Rent? Isn’t that a Musical?

by Elisabeth


I woke up late today, feeling exhausted because I stayed up drinking wine and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Once the lovely contestants were whittled down to the final three, I decided it would be a good idea to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones, rather than get a good night’s sleep. My drunk self always sells out my morning self. And so it was that I started the day the way I’ve started many a day. Exhausted with no one to blame but myself.


Somehow my outfits always reflect this. I’ve always got one component “off,” and today I looked like a middle-aged woman who just got into Death Cab for Cutie or Blink 182. Thankfully no one said anything. I got to work only to find that my work email wasn’t working, and I sat there, coping, without enough energy to let my stress level climb up to panic-mode.


Somewhere around coffee number two, and some power-sneezing (allergy season!) I get a phone call from Nick.


“The landlord said he didn’t get your last month’s rent!” he said.


It totally annoys Nick that I pay my rent at the beginning of the month, almost a month early, rather than a day or two before the 1st. I do this because I have biting fear issues with money. I like to know certain bills are paid. But how on earth could the landlord not have managed his money properly enough to know that the rent was paid last month?


I was furious, annoyed, and in a panic. I started pouring through my “professional-sounding” Gmail account. I opened up my bank statements with righteousness coursing my blood. On a side note – I’m not a fan of my landlord. Well call him Gyro, because he does Gyrotonic Yoga, some form of yoga that requires you spend time on crazy-expensive machines. Yoga — without the messy spirituality.


What bugs me about Gyro is that he was very vocal about being in full support of Quebec’s Maple Spring (the student protests) and proselytizes with faux socialist rhetoric. Yet as a landlord, we complained about the mold issues, ceiling drips, not having a proper door on my room and instead a sliding one that kept falling off it’s tracks, our front steps that are held up with cinder blocks, stuff like that. All these requests were answered with a one-word email response. He wrote “Thank you.” Then never acknowledged the request again, even if we brought it up multiple times. Add to that his behaviour with not letting us out of our lease and then doubling back and denying the person that we got- Gyro isn’t my favourite dude.


I couldn’t wait to show him how wrong he was about the rent. Except that he wasn’t wrong. I was.


Despite my obsessive fear-driven payment of bills, and the smug memory I had of paying it, I had missed it completely. Not only that, but after paying it today, with an apology, I now have substantially less money than I thought I had.


The paradigm of which I viewed the world this morning changed dramatically. Now picking up fancy cat-food (for a treat!) for Phyllis and Squigit after work seemed frivolous. I started to scold myself for buying my meals at the work cafeteria instead of bringing my lunch. I need to stop sucking back wine, I thought. I need to buckle down, make a budget, stop going out, stop spending money.


Except that when I started to do my budget, things didn’t actually look as bad as I thought they did. I am not such a spendthrift as I thought I was. There are definite luxuries that I afford myself, there are places to cut, but I hadn’t bet the farm. I am, after all, a grownup.

Sometimes I don’t feel like a grownup – mainly because I have bad credit and I feel some semblance of shame about it. But I am good with money precisely because I have bad credit. And people – especially Nick – have helped me get around that.


I got an ironic email in my inbox today where Danielle Laporte was interviewing Kate Northrup about money. Something Kate Northrup said stuck with me.


Debt is neither good nor bad; it’s just how you feel about it.

To take it further, I realized that there’s no way for me to have money all under control. I have no idea what is coming up or what I’ll need or how much my team will sell or any of that. There are some circumstances that I take for granted but even when my future roomie, James, probed me:

How much are you willing to pay for a desk?”

I clammed up. The unknown – money/ earnings/ new city/ fear of making mistakes – all of it is freaking me out. I guess that is normal except for that everything is working out better than I could of possibly imagined. So I’ve got to really kill the glass-half-empty attitude quick, or I’m going to have an empty glass.

All this to say that I’m totally scared and doubting myself. I’m overwhelmed and exhausted by the poor choices I tend to make when I’m overwhelmed. I have a pesky troublesome debt that I have to manoeuvre around to seem like a productive member of society. But if I take a step back and think about it, I’m crazy lucky.

Soon I will be working from home. Living in the city I want to with a dear friend that I love. With Nick close but not too close so we can both grow a bit on our own. With a job! A beautiful suite in a beautiful garden! Literally being caught with a web of arms of awesome friends!

I’m so lucky. The biggest crime would be not to realize it. That said, tonight I’m going to bed early. Because everything is better with more sleep.