Apartment Life, Money Matters

7 Reasons I’m Renting — for Now

Renting, for me, is a temporary situation. It’s definitely not the worst living situation to have, and there are advantages to apartment life (as well as downsides).

Eventually, I do want to buy a home, mainly for the sake of my kids. I’m just not sure, yet, where that house will be—or when I’ll be moving into it.

Let me acknowledge a fact of which I’m fully aware: as a renter, I’m paying someone else’s mortgage rather than my own. I’m helping the owner of that property build equity.

This is not something to argue or to take personally. It’s just a fact. Real estate agents share this not to shame renters but to encourage anyone who might be on the fence to take a closer look at their options.

Now, let me add that, in full knowledge of that fact, I’m choosing to rent right now for the following reasons:

  1. Credit
  2. Parenting Time
  3. Walking Distance
  4. Amenities
  5. Security
  6. No Lawn or Flowerbeds to Maintain
  7. No Need for Major New Purchases


My credit rating has taken a hit over the past 20+ years and I’m currently working on repairing it (getting back to “Excellent”). Even if I wanted to buy a house, no mortgage lender would take me seriously right now.

With tightening FICO restrictions, it’s near impossible to get a mortgage loan if your rating is under 620 (or is it 640?).

So, I’ll work on that before I think about buying a home.

Parenting Time

For the time being, living in an apartment within a ten minute’s drive from my kids’ dad (to make the joint custody/parenting time arrangement easier) makes more sense.

There are no houses around here within my price range that I’d want to commit to for the next several years.

That could change, and I could revisit the idea in the next few years. But right now, the apartment I’m renting is the best option for me.

Walking Distance

I love that my new apartment is within walking distance of a the downtown area. I’ve missed being able to walk to places from my apartment (the one I had years ago in Salem, Oregon). I’m hoping, when I can buy a home, that I can find one within walking distance of the nearest downtown area—or at least a few places I’d want to walk to.

For now, it helps that my apartment is nearly right across the street from the middle/high school my youngest will be attending next fall (2023-24). When he’s staying with me, he’ll be able to walk to and from school, if he wants—at least when the weather is decent.


Our new apartment complex has a well-equipped laundry room, a fitness room (small but effective), a business room/study, and a community room we can reserve at no charge for social gatherings.

It also has secure high-speed internet included in the rent. And while I’ll still be bringing my ethernet cable, that’ll save me a hunk every month. The rent for these apartments is neither low-end nor high-end for the area.


Our new apartment complex has a secured entrance, and each tenant uses an app that allows them to see the person at the door who contacts their apartment number to request entry.

Plus, every apartment door has a peephole. It’s a small thing (literally), but it was one of the first things I looked for when I toured the apartment.

No Lawns or Flowerbeds to Maintain

I don’t have time for outdoor landscaping, lawn mowing, etc. My houseplants are enough for now.

No Need for Major New Purchases

Here are a few things the apartment already comes with:

  • Refrigerator w/ freezer
  • Microwave
  • Oven/Range
  • Dishwasher
  • Air conditioning

I won’t even need to invest in my own security system, which is a big deal for me. That’s one of the major selling points for this apartment complex, right alongside the fact that the rent makes it affordable.

One day, maybe, we’ll have an in-unit washer and dryer, but that’s not one of my top priorities right now.

Paying down debt and rebuilding my credit will be more important over the coming months than renting an apartment with all the bells and whistles. The lifestyle my kids and I live in that unit doesn’t have to please anyone but us.

To me, renting this apartment is a meaningful step up from before. And that’s just the start I need.

Would I Consider Home Ownership in the Future?

Yes! As I mentioned before, I see renting as a temporary situation. I see the value in building equity in a home. I do want to become a homeowner.

It’ll have to wait, though, until my credit rating is in the good zone and my monthly debt payments take up far less of my income.

As for the kind of home I’d want to invest in, I’ll have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves before I start shopping for one. Not sure, yet, whether I’ll be looking for a one-story or two-story home—or what I want to live close to. Those details will come later.

That said, I would be giddy over a chance to custom-design a 3D-printed home using virtual reality goggles. The sci-fi nerd in me loves that.

If you’re curious, check out SQ4D’s website — along with their TikTok. I’m a fan.

What do you love about renting?

If you’re renting right now, what do you love about it? And if you don’t mind sharing this in the comments, what made you choose renting over buying—at least for now?

And what would it take for you to decide you were ready to buy a home?

image for asocial blog
Identity, Mental Health

What does it mean to be asocial?

Note: I’ve revised this post after rethinking the message sent by the original draft.

You’re so antisocial!

You get that a lot, right? Except you’re not really “anti-” people. You just find smaller groups easier to get comfortable with, you find one-on-one conversations easiest, and, when you need alone time, you really, really need it.

Welcome to the asocial world, where we generally prefer to spend less time socializing than the average sociable person, even if we genuinely like the people we know and work with.

Whereas antisocial behavior is openly hostile or antagonistic toward others, asocial behavior typically isn’t. Asocial people can certainly be awkward around people, but that awkwardness doesn’t stem from dislike or a lack of interest in others.

Sometimes, we’re just not that great at conveying our genuine interest in real and deep relationships. Small talk, on its own, is something we tend to avoid. But we might use it as a segue to a more interesting conversation.

That said, sometimes, those of us who are asocial by nature can act in ways others perceive as antisocial. Sometimes, we simply shut people out—not as an expression of antipathy but because we’ve picked up on someone’s negative feelings toward us, and don’t see a benefit to maintaining whatever conversation we’re shutting down.

At its simplest, it’s a cost-benefit analysis. If no one benefits, and we see no point in keeping ourselves open to one angry salvo after another, we shut it down.

I’d like to think it were that simple. Truth be told, there’s a lot more emotion involved.

For me, that emotion is often behind my own tendency to block people to shut down a painful conversation that is making it impossible for me to focus on the things I need to do—things that are higher on my list of priorities.

For the moment, I’m essentially hitting the mute button—not to shut them out forever but to create a safe space for me to process the conversation and recover from the overwhelm.

It sounds simple and reasonable. More than that, though, it’s often the only way I know how to deal with a conversation that seems unlikely to benefit either one of us.

So, why do so many people think it’s “antisocial”?

After all, the aim of the asocial person isn’t to hurt anyone. But when someone is angry with us and seems intent on making us feel small, we put up walls to protect ourselves from what feels like an attack. It’s what we’ve learned to do. And it’s a hard habit to break.

It doesn’t mean we don’t still hope we can find a way to make things better.

And it doesn’t mean we can’t distinguish between constructive criticism and nagging/nitpicking. We can. And we we 100% appreciate people being honest with us, even if their words might sting a bit in the short-term.

But when we need to get a way for a bit and process something, we tend to honor that need—unless we’re in the middle of something (work, etc.). For me, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll tell myself, “After I finish work, I’ll spend some time journaling and take a walk (with music).” I make myself a promise. And then, I get right back to work.

“Why are you like this?”

Speaking for myself, I’m honestly not sure. It could be the autism.

Some asocial people (including me) are on the autism spectrum. And autistic brains work differently from neurotypical ones. Social situations present more challenges to us, because we have a harder time picking up on other people’s nonverbal cues.

Last December, near the end of 2020, my therapist, whom I’d been talking to for a few months, told me in her own words, based on her assessment and her experience with other autistic clients, “I would say you’re definitely autistic.”

She made it clear her words didn’t amount to an official diagnosis. But I needed to hear that.

While every authoritative online test I’d found (thanks to sites by other adults with autism) had said as much, I wanted to hear it from someone who’d assessed others on the spectrum.

Since insurance doesn’t typically cover autism screening for adults, there’s widespread acceptance of self-diagnosis—based on results from authoritative online tests and/or informal assessments from counselors/therapists—in the adult autism community.

So, how is that relevant to this post?

While I’d love to think my asocial tendencies are rooted in a calm, dispassionate approach to life and to other people—as if I’m “above it all” (Ha!)—it’s more likely tied to the way my autistic brain has learned to cope with the world and other people.

Much as I love texting and email as alternatives to talking on the phone, there are a lot of nonverbal cues that go with them. There are unspoken rules about social interaction that folks with autism aren’t as likely to pick up on just by being around people.

This explains so much. I won’t go into all that in this post.

Turns out, texting and email don’t protect us from those unspoken social rules. They might make it a tad easier (which I’ll take), but I still make mistakes in the way I communicate with people via text messages.

And when things go south, and someone is angry with me over a misunderstanding, I’ve been too quick to shut things down and block them (temporarily). Again, it’s not because I don’t want to have anything to do with them ever again. I just need time.

So, why don’t I just say that? “Hey, I need time to think about this before I give you an answer. Please know I’ll give it serious thought. You deserve that much,” etc.

In one past conversation, something I’d said (thinking it was reasonable and unlikely to offend) made someone angry enough to start picking me apart, ranting on one thing after another that was wrong with me. I was genuinely surprised at how many things she disliked about me or felt she needed to criticize—all because I’d politely declined her request that I blog under a different name.

As far as I could tell, she had already decided to see the worst in me. And the only way I could put an end to her pointless and exhausting barrage of insults was to block her.

Even then, I hoped someday I would find a way to make things better, so we could get along well again. And I suspected the conflict was at least partly my fault, and that there was something I couldn’t see yet that I needed time to process.

I wish I didn’t need so much time to get there. You’d think after years of frustrating people, I’d have learned how to do better by now. As my dad used to say—after I’d charged ahead to do something impulsively (because it seemed like a good idea at the time), “You just don’t think!

But I am learning.

Popular Myths about What it Means to Be Asocial

It doesn’t take much internet research to find some popular myths about what it means to be an asocial person. Some myths are more insulting than others.

Here are five worth addressing in this post:

  • Myth: Asocial people lack confidence.
  • Truth: Asocial behavior doesn’t need to have anything to do with confidence; in many cases, it’s about social habits that stem from differences in brain function. That said, in my case, confidence is definitely an issue.
  • Myth: Asocial people lack social skills.
  • Truth: While social skills can be a challenge for some who exhibit asocial behavior, plenty of asocial people are as good at socializing as anyone else. They just choose to do less of it (often because it depletes their energy). Again, in my case…. well, you get it.
  • Myth: Asocial people don’t care about anyone but themselves.
  • Truth: Asocial people tend to be jealous of their headspace and energy. They don’t like to waste it on things that aren’t their business or that benefit no one. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about other people. Speaking for myself, the more I’ve learned to be grateful for other people and what they bring to my life, the more it hurts when I alienate them.
  • Myth: Asocial people care more about ideas or tasks than about people.
  • Truth: Again, asocial people are as likely to genuinely care about people as more sociable people. Their concern may just be less obvious. It’s true many asocial people are task-oriented and idea-loving creatives. Often, they’ll work behind the scenes, putting those leanings to work, to better serve the people they care about. For me, it’s been a slow learning curve, because I do spend too much time in my own head. But when I’m at work, that is my primary focus.
  • Myth: Asocial people don’t have friends (or don’t want any).
  • Truth: This is more likely to be true of someone whose behavior is antisocial (thought they don’t always intend to keep people away; antisocial behavior is more complex than that). Asocial people often have real friends. Most of those who don’t still have a genuine desire for a real and lasting friendship. I write this as someone who doesn’t get out much for social events. My best (non-relative) friends are the amazing people I work with, who inspire me to be better.

While asocial people, in general, don’t have to change who they are to fit society’s expectations, they do have to be watchful to avoid the extremes of asocial behavior, which can isolate them even from their friends and family.

What Makes Some People More Likely to be Asocial?

Often enough, asocial behavior is related to an underlying difference in the way your brain works, whether it’s something you were born with, something you developed along the way, or something that happened to you. Any of the following factors can contribute to asocial behavior:

  • Autism / ASD / Asperger’s
  • Mood Disorders—like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Childhood trauma or neglect
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) or Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  • Agoraphobia (or other social phobias)
  • Grief / Mourning

Can asocial behavior be harmful?

It bears repeating: Asocial behavior isn’t anti-people. It’s just less sociable than what most people (with better social skills or a stronger desire to socialize) expect.

Chances are, you’re not doing anything objectively harmful to someone else. But if your asocial behavior is consistently pushing people away or keeping them at arm’s length, you owe it to yourself to take a closer look at the reasons behind it.

Whether or not your being asocial is truly maladaptive depends on whether it holds you back from accomplishing your goals. Some of those goals will have to do with relationships. Because asocial people still have (and value) those.

People still matter to us, even when our behavior seems to say otherwise.

If your asocial tendencies are holding you back, then yes, they can be harmful—to you and to your relationships with others.

So, what can you do?

You can’t please everyone. And not everyone you manage to alienate will want to reconcile with you. But the following tips can make your social life a little easier:

  • Schedule necessary alone time every day. Everyone needs that (some more than others). Do something you enjoy.
  • Prioritize social time with the people closest to you. Maybe schedule a weekly game night or at least one sit-down, sociable meal every week.
  • Make time for meaningful conversations with friends and family members.
  • Find happiness and success in pursuits that are meaningful to you, even if they mean little or nothing to others.
  • Learn social skills (online classes may be of great help with this).
  • Find a good therapist (honestly, everyone needs this, and insurance should cover weekly appointments).
  • Learn effective coping strategies and make them part of your day (meditation, yoga, daily walks, etc.)
  • Forgive your harshest critics (including yourself), and…
  • Remember that everyone (not just you) is struggling with something.
  • Build a new habit of making a list of at least ten things you’re grateful for about a person with whom you’re currently at odds.
  • Find a friend/friends who accept and love you just as you are.

It’s understandable if you think friends like that are impossible to find, especially when you’re not actively searching for one. It might seem like wasted effort. It’s not.

You need someone in your life, outside your immediate family, who…

  • sees you and accepts you just as you are now,
  • doesn’t expect you to meet “normal” sociability standards, and
  • inspires you to keep learning and growing

Someone out there is looking for a friend like you. Even folks on the autism spectrum can get lonely and benefit from a real friend who appreciates your atypical brain—and not because they “have to learn to accept it.”

Keep looking. Keep risking criticism by discovering and being your authentic self. And keep stretching yourself to make the most of your gifts.

Everyone needs to step outside their comfort zone to live the life they want. And if life can be beautiful for everyone (and it can), why settle for less?

Write down what you really want in life. Then go after it.

Addiction, Alcohol

What does it mean to be a functional alcoholic?

I haven’t wanted to call myself an alcoholic. For just a second, the word “functional” makes it easier to accept the word that comes after it.

Then the reality hits: I’m not as functional as I’d like to think. And being an alcoholic means having to give up alcohol.

How is this functional?

We met our deductible this year, so, at least until January, I have a therapist. It’s been nice. During a recent session, she asked me some questions about my alcohol use.

Based on my answers, she told me she would recommend a 30 day inpatient treatment program. That was the first day I heard the words “functional alcoholic” come out of her mouth. I had mixed feelings.

Since inpatient therapy is not an option (I need to be here for my kids, and my income helps keep our heads above water), I’ve had to find a way to deal with it here at home.

I started by agreeing to limit myself to 6 oz. a night.

That was a drop from my accustomed 8+ oz per night. According to WebMD, 7.5 oz is equivalent to five standard drinks. I usually had more.

And apparently, for women, four drinks a night is considered “heavy drinking.” But I’d gotten used to whiskey and vodka, and I craved the way it felt when I drank it. I didn’t want to stop.

But since I usually had to function the next day, I did. I didn’t admit to myself (let alone anyone else) that I was steadily increasing my tolerance.

Because here’s the thing that goes to the heart of “functional” alcoholism:

The word “functional” is in there not because those who have it are more functional than those who get drunk every night (or frequently). It’s not that we necessarily have more self-control, though we might have a more compelling reason to keep up the appearance of it.

It’s just that we manage to still cross things off a list every day:

  • Wake up.
  • Go to work (or work from home).
  • Help kids with school work.
  • Get kids to work/errands/etc. and back home again.
  • Spend time with family.

Something I didn’t want to think about: Today’s “functional” was yesterday’s red flag. 

Functioning is another word for surviving.

And it’s not enough. But if we don’t think we can do more than that, we tell ourselves it’s enough for now.

We tell ourselves we’re still functioning, so we must not have a real problem. But our ability to still get things done doesn’t cancel the damage alcohol is doing to our brains and to the rest of our bodies. And it doesn’t begin to make up for what our families go through while we lie to ourselves.

It’s not enough just to keep the gears moving. And focusing on those gears makes us take longer to face the truth.

I was going through a liter of whiskey about every three days. I always waited until evening — when I knew I wouldn’t have to drive anymore. If I thought my oldest might need a drive back to his place (during bad weather, since he walks), I’d hold off until I knew he was safely back.

And I told myself that was proof enough I didn’t have a real problem with alcohol. I needed to believe I was still the one in control.

  • I could still be there for my kids and get them where they needed to go.
  • I could still work and bring in money.
  • I limited myself (most of the time) to what I knew I could tolerate.

Spoiler Alert #1: My Tolerance Grew

As my tolerance grew, so did my daily consumption. Over the past couple years, I moved from strong beer and red wine to whiskey and vodka.

And it wasn’t just that I was drinking them.

  • I was drinking them every day (8 oz or more).
  • I was sneaking another ounce or two into my glass when my girls were brushing their teeth.
  • I’d set a limit to put others (and myself) at ease, but it wouldn’t be long before I went over that. Usually, it was on a Friday or Saturday night.

That’s not to say I never gave it up. One day I poured the remainder of my bottle of Black Velvet down the kitchen sink drain, with my kids watching, and gave up alcohol for about 60 days straight to see what difference it would make.

I’d read a book by someone who experienced noticeable changes in his appearance and well-being after giving up alcohol for 30 days. I did not.

So, when I had a reason — something to celebrate, maybe — I bought another bottle. And then another….

Cheating on 6 oz

After I agreed to limit myself to 6 oz, I was faithful to that amount… for a few days. Then I started sneaking another ounce or two when I could.

I probably added another two ounces before I stopped. Maybe more. Clearly, policing myself wasn’t working.

Still, whenever I considered the possibility that I might be what my therapist called a “functional alcoholic,” I had excuses at the ready:

  • It’s not like I can’t stop drinking — at least for a while. I’ve done it!
  • I don’t drink when I might have to drive.
  • I’m a grown-ass woman who happens to enjoy a little whiskey or vodka to help her relax after a long day of work, errands, and helping my youngest with his schoolwork.
  • My liver labs are still good.
  • I don’t feel drunk after I’ve had my drink/s at night. I just feel relaxed, with a nice buzz.
  • I have to be so careful during the day. Just let me have this!

I didn’t want to admit to being any kind of alcoholic, because then I’d have to give up alcohol.

And I really, really don’t want to do that.

Notice the “don’t” is present tense. This is not a past thing. Not wanting to give up alcohol for the rest of my life is very much a now thing.

And it really does not help when people talk about how much better I’ll feel once I’m “no longer a slave to it.”

First of all, slaves don’t have the option of giving up their slavery for 30 days to see what a difference it might make. They don’t get to say, “I’m gonna take a break from being a slave — at least for today.”

Let’s please stop equating substance abuse with slavery.

Also, I don’t stop being an alcoholic once I get rid of the alcohol in my house and decide — for today — not to stop at a liquor store and buy another bottle.

I just add the word “recovering.” And it’s not a one-and-done thing. It’s one fucking day after another of deciding to say “No” to alcohol and “Yes” to something else.

I’ll add, too, that the “my body is a temple” stuff is a non-starter for me. I doubt I’m alone in that.

So, what have I done so far?

Aside from asking my husband to hold onto the bottle and put it where I can’t get to it at night (after pouring my daily allotment), the following things have helped me do what I have to do:

  • I signed up for Noom (the app) (* Update: Not using it so much anymore.)
  • I bought a skein of yarn because crocheting helps me destress. (* Update: I donated that.)
  • I keep a daily journal, gratitude list, and planning page(s).
  • I downloaded the I Am Sober app (hoping it will help). (* Still using that.)
  • I keep my therapist posted on my progress (w/ alcohol withdrawal).
  • I’ve found a motivating, alcohol-incompatible goal — at least for now.

With Noom, I started out just logging my meals and keeping my daily portion of alcohol secret (no need to log that, right? It’s not food). I wanted to see if I could lose some weight without giving up my nightly drink.

Spoiler alert #2: I couldn’t. My therapist laughed at me (in a good way).

She also nodded her head and told me what I’d done (along with most of what I was saying) was very much what an addict would do.

Addicts will use any loophole they can find.

So, then, I made a plan to reduce my daily allotment by 0.5 ounces per night, until I reached 1.5 or 2 ounces. The rest would go down the drain.

Day 1 of no alcohol was October 20th — an important date in our family. The night before that, I had my last allotment (2.0 oz) and poured the rest of the bottle down the kitchen sink. It was still about half full. It hurt.

I haven’t joined any alcohol recovery support groups, though my therapist encouraged me to look at some of the options, including AA.

As for the “functional” in functional alcoholic, I still feel some resistance to letting go of it. But when my therapist told me about the 12 Steps and asked if I could repeat the words, “I am powerless over alcohol” (Step One), I could say the words and mean them.

So, even if part of me still wants to believe I could one day enjoy a drink with family or friends without one drink turning into three or without stopping at the liquor store on the way home…

I don’t think that’s an option for me, anymore. And I hate that.

What now?

For now, I’ve switched to chilled sparkling water with a splash of lemon juice or a wedge of lime.

As it gets colder, I’ll probably switch to something warmer. Maybe I’ll finally learn how to make a great cup of tea for my evening drink. Maybe.

(* Update: I’m drinking tea all day, now, starting around 8 am. I’ve found some favorites.)

Aside from beverages, what I’m focusing on now is identifying and working toward goals that are incompatible with drinking — goals alcohol would interfere with.

It’s not enough (as I’ve learned) to replace alcohol with writing-related goals. I’ve already proven to myself I can be a prolific writer and a “functioning” alcoholic.

But I do look forward to having a clearer mind for my daily writing.

If I can slip this far…

We “functional” alcoholics are great at convincing ourselves that — as long as we don’t drink when we might have to operate machinery or walk on a tightrope over small children — that we must be in full control of our liquor habit.

Part of recovering means ditching the word “functional” and facing up to the way alcohol has been affecting every area of our lives — and holding us back.

I didn’t start out drinking 8 oz. (or more) of whiskey or vodka every night. My kids weren’t always deathly silent and downcast when I’d return to the car with another bottle.

So, I’ve stopped trying to do this without any help. But I’m still in the process of finding my own larger support system (beyond my immediate family). I’ve kept a lot of people at arm’s length over the years.

Often enough, support comes with strings attached: other people’s rules and expectations, not all of which are helpful. Accountability, though, is something I can work with.

As for recovery, it’ll have to be one day at a time. I can’t commit to more than that right now. I don’t know if I ever will.

I’m okay with that.