Train of Thought

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This was written just with me as stream of consciousness. Sorry if it seems rambling or incoherient, but i'm just trying something different.

After living in Hoboken all these years, as a mostly single man, working every day in the corporate world I have a lot of time to my thoughts.

I get a lot of time to think. I'm sure we all "think", but for me, a lot of who I am is about being introspective and trying to understand people and myself. Sometimes I overthink situations, I try to analyze every possible angle to a situation. Sometimes I come to very relevant conclusions and sometimes I make erronous leaps of logic that result in troubling consequences.

Over the last few weeks, I keep having the same thoughts about my life in Hoboken. It feels like an "Endless Summer". I sort of do the same thing at my job. Get up every morning around the same time, rushing to make it into work as close to on-time as possible, but mostly getting there about 10 minutes late.

My day usually begins the same at the office. I get some food from our cafeteria. I sit and read some emails and check my voicemails. Try to wake up from the night before. I don't drink coffee very often, except when I am really tired. Mostly drink water and some cereal or a bagel.

Work, which I really don't want to go into detail here, is all right. I like the people I work with, for the most part. It sort of reminds me of high school. You have various cliques of people in the office, but everyone generally gets along. I mostly keep to myself at the office and don't really have any friends at my office.

It very much reminds me of my high school days at LaSalle. I was friendly with some people in my grade, but really didn't have any friends that I would "hang out" with. At lunch I would hackeysack with some people. After school I would take the bus home, or drive home when I was old enough.

I never really felt lonely. I always found myself to be my best entertainment. On bus rides, I would get lost in reading a good book. I mostly liked fantasy books, I can easily say that in my room I have about 200 books sitting on bookshelves or my floor that I read over the last few years. Some I finished. Some I didn't.

I'd love to be one of those guys that read really cool sounding literature for fun. Like Hemingway or Salinger or Faulkner. Sure, I read them in high school or college. Never really got into it.

Right now i'm reading "iWoz", by Steve Wozniack, one of the founders of Apple with Steve Jobs. In some ways, I can really identify with Steve, especially his shyness.

I consider myself to be shy. Oh, I know that to some of you who know me it may sound strange, but I think I am shy. I'm not good at the whole icebreaker thing. I'm especially bad at trying to strike up conversation with a woman that i'm interested in. When I see a pretty girl in a bar looking at me, I get embarassed, rather than flattered. I think that she can't really be looking at me, and rarely will do anything about it.

I don't consider myself to be picky. I just think that I don't have whatever the rest of the guys of the world learned when they were in high school. I think that's one of my biggest regrets, that I went to LaSalle. I think it provided a great education, but I ended up lacking in many social experiences that many other high school students may have been a part of. I was living in Gwynedd Valley, on a isolated street. My "old neighborhood" friends were in Richboro, about a 30 minute drive away. Many, many, many weekends once I was a Junior I would drive to see them, but I still think I missed out on a lot of "normal" stuff that everyone else was a part of.

I have found that now that i'm older, I really am the product of those experiences. At work I am that same loner from high school. I certainly can, and have, made friends, but I keep everyone at arms length. I only confide in a few people, some to lesser or greater degrees.

I think i'm fairly happy in life, but do wish I could have a few things to make it "better". I think one would be a nicer place to live. My apartment now is nice enough, but at 34 years old and living with two roommates, I have recently begun to wonder about this situation. I like both my roommates well enough, but I start to feel my age a bit.

I remember the last time I felt my age was when in college I tried to ride my skateboard one day. I was a sophomore, and drive to a local shopping center, which was mostly empty, and tried to skate a bit. Quickly it dawned on me that I was seriously too old to be skateboarding around a shopping center (Although i'm sure Tony Hawk would disagree). After about 15 minutes, I put the skateboard back into my Jeep and haven't tried to ride one since.

The same feeling has been creeping over me for the last year. Certainly I wish I bought 5 years ago. Hindsight is a bitch sometimes. I remember in 1997 I was warning my father about the stock market crashing and how markets were cyclical. Doesn't he remember 1988? He didn't listen to me, and watched his stocks rise and rise. I knew that one day i'd be right. I was. The market corrected itself. It wasn't like I was some wise sage. I watched as the housing market started to overheat and, once again, predicted a correction.

Sadly, I was woefully incorrect when that correction would occur. I was very much expecting it to correct in 2003. I watched on the sidelines as my friends and ex-roommates watched their purchases quadruple in price, while I rented.

Now here I am. Still renting. Still working at the same job. Its that feeling of the "endless summer", the years keep passing and i'm doing the same thing.

This doesn't feel like a mid life crisis exactly. I just feel like I wish I could just afford a nicer place to live in Hoboken. People keep on suggesting places like Weehawken or Jersey City to move, but I simply am a man of routines. I'm a "nester". I like my little nest and don't like changing things if I can help it. I also am very picky about the type of condo i'd like to live in. I don't have very good handy skills to fix anything up, so i'd like some new place to live that doesn't make me broke.

I'm good at saving money, but terrible with my finances. Oh, I have the 401K and max that sucker out, and have plenty of money stashed away for a rainy day. Not to sound like a terrible snob, but money isn't a problem in my life - but don't let me fool you into thinking i'm wealthy, i'm not. I am not a man of extravagant tastes. I know when I have enough to splurge on a plasma TV or a new camera or a Tivo or a nice dinner at The Strip House or buying a nice bottle of wine. I sort of have an internal way of keeping my spending in check. As much as I bitterly complain about my housing situation, I certainly could buy a condo in Hoboken. But I don't want to be living in an expensive condo and eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner. I'll take my roommates and my cheap rent and happily wolf down an expensive steak with a fine wine each month.

Every fall I do the same thing. I look through the J. Crew catalog and pick out some nice sweaters, shirts or other clothes I like (except pants, because I always had a poor success rate with J. Crew and pants). I will spend a fairly hefty amount of money in one phone call and that's it. I get my new clothes in a week, and i'm set for the season, with maybe one or two minor shops at Bloomingdale's Men's Section.

I also wish I had a better system to deal with all the clutter in my apartment. I have a hard time letting things go, like the 200+ books that sit in my room. Here's my thought process: I don't want to throw the books out because I think they have some value and it would be a waste. I don't have the energy or interest to sell them on Ebay. I don't want to give them away (like that used bookstore on Washington Street) because, again, I feel like i'm losing money when I do that.

So there the books sit. And other items. Like my old computer games. I have all my old computer games for years and years sitting in a closet in my room. I mean old games like Commander Keen and the original Doom to new games like World of Warcraft or Civilization 4. I could just throw them out, but maybe I could sell those games to someone at a yard sale? I feel like if I threw them away i'd be just throwing money away. Again, I have zero interest in trying some auction site like Ebay.

So there the games sit.

I don't want to become one of those guys who has stacks of newspapers in his apartment and one of them topples over and then I become trapped and die from dehydration or something. No, i'm not seriously thinking this will be me, I was just joking.

But still, isn't it strange for me to hold on to these books and computer games? I was able to clean my closet last spring and it did feel pretty good. I basically looked at everything I had in my closet and said "Do I like to wear this?" or "Have I worn this in the last year?".

I took everything that didn't make the cut and put them into six garbage bags. I walked down the street and gave them to a Salvation Army-type store. There was some seriously nice clothes I gave away, brand name stuff. But I didn't wear it.

I think I gotta do the same with everything else I own. Just resolve myself past the idea that i'm really gonna get money for my L. Ron Hubbard 10 book "Mission Earth" series. I just checked ebay and each book is selling for .99 cents. I would love to just set up a little stand on Washington Street and try to sell all my books. $1 for every softcover and $3 for each hard cover.

See, there I go again. That's how my mind will go back around and around. Eventually I will just realize that I don't have a solution that I like and ignore that problem until another day.

That's it for now. Just playing around with a different way of writing. Btw, if you read this far - what do you think I should do about all these books? Just give 'em away? You can email me if you don't want to leave a comment.

11 Comments

re: books. See if you can donate them somewhere, and then you can use as a tax deduction. This way you'd get 30% of the value back for them on next years return.

I just donated 2 boxes of books (over 100) to the VA hospital, softcover only. You don't get a letter for a tax deduction, but you can do an estimate for your taxes (only problem if you're audited). I think you're going thru something that happened to me recently. I've removed a lot of clutter from my apt. and from my life...kinda makes for a semi-clean start. Good luck.

Why not try a ebay consignment store where they sell it for you, then take a percentage of the proceeds?

Is there a consignment store in Hoboken? I might donate the softcover books and take the tax rebate and then use the consignment store to sell my hardcover books (which I think could make more money).

Looks like Vintage Views does it:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=ebay+consignment+hoboken

Hi-love the blog. I think you should think about moving. It will really change your perspective and open up some new windows for you. Rents are adjusting and you could get a place just for yourself. You are right-34 is a bit old to have roomies. The new writing style is nice.

The problem I have with moving out & renting is that I feel like i'm going to be, again, throwing money away. I get a realtor to find me a place and that's a month & a half rent gone. Then I have to get a moving van or people to help me move. Even when I do move into a rental it will probably be like $1800-2000 a month, and that's even more money that I could be using on trying to save to buy a place.

Then I get depressed when I try to price out a house in Hoboken. Every listing is about $500 per sq ft, so 1 bedrooms seem to average $400k and 2 bedrooms average $600k. After taxes and maintenece (and even with trying to rent out a second room), the cost to me will be about $2500 per month.

I can afford that, but then i'd be house rich and absolutely cash poor. I sort of like knowing I have a nice nest egg to fall back on - like if I get fired. If I could find a house that cost me about $2,000 monthly (maintenence, taxes and mortgage), i'd buy. That extra $500 per month just makes me grumble.

I'm hoping that housing prices come down like 20% (so 400k 1 bedroom condos are a more reasonable 320k condos). If that happens, I can enter the market.

Until then I just wait.

You'd be surprised- 1 brs are coming down in price into the 300s ... You can even get some brand new 1 brs from the more desperate people who were trying to flip and now cannot sell for around 350k (nice size, too! like 900 sq ft). The key is just to look hard and you'll find them.
As for the stuff you wrote about - funny, I'm the same way. I have tons of stuff I keep telling myself I should sell on ebay, but just don't feel like taking the effort to market it and then ship it. I know, it sounds lazy, but.........

I really like this style of writing. I don't know you at all, but am also shy, introspective and 34, so kinda get it. Although I'm not really stuck in a rut, I can relate. Just remember that everyone is in control of their own lives. If you are a nester and like the results, you pretty much know how life's gonna pan out. You're gonna be in that apt worring about your electrical bill watching roommates come and go and the real estate market go through anoter cycle for the next 10yrs. Honestly, you really should consider buying. Stop worring about how much money you won't have, reduce your 401K investment slightly if you have to. A investment in real estate will give you some much needed equity instead of throwing $ out the window on rent and living with 2 young roommates! It'll give you security and confidence--2 things girls love. $2500 is really not that bad if you've got a NYC corporate finance job and bartending on the side. Or look for a new job/promotion, the market is pretty good. And lastly, there is always the roommate option--tough in a 1bdrm, but would help you reduce the mortgage. Even better, find yourself a nice girl and she could contribute. (that's what I'm doing with my bf now). I don't believe for a second that you can't find a nice girl, try other routes. There is a nice, decent girl who would love to have a serious relationship with you I'm sure. My overall point is to start taking some action!!! Or else you'll be 36 writing the same sentiments..and if you're ok with that, that's fine, but you have to take some accountability. As for the books, you already got some great suggestions. Time to let go..

If you go for a no-fee rental buidling-you will save on the realtor fee. Also, some of my friends have been lucky with rentals by frantic condo owners who can't sell and have to rent them out. Keep your eye on the papers and online (NY Times has lots of hoboken listings for no fee). It's scary to leave what is safe and comfortable but then nothing new and incredible will come into your life. Don't think about "what if" in a negative way (fired, not saving enough etc)-think of it in a positive way (new grown up place, opp to meet new people, privacy etc). As for meeting someone special, I think your Eagles get-togethers are a great place for that. You can talk to the women there in a relaxed setting about football (one thing in common from the start!) and build from there. It's not being at a bar where everyone is sizing each other up with all these expectations and pressure. I have known many people who are in great relationships that hooked up through a passion for a particular team as they started off as friends.

The "endless summer" syndrome is like my worst nightmare, and I can definitely relate. I'm at a different point in my life, but I think the same lesson applies at any time: the long-term benefits of a sensible life change really outweigh both the short-term struggle to "get there" and also the cost of delaying or never making the change.

Your book situation is a microcosm of the same thing. Being a pack-rat (which I myself am often guilty of) is a very real roadblock towards gaining peace of mind - an important piece of mind that gives you the freedom to make real progress in your life. Truthfully, you can only profit from getting rid of things in your life that you don't need. There is a real price for your sanity and even if your sanity is worth just a dollar a day (I would wager it's worth more), then "losing" $300 in used book sales by just tossing or donating them in one fell swoop, you "break even" in just 10 months of not worrying about it. It's a cold way at looking at possessions that mean something to you, but the phrase from Fight Club comes to mind: "the things you own end up owning you".

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on October 5, 2006 12:09 AM.

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