Gimme shelter

I started a new job last week. Just as I was realizing I’d had it with freelance writing and was ready for a change, my dream job—an editing gig at my favorite local publication—opened up and welcomed me in. I can’t believe my luck.

It’s funny. You’d think that living and working all this time in the DIY Mess—a place that embodies uncertainty, upheaval, and financial burdens—would’ve compounded the stresses of self-employment. But not so.

As I’ve torn apart and painstakingly put back together this dingy old Pittsburgh house, I’ve thought about all the letdowns it’s seen. Its first owners were a wealthy family that lived among fine wainscoting, stained glass, and floral wallpaper. But gradually, this grand Victorian home was raided for all its baubles and hussied up in cheap, slumlordy finishes. By the time Dylan and I came along, it had been prostituted for 50 years.

This house has seen seven major American wars, the Great Depression, the great flood of 1936, and the fall of the steel industry, once the lifeblood of this city. Just knowing that has helped me through this difficult time in publishing.

Magazines have cut my pay, but this house has never broken a promise to me about the worth of my labor. I’ve given it my knotting muscles, grinding joints, and singed skin, and it’s grown more beautiful, airtight, and strong. I’ve depended on it to keep me from falling apart, and it’s done the same.

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