Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marking Your Territory

As we lay in the smoldering ash heap of the American Dream of homeownership, let's not forget why we all did this.  THE MONEY!!!!!  

Ahahahahaha!  I'm kidding.  We never had any money.  Only good credit and the twinkle of overextended dreams in our eyes that burned with the intensity of a thousand suns.  Suns which are now just dying embers in that ash heap that we huddle around for warmth because we can't afford the gas bill this month.  

Ahahahahaha! I'm exaggerating.  I can afford the gas if I only get my hair done every 8 weeks instead of 6.  SACRIFICES!!!

I don't know why y'all bought a house but I bought mine because I couldn't stand the kitchen and bathroom in my apartment so I went somewhere with an even uglier kitchen and bathroom.  And paid money for it!  Also, buying a home is what you do when you’re an adult after finally giving up your life of crime and buying cereal solely based on its fiber contents. 

Or trying to pretend you’re an adult by covering up all of your previous failures and heartaches with a few shallow coats of paint and new tile.
Stray paint footprint from a renovation via emma's design blogg
Not enough hugs growing up?  Buy a house and give all your love to it!  That'll show 'em! *sob, sob, sob*  I'd rather work out my childhood traumas on real estate rather than birthing my own children and ruining their lives.  Considering how often I kill plants, my unborn children are lucky.  I love you too much to actually give birth to you, non-existent babies!  You're WELCOME.  Now excuse me while I slowly kill this bush with my unending compassion and nurturing neglect.  

Because I OWN this bitch.  

And because I own it I've scraped grime out of the cracks in the floors with dental tools, torn down the ugliest wallpaper man has ever designed until my eyes bled (probably because of the asbestos), hosed down the ceiling to scrape the popcorn off and then washed the filth that dripped down the walls (probably from the years of chain-smoking), stripped paint until I thought I was going to die (probably because of the fumes), painted almost every inch of this house more than once, dug holes in the yard until I almost passed out (probably because it was an old buried brick wall and not a root) and stripped, drilled, nailed and screwed countless other details in this place that are way less sexy than the words stripping, drilling, nailing and screwing might imply.  But this place still never felt like home.  It was familiar and comfortable, but not Home.

Of course, during all that work the pervert ghost of the former of occupant was still patrolling the hallway so it was hard to feel like you're at Home when you think someone is watching you change clothes.  And most of that work was (is) spent fixing his DIY bullshit.  I wasn't making the Ranch my home - I was unmaking it HIS.  And getting dressed in the closet.  Because ghosts can't see through walls. Obviously.
This is how you do a real height chart.  via dolescum
But somehow over the last year or so there was a shift.  The ghosts of the past went away and I didn't kill as many plants.  Most likely it was related to the exorcism of the kitchen or the fact that I invested in succulents.  Both are likely possibilities.  

But it wasn’t even the new kitchen – it was the damage I did to the new kitchen and everywhere else.  The accidental knife gouges on the butcher block counters, the one door trim that I painted like shit but was too exhausted to fix and still it sits, the spot on the hardwood where I dripped paint stripper and that corner on the new kitchen door jamb that Charlemagne rubs her face on every day before dinner that has left a dirty smudge but I just don’t have the heart to wipe off.  Partly because I can't believe a clean all-white cat can make so much grossness and people should probably study it and because kitty filth is kinda the cutest.

Except for hedgehog filth.  I bet that's pretty damn cute.

Home is mine.  Or Charlemagne's depending on what part of the door jamb we're currently discussing...  These aren't the things I've purchased, but the way I inhabit the things I have.  Home could be a house or a voice or a body, a car, a job or a community.  

Ownership isn't a necessity although it definitely helps for the tax credits, but merely a feeling that you were able to put your mark on something.  Maybe someone.  Perhaps it's even put its mark on you.  Like a little knife gouge or animal pee right in your heart.  Awww....

Home is where you rub your face on the wall and dry hump the sink, leave footprints and chart your growth and one day scrape your own grime out of your bathroom.  Just generally mark a territory with your own sweet brand of personal stench.  And nobody washes it off.  

Until you die and someone buys your house and they clean up your filth while you haunt them and watch them sleep.  That’s the circle of life for renovating.

Taking part in another Let's Blog Off blog carnival today where internet people ask what a home really is.  Skeedaddle over here to read the other participants.  If you do I'll rub my face on you!


  1. Xander rubs his face on the fridge door - priorities, Charlemagne, priorities! He takes after his mother, what can I say.

  2. "I wasn't making the Ranch my home - I was unmaking it HIS."

    The ultimate home improvement quote.

  3. Kim - The fridge doesn't hold the filth quite as nice as the wall does. Charlemagne has critical thinking skills unlike her mother.

    James - Thanks! Every now and then I get lucky. ; )

  4. There are times when I think a home is just a hole to throw money into. We have been in ours for 19 years and have been remodeling it for 19 years. By the time we have finally finished, we will have spent as much to remodel it as we did to purchase it!

  5. Leaving a mark is really what makes home, home. It's also one of the reasons that I blog. I'm leaving a mark of sorts. So does this make the internet my home? Hmmm. Points to ponder.

  6. The Fine Life - *blushing* ; )

    Joe - 19 years?! Oh please gawd no. I hope to learn discernment as much as I do with the remodeling process itself. Best of luck in your neverending renovation!! Oy.

    Paul - I have been pondering that as well. The internet may not be my home but this blog is absolutely real estate that I made into a Home. FOR MY BRAIN!!!!

  7. Perfect description of the love-hate of home renovation. I "enjoyed" going into the crawl space of my first home in a tyvec suit to spread bags of lime since the previous owner had never fixed the broken cast iron sewage pipe (yes she was old, but still...) because it was MY house. Pride in home ownership doesn't get more convoluted than that.

  8. Great post! I live in a 110+ year old house and every home improvement adventure is a study in repair methods from a particular decade. We have the remnants of 3 generations of electrical. A staircase was moved to accommodate indoor plumbing (not adding additional plumbing. Adding plumbing in the first place). I can't help but wonder about all of the people who lived here before me.

  9. Historic Shed - Do whatcha gotta do! Home is a privilege even if it encompasses love, hate or everything in between!

    Raun - Sometimes it's an archaeological dig and history lesson all at the same time! Your house sounds great and it's awesome that you are giving it the love it deserves. ; )

  10. I just spent two weeks on my hands and knees scrubbing and painting grout in a home we bought. And, I can't get the kitchen clean enough... I feel the previous owner's grime still there. Hearing the stories from the neighbors about how filthy he was doesn't help. It's a labor of love, this marking our territory thing, that's for sure. It's starting to sparkle a bit here and there, which makes the whole effort worth it. Thanks for a great post. You are uber-talented, that's also for sure. (Forgive me if I hadn't been paying attention, but is this a new blog look? I love it... especially the hot sauce graphic. I buy it in bulk.)

  11. I hear ya, Denese - I had to scrape the kitchen counters with a razor blade when I moved in. *shudder* Good luck with your cleaning. I'm sure it's sparkling with LURVE!

    Glad you enjoyed the post! And yes I have a new banner up top. Thought we could use a little facelift around here. ; )

  12. The new header design is fab. Is that your sweet face gracing the label? Holy cow I have many home improvement horror stories - all in the name of making it "ours". Oh and let me break this news - as long as it's your house, you will be changing something!

  13. Hi Kim! Yep that's me up there. Thought it was time for a change around here!

    Sigh... I have a feeling that I'll never be done which sometimes I love and sometimes makes me want to stab someone. But at least it's MINE! ; )