Monday, March 16, 2009

Other Points Of Interest

This morning Ish woke up, showered, and shaved. He opened three boxes before finding his clean "work" jeans, and transported much of the clothing he found in the first two boxes to his side of the closet. After he got dressed, fed the cats, and cleaned the litter box, he drove to Starbucks. He returned to the house shortly thereafter with a half-caf soy latte (and a kiss on the nose) for me, and left again for work. He will probably be in his office before I finish this paragraph.

Do you have any idea how mind-blowing this is? After nearly three years of his commuting 60-70 miles each way?

(Btw? Ish just popped up on IM.)

* * * * * * * * * *

Thank you for your kind words of support from the post below. I definitely got into a snit over the anonymous comment, but I snapped out of it, too. Your thoughts helped a lot.

Now that I've had some time to put things in perspective, I want to make a few points for the record. A few small ones and a really big one.

First, I do not expect people to agree with me all the time, and I don't have an issue with people who take the time to comment and to respectfully dissent. As Em pointed out, saying that the house we picked seems "out of sync" with me is a fair -- and, as it happens, accurate -- statement. One I've had to think about for a while to be able to answer. However, couching that statement in insults clouded the point and, well, insulted me.

Second, for what it's worth, I won't ever turn off commenting.

The thing is, there's a difference between someone who says something totally off-the-wall stupid (like that guy who told me he can't enjoy reading my blog because he knows he wouldn't want to have sex with me because of my "fatness") (true story), and someone who says something mean that resonates with me because it hits a sore spot.

The anonymous commenter did the latter. I'm not especially concerned about being "uncool" (good lord, I'd never leave the house), and I think "mid-brow" is completely debatable, given this house's relative expense and specific location. BUT I did have a lot of hesitations about moving to a tract home. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even really know what a tract home was a few months ago -- I'd heard of them but coudn't have defined them accurately and had to ask Ish if this was one.

We turned down many houses for that reason. In fact, one of the most gorgeous homes we looked at was so close to the other houses in its development, and the development was so in the middle of nowhere that I actually started crying on the way home from going to look at it.

But this house seemed totally different. It's not, I guess, but it felt that way to us -- which is why we selected it.

And so yeah. I'm sensitive to it. The anonymous commenter knows exactly what s/he is talking about, right down to the effing hollow-core doors, which was the very first thing Ish said he'd be replacing. (Those and the silver-and-gold-tone faucets in the bathrooms.)

I'm sensitive to it because this isn't how I grew up. This isn't the kind of suburb I know. This isn't anything I'm familiar with at all.

How 'bout that, huh? And so we come to the big point.

Do you have any idea how "interesting" the house I grew up in was? No, of course you don't. And that's totally my fault, because I haven't the skills to write it yet. It is my greatest challenge as an aspiring writer to ever, ever put into words that house and all that happened there. Part Anne of Green Gables, part Running With Scissors, with maybe some Pippi Longstocking and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant thrown in. But funny, and not in a dark way. Not Sedaris. More like Gene Shepard (the guy who wrote the series of stories that the movie, A Christmas Story came from). Yeah, much more like that.

And this? This newly constructed home? Oh, I get it. I get anyone who aspires to have something more unique, more inspired, less like the others and more full of "character." Of course I do. I get the difference. I know exactly what our anonymous commenter means.

I lived and breathed "interesting" for over twenty formative years.

Our over-a-century-old farmhouse had the most charming brick floor throughout the entrance and giant kitchen. Our kitchen, where we spent most of our time, featured a huge brick fireplace in the corner. Charming, yes. But have you ever tried to clean a floor made of bricks?

The farmhouse had five-and-a-half bathrooms, but never once did all 5.5 work correctly at the same time.

Leaky faucets. Drafty windows. A crack here, a hole there. Rip in the screen door. A sliding door stuck shut. A bathroom carpet perpetually damp. Lights that went out and never went back on again.

For whatever conflation of reasons, my parents simply did not keep up with the constant repair needs of the house; mostly when things would break, they'd just stay broken.

So you know what is completely novel to me? Having a house where all the bathrooms work at the same time. Living in a home where I don't have to worry that a leaky faucet may mean a plumbing "problem" that would cost half the home's value to repair.

Here, everything works. Everything is clean, or at least possible to clean in a way that homes built before 1940 are not. I don't have to worry about faulty wiring or lead poisoning or how I'm going to plug a television AND a dvd player in the livingroom. I don't have to pull up decades-old carpet or paneling or linoleum. If a door or faucet or window or light fixture breaks, we have a warranty.

From the outside, I know. I am in a home in a somewhat cookie-cutter neighborhood, and no one out there could possibly see or guess what informed my decision to move here.

But you can.

37 comments:

  1. K -
    Thanks for not totally shredding me, as some of your commenters did. (Em - get an enema).

    I did not think I was that rude (or rude at all) in my original comments. You people are as sensitive as baby lambs. And as K pointed out - I had some valid points. So next let's discuss your new 'hood. Since I seem to offend your readers, I'll let YOU (K) tell us about your new town and include honestly the vibe and the quality of the public schools. AND K - if you think I am being rude, I'll stop commenting for a while.

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  2. It is totally possible that I just have no style or class or whatever. But I'd like to know - what the hell is wrong with the house they chose? Even if it is a so-called "tract" home? I personally think it's beautiful. For Chrissake - do we really care that much about people living up to an "image" or a "vibe" we've created in our minds for them? Thank god Kristy has a house over her head right now at all - she could be living in a tent city like those unfortunate folks in Sacramento.

    It's weird to be old enough to understand the impacts of this economic environment - a hit to my 401k, losing over 100K worth of appreciation on my own home. If there is anything I have learned from this so-called "crisis" - it's this: it isn't important for me to live in the biggest house or drive the nicest car - especially if I have to pay for them.

    The anonymous commenter certainly has a right to her opinion, but here's mine: I personally don't have time for people that shallow right now.

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  3. For crying out loud...you have a f***ing vineyard in your backyard. How cool is that?

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  4. OP -

    Please don't get me wrong; I thought you were rude, insulting, and mean-spirited in your comment. I was offended in every way. Unlike you, however, I'm trying to be constructive in my reaction. I've spent time trying to figure out why your comments have bothered me, so that they no longer do.

    I generally don't take this approach, but I'm going to be judgmental right back:

    You must have some serious personality issue if you:

    A) didn't think your original comment was rude; and

    B) think that the best way to move on is to think that YOU are right and everyone else is too sensitive.

    Really? THAT is what you've gotten out of this? Telling my best friend, who was thoughtful and who made some really salient (if painful) points to get an enema?

    Perhaps YOU don't care if you offend my readers, but I do.

    Bottom line: You are exhibiting complete and utter social "tone-deafness" and that invalidates the rest of your observations.

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  5. heh. I can't believe this discussion is continuing. The house is adorable and you have every right to be thrilled. No need to apologize or explain yourself to anyone, lest of all an arrogant anon.

    And I already knew all that stuff about the house you grew up in. Because while you don't focus on those details, they're peppered throughout your writing and help to paint the picture of your family. I can feel the warmth - and its lovely.

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  6. Love the house...forget the lame "poster" and let's hear how the name choosing is coming along!!!! :)

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  7. Hi! I'm a long-time lurker but this post inspired me to comment because I know exactly where you're coming from. I grew up in CT, in a very historic house. It was built in the 1850's at the top of the common, originally as a private boys' secondary school. About 30 years later, it was moved down the road and turned into a private residence. That boys school? Still a school (co-ed now) and my alma mater.

    When I show my friends where I grew up they see the huge, historic hose up on the hill and say "You're so fancy." Then I tell them what it was like to live there (my partner calls it my 1800s childhood) and they say "No showers, really?"

    We had two lovely bathrooms with antique claw foot tubs but what we didn't have was showers. The most efficient way to heat the house was how it was originally heated - with fire - the wood stove was constantly burning and one of my chores was to stack and get wood in the winter. The list goes on, but you get the picture...

    Now that I'm an adult, I live in the most generic luxury condo ever. Yeah, it's middle-brow. Yeah, it's not made like the house I grew up in. Yeah, it's cookie-cutter. But you'd better believe that when I turn on my gas fireplace with a remote control (!) or even take a shower, I get a little happy inside.

    Your new place is very cute btw.

    I love my parent's house and I loved growing up there -it was wacky and neat. But I also learned early that I have no romantic ideas about buying a nice fixer-upper - I just want things to work.

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  8. I think some of the best advice our realtor ever gave me was that since I was pregnant, we should buy the most move-in ready home we could afford. I blessed her every sleepless minute I lived though when my daughter first came home.

    The house is beautiful!

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  9. K-
    I was initially glad you stuck up for Anonymous Ass's valid points because I kind of agreed with some of them too and I was bothered by most of the commentors hyper vilification. I'm sorry despite your graciousness, that OP continues to compound their thoughtlessness.

    OP-
    You may have had some opinions that made sense, but what was insensitive and cruel is that you criticized after the fact. K had already bought the house, saying things that would make her feel bad about it was in no way thoughtful or useful. It was pointless negativity and therefore mean.

    K again-
    for just a second I had a similar reaction to OP but said nothing for the reasons I just stated. After a moments thought though, and having had a small baby while living in the interesting house I'd been wanting to live in, I think you ABSOLUTELY made the right decision. Also, my first knee jerk reaction was based on the photo of the front only. It's a bland facade, but as they say, you can't always judge a book by its cover. That great room kicks ass and a vineyard in your back yard is definitely interesting, AND it means you won't live in fear of losing that view. Congrats!

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  10. Wherever you will be, that house will be home. And it will be yours. And different yes, and though it might be in a "cookie-cutter neighborhood" your home will be far from cookie cutter-
    Because you are not cookie cutter.

    I've been reading your blog for a few years, and I think you are unique, beautiful, exciting, interesting, and tons of fun :)

    You are awesome.

    And I'm excited for you! :)

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  11. Kristy, I found you/your blog from Twitter and have spent the last 40 minutes or so getting to know a little about you, which was a total pleasure, except as a host you forgot to lay out the coffee and cookies.

    The comment about your house being "mid-brow" is stupid. How many people would love to live in a house like that? As someone who's been renting for the last decade, who once owned an old house, I can attest to the vampiric costs of owning an older home. Not only does it drain your money, but much of your spare time. Who wants to spend every weekend on home repairs?

    I'm not in a position to buy another house right now, but if I were I'd want it to be shiny, clean, and new. And if it's in a tract of homes? Who cares? I live inside my house -- that's where my personality is reflected.

    Okay, you've successfully made me avoid work. I'm sure there's an award for that. Maybe an old brick in memory of the floor that was always cold and difficult to clean.

    janedevin

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  12. OP,

    Way to steal a play right out of the Ann Coulter Big Book of Debate.

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  13. As someone who bought a newish home in the Oakland Hills after the fire, and someone who now lives in an older home with craftsmany character and all that, give me the new construction anyday! Inefficient heating, being able to take a long shower in only one of 3 bathrooms, and other tiny things that irritate on a daily basis and waste money take away a lot from the charm and character of an older home. Some days those things don't seem to matter much, but in this economy having a home that you know things work in and don't take a ton to repair is much more important than what some snarky commenter says. Enjoy Napa and the new home, it was right for you and Ish and ultimately you don't have to justify that to anyone.

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  14. Love that you love your house. That is ALL that matters.

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  15. I am glad that I do not have a blog so that people could insult me for moving into a rented two bedroom apartment (converted from an old house) with my daughter. It is not what I would want if I could have everything that I want, but it gave me the one thing that I need right now, and that is freedom. I am scared as heck about it and sometimes feel embarassed to ask people over because it is so "low-brow"... but I need to get over it and realize that my real friends would understand the motivation behind why I am here (even if I do still cry myself to sleep some nights).

    BTW... I would kill to live in a house like yours.

    Inial

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  16. Kristy.
    I love your blog. Thank you for writing it. I enjoy reading it every single time. You always make me smile.
    Amy.

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  17. I totally get the appeal of a newer home. I have lived in old houses with all their charm and problems. Not enough outlets, falling apart plumbing, no storage space, leaky roofs, etc.

    My current home is a tract house built in 1951. It's had a couple of minor plumbing problems, but compaired to the 1936 house it is luxurious. There is nothing better than being able to sleep soundly knowing you have a solid, low maintainence home.

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  18. I have just one word:

    Landscaping

    Plant some lovely, low-maintenance plants/shrubs (Potted plants work great too- especially in funky pots) and throw in some statuary etc... heck, I'm sure if you're feeling bored/ambitious you could probably find a ceramics/pottery class and do some things yourself. (I made a bird bath/fountain when I was 16- it's REALLY not that hard- and believe me, I am NOT crafty!!) I also kill plants. Which is why I made the low-maintenance suggestion.

    I KNOW the difficulties you are facing in making your home seem more like "you" and less cookie cutter, believe me when I say I can DEFINITELY understand the challenges involved!! I currently live in military housing. Almost every single house looks EXACTLY the same!!! If you don't believe me, I'll send you pictures!! :D

    GOOD LUCK!! and enjoy your new home!!

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  19. OMG, I couldn't get past the first few comments.

    Your house is lovely and having lived in many OLD places full of "character" (including both houses and apartments) I COMPLETELY understand your desire to live in and joy in living in a new house where everything actually works.

    By the way, not for nothing, but that is quite a good looking house if you ask me. It has a lot more character and details than a lot of "tract homes" I've known in my life.

    Enjoy yourself and your new functional home. I will go home to my tiny kitchen with no cabinets and exposed steam pipes in my old apartment full of "character" and cry a little inside. ;)

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  20. Your house is beautiful. It's a clean palate for all the memories you will make there, a safe environment for your baby, and it's yours.

    I live in a 100 year old beautiful apartment before moving into my cookie-cutter house. It creaked and had high ceilings and doors that didn't close and breeses that were nice in the summer and horrible in the winter. It was totally charming. But, it never felt clean and I always had something to do to fix it or improve it.

    Now, my time is spent enjoying my family in my cookie-cutter house in my safe neighbourhood next to the generic public school. Instead of dabbling in plumbing, I can sit snuggled up to my fiance in our house which always sits at 20 degreed C and read a book without worrying about an electrical fire starting in my walls.

    Your home is where you live, it's where you make memories and it's your shelter. But it doesn't define you. You are awesome.

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  21. We're hoping to buy a house soon. I grew up in a fantastic 1920s bungalow. And always thought I'd want to own one. But, when it comes down to it, I just want a house that is efficient with a good furnace & a nice porch. EVERY house has character in it's own way. The 1920s bungalow I grew up in is on a street of a million other 1920s bungalows that look so similar they were probably the cookie cutters of their day.

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  22. The things complete strangers say under the guise of anonymity are astounding.

    The only opinions that count are yours, Kristy, and those of Ish and your home inspector. And I doubt your home inspector cares that you live in a subdivision.

    But for the record, comments like that are only going to get worse and more inflammatory after you have the baby and people like OP decide they must dictate the "proper" - i.e. their - way of childrearing to you.

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  23. “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

    -Flaubert

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  24. I always thought I like the "character homes" - living in Baltimore opened my eyes to the joys and wonders associated with homes so old and so full of charm. However, after 5 years of dealing with the "upkeep" required - I am ready for something a little more updated.

    Your house looks awesome and I wish you all the best in your next step!

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  25. Couldn't have said it better!

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  26. I think the thing that really bothered me about the OP's post is that it was so snobbish. Especially in an economy like the one we have now, I feel lucky to even have a house -- even if it IS in a subdivision, and even if it IS new. I also grew up in an older, historic house, and hope one day to buy another one. But I'd never judge someone based on where they live. And I'd never equate someone's personal style with the place where they live. Or at least, not the outside of the place where they live. I thought that you handled and responded to the posting really well... and while I do respect the OP's prerogative, I also think it's important for them to respect other people and realize that the facade they surround themselves with is, clearly, just that.

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  27. I'm so happy for you! I love your new house and I completely understand how lucky you are! I would give a lot to live in Napa, period!

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  28. I think that some of us feel suckered. You always made such a big deal about SF and all alternative you pretend to be, and then this. It's a dull house, it's not your vineyard, and whatever happens, you're a mommie blogger in a subdivision. I really did expect a little more.

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  29. Anon 7:17,

    I've never "pretended" to be anything. I've never been less than honest about who I am or what I'm about.

    I think SF has suited me quite well because of who I am, not the other way around. Moving somewhere, anywhere, else doesn't change that and doesn't define me.

    If YOU think I need to stay single, childless, and SF-bound to be interesting, that's your issue. I certainly didn't create that expectation.

    "Mommie blogger in a subdivision" is ONE aspect of this next phase of my life. A totally novel, totally new aspect of life for me that I've never done or tried before.

    And "whatever happens" I'll still have alllll those other crazy-weird aspects of my life that came before, will come during, and will follow.

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  30. Oh, Kristy, Sweetie, don't fall for the bait; this is a troll. A sad, unhugged, colorless being who is getting a woody out of your defense of your choices.

    Soldier on, sweet girl, and ignore the trolls.

    Hugging you from miles away...

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  31. After "camping" for the last THREE FREAKING YEARS in our present, but very interesting, 1930s house (where we bought the house from a woman who was 99 years old (No lie!), and who had lived in the damn house for the last 70 years! (Please imagine the neglect of this house)), redoing the wiring, the painting, the kitchen and just now, not having a bathroom AT ALL let alone in the norms since July of last year (my bathtub works it just isn't where it should be. We brush our teeth in the kitchen), I have got to say it: I would NEVER DO IT EVER AGAIN!

    Excuse me for yelling.

    Never, for all the money in the world, will you get me into a house where nothing fucking works properly. If it does work, it invariably drips. Or smells of sewage (most recent because the toilet backed up in the tubes outside and emptied into an unused sceptic tank (thankfully, also outside)).

    NEVER AGAIN!

    Cookie cutter. OMFG. WOULD LOVE SOME COOKIE CUTTER ACTION RIGHT NOW!

    Ahem.

    (P.S. Am so totally jealous of your new home. It looks like a piece of heaven dripped in honey to my poor eyes...)

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  32. I forgot to mention the huge windows that we had to replace due to howling drafts in the winter and our first heating bill in the house which was over 1000 Euros for 2 months.

    Homes with character? MONEY SUCKERS!

    Never AGAIN!

    Bah.

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  33. Miserable people like to be miserable - and they like company. This wiener even says "I really am glad for you in that you are in a happy family situation". Um...NO, YOU MOST CERTAINLY ARE NOT GLAD FOR HER OTHERWISE YOU WOULDN'T BE HATING. Way to go, Kristy...enjoy your new home and family and don't let this hater make you doubt your decision even for a moment. You don't have the time or energy for it...you're busy with people who are happy for you. :)

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  34. Anon 1:07-

    Actually I am not miserable - I am lucky and happy. Maybe snarky and rude, but not miserable.
    And you're also wrong again (gee, what a surprise) - I AM happy for her family situation. Ish seems nice, they seem happy together and she was able to get pregnant - all good things. Being rude about her house does not make me a hater.

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  35. I bet that a hundred years ago, there were a bunch of other cookie-cutter farmhouses in Connecticut. I bet they all looked the same and everyone had a brick floor. But everything starts somewhere, and a brand new house is perfect for a new phase of your life. And maybe in 100 years, YOUR house will have the drafty windows and the ancient plumbing and someone will love it and call it an old-fashioned charmer.

    Congratulations :o)

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  36. I think it's a very cool house, regardless of how much alike it may be to those around it.

    And, man. Napa. That all you gotta say. I love North Carolina, but that is one place I would move to in a heartbeat.

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  37. I read the other comments, because I'm fascinated by the reactions to your choice of house. Wow.

    I'll stand by my original point. Despite the location/ appearance/ similarity of the outside, a house is merely a shell for what is important. Your family. Your life. The love that you build together. This obsession with old vs. new is ridiculous. Are you guys happy? That's it. All that matters.

    And as a mommy blogger myself, I'll say welcome to the diaper side...mwahahahaha.

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