Saturday, March 22, 2014

Damage Control

Yesterday, I was given some life advice in the form of a philosophy, and it has been on my mind ever since.

"All of life is damage control".'

My first reaction was to tell the person who said this to me that it was depressing. What do you mean, all our lives are is controlling potential damage?  If that is the case, why strive for anything?  If there is no dream to be attained, and we are really destined to spend our lives containing one flare up after another, then what's the point?

Not being very philosophical myself (I really try to live in the here and now), I had to think about this statement for quite a while before it made any sense to me, at which time I realized that it is actually incredibly true.

Truth: we are all going to get old. As we do, our bodies will begin to deteriorate. We will inevitably develop health problems.  Ultimately you could put it under the category of "we're all gonna die". However, so many humans spend huge parts of their lives eating healthy, researching their choices, exercising, building muscle, and taking care of their bodies. Damage control! Sure, the sad part of life is that we are all going to get old, but all those other things can put our bodies in a position to make it easier and less painful.

Another truth: everyone has to live their own life. We are all responsible for, at the very least, making sure we get ourselves up every day, clothe and feed ourselves, and provide for any other need that may occur.  We know we have to do all these things, so why not find someone to help us and make it enjoyable along the way?  Ta-da, the hunt for the significant other.  Sure, we all dream of finding the perfect person for us, the one who makes us so blissfully happy that we truly believe we are living a fairy tale.  And some find it, and that's wonderful.  However, one of the truths behind the striving to find a great partner is, again, damage control.  Everyone has to meet certain needs, and those who choose to have children are responsible for even more needs.  Having someone to help you (both literally and emotionally) can control the "damage"- making it easier to handle everyday obstacles.

A third truth: we are all consumers. Everything costs money.  So, we go to school, maybe get a degree, and find a job where we can make some.  There are people that love their jobs.  Sometimes, I have considered myself one of them.  But a paycheck is more damage control.  It costs money to put a roof over your head, food in your stomach and clothes on your body.  All a higher paying job (what most of us aspire to) is, really, is a way to afford to control the damage of LIFE. Clothes wear out, roofs deteriorate, food prices go up (or, like many, you get scared of what they are putting in your food so you spend the extra to try and be healthy - see first truth). Striving for a better job is just a way to keep the damage down, too.

I believe that if you think about this, you can probably come up with several instances in life that fit this model.  And I am not saying that all of life is a series of reactions to things, but rather that we prepare ourselves to control the impending "damage".

Well, now that I have gone and gotten all philosophical on you so early on a Saturday morning, it's time to go do something rash, in the here and now.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Using My Degree

As of late, I have had a lot of people comment things like, "you're so smart!" or "you should be a lawyer or something, you're so good with words".  More than once over the last seven years, a coworker has asked me what exactly I am doing working the job that I do.

I hate admitting this, but I used to be ashamed of my education.  I never flat out lied about my college degree, but I have omitted it on my resume once or twice. The term "overqualified "comes to mind. All those stories that you hear about how employers only wants to hire people that they think won't leave. The stigma about working a job that's requires a lesser education level than you possess is that you will eventually find something that uses your degree, and inevitably pays better, and move on to that instead.  The job market today is as such that employers have the luxury of handpicking exactly who they want for a position, because for every job advertised, more and more qualified people apply.  I was of the opinion that being overeducated was just as bad as being under educated when it came to the line of work that I had chosen.  Supervisors, men in particular, have been intimidated by my bachelors degree and my somewhat advanced vocabulary.  The realization that a lot of employers want to just hire a "grunt" to do manual labor and outdoor work made me angry, and also made me alter certain things about my job applications. For instance, I created an email address that did not list my first name, just my first two initials, "C.E.", as I have thought that I would have a better chance of getting my applications read if they did not immediately know that they came from a female. The omission of my degree on my email applications and resume was an even bigger step – "dumbing myself down" for the sake of being hired.

However, at the ripe old age of nearly 29,  I have begun to realize that my degree is not "useless", as I used to claim. Expensive, yes, and seemingly wasteful to have spent four years and a lot of my money (and even more of other people's money) on an education that I don't "use". I use the term "use" in quotations because it is meant to mean I do not need it for job qualifications - only once in seven years have I held a position that's required a bachelors degree, and that lasted a mere four months.

For most of the last seven years, I have worked jobs that were primarily manual labor, lawn care, snow removal, garden maintenance, etc.  In these positions, I have solved problems, created schedules, organized myself and others, used my artistic skills for design, and wrote some really impressive cover letters (and some even more impressive letters of resignation).  In more than one position, I have been required to create my own job description.  I have been complimented on my abstract thinking, my ability to create simple and inexpensive solutions, and my written communication skills.

I owe all of these positive things to my education.  Four years spent completing a liberal arts education may have left me with a degree that most people look at and say "huh?", but it has left me with an advantage over others in my field, even if my positions have not reflected that in title (or in wages, usually).

So, I have resolved to fly my college degree like a banner over all that I do.  I did it. I stuck with something for four years, paid enough attention to gain some really valuable skills, and read a lot of excellent books.  I have heard from a lot of recent liberal arts grads about the frustrations of not being able to find work that they are qualified for (i.e. jobs that require a degree).  I have come to realize it doesn't matter if you "use" your diploma for work- you will always use your education for something.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Life Rules, 2014

Since I have made it one of my goals in my 29th year (which, my mom insists, is actually my 30th year) to update my blog more often, here is January's post.

 So far in 2014, I have made a list of things to accomplish in 2014, instead of making resolutions. And now, in light of my impending 30th birthday ("impending" means 15 months away), I am creating my "rules to live by when you're almost 30".

 1) Money is not everything. It can certainly buy things that can make you happy, but often the unhappiness you feel in most of your waking hours for the soul-less work you do for that money can make you just as unhappy.

 2) If you are still single, that means no one (and I mean NO ONE) that you dated in your 20's deserves to make it to another one of your decades. Do not bring them back from the relationship grave. Regression is a waste of precious years.

 3) Your family is important. And fun, it turns out. May take some of us longer to determine this, but they're probably the easiest people for you to relate to, the only ones who will always care what's going on, and they're stuck with you. Treat them right, keep in touch, and don't skip family events because they're boring. You work a boring 40 hr a week job, but you still go, because it has monetary reward. Family has a reward too- love and loyalty.

 4) If someone says they "hate drama", it means they make drama. I have found this to be a 100%, always true, proven-through-science law. Avoid them.

 5) Your mother was, and is, usually right. Remember, she has been through this life thing before. When MY mother was my age, she had two kids and a marriage about to be on the rocks. She is qualified to dispense life judgements. From thinking your high school boyfriend was absolutely wrong, to reminding you that a bad job is not the end of the world, she's right. Even if you think she isn't.

 6) Stop eating garbage all the time. If you're my age, the surprise! You've probably noticed that losing weight is near impossible, but gaining weight just takes one week of skipping the gym with 3 nights of dining out. It doesn't get better- studies show that women over 40 have to exercise, on average, an hour per day just to maintain their current weight. That doesn't even begin to touch on the health issues. That said...

 7) Do not deny yourself ice cream. Ever.

 8) Weather appropriate clothing is a life essential. Remember those idiots in college that you used to see walking to the bar in 10 degree weather, wearing platforms and a mini skirt? Were you ever one of those idiots (hands up)? It goes both ways. I just spent 4+ months in Florida. You don't need riding boots and a scarf when it's 75. Stop being dumb and put your flip flops on.

 9) Embrace your weirdness. I will tell you, I have been so much happier since I decided to let my freak flag fly, so to speak. I always wanted a pixie cut - oh, wait, men prefer women with long hair? Screw 'em. I love Star Wars, board games, and sewing. I swear I would rather sew a quilt than go to the mall with unlimited funds. I watch backyard improvement shows and geek out. I wear tshirts every single day because I like them and like how I look in them. Repeat: I do not care if you think I am weird, because I know I am awesome. Now, where did I put that Harry Potter book?

 10) Grudges are a waste of your energy. You are not hurting the person you are mad at as much as you are hurting yourself. The energy wasted trying to remember why you are really, really mad at someone can be spent in any number of better ways. Let it go. I am not one of those "forgive and forget" types, but being the bigger person always makes you feel better.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Case for "Work"

As many of you may know, I hold a 4 year college degree in history.  Now, I have mentioned many times that it is "useless", which is not entirely fair.  I could be used to obtain a job that requires "any" bachelors degree.  I could become a historical research assistant, I suppose.  But as far as specialized professions, a BA of History usually requires another degree to make it truly useful.  That said, since graduating, I have set out to (apparently) move as far away from college-required professions as I can.  I have clerked, sliced and slung sandwiches in a deli, served $2.00 beers to some of the cheapest, rudest old men you will ever meet, shoveled more snow than your average person has in a lifetime, roasted 30 hours a week of a perfectly good 24 year-old summer in a grill shack, and then there's the grass.  I have cut so, so much grass.

People often ask me when I will get a job that uses my degree.  The answer is (probably) never.  See, the human being is supposed to be made of Mind, Body, and Soul, right?  If you're lucky enough to have found a profession where you use your soul, this post is pointless to read because you have found the best job in the world, are following your passion, and are probably happier than most can imagine.

 However, the majority of human beings in the workforce that I know are working jobs that use their minds.  How lucky for them that they have minds sharp enough to land these positions.  Many rearrange schedules, participate in meetings, boot up their computer every morning and check the emails that will determine the course of their next several hours, days, or weeks.  Some teach others, using their minds to plan lessons, activities, and classes full of information that will inspire others to use their minds.

I would never knock any of these jobs.  However, this post is not about people who use their minds for work.  This is about the value of jobs in which the Body is used (no, this is not a blog about the merits of prostitution).  

Mike Rowe, of Ford truck commercial fame as well as the show "Dirty Jobs", has long been speaking out on the subject, calling it "Making the Case for Work".  The idea is that those of us who choose jobs that predominantly use our physical skills instead of our mental ones are not necessarily stupid, uneducated, or unambitious.  Rather, we enjoy working hard physically instead of mentally.  I am a 27 year old white, middle class American female.  I have certain ideas ingrained in my mind of what should and should not be expected of me, such as "no one will make me lift something that is 'too heavy'", "no one will make me work more consecutive hours than what is considered 'humane'(8)", and "no one will expect me to put myself in danger for my job."

 Wrong.  In the last nearly-six years since graduating from college, I have been required to lift a push mower solo to heights taller than myself, worked more than a few thirteen-hour days, and been asked to clean a meat slicer with the blade running.  And then there was the tree incident, in which my company saved hundreds of dollars by having three maintenance people remove a fallen tree from a property, using a chainsaw, a wheelbarrow, and our own strength (the pieces were larger than I could fit my arms around).  

Job descriptions?  We have none.  Well, unless you count the paper I was presented with at my current position, which outlines a brief description of maintaining the grounds of the property and is followed with the ominous line of "all other duties assigned".   Two months ago, this included removal of both deceased and live bats from an attic.  I am not kidding. LIVE BATS.

I am consistently asked why I would ever choose this type of work, why I would choose to interrupt my nights with cell phone calls of "it's snowing, can you be here in half an hour?".  The simple reason is that it is, actually, easy.  Physical exhaustion, in my opinion, is far less tiresome than mental exhaustion.  And yes, I know what mental exhaustion is.  Mental exhaustion to me is spending a holiday afternoon with my best friend and her two sisters (I love you guys, I really do, but there's an awful lot of you and you seem to talk all at once).  I would assume a long day of mentally exhausting work would leave one with the same feeling - tired, drained, but happy.

Physical exhaustion just means your body hurts.  This winter, for instance, it meant that I couldn't sit properly because (if anyone has shoveled snow for any period of time, you will know) the "snow shoveling muscle" is my right gluteal.  Last summer, exhaustion was being unable to clench my hands closed because I had held a weedwacker all day, and going to bed knowing there were not enough hours before work the next day to get fully rested.  Other times, exhaustion has been feet so sore that I could barely walk, caused by standing for 8-10 hours straight behind a bar (even in brand new running shoes).  However, when I walk out of my job, my mind is fresh.  My body may be useless for a short period of time, but I reserve all my free time to use my kind for whatever I choose.  I can probably safely say that I reserve about 15 minutes a day outside of my job to thin about my job.  I bet most people who use their minds for work can't say the same.  "Work related stress" doesn't exist for me, unless you count trying to stress to my coworkers the importance of proper hand sanitization and nutritional habits.  So, I am no Mike Rowe, and I doubt I will start working in a fish processing plant or removing old mattresses for a living (did you see that episode? It was disgusting. It made me want to run out and buy a new mattress- however, the side effect of having a Body-using job that you love is also usually having no money).  But I would say I am firmly in the "Making the Case For Work" camp.    We might do the jobs that no one else wants to do, but if more people thought about it in a different light, maybe that wouldn't be the case.

Young Listeners: Don't Want Crazy

I listen to the radio.  A lot.  Particularly the country stations, as they are preset in our trucks at work, but I have also been known to dabble in some pop music every now and then. Who doesn't like variety?

However, I have noticed a disturbing trend in "young people's" music.  What are we teaching preteen girls about life and love?  About relationships and how they should be?  I suppose there are plenty of critics out there who will say "it's just music", but is Taylor Swift just a singer to your average 12 year old girl?  No - she's an idol, a role model, the picture of teenage angst and overcoming heartbreak.  We should not disregard the affect that her message - and those of other artists like her - has on young listeners.

Exhibit A:  Taylor Swift's song "The way I loved you" from her album Fearless.  The song opens with Swift singing about a nice, sensible boy who opens doors for her, relates well to her parents, and makes her feel comfortable.  All good qualities, right?  You would think so, until the song continues and the listener realizes that young Taylor simply doesn't feel for this wonderful boy the way she did for her ex.  She sings that she misses "screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain", and that she was "cursing your name" at 2:00 am.  Swift was "so in love that she acted insane" and that it was a "roller coaster kind of rush". 

Hmm.  Sounds like an emotionally abusive relationship to me.  Clearly the previous beau kept her guessing, worrying, and angry/angsty all the time.  But, she idealizes this type of relationship, implying that the nice boy she has met just doesn't make her feel "anything at all".  In short, this song would have young listeners believe that it's not real love unless the other person drives you to the edge of your sanity.  Excellent, just what a bunch of hormonal teenage girls need to hear.  Nice guys, get ready to finish dead last. Girls, prepare yourselves for years of disappointment.

Exhibit B: Let's talk about boys. Particularly young, white boys who want the world to think they're hardened, tough adults. Enter Eminem, the savior of high school boys who feel silly listening to Taylor Swift but still need a certain amount of angst and pain in their music.  

Several years ago, Mr. Mathers (Eminem's real name is Marshall) released a song entitled Love the way you lie, featuring Rihanna, who at the time was barely more than a teenager herself. The song details an abusive relationship, but includes lines that glorify the deep, intense "love" that the two people feel for one another. The line "And right now there's a steel knife in my windpipe, I can't breathe but I still fight while I can fight, As long as the wrong feels right it's like I'm in flight" implies that while the relationship is physicall and emotionally painful, the "wrong" still feels right. Excellent, again. Let's teach teenagers that it's alright to be with someone who harms you, so long as it "feels" like love. Later, he threatens to tie her to the bed ad set the house on fire, while Rihanna sings about how she likes the way it hurts. Even more interesting is tha Rihanna, herself, was in the throes of an abusive relationship with singer Chris Brown at the time. And yet still recorded those lyrics.

Exhibit C: My most recent discovery and the inspiration behind this post. Hunter Hayes, for those of you that don't know, is a 20-something, blonde haired, piano playing country crooner, complete with teenage, cute-as-a-button looks that drive the 13 year old girls, well, crazy. His latest single, "I want crazy", is meant to make teenage females fantasize about going crazy with Hunter. Much like Swift's song, Mr. Hayes claims that "it ain't right if you ain't lost your mind", and sings about how he doesnt want "good", he wants "crazy".

"I want can't sleep, can't breathe without your love", sings Hunter. "Without you, baby, is a waste of time." That doesn't sound like love to me. That sounds like a restraining order. And I'm not sure any of it is proper english.

I don't intend to rip apart popular music. And I would hate to shatter the squeaky clean image of bouncing blondes like Taylor and Hunter. And of course, none of us can deny that Rihanna became America's sweetheart after she came clean to the world about Chris Brown's abuse (and especially after she threw Katy Perry a sweet bachelorette party). However, isn't high school hard enough without teenager's favorite musicians pumping them full of the idea that love and relationships should be dramatic, angry, and obsessive?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Everything I Like To Do, I Learned From My Uncle

This past weekend, my sister and I went "camping".  I have now been camping twice with her, and I think I can safely say that the next time we go, it will have to be nearly perfect, because we have already dealt with everything that could possibly go wrong.  The first time, years ago, we awoke to a river running through our campsite (under our tent) because of COURSE the only available site left in a campground in Wells, Maine in August is situated on the low part of an old creek bed.  Grabbing your wet tent and hauling ass out of a campground at 4:00 am, beer cans and sleeping bags flying?  A priceless memory.

This time, we arrived at our campsite in near darkness, set up the tent at dusk, purchased damp firewood that would not ignite and discovered the campground had no running water.  However, my sister and I sitting miserably in the woods is not the subject of this blog post.

The point is, I keep doing these things.  This summer alone I have slept outside at a family reunion in the pouring rain and lead four innocent and unsuspecting friends down the Saco river (camping included) in August, blazing the trail with my "extensive" nature knowledge and the fact that I had canoed the river once before (when I was eleven).   I also have a newly-hatched plan to purchase a tow-behind camper and live in it (possibly year round).  My sense of adventure seems to know no bounds, and I finally figured out who to blame.

My eldest uncle, Steve, has been dragging anyone who is willing (or anyone young enough to be unable to protest) on "adventures" (he's a registered Maine guide, and his business card once said something like "Steve's Scenic Safaries to Exotic Places") for longer than I have been alive.  Some of our highlights included a 3 day, 2 night canoe trip with several family members and friends down the Moose River (I think I was about ten) and a "day" hike up Mt. Katahdin.  My uncle also taught me how to drive, gave me my first landscaping job, and likely put me on my first pair of skis.

Yes, the above paragraph sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

It gets better when you hear that we put our boats in that river at about 6 pm in the wilderness of Northern Maine and paddled in the pitch blackness across a lake on the canoe trip.  I remember crying, being completely convinced that we would never survive the adventure - and it was just half an hour into the weekend. 

We hiked Katahdin beginning at noon, thinking a nice easy day hike of one of the highest peaks in the Northeast would be no sweat.  My uncle brought a bag of M&Ms for sustenance, and no flashlight.  More tears ensued when we were still hiking at 9 pm.  Neither myself, my aunt Leslie, or her friend who accompanied us were terribly impressed with Steve's planning skills.  I think by then I must have been twelve or so, at least enough time had passed between trips that I had forgotten my vow to "never go anywhere with Uncle Steve again".

When Steve hired me to work for him, I was fourteen years old and the job required being able to operate a motorized vehicle.  He started me out on an ancient Gravely lawn tractor, which was replaced by a three-wheeled atv with a trailer (for hand-picking rocks from a large field), which I promptly used to run over my own foot.  

With such a great track record, we moved on to bigger and better things, and Steve taught me and my best friend, Elizabeth, how to drive his Jeep, which was at least 40 years old.  No one really believes me when I tell them that I learned how to drive on a 4 speed Willys Jeep, and nobody in my 9th grade class believed either of us when we told them we'd been driving all over the back roads of the Sunday River valley, unlicensed, in a dump truck (Sorry, Steve, if you didn't exactly know about that one).

I credit my uncle with teaching me that the kind of work that I would grow to love would never pay me much.  My duties as his employee included staining sheds, mowing lawns, endlessly weeding flower beds, and then there was that damn field with all of those rocks.  All for $5.00 an hour.  I was, at the time, a bargain.  Now I don't even get out of bed for less than $10.00 an hour... still, I think, a bargain.

Steve's personality always leads to interesting encounters with people all over the world.  You can most certainly stop in any town in any New England state and find someone who knows Steve Wight.  I'm sure you've heard of the "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon"... there are only 3 degrees of uncle Steve.  There's "sure, I know Steve!", "I've heard of Steve", and "let me tell you about what happened the one time your uncle convinced me that we should go _______".

I guess it would be safe to say that most of the things I enjoy doing at the age of 27 are things Steve taught me.  I still love Jeeps and trucks, I mow lawns for a living, and I escape to nature as often as I can with anyone who will agree to come with me.  I am also, as everyone in my family will attest to, the loudest voice in every social situation, and usually the center of attention (unless Steve happens to be there).

My uncle Steve is 69 years old today.  He has managed to be the family patriarch for 54 years, married a very patient woman, owned and operated a successful hospitality business for many years, is an outspoken and (generally) respected member of my hometown community, has three children, five grandchilden and several granddogs. 

And one neice who can't thank him enough.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Tiny Life

As some of my "followers" (gosh, that sounds pretentious) on facebook may know, I moved exactly one month ago.  I have previously blogged about living alone, and I still do, but I moved into the apartment on the 2nd floor of my building.  Hooray, less stairs!

The entire living space (minus the bathroom, because I don't count bathrooms as a place you can "live") is 180 square feet.  For those of you, like myself, with no concept of space, that's 12x15 feet.  About the size of your average dorm room.

I was watching HGTV last week and saw a new show about apartment hunting.  The agent was referring to small, one room apartments as "bachelors" instead of "studios", so that is what I am calling my place.  My bachelor sized apartment.  See what I did there?  I turned something cramped and inconvenient into something extremely trendy.  Thank you, Home and Garden Television.

This photo does not do justice to how small the apartment really is, but please imagine that this is about half of the one room.  The kitchen area is about 6x12 feet.  Countertops?  What you see is what there is.  Also, I am sure you've noticed that the refrigerator looks un-level.  That's because it is.  The whole place is.

Perhaps the most interesting part about the apartment is the bed.  At first look, it would appear to the naked eye that I have no bed.  Do not be fooled, as the large doors that line one side of the room contain a....


Oh yes, they do exist outside of sitcoms about broke waitresses struggling with two jobs, trying to get by and maintain their independent lifestyle...oh, oh God.

But back to the bed.  I don't understand how it works exactly.  There are lots of hinges, springs and dangerous looking metal parts.  By pulling on the foot board, the whole thing folds out (with a rather satisfying bang) and drops down, sheets, pillows, stuffed animals and all.  It takes up the entire room.  There is barely enough space to walk around when the bed is folded out, so it has to be packed away every morning.  There is also a "Murphy" table and benches that fold out of another cabinet in the wall.  Yes, I live inside a pop-up book.

The best part about moving into this minuscule space is that I have absolutely no desire to go shopping.  I can't, I don't have an inch of space to put anything else.  The 2nd best part is that I don't ever, ever have to host another house guest - because unless we are going to keep the bed folded up and cover the floor in air mattresses, there is absolutely no space to add another person.  Which is exactly how I like it.

The downsides, I suppose, would be that I certainly cannot entertain (I don't have a functional table, and the bookcase is actually in front of the folding one), and that I had to get rid of almost half of my belongings.  That includes:

- a dresser I swiped from my college apartment (it was there when I moved in!) and have painted 3 different times to match different apartments over the last 4 years,
- 4 bar stools that I absolutely loved (the old place had a bar),
- a shoe rack (and, subsequently, about half of my pairs of shoes, since I no longer had a place for them)
- a reasonably sized television (see photo.  I built the shelf that the TV is on, and the screen is probably about 18".  If the room was any bigger, I wouldn't be able to see the picture),
- my box spring (the ol' Murph only takes a mattress on top of the cracked plywood and spring base),
- piles, piles, and more piles of junk I always thought I'd need again some day.  Oh yes, this means that the red Tu-Tu left over from a beer fairy Halloween costume 3 years ago went to the Salvation Army, along with old quilt fabric, many rolls of wrapping paper, t-shirts I haven't worn in 5 years, and about 1/4 of my famous baseball cap collection. 

I'm sure I will thank myself for this one day.

This tiny living thing has started to teach me a lot.  For instance, you can't just leave your clean laundry in the basket until it's time to do more laundry and then just dump the clean on your bed...if you don't have a bed.  And if you allow mail, change, shoes or dishes to pile up, it is immediately noticeable.  I have to be really tidy in this space, or it gets out of hand VERY quickly. 

I can't buy too many groceries.  BJ's Wholesale Club?  Forget it.  If I purchase more than one box of pasta at a time, I have to rearrange the entire cupboard to make space. 

Getting drunk in this apartment is actually really dangerous.  Any clumsy or wide turns, and things are falling off shelves and the wall.  When the bed is folded out, the doors nearly block the hallway to the point that I can barely get by, so if I am even the least bit out of sorts, I crash into it.  I'm pretty sure the woman below me already hates me.

SO.  Why do this, you ask?  Why mortgage the space upstairs (which was no huge digs either, I should add.  The only difference was one small room, but it felt like a lot more) for living in a glorified walk-in closet? 

Besides the price, which is exactly HALF of what I was paying for rent upstairs (and that was a total steal), I have convinced myself that this is all I need.  The only bill that is not included is my electric, which I paid last week at the whopping price of $16.43.  Of course it's cheap, the whole place has only two light switches.  And I can simplify my life by necessity (what 26 year old needs 4 bar stools?), which is very handy for someone who has just a touch of "hoarding" in their blood.

Also, as noble and trendy as I am trying to make this "Bachelor" apartment thing seem, I would be deceiving you of my real motives if I did not point out that my rent is now just slightly less than my student loan payment...