You Don’t Need Permission to do What You Love

I’m about to do something that, for the past four years, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. You won’t know what it is for a few months. Try not to hold your breath. ūüėČ

As this year comes to a close (seriously, can you believe it?) I can say that I’ve finally learned an extremely important adage for living life properly:

You don’t need permission.

That’s right. You’re an adult now, and you can’t sit around and wait for opportunities to come to you anymore. No more waiting for that job, or that partner, or that life circumstance to fall into your lap. Whatever you want to do, you need to do it. I’m obviously not advocating for blatantly breaking the law or being a total douchebag, but I assume that if you’re reading this, you’re a reasonable person who won’t do that anyway. (I take that back. I know many of you have more than one cat in your apartment, even though your lease says only one is allowed. Technically, this is breaking the law. But I’m okay with that. Okay, maybe I’m a terrible influence. Don’t refer to me for legal advice.)

I want to be a writer, so I write. And that’s all I need to do. I’m no Stephen King yet. I’m not a New York Times columnist. Vice and Jezebel have refused to respond to every e-mail I’ve ever sent them. Hell, I’ve never even been paid for my writing – not a damn cent! But I write in my blog, in my journal, and for my upcoming novel. Therefore, I’m a writer.¬†

I can think of other writers like this. Marcel Proust couldn’t get anyone to publish¬†Swann’s Way,¬†so he paid out-of-pocket to have it self-published; he’s not the least-known guy in the French literary world these days.¬†Andy Weir self-published individual chapters of¬†The Martian and sold the entire book on Amazon for 99 cents. Ridley-freakin’-Scott just made a movie about it. Hell, even¬†the¬†Fifty Shades books are a prime example of this. Clearly, E.L. James didn’t need permission to become the best-selling author on Amazon UK, surpassing even J.K. Rowling. Love or hate those books, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due.

I want to be a singer, but I don’t really sing for anyone. Can I really call myself a singer, then? Probably not. But even if my singing consisted of nothing more than occasional busking or coffee-shop showcases, I’d be 100 times the singer I am right now. Because I’d be doing it.

My partner wants to have a gym in his house and train people in it. He tells me, “I don’t need to have some fancy facility or work at a place like 24. I just need weights.” He could work his butt off to become¬†affiliated with some enormous, established company or he could start making moves on his own and make it happen himself a lot faster. He’s choosing the latter.

Not needing permission doesn’t mean you have to do it alone, though. For example, say you want to be a model. Grab a friend with a camera and take photos that exude your own personal styles and speak from both of your hearts. Publish these photos and show them off to the world. Continue to hone your craft, to learn and grow. Congratulations, you are now a model and your friend is now a photographer. Now keep going at it.

It’s not always this straightforward. For example, you technically¬†*do* need permission to be a lawyer, for instance. But do you need permission to take the LSAT? Get into law school? Pass the bar? Work hard? No. You’re the only person stopping you from doing those things.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s one we all forget. We let a lot of stuff get in the way of what we want to do because we think we can’t do it. We think we’re “not allowed”. But who’s really stopping us?

What is stopping you?

-H

 

Reflections from a 116-mile Bike Ride

For the second year in a row, I took part in the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour¬†over this past weekend. This bike ride stretches from Irvine to Mission Beach, San Diego over the course of two days. Riders can choose an express 25-mile option on the first day only, a 50-50 ride which splits up the 100 miles over two days, a 75-50 option in which riders do 75 miles on the first day, and a 100-50 option in which riders do 100 miles on the first day. It’s not a race, but there are certainly competitive individuals who take part. And while each option is quite rigorous, riders who go beyond the 50-50¬†are challenged¬†exponentially more.

Having been on a bike for about 60 miles¬†total since last year’s ride – that’s a few jaunts to and from work and some infrequent rides up and down Alamitos beach – I figured I was in decent enough shape to wing the 75 this year, rather than do the 50-50 as I did last year. I thought, “Hey, I’m a freaking pole artist! My arms are made of steel and my legs can crush diamonds! I’ve got this. MS, FEEL MY WRATH!!!”

Oh, na√Įve Haley.

I haven’t been looking forward to this, but here’s a confession I didn’t quite crack to my teammates on Saturday night or Sunday morning before our next leg:¬†I didn’t finish the 75 in its entirety.¬†I made it 66 miles on the first day, cried from how much my knees hurt (the 16 miles I rode after the initial 50 were all freaking hills), and hopped into the rescue vehicle with two others to return to the hotel where our “after party” was being held.

I felt defeated. I felt like a failure.

You see, I had barely prepared bike-wise last year as well –¬†and¬†I had barely been working out on top of that – yet I still managed to finish the 50-50 slowly but surely. Having had so much difficulty this year, despite being in-shape in other ways, was a gargantuan blow to my ego. Thoughts that ran through my head as I limped into the vehicle ranged from “Did I develop a case of osteoporosis since last year? I must have, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.” to “I NEED TO GO TO¬†THE HOSPITAL AND GET¬†MY BUTT CUT OFF AND BOTH KNEES REPLACED NOW!!!” For the reminder of the trip,¬†I quietly omitted my “just short of a finish” from teammates and other riders. I¬†did immediately tell my parents, boyfriend, and a few friends who weren’t there what happened, but I still felt bad that my immediate surroundings were shrouded in my quietude on the matter.

As for now, do¬†I feel crappy? Yes – a lot crappier than I did when I thought I blew out my knees, which says a lot. I’m usually an extremely honest, self-deprecating person who makes fun of herself even when it’s unwarranted, so this was an unusual behavior pattern for me.¬†The good news is that¬†despite my inner plead to have half my body amputated, I actually *was*¬†able to finish the 50 additional miles the next day –¬†without¬†getting picked up by a Honda minivan. Yay!

But¬†this wasn’t the only takeaway I got from this ride. During the many miles I rode, I obviously had a ton of time to think about life and other quandaries. After all, I always ride solo¬†(introvert prefz, yo) and headphones were strictly forbidden on the ride, so what else was I going to do?

While on the ride, I thought about my parents. I thought about how much I loved them. Do I see them enough? I’m glad I live in California right now. My parents need to know that I am always here for them. Do they know that?

And my siblings. Do I tell them I love them enough? We are the kind of siblings who infrequently talk when we’re apart but are as thick as thieves when we’re together. Sometimes I think all of my siblings are too cool for me. Maybe that’s why I don’t reach out as much. I’m 25 – isn’t that line of thinking really stupid? Am¬†I¬†stupid?

I started thinking about what would happened if I were more confident in middle school and didn’t send myself into such a downward spiral throughout high school. Then I stopped. “No thinking about the past allowed”. Oh, wait, that’s like telling the Ninja Turtles “no thinking about how much you love pizza and crimefighting”. Sigh. But I did stop for a second.

I only stopped to think about¬†my friends.¬†I take my friendships seriously, but like with my family, I don’t reach out to my friends as much as I should. Lingering social anxiety problems I suppose. An excuse? No. An explanation? Yes.

I miss¬†my boyfriend, I thought.¬†Because he’d tell off that crazy homeless guy who yelled at me for nothing as I rode alone on the street. Then we’d make fun of each other’s pizza choices at dinner later that night. And draw Batman pictures together.

Speaking of Batman, how does everything I do affect the environment? Oh, wait, that has nothing to do with Batman. But kind of speaking of Batman: am I part of an oppressive system? Am I the oppressor? What types of privilege do I have? Do I abuse those privileges?

What about the state of education in this country, including elementary, secondary, and post-secondary? How on earth do we fix the broken system? How do we align ourselves with other nations whose systems are far superior to ours? In what direction is this country headed?

What’s going to happen during¬†the presidential election? If I vote for the candidate I want to win, does it even matter? He’s awesome, but he’s being beaten in the polls by crazy douchebags. Why are there so many scary people in the race?

Why are there so many scary people in life in general? Lots of people are afraid of things like spiders and snakes. Or bears. Or heights. Or the ocean. These things aren’t really that scary, though.¬†Inanimate objects have absolutely zero agenda against anyone. Animals only do if they are truly threatened. Humans are the biggest fear to be feared. Humans are crazy.

Speaking of,¬†am I crazy?¬†Sometimes I imagine that I’m in a world where everyone is trying to create a false reality for me. Not like the Matrix or anything like that, but maybe people see me as this wilting, unconfident, failed writer and they want to cradle me into a mediocre life medicated from passion. I want so badly to succeed in the things that I want to succeed in, but I can’t quite seem to get it right. Yet everyone tries to bring me up and still says I’ve done x or y. That I’ve done a good job. That I’ll be successful. What’s the real story?

Here’s an idea – it’s impossible to know the story. The past doesn’t always dictate the future. They could be right. They could be wrong. What percentage of the future is within my control versus out of it, though? I have no idea.

Now my knees hurt. But is the pain my own construct or is my body truly not having this? How is my pain tolerance compared to other peoples’ pain tolerances? Can I truly call myself an athlete if this is so hard?

I even came up with a name for a daughter if I eventually decide to give into the perils of child-rearing (in which case I would (a) adopt and (b) be at least 35 years old). But I forgot it. COME ON.

You might be wondering why I expended over 1,300 words on my own personal thoughts up until now. I know, I know. Booooooring.

I suppose I have a few other aims with this post, if you’ll hear me out.

First,¬†I want to encourage you to do something difficult, even if you think you’re going to fail. Even if it’s something you don’t normally do or aren’t good at. Just do it. If you fail, guess what – you¬†tried¬†and failed. And that’s way aswesomer that¬†not¬†trying and failing.

Second, I want to encourage you to tell the truth, even if it’s embarrassing. You are much more real and likeable if you’re able to admit the not-so-flattering things about yourself. People who don’t like you in light of your truth aren’t worth your time anyways. They are, as my little brother would say, “dumb and stupid”. Profound and true.

Third, I want to encourage you to consciously spend time thinking. Even if you’re just sitting on your couch alone and in silence.¬†Think. You may be able to approach yourself in a way you couldn’t before. You may have a breakthrough. You may come up with an awesome idea. You’ll be able to get all of your worries out of your system instead of filing them away.

I do this ride because in addition to raising money and awareness for an incredible cause (MS research), I get a whole lot out of it personally, too. It’s a ride that attracts so many wonderful, helpful, inspiring people who are fascinating to talk to when you get a chance. And when you’re alone on the ride, you get to pass through beauty that you didn’t even know existed. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done, and I’ll keep coming back every year.

So, I suppose a¬†fourth aim with this post would be to get you to come do the MS ride with me next year if you get a chance. I can personally guarantee that you’ll have a great time and get a ton out of it. I will buy you a bike if you don’t. Serious.

Just don’t forget your Advil and maybe some knee braces. Perhaps some butt pads, too, if you’re interested in that extra layer of protection. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To 150 miles and beyond next year! (Okay, not beyond, please – I actually don’t want to get my knees replaced.)

-H

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Roommate-Free Apartment

Ahhh, Los Angeles county: land of¬†smog-filtered sunsets and perpetual traffic. And perfect weather. And casual celebrity run-ins. And lots and lots of hungry renters (literally and figuratively – it’s not cheap here and many people live on $5 pizza .) In some sub-markets, this means hungry for¬†blood.

I don't know why, but re-reading that sentence made me think of AMC's newest hit series. Here, a zombie attempts a selfie with several confused onlookers in the background. (Source: Ddotomen.com)
I don’t know why, but re-reading that sentence made me think of AMC’s newest hit series which, incidentally, takes place in the City of Not-Quite Angels. Here, a zombie attempts a selfie with several confused onlookers in the background. (Source: Ddotomen.com)

Kidding. But barely.

It’s a tough, tough world out there for anyone planning to move or in the throes of doing so, regardless of location. But having moved from Arizona to California last summer and being in the process of moving from Bluff Heights in¬†Long Beach to downtown Long Beach as I write this, I can say that there is something uniquely painful¬†about finding a place to live in or near LA specifically. With the help of my previous job’s generous salary and some parental help, I was fortunate to make last year work after looking at only one – yes, one – place¬†and getting extraordinarily lucky with the timing of when I turned in my application. This was, however, a glaring exception¬†rather than the norm.

Since I’m a single-renter looking at one bedrooms and studios, the odds are not stacked in my favor; this is where most of the competition lies. Even with great credit, a steady job, and wonderful references, my advantage over other renters is only so high. At the end of the day, timing is absolutely vital to landing a place as a single-renter, especially when dealing with an often-impatient, profit-focused property management company vs. other humans who are willing to give it time to find the best personality “fit” for their multi-person abode. It’s too bad that I want to associate with absolutely nobody at the end of the day (well…except for my snake), but I suppose my needs¬†are ultimately worth the torture I put myself through.

Anyway, I was again quite lucky with my search this time around, taking only 3 weeks to land an amazing apartment in downtown that will serve as my (only *vaguely* IKEA-clad) Scandinavian modern haven.  See pics below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.07.11 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.07.25 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.07.53 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.07.40 AM

Yes, I ate a victory bag of popcorn, and yes, I’m incredibly relieved that it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. But be advised – when I say it took three weeks to find a place,¬†it meant three weeks of countless e-mails and calls, constant and paranoid refreshing of several different apartment-hunting websites, and hundreds of dollars spent on the application process, often to no avail.

While every moment and dollar spent was worth it for me in the end, I learned a surprising amount of lessons along the way. Use this as a guide to finding your next awesome studio or one-bedroom place without making the same mistakes that I did.

Actually, scratch that. You will make mistakes, but you might make fewer if you heed my advice.

Ready? Let’s gooooooooo!

(Note: This guide is written from my perspective as a studio/one bedroom apartment hunter in Long Beach, CA. While I think this guide can apply to many different locations and scenarios, please keep this in mind when reading. Things are a little different when roommates or kids are involved and every location has its own unique struggles. If you find any glaring inaccuracies or missing pieces here, let me know I will gladly fix them.)

Step 1: Narrowing down your Location

Before you jettison yourself into the field, you first need to get a firm grasp of where you want to move exactly. Consider things like:

  • Proximity to work/school¬†– Commutes suck. Set a firm limit for yourself on how far you’re willing to drive/bike/walk to your daily grind. Since this is probably the place you go most often, it’s probably the first thing you want to consider.
  • Proximity to friends, family, or a significant other (if you don’t live together) – As we get older, we get busier and busier and it gets harder and harder to see each other. And for those who live in cities like LA or New York, traffic is not going to get any better. How important is being close to your loved ones to you? If you live apart from a partner, how often do you need to see them? How far are you willing to commute¬†each time you do?
  • Proximity to weekly places of attendance like an exercise class, church, or the animal shelter you volunteer at¬†– Some places can be replaced – and if you’re moving, they obviously need to be. But if you’re just skipping over a few zip codes, you still need to consider the distance from your current places of interest.
  • Walkability of the area – meaning, how many errands and activities can you do on foot? WalkScore is an absolutely fabulous resource for figuring out what neighborhoods work best for this. I believe the site works in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, so most of my readers should be able to use the service.
  • Safety of the areaCrimeMapping¬†will give you a report of crimes that occurred within a one or more mile radius within any time frame you specify. Family Watchdog is a great site for checking out the stock of sex offenders in your area, though your heart might sink when you find out how many nearby. I don’t want to be alarmist, though, so do some research on the area by Googling safety of zip codes/cross streets to get a bigger picture.
sex offenders in area
Gulp.
  • Overall “feel” of the city/region – This is pretty tricky. Obviously, it’s best to verify this by both visiting the place in person and talking to people who live there, but this isn’t always super feasible to do, especially if you’re moving cross country. However,¬†I had pretty good luck utilizing the CityData forum, which serves as a cornucopia¬†of information for movers/relocators. I personally used this thread to narrow down areas in Long Beach I was willing to live. I was able to substantiate my conclusions with some neighborhood driving and it made my search a lot more refined.
  • Cost of the region – It¬†is possible to find affordable places in extremely nice areas, so don’t eliminate anything completely if you’re absolutely determined the live there. Just be realistic. For instance, no – you are¬†not going to find an $800/month penthouse suite in Beverley Hills, I’m sorry to say. But if the Hills are your destination, keep them on the map – for now – and figure out how you can make your budget work.

Fortunately, most of the above can be done whether you’re moving cross-country or five feet away, so that’s the good news. Once you consider the above, you will have narrowed down your search from an ostensibly unlimited number of places to perhaps 30 or so places in your region. Obviously, this number will be higher if you’re okay with a bigger commute, but let’s assume that you want to be no further than 10 or so miles from work.

Alright, got a location? Good. Now let’s¬†figure out what you want with your life.

Step 2: Figuring Out what you Need/Want

After narrowing your geographic scope, drum up an initial¬†list of “requirements” for your prospective place so as to further narrow down your choices and make your search easier. It may be helpful to create two separate categories: “Wants” and “Needs”. For instance, I needed a place to be less than $1,200 for rent, utilities, and parking, but I only¬†wanted¬†a one bedroom vs. a studio. These requirements will be dynamic and will probably change slightly over time as you keep searching, but here are some things to consider:

  • Budget – Budget should include the amount you’re willing to spend on rent, utilities, internet, and all other lodging-related expenses in total. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more than 35% of your pre-tax monthly income on all of these expenses, but this is a significant challenge in LA, San Francisco, NYC, and many other major cities. As of right now, I pay more than 50%¬†as I occupy my current place. This will go significantly down after my current lease expires and I’m fully settled in the new place, though. At the end of the day, you are more than welcome to spend as much money as you’re willing on your place – just be prepared for the consequences of spending more (like, waiting for that new iPhone instead of buying it now and fewer shoe shopping sprees).
    • Check out if utilities are included in the rent payment. It’s¬†nice if they are, but bear in mind that whenever utilities are paid for, there is potential to have an angry landlord coming to your door to ask why the electricity bill was so damn high this month.
    • Parking¬†is another¬†amenity in many places (again, LA/NYC/SF especially)¬†that often comes at a premium. If having a paid parking spot is an option, you’ll need to add that to the¬†total amount you’ll be paying each month.
  • Number of bedrooms – I limited my search to studios and one bedrooms because a) that’s all I honestly need and b) I knew there was no way I could afford more than that in the areas I was looking. However, once again, you should totally go for as many rooms as you can if you so choose and you can afford it.
  • Specific layout – Some people are picky about this. For instance, the bedroom in my apartment in Arizona was literally triangular, which drove some of the potential renters I showed it to¬†nuts. Other people hate first-floor apartments, or can’t stand houses that sit behind other houses. You may or may not care about these things.
  • Amenities included – Perhaps you need an easy-access gym, a pool, or a grill. If the place is at an apartment complex, you might have a better chance at getting access to these things. I absolutely needed on-site laundry, so I chose a place that had that.
  • Appliances included – Ahhh, here’s where they can get ya. A ton of places in LA do not have air conditioning, especially if you’re near¬†the coast. Others don’t even have fridges, ovens, stoves, or dishwashers. You may think that you can live without one or more of these things, but think very carefully about that before going for a place that doesn’t have one.
  • Length of the lease – Are you a commitment-phobe or a long-term settler? Make sure the time you can/must¬†occupy the unit matches what you need. Most leases are a year long and many places in California go month-to-month after that year, which is extremely nice. It’s good to know this information for future planning purposes.
  • When the place is available for move-in – If you needed a place yesterday but the apartment/house in question isn’t available for another month, don’t go for it unless you can truly stretch out that time.
  • Property Management company¬†reviews – If you’re using a property management company, make sure you’re not dealing with slumlords or money stealers. Most PM companies can be easily looked up on Yelp, which is nice.
  • Neighbor interaction – Do you want to live in a super-friendly, everyone-in-your-business type place, or do you need your privacy? This is a tricky one to measure until you move in, but can be roughly gauged when you see the place in person.
  • Guest policy – Does your complex/house police guests? Yes, apparently some complexes/landlords still operate convent-style. This is hard to check on before you get to the actual lease, but some places will make you pay rent if someone stays over for more than four consecutive nights. Some particularly crazy ones might even bitch if you have a recurring guest every so often. Crazy!
  • Maintenance – Is there an on-site or nearby maintenance person? Is there a 24-hour hotline? No matter how nice a place is, maintenance is important. Make sure that there’s some type of formal maintenance policy.
  • As narrowed down in Step 1, the¬†walkability and distance from school/work/people/places/things¬†should be criteria, too.

I’ve personally developed a spreadsheet outlining basic stats of the places I saw. The template for it can be found and downloaded¬†here. Feel free to customize it as you wish.

Alright, so you know what area you want to live in and roughly what type of place you want to dwell in. Now bring on the pain.

Step 3: The Search Itself

I liken this part of moving to the dating game. You put your feelers out there, often signing up for a bevy of online services not unlike OKCupid or Match.com, hoping to find a wonderful place and make the best impression on your potential new landlord so that you can actually obtain said place. Except instead of trying to pick you based on your personality or looks, your potential landlord is more like a sugar baby who’ll just be happy with the first person who hands over the dough. If someone sees the listing and comes to them first with everything lined up – proof of income, credit score, references, deposit – too bad for you. Daddy Warbucks has swept in and you’re too late.

I hate to put it this way, but in a competitive market that’s essentially what happens. To be most competitive with everyone else, you really have to have your ish in order, first of all. Make sure you can substantiate your income for at least several months back; most only ask for three but if you haven’t been at your current job that long, they might ask for more. Have your credit score in the “good” section at minimum (say, 600?). Make sure you have decent people to provide employment and personal references if needed (most people don’t ask for personal references anymore, but I had a couple who did this time around). Have enough money on hand for application fees, credit checks, deposits, and your first rent payment.¬†Getting your personal affairs in order should probably be step 0, but I am dearly hoping that you have these things in order anyway if you’re looking to move.

Assuming you do, I feel the need to reiterate this statement again: timing is everything when it comes to snatching up these properties. Yes, sometimes the PM company will drop the ball or the landlord will ignore your application because they are outspokenly ageist (true story), but for the most part, people want to rent out their places as soon as possible to good people who can pay the rent.

That said, start signing up for every online apartment-searching tool imaginable. Here are the biggies:

  • PadMapper (free) – A great tool that uses Google maps to narrow down for places. It also searches across other sites (ForRent, Kijiji, PadLister) and lets you add “Places” so you can calculate commute times from prospective apartments/homes to your school, work, and other places of interest.Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 2.11.41 PM
  • RadPad (free; can pay for monthly membership to get faster access to places) – This is actually how I found my current place! It looks almost identical to the AirBnb site and is fairly easy to use.

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  • HotPads (free) – I’ve used this one a lot. It’s also great and probably provides the most information per listing (including a walk score!) It’s a bit buggy when it comes to accessing your own profile and saving Favorites, but it’s a wonderful tool otherwise.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 2.23.32 PM

  • Lovely¬†(free) – A favorite of my¬†friends that also looks quite similar to AirBnb. I don’t think I ended up using it, but it’s the most visually appealing option for sure!

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  • Craiglist (free) – Ahhhh, good ol’ CL. I actually found my current/soon-to-be-ex apartment on Craigslist so I can’t hate on it, though I definitely found some crafty scams on there. A $950 one bedroom in Naples? Yeah, not surprised that they never e-mailed me back and the listing was taken down. Don’t let this deter you – the ‘List is fab – just be careful.
Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 2.28.52 PM
You know what? I’m actually feeling that color scheme.

There are some other paid services out there like West Side Rentals¬†for us Angelenos as well as independent real estate agents. However, most of the people I know who’ve found apartments, especially studios/one bedrooms, have either found them through word-of-mouth referrals or through the above websites. If you’re having a ton of trouble and it’s been months since you’ve been diligently looking, I would definitely advocate taking things to the next level with a real estate agent, however.

Anyway, once you’ve signed up for as many of the free¬†services as you wish,¬†make sure you take at least a couple hours a day to be on your computer searching and refreshing the pages. Since I work all day on a computer, it was not uncommon for me to have 4-5 windows open (Usually HotPads, RadPad, PadMapper, Craigslist, and my e-mail). I would refresh the page every so often so that I could immediately pick up on any newly-added listings.¬†Most sites allow you to set alerts for new places that are listed,¬†which is great, especially if you are not at liberty to be on the computer 10 hours a day continuously refreshing the page.

Your tabs might be numerous for a while, but it's okay. Cheer yourself up by looking for "I just sharted" gifs. Not that I did that or anything.
Your tabs might be numerous for a while, but it’s okay. Cheer yourself up by looking for “I just sharted” gifs. Not that I did that or anything.

Once you find places, initiate contact as soon as is feasible (remember: timing is everything). After asking all necessary questions via phone and e-mail, the next step is to schedule your viewings.

(Pro tip: If you feel extremely passionate about a place before seeing it, apply and turn everything in¬†before you see it. It sounds risky, but it’s what I did a couple times and I ended up being the first person in line for consideration. Remember: if you see it and you end up not liking¬†it, it’s not like you have to sign a lease. Worst case scenario is that you are out $10-40 on an application fee and whatever time you spent looking at it.)

So you’ve got a few favorites now – what are you waiting for? Let’s go check out some digs!

Step 4: The Viewing Process

You’ve narrowed down a place, you’ve made a list of what you want/need, and you’ve got some leads. If you’re just overflowing with zeal, you might have even turned in some apps already for those especially desirable places. Now comes the fun part.

You may be viewing an apartment under a variety of circumstances, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Most likely, you will be touring an empty apartment either by yourself, with a property manager, or occasionally with other prospective tenants who happen to be borrowing another set of keys from the PM office. Occasionally, you may be checking out a place that is still occupied by the current tenant.

If you’re viewing the place alone, yay! You get to be extra picky as you look through everything to make sure it’s up to your standards.¬†To aid you, I’ve created my own checklist which you can either check out below or here. Feel free to commandeer mine and customize it to make it your own!

apartment checklist

If you’re alone, nobody is going to look at you strangely as you open every cabinet, check off the presence of certain appliances, and flush the toilet for no reason, so go crazy (while being¬†respectful, of course). If you’re with a property manager, the best thing to do is just ask to take pictures. I’ve never had someone to say no to this. If you’re visiting a current tenant who still occupies the place, ask them as many questions as you can and take as many pictures as they’ll allow.¬†If¬†you find any traces of pests anywhere, DO NOT go for it, no matter how much you love it. Pests are a nightmare to get rid of and signing a lease in such a place may end up with you burning all of your furniture.

In addition to these unit-related things, you can also check out the neighborhood to get a sense of what it’s really like to live there. The advantage of talking to a tenant still occupying the unit is that they’ll probably give you a relatively good,¬†honest idea of what it’s like. A property manager might be a bit rosier. Again, go with your gut and what you personally see.¬†Ask yourself, “Could I see myself living here?”

As you’re visiting, make sure you get any additional questions answered and update your needs and wants list if needed. If you haven’t already, start flying those apps in!

Now you play the waiting game.

Step 5: The Close

At this point, you’ve hopefully gotten a chance to check out at least 3-5 places, if not more. You’ve won some, you’ve lost some, but the ones you’ve won are calling you back and asking you if you’re ready to sign the lease. Yay! Perhaps it’s your favorite one – or perhaps it’s not. Still, this decision is a big one. How do you make the final call?

It’s time to revisit your checklist and make sure that you hit all of your “needs” as many “wants” as you possibly can. Does it fit the bill here? If so, think back to your interaction with the PM company/landlord/realtor throughout the process. Were they pleasant?¬†Are they going to make things easy for me? Finally, ask yourself the pivotal question just one more time:¬†could I see myself living here?

If the answer to these above questions is “Yes”, you know what to do.

Sign that lease and pay that deposit*, baybay! This harrowing process has finally almost come to an end. And when you finally get those keys, it’ll feel oh so good.

Stay weird, Tumblr. Stay weird.
Stay weird, Tumblr. Stay weird.

(*Pro tip:¬†There are some pretty crazy scams out there that¬†will have you pay a deposit or prorated rent amount online, only for you to find out that the place was already rented by someone else. You can avoid this by making sure you’ve met the landlord/PM company in person, verified that the PM company has a website that includes the¬†listing, speaking to the¬†existing tenant, and delivering your¬†first payment in person. For more information about how to avoid rental scams, go here¬†or peruse Google for a few.)

A Glorious Conclusion

Whether you’ve been looking for three weeks or six months, it feels good to land a pad.

Apartment hunting will probably always suck, but the nice thing about it nowadays is that there are a number of tools you can utilize to streamline your approach. Through diligent use of online apps, flexibility with your timing, and honesty with yourself regarding what you truly need, apartment-hunting can be made a lot easier and suck a lot less.

Just brace yourself for the second installment in the Book of Moving…designing the inside!¬†

This is gonna be a doozy.

-H

 

 

 

The Three Most Important Mantras for Fighting Jealousy in a Relationship

I was the spelling champ of my entire K-8 school twice – once in 4th grade and once in 6th grade. In 5th grade, I got second place to a 6th grader. If I recall correctly, the word was something like “antithesis” or “antihistamine”. I don’t know. But it was definitely an “a” word.

When my opponent won that fateful year, you would have thought that she had killed my dog; my jealous fits could not be maintained. I was the spelling queen. I was the grammar monarch. I was the reader and the writer of my class. Who exactly did this scraping “sixer” think she was?

“Why did SHE win? It’s not fair! She only won because she’s older than me! Or maybe I’m just the worst speller ever!!!!!”

Still, this temporary conniption subsided pretty quickly, probably because I played video games later that afternoon or found cookies in our pantry. This was also¬†before my crippling insecurity about my appearance settled in (and stayed for a solid, I don’t know, 15 years?), so my jealous outrages were more like minor¬†huffs at that time.

Some things get better with time, others get worse. The acne that I had back then has long since subsided, but even to this day, jealousy Рespecially in my romantic relationship Рhas become one of my biggest weaknesses.

To demonstrate, let me tell you another story.

About two and a half months ago, my partner and I decided to go on a characteristic adventure in my city of Long Beach. We’re huge fans of finding cheap and free things to do, and the great thing about living in the greater LA area is that there is a bevy of them. This particular Saturday’s activity was swing-dancing. Seems innocent enough, right?¬†Wrong.¬†Or at least “wrong” according to my evil, anxiety-ridden conscience.

My partner and I were nervous because we had arrived after the actual lesson portion of the swing dancing event, so we moseyed around for a little bit and surveyed the scene, attempting to churn out our best West Coast swing steps but usually creating our own thing. I eventually decided to strike out on my own to find a bathroom.

When I came back to find my boyfriend, I saw him standing near a fan, innocently enough. But this was no ordinary fan. It was a fan teeming with women. *cue dramatic sound effect*

I noticed that one of the women had taken a particular liking to my partner, and though he walked away indicating his disinterest, she looked displeased that her efforts had not panned out. Rather than continue to analyze her, I shot my partner a livid glance.

“Who was that.” There is an intentional lack of a question mark here. I wanted to send the message that my question¬†would¬† be addressed, in full,¬†no matter the answer.

“Nobody,” my partner responded confidently. “Some girl trying to talk to me, but I just told her I was here with you.”

I asked a couple more questions and he went into a little more detail. At this point, I should have moved on and had a good night with my partner, but instead I adopted this stance for the remainder of the evening, ensuring that many of these glances were aimed at Miss Checkered Pants herself as often as possible:

when someone flirts with bae

You see, for most people, jealousy is something that occurs in passing. It’s an afterthought. Or it only comes up if something REALLY big happens, like the other person having a secret family or flirting with a good friend.

But in Haley Territory, it’s a different scenario.

I have had some really, really abysmal¬†things happen to me in relationships. I’ve been cheated on plenty of times, often in exceptionally creative ways. I’ve had money stolen from me. I’ve had life plans altered or ruined amidst the promise of a good relationship, only to be halted by utter asshattery.¬†Couple that with my long-brewing insecurity over my looks and general worth to society, and you have quite an overreacting, overdramatic mess on your hands. And I’m sorry to say that that mess is me, even though my relationship now is near-perfect, my plans are intact, and I have no reason to stay so messy.

If you’re like me, the three things below just might be the only things that’ll keep you sane when the time comes. After everything I’ve tried to tell myself, these are the only tactics that have actually worked for me. They are:

1) Do not look too deeply¬†into your partner’s past.¬†Your partner’s romantic past should not be delved into beyond the basics. While it’s important to know the gist of the main exes or other major players in your belle/beau’s history, it’s unhelpful to know the details of the one-offs and the minor people.¬†There’s enough jealousy and questioning with the main ones, so for your own sake, please don’t add any more veggies into that pot (if that’s even an expression). Your partner is with¬†you now. Focus on that.

2) Put yourself in their position.¬†Hopefully, if you’re in a relationship, you are the type of person who is enamored of your partner and can barely glance at another person. If you’re in a relationship, you have hopefully chosen a like-minded person to be with. Thus, assume that they, like you, are enamored of you and don’t want anybody else. Otherwise, why would they be with you?

3) Focus on your own development.¬†Take it from me: looking at people on TV and Instagram can be absolutely soul-crushing. I’d be lying if I said that I never got jealous of these people, because sometimes it damn near ruins my day. But I don’t have the time, money, or – most importantly – the true desire to get ice-blue hair extensions, photo facials, or Balmain dresses, so I’m not gonna look like those people. So I focus on things that matter to¬†me,¬†like making my muscles stronger and becoming a better-than-2-bit writer (I’m sitting at around 3 bits, which isn’t bad…but I’d like to be better). Do the same for yourself – focus on being the best YOU that you can be and don’t cave to others’ expectations to be anything else, whether that’s your partner’s or some random magazine model¬†who’s (insanely Photoshopped) face seems to be judging you through the pages.

As with anything I say on here, I speak from my own, limited experience.¬†I’m obviously still struggling with this, to the point where I might even write a book of short stories about my jealousy. It might actually be a winning addition to the comedy shelves at your local bookstore.

Oh man, maybe I should go work on that idea.

-H

How to Handle Having Differing Points of View

I almost titled this “How to Effectively Argue with Someone when you Have an Overwhelming Desire to Rip Out and Pulverize their Soul (or Force-Educate Them Because I’m Right and I Know it So Listen to Me)”. The fact that I simultaneously post these articles on LinkedIn as well is the ONLY thing stopping me.

Ask my Mom, Dad, and siblings: I’m an arguer. About 95% of people see me as sweet, caring, and non confrontational, and they’re right. Honestly, this is how I normally am and this is how I prefer to be. More often than not, I find myself in the middle of arguments, trying to mediate between two parties other than myself. A few years back, I even started a Dear Abby-esque relationship blog (which I will NOT link to unless expressly asked) wherein I gave people advice about cheating girlfriends, backstabby friends, and iguana-napping ex-husbands (kidding…but what a great/terrible potential story).

Only about 5% of humans ever witness the Incredible Hulk of Arrogance and Opposition that lurks within. Let me explain.

The Vitriolic Variance (sadly, not a new Lemony Snicket title)

About six weeks ago, I noticed that an acquaintance of mine posted something that was disparaging towards media darling Caitlyn Jenner. While I have my own reservations about the methods¬†of the Kardashian Clan, I was stoked that Caitlyn’s recognition seemed to be bringing about greater awareness and understanding of the transgender community. The post looked something like this:

(Insert trite argument about Caitlyn Jenner not deserving the ESPY award and not being a hero)

(Insert patently unfunny transphobic meme for maximum effect)

As you can see from my descriptions, I’m still not willing to cave and say that what my friend posted was okay. Harassment and violence towards transgender people is rampant and over 40% of transgender teens have attempted suicide. Obviously, I don’t think ignorance in this area is a laughing matter.¬†However…

I kind-of-sort-of reacted like a two-year-old, pulling the old “acrimonious¬†comment on post + unfriending” combo. I figured that by both commenting on this issue for the world (read: my friend’s friends) to see and unfriending the perpetrator I would send a clear and effective message. The intended message? “You’re a douchebag and should feel bad about yourself and everyone should call you out you big douchebag”. The actual message sent? “I’m a coward and a knee-jerk-reactor and now I look really immature and maybe I’m¬†kind of being a douchebag”.

I admit, I literally huffed and puffed while I wrote my¬†response. I had banged on my computer keys so hard that I feared I would have to call my university’s tech repair group to get a new keyboard. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. And I reacted with as much rash passion as I was feeling in my veins.

To make a long story short, my friend and I argued back and forth until I got so frustrated with his “lack of intellectual compliance” (as I would arrogantly and Kim Jong Il-ishly put it to a friend later*) and blocked him. In other words, I rounded out my asshat behavior with more asshat behavior.

Don’t react when you want to the most

The biggest mistake I made was responding to that post immediately after I saw it. I’m willing to admit that my internal thoughts on the matter were valid and unavoidable. But my actions,¬†the arguably more important piece, were not controlled properly.

If you see something on the Internet that upsets you, I think it would behoove you to wait¬†at least 20 minutes to process what the F you just read. For all you know, there was no harm intended. At worst, you can decide that the person making the comment isn’t worth arguing with.

Since I respected and liked my friend (despite not having seen him for a couple years), my reaction¬†should’ve involved waiting and politely messaging him. But I didn’t, so I’m here with something to write about instead (hey…silver lining, right?).

Obviously, tactfully reacting to something in real time is even more challenging. So what should you do? Lie and say you agree with them? Awkwardly stare and let your eyes bulge out of their sockets? Start yelling random things out and when the person asks you what’s wrong,¬†run away screaming that you have to poop? (Maybe, uh, use that last one¬†sparingly.)

I hate people telling me to breathe, but I’m going to go full hypocrite on you right now:¬†the first step is to breathe. The second step is to let them talk as much as possible to get the full sense of what they’re saying. No matter how mad you are, the best things to say are things like:¬†“I respectfully disagree, but I’m happy that you shared your point of view with me.” If you so choose, you can then¬†proceed to detail exactly why you disagree.

Don’t put people into categories

I pride myself on not being judgmental, but even I am so full of crap when I say that.

If someone doesn’t support gay marriage, my gut reaction is that they are¬†“ignorant” to me. If someone doesn’t believe in evolution, they are “misinformed” to me. Playing this sort of categorization game is not only judgmental, but damaging to your relationships.

Things are not black and white. We forget that there’s also ivory and ecru, gunmetal and glaucous (yes…that’s an actual color, even though it sounds like the technical term for eyeboogers or something). In other words, people should’t be seen as “good” or “bad”, but should be evaluated based on the sum of their experiences, beliefs, and actions. That means that, yes, a person¬†can be smart and hold views on abortion, gun laws (note: I accidentally typed “fun laws” at first – coincidence?), or church vs. state that are diametrically opposed to yours.

Don’t have a goal of changing someone’s mind

When we are trying to make people act in our best interests, we get a little aggressive. And with this aggression, we get no closer to converting them to our school of thought than we do converting the Pope to Scientology.

People with staunch beliefs don’t take kindly to people trying to change their beliefs, so don’t try to do that. Focus on presenting your view calmly and logically, knowing that – gasp! – you might not (and probably won’t) win the argument. At the very least, your opponent with see you as reasonable and level-headed, even if they still disagree with you. This is much better than making an impassionate case yet looking like a tool. Trust me.

Again, consider my little anecdote a lesson. Having had (and still having) plenty of friends and family members who I disagree with politically but love and respect enduringly, I’m kind of an expert at this. Should you get an urge to throw a chair at someone you’re arguing with, just breathe, listen, and for both of your sakes, agree to disagree.

-H, Liberal Lunatic/Aggressive Arguer/Kind and Loving Soul

*Thanks to this little remark, I’ll probably never be allowed to go to North Korea, which I’ve always been curious to visit. Great. ūüôĀ