Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What about not being good enough

In less than two months, it'll be twenty years since high school graduation. For a day or so, you entertain the thought of returning for it. And then think, what would be different now from then? You would still not be good enough or important enough to be someone if you went. It would only dredge up the mostly long-buried feelings of inadequacy that were deeply formed those years at Bishop Ryan High School. Despite graduating as the class valedictorian, participating in some sports and being a friendly person, you were still on the outskirts. Invited to parties by way of someone else, not because you were directly wanted. Shut down by teachers and counselors who told you, "You can't" and "You're not smart enough to get those scholarships" and "Your test scores will never be high enough." Though they were wrong on most all of it, the words seared into your brain.

While running in the park the other day, you thought of all the things you did in your short thirty-seven years. Even if you haven't managed to have a child or invent something or become rich or important, you've taken a major stab at life. Truthfully, you've probably done more than anyone you graduated with. Often when looking at pictures of the past, it's hard to believe that you did all that stuff. So driven to succeed and do things. Where did it come from?

Part of not being good enough is proving yourself, and in a way that was due to the depressing high school experience. And the other way was of course, losing your dad and wanting to live so that he would be proud of you, and also wanting to burden your mom.

There's no sense to go back to that reunion.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New House - Before Pictures!

We have some pretty exciting news. After searching off and on since last June (the first offer we wrote was on June 14, 2013), we've finally gotten an accepted offer on a house that is about the right size and reasonably priced. 

The story: Monday March 10th, I got an email stating that I'd won $1000 from the local Portland Mercury for filling out a reader's survey. It was the grand prize in all of Portland. It was really true. (At first I thought it was a scam, of course.) Later that day, a listing popped up, and it was this little house, which was one street over from Carrie's house. I thought, "That might be in Carrie's backyard." I told Justin to go over and take a peek at it. We scheduled a tour for later that day after work. 

It's a little grandma house, which means that it needs some updating, but has been pretty well taken care of. The previous owner, Norma, was a retired RN who worked for the university hospital out here until retirement. She'd lived alone with her dog and cat and had kept a beautiful yard for all the years that Carrie had lived here. She passed away in early January of a heart attack. Carrie had talked to her over the fence many times in the last five years. We were sad to hear that she died. 

We quickly wrote an offer, and a few days later it was accepted. We are so excited. It actually reminds me mostly of my first little house in Vancouver, which was about 1500 sq. ft and perfect size, with a good layout. 

Our closing date is set for April 4th which is just under two weeks away. We've been through the inspection and the appraisal and everything is ok, except for a little rot in the garage which we've had bid at to fix. (Not a large sum of money.)

The house needs some updates and we'd like to add a bathroom, so we'll still have to dump some money into it to make it nicer, but even with that additional cost, we're way under on our house price than any of the other houses we were looking at. And we share a backyard fence with Carrie, which is pretty sweet. As well, it's a good central location for commuting to work for me. And we already know the neighborhood and love our neighbors. So those are all win-win factors.

Built in 1948-49, the same years as my mom and dad were built! 
And the same years as Carrie's house was built! (I think it would be really great to put another window right in the front or switch it to a larger window, but who knows.)
Really nice garage that even Justin's car would fit in. We plan to repaint the country blue to a more modern happycolor. The siding will have to stay white.

 As well, the stove will have to be switched at some point. I think this one is from the 1980's!
That's the wall we want to take out- otherwise the dining area is pretty small.  
Master - about 12x12
 Second bedroom/office.
This is the worst feature of the house- it's a very tiny and very yellow bathroom and when she remodeled she put in a little bigger tub with a bump out. Not sure exactly what we will do but it's ok for now.
I think we could add a wall here, and make that an egress window (there's already a closet built in facing the would-be room). And add a door off the living area (which is the blue room to follow) and then we'd have guest quarters.
The laundry area is big and could be combined or split into a bathroom. And the plumbing is low so we could add a bath pretty easily. 
 Living area- about 16 ft x 11 I think. I measured it but forgot. There's two windows in this room and would be nice to make at least one an egress. The funny little closed off area is where the oil furnace is, which is something that we plan to get rid of right away- I just don't like the smell and it's not very environmentally friendly. I would have ideally not gotten a house with an oil furnace but what can you do?
There's a water heater in that room and storage, which we'd just leave as is. 
She was quite a gardener.
 This is kinda cool. A little bit in a bad spot- right in the middle of the yard. Would be better in a corner but what can you do. I don't think it would be easy to move. And that's Carrie's house just over the fence!
Schematic house layout I made- almost to scale but the hall upstairs ended up looking a little wider than it is... I think you could potentially take out that wall and leave a beam if you wanted a more open feeling but it's not necessary. There's a wall between the kitchen and living that we plan to take out right away.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weeks blurring

It's Friday night. We're at home, resting on the couch. Oatie in my coat. Justin working on a website design in the kitchen. Carrie and I requested some houses to see tomorrow morning. Finally there's more on the market after a several month drought. For fun, we sat and looked at the most expensive homes for sale in Portland. One was 4.5 million dollars. The taxes were like 38k per year. Who buys those houses? The semi-depressing thing was that they were all generic. White kitchens. Marble or something like it. Pendant lights. Big rooms. Bland opulence. I can't imagine wanting one of those. 

We've made more offers. I've lost track how many. One was for 33k over asking. Another for 27k over. None accepted. One we wanted to offer on sold for 509k cash. It was originally listed at 429k. An investor was buying it to tear down the garage and build a second house on the lot. Rather depressing. It had such a beautiful back yard. Anything for money. It is god here in the states. 

I wonder how we got so off track. I don't care that much about money. But then I am finally making a regular and boring salary so I don't have to think about it. I would still rather have less of it and more freedom, but then who knows. I have a pretty easy life right now. 

I'm doing ill call at work. That means our scheduling lady calls me at 6:15AM every day and tells me where I am going. It's been ok so far. One week down, who knows how many to go. It means I get to see all my old friends, since I'm visiting all the clinics. And, that I could take a day off without any notice really since I don't have a set schedule. So far, so good. I'm not a morning person, so the phone call isn't exactly welcome (and Justin doesn't like that either) but it's ok. And I like my job. So I can't complain. I'm just glad they re-hired me. I'm trying to do my best. It's really nice to be back. 

We've turned the corner finally with weather. It's been 60ish for the last week. Rain sporadically, which we need, intermixed with sun. Today it was so bright at lunch. Everyone here was talking loud and laughing, happily basking in the sunshine. The northwest is heaven six months of the year. That time is on our doorstep. 

So, here's to spring and hoping March brings a good house for us.