Chronicles of Homeownership: my first panic attack

Just got Keys

Yep. I am the new owner of a 2 bedroom craftsman
in Seattle's King County. Take a minute to swallow that one.

 When I got the call that my offer on the house was accepted I had my first panic attack. In a moment of utmost insanity, I even called my real estate agent in a panic to see if I could rescind my offer. After pacing around my car 20-times, I came back to my senses and the long, intimidating process of acquiring my house began. I barely slept that evening in fear, doubting my long-planned decision. Weeks later I sat, alone, at a long wood table at a title office high in the Columbia Tower. And looking out to my city of which I would soon own a tiny patch of, I signed my name on a 4-inch stack of papers financially binding me to my mortgage for all eternity.    Alone.
It was exciting and powerful-feeling, but also incredibly scary... There I was, signing my name on a document that said, essentially, if I failed to keep up with my mortgage payments I would be given the black spot. My heart clenched at the realization of the responsibility I was taking on.

And that, my friends, is how I learned about fear and anxiety. Luckily that anxiety has worn off with every mortgage payment I make. And it's now been replaced with confidence. 

Since getting the keys to the house in late July, I took a running start at renovations before the cold, wet winter set in in Seattle. My pre-inspection of the place revealed that I needed to replace the roof and hot water heater quickly, if I wanted to avoid any concurrent damage to the house. So I jumped to get the roof replaced, water heater and furnace upgraded, and painted my bedroom (just cause I could). 

Fruit from the Asian Pear tree in the front

Fruit from the Asian Pear tree in the front

first stoop sitting

first stoop sitting

Brian cutting wood to update the front fence 

Brian cutting wood to update the front fence 

Dad coming to my rescue in the front yard

Dad coming to my rescue in the front yard

Lauren's art trailer

Lauren's art trailer


But homeownership isn't all HGTV and rainbows. Sometimes the house throws you a curve ball you had not anticipated—such as mopping up sewage in my basement bathroom the morning after a house-warming party. Hours later, I am standing in my front door watching a backhoe dig a 8-foot deep hole in my front yard to replace one of the old sewage pipes. That basically drained me of all the money I had left for the house. 

I understood then why so many businesses have signs in the bathrooms pleading to go easy on their old pipes. It's not fun or cheap to upgrade. The whole plumbing ordeal gave me such stress that I developed a pinched neck muscle and got sick from stress. Not chill, Meg. 

After the sewage pipe debacle, I learned to slow down and give myself a little slack on the home renovations. No home is perfect, it is always in-process. As a friend shared with me: "You probably won’t find your dream house. You’ll end up making it." You just have to give yourself a little patience with the process. 

Cat in Window

2017 in Review

Over the years, things just start to blur together—that why I started compiling these yearly recaps to reference later.  2017 has been a big year—juggling family, romance, responsibility, friendship, and creativity—and trying to nurture each. Here's a log of all that's happened this year.

Highlights of 2017

  • Hosted a solo art show at CAM in Belltown featuring 5 linocuts on washi paper, with handmade walnut frames. 
  • Met this guy on a kickball team and went geoduck fishing on our first date 
  • bought a house in West Seattle 
  • replaced a roof
  • learned a lot about heating, ventilation, and *plumbing*
  • took a trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island
  • started attending Non-Violent Communication sessions with friends 
  • accepted a temporary position on the Merchandising team at Starbucks.


Favorite Reads

Favorite Albums

Looking into 2018—there are two main themes I want to focus on for myself as well as a list of tactical things I would like to complete throughout the year. 

Spinal Health: strengthening the muscles along my spine so that when I have moments of stress it doesn't result in pinched nerves or sicknesses. 
True Time: Be able to manage my time better so that I am not rushing from place to place. A big part of this also entails not over serving myself in activities in a weekend day, and recognizing the true time allotment for a task. Also, building in time to kick back, relax, and be content sitting at home with a book.

  • start an herb garden
  • design a textile for the window bench
  • design and sew a quilt
  • travel abroad! 
  • set up a basement art studio (paint, shelving, file cabinet, flat file system)

2016 in Review

Apologies for filling up a piece of the internet with my own exercise in self-reflection. This medium has proved to be a very accessible format for me to reference, and if others want to read it you are welcome to. 

2016 has been a year of big changes—good and bad. Internally, I have been attempting to recognize the network of amazing and supportive friends, family, and creatives I have cultivated for myself over the years—to see how full my cup truly is and be present with that fullness. In the larger picture, Donald Trump was voted as president elect of the United States that resulted in a wave of protest and unease in his wake. I am not going to get into all that cause I could easily fill a journal with words and feelings and visions of a post-democratic mess. So instead, here is a quick breakdown of my favorite things about this year. 

Favorite Reads

Favorite Albums

Personal Highlights of 2016: 


The holidays were so busy that I really haven't had a chance to look forward to what's in store in 2017. But I am starting to think more about what I want to work on this year. So far I have two goals/intentions for this year. I want to take an intro ballet dance class. And secondly, I would like to practice talking slower and more intentionally. Life is moving too quickly and there is so much to discuss that I suspect I've developed the ability to talk someone's arm off! This year I'd like to speak less, say more


2015 in Review

Getting on this a bit late in the game, but I felt it was important to do a recap of each year going forward. Life moves so fast. I want to be better about recognizing it's blessings. Overall, 2015 was a year of growth and transition. I formed and strengthened a lot of friendships, became a more organized and clean adult, and learned to be more patience with myself.  

Favorite Albums: 
Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Tame Impala, Currents
Tacocat: NVM
D'Angelo, Black Messiah

Favorite Books:
The First Bad Man
The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex
Boys on the Boat


Most notably, back in March I took a two-week long road trip with my cousin Hallie down to the Southwest. I'd been daydreaming about exploring that part of the country for years and I am happy that I finally brought that dream to action. The trip was flawlessly amazing. There is so much to see and explore down there, I could take 3 more similar trips to see things we passed up. I look back on the video I made of our trip and my heart glows.

2016 Goals

Be present.
Let go of the control I attempt to have on my future and let things happen more naturally.

"Have courage, take risks, go now, why not, who cares, yes yes yes!" - Amy Poehler 
  • Surf trip in the Canary Islands
  • buy a new car
  • have a solo art show at a coffee shop
  • learn a new design skill: animation
  • practice meditation
  • spend less time on social media 
  • stop taking myself so seriously

Chloe Hope Gilstrap

Last month I was fortunate enough to meet up with a talented photographer friend, Chloe Gilstrap. Chloe recently moved to Seattle from South Carolina where she studied photography. We met through a mutual friend here in town and I have been creeping on her photography ever since. We met up for coffee at Porchlight and walked around Capitol Hill talking and shooting pictures. She is a wonderful person and here are some of the lovely photos from our afternoon. 

SVC Wayzgoose Steamroller Smackdown Recap

Last month several Tetherites and I went down to the block party at South Lake Union to take part in the School of Visual Concept's 13th Annual Letterpress Wayzgoose.  For those who don't know, a "wayzgoose" was an event hosted by a master printer to his workmen each year that marked the end of summer and start of working by candlelight. Nowadays a lot of letterpress shops and studios take the day to host printing extravaganzas with demonstrations and booths for the larger community. SVC's Wayzgoose is my favorite time of year. Creative studios from around the Seattle area are asked to form a team. Each team designs and carves up a sheet of linoleum the size of your kitchen counter! And, of course, the only way to print a sheet of linoleum the size of your kitchen counter is to run it over with a steamroller!!

This year we decided to do a print inspired by the mammoth tusk they dug up in South Lake Union earlier in the year while excavating for one of the high-rises. I took on the task of designing, illustrating, and hand lettering the poster. I don't think I've ever designed for something so large (around 4x5 feet!). Kind of intimidating but I think the mammoth stood up to the pressure ….heh… heh. 

Meg O'Brien | Mammoth Print
Wayzgoose Carving
Meg O'Brien
SVC Wayzgoose