Friday, May 07, 2010


Ok, so I'm feeling less whiny and bitchy and so now I can really embrace writing a positive post about my life.

What's awesome in my life?

  1. I'm a tenured professor at a job that I (mostly) love.
  2. I have administered my last final, and thus I'm not going to be in a classroom again until January of 2011, bitchez!
  3. Speaking of the previous, I have a summer fellowship, which means that I will not be teaching this summer and yet I will also receive ~$3500 after taxes on top of my regular salary after taxes in my very next paycheck, and also I have a freaking sabbatical for the fall, which means that I will get paid not to be in the classroom (see above) and not to be on any motherfucking soul-sucking committees, until January of 2011, bitchez!
  4. As of May 20, I will live in my own freaking awesome little fantastic house! A house on which I got a very good deal, which does not require me to share walls with any other people! A house with an upstairs and a downstairs and a basement! A house with a Nook of Ideas and a HUGE freaking bathroom! A house that now has a porch that will survive the apocalypse, given the repair that the FHA inspector insisted upon!
  5. Because I bought said house, I will also get $8K from the government! Just for buying a house that I wanted to buy and was ready to buy anyway! $8k! And in addition, I will no longer be edging ever closer to having to pay mother fucking taxes at income tax time! And even beyond that, my mortgage (minus taxes, insurance, etc.) is only $84 more a month than the rent that I currently pay! (And yes, I realize that taxes, insurance, etc. add up to more, but the point is, I am a very smart lady who bought a house that she could afford! Huzzah!)
  6. Tomorrow is graduation! Graduation! Where I will get to watch students whom I love walk and we will celebrate not only their accomplishments but also my own accomplishments as a teacher of them! Wearing my awesome, awesome regalia! (Regalia that now is only costing $85 per wear, and the cost of which will continue to reduce the more years I wear it! Three cheers for Mom and G. buying my regalia as my PhD graduation gift! Especially since it's, in my humble opinion, the prettiest of all the regalia of all of the professors who go to graduation, for most of my colleagues have lame black robes and my robes are a gorgeous sky blue!)
In other words, my life fucking rocks.

I have to say, I really enjoyed my closing. I felt so empowered and so amazed that I've gotten myself to the point where I could embark on the adventure of home ownership. Remember, just 2-3 years ago, I was near 20K in credit card debt (which lingered from grad school and before and after) and this would in no way have been a possibility for me to do if I hadn't paid off that debt. Also, and this was something that I hadn't expected, I loved that this was something that I did by myself and for myself - that I didn't wait to be partnered up to buy my first house. I had never thought I'd buy my own house - I'd always thought I'd do it with somebody else. I never had home ownership as a personal goal of my own. The fact that I could do this on my own, that I did do this on my own, well, I'm astonished by that. And you know what? It feels totally freaking amazing! As much as I've wished throughout this process that I had a person with whom to share the stress of the process and the burden of the financial risk, I love that I am totally on my own in this! It's MY house not OUR house, and that freaking rules. (Well, I guess it's "our" house if we consider the Man-Kitty and Mr. Stripey, but seriously, they don't help with the bills or with the upkeep, so I think I get to call this "my" house even if they are my roommates for life - their lives, not mine, hopefully!)

So. Some things that I've learned throughout the process.

  1. I think that it was a really good thing that I waited to buy a house until I felt very ready to take it on. Yes, I lived in an apartment I didn't (don't) love for 7 years. But it gave me time to get to know the area in which I live, to know where I'd like to buy and to know what mattered to me in an area in which I would buy.
  2. As much stress as this process involved, it was made a whole lot less stressful because I waited until I had tenure to do it. I had a really amazing mentor in grad school who counseled me that waiting until tenure to buy was the smartest way to go. At the time, I thought that didn't necessarily apply if one ended up in a non-high-cost-of-living place (and I don't live in a high-cost-of-living-place). But I'm really and truly glad that I didn't buy until I had tenure. a) I am glad that I felt totally and completely free before tenure to apply for jobs without having to worry about selling a house and b) I am very glad that when I decided to buy a house that I could feel secure in my ability to pay the mortgage - even if I never got another raise between now and the end of time. (This is not to say that one's salary in academia might not go down, what with the trend toward furloughs, but this is also why I bought below what a bank might say I "could" afford - even if I were furloughed, I could manage, even if it meant some more strict budgeting.)
  3. I've learned that patience really is a virtue, and that it really makes sense not to freak out over snags in the process, in that there are inevitably going to be snags in the process. And while I've definitely had some freak-outs, it was good to learn that "freaking out" wasn't actually going to fix anything. I'm not a patient person, naturally, but I have learned (at least some) patience through this process. I've also realized that I'm a smart negotiator and that I have the tools to deal with things that come up at the last minute, even though none of us want to deal with those things that do come up at the last minute.
So. I don't think I've been so proud of myself, well, ever. And I think part of why I feel so proud of myself is that I did do this on my own. Obviously I've had the support of my parents, and I don't want to diminish that, but I really made this happen for myself. And that feels motherfucking awesome.

You might say, "what, Crazy? You didn't feel this proud of yourself when you got your PhD?" You know, I don't think I did. I think I felt like I wouldn't have achieved that without my adviser, without the professors I had during coursework, without the "luck" of securing a t-t job in an abysmal market. This? I feel like no luck was involved, like no legs up were given through mentorship. I feel like I did this totally myself. And that feels amazing.

So, sure, it sucks that I have to wait a day until I can go wander through my house and be all, MY house! MINE! But seriously? This was like the best day ever.


jo(e) said...

This post made me smile. It's wonderful to hear you sounding so happy.

Lawgirl said...

You are in a wonderful place in your life and I'm glad that you not only recognize it but also celebrate it.

You deserve all of the happiness!


Belle said...

Yay! And you have the summer to get into the habits of house-ship. Learning the creeks and cricks of houses, getting The Nook into precise shape you want it - have you picked any paint colors yet?

When you go over for the first time, take a beverage so you can sit in The Nook and on the Front Porch and relax and wallow in the pleasures to come.

Musey_Me said...

Yay for all the good stuff.

Shane in Utah said...

Congrats on everything, Dr. C! You rock!

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for all the congrats, y'all. Belle: I believe that the NoI will be a sort of neutral purple-y color, and I do believe that I shall paint it all on my own, as it is not large and as doing so will allow me to really feel that it is MY house. Also because, of the rooms that I intend to paint, it truly needs to be painted before I move in, as moving in will basically make it unpaintable. I will surely post a pic once the Nook of Ideas is in Full Force and ready to go.

heu mihi said...

This post made me so happy! Yay!

(And our graduation is tomorrow, too, so I totally share in that joy/relief/eagerness for it to be OVER.)

PhysioProf said...

I embrace your non-whiny non-bitchy empowerful woohooosity!

Bardiac said...

Congrats, Dr. C! It's great to hear that things have come together. I'm especially cheering that you paid off the debts, because the self-discipline to do that is amazing, and does, indeed, help set you up for the house and other goodness.

Susan said...

Congratulations -- both on having the house, and doing it on your own. It really is awesome!

We have graduation NEXT Saturday...

Janice said...

Enjoy the sense of accomplishment for it is real and well-deserved. And revel in the bliss of your committee-free time stretching ahead of you in all the luxury it affords.

Doctor Pion said...

There is more than celebration in this article of yours, there is some damn good advice. A lot of it is in those 3 "things I've learned", but also in your commentary about buying less than the bank would approve. We did that and it helped a lot when we had to go through a tight spell.

I hope your younger readers are paying attention to how you knocked down your debt and bought a house that you can afford. Might be the best advice you have ever given!

BTW, if you pay a bit more toward principal later on when your pay goes up, that is like investing at whatever fixed rate you are paying in interest. We did that, and it cut about 5 years off of the loan, "making" us many tens of thousands of dollars we did not pay in interest. The payback is biggest if you do some of it early in the mortgage, when very little of your payment goes against principal.

Bardiac said...

Dr. Pion's right. You have to figure out if you have an extra chunk each month, besides an emergency fund, and then if you want to save it, would it have a higher earning potential in some other form of investment.

So, if your loan is at 4.5%, and you can get 8% elsewhere, you invest at the 8%. If you can only get 4% elsewhere, you toss the extra chunk towards the mortgage.

But I'm sure you already knew that.