The Search … Resumes.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

Through the window, I could see the sunlight glinting off of Lake Ontario below. A lone hot dog stand sat close to the water’s edge. Next to it, cars whizzed down Lake Shore Boulevard.

To the left of the building, cars and trucks sped along the Gardiner Expressway. Just beyond it was a smaller body of water – likely Grenadier Pond.

I was standing in a condo that was up for sale, on the 7th floor of a building that had been registered for a year.

You entered by way of key card – not a key. There were hardwood floors and double closets. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom was a decent size for one person. It had a small balcony. Even the size of the living space wasn’t terribly tiny.

It was, quite literally, the nicest unit I’d seen so far, since resuming my real estate search a month ago.

Yep, you heard me.

That talk back in January about sucking it up and getting on with it? Well, I guess I was lying to myself. Again.

I HAD been looking at rental listings, trying to get a feel for I could expect for less than three zeroes. In fact, I still am.

But it was a phone call in March, to an agent I’d spoken to last fall, which set the wheels in motion again.

So, about the nice condo near the water: it was close, but no cigar. I did seriously consider it. But the location was the issue. If I was a driver with a car, there’d be no problem. But as a pedestrian, commuting would be a bit awkward. Plus the only thing immediately in the area was the low-rise hotel next door. And as a single woman, I had my reservations, especially travelling after dark. So my search continues.

I’ve been at this newest attempt for just over a month. I’ve seen eight units so far this time around. Not surprisingly, the prices of properties have jumped in the six months I took a break, and they continue to climb.

I fully realize what I’m getting into – a seller’s market, where people are listing and selling for as much money as they can get. So “tiny” now applies to square footage, not cost. I’m not kidding myself by any stretch of the imagination.

Do I think I’ll be successful this time? I’ve got absolutely no clue. But I’m trying to prescribe to a slightly different philosophy.

I’m trying to be more proactive in telling my agents which units I’m interested in looking at. But I’m trying to treat this as the search for my first place as an adult, rather than an investment. Perhaps that’s a foolhardy way to look at it. But that’s frankly how people are treating their houses and condos – as investment properties that are used to try and make large monetary gains.

And prices aren’t going to be like this forever – they’ll take a drop. But then again, experts of all stripes have been saying that for at least the last six years.

And frankly, I really don’t want to spend the remainder of my young adulthood, living with Mom and Dad, waiting for this to happen.

Yes, I could rent. But I’d rather give this option another spin of the wheel than putting this quest on hold.

The truth is, I’m cautiously optimistic at best, realistic/pessimistic at worst. I’m keeping my expectations very low and give this latest go-round until June or July. And then I’ll re-evaluate.

But for now, I’ll put the condo near the water out of my mind, continue to exercise some patience … and hope that when the time is right, I’ll pounce and hit my target.

An Interesting Proposal

Two Sundays ago, I logged on to Facebook late at night and noticed  a somewhat-frantic Facebook message from an old university friend.

She was in a bind and needed someone to proofread 40 pages of her master’s thesis by Wednesday afternoon. Would I be able to help, or help her find someone who could do it? She was willing to pay.

I won’t lie. I was interested. So I started racking my brain.

Truth is, I didn’t know anyone offhand. And I was off on weekdays, which would make the proofreading job completely possible.

In the end, I wrote her back. And after a few missed phone calls and delayed e-mail exchanges, I was on the case.

By this point, it was Tuesday. She said she’d e-mail it to me by 7 p.m. so I could turn it around for her by noon (!) on Wednesday.

Well, 7 p.m. actually ended up being 11:15 p.m. And I spent a good part of the night, and almost all morning, to edit it. And she got her proofread thesis a couple of minutes after noon.

Yesterday evening, we met up for (non-alcoholic) drinks and dessert, because she wanted to thank me for my help, but also to catch up on each other’s lives.

But I totally wasn’t expecting what came next.

It came out that somehow – between working and earning her degree – she’d been writing manuscripts for novels. And she wanted to get the first of them published for this fall.

Now, she wasn’t going to go the traditional route, by finding a publishing company. She thought she’d lose creative control over her book, if she did that.

She was going to self-publish. (I can only guess what you might think.)

She’d already looked into getting someone to do the cover art, and was currently looking into getting an ISDN bar code for the book. 

She just needed to find someone who was willing to proofread her manuscript.

Would I be interested in taking it on? Or, would I know someone who could do it for her?

If I took it on, it wouldn’t be a rush job like her thesis. I’d apparently get a couple of months to do it. And the manuscript would be at least a couple hundred pages.  

So here I am again, mulling it over. 

On one hand, I’d get to do something that’s kind of interesting. And the compensation for the job might be sweet. (But then, it brings up another issue of dealing with the tax-man. And this isn’t something I can do under the table, because I’m SURE it would catch up with me later.)

But on the other hand, I’m not a professional proofreader. And besides, what exactly would I be getting myself into? And – heaven forbid – what if her book wasn’t any good

I have until next week to give her an answer.

Time to start thinkin’ about it.

*Image courtesy of smyles blog.

Um, Winning?

Last Thursday, a good friend of mine (newly transferred to my workplace from another office in Iqualuit) and I were chatting at her desks, when she turned to me and said:

“So I have two tickets to the Charlie Sheen show here in Toronto, on the 15th.”

“WHAT?” I said incredulously. “Are you serious?!”

She went on to explain that her boyfriend had bought them for her while they were still up north-  retail price: somewhere in the ballpark of $150.

But since he was still up north, he wouldn’t be going, so she had an extra one.

And if I wanted to go, I could have it.

The thing is, going to see Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour would be something I’d just joke about.

So my reaction was, “Aw, YUCK! Disgusting! Why on earth would you want to go?”

She didn’t see the “yuck” factor so much as the “yuk” factor – not that she thought he’d be funny, but to witness the human train wreck in the flesh would be hilarious.

Full disclosure: When Sheen commandeered the conductor’s seat on the crazy train and did that circuit of interviews back in late February and early March, I was sucked right into it like a lot of people. The litany of nonsensical quotes had me in temporary stitches. It was UNREAL.

But for me, the novelty soon wore off.

That’s not to say, though, that hours after that conversation with my friend, the tiniest part of me was was actually mulling it over. (That’s also the part present in most toddlers, dogs, and other creatures that have difficulties with impulse control.)

I did an informal survey via status update on Facebook, and except for two people, everyone else pretty much reinforced what I already had figured out for myself.

But in their responses, they brought up a pretty good point, which made me think of the one person that cemented my decision:

Chris Brown.

You know of Chris Brown, right? Well, you could be forgiven if you didn’t really pay attention to him before February 8, 2009 … and if you’ve NEVER heard of him, I applaud you. (It’s better that way).

Before that date, I’d listened to a few of his tunes. I even had downloaded one of his songs at the time on my iPod.

As soon as the assault against Rihanna came to light, my whole outlook on him changed. Within days, I’d wiped the song from my iTunes library (and thus wasted $1.00 on music).

Forget the fact he was some budding R&B singer. What he did to a woman, another human being, was inexcuseable. That instantly turned me off. I was done.

Fast forward to this March. Brown, in the middle of promoting his latest album, was on Good Morning America, when he was asked about Rihanna and the resulting restraining order. (The show claimed they had cleared the line of questioning with him first.)

While he managed to keep it together during the interview segment, he went nuts backstage during a commercial break, becoming violent, tossing a chair and cracking a window, and ripping his shirt off in a rage.

I read this story and just shook my head. Here we go again, I thought.

But then Brown went and did something that – in its own way – made the most sense. He took to Twitter and ranted about being tired of people bringing up his past behaviour, when Charlie Sheen and other celebrities were praised, even rewarded, for it.

He deleted it moments later, but it was up long enough for people to catch it.

And there you have it.  

Like Brown, Sheen’s behaviour towards women is appalling. He’s unrepentant. And he’s got issues.

And yet, what  does it say about me, if I decide not to watch Chris Brown on TV or listen to his music …

But spend my hard-earned money to see someone who clearly has a LOT of demons he refuses to deal with, and truly doesn’t care, as long as I help fund his destructive lifestyle? 

Or, go to see a movie starring Mel Gibson, knowing of the vitriol-fuelled things he screamed over the phone at someone who was formerly his wife? (I realize that situation is frought with its own issues because of the players involved.)

But it’s all about consistency when it comes to personal convictions.

The Toronto Star’s Rob Salem wrote ALL about Sheen’s show in his column this morning – using much snappier language than myself. 

This isn’t an argument to talk people out of going, ’cause I’d never win. And I don’t think any less of my friend for wanting to go.

People are still going to run to Massey Hall tonight and tomorrow and gawk at the yard sale that is Charlie Sheen. They’re probably going to camp outside his hotel (which, if Facebook inferences prove to be accurate, is right next to my workplace).

But for me, my celebrity schadenfreude has evaporated. And what I see is people throwing their hard-earned money at a wilfully defiant, pathetic excuse for a human being who’s had it relatively easy his entire life.

My friend can keep her ticket.