Maintaining a house is a full-time, delayed payment internship

This tweet and thread from one unlikely hero Daniel Feldman filled me with bitter happiness this morning. He writes, “Does anyone else feel like maintaining a house is an entire second, very expensive full-time job”

In one response, someone writes: “A house is in a constant state of decay, and you’re in a war to keep it standing.

In another, “a full time, unpaid internship. with no supervisor.

And with resounding confirmation, I can’t agree more. Maybe it goes without saying.

I’m in North Carolina and my list for house maintenance is 25 to 30 line items deep. And it’s not complete. It ranges from major work like, “Repaving the driveway” which is cracked to a gnarly mess. If it weren’t mine, I would see it as artistic. And it is, if you look at it sideways. To work like, reattaching gutters to the building. Or tearing them down, repairing the wood around them and replacing them. Regrouting some tile. Replacing a kitchen faucet that sucks and leaks water all over the wood countertops we installed that are in constant state of needing and absorbing a ton of oil.

While toting leaves to a pile at the street yesterday, I had a moment of clarity that I should repair a French drain that is broken at the southwest corner of our property. The water now is hurtled down an incline instead of dumping into a ravine 10 ft away and it’s eroding a small creek into the hill just beside the house. The erosion is clearly too close to the house and now another to-do on a growing list.

We don’t live here full time, but when we visit, it’s pretty much one of my full-time jobs. The other is our photography work and the other is my passion for cooking.

So far this trip (since December 28), I’ve logged at least 60 hours in yard work and house maintenance. Two weeks of that was dealing with Covid, Tina’s covid, and some other respiratory cold or flu that laid us up pretty well.

Fortunately, this is our only home at the moment. We live in an apartment in Chicago, and – when things happen – I can send texts like, “Hey landlord, we gotta leaky faucet,” or “Hey landlord, the heat’s out.”

Then I clap my hands like dusting chalk erasers and carry on.

But NC is constantly on the brain. When we bought the house, it was already in need of lots of maintenance but we sunk a chunk of money into renovations leaving us a little dry for other repairs.

The internship comment resonated the most. I don’t have anyone to tell me what to do. My dad gives me some advice here and there, and even acts as our paid-in-meals and kindness handyman contractor. There are times when I’m doing work in the yard or on the house and I’m thinking, “I’m either doing an amazing job and the next owner is going to revel in how amazing I did at X.” Or they are going to be cursing my name or the name they have given me in their heads for all the shit I fucked up while living here.

The exterior of this house always needs something. Paint cracks need repair. Wood pealing back. Water damage. Cracking in the bricks. The deck needs a coating. I constantly have to remove leaves, spiderwebs, bugs and debris from the house by walking around the perimeter with a broom.

We have a 1/2 acre that feels like 100 acres. Who knew that Rose of Sharon is really a weed. If I left the yard alone, we would have a forest of Rose of Sharon. Every year, a crop of new Rose of Sharon heads pop up all over the yard, front & back, almost as thick as daffodils.

Don’t get me wrong. My personality is artistic first. I work because I love it. Not for pay. My reward is process and completion. I love processes where the results can be seen. And depending on one’s perspective, it could be viewed as either great, okay or stupid.

I love when something as heart warming as a tweet about pain brings joy to my heart.