Believe in the Flowers.

Carol of the Zombie Jesus!

The next four months promise to be incredibly interesting.

Last Friday we receieved notice from our landlady, via a phone call, that the bank that owns this property will not be renewing any leases here, or at the building immediately next door. They've decided that, considering the increase in tenants in their own bank building across the street, it would be far more economical to tear down both of these houses and instead provide extra parking - thus ensuring that the bank can offer more rental space in their own building, and that the tenants they already have will not be as jammed into their parking spaces. As it is, two new cars have been introduced; one parks atop a rather large sinkhole that formed at some point in the parking lot's life, and which could easily destroy a portion of a car should the poor woman back her low-set SUV-type-thing out improperly, and the other parks beside us in what is, technically, parking reserved for apartment tenants of our building and the one next door. Speaking from a strictly financial standpoint, I can see why this makes sense: rent payments from the tenants of a couple of old houses that are in constant need of upkeep and repair will never meet or exceed the amount that the bank will take in via renting out the remainder of their internal office space. Even filling one tiny office will provide more than our paltry (in comparison) $350 a month, an amount that I can't imagine would be exceeded by any degree by including an upstairs tenant in this building (we don't believe there is one) and a tenant in the house next door.

This, of course, poses a problem. Not one full year ago, as of this July, we moved into this apartment. Of the places we have lived, it has seemed the most homey, although it has recently started to show its age via a persistent leak near Husband's computer desk whenever it rains, a troubled cold water knob in the shower coupled with leakage problems around the tub that have left the bathroom floor soaked in a two-foot diameter spreading away from the tub, and a mouse that has spread itself from occasionally scaring the living shit out of us on the floor to making irritating night noises by eating through the drop ceiling tiles while we sleep. All of these things would, hypothetically, be fixable, although their price ranges for doing so would vary considerably: I imagine that "fixing" the mouse would cost no more than a few dollars, but the drainage and leaking problems could well add up into the hundreds, depending on the severity. Since I'm no home improvement specialist, my assumption is that these things are expensive, and thus will not be fixed within the three months we have left in which we're allowed to live here - so, while it goes mostly against our better judgement of actually informing our landlady that we have problems here, we're avoiding it anyway in lieu of being told that none of these things are worth the bank spending its money on.

Anyway, I've gotten off topic. The problem is that our beloved little apartment, someplace we had originally intended on staying for at least a little while, will be gone within the next four or five months, and our lease expires before then. This opened us up to the question of whether or not we had the option of buying a house for ourselves; this was quickly answered after a visit to a loan specialist, who bluntly but helpfully informed us that our credit scores hovered in the low 520 range, but that there were some things we could do in order to help ourselves. It was a short, bittersweet conversation - we had gone into the process hoping for a miracle but knowing that we would be denied - but it answered the question that would determine the process we would use to continue our search for other living arrangements. So we steered away from the faraway concept of ownership and instead looked over the pathetic excuse for an apartment listing that was provided to us via the bank (along with the promise from our landlady that, as we were "dear to [her] heart" we would be given first choice of all open rentals with the bank). Most of the places were far smaller than what we started out with two years ago at our Broadway apartment, and the majority were within areas that we considered beyond unsafe to live in. We struggled with the idea of renting one of their also-for-sale four bedroom homes with a married couple we know, though that idea was quickly shot down as they own two cats and some four or five ferrets; we already illegally have our cats here with us and would hate to see the fees that would be incurred by asking for that many more pets, if they were allowed at all. Our only other feasible option was a tiny, two bedroom house with yard and basement. It was determined, after some measuring and considering, that our bed would only barely fit into the biggest bedroom, and even then it would be a struggle to get it into the room, much less positioned. The living room would barely contain all that our current living room does: a couch, an old console TV (we can't afford an HDTV), and two computer desks complete with computers. The blue rocking chair currently in our living room would have to be moved elsewhere. The basement is dirty and somewhat inaccessible for someone as unsteady as me, the storage space is questionable at best, and we would completely lose our game/dining room. One of the doors would need to be replaced, and a portion of the foundation on either side of the basement is caving in (this is bad enough on one side that they have put in wooden supports in an attempt to take some of the weight off of the original crumbling rock). Husband's biggest problem: the stove would be electric, not gas.

The exchanges were questionable. There is no dedicated parking, leaving others to park in front of the house or out behind it in the yard. There is, however, a yard - that in and of itself is a huge improvement over our ten foot by eight foot gravel pit. There's a fairly secure deck that leads off of the house, it's in a relatively decent neighborhood, there's a baseball field just across the rarely-used street, and all of the windows are new. There are laundry hookups that are easily accessible from every corner of the house, meaning that we can finally begin doing our own laundry again at home (this is a brilliant concept to me, as I have wanted for some time to get into some form of cloth diapering for Kid #2) and thus stop using so much gas just for me to go over to Mom's house to do laundry there. The biggest caveat was that, if we rented the house, we would have the entire building to ourselves. It's a novel concept for a couple of people that have been renting this entire time; we're used to sharing a building with at least one other tenant, and thus having to be careful that we're not too loud at night, that nothing gets slammed, or that we aren't coming in at all hours and disrupting the others that live there. It has meant, too, that we've been subjected to the loud late-night music of college students and the bad parking jobs of their peers. We've had to wonder who else in the building is getting our mail, and why we're still getting mail for people that, to the best of our knowledge, don't even live in the building anymore. We would be privvy, too, to the wonders of a dishwasher, to brand-new carpeting and linoleum, and to walls that are no longer a disturbing tanned flesh tone.

The point of contention was that the price increase would be some $100 a month. Not bad, when all things are considered, for a house in exchange for an apartment, but Husband wisely indicated that we would be better off by looking around and considering our other options, even if it meant giving up the dependable services of our landlady's maintenance crew and her overwhelming desire to make sure that their buildings are safe and well taken care of. My mother swore she'd be willing to personally take care of this price increase in our stead, much the same way she originally promised to pay half of our car payment every month. We went to look, we argued, we considered, we found every possible problem with the house that we could, including the substancial decrease in space. We were kindly provided with the key for the weekend, and took a trip back to stay for two hours in which we did our best to talk ourselves out of the house. We wouldn't want to buy it, we argued, as the number of expensive-to-fix problems far outweighed any potential benefit the home would provide. It wasn't a long-term option, thanks to the crumbling foundation, which would mean that we'd still have to find a new place to live in the next year or two, whether or not we liked the house or wanted to stay. There are only two phone jacks in the entire house, neither of which is actually functional and only one of which is in the proper place to allow us internet access without wireless cards in our computers - another potential problem for a couple of junkies. We'd never be able to comfortably fit our belongings into the place, and if we moved in, the entire house would look incredibly crowded - especially with the addition of another child.

Only, well, maybe we could use this portion of the basement for storage moreso than the rest. We could always clean up the yard; that would leave us with a bit of a better feeling about the whole place. If we put the TV here, and the desks here, and maybe if I switched out from a rather large table to a smaller, more reasonably sized computer desk, we had a chance of fitting things in. If we're willing to live with the few inconveniences that the size provides, we'd have a chance of living comfortably. And the table that currently takes up most of the space in the game/dining room could fit, leaves down, in the middle of the kitchen, given a chance.

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

So yesterday I called our landlady and let her know that yes, we would take the house, if she would agree to a walk-through with her at some point this week. She gladly agreed. Now we again begin the long process of cleaning up, decluttering, and packing for yet another move. Wish us luck.


O Goodness. Such change! Good luck with everything!!