Wednesday
Jun082005

« The Anti-Buber, or, The Landlord That Ate My Father »

The following starts with a post which itself is a response to a post I made on an internet forum I hang out in. My response follows at length.

You have been very lucky for a long, long time. Part of most people's lives are spent working hard to afford a house and make a home. Not many people have been handed a house. When they do get it, it is usually their turn. That is, their parents died and left it to them. It is your dad's turn. He probably has no other way to ever have that kind of money. It is like his lottery. You still have your life to make a career to obtain things.

Well, you see, my grandparents DID want me to have one of their two houses, and after the death of one, my father did a little conniving to get the other to let him "manage" the house that had my name on it. What he did was rent it for money, then sold it for money. The house I was supposed to get was out of the family before I could inherit it, because my old man decided it was in the best interest of all to manage it on his own, and he put wedges between me and my grandmother so that we wouldn't be on a level footing to really even talk about the matter.

So now he inherited this house I am in now (his parent's house) and wants to swipe it in its entirety from me, or if he has other plans with any degree of equitable deal making, he isn't talking. Up till a year ago he thought that he'd be fine to just keep taking rent off the place, and his house too. He is extremely frugal and hardly spends any money on recreation but for the occasional trip overseas or around the west, each of which is done on a Scrooge budget. He doesn't "need" the money from a sale any more than the rent money it would bring over a long period of time. He also rents his own house (my childhood house) in like manner. He lives upstairs and rents the downstairs. He gets crappy tenants who trash the place, and his place is a money sink, overall. He has to pay to do more maintenance and has to do more of his own work there just to keep up. Not so here, because I take care of the place and don't have lofty ideas of out-of-reason "improvements." His house has gone to shit in the nine years since I left, and it's embarassing to think of it as something I could ever inherit. First order of business would be to sell it and move on because it sure aint worth the fixing. And I am not as attached to it as a family house, despite being there for nearly 23 years.

And for 30 years, I have heard him pipe on and on about how it is his mission in life to provide for me, his only heir, blah blah blah. Has all that been a lie? When does this offer expire?

What I do know is that around the time this house became his to inherit (but months before his mother died), I started to renew my relationship with my mother after years of dysfunction. My parents hate each other. At the age of 27, and before my father got this house that I am in now, I was used as a ping pong ball once again between them for their quarter century old spite games. He promised me that if I saw her, things would get rough between he and I. Being 27 and liberated from him for some years at that point, I blew him off and told him that he should never have known (he found out from someone else by a Freudian slip) and that it was his problem if he can't settle his mind about what went on all that time ago. So he wrote terribly vindictive and vitriolic notes to me saying that we would have a terrible future if I kept up. Blackmail, that's all it was.

Now that he owns my house, he calls the terms and I have to play or get out. But I labor on with the written proof that my grandparents wanted me to have at least a substantial share of their wealth after they both died. Well, they are both dead, and I've been paying rent to my old man on a house he got for free and has no real expenses associated with it (no mortgage and taxes at the 1975 rate, which is absurdly low). He also gives me a ration of shit when it comes to improvements and maintenance procedures. And now that he got popped with the city for his out of code "improvements" he wants to sell it. And it's not that it cost much. He did shitty work on his own, and it never cost that much to do, and it probably cost as much to have it all deconstructed. If he is out for vengance because of that, fining me for that inconvenience would be reasonable, and I have offered to settle that way if he would shut up and go away, and let me run things here. I've done my job here. I got to stay here because he would be able to get rent from me and the roommates, and with me being here, we reasoned that the house would be better off since a genuinely concerned person would be on the inside and ready to report any needs. Well, I am too genuinely concerned for this place. So concerned that when I saw the landlord owner devaluing it with illegal work, I called him on it, then after being totally shit upon by his response, I called the city. I called the city to do what he asked me to do—help keep the house in good shape, to watch over it, etc. I consider my calling the city to be the most responsible act, given the role I was here to fill as a condition for my stay here.

So if he wants to sell it, fine. But will he decide that after his scene making for all these years that he is somehow entitled to taking all the profit too? He is too cheap to do what it takes to make this house more valuable, so he goes his own route, making illegal and tasteless additions and changes to it. One day it would be his loss to try to sell with that shit, or my loss to do the same. If he wants only to get vengance at me for the city thing, he could probably order me to pay $10,000 and get past the overall expense of what he has put into it. Otherwise, his only other thing to justify this shit of evicting me is to cut me down for associating with my mother (something that has since fallen apart for its own dysfunctional reasons). I got married last year and he has been making odd misogynistic talk that reeks of his unsettled hatred for my mother. My wife already can't stand him. He didn't show up to the wedding. It's not about the house or money. It's about getting that last jab in, as he promised four years ago, that he and I would have problems if that is what I chose to do. He has chased everyone else out of his life. I am just more stubborn and have years and years of shit to blow back at him to show him how wrong he is. He's pissed because I have a mirror to reflect his actions back at him when everyone else stormed out of his life.

I plan to make preps to move but to squat until he gets some legal power to boot me. Moving is not an acknowledgement that he is right, because he just isn't. I have written 20 single spaced pages of stuff to gather how he is a sick person who is on some power trip. A psychopath, basically.

Do the math. Maybe it is true that lots of people go out and get their own houses, but I never felt that was in my cards. In 1986, there were my grandparents, my father, and me. There were three houses once the last house was bought that year. One was owned and occupied by the grandfolks, the other by my father and me, and the last was a vacation/rental/investment property that both my father and grandfather went in on. The last one was to be mine, outright when the grandfolks died. There would be three houses for two people, with one specifically designated for me. Give me a convincing reason why I should have thought that joining the rat race was "for me" when after all their years of work and talk about the importance to provide for the family conditioned me to believe that even simple math would leave me with enough to lay the ground work for my life, and eventually, it would find its way to me in its entirety when my father died.

Now we two remaining Lucas' are filling the two remaining houses and one wants to steal the share enjoyed by the other. Sorry, but I am not convinced that is fair. It certainly doesn't reflect the written wishes of his own parents. So I remain.

And you know what? In the course of 24 hours on Mondays and Tuesdays, I do some stuff that really makes me feel like a real person. I may have been avoiding the rat race, but it's not just sitting around and doing nothing. In a few hours at the beginning of the week, I am doing things in the name of making things better for me and hopefully others. A solo therapy session yesterday followed by a class on Martin Buber, and this morning a nice in-depth read on the Gospel of Matthew, followed by the couples therapy me and the wife go to to get us off to a decent start in marriage, and if we can arrange it into the end of the day, we also go to a study group that works through the Urantia book, for one more look at how to live well in the universe. If I were working as a regular Joe, I would not have been able to schedule about 2/3 of that stuff, and I would be quite unhappy because to me that is real life, and that is something I would gladly do more of if I could stop worrying about my fucking housing. All this is to say nothing of the other things my wife and I do for church and community. But no, my landlord pops is a man who works with steel. If it can't be measured, weighed, or counted, it doesn't exist. Everything I could learn about Buber, Bible, and Urantia, or anything else of genuine human significance is totally lost on him. In fact, he is the Anti-Buber because he is totally not present when he speaks to people. There is no humanity in his speech. It's all numbers, stats, and other gunk that is worthless in the long run and degrading in the short run.

So I guess I'll have to join the ranks of the unemployed philosophers out there and get a "real job," whatever that is, so I can afford a place that is 1/3 the size of my present place for 2.5 times the price, and is really no better than what I have here.

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