Saturday, April 23, 2011

In which I try to understand housepride.

I don't take much pride in my home.

I don't take shame in it.  In fact, I take a lot of comfort in it.  I quite like it, even.  But I just don't see a reason to take pride in it.

I associate pride with identity.  And if you take pride in your dwelling, then either you associate that part of your identity with your possessions (which, YMMV, but I find that slightly problematic), or you associate it with achievement.

And, OK, the achievement part I get. 

If you saved your pennies and paid for a huge part of your house in cash and are in a place to pay off your mortgage within ten years, that's a huge accomplishment and you should totally be proud of it. 

But I just pay rent every month.  That's, like, the bare minimum required, isn't it?  It's like feeding your kids: if you don't do it, you get the kids (or apartment) taken away, but if you do, that in and of itself doesn't make you parent (or tenant or homeowner) of the year.

If you have made your home as green as is reasonably possible and strive to go even farther, that's awesome! You should be proud! It's a major undertaking, even a major lifestyle change.  Nothing easy there.

I try to fit green in.  We're switching to CFLs; we recycle.  But as much as I'd like to, composting isn't practical right now.  We haven't gotten the smart surge protectors yet.  We use plastic.  We use chemicals.  It works for us, and I'm not ashamed of it, but it's not much to talk about.

If you've taken a total fixer-upper and DIY'ed it into submission, good for you! Show us the house porn! The Mythbusters have proven that it's really hard to polish a turd, so if you've ended up with a gem, you deserve to crow about it.

But we have very few repairs that need to be done, and most of them we're not allowed to do ourselves.  Asking the landlord to fix the toilet is hardly the hallmark of the capable handyman (however, I do think I get points for renting from the capable handyman...).

If you've decorated the home, or even a single room, to reflect who you are, sweet! The Dr. Seuss nursery, the seahorse bathroom, the bohemian-chic living room, awesome. It takes creativity and vision and not a little time and patience to pull that off, to say nothing of the maintenance.

But take our living room.  The sofa/loveseat combo from Macy's: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  The TV stand from JCPenny: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  We've yet to find a coffee table that is comfortable, sturdy, affordable, and neutral-colored, but the TV trays we use instead?  The ones we got from Bed Bath and Beyond?  Say it with me now: comfortable, sturdy, affordable, neutral-colored.  Boring.  Heh, I guess my living room does reflect my life (see also: the entire point of this blog[link]).

And if you've made your place into the gathering space, good for you! Maybe you have the ultimate gaming table or the ultimate kitchen table. The dinner parties, birthday parties, potlucks, and game nights can make a community.  That is truly something to be proud of.

Not so easy in a small Queens apartment.  Certainly there's no room for major events; even board games and potlucks with small groups would be pretty tight.  And it doesn't happen anyway.  95% of the time, it's easier on everyone if Chris and I go out than if other people come over.  Even when we've invited people, we usually are told, "Nah, let's just meet in the city." Fine by me; I love the city.  Even so.  It's just easier for other people for them not to come over.  And there's not a lot of point in keeping the home ready for last-minute guests when we will never have any.

So I quite like my apartment.  But I don't see much reason to be proud of it.  And I don't see why it should be a problem that I'm OK with that.
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