Friday, July 11, 2008


As you may know, my condo is on the market. And while it's not exactly going excellently (still isn't sold), we've had pretty steady potential-buyer traffic and a few offers, ridiculous as they were (If a buyer can only afford to pay 93% of his/her cash offer up front and promises the last 7% in five years, why the hell wouldn't s/he try to buy a home that's the 7% cheaper outright instead of toying with us?). We love the place; it's small but cute, and located in the juiciest, most touristy section of downtown Chicago. It also happens to be across the river from my former employer. The reason we're selling is because it is no longer affordable—three layoffs between the two of us, working part-time, taking a less-lucrative chance on a startup that will hopefully pay better later, the craptastic job market, the even more craptastic housing market and starting over across the country has put a pretty ginormous crack in the old nest egg. And from what my realtor says, the reason it's having any trouble selling is because people could get more space for the same price if they're willing to travel about 2 miles out of the way. So much for that awesome return I was expecting on the prime location.

So we're biding our time. And streamlining. Cutting nonessential expenses, being extremely choosy about attending events and cooking every meal at home. It's going pretty well, but tricky when you don't have an extravagant lifestyle to trim from and are fussy with your spending habits to start with. Of course I'm sweating over it—worrying is my favorite pastime, after all—and obsessing about streamlining takes up all hours not spent concentrating on work or watching several episodes of The Office in a row (Thanks, Apple, for making Netflix's View Instantly unlimited). 

This streamlining business has spilled over to all other aspects of life: cleaning out the pantry, tearing out what's interesting and recycling old magazines, storing work files in a more efficient way and reorganizing email labels in my five accounts. That last one includes all the posts I had up before Blogger labeled posts/comments emails with the post title, so I have hundreds of them personally tagged with titles. Getting rid of them one by one is making my head spin, but it takes my mind off the worry. In the process, I get to look back over all the stuff I wrote back when my life was so completely different, consisting of searching for parking (don't even have my car anymore), commuting three hours a day (now it's a 15-minute walk), talking on the phone with H (now he's usually in the same room) and not having a social life (well, not everything has changed very much).

Looking back at two tons of comments over the years is a reminder of  how supportive you guys are and that you always give great advice. Got any tips for streamlining/putting my mind at ease? I found a gray hair last week, and I could really do without finding any more.


Sphincter said...

Sorry, I have some white hairs of my own, so can give no valid advice. AND they seem to be multiplying.

This bum housing market has a lot of us down...I just know it'll come back. Dear Jeebus--it must. Hang in there!

Madelyn said...

I know exactly what you are going through as i am going through it as well. The only thing that ever makes me feel better is knowing that most American's don't have a whole lot of money right now, and you can only try your best to spend as little as possible. Worrying about it won't do anything but make your life more miserable.

Unfortunately you can't always control worry, which is why The Office is so great, it helps ease the pain.

I would also like to point out that my advice is not only based on life experience, but also a bachelors degree in psychology. Therefore making it the best advice you will get for free.

Anonymous said...

Strive to be a person of ideas.

Get rid of all unnecessary "stuff".

Everything you value can be contained on a small portable PC with a wireless network connection.

That's the secret.

SupaCoo said...

We felt so much better after streamlining our own lives and getting rid of everything for the move. At the time it was kind of liberating, like "I don't need STUFF! Why do we have all this STUFF?" But now, most days I'm like "it sure would be nice to have a damn cake pan or something."

willowtree said...

Gray hair is a badge of honor. How many people can sport it with style?
Im basking in the glow of my 2.6 cubit feet smaller but more efficient fridge ($2) that finally arrived yesterday.
It's bare, but it wouldnt have had space to hold all I threw out anyway! Always a silver lining somewhere. *if I frame it like this and not as a complaint I should not have to switch my complaint free bracelet to the other hand* I am completely grateful.
Im sure the streamlining will pay off. Keep up the good work!

Lia said...

No advice from me, sorry - it sounds like you're doing exactly what I'd be doing. But good luck with the streamlining and the condo-selling - I hope all your hard work and patience pays off soon!

Guyana-Gyal said...

It's the same here, Cadiz, a very slow market, we have one building, waiting to be rented.

Folks here think it's our country's fault though, haha, they don't see it as a global trend.

I garden, write, sew, organise, clean to stave off the worrying...shees, I just realised, I'm the same as you.

Eclectic Bride said...

For the record, I have four gray hairs, last I checked; which is only on New Year's Day. I look for wrinkles on my birthday. Try that, it keeps me from freaking out about getting old and stressing. Although I, like you, enjoy worrying it seems.

Streamlining...spend time at the library/start a book club (or something club)/ have potlucks more often..our parents did it and it seemed to work fine for them. Go for walks...people watch, work up to running (it's free!).

That's all I got right now. Short of a part-time retail job. I am thinking about moonlighting at a bakery. I think it would be great experience and outlet for one of my favorite hobbies.

Kitty said...

Well, cooking is a huge step. Besides that, smaller things like charging as much as you can on a Discover card, either canceling your gym membership or getting reimbursed if you can through your insurance.

Other than that, it's tough. Small things, though, add up.