From the Publisher
"A road map for the times when you're not going anywhere. If I'd had this book back in the day, my lean and hungry years wouldn't have been so miserable. What am I saying? Of course they would have been miserable. But at least I would've had a good book."
Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events
"A great collection about those strange, confusing, slightly uncomfortable, exhilarating days. I laughed and I cringed. It almost made me want a 'chore wheel' again."
Beth Lisick, author of Everybody into the Pool
"Unflinching and hilarious, Before the Mortgage is mandatory reading for people of any age who've ever wondered if they are ill-equipped to live an adult life."
Laine Bergeson, Utne
"Read this well-done, funny, brutal collection of stories about young adulthood, and you will actually look forward to being a middle-aged suburban sellout."
Rodney Rothman, author of Early Bird
Read an Excerpt
We're post-college and pre-picket fence. We're technically adults, but we don't always feel like it. Everything work, home, love, life hasn't exactly fallen into place as we imagined it would. But we're not ready to settle down, settle up, or settle for less. We like to say we're "before the mortgage."
This book began when we quit our first-jobs-out-of-college and left New York City, where we'd spent two years living in apartments with more roommates than bedrooms, trading stories of awkward first dates and job interviews (how different are they, really?). We moved back to our respective hometowns and started a zine called Before the Mortgage to explore the rite of passage we were undergoing: the school-to-work transition. We wrote essays, compiled quotes, and created photo collages about such topics as crazy coworkers, so-called relationships, and moving back in with our folks.
When our parents were our age, they were already married. Most people they knew didn't live far from where they grew up, and they expected to have one lifelong career. In contrast, our friends are pairing off later and later, and they hop from coast to coast, career to career. (The two of us have changed addresses five times in the past five years.) What we thought was going to be a short transitional period turned out to be a new life stage.
The zine helped us answer the pressing questions of an unstable time: where to live, what to do, who to love, how to be, and when to leave. How else could we make sense of a world in which Rachel snuck into the mailroom at Jane magazine trying to get a job (no dice) and Christina went out with a guy she didn't like only because her apartment didn't have heat (his car had butt warmers)? Before the Mortgage's readers and writers found solidarity in vulnerability; by telling candid stories, we could laugh at the missteps and learn from each other.
In putting together this essay collection, we selected a few beloved pieces from the zine and sought contributions from our favorite young writers: people who voiced fresh insights when reflecting on the issues facing nascent adults. Whether writing about unglamorous temp work or finding the It Guy, they spoke to us, they challenged us, and they made us laugh out loud. To use the words of E. M. Forster, our contributors are "sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke."
So you see, Before the Mortgage has little to do with actually obtaining a mortgage, but more to do with exploring your own vision/version/definition of what it means to be an adult. Those of you who are currently packing up, quitting jobs, breaking up, and breaking down, this book is for you. But those of you making mortgage payments or not yet paying rent shouldn't feel excluded. If you're questioning your place in it all, you're before the mortgage at heart.
Christina Amini and Rachel Hutton
Copyright © 2006 by Christina Amini and Rachel Hutton