Home Ownership: The first four weeks

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When I look back at the young, naive me of a mere four weeks ago who somehow believed that having a house would translate to more free time, I scoff. It’s not just being a homeowner that’s exhausting, but being a first-time (read: terrifically inexperienced) homeowner on a budget (read: incapable of paying movers or just running out and buying the furniture we need).

I’ve been so hesitant to talk about the house, initially because I was afraid it would somehow slip beyond our grasp and now because I feel greedy and protective of it. I want to share it, but not until it’s ready and the reality is my definition of ready (combined with my budget) might take awhile to realize.

So here are the first tentative observations of home ownership:

  1. Goodwill is an incredible resource. Technically, I knew this before I was a homeowner but I have reason to really
    IMG_0699appreciate this fact now. Colin and I have been trolling nearby Goodwills (I believe there are six within less than 10 miles of our house) and have quickly developed a list of favorites. The outlet downtown, for example, has a crappy selection of furniture but it’s all $1. It’s also somewhat terrifying. Customers bring enormous carts and wait beside the barrels of clothes and especially shoes while employees fill them. An employee utilizes an airhorn to prevent people from grabbing shoes before the appropriate time, but when they are allowed to start sifting, well, the best analogy I can come up with is a feeding frenzy . On the other hand, my favorite Goodwill is the one in Shoreline which combines a fantastic selection of furniture with reasonable prices. The Ballard one isn’t so bad, either. In fact, I picked up our most recent chair there last weekend.
  2. It got real crazy, real fast. You know those ’80s movies about dads going completely bonkers over something weird like Christmas lights and winding up losing their jobs and burning down their houses? I think they usually star Chevy Chase. Anyway, Colin turned into that guy really quickly. He’s already at war with the pigeons that settle on our roof, utterly convinced that they’re going to shit on our roof (which they obviously are) and it’s somehow going to damage the roof. I
    don’t know if that’s something that can or will actually happen; I only know that I’ve had to set rules about the methods he can use to try to scare away the pigeons. Cat Cat, of course, loves the pigeons. They make for fantastic window watching for cats. And with a Chinese food restaurant literally in our backyard, I think we’re IMG_0688going to have an uphill battle. I love chow mein; why shouldn’t the pigeons?
  3. Housewarming gifts are the best thing ever. It’s like “hey, you’re really happy about this new house, so let’s do something to make you even more happy and show you that you also have awesome people in your life.” I speak, specifically, of a set of five Firefly posters that arrived in the mail courtesy of one Tadhg Morrison (fellow former New Times employee and obvious Firefly enthusiast). Now, it’s not just the fact that this is our first housewarming present. It’s the fact that it’s the perfect housewarming present. As much as I love the house, one of my goals
    was to geek it up, make it feel a little more youthful, a little more weird. Plus, the posters gave Colin and I an opportunity to visit Aaron Brothers and then spend the evening peeling apart frames, during which we both managed to cut ourselves on frame hooks–not our first house-related injuries, but sort of silly nonetheless.
  4. The Chinese food behind our house is, thankfully, pretty good. But, I’ve learned to be very specific about the kind of noodles that I want or run the risk of having them arrive loaded with pig intestines (nothing against pig intestines, but I’m a vegetarian). To my utter delight, the place feels pretty IMG_0698authentic. Our second time there, Colin ate jellyfish. We haven’t yet been able to sample the stinky tofu because you have to order it 24 hours in advance, but I’ll be sure to provide an update when I do.
  5. I love seeing friends in my house. It reminds me of all the reasons I wanted a house in the first place. My writer buddy Bryce happened to be passing through while hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. And we actually have a guest room now! We don’t have a guest bed, but we’re working on it. In fact, at one point Colin and I arrived to find Bryce, Maeva, and Aileen gathered in the living room and it was crazy explosions of happiness going off in my brain. I can’t wait to share this house with my friends and family.
  6. I’m really not a fan of landscaping rocks. I like green–vast, unruly seas of green. Grass, trees, flowers, hedges, shrubs, vines, you name it. The house’s previous owner did not share my affinity so Colin and I (mostly Colin but I have helped) have spent weeks hauling rocks out of our yard, handing them off to anyone who answered our Craigslist ad for free rocks. The rocks are almost blessedly gone and once they are we need to figure out how to plant grass, which sounds like it should be easy but I’m sure we’ll make a mess of.
  7. Owning a home is scary. A couple nights in, we blew a fuse and when a handful of lights flickered off, we just stared at each other, realizing, I think, that we couldn’t call the landlord. True, all we had to do was go down to the basement and flip the switch on the circuit breaker, but even that was somehow terrifying because it was ours and we didn’t want to do anything wrong. In fact, we haven’t even started hanging stuff on the walls because we’re afraid to hurt the house.
  8. I’m going to love owning my own home during the holidays. I love decorating, hosting, and celebrating, but there’s an undeniable limitation to trying to do all of that in a cramped space that is not truly your own. There’s nowhere to store decorations, insufficient space for more than two people, and it just never seems to work out (for me, at least). This year, Colin and I are thrilled to decorate our house for Halloween and give out candy to trick-or-treaters. That’s it. No expensive party or concert. Just handing out candy to kids. And I’ve never been more excited about my Halloween plans. I haven’t even allowed my mind to start wandering into Christmas territory, but rest assured, it will be epic.
  9. As much as I want to do everything at once, this is a process. That doesn’t stop me from spending every waking minute of every day hunting down the exact chandelier I want, determining the theme of our placemats (yeah, the placemats have a theme), and trying to calculate when we can repaint the exterior. It turns out I’m a little crazy. Way beyond my A-type personality, big projects, photo shoots, what-the-hell-is-she-doing-now previous crazy. I think I finally understand so many things I never quite grasped about adults, or adulthood, before. There is absolutely nothing even remotely attractive about being a homebody who spray paints plastic figurines (more on that later) and makes walkways on weekends, and yet there’s no place I’d rather be.
  10. Pinterest and Wishlists are evil enablers.

I could go on. And on. But somehow I doubt that the minutiae that I find so terribly fascinating will be even remotely interesting to anyone who a) isn’t me or b) isn’t required to live with me. My goal is to gradually return weekly posts about utterly random subjects rather than bombard people with hourly updates about my house (feel free to stage a coup if that happens). Then again, I’ve never been particularly successful at reining in my enthusiasm and I find it rather doubtful that I will suddenly develop some self-control at the age of 31. But stranger things have happened. Two professional writers managed to buy a house.

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