Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ch....ch .... ch ..... changes

You'd think buying a house would be no big deal for me. I've bought and sold several over the years, as is a necessity for a military wife. In fact, the last 3 years of renting has been a step way back in time for me. So buying a house is definitely the right thing for me to do. There are a couple of big differences this time though.

1. This is the first time I've bought a house by myself. Even though I usually found the house, chose the house, made the house a home -- albeit always a temporary home -- LtColEx did the jobs I wasn't as comfortable with: finding the loan, negotiating with all the various money and real estate people, even paying for it. We each did what we were good at.

This time, I'm on my own. I know I made an excellent choice, but there's nobody to share both the joy and the trepidation of making such a big purchase. I've spent some sleepless nights worrying about the (possibly illegal) hoops the mortgage company put me through, how I would get the work done I want to do to the house, how I would get everything moved, where I will put everything, what if I fucked up? ...... Nobody to roll over to, shake awake, and talk it out with.

I'm just going to say it: It's lonelier buying a house by myself. For decades I had someone to make these decisions with .....

And yet, it turns out, I'm doing fine. My realtor has been a fucking rock through the whole difficult process. I trusted him completely, and he never disappointed me in the 3 years I dragged him around looking at houses. Poor guy. He must have been so relieved when I finally said, "This is the house. This is the one I've been looking for."

My friends and my kids are excited for me, and I know they will help me fill my house with many happy memories.

So, yeah, I'm doing this alone for the first time, and for the first time it's all mine. which leads to the second big difference.

2. This is the first time I've bought a house that isn't pre-sold. Military people don't have the luxury of painting the dining room red or the teenage daughter's bedroom black. We had to be ready to move when we were told to move, and often we had only a few short weeks to both sell the old and then buy a new house.

The houses I chose were always houses that could be re-sold, and sold fast. I'm an expert at finding just the right floor plan and making the house look comfortable and welcoming, but not too quirky. Oh, they've all had my stamp on them, but I always had to consider the sale. In a sense, none of them were ever really mine.

The last house we/I owned for 17 years. Nobody would have predicted we would stay there more than three, but we loved this area so we made it happen. The last few years, during my divorce, I rebelled and did 2 things that weren't in the military wife's rule book for moving in a hurry. I painted the front door purple, against the advice of everybody except the realtor who helped me find the house I just bought. He said he didn't give a shit, and if I liked the door purple, go ahead and paint the fucker purple. I did it.

I also let Elvira turn the pretty purple and pink fairies on her wallpaper border into dark Goth fairies using Sharpie markers. She got about halfway around the room, working in spurts over a couple of years. I'm not sure the new owners noticed her handiwork before they bought the house; it may have been a surprise.

Everything else I did in the house was with the knowledge that I would have to sell it one day. That's why in one of the worst real estate markets in decades, I still had a contract on the house within 2 weeks of putting it on the market. My realtor had predicted the house would sit for at least a year.

This time I bought the house I wanted with no thought of reselling it. I plan to die in this house. It will be up to my kids to either sell it or live in it when I'm gone.

So I can paint the rooms any color I want. I can use the rooms any way I want -- if I want to sleep in the dining room, I can sleep in the dining room. It's in an historic district, so I don't have total freedom on the outside, but it looks fabulous on the outside. It's just the way I would have wanted it anyway.

Now I'm going to admit that this level of freedom is damn intimidating. I'm having trouble deciding what colors I do want to paint .... or if I want to paint. Over half the people who gave an opinion on the corpuscle room thought I should keep the red. That one was easy though, so that's the one I tackled first. I'm not a red-room person. That I know. So I'm painting it.
Part of the master suite

Same with the master bedroom, bath, and closet, which are a mustard color. Just not my color, so I'll be painting there too and taking down some industrial chic door hardware. But I'll admit, I'm stuck on what color I want to paint it. I've spent so many years painting rooms in neutral colors, I'm not sure what I like.

Chicken Grrrl keeps reminding me that paint isn't permanent. And she's right, but it's a hell of a lot of hard work, painting is. My perfectionism is in full swing, telling me I have to get it right the first time.
Piano here

Another voice tells me I've got plenty of time to live there and make decisions about how I want to live there. If I don't like where I set up my office, I can move it. As long as there's a room for my grand piano -- which there is -- everything else will work out.

3. This one kind of goes along with #1, but this is the first time I've had to do it all myself. LtColEx and I had a great arrangement when it came to things like home repairs and facelifts: I chose the projects and materials and colors; he did the work. I didn't bother him while he worked, except to throw raw meat into the room several times a day. It all balanced out.

With this house, I'm doing the painting he would have done, and, although my shoulders are feeling it and I'm slower than a sloth, I'll get it done, and it will look fine. Or if it doesn't, I'll work at it until it does.

Laying a floor in the upstairs hall -- which has to be done -- will be a new challenge. I'm sure there are Youtube videos though, and a friend has offered his chop saw for the laminate flooring I'll probably have to install. I'll choose the "wood," and I'll get the job done. Later I may tackle some downstairs rooms too. (I was disappointed to find out the floors have been refinished too many times to do them again. Not even close to a dealbreaker though. Just an adjustment to make.)

Some things I'll have to hire done, and that worries me. Women get ripped off so much more often than men, and I've been there. I'm almost tempted to hire a male actor to hire a contractor. I have a plumber and an electrician I can trust though. And I'll find somebody for the other work, or I'll figure out how to do it myself. I also have lots of handy friends who will give me advice and guide me.

I'm writing this to persuade myself, and it's working ... for a few minutes anyway. I hope this doesn't sound too whiny. I really am terribly excited to make this house my home. I felt it the second I walked in the door. The very second. This house was meant to be my house. Maybe that's why all this feels so important. I want to get it right.

Since I made the commitment to write every day this month, and I'm totally overwhelmed already with the house and TEDx and Thanksgiving, I'll probably be writing  a lot about the process of doing the work and moving. I hope it's not too boring. I'll sprinkle a few vaginas into the mix though, and maybe even a couple of penises. Like salt and pepper.


  1. Damn,you are entertaining; and so industrious! Working on the house and still managing to turn out this nifty blog. Those quirky sexual references are very inventive and damned funny. I did find myself cringing a bit when I tried to visualize your metaphor too literally(I think I pictured a salad with the naughty bits for garnish). I know it's old fashioned, but I haven't ventured into cannibalism yet. Please keep this stuff up as much as your energy allows. Such a breath of fresh air!

  2. Thank you so much. I'll be more careful about my metaphors after this so I don't ruin your dinner. ;-)