Opinion » Street Talk

A man's home is a hassle


All I ever wanted was a place to hang my hat, or, lacking any kind of fashionable headwear, at least hang my head, considering that I finish most days as tired and dejected as, well, me, which is about the most tired and dejected thing I can think of at the moment. I'd come up with a better simile if I wasn't so tired, etc., etc.

If things keep going the way they've been going lately, what with my tiredness and dejectedness, I might just start looking for a place to hang myself. I'm at the end of my rope - literally! Ha! Sorry. Gallows humor. Woo! Somebody stop me!

See, I've never really understood real estate, and considering that this issue of New Times seems to be slanted toward "habitat" - which makes it sound like we've got a bunch of stories about glass-enclosed tanks filled with lizards or hermit crabs - I'm pretty depressed. On the other hand, I figured I'd have no better opportunity to rant about housing, at least until spring, when New Times will do another habitat special issue just like this one, except with more expensive houses.

Heck, local housing went up a few more thousand dollars just while you were reading this sentence. And this one. And this one. Better stop reading, or you're never going to be able to afford a home.

Nah, just kidding. If you don't already have one, you won't be able to afford a home anyway, so it doesn't matter if you stop reading or not, in which case, you should keep reading, because my salary is determined by how many people get to the end of my column each week. Don't ask how they figure it out. I think it has something to do with little cameras mounted all over the county.

But enough about me. If you're not a homeowner, I'm sure you're sick to death of hearing about how you should've boarded the elevator years ago, or climbed in the bubble, or jumped the shark, or whatever term is used these days by people like me who had the brilliant foresight to buy a house in town back when four walls and a roof were several hundred thousand dollars cheaper than they are now - not counting whatever they gained while you were reading this inexcusably long sentence.

"Just get in," real estate know-it-alls say, as if the housing market is a steaming Jacuzzi that instantly melts away all your tension and debt problems.

Then there's folks like me, who, as I may have already mentioned, do already own a house in the county. My humble abode is nothing big, but my friends - what I call the people who don't regularly try to kill me - all tell me that I'm sitting on a gold mine, but the way I figure, I can only cash in on that prize if I actually sell my house, and then I couldn't afford to live here anymore. I'd have to take my shreddering to Utah or somewhere where they wouldn't appreciate or understand it and they'd all beat me with sticks or something.

Oh, sure, I could get a mortgage and hit the big score on all my equity, which sounds like a great idea, except leading economists and other vague groups of people who are smarter than you have been predicting that the housing bubble is going to burst like a festering zit on the chin of a late-blooming high-schooler. Their words, not mine.

I suppose you're wondering whether there's a point to all this, and to that I say yes. Just keep reading, all the way to the end. That's right.

A house isn't the ultimate goal in life, or at least in shouldn't be. If you bought into the Jacuzzi story and you can't wait to own a little piece of this green earth so your problems will all disappear, think again. If anything, it gets worse after you own a house, because then you're always trying to make sure you can keep it and saying things like, "I couldn't even afford my own house now."

No, instead of putting a house at the top of your wish list, you should make it something more practical and attainable, like a trophy wife or the world heavyweight boxing title or Nirvana or something.

One other option

The tentatively planned Oct. 24 open forum for what to do with the Duke power plant got me thinking: Somebody should tell Rob Schutlz , city attorney for Morro Bay, that he should suggest buying the plant and converting it into low-cost housing. With a little paint, some stairs, and sturdy wood floors, they've got three high-rise apartments ready to go. They might want to cut some windows into those smokestacks for light and such, but central heating is already a done deal.

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