We Bought a House (For Real This Time)

After our aborted attempt to buy a house back in 2009, Dollface and I settled very comfortably back into enjoying our fabulous apartment. Spacious, stylish, comfortable and centrally located in one of the coolest sections of Portland, there was very little not to love about the place. However, after several years of rent increases, I was becoming increasingly aware that renting builds no equity and is essentially throwing money away. Additionally we were fed up with having a landlord and upstairs/downstairs neighbors to consider. It was time to start searching again.

Turns out that on our first and only day of touring various available houses, after about ten unsuitable locations we happened to find a house that felt about as close to perfect as we were going to get. To make a long story short, in a whirlwind 2 months we negotiated, inspected, repaired, bought the place, painted and moved in. It's now six weeks later and, having finally resolved all the top home-making priorities and settled in, I feel I can now break my blogging and social media silence to reflect on the whole experience.

Most of that reflection has been about aging, or more specifically, my present self regarding my younger self, wondering how young Adam would regard where older Adam is today, house and all. To that end I've had on my mind an untitled poem that I wrote about 16 or 17 years ago while broke and unfettered in New York City:

young Siddhartha wants not a thing

wants as in lacks
lacks as in needs

the deciduous trees in the park on fourteenth
(don't ask me specifically, I don't know the breed)
seem not to breathe so much as wheeze

with all the convulsions that herald the spring
I wonder
they never
as gentler

the lion's, the lamb's and the fates' schitzing breeze
had always been wont to ignore what they please

"No matter," the prophets predicted with ease,
"no matter the gray or the centigrade freeze,
the road to enlightenment's paved with these trees."

elated by chance
the loose women sprawled in a somatic dance
'cross the bed and the chairs and the couch and the floor
are reborn in the spring – perhaps nearer the door
than I'll ever be
aloft in a tree
chased down by cops
and a jerk-off destiny

Loosely, the poem is about a youth surrounded by excess and pleasure, cognizant that greater wisdom and purpose exist but doubtful whether he'll ever find it himself. In retrospect, however, I see a kid who wasn't interested in a career or marriage or a house and mortgage, much less ever leaving NYC. The writer of that poem wasn't crushed by a lack of purpose, but rather passively amused by it.

Then, surprisingly quickly, 17 years go by. At some point you meet a girl you really like and suddenly you're together for 14 years. At some point you move to Portland and before you know it 5 years have passed. Where the fuck does the time go? But more importantly, are you where you want to be?

Which brings me back to the house. I never wanted a house. I do not enjoy the do-it-yourself lifestyle of home ownership. I do not want to mow a lawn. I do not want to be concerned with upkeep for the furnace, the roof, the siding, etc. That thing where you take pride that the place you live is "yours"? I don't have that. Instead I have greater concern for security, income, maintenance... When our friends are over and hanging out, our place is still a fun party zone, but by myself I have yet to find real enjoyment here. Some satisfaction, sure, but as of this writing I do not "enjoy" this house.

I am, however, no longer throwing money away on rent. So there's that at least: equity.

But what is the real value of all this equity?

Well, mostly I want Dollface to be financially secure in her old age. Some savings, a 401k plan, a house... these things will hopefully insure that she can remain in the style of living with which she's familiar and that she deserves.

Me? Well, that's the irony. I still don't really live for the future. I don't happily look forward to retirement or old age. I'm focused on writing songs, booking gigs, collecting Transformers, getting drunk, etc. But how will feel in another 17 years, looking back at the Adam of today? I really have no idea.

I realize that this is probably not the "I bought a house" blog post you expected. Most everyone I meet, when I mention having just bought a home, gush with congratulations. I have come to realize that for many people it is one of life's great landmark achievements on par with having a child, getting married, retiring, dying, etc. I don't feel that. To me, this is just a much more complicated version of renting and most pros ("I can install a skylight if I want") are offset by cons ("I have to mow the motherfucking lawn again"). I realize that I am a very lucky man, and I want you to know that I am completely aware of that... but until I actually start taking pride in my house, it feels like being congratulated on a great haircut. Yes, it's mine, but I didn't really do anything to earn it other than pay someone else to do it. Maybe one day I will have the same pride in this house that I do my songs or this website.

I really have no idea.


I couldn't finish this post without mentioning that we couldn't have gotten through the whole house-buying thing without our friends, who helped us with packing, moving, and various projects around the house that we could not have accomplished on our own. As has always been the case in my life, our friends are what is really most valuable.


There is, at least, one fun project I see for myself. There's a bathroom and shower in the basement. I'm going to paint the walls red and put up various bawdy and infernal pictures, like an NYC dive bar bathroom. If you have to choose which bathroom in our house to do some blow and fuck a hooker, it will definitely be this one. Hey, after all, this house is mine, I can do what I want with it!


Fucking yards...
» Posted 3.21.2013 19:51:41 by Ryan
Oh, and don't forget... it isn't yours until it is paid for ;)
» Posted 3.21.2013 19:53:43 by Ryan
Kudos! That's grown-up living, right there!
Now, what does it transform into?
» Posted 3.22.2013 15:20:58 by Tresob
Oh, so you're not dead? I was getting worried there.
Good on you both for the house purchase. Everyone has concerns over it to start with, but they wane with time. Looking forward to the photos of the TF collection room. And Dollface (if I may be so familiar) getting back to writing the Redburn Diaries.
» Posted 3.31.2013 0:34:12 by Cheffo
Congrats on the house! Hope you and Dollface make many happy years there!

In response to Ryan:

Not sure what the laws in Oregon are like, but where I'm at, even when you've paid for your home, you really don't own it because you have to pay property tax. If you want to build or modify anything, you have to pay a tax to the city to get permission to do so. If you don't pay them, the government ceases your land and home and kicks you out.

I wish we would switch to a system that is only sales tax for everything. Ya it would be high, but at least if your buying stuff, your paying taxes like everyone else.

Obviously, I'm ranting and haven't thought about all the negatives like a black market rising, but you guys probably understand where I'm coming from.
» Posted 3.31.2013 13:48:58 by monuo_ripts
LOL, I'm in the house buying process now and for all of the same reasons. The only thing I want to point out is that I've had to mow the lawn at every place I've rented except for one, (Not including places without yards)

It's a little different for me because I DO want the DYI experience as well as the equity. But mostly I HATE going to other peoples houses for the holidays and such. I'm happy to clean up after all of the nieces and nephews, in-laws, what have you, just as long as I'm not trapped at someone else's place. I love entertaining and seeing to it that I have a little something special for everyone when they come visit. Be it their favorite show on the TV or favorite cocktail or appetizer or whatever.

We tried Easter in our little town house this year and that was the nail in the coffin. Looking to be moved into the new place in about 3-4 weeks. Repairs being done over the next two then the Appraisal and underwriting, yada yada yada. If you've bought a house you know what I'm talking about. If not, DONT BUY A HOUSE.

Unless you have nerves of steel, it's simply amazing at how nerve racking the process can be and ours has probably been one of the most painless and easiest in history. I'm currently in between jobs and back at school so that is my only real issue. It isn't affecting the process any but as a MAN, MAN, MAN, I feel (insert favorite adjective for 'like a loser') if I'm not at least pulling my weight especially when I feel it's my responsibility to provide not just support.

Good luck with your new home Adam, I think you're going to enjoy it more than you think. Every home repair is an excuse to throw a party and get free help. Moving parties, painting parties, let's run the know sex offender out of the neighborhood parties. Owning a home is a great way to keep partying and avoid a DUI.
» Posted 4.22.2013 10:29:02 by Anton
Add me to the list of people who will say "Congratulations". We bought a house of our own and moved in last October 2012.

Yes, our monthly cash out is more than what we used to pay for our rent. Yes, we have to maintain the house all by ourselves -- termites/insects, faucet repairs, bathroom shelving. Yes, I think about my wife and 2 kids having at least some sort of security for their future with a roof over their heads and land under their feet.

No, I still don't have a "dedicated room" for my TF's (Encore 23 is under my workstation in the office). No, I don't have a lawn....but I dream of actually having artificial turf grass on a portion of the roof-deck to give us that little patch of green in the city.

Good luck with your new place and good to read you're finding a little corner of the house you actually call "yours".
» Posted 4.22.2013 22:34:19 by Alex Siy [Website]
Thanks for all the congratulations, everyone. :)

I'm settling in more. Dollface and I have made tending the lawn a team effort. My morning routine is stabilizing. Slowly I am becoming more adjusted to the life of a homeowner.

Also: whiskey.
» Posted 4.29.2013 9:30:23 by Botch the Crab - WEBMASTER
hey dude, congratulations! Oh wait, fuck that, you don't want to be congratulated for a haircut. heh.

It's great news either dude. Financial security and peace of mind for your loved one is important (for her if not to you). And equity and capital gains that come with are much better than paying rent to fund somebody's equity - not you are entitled to look back on that as 'dumb', don't need to wait 17 years.

Another thing that is (or will be) great that you didn't mention is that you can come up with wild and wacky ways to display your TFs. You can actually drill shelves and cabinets into the wall if you wanted to (take that ex-landlord!). It's also great to be able to create spaces where you know your friends will enjoy when they come and hang out (for me, its the mahjong area in the apartment, can't do without that).

Looking forward to some shots of the interior. =)
» Posted 5.12.2013 8:56:26 by heroic_decepticon [Website]
I like it, it looks like it could be Two Face's house the way the brick & siding split down the middle.
» Posted 9.08.2013 6:54:07 by Brad

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