This house, and all that is represents, and the people it shelters is a big part of my life.

So on Wednesdays I'll be sharing my struggles and my triumphs and my frustrations. And answering any question you might have to the best of my ability!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Singlutionary's Guide to Finding an Apartment

It is Tuesday! And on this first Tuesday of 2010, I am excited to introduce another weekly series: Singlutionary's Guide to Whatever. This is where I'll answer questions (so please ask them) and just offer up advice on various aspects of life-on-your-own. Last year, I pronounced myself an expert at being single and began this blog. I have been single almost all of my life (save a few months here and there) so I have quite a bit of experience with figuring things out on my own and I thought I'd share it. If you're an experienced Singlutionary with wisdom to share on this topic, please continue to build the conversation in the comments!

Building on this month's theme, (Moving-- as a single person on a Singlutionary adventure). I thought I'd write about the first step when you get to you new city: Finding an apartment (I'll write about buying a home and finding roommates later this month). I'm also a former realtor and I'm looking for a job in Apartment Management so I thought this is a great way to share my knowledge.

Finding a new apartment varies city-by-city and I'm not sure what differences exist country-by-country so I will try and stick to some basic principles. If you have a more specific question, please ask and if I can not answer it, maybe another reader can!

Singlutionary's Guide to Finding an Apartment (in a new city, as a single):

Before You Get There
You're excited to be moving to a new city, starting over and beginning whatever adventure lies ahead! But where do you begin? Even experienced renters might feel a little intimidated and/or overwhelmed.

1. Know Your Budget-- But Keep it Flexible
There are a lot of unknowns in moving to a new city. Sometimes you don't have a job there and sometimes you do. Ideally, if you don't have a job, you'll have six months of rent in the bank or a friend or relative who will Guarantee your lease (this means that they are willing to use their income to qualify you for your lease and be on the hook if you don't pay your rent). If you don't have a job in your new city, you'll need to figure out what you can afford once you do get a job. Because getting a job can be harder in a new city where you don't have the personal connections and where your job experience and references are from someplace else and because job markets and pay vary from city to city, it is best to make a low estimate of what you'll be able to afford. Most apartments require that your income is 3 times the rent. So take the worst case monthly income you'd make (if you don't already have a job offer) and divide it by 3. This is about what you can pay in rent. You don't have to live in a palace the first year in your new city! It is better to land on the frugal side because you'll want more money free to dine out and meet people and explore instead of sitting around broke in your expensive apartment.
2. Talk to Everyone You Can -- But Consider the Source
My sister was flying home and overheard a conversation between two couples on the airplane. One couple was relocating to my city and the other couple was offering up advice. The local couple's advice was to move to the Southern Suburbs and to avoid my sister's neighborhood because they'll "get shot there". My sister laughed out loud when she heard that one. She walks and bikes to work, as do her 2 roommates, and has never been afraid of being shot. So, talk to everyone you can about the city. Gather as much information as you can and listen to everything they have to tell you. But always consider who is offering this information. You can learn a lot from listening to BAD information just by considering the source. For example, a yuppie family with kids MIGHT tell you that a certain part of town is unsafe. It might be true. It might also be just the right mix of culture and urban grittiness and affordability for your single self. And a Frat Boy might tell you that the best place to live is in West Campus. Well, yeah. If you want to wake up to the sound of said frat dude barfing on your car. So listen to the advice people are giving you but also ask them questions about who they are and what they like. And don't get any fixed notions . . . just collect that data without making too many judgements . . . yet.

3. Search Online -- But Keep it General
It is possible to rent an apartment online, sight unseen. This is definitely more convenient if you are moving with a ton of stuff--which I don't advocate for (I think you have more of an adventure when you don't bring all your baggage with you-- literally). I advocate for moving 1st and staying in a hotel or with a friend for a week and finding a place -- or, if you're moving to a city with a tight rental market, making an exploratory trip ahead of time (about one to two months out) to find the right apartment-- sometimes you can make a mini vacation of it and bring a friend or your mom or whomever. You can begin to piece together a pretty good concept of your new city online. You can see, generally, how much a studio vs 1 bedroom apartment is, which neighborhoods have apartments within your budget, where your job is in relationship to the rest of the city, what parts of town are walkable/bikeable, etc. Don't look for your specific apartment (it very well might be gone when you get there) or your specific job (unless you are applying ahead of time) or your specific neighborhood. Once again, it is best to just collect as much information as you can about the city. Often times apartments will look cleaner and more spacious or better maintained in pictures than they do in real life. Sometimes the vibe of an area online sounds cool but when you get there, it doesn't feel right for YOU. So just collect data.

Once You're There
You finally did it. You landed in a new city and you're staying someplace and now you need to find a place to live for the next year. Holy freaking crap. This is so exciting!

1. Explore the City
If you have a few days to find an apartment, I suggest that all you do on your first day is explore. You'll already know which areas excite you or which ones seem affordable. Just drive around. Or walk around. Or bike around. Or bus around. Or lightrail around. It is ideal to use whichever mode of transportation you'll be using for your daily life once you settle in. If you live in a walkable, public transity city, do that. If you live in a car laden city, do that. If you see an apartment complex that looks appealing, just walk around it on your own. This is also a great way to discover under-advertised places with "For Rent" signs in the yard. Visit the neighborhoods that you were so excited about when you were sitting on your sofa reading about your new city. By the end of the day you'll be exhausted, you still won't have an apartment and you'll feel like you accomplished nothing. This is an EXCELLENT start.

2. Look, But Don't Commit
Lots of cities have apartment locators. These locators write ads for a specific apartment and when you call about that apartment, it has already been leased but they offer to show you others. This is OK. Locators are legit and they are FREE (they are paid by the apartments). Some locators are better than others and some are stupid and creepy while others are friggin' awesome. Also, locators will only show you apartments that pay them and pay them well. So, even if you meet up with a locator, don't feel suck with them. Continue to look on your own and don't be afraid to view properties with another locator if your first one was creepy (just tell your new locator what your 1st locator showed you). Lots of people will try to sell you and get you to commit to one thing or another. Unless you're in an incredibly tight market at an incredibly tight time of the year, don't commit the first day unless you are 100% sure. Just feel things out. You'll learn a lot about what you don't want. This is exactly what you should be doing.

3. Ask Questions But Listen to What They're Not Saying
There are lots of questions to ask and I'll list them out in a bit. But when you ask the question listen for how the question is answered. If you're going to live in an apartment complex, it is important that you have good management. Often times the person leasing the apartment is just there to lease and they don't participate as much in the actual management. Sometimes they'll avoid telling you something negative by not quite answering your question. Sometimes they will be really frank with you too--which is awesome. Feel the vibe of the people you interact with and their interaction with each other. Also scope out the people you encounter who live in the complex (if you're looking in a complex) or in the neighborhood. Does it look like a community where you would find friends? It is against the law for realtors and apartment management to answer questions about the demographics of their area (how many people are single, how many people are students, what age they are, etc) but you can make your own judgements by looking around the area and by listening to what the leasing folks are NOT telling you.

Some Questions to Ask:
What utilities, if any, are paid?
What bills will I be responsible for?
What portion of my deposit is refundable?
Do you accept pets? What are the restrictions? What are the deposits? How much is refundable?
Do you have lots of complaints about noise?
What lease lengths do you offer? 12 month? 6 month? Is there a difference in price?
Where is the nearest bus stop? Laundry facility? Gym? Grocery store? Cafe? Gas station? Bar? Dog Park?
Do you live here? Do other employees live here?
What happens if my neighbor is having a loud party at 4am?
If something were to break, how soon would you fix it?
What is your favorite restaurant in the area? Where do you like to go out to?
Is there a fee for parking? Is there a fee for using the gym/clubhouse facility?
Who are the providers for electric, gas, water, cable, internet?
I don't have a job yet. Will you accept a guarantor or a co-signer or evidence of savings of 6 months rent or some other option?
What is your criteria for approving applicants?
How long will it take to process my application?
When can I move into this apartment? Is that time frame flexible/negotiable?
Does the management sponsor any community events? Are there any community events nearby?
What happens if I need to break my lease? What will is cost? (This amount can be really big so be sure to ask just so that you know if you do have a problem.)

4. Commit!
Decide on your top choice apartment and on a few second choices. Take an application back to your top choice and check to make sure that the specific apartment you wanted is still available (you should be applying for a specific apartment and that apartment, along with the dates of the proposed lease, should be written on the application). Often times the apartment complex will require a deposit in addition to the application fee with the application. When you turn in that application, you are committing to that apartment. As long as you're approved, that apartment is yours. Be excited! Ask for a copy of the floorplan or if you can take measurements of the apartment (this will SO come in handy when you are at Ikea in a half-brain-dead -overly-stimulated-state later in the day). Ask when you'll be hearing back from them about your approval and if there is any reason they see that you won't be approved (they usually can't answer this latter part, but ask anyway just to see what they say).

When you sign your lease, make sure to ask for a copy. Sometimes the management won't offer it but you'll want it to refer to later on. Be empowered by having a copy of this contract so you know what you signed up for!

Once you're in your lease and living in your apartment, commit to being there. There will be things that suck. (If you're young and single and live in a complex, expect to get hit on.) But the great thing is that you're only there for a year or however long you signed up for. Spend the year enjoying your new city and making new friends! And if after a year you realize that you moved to the wrong part of town you can move again (another reason not to bring too much stuff with you when you move). Or maybe you'll love it there and live there for the next 10 years. Who knows. But you're there, so commit to the experience!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Moving Inspiration: Sixty and Single in Seattle

I have big plans for the new year including a weekly "schedule" of posts. Every Monday I'll write about something or someone awesome in the world. If you've got something you'd like me to profile, please let me know in the comments or email me!

This month I'm exploring the adventure of moving -- it is terrifying, it is exhilarating, it is annoying and it is exhausting.

It takes courage to uproot yourself from where you've been planted and move. It takes gumption to start all over, especially in a big city.

Mary Davies has courage and gumption. At the age of 60, as a divorced single woman, she moved to Seattle, WA.

If she can do it, so can you!

I very much enjoy reading Mary's uplifting and articulate (she is a professional writer) blog.

Sometimes I get those external social signals which say: You're getting kind of old to be single. Maybe you should get married while you still have the chance. And then I start to think that maybe being single is only fun when you're young, and attractive, and can turn the heads of horny frat boys.

But Mary's blog reminds me that you can embrace singleness at any age and that you can find joy and freedom and adventure and beauty in single life no matter what. Being single is a big adventure and there is no reason to stop growing or get set in your ways if those ways don't suit you!

Read Sixty and Single in Seattle and tell me what you think!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Fresh Start, Single

As promised, I am back to writing in the new year! Welcome to 2010!

Not only is this the first year of a new decade, it is also the last year of my 20s. I will turn 30 in about 10 months. This fact didn't bother me too much until I went home for Christmas.

I love going home and I am blessed with a loving and supportive family. My parents are completely accepting of my uncoupled life.

But I think that others are beginning to find it strange. After all, I am almost 30. I am getting old. Pretty soon I won't be able to have children. Do I have any prospects?

My age, coupled with the fact that I am still unemployed makes me out to be somewhat of a pity case in the eyes of some relatives. They are not trying to be assholes; they are genuinely concerned for me.

But I've never lived life according to the pattern. I've always broken the mold. And going home for Christmas this year, I realized, for the first time ever, that I have ALWAYS been the black sheep.

I find so much value and joy in my life. I am happy and, despite current financial strain, I feel secure. Unfortunately, my joyfulness and security doesn't translate back home. Only my parents (who have actually visited me) see the value of my life here.

It is sad somehow, to realize that my own precious and amazing life, when viewed through the eyes of my extended family, is something of concern, something to fret about.

Until now I haven't felt much societal pressure to couple and marry. I've pressured myself because I felt that it would make social interaction with my coupled friends easier or because I thought it would alleviate various other stresses in my life (which I learned it would not). I no longer feel any self-pressure to couple. But I am beginning to feel it from outside in the form of the well meaning queries of loved ones and their stories about their friends, the moral of which always seems to be: "Don't give up hope, you can still get married and have children, you still have some time left".

The great thing is that I don't go home very often. Instead I live in a city where I have always felt accepted and where I have a network of coupled and uncoupled friends who are supportive and appreciative of who I am and see me as a whole person with a life worth celebrating.

If I had never left my home state and had stayed amongst these same people I would have never have gotten to know myself. Part of the problem is that my life in my old city was filled with relationships with people who did not understand me, who had expectations of me that I did not have of myself. It is not their fault that they have a different world view. It is not their fault that they can not comprehend, even now, who I am or what I am doing or how I could be happy living the way I do. These are intelligent, loving people. But there is a narrowness to their thinking. Moving to a new city gave me space for new friends and to establish new relationships with people who are more like me. I am sure there are plenty of kindred spirits back where I come from but my life out there was too full of existing relationships for me to meet them.

So if you're single, give yourself a fresh start this year. If you've wanted to move but were afraid to do so, reach out to this online community for moral support and take the leap. (It is much harder to move once you're coupled.) If, for whatever reasons, you need to grow where you're planted, make a fresh start in another way. Take a class or go on a solo roadtrip. Or just try a new grocery store or a new brand of toothpaste.

The Singlution is back in business in 2010. My fresh start includes posting Monday-Friday with homeowner and do-it-yourself advice, single blogger and single resources profiles, giveaways, personal stories and more.

Happy New Year to my fellow Singlutionaries!