Monday, February 27, 2006

To hell in a handbag

Remember the studio space I waxed lyrical about last December? I’m still in negotiations, if by negotiation you include bullying, deception, accusation, strong-arm tactics and condescension. I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, but the lowest point thus far came during the week with an irate phone call from the real estate agent demanding to know why I was harassing the owner. I’d called his business number, during business hours, to confirm that he’d received my offer and to ascertain that the property was still on the market. The agent, hysterical, wanted to know why I was going behind his back, harassing a man about to enter hospital for cancer treatment. Now, I hardly think a single brief phone call constitutes harassment, and I wasn’t trying to make a deal on the side. But I felt sick with shame, convinced that I’d made a big mistake and ruined any possibility of congenial relations with the landlord. Later, I was struck by the underhandedness of using cancer as a bullying tactic: even if it is true (and it sickens me to doubt this but I do), it’s irrelevant to the terms of the lease.

I’d give up if I didn’t really believe that this is the right space for me. For weeks, I stopped myself from dwelling too long in daydreams in the hope that I could forestall disappointment if the negotiations didn’t work out. When the agent called three weeks ago to tell me that my offer was accepted, I let myself revel in the victory. I announced my success at dinner, and started planning a party. When I received the paperwork and saw that yes, they’d accepted my offer, but exclusive of tax (after all previous offers had been tax-inclusive), I got mad. I called my lawyer. I went back to looking at other properties. I complained to my shiatsu therapist, who offered to call them. I complained to my psychotherapist, who, in a Sopranos-like moment, offered the services of one of his other clients, telling me that “it would be good for him.” (When I asked why, he responded “He has his own real estate issues.”) I’ve been flailing about, anxious for advice from anyone, alternatively convinced that all this would be different if I were a man, or taller, or had a more authoritative voice. I doubt myself. When I hear Isaac telling someone that we’ve found a place, or we’ve made an offer, there’s a little voice inside of screaming: Me! Me! I did those things! I’m like a little kid, hankering after an encouragement award.

To this end, I’m mulling over the idea of forming a local group to meet informally to discuss business start-up issues. Could you drop me a line if you belong to such a group, or have ideas about how best to organise one? I’m imagining a small group of people willing to share information and advice about the day-to-day trials of leases, taxes, marketing etc. If you’d like to join me, I promise not to whine too much. And if I get my equipment up and running, I may even produce some limited-edition Certificates of Merit: For Great Valour In Holding One’s Tongue In The Face Of Gross Stupidity, For Standing Up To A Bully In An Ill-Fitting Pin-Striped Suit, and For Acknowledging The True Cost Of An Item Bought On Credit.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Erin said...

Wow. As Sparky would say, in his best Engrish translation, "Very frustration."

Have you seen this month's ReadyMade, aka the Love issue? There's tons of great wedding stuff, including cool invitations. I thought to myself, if I ever get married again, I would force Carolyn out of retirement to craft my invitations on letterpress.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Di said...

Hey Erin's comment reminds me I really must make some attempt to start organising our wedding...

But in relation to your post- so sorry to hear about your frustrations. I can't really imagine what starting up your own business is like, especially one that you have such a passion and love for.

Hang in there. I hope it turns out in your favour.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Alicia said...

Just reading this makes me twitch. I remember this kind of stuff happening when we bought our house; all I can say is, we got it. . . . Keep the faith.

12:36 PM  
Blogger julia said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm sure it was all the agent, and that he really was threatened about you calling the owner direct (which I think is a little unusual).

He shouldn't have taken out his paranoia on you. Do you trust him (sounds like you weren't sure about the offer being put in)? If not, I'd get a new guy, sounds like you really want the place!

Good luck!

8:11 AM  
Blogger kylieps said...

Sorry to hear about your frustration! Realestate can be hell. I happen to be a home inspector and have to deal with realtors all the time. Luckily they're mostly good people in my (old hippie-settled!) town. If you ever think of having a virtual forum on the business startup, I'd be a happy participant. I've been in business for two and a half years and I'm finally getting to the part where it's not as rocky.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Sweet Treat said...

Your possible business group sounds good... I have been to some Australian women business stuff but it was all a bit high powered! Getting advice on the ATO, exporting etc.. is so difficult for our little Tee shirt business. Unfortunately we live in Sydney... something virtual could be cool. Tiff

9:51 AM  

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