Monday, April 14, 2008


We are in for sticker shock. I’ve been perusing real estate web pages for the city of Austin, and I’m finding that it ain’t cheap. This terrifies me.

Right now, what I imagine is that, at best, we’ll find a white-flight second-ring subdivision and, particularly, a Brady-Bunch-ranch-style house built some time between 1955 – 1977. A place we can renovate. Then, when I graduate and begin pulling a steady income again, maybe we can sell it and move into the kind of neighborhood we like.

i.e. The kind of first-ring, post-WWII subdivision we live in now, or even something older. Will we have to trade in our little cypress wood siding, 1947 3-bedroom with a front porch and porch swing and wood floors and high ceilings and built-in bookshelves by the fireplace and a tiny, manageable backyard for a TX ranch-style with a humongous front yard and back yard? Sigh. I can see making it work. I really can.

I close my eyes: I think I can. I think I can. C. dreams of buying a lot in the kind of neighborhood we like and then designing and building our own house. Totally contemporary. I can see that too. Or buying something old and doing a contemporary addition. I can see a lot of things. I think I can. I think I can.

What I know: We will NOT be going to the ex-urbs. No matter how affordable they are. Who would I be friends with there?

Another possibility is that we could end up buying a condo or a townhouse, which we could either renovate and flip, or hold onto it and rent it out when we're ready to buy. But even these properties cost about a billion bucks in Austin.

For the time being, we’ll rent.

All this anxiety about property is bringing about other anxiety.

1. Oh Baton Rouge, I am gonna miss you and your cheap real estate. And my neighborhood. And crawfish. And Cajun music. And ALL the music. Lots of music and music festivals. And food festivals. And the ugly, mostly-sleepy, occasionally-awake red stick downtown. And all the year-round-reasons, often even Catholic reasons – like Mardi Gras – to drink beer at 10 a.m. And humidity. And hurricane season. And swamps. And weekend trips to New Orleans. Mostly, my friends. My long-time friends.

2. Am I going to make friends in Austin? Am I in 4th grade? My god. Yes, this is one anxiety I’m currently experiencing, even though, no, I am not in the 4th grade. But I like my friends here, I keep whining to myself.

3. Is it going to be hard to sell our house? Another anxiety plaguing me. When we bought it I was 26, and c. convinced me we should do it. I was terrified. I thought it meant that I’d be stuck in BR forever. I also had no idea what we were doing, technically speaking. I remember loan officers sounded like they were speaking Chinese to us. But I plunged in – scouring the streets for a house that fit us. Now I’m older, and I realize that buying property means we are building the possibility for wealth. That our monthly payments to a mortgage company eventually come back to us, whereas monthly payments to a landlord never come back. But I wonder: What do we need to do in the next three months to get this house ready to sell? Why did we paint our bedroom red? Who wants to buy a house with a red bedroom? What house-fixing-up do we have to pack into our last months in BR,and how will we do this, when all we really want to do is enjoy being in BR? We want to spend our weekends playing, not fixing.

4. Then there is the writing anxiety. I dreamt that I was speaking to a professor at TX State about my plans to work on a novel. I remember that the professor, a woman, clucked at me and made a face that conveyed: I don’t think that’s such a good idea, dear.

5. Last week, my good friend a. who lives in LA and always sends me the best NPR links, sent me a link to a Fresh Air interview with Jhumpa Lahiri. The link contained an excerpt from her new book. Know what the piece was about? (Let me know if any of this rings familiar.) A widower. Know who the characters were? An Indo-American woman. Her American husband. Her newly widowed Indian dad. It was written in 3rd person. I read the exerpt and sat stunned. To laugh or cry? Later, I re-read and realized the excerpt was from a short story, that her new book is a collection of stories and not a novel. So I felt slightly better, but not entirely. At least my short story is the makings of a novel. Fucking Jhumpa Lahiri whose writing I love – even she is stressing me out.

All this anxiety is making me tired. Exhausted. Sigh.

And I have to wonder. Am I crazy? I just got a new freelance job, and between it and the two days a week working for the poet a., I’m going to earn more than I earned as a salaried employee. And I won’t be doing 70-hours a week. And I’ll still be able to work on my own stuff.

So here I am, tired, anxious and possibly not sane. Yet I know way deep down that the most exciting part of my life to this point is about to begin.

SONG: Things that Scare Me, Neko Case

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