Paying for the American Dream

I’ve achieved the “American Dream“.

I own my own home.

I love my house and I have a nice yard.  We even have more room than we need…

… but, there’s a price to pay …

The price of owning a home does not end with the sale price or your mortgage. A home is like a child with special needs. You love him, but you keep on trying to improve, fix or maintain… continually

I pay the gardener and the pool man.  I had to pay to repair my driveway; to cut down the trees, fix the broken sprinkler system; rebuild the hill that slid down into our yard after a storm; and add more gravel to our southwest front-yard.  (Imagine – paying for a southwest yard, when you live in the Southwest.)

I paid to replace the floor; to remodel the kitchen; and to paint the inside and the outside.  I pay the plumber to snake through our clogged main pipe, to clear the roots from the beautiful trees which enhance our yard. Get it? We want to maintain the trees because they give shade and beautify, but then they do what trees do, and we have to work against it! We try to force nature to conform to our urban living conditions…

And this is just regular maintenance. Some we have to do, and some we choose to do.

However, I didn’t choose to have a leak on my deck a week ago- the same deck that was resurfaced only two years ago by someone who promised that it would last forever. He also promised some other things … and his name will go down in infamy as the one who got away.


As rain water penetrated our living room, I was thinking that it’s a shame that my training in using weaponry will go to waste. I should have listened to my husband and renewed my shooting skills, and then go and find the guy who lied to us. I am kind of stuck though, as I don’t own a gun. I am sure that I still remember how to use a Uzi. You feel about your Uzi the way you feel about riding a bike: You never completely forget!

Oh fantasies … fantasies.

I don’t want to be in prison, even though I could probably do some counseling there.

Can prisoners use a PC on a regular basis? I can see it now:  “Blogs from a cell”.  It has a nice ring to it.


And then there’s the new leak that’s like a “rebel without a cause” – the leak that cannot be blamed on anyone.

The solar heater had a leak and the water penetrated our walls, cabinets and who knows where else. Fabian, a great plumber, was here yesterday and removed the solar heater from its perch; and it is now lying down in our yard like a befallen service-man on a battle field. He was an old solar system … it makes sense.

But it also makes us less environmentally responsible. We had solar for 28 years, practically before anyone knew what solar is.  Now we are looking at the demise of Mister Solar.  Now, it’s gas only.

A leak here and a leak there…  

As I am writing this blog, we have two gigantic dehumidifier machines in two different rooms in our house injecting warm air to dry the walls. They were installed after my insurance company recommended doing that. Oh, did I mention paying for homeowners insurance and earthquake insurance in California? I think not.

Yesterday I had interactions with a contractor who gave me an estimate on my deck; the plumber who removed Mister Solar; and the emergency response company with the dehumidifiers.

In between dealing with three guys working in the house (there was a lot of testosterone in the house), I was also talking to the insurance company while also watching the man who came to measure the humidity-levels in our walls.  He was using a magical instrument called a Protimeter.  Can I have one of those? If you are anxious about a leak – you can measure it all by yourself. Am I anxious about leaks now?  Does waking up in the middle of the night running from room to room to check for water puddles qualify?

So the bottom line is this: You can either be- or marry a super handyman, or forget about owning your own home. Even if you are financially comfortable and you can afford to pay and fix all these problems – who would want to spend their days interacting with all these people? They were nice; they were helpful and cordial, but I would rather meet them at a coffee shop.

So if you don’t own a home, and you believe that you are missing out by not fulfilling the American Dream, trust me, it’s a dream.

I don’t want to sell my house. I love my house. Tomorrow, though, we may have a leak from our washing machine, it is kind of old…



About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Home Ownership, Remodeling, The American Dream, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Paying for the American Dream

  1. Grace says:

    Were any of the men good looking? At least we can have that part to look forward to.

  2. Barbara Cooper says:

    Ah, when it rains, it pours! At least your pool didn’t over flow into your house! Yes, owning a home can sometimes be a pain in the ass or more accurately a pain in the bank account! Especially when everything seems to fall apart at the same time. And it always seems to do just that! But not owning a home isn’t all that great either! I remember a fabulous apartment that I lived in in Beverly Hills. I loved every moment until “The stomper” moved into the apartment above mine. He was a big man but he walked (stomped) around like he was 8 feet tall. I knew exactly what he was doing and where he was doing it at all times. He was also a little deaf so I always had to hear whatever TV show he was watching. Not to mention his answering machine- I had to hear his messages when they were being left and again when he came home. He drove me mad! Then there was my apartment in NYC- my first. The walls must have been made of balsa wood because I could hear the man in the apartment next to mine yawn! I lived on the 19th floor of that building and one summer there was a blackout that lasted for 3 days! No elevator, no electricity, a no way I was gonna walk up and down 19 flights for anything. And speaking of electricity, in NY, there is some unwritten law that no matter the temperature outside there was some decree by somebody as to exactly what day the heat in winter or the air conditioner in summer would be made available. If it was unseasonably cold before that date- well too bad, no heat. The same with the air in summer. And everyone knows- heat rises, so the 19th floor could become a sauna if it got hot before the set date. So, now I own my own home. I can have heat or air whenever I like. I can vacuum at 2:00 in the morning if the mood should strike. ( it never does, but that’s not the point) The only one I want to hear stomping above me is Santa Claus, but apparently he’s just a fat, old, anti semite, because he always seems to skip my house. So when things go wrong with my home and I have to shell out $1200.00 to replace the hot water heater like I did last week, I try to remember that there is always a price to pay for the privilege of choice. I chose this house because I fell in love the moment I walked in the door. I chose my husband for the same reason.
    He’s no handy man, but I bet if he was, ours is the last house he would be working on. (“shoe maker’s daughter” and all that) So, if the house needs a repair or two through the years, I say better it than me. It is more easily fixable.

    • rachel bar says:

      Your reply, Barbara is a blog onto itself. It made me laugh, and it also reminded me of my own experience of living in a building with a drummer… The less I say, the better.

    • susan says:

      We must have been living in the same apartment building. You brought back memories of a Beverly Hills apartment that I loved…..until the stomper moved in.

  3. nfpisms says:

    I can feel your pain. As one who has, in the past, tried on occasion to be the handyman on a mjor project, I am living proof that sometimes it does NOT always help to be a do-it-yourselfer just because you don’t trust that repairman or plumber will do a good job. I tried fix a faulty dishwasher by taking it apart and trying to put it goegther again, methodically. When I finally called for help, the first thing the guy said was, “Please don’t tell me you took the machine apart yourself.” When I said yes, he laughed and said, “I can assure you it’s going to cost you double now.” Same thing when I messed with the boiler, only to end up flooding the basement. Oops, bad decision. In the end, you have to go with personal referrals from friends or trustworthy neighbors who have had good experiences. Nick

    • rachel bar says:

      You are right Nick, but I did not want a “do it yourself” attempt. I simply wanted to be skilled and know how to really do it all by myself, or by my spouse. But another way of thinking about it is that I’m helping the economy:)

  4. Maureen says:

    LOL !
    You forgot the hot water pipe that bursts and floods boiling water 8″ deep throughout your house which ruins the bottom of all of your furniture, and steam-curls the wallpaper and damages all the artwork. And this is while you are on vacation for September Labor Day…And after the house is completely restored (new wallpaper, paint, furniture refinished, art reframed, etc), the January Northridge Earthquake hits and brings the whole place tumbling down and you are relocated for a year.

  5. Wow..I really feel your pain..I hate the rain..and hated it more for the past several years..I have the opportunity to purchase a home..well a fix-it-upper..and I have been fixing her up ever since I moved into her…The roof started leaking and since my fix-it-upper is so old (1915) When I would get one leak fixed..another would start..finally had to replace the entire roof. Hired a person recommended by a friend..and he made it worse..gave me one of those..”if it leaks again let me know guarantees (my warning there)..well he disappeared and if I see him..I know what size shoes he wear…I too thought the American dream was to Own a home..But sometimes I wished I would wake up or least have a better dream..

  6. Martha Carr says:

    I hear ya Rachel! I feel your pain!!!!!

  7. Dalia Kenig says:

    I feel your pain sister. These never ending repairs and all the hassle involved… I am sure you rather read a good book and keep that money for a nice vacation. My not so recent status change form a property owner to a renter made me rethink the whole concept of ownership. Do we really own anything? Or maybe it’s more accurate to state that it is ours to use when we borrow money for a loan from the bank for mortgage or rent it. Even if we pay it in full, we still might sell I or lose it and then our ownership expires. The most ownership possible the way I look at it is as follows :”It is my possession now and as long as I am using it”.
    My psychological mind thinks we human draw a sense of safety, security and groundingness (if there is such a word) from the symbolic meaning of owning our home even though the dollar bottom line doesn’t always add up with all the payments and expenses.
    Now it is time to go to sleep in my cozy rented house.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • rachel bar says:

      Love what you said, Dalia. Owning is not what we think it is, but it feels like we reach a certain goal. And then, when we have it we see that it is only an object.

      • Dalia Kenig says:

        So true, yet for many of us we have to have it before we can see it for what it is.
        Sorry for posting in the wrong place, in the wrong time… i think now i know how to post correctly. Enjoy the beautiful day- we all can own it….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s