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I came back from my summer adventures in San Francisco all excited about renewing my commitment to my blog, and then I proceeded to not post for two months. My apologies. I have been busy, and scattered and confused, building up my life again back home in Colorado: finding work, finding more work than I expected and gratefully lapping up every opportunity, reconnecting, bouncing from house sit to house sit and remembering why that made me feel flustered and out of sorts … Mainly, though, I’ve been uncertain about the direction of this blog.

I’ve been reading some fantastic popular blogs of late, from The Comics Curmudgeon and Medium Large, to RedheadWriting and SEOmoz, to the Tim Ferriss’ blog and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Each blog has a specific focus, an overall message and reason for being. Does mine? So far, I’ve felt unfocused, writing on whatever happens to spark my mind. I wonder whether I should stretch for a gimmick, find a way to promise my readers that I will make them rich (as soon as I figure out how to make myself so) …

But the fact is that I already have a focus for my blog. I have a very strange life. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a mortgage, and I don’t have a lease. More unusual: I don’t want any of these things. I make money, I sleep in safe and comfortable places, and I feel wealthy. I also feel creative, excited, and grateful about my life overall. While my lifestyle is far from unique—in fact, the “joyfully jobless” (as author Barbara Winter calls freelancers and entrepreneurs) are far more common than Americans tend to think. I expect that people in creative housing situations—house sitters, eternal travelers, and those who live in non-house, non-apartment homes like RVs, cabins, mini-houses, and such—are also far more common than we tend to think. Still, there’s far too little talk about the alternatives to the standard American dream of “get a job, work all day Monday through Friday for 50 years, then retire completely; while you’re at it, buy the biggest house you can mortgage, as soon as you can.” As the business world shifts, that dream is becoming increasingly impossible, and I’ll argue that it was always impractical. There are many other ways to live, and many that are not only safe, responsible, and relatively comfortable, but also fulfilling and joyful. Simply blogging about my own life experiments, and those of others I learn about, I’ll never run out of things to say.

There is another reason, though, why I’ve been unsure about this blog: It’s out there for anyone to see. I have a feeling all of the ideas that make me interesting and readable are the kinds of things any proper American should be keeping secret. We’re constantly being told to watch what we write on the interwebs, lest we be unemployable for life. Dates, too, can Google and judge, as can potential roommates, landlords, creditors, anybody. The more unorthodox opinions I share (meaning everything that differentiates me and makes me worth reading), the more I mark myself as a freak. Will I ruin my future chances by expressing myself too widely? Telling people about my odd lifestyle, how I turn down “good” “permanent” jobs, how I hop from home to home and work project to work project, has already started an argument that nearly lost me one of my best friends, and is obviously starting to worry another (more on him next post).

After careful consideration (two months of it!), though, I realize that any job, any business partners, any date or friend or roommate I’d ever really want to be with had best be willing to accept me as I am. I am a responsible, intelligent, hard working, sane, and happy person. I also happen to like exploring unusual ways of making a life. I’m willing to tell the world about that.

One of my favorite web comics put it better:

XKCD Dreams

Special thanks to the glorious XKCD.com

Marching (flying, dancing) with The Go Game in the 2009 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

Marching (flying, dancing) with The Go Game in the 2009 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

I haven’t blogged for three and a half months. I think I had a good reason: I put my entire life on hold to pursue a dream. I told my freelance and pet sitting clients I’d be away, I let my awesome roommate/landlady find a new renter, I put even more of my stuff in storage, loaned my car to my mom, said goodbye to my friends, and headed off to San Francisco for the summer. Why? Following my stated goal of kicking up my acting career, I applied for the 2009 Summer Training Congress, a seven-week professional actor training program through San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. To my great surprise, I actually got in! I set off for two months in a huge, new city, to spend my days steeped in what I love most: acting. For me, it was a dream come true, and a life so different from my usual Colorado ramblings that it felt like a dream.

Knowing that, with nine-hour days of extremely active training, plus rehearsals, plus getting lost and overwhelmed in the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, I let the Nomad blog slide all summer. Instead, I kept those friends who were interested updated with Facebook and Twitter updates (I could handle 140 characters occasionally, but not a whole essay). As with my trip to Portland, this adventure brought out the paradox of blogging an unusual life: When life is at its most interesting, I’m too busy living to blog about it.

It was an amazing summer. I made wonderful new friends and impressive contacts, learned more about acting and Shakespeare and voice and speech and text and the power of movement to communicate than I ever thought I could cram into my being in two months, fell head over heels for a San Francisco novelist, lived in two fantastic apartments and one awful one, got to know San Francisco’s many neighborhoods, marched as Batgirl in America’s biggest Gay Pride Parade… and I may someday write about some or all of these adventures.

For now, though, I’d like to start processing my challenge of the moment: Having put one’s life on hold, how does one ever get it going again? After a summer of tuition and San Francisco prices, my non-retirement savings are nearly gone (and I’m still not touching my retirement funds, no way, no how!). My freelance and pet sitting clients have learned how to live without me for two months. I’m now sleeping in the storage-stuffed guest bedroom at my mother’s house. My car has been diagnosed with a terminal case of “Chevy Metros weren’t designed to last for more than 188,000 miles. It’s time to let it go.” I haven’t knitted in months (!) and I’ve lost my guitar callouses. I still don’t have a play to act in. Some of my Colorado friends know I’m back in their state, some don’t. My long-distance friends have fallen out of touch while I was overwhelmed with theatre thoughts. For the first time in years, I actually have a steady, fairly awesome love life, but it’s a long-distance one—as my mom likes to sing while giggling at me, “I left my heart in San Francisco.”

Still, life looks good to me, not just because I’m still high from my summer of acting and adventure, but because this life is full of possibilities. In the next few months, I will have to find new work, a new home (or rebuild my house sitting lifestyle), and a new (to me) car. I plan to jump start my art life: land some acting roles; publish more articles, stories, and knitting designs; and finally learn to jam on my guitar. I plan to reconnect with and better appreciate the people I hold dear, and keep in touch with all of the new friends and admired acquaintances I met in San Francisco. Oh, and I plan to convince one adorable novelist that, once he finishes his MFA in San Francisco this fall, what he really wants to do is move to Colorado. Hey, it can all be done, and given my list and my life so far, it’s sure to be an interesting ride.

Intrigued? Welcome back to the blog. I promise to post about updated on my life’s reconstruction, plus some related (or not so) great ideas from the rest of the world, with new posts coming at least once a week, and usually more often. Thanks for reading.

The Eye of the Tiger

The Eye of the Tiger

I spent this weekend cat sitting again. No, I’m not on the move already. It’s just that I miss having cats around, since we have no pets here in my comfy home. My roommate/landlady tells me I can get a cat if I like, though she’s not a fan, herself, and so I’ve been thinking and reading web sites about getting a foster cat. That would mean taking in a kitty who lives at an animal shelter, but for some reason is not ready for adoption—she has an illness or injury to recover from, or he’s been in the shelter so long he’s forgotten how to play with people—and loving him or her until it’s time to go back and find a forever home. I’m also still open to sitting for local clients, especially those I know well. Besides, I could use some extra money, as well as the extra fur.

This weekend, I was in Longmont with two cats in a home I’ve stayed in for many weeks during my full-on-nomad days. It was refreshing to pack for just a three-day trip, easily finding everything I might need in my own closet, dresser, and shelves. It felt like a vacation instead of a total home move. In fact, I was surprised to see how calm and productive I was all weekend.

I was more surprised at how irritable I was when I got home last night. My roommate was out for the evening, but I twitched at every little thing that had changed while I was gone. How dare she run the dishwasher (Quite nice of her, actually.) and not unload it immediately? What was a clothes drying rack doing in the office (folded neatly, right next to the washer and dryer)? Why was the door to the unheated basement left open, sucking warmth from the rest of the house? Then I took a moment to be surprised at myself. My roommate is wonderful, actually. She’s easy going, rarely home, and charming and interesting when she is around. After knowing me for a week and a half, this woman baked me a cake for my birthday. I couldn’t ask for a better roommate, and I wouldn’t trade her in for another…well, maybe for Christian Bale or Kal Penn, but it would take quite a lot.

After giving it some thought, I realized that I was bothered only because I have a roommate, any roommate. I’m not used to living without cats, but more than that, I’m really, really unused to living with people. Even the sweetest roommate is a lot to get used to. I’m not used to doors being open when I haven’t opened them, trash being created by anyone but me, tiny spills on the kitchen counter that I don’t recognize. I’ve been far too isolated for too long, and I’m still not used to all this humanity. That’s why packing an overnight bag and running away for the weekend felt, more than anything, like going home.

2009It’s January 23, and I’ve already accomplished one of my New Year’s Resolutions, the one that I expect to have the greatest impact on my life: I am no longer homeless. I actually rented a room in a pleasant, new-ish townhouse, with a very nice roommate/landlady, a garage for my beloved Chevy Metro (and my bicycle, which has been in my mother’s storage shed for three years!), neighbors and neighbor dogs to meet, and a neighborhood to become part of.

Now I have an answer to the icebreaker question, “Where do you live?” I live in Lafayette, Colorado, a suburb of Boulder, a half-hour’s drive away from Denver. The post office where I’ve been receiving mail for the past three and a half years is a few blocks away. It’s a nice, comfortable spot, centrally located to all of the classes, theatre gigs, and contract jobs I’d like to take on. It’s a good spot to have a home office, to organize my stuff, to get to sleep on a steady schedule.

And, of course, to start with, it completely freaked me out. On first hearing about my lifestyle for these past few years, people comment that it must be hard, moving around all the time, never knowing where I’m going to live next month. To that, I say: It’s amazing what you can get used to. It’s also amazing how frightening normalcy can be once one is used to something else. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this place after two weeks here—I’ve started sleeping through the night, actually unpacked some (not nearly all of my stuff), and stopped trying quite so hard to find reasons to be out of the house when my roommate comes home in the evening. As I’ve said, she’s terribly nice, and smart, and interesting, but I have to admit I was extremely (still am, a bit) nervous around her, and nervous about this whole deal. Once one makes a commitment to live in one place for a long time (three to six months was the agreement here, but that’s a long, long time for me), many fears come up:

• What if my roommate hates me? What if I hate her?

• What if I never get used to the roar of traffic outside? What if I can’t sleep here?

• How am I going to keep paying rent month in and month out?

Ah, that’s the tough one. After not paying rent for years, I actually have a savings account that is just about the size of six months rent here, but I hate to see it shrink. I’ve been hustling harder than ever to find more freelance jobs of all sorts—writing, acting, knitting design, secretarial temp work, anything. Actually, that’s one of the side effects I’d been hoping for when I moved here: I was hoping the anxiety, combined with finally having a place to sit still and get some work done, would jump-start my career. Now I’m in the same boat as most of my more “normal,” once-employed and now laid-off friends: I’m worried about how to pay my rent, and I need to hustle to find a job (or in my case, lots of freelance gigs). Then again, unlike them, I know what will happen if I lose my home. I’ll house sit, or travel, or find some other creative way to make due. It is comforting to have lived on the other side. What if I lose my home? I’ll be back to normal, or what feels normal to me.

And no, I’m not changing my nickname or the name of this blog. I still have a nomadic spirit. However well this home works, I will not be here for any length of time that most people would expect for one’s home. I plan to be here a few months, and then I hope to go away for the summer to study theatre. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll come back to Colorado and rent another actual home. Maybe I’ll go back to house sitting. In any case, my mind is still in an impermanent place, open to travel, creative housing, new growth and new ideas.

For now, though, I’ve got some unpacking to do.

The Elizabethan Theater with set for "A Comedy of Errors"

The OSF's Elizabethan Theater

I’ve been back in Colorado for one week, and I’m already overwhelmed by everyday life … which is surprising, actually, as I went on my road trip primarily because there wasn’t much to my everyday life. The two plans I’ve been living on for the past three years, freelance editing and house sitting, had largely ground to a halt, my other life passions (acting, writing, and chasing men) had been largely forgotten, and I was feeling lost, stuck, and a little desperate.

The road trip helped immensely. A total change of pace, with plenty of time to ponder, plenty of new information, and a great lecture by Martha Beck on my iPod, actually did (as I’d naîvely thought it would) give me a much clearer view of what I really want in my life and what I think I can realistically acheive. The biggest boost for my plan, though, came from two lunches and a happy hour with Portland’s own wonderful Ted, who, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, seems to charm and delight everyone he meets. When I whined to Ted that I felt lost at sea, he told me he, too, was feeling stuck, and then proceeded to talk himself into a very exciting life plan. Bored with his day job and heartbroken that he gave up teaching music (and significantly cut back on performances—he’s a fantastic jazz pianist) to work there, Ted has decided to take night courses to improve his work skills, but only so he can quit his job and become a part-time consultant. Then he’ll have enough income, plus the flexibility to teach, perform, and fulfill his long-term dream of earning an MFA in music.

I didn’t have such a clear idea when I left Ted, but I had another whole week of rambling planned. By the time I returned to Colorado, I had a three-part vision for my new, improved life. Now comes the scary part: Since I’m in my home state and have all of my resources available again, it looks like I’ll have to actually do something to make my vision a reality. Scary stuff, indeed! So far, I’m running on leftover road-trip optimism, but like most things in the real world, my efforts are disturbingly slow in paying off. On top of that, I have only the slightest idea what I’m doing. Still, I’ve had some lovely rays of hope (more on the best on in my next post). I’ll be refining the practicalities of my plan as I go along, but here is what I want to achieve:

The Room
Constantly house sitting has its appeal because it make rent-free living possible, but it’s also exhausting. I’m tired of packing up all of the possessions I use day to day and moving every two weeks, or worse, every two days. I’m tired of knowing that I have a storage space (in my mom’s house, because she spoils me—I’m also tired of feeling that I’m taking advantage of my mother’s goodwill) full of possessions that I haven’t used for three years, because I can’t find them in the crammed-together mess. I’ve thought of getting rid of them, but I won’t be able to until I have some space of my own to spread my things out in, so I can, for the first time in years, get a good look at them. I’m tired of not being able to get to most of the useful things I own, tired of always worrying whether I’ll have a place to live next week … just plain tired of this plan. House sitting has overstayed its welcome in my life, for now, anyway. In these past three years, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped to in other areas of my life, either, and I think it’s largely because too much of my focus has been on hustling for house sits and moving around.

So, though I know it’s a novel idea, now I actually want a home. I’m looking for a room in a house, condo, or apartment, with interesting, quiet, and respectful roommate(s) who won’t mind that, though friendly when I do see them, I’m shy and I spend a lot of time in my room. In fact, I’m very, very shy, and need a very, very quiet space to recharge myself in, but I’m still charged up with road-trip optimism, so I truly believe I can find like-minded roommates with an open room at an affordable price. I’m even hopeful that I can find them before the house sit I’m on right now ends. The room-hunting process is on hold, though, because I think it would be best if another part of my plan were set in place first:

The Job
Yes, I said “job,” that hated word I’ve been avoiding for three years. I do want a job, within specific parameters: It must be part-time, ideally 24 to 30 hours a week. I hope to find one that uses some of my most salable skills, like copy editing, typing really fast, or understanding how MS Excel works, so that I can make the maximum income possible for my time. Also, I really do like to feel smart and useful. However, it could be almost any job … well, I’ve decided any job that pays $10 an hour or better.

The goal of The Job is to give me enough regular income so that, no matter what my freelance life does, I will easily be able to cover rent on The Room, yet The Job must stay part-time enough and emotionally comfortable enough not to eat more than 30 hours per week of my time. I need to save my time and energy, as I do not intend to give up on freelance writing, acting, knitting design, and chasing any other wild idea that occurs to me. The Job is there to stabilize my life, allowing me to focus more on each of my eccentricities. And the number-one area of focus will be:

Acting
I figured this part out when I attended two plays and a backstage tour at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, America’s largest and longest-running such festival. I was blown away by their productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. (If you’re familiar at all with Ibsen’s original Hedda Gabler, you understand the problem with this title. Yes, it was a very surreal play—right up my alley!)

However, the festival left me rather depressed. I have been acting in plays, Shakespeare and modern, experimental and children’s, old standards and brand-new workshops, regularly for 14 years now, but I’ve never given it more than a half-assed effort. I majored in English and minored in anthropology, rather than theatre, because I was convinced that making a living doing what I loved most was too much for a dork like me to hope for, and I should really be responsible and choose a practical major. I took classes here and there, in college and after, but I never got any kind of solid, focused, long-term training. Lately, I’m convinced that the level of professionalism in Denver/Boulder theatre has outgrown me. I’ve done a little improv lately, and a few scavenger hunts and murder mystery dinners, but I haven’t been in a scripted play for nearly two years. Before my trip, I’d largely given up auditioning. I’d see an audition announcement, andsay, “What’s the use? Somebody better than me is bound to show up.”

Well, here’s my new acting plan: less of a half-assed effort. In fact, like Ted, I’d like to earn an MFA in my favorite art form. I’m not sure if I can convince any MFA program to take such an old lady, (I’ll be 35 by the time I get through anyone’s application process, and for an actress, that’s way over the hill, especially for one just getting her training.) and I’m not sure how I’ll pay for it if I can, but just the process of applying would do wonders for my skills. I’ll have to take more classes, and hopefully work on more plays, to get directors and teachers for letters of reference. I’ll have to work hard and get coached to build up two or three wonderful audition monologues. To audition, I might have to go on a few more road trips. (Hooray!)

So I’ve signed up for a two-month advanced acting class that starts in October. I’m considering another, shorter workshop, as well. (I sure hope I find The Job before I’ve emptied out my savings accounts!) I’m also auditioning for every play I can even remotely imagine myself fitting into. I’ve been back in Colorado for one week, and I’ve already auditioned twice. No dice on either one, but I’m just getting warmed up. My first audition, though it didn’t land me a part, convinced me that any joyous thing is possible. I’ll write about that in my next post.

It has occurred to me that the fact that I’m blogging about my house sitting life could make my current, regularly repeating, and potential house sitting clients very nervous. A thoughtless blogger could set a home up for disaster: What if I told all of cyberspace that you’re out of town, what your address is, that you have a huge-screen plasma TV, and that the front left living room window screen pops out easily? Even if I didn’t set out a welcome mat for burglars, it could be pretty creepy to find that the whole world can now know everything that’s in your medicine cabinet, what your cat, Fluffy, threw up last night, and what kind of sheets are on your bed.

I want to assure everyone that I’ve thought of that. I have always been awed and honored by the degree of trust people place in me, letting me stay in their homes, and usually with those beloved, living family members that they call “pets.” I always work to live up to that trust, and I will continue to do so within this blog. It might make my clients feel better (and be interesting to other folks, especially any who might be considering doing some sitting, themselves) to see the major rules I live by as a house sitter, online and in real life. Here’s what I’ve come up with in my three years of sitting:

Your privacy and this blog: Isn’t the cat in this picture cute? Unfortunately, I’ve never met him. I’ve just learned how to find free stock photos online, and this is one of them. I plan to use a photo for nearly every post in this blog, but all will be either stock photos or photos I’ve taken of myself, my own stuff, or public places. I will not use photos of your cat or your home, unless you ask me to. If you want everyone in cyberspace to be able to see how adorable your cat is, just let me know, and I’ll happily put him or her on my blog. Otherwise, I’ll assume you and your cat would like some privacy. I also won’t use your pet’s name in my blog. I may use your cat’s description to tell a story (for example, “the wild and crazy half-Bengal kitty” or “the diabetic cat who needs injections twice a day, and is always begging for food”), since every cat has a unique personality, and getting to know them is one of the highlights of my odd lifestyle. If you’d rather I not even do that, please tell me, and I’ll stop mentioning your pet at all.

I also won’t use any identifying information about you, your home, or its contents. I will usually say what city I’m in, and post a photo of the landscape in the general area (like the Longmont, Colorado photo that is my header photo as of this posting), but I won’t get any more specific than that. You won’t have to worry about me telling the world that you’re out of town, where you live, or what’s in your living room. My job is to keep your home safe until you get back, and I take my job very seriously, even when I’m blogging.

Visitors: However long I’m staying, I know full well that it’s your home, not mine. I don’t think I have the right to invite people into a space that I’m a guest in, myself. A few previous clients have specifically told me that I could have one or two people over if I liked, and one even made a point of saying that dinner parties were okay, even encouraged. (She was very proud of her kitchen and dining room, with good reason, and was sad to think that they’d be unused while she was away.) When I’ve had explicit permission, I have sometimes had one person at a time come by to cook dinner with me, watch cable TV, or similar. Even that doesn’t happen often, though. I’m quite an introvert, actually. I’ve never thrown a party of more than four people even when I had my own home. I certainly won’t throw parties in yours. I won’t let anyone else into your home unless you’ve been informed and have told me you’re okay with it.

Food: I carry a box of my own staples—canned soup, flour, tea, and so on—and buy groceries if I’ll be in one place long enough to use them up. Of your food, I’ll eat only a) basic things that most folks don’t use all of before they go stale or sour, like spices, salad dressing, and condiments (and I won’t use the last of anything), b) what will certainly spoil before you return (plus I’ll clean out your fridge if things spoil before I eat them), or c) what you’ve invited me to eat. I always happily follow directions my clients give, whether “Please don’t touch that sauce,” or “My garden grows better if you harvest the tomatoes and squash. Please eat them!” or “Feel free to eat anything!”

Musical instruments: I have my own very basic acoustic guitar, which I love and will bring with me on every sit, and unless you asked me not to, (Nobody ever has, so far.) I will be playing it at your house. I can also play flute and piano—I dearly miss the piano, as it’s not really something I can carry around with me in my car—and I like to dabble with new instruments. So, if you have musical instruments in your home, I will be tempted to play them. However, I once broke a client’s guitar string, and although I apologized and offered to buy him a new one, and I felt awful about it. There’s something sacred about one’s instrument. I felt like I’d invaded and desecrated a shrine. From then on, I’ve vowed never to play someone else’s instrument unless I’ve been specifically invited to play it. And I won’t … but if you have a piano, an electric guitar, a drum set, or something else really cool, I may very well beg you for an invitation, and if I get one, I’ll be one very happy house sitter. If you won’t give me one, I promise I will only admire your instrument from afar.

No dogs: This is an odd rule for a pet sitter, I know, and I realize that it eliminates a lot of opportunities for me. I’ve tried dog sitting, and the dogs survived—most were pretty happy, actually, as dogs are usually happy-go-lucky kinds of guys—but I don’t think I ever did them justice. I’m just not a dog person. I became a pet sitter because I grew up with no pets at all, (My brother was allergic.) so I always longed to play with everyone else’s, but the problem was that, having no pet experience, I was incredibly nervous around animals. Over the course of my adult life, I’ve build quite a rapport with cats. I also love rats, (No kidding! There’s a story about that. I hope to tell it on this blog in a later post.) do fine with fish, and am fairly confident with most small animals, but dogs … Dogs are so energetic, so in-your-face social (so opposite my introverted personality), so loud if they’re small, and if they’re big, so genuinely capable of killing me if things go wrong, (I know you’re sure your dog is too sweet to ever do that, but imagine if a complete bumbling idiot of a stranger came into your house and scared him with her fumblings.) that even a pooch who is obviously one of the most loving creatures on this planet will completely freak me out. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. It’s just that, while I’m noticing how cute and smart and amazing they are, I’m also so nervous that I make the dogs nervous, and I’m no good for the kind of playtime any dog needs and deserves. In the few dog sits I’ve tried, I’ve been incredibly stressed out, and the dogs were worried about me and didn’t get to have much fun. So, after a few tries, I’ve decided that I should never sit with dogs. It’s not your dog; it’s me. It really is.

Turning down sits: If a house sitting is my way to keep a roof over my head, I’d never turn down a sit, would I? Well, actually I would, and I do, more often as I gain more experience. With the money I save on rent, I always have enough savings to rent a motel room in a pinch, so I do have the power to walk away from a deal. As I’ve just said, I won’t sit with dogs, no matter how wonderful the dog is. Of course, I’ll also turn down sits if I’m already booked for that time period—though I hate to let a client down, especially someone I’ve sat for before, (I have several great repeat customers in Colorado, each of whom calls me a few times every year.) so I may tell a caller that I already have a place to spend those nights, but I’d be happy to come over once or twice a day (for a small fee) to check on their home and play with and care for their pets. I try to offer other options, rather than let a proven great client down flat.

On the other hand, there are sits I turn down, more and more often lately, because my intuition tells me to. I’ve had a few bad experiences—the folks who called me on their way out of town to say that they’d decided it was too much trouble to fix the gas leak in the furnace before they left, so I should just open a window until they got back; the folks who told me the day before they left that they’d decided not to pay me the amount we’d agreed on, or at all, and when I took the sit anyway, called often to demand that I do secretarial work for them, then complained on their return that I’d left their windows open. (It was a high-summer Colorado heat wave, they had an indoor cat, and their house’s only cooling system was a swamp cooler.) While homeowners have to put a phenomenal degree of trust in me, I also have to be able to trust them to make the setup work and be sure everyone has warm feelings at the end. If I don’t trust the homeowner, I won’t sit for them.

However, most home and pet owners I’ve met so far have been amazingly kind, trusting, and trustworthy. I am constantly amazed that my house-sitting-as-housing plan works, and I am always grateful for the trust and the comfort I get out of it. I try my best to make sure I’m giving plenty of value to the homeowners in return. My goal is to live in safe, comfortable places, while ensuring that the homeowners can enjoy their trips without worrying about a thing back home, and return to healthy, happy pets and warm, inviting homes ready for them to settle back into.