The Hamster Cage

When my first marriage was thrown on a land mine by my ex-wife, I lived with my sister and her family while looking for a place to live. Looking to save money while trying to regroup, I eventually chose an efficiency apartment above a diner. Hideous carpet on slanted floors, a bathroom better suited for a mental institution, and mismatched appliances. All of that in something under 250 square feet.

We dubbed it The Hamster Cage.

I managed to survive there for over a year, and with paltry rent (for the Chicagoland area) I was nicely flush when it came time to move into an apartment that would suit our soon-to-be-expanding family. But the days spent in the hamster cage were the most frugal of my life to date. Now it turns out, I may need to get some more cedar shavings.

As you may know, I recently was let go from my job. You may not know that I was quickly hired by another firm and sent on a consulting assignment in Columbus, OH. First day on the job was Columbus Day. Go figure.

At any rate, the contract may last up to a year. But the Cubs may also win the World Series. So with that level of certainty about the future of this employment, there was no consideration given to fully relocating. Thus, I will be commuting on a weekly basis back and forth between our home and Columbus.

Further complicating matters is the fact that I am eating the travel and living costs. Subsequently, even the $53/night rat hole I am sitting in while typing this will be too expensive to maintain for the long run. I need a cheaper place to stay.

I’ve looked at craigslist.org in the “roommates/shared housing” section, but the more I think about it, the more I think that’s a bad idea. It would be just my luck that the most sane, courteous, responsible human being during the search process could wind up being anything from Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage” to Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon.” I have enough trouble tolerating normal people; abnormal ones could drive me to homicide, especially if I had to live under the same roof with one.

So, I’m thinking about a loft, a studio, another efficiency, or most likely a 1-bedroom apartment here in Columbus. Another exercise in frugal living, and maybe a precursor to the “Ready For Less” theme that we’re pursuing.

No television. No radio. I have to have a computer: can’t avoid that, I work in computers! But stripping life down to the bare essentials, identifying the things that I need, eliminating the extraneous and the extravagant. Spend the free time I create from eliminating the time-wasters in my life by doing the things that I should be doing — losing weight being first among them.

Nothing’s firm yet, this is all just in the planning stages. In the mean time, I’m going to go eat some raisins, make a bed out of Kleenex, and go run on my wheel.

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