PERSONAL + DEAR TKB: “My first marriage was a sham… I feel guilty.” PLUS: My Issue with HGTV’s House Hunters.

This past week has been a toughie.

I could really go for some Dawson’s Creek repeats right now.  I think Katie and Suri would agree with me.  Actually- serious question: wtf is the hold up on the Dawson’s Creek repeats.  Why can I not yet realize my loftiest dream of watching back-to-back episodes of DC whilst Bambino and I inhale veggie chips on top of my covers alone in the dark?

Sorry.  Sorry.  Happy Wednesday, everybody.  Is what I meant to start off with.  Did you enjoy the holiday weekend?  I really hope you chillaxed and didn’t do anything too laborious, but also simultaneously appreciated all of those in America who do laborious things.  (Example: you.)

Now that I have so accurately described Labor Day in such a way that I completely haven’t, I’m going to move on to a new topic.  It’s something a bit personal.  And then after I tell you about that personal something, I’m going to transition – very unimpressively, I might add - into today’s Dear TKB question submitted by one of our readers (that’s you people).   Ready?  You sure- I don’t think you’re ready.  It’s a little ranty.  I full-out rant my face off, is the actual truth.

Ok so, here we go…  

If you’re a regular reader here, you know that Honey and I started house hunting this summer.  

Well.  We found the house we want.  And we bid on it.  And OSTENSIBLY… we *won* it late last week.  As you can imagine… we were crying rainbows.

All the way up until we abruptly stopped doing that.

Turns out that you don’t embark on a house hunting expedition and then get to come back from that expedition relatively unscathed + the owners of a new home.  Seems there is A LOT more to it than that.  Bottomless wells for your tears, for example.  And spontaneous bidding wars on the home you were in. contract. to buy.  And other bull that generally sucks/is terrible.  But anyway so we stopped crying rainbows.  Even Bambino had to stop being psyched about it.  And UHHHH… he was pretty psyched about this house, you guys.

And instead, we became the saddest sads of Sadnessland [pronounced SAD-nuslunnd; not Sadness-Lande].  Sadder than Sadsington McSaddlesworth, the saddest of alllll the McSaddlesworths.  So, we were pretty fucking sad is my point.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I feel fortunate to be able to purchase a home with Honey.  I’m not trying to sound ungrateful for that.  It’s a blessing.  It’s just, no matter how grateful we are to have one another, and to be starting a new stage in our lives, this Purchasing of Your First Home process has turned out to be *a touch* emotionally crippling.  We stepped into the car this past Saturday, buckled ourselves up, received the fateful call from our broker bearing the weird news of the surprise high bidders, got off the call, and then sat there in the car with our heads down for at least an hour before ultimately shutting off the ignition, unbuckling and going back upstairs to our apartment.

We were about to drive to Home Depot to get materials for our new home.  So it was a relatively heavy moment for us.  It also made no sense.

All of the problems we were running into with this “dream home” would make a lot more sense to us if we were acting like a couple a primadonnas aw’sumthin.  Like the couples they have on HGTV’s show House Hunters.  The ones who walk in the door asking if there are granite countertops somewhere on premises.  The ones who make it clear that they wouldn’t be caught dead making food in a kitchen with that paint color on the walls, and how that color is so totally not going to work for them, if they choose to buy the home.  Also, south-facing windows.  No road noise, which will interfere with all the backyard cookouts they’ll never have.  Original hardwood flooring.  Other idiotic nitpicking they’re encouraged to air on camera by the producers.  Marble columns.  Open concept.  Can we knock this wall down?  We’re gonna need to knock this wall down.  Cathedral ceilings.

Dear HGTV: we live in New York.  5-bedroom homes with 4.5 baths and a full acre lot do not go for $275,000.  HGTV, if you could– I’d appreciate you throwing in some Hunters from my area of the country, just to make house hunting in the Northeast generally less heartbreakingly depressing/seemingly hopeless.

Can I just say that it’s not even like we went into this expecting granite countertops and vaulted ceilings?  I don’t even need an updated kitchen– ‘course I’d like an updated kitchen.  But I’m willing to deal.  I don’t even need it.  Just give us the house.  Take all of our money in exchange for a kitchen that hasn’t been updated since the 1960s and boasts the same dishwasher that Honey grew up with in the 1980′s.  Please?!  The furnace is 50+ years old…. we’re not even asking you to replace it.  We’ll buy the new furnace ourselves ($3500-6000), so that we can heat our home without also murdering all of its inhabitants with carbon monoxide, the silent killer.  Which is what your 50+ year old furnace is at risk for doing, currently, when turned on.  The south-side of the house is crawling with carpenter ants; no matter!  Here is all of the money we’ve ever made.  We’ll just consider it a naturally-occurring ant farm!  K’we have the ranch style “fixer-upper” of our dreams now please?  Oh and don’t worry about the mold in the walls, moldy cheeses are among our favorite cheeses!  Forget the swarm of flies we see congregating every time we visit the spot in the back of the house where we’re pretty sure there’s a dead squirrel in the wall, attracting the flies and providing them a place to mate/reproduce.  We love dead carcasses; especially those of squirrels!  PLEASE JUST GIVE US THIS DECAYING STRUCTURE YOU’RE NOT EVEN USING IN EXCHANGE FOR ALL OF OUR YEARS OF HARD WORK EARNING ENOUGH MONEY FOR THIS MOMENT.

Sigh.

Hunting for your new home – the one you hope to be the place where your unborn children grow up – is kind of a drag after the fun part of shopping around is over.  Bidding on a home and waiting for all the bidding shit to hit the fan is a lot like getting hazed in college, except this time it’s by The Universe, and not a homogenous group of boys or girls.  And instead of swallowing raw eggs until you puke and then getting to live in a big house with other like-minded individuals, it’s about getting YOUR OWN house, so the stake’s are way higher.  With house hunting you have to power through highly emotional and actually pretty surreal battles with unknown contenders who have unknown quantities of money – sometimes all of it in cash!!!! – and you have to be willing to put up large sums of money, essentially your life’s savings, all in what can be likened to the highest stakes Ebay auction of your life.  And finally, add to all of that the fact that you’re not a college student, so it’s not just about keeping up your studies while you go through hazing.  No no.  You have to conduct daily business as if you’re not in the throws of a contentious bidding war over your family’s future.  In the words of the most naive couple in the history of House Hunters.. “we’re grown-ups now, and this will be our grown-up house.”

… when you’re in the market for a home, you tend to DVR a lot of HGTV.  But at this point, HGTV – something that so recently was a form of pornography for us when we thought this house was ours – is now more like that really amazing CD you can’t listen to anymore because you used it to get through a difficult break-up.  HGTV brings up cold, painful memories of dreams unfulfilled.

Anyway, we just wait now.  And obsessively watch HGTV because the addiction is simply too powerful. :)  I just heard from Honey that one of the two insanely high bids was indeed a douche bid, meant to stall things.  So we’re just waiting on news of whether the one remaining bid from the other Richie McTonsocash is, indeed, a legitimate bid.  Hopefully we’ll be able to keep these brain aneurysms at bay, while we work to ween ourselves off of the life we were already building there inside of our heads, in imagination land.  Oo I am COMPLAINEY today, aren’t I!  Forgive me, it’s Lady Shark Week and the cramps are without mercy this month.

Aright, SO!  In other almost wholly unrelated news… it’s time to take a question from a reader.  This one made me really sad for all of the oft forgotten brides out there.  The ones who lack a sufficient support system.  I took a crack at advising this reader, but hope you guys will have some good input that might help her better than I can.

Dear TKB,

I just got engaged and am head over heels with my fiance, however, this is my second marriage. The first marriage was a sham and we only did it because I was pregnant. My fiance has never been married before and we are trying to decide what type of wedding to have. I feel like I shouldn’t play it up big because I have done it before, but I want to shout it from the rooftop and share with everyone that I found the man of my dreams. My family wants me to do it small and fast… I’m torn with what to do because I feel guilty.

Dear reader,

The thing that can sometimes be difficult about family is that we want their approval and support when it comes to our life decisions.  Even when they aren’t fit – or willing – to give it to us.

The short version of my advice:  Do.  Whatever.  The f**k.  You want to do.  It’s your money.  It’s your LIFE.

Whoever’s telling you otherwise is a legit bunghole.  We have to work hard in life not to allow people like that to diminish our joys.  I know it’s hard, and takes a lot of emotional focus, but it’s obviously the only way to go through life for the most part feeling happy.  So I hope you’ll stop feeling a little ashamed for being happy and wanting to celebrate your good fortune in love, this go around.  It’s something to be celebrated.

While there are still legal limitations to who can get married, the same does not go for weddings.  The great thing about weddings is that you aren’t ever disqualified from getting to have a wedding, no matter what your family, or somebody else’s family, or a stupid friend, or the girls on the bridal message boards, seem to think.

Weddings aren’t like insurance companies.  Here, let me show you what I mean –

Our insurance company recently sent me a letter instructing me to obtain from my gynecologist, in writing, whether or not the pre-cancerous cells found on my cervix several years ago while I was under a different insurance, could be considered *a pre-existing condition* – and therefore not be covered by them.  Our current insurance.  That’s a long way of telling me, retroactively, that I may not have had their permission to have this followup gyno appointment and have it be covered.  The appointment that I had to have, as advised by my gynecologist, for my own health’s sake, since I had avoided gynecologist offices like the Bubonic plague, for at least a couple of years – TERRIBLE, I KNOW, DON’T BE LIKE ME – since my initial diagnosis/treatment for these pre-cancerous cells.

That’s an example of a case in life in which one can be disqualified from getting to do something, with the reason being that you have done it, once before.  Good news!  The same does not go for weddings.  A previous wedding does not count against you as a preexisting condition, removing society’s approval for the next one.  Quite the contrary.  You don’t even have to be getting married that week/month/year to throw one for yourselves.

You are not damaged goods in the eyes of weddings.  You’re a shining, bright, flash of hope, for every person among us who, too, dreams of one day finding, committing to, and then sharing the deep, almost surreal pleasure of finally living the reality of that ever elusive thing we call “real love.”

Specifically Regarding Your Family’s Reaction:

For whatever reason, your family isn’t acknowledging/placing value on your joy, and what is your very basic human desire to be celebrated and to have a celebration.  Not that they’re being this way on purpose; one cannot know without more information.  Since I do not know you and you did not fill me on your family dynamic, I do not know what your relationship is like with your family and I cannot really personalize my answer to your situation.  So what I can do here is speak to what is commonly the case in these situations, and then hope that this speaks to you/helps in some way…

1. one possibility is that they are looking out for your financial wellbeing, AND/OR do not want you to rush into anything too quickly (how long have you been together as a couple?).

2. another possibility is that they are very busy with their own lives right now, and truthfully cannot see how much you actually want to have a wedding and to be celebrated by your loved ones.

3. still another possibility is that they are not very *pleased* with their own lives lately, and they’re just real Debbie Downers about it when other people have something to celebrate.  Gotta include that one even though it’s a bummer, because it’s a reality for a lot of people.  There are even some in this world who have an unfortunate habit of trying to downplay, or ruin, another’s happiness — if they themselves aren’t feeling contented in life.  Yeah, some people SUCK.  C’est la vie.  Can’t change them, unfortunately.  So bless your heart if you’re dealing with that.

That last one is definitely on the extreme end of the spectrum, but like I said- it happens in families more often than we’d like to believe.  The fact is it’s hard for people to admit – even to friends sometimes – the real truth of our lives.  It’s much easier to lament about the less horrific stuff, because there is a real health benefit to just venting among friends.  But venting rarely solves the problem.  It only cleans up a little space in your head, where there was once only anger.  But the real key to solving deep familial problems is talking about them, raw and out loud.  Willingly revealing things about yourself that make you feel vulnerable/unsafe, even without the concrete knowledge that the person you’re telling won’t judge you for your problems.

There are no guarantees in life.  I can’t guarantee that telling your family how you feel is going to result in some sort of tiny family version of Coca-Cola’s Hands Across America campaign.  It could go really well, and your family might be given an opportunity to get to know another side of you; the side that readily speaks up about what you need from them.  Or they could threaten to stop talking to you.  Truly, anything can happen with families.  They are a weird animal.

The only thing that I CAN guarantee you is that you’ll feel better once you’ve spoken up about your truth instead of keeping your mouth shut and letting other people make decisions for you.

Hope that helped, instead of made you depressed.  I’m hoping the readers will have some more useful advice… especially if I’ve completely missed the mark here.

So here’s what I’m curious about:

1. Have any of you experienced house hunting?  Was it a mostly fun time for you?  Or did you, like me, get all anxious at times and find yourself getting migraines and throwing up in the morning.  Because I was literally regurgitating my cranberry juice this morning, you guys.  Not ladylike.  More like this:

2. Any thoughts you’d be willing to share, regarding today’s reader-submitted question?  I’m sure she’d be welcoming of some simple words of encouragement, if advice is not your thing.

Quick final note: If you want something in life – say, a wedding, for example - and you’re faced with some serious haters, tell your haters to suck iiiiiiiit.  And when you say it, do the “suck it” gesture– it’s the thing where your hands go  to joining together at the pelvis, forming a V-shape to frame your genitalia, proving your sincerity.

you know; if *talking it out* first doesn’t work, I mean.  We should of course always first try that weird, foreign thing called “being honest with the people we love.”  Yikes!  So scary.

xoxo  - Alison

{image: sneak peek from upcoming feature by The Gemmers}

Label(s): "DEAR TKB..." Advice Column

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29 comments

  1. Jen on September 5, 2012

    Ugh — I just feel terrible that your deal fell through. How is that possible since you were under contract?

    Our home hunting experience was relatively similar. We found a house we were in love with, offered them asking price, then got out bid by some jerk who offered more than asking AND wanted to pay cash. The house wasn’t anything to brag about and definitely needed some updates, but we loved it and wanted to live there. Im guessing someone wanted it more than us, especially since they offered more than asking price + paid in cash.

    That was in March 2009. We spent our spring and summer hunting for houses. We saw some real doozies, like a house with blue velvet wallpaper in the bathroom. And a house with a creepy basement that made me think of Saw.

    We didn’t find our house until August 2008 & it was like fate. This house had everything we wanted so we didn’t have to make any compromises. We went under contract immediately and closed 45 days later.

    I do believe in fate and I do believe you will find your perfect home. When you do, everything just falls into place.

    xo

    Reply
  2. Carol on September 5, 2012

    Alison – So sorry about the house deal. Investing time and emotion so heavily in to house hunting is exhausting. Here is the thing…I feel in my heart that if you don’t get this house, that “the” house for you and Honey will be even better! You WILL find it. May not happen as fast as you would like but it will happen, and it will be the perfect fit for all three of you!

    And as far as the reader question, I am with you 100%! It is her wedding and she needs to do what she wants!

    Reply
  3. Libby on September 5, 2012

    Alison! So sorry about the house. Remain hopeful. All that BS people say about it not being the right house for you if it doesn’t work out is totally true. But I know how much it sucks and how little comfort those words offer. We went through the same thing in June. You will totally pull through, but a few days of puking rainbows never hurt no one.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you guys.

    Reply
  4. Hi Alison,

    Sorry about your house hunting problems, but I agree with the 2 other comments, do whatever you can to make it happen and then let it be. If it is to be, it will be.

    I had an exhausting experience when we bought our second house. We were not even thinking of moving but I saw an “open house” ad in the paper and it was on a street I had always loved. We just went to see it. All of the houses were big older mansions, but someone had divided a lot and built a new house on it. As soon as I saw it, I loved it and you know what happened from there.

    Oh, did I mention that I was also 9-1/2 months pregnant? My son was 3 weeks and 4 days late. I was huge, could hardly walk and just wanted this pregnancy over with. Buying a house had not been in the plans.

    The builder of the house had built it for himself but went bankrupt before it was finished. We made a couple of offers through the real estate agent and waited. Then we were told that because of the builder’s bankruptcy, the second mortgage holder had taken the house over and it was no longer for sale. By this time I was another week overdue, at least 20 lbs heavier (may be an exaggeration) and totally emotional and disappointed.

    We ended up tracking down the second mortgage holder, sitting in his backyard sipping lemonade and buying the house directly from him.

    Not the most conventional way of buying a house but it worked.

    So, to sum up, stop worrying! Worrying won’t change anything. Relax, sit back, have a glass of wine, be thankful you aren’t pregnant at the moment and wait. If that is supposed to be your house, it will be. If not, count it as a learning experience and you will probably find something much better.

    Good Luck
    Sharon

    Reply
  5. Lena on September 5, 2012

    Those jerks and their bidding–go live somewhere else! Bambs already peed on that porch! But on a more pragmatic note, thank goodness it was before and not after that fated trip to Home Depot. I’ve never felt so blessed to be poor and immature and in no way ready to buy a house, because Jesus H Christ, it sounds miserable. But I’m still super excited about doing it once we move back East, which makes even less sense.

    And as usual, I’m totally with you on your advice to Anon. Marry on–who cares if you did it once before? And screw the insurance companies, because that per-exisiting condition nonsense is INSANE.

    Reply
    • Alison on September 6, 2012

      Lena! whenever you mention you’re moving back East it makes my heart skip a beat in anticipation of receiving you/introducing you to my son, Bambino.

      Can’t wait, even though you’ll still be living a small plane’s voyage away from me, sort of. It’s at least a lot closer than opposite ends of the universe!

      Reply
  6. Koru Kate {Koru Wedding} on September 5, 2012

    Oh no, I am so sorry about your house hunting woes. Most of our friends have experienced the heartbreaking house hunt & each of them searched for one year or more. On the bright side, after many trials & tribulations, every single one ended up with the absolute perfect house. My fingers are crossed for you!

    & great advice!

    Reply
  7. Nora Rose on September 6, 2012

    First rule of house hunting = No dream houses allowed. No house is “perfect” or more perfect than another that will come along. Tough love, but you will set yourself up for heartache and overbid/overspend if you set your heart on one house.

    Cash buyers are definitely out there destroying the world with their bids but don’t give up hope! The next house will be better, even if it’s not exactly like that other house. And unfortunately, that first “perfect house” you miss out on will always seem perfect because you don’t live in it and learn all of the negative quirks. You’ll never learn that the toilet leaks or that there is a mystery dresser in the attic (true story and we can’t get it out because it was built in there and the door is too small). The fall/winter are also good times to buy because buyers are less likely to move kids during the school year, so less competition.

    Keep the hope up and watch House Hunters California where they spend $800k+ to gut jobs. I also think they should ban those Midwest/Southern $250k McMansions just for the benefit of people who live in housing markets with competition.

    Reply
    • Alison on September 6, 2012

      I agree with everything you just said :)

      Reply
  8. Nora Rose on September 6, 2012

    PS: I also love the suck it description since I read that part of the post after I read the HGTV portion. That is my favorite inappropriate gesture.

    Reply
  9. Dan on September 6, 2012

    I agree with you, that there is no perfect houses, you should just be realistic about and lower the benchmark of your dreams house…

    Reply
  10. Steph on September 6, 2012

    So sorry to hear that happened, Alison. I’m a Long Island resident (renter) and my fiance and I have started to look to buy. Holy overwhelming. I got so pumped the other day when a house in our neighborhood that was in our price range (we rent in a wealthy area) only to find it was a HOUSEBOAT. Yup. What we can afford in our neighborhood floats on water. I feel your pain! Keep your head up, you’ll find your dream home (non floating of course). xo

    Reply
  11. Casey Fatchett on September 6, 2012

    First off, do you NOT have Netflix streaming? You could be watching all the Dawson’s Creek you want…

    Second, house hunting in NY – we can rank that right up there with root canals and any other invasive surgery…

    Reply
  12. Alison on September 6, 2012

    Casey – Someone mentioned that about Netflix and I did the seated equivalent of fainting. I am excited.

    It’s like an emotionally-invasive surgery. It’s emotionally-invasive invasive surgery. or something. house hunting can eat my shorts.

    Reply
  13. Sorry to hear your challenges! Our house was a nightmare and it was a bad ending. Wish you best of luck. Hopefully you have a great weekend! :)

    Reply
  14. Aileen@LoveandLavender on September 10, 2012

    So sorry about your house hunting misfortune :( :( Sometimes those HGTV shows can be so depressing…yet addicting! We aren’t even close to being able to afford a house and that’s here in Seattle where the prices I’m sure are consiiiiderably less than NY. Here’s to hoping there’s a happy ending for you two!!

    Reply
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