Thursday, September 6, 2018

A "Mess" Done & Dusted

Photo: Jay Mantri

I know it's been quite a while since my last post, but like the polar ice caps that keep melting, I've been having meltdowns of my own.

And unfortunately, there are no long stories short here... ever since a tsunami of misfortunes unleashed itself upon us.

That said, should you choose to read no further, I'll understand, for your problems are probably greater than mine. But if you're willing, I'm able and now ready, to put 'pen to paper' in order to lay this mess to rest and finally move on.

The "mess" a.k.a. "the move," "the double move," or more aptly, the "move from hell," began when we were notified that our lease wouldn't be renewed and that the house we'd been renting for the past 12 years would be sold... the first of the waves in a current of bad news, the first breach in the floodgate swelling with tears.

Photo: Ray Collins

The second incoming tide prompting hysterics hit months later, in mid-January, in the midst of us trying to prepare for an April move with all our stuff pulled apart and strewn about the house trying to decide which things to toss, which to donate or keep... the news that a realtor would be listing and showing the place in exactly 2 weeks!... 30 days earlier than we expected, 30 days earlier than specified in our lease!

And so, we objected... objected to suddenly having to curtail our moving preparations, of having to reorganize our newly created clutter and keep things pristine, while also having to leave the premise, often at a moment's notice every time a realtor, accompanied by an inquisitive neighbor or potential buyer, wished to traipse through our private space filled with our personal possessions.

Yet, our objections went unheeded... much like our objection to the weather at the time that kept pounding our area with one snowstorm after another: 4 Nor'easters in 3 weeks leaving us little choice but to spend countless days and weeks shoveling white stuff from our sidewalks and huge driveway when time could be better spent packing and finding another place to live.

Only, much to our horror, there were no other suitable places: houses or apartments to be found, even with months of extensive searching online and working with realtors!

Photo: Ray Collins

So, with the house now sold and nowhere else for us to go, we were forced to do something we've never done. Settle. We settled on an available unit to rent in a high-rise... once highly sought after in the 1950's, left in disrepair then shutdown in the mid 2000's, and now being rehabbed and leased as luxury apartments with "rehabbed" being the operative word... though not a word ever written or mentioned by management.

But wait, I've managed to get ahead of myself... probably due to the whirlwind of events and monsoon of emotions that soon followed.

I believe Robert Burns said it best in his poem, "To a Mouse"..."The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men gang aft agley."

Known better in English as... "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

For as much as we planned this move, much continued to go wrong.

Like the leak that sprung suddenly in our soon-to-be apartment.

And while the leak was fixed promptly, the problem was more extensive than originally thought, requiring a total tear-out of the main sewage pipe from the 12th to 1st floors along with the new fixtures and tiles in all of the bathrooms... delaying the date of our 'move in' from April 15th to the 29th... the same day set for moving out of the house!

Thus, wiping out the 2 weeks we had planned for gradually transitioning out of the house and into the apartment.


Photo: Ray Collins

I wailed. Then wailed some more when next, the date of settlement changed, shortchanging our stay at the house by another few days, when every day mattered, for there was still packing to be done, movers and installers to be rescheduled, and a house in need of some prepping: patching, painting, and a good thorough cleaning.


And just when those torrential tears subsided, another surge of bad news emerged... stating that repairs at the high-rise were going slower than expected... and not to expect to move in until sometime in May.


It was then, in my head, when I heard "The Stones" playing...

"You better stop, look around
Here it comes... here it comes... here it comes... here it comes.
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown."

Photo: Ray Collins

Only with so many breakdowns constantly ebbing and flowing, I was no longer sure of the count or if I could keep going, for what began as a 'single' move now became a "double"... "The double move from hell."

Double... because now everything had to be moved twice!!... once, from the house into storage... then at a later date, moved out of storage and into the apartment.

And Hellish... in part, because we only, just barely, managed to vacate the house on the date required, even though 2 AM was technically the next day.

And if not for friends, Doug, who spent days helping us pack, lift, and cart the contents from an entire house and full basement, and for Lu and Nhi, who volunteered to pack and store some of our valuables during those last frantic hours, we'd still be in the house packing, prepping and desperately trying to move out as the new owners were attempting to move in.

Then... with the house emptied and no apartment to go to, we moved ourselves and some bins filled with essentials, into a motel where we stayed, not days, but weeks!

4 weeks!... waiting for repairs at the high-rise to be readied, while watching the dollars flow from our pockets, for with the double move came double expenses: another truck rental and person to help with the move, the cost of rent and a motel, as well as all meals taken-out or eaten in restaurants, plus a plethora of tips for housekeeping and waitstaff.


Photo: Ray Collins

If only someone had just tipped us off sooner... before we signed the lease on our "new luxury apartment," which turned out to be neither new nor luxurious except maybe for some new tiles, fixtures, and appliances, and perhaps luxurious to some, in some parts of the complex, like the lobby, pool area, and amenities building that were intentionally built for "show."

The rest... is just old.

But with no other option, we had to take the entire high-rise "as is"... with its blips, chips, cracks, and blobs poorly painted over or hidden by carpets, along with its ancient mechanical systems that should have been gutted and replaced, but weren't.


Which is why, ever since moving into this place 3 months ago, I'm still having meltdowns... meltdowns due mostly to the constant comings and goings of contractors: electricians, roofers, plumbers, painters, drain cleaners, and HVAC guys who are continually called in to remedy huge problems.

And it's these contractors... along with the phone and cable installers, gardeners and trash haulers who are causing most of our problems... as they arrive early, sometimes as early as 6:30 in the morning, and park their vehicles under our bedroom windows when they have designated parking farther away.

And it's the racket these workers make... with their trucks beeping and doors being slammed, their mowers, leaf blowers and jackhammers blasting and dumpsters screeching when hauled, and it's their ladders and equipment that clank and clatter as they're lifted and loaded onto carts with wheels that squeak when dragged along asphalt... that wakes us up startled, forcing us to start our days loooong before we're ready.

And it's not just the contractors, the early hour, or noise driving us crazy, it's also the lights, newly activated and aimed at our building from the car dealership next door, that have turned night into day in our bedroom even with the vertical blinds tightly shut.

And if all this isn't annoying enough, imagine our frustration when the water, power, or AC is suddenly turned off.

It's enough to make one give up, or in my case... simply melt down.


Photo: Ray Collins

So it's come down to this... continue to be miserable with all of management's chaos and our own disorder: living out of bins and boxes with 3/4 of our stuff still in storage, or... choose to be happy?

In choosing happiness over misery, I'm reminded of something Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

And despite having to live in a complex with infinite problems, we happen to have a uniquely-configured 2 bedroom apartment with good bones and potential... one that's open and spacious (1400 sq. ft) with parquet floors and walls full of picture windows that flood the place with copious light and free-flowing air.

And on those rare occasions when all is calm and quiet, it's almost possible to forget the "helluva mess" we've been through... a mess that's almost done and soon to be dusted.


And in your next quiet moment, here are a few links you might find interesting:

27 tips for home-packing here.

Ice caps breaking down here.

Robert Burn's poem "To a Mouse" here, explained here, and recited here.

A young Rolling Stones performing "19th Nervous Breakdown" here.

More on photographer Ray Collins here and his waves in motion here

If you've read this post sticking it out to the end, thank you!

May the place where you reside
provide you with all the comfort & security you need.

XOX... Dyan