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Entries in family dynamics (65)
It has been a long month. First I was working like mad on my presentation and then for a couple days after that, riding the wave of email praise and a sense that maybe I was of use to the world. I went out to Guitar Center to buy some drum sticks, having decided that my remaining sticks must be about five years old, all falling in numbers, and the ones still usable are splintering like mad. So I plunked down on what must then seem like a ten year supply, given the rate at which I wear them out. I went to Pro Sound and Music to look at some software and talk shop with the owner. Then I went to check on my custom guitar-in-progress, which was actually not even started beyond sanding the pre-milled body. It was meant to be a Telecaster with two humbuckers and some simple hardware options. I took a look and feel and was oohing and ahhhing on it and hearing the notes go “weeeeettooooo teeeetoooooooo neeeeeeee nnooooooooowwwww” and contemplating the classy “Mary Kay” finish—a white wash stain over light wood (ash in this case) and my variety would have a dose of purple thrown in but only enough to keep the white from turning the usual pink tone that the Mary Kay finish creates. And black hardware, resulting in a black and purple-tinged white. Yum. Then I drove home with fanciful dreams of playing my first custom guitar in my newly reinstated studio.
When I got home after music geeking in three music shops, there was an envelope on my screen door with nothing but an address on it, and a single page of paper inside. I opened it with my hands full of stuff and fumbled around to get it straight. All I had to see was that it had the names of the three of us who live here. Then it hit me. Holy FUCK!!! It was real.
I got an eviction notice finally from a property management company that my old man hired to do the dirty work.
Kelli was gone to Florida to see her mom and grandmother for eight days. She had only left two days before, and she had all of a week to stay there. I was floored at this news. There had been talk of such a thing for years, and more rumors in the recent months since the garage and patio have been knocked down. But here it was, and with Kelli being gone, it was hell. I’ve been here for seven years now and have had to do some really dogged things to stay here or to bear it, mostly because I wanted to keep my studio intact, but then later on because it was a good place for Kelli and I to start with, and we were hoping for another three years while she went to school. On one hand, for her, she was in Florida helping her grandmother get into her newly rebuilt place after the hurricanes rippped her house apart last year, just a week or two after the wedding. And as she talked on the phone to me, there was nothing but dismal news here regarding stress and angst surrounding the eviction notice. One house happy, one house sad.
I’ve since struck a tentative deal with my father as to what the future will hold after all this blows past, so I don’t want to sabotage that here, but for the first two and a half weeks, it was utter hell and confusion. We still have to move, but at least we understand the situation better, and it's not as draconian as it seemed earlier on.
So now Kelli and I don’t know really where to live. She has a guaranteed housing situation at her school in Claremont but if we don’t have work there, we don’t have much chance to make that work either. On the other hand, if we stay in San Diego, we need to pay for whatever we get here, plus her commuter housing for three nights a week at school, and the cost of commuting one way or another, and throw on top of that the cost of storage for stuff we clearly can’t use in the sort of abode we can afford. We’re talking a big downsizing here. We fill all but one bedroom in the house. That’s a lot for a couple with one foot on each side of the “30” fence—she 28, me 31. The biggest challenge is in what to do with furniture. Most of it is inherited from my grandparents and some collected on our own because it looks compatible. I have most of a full set of furniture. And it all more or less looks like it belongs together. I could sell it to offload it but I don’t anticipate being able to replace it with something of quality. IKEA doesn’t count. It would suck to see it broken up because it makes a nice working set. Anything else I could readily afford would look like toys compared to this, but none of this would fetch any premium rates.
And then my studio gear is something that even when broken down takes up a quarter of a room and more. In a one bedroom, it's a dead deal. In any place but here, it's a huge question mark as to whether or not I will be able to use it like I have done. I’d need a garage to play drums in and have the luxury of leaving things all set up. Grrrr. I sold a few small things and have put more on the block, but that just bends my mind. In one post, I put up my Warwick bass, Rhodes piano, DAT recorder, second guitar cabinet, eight channel compressor, djembe drum, two snare drums, and some smaller stuff like cymbals, pedals, pickups, etc. I purposely priced it high so no one would respond, or at least once a deal was closed, I’d hopefully be left with a respectable sum. At this point, everything is taken apart for the most part and is stacked in the corner in the big room, in preparation for whatever solution comes up.
Mr. Luis Galdamez:
Hello. I am a resident of Clairemont who wants to return some flags I found in my neighborhood with this note to make a few points. I find the flagging of most of the houses around here to be tasteless on a number of levels, and particularly at the time in which we find ourselves, with regards to the world scene. Usually, I am very intolerant of short sightedness and small mindedness, but I will spare you the vitriol.
First off, some of these flags are made in China. I find it decidedly ridiculous that the Chinese now make our flags. I would gamble a guess that some American workers are put out of work making such things out of far more durable materials than plastic and bamboo. What happened to American pride in their workmanship? I highly doubt that there are American factories making Chinese flags and “We Will Never Forget Tiannenman” stickers. Why insult Americans with the centerpiece of American identity with cheap knockoffs that will only get thrown away in a few days or weeks?
Next, let me remind you these flags are made out of plastic, which is made from nonrenewable petroleum resources. The last thing we need to do is to use petroleum in frivolous ways. I don’t expect everyone to know this because the media and ‘leadership’ have done a dismal job of helping the public to become aware of the biggest mess that humanity has known in eons. The world petroleum extraction rates are nearing their all time peak, and this resource will soon be on an irreversible slide, taking a huge swath of human history with it, as everything we now use that either runs on petro fuels, or is made from manipulating petrochemicals will be in jeopardy. The suburban market you now enjoy as your financial playground stands to lose most of its value in an age when people can’t afford to drive places, and transcontinental and international shipping can’t supply food and consumer goods (like Chinese made flags).
I think you might have just had your best year yet, so enjoy the party while it lasts. But if you cozy up with a good Google search on “peak oil” you will find a mountain of info on the matter and how it will undermine everything in America, and the suburban lifestyle will take quite a beating. In fact, you might want to watch and contemplate a DVD called “The End of Suburbia” which will detail out a range of topics surrounding the inevitable peak in oil extraction and its effects for everyday people who think that everyday life should go on as it has for the last 60 years. I don’t think there is an upside to it, my friend. You should turn your millions into Euros and/or gold and go enjoy life where people won’t have a “shitfit” when they realize that their daily systems fall into dysfunction on account of oil prices. I think they will rage at their government to do something about it, only to find the best the government can do is… launch war to get more oil, which in turn invites more Arab anger and terrorism, which in turn invites more invasion into privacy and robbing of personal liberties, which of course means that the America you wish to celebrate with your flags is really just nostalgia. That flag doesn’t mean what it used to mean, and the combined folly of using a plastic flag made 10,000 miles away to celebrate American might and apple pie is just a joke. The fact is, calling the Fourth of July “Independence Day” is a joke too. This nation is a slave to oil addiction. Waving a Chinese made petro-derived flag does not amount in any way to independence.
Sir, I’ve been getting your ads on my door for seven years now. I never really liked them because I have no love for the real estate industry. I happen to think that real estate prices have killed America, if my story is a microcosm of the American experience. Let me tell you a story.
My father has decided to pull a nuclear option of his own. The house I live in was his parents’, and I have lived here for seven years now. We have had an utterly disastrous family collapse because of the perception that property in San Diego is actually worth something. The thing is, my life is no more special now that my house is supposedly at about $550,000 over when the house was supposedly worth $400,000. If I had to say when my best times were had in this house and my family seemed to work best, I would say it was when the house was valued at less than $100,000—maybe in the early 1980s or so. But now that my father wishes to cash in quite greedily now that both my grandparents are dead and I have offended him by calling the city to protest his illegal and utterly crappy additions and modifications to the house (while he justified his work as “raising the value of the house”), my quality of life here is mostly miserable. I certainly don’t reap $550,000 worth of quality of life out of this place. And now I am about to lose it, so I can move with my wife to some other overpriced box of stucco, wood, and carpet in another place that is as faceless and dysfunctional as Clairemont. My father will be proud of his accomplishment. He has outlasted his parents, and has swiped his son’s residence, and will have pocketed a handsome sum of money too. What could be more American than profitting off someone else’s loss? American corporate capitalism does it every day! And what’s good for business is good for America, right?
Luis, when you talk about the value of a house, do you ever say, “this land is quite fertile and you can grow a garden here, and there is enough of it to feed some sheep, and a nice place here to keep chickens” (?) Do you realize that a piece of land that can’t sustain life is nearly useless? When people are starving, they won’t care about the pool, and they won’t care about canyon scenery or being close to freeways and malls. If you can’t sell houses that permit people to live without the use of cars, industry, corporate goods and services, and everything else that makes up the way of life you and I “enjoy,” you might find yourself out of a job, my friend. Who will want to buy what you have to sell? I bet you too are living the suburban “dream” of sitting in traffic, cursing at parking lots, paying insurance, and worrying about gangs taking over your kid’s school. Luis, I don’t think your business has a leg to stand on, I am sorry to say. I believe the dollars you move from one place to another are really just imaginary. True wealth is in stability, and the suburban buildout has relied on a resource that is inherently unstable. Ergo, suburbia must crash before long. Biology shows this repeatedly. Oil is the food source for suburbia, and it is getting harder and harder to find and extract. No reliable food source means that whatever relied on that food source will crash. We now fight wars to arrange for this stuff to let us drive our Hummers, Tahoes, Expeditions, Excursions, Yukons, and other ridiculous vehicles around from one house to the mall and back. A war to secure a food source is a desperate act.
So might I suggest you spare us the cheap plastic flags made in China that mock the once-great United States of America? I’m sure people are touched by it somewhat, but really… they probably don’t know the shitstorm that will hit them as the global game turns deadly serious in a big way when every industrialized nation wants to dogpile on the last of the oil reserves in the middle east. But for those of us who keep a little more abreast of the situation, things like this are needless and crassly commercial. If you really want to pass out flags, take some of your real estate earnings and reinvest them in the community. Open up a small shop where some out of work San Diegans can make flags of real cotton, and made with the genuine pride that should accompany such effort. There is no reason to send our money to China to show our “patriotism.” We have people who need to work here. I think if you want to sell houses that are valuable, you should sell the ones with good arable land, clean water from underground, and places where it legal to keep some animals, because life isn’t going to be a trip to Vons and Wal Mart forever.
Hope this adds perspective to your day.
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.
Well, today I took the baby step on my way toward political greatness. In fact it started with a rise from my chair in a slightly graceless fashion as I stepped up to use my allotted two minutes of off-topic announcement time in front of the Clairemont Town Council. Of course, I was there to promote my little DVD showing on Sunday. I haven’t been to any such meeting before so I don’t know if it was received well or laughed out of the park. I did start off with the announcement that I have lived in Clairemont all my life and have gone to five schools in the area.
I sat through the various reports of local representatives, and those up to the state assembly level. The police lamented to say that the little community storefront location would be closed in all likelihood. The lady who represented our current mayor said this was her last meeting as his assistant, and she listed a few things that were on the chopping block in the city. Donna Frye’s rep said that one thing or another was going to be closed down. The woman who represented our assemblyperson on the state level said something about a bill to encourage gas conservation.
A HA! Now we’re getting somewhere.
Everyone was lamenting one thing breaking down, being closed, being deemed too expensive, or whatever. Then there was little old me who came up with the headline article in the San Diego U-T called “Crude Awakening.” At least it was current and to my surprise, it was a pretty good article for any of the mainstream stuff I have seen. I read it while I waited for the meeting to begin, and there was clearly a mention of peak oil, and there was at least baby steps that implied some hard times ahead. I was surprised. So it was good that this three-article SDUT came out this weekend, one week before I get on my soapbox and show The End of Suburbia and give a speech about the issue and my hopes for forming a group to meet the challenge.
Prior to going to the meeting though, I had precisely mixed luck in two attempts to win people over to my showing. The first was my old man, to whom I had to pay the rent today. He is a stubborn old fuck. He just loves to go his ooooowwwwwnnnnn way. He has some sense in him, and in some regards he is ahead of the pack, but he thinks he can go it alone. Twelve years ago he did in fact convert a crappy used car with a combustion engine to a crappy electric car, and had hoped to sell it for $waytoofuckingmuchforwhatitlookedlike. It went to his head, as all his inventions do. He swore he would do back yard car conversions to make money, maybe one a month. He thought, in 1993, that people would see the light and start to bring him their cars to be converted. He linked up with others who had equally informed delusions, but were possibly at least using better cars to start with. But these cars invariably were mutants. They would have waytoofuckingmuch weight in the battery compartment, which ruined the feel and handling. The times I drove the old man’s Ford Escort was a pretty fair indication of how the rest of them might fare. It drove like ass. After sitting in the garage or the back yard of his house for ten years, he eventually ended up cutting the whole car apart for parts, reusing or reselling the electric components and batteries. He went on to make a motorcycle/car hybrid (trike). I laughed at him all the way.
Anyhow, he was proclaiming independence from the system at large, saying he’d fish out of the ocean, drive a hydrogen powered (converted) vehicle, and so forth. He said he wasn’t worried, and that there are other things that can be done, and no need to worry about the future problems because they wouldn’t affect us because we own our houses and are doingjustfinethankyouverymuch. He’s not as dumb as the garden variety conservative Republican when confronted with these matters, but he has his own sort of go-it-alone mentality that is maddening. So I challenged him to have my house taken off the energy grid and put on full solar. It’ll probably never happen because he is sure there can’t be much of a change. He loves to cite the fact that California’s energy “crisis” was a hoax, which we all know it was, but I tell him, hey, that northeastern USA blackout in 2003 was not, and that is something we much acknowlege. We’ll see if he can suspend his confidence long enough to come to my presentation.
The other pitch I made was whilst flyering cars at Clairemont High school before the CTC meeting. I was bombing the SUVs and minivans with full page ads for my meeting on Sunday and at one car, I noticed a guy was in it and as I walked around the car, I saw a range of lefty bumper stickers. So I did what I never planned to do: went up and started talking to him straightaway. “Excuse me, I saw the Kerry sticker on your car and you look like you have an open mind.” Well, sure enough, he did. He got out and we talked on the spot for about 15 minutes, and he sounded like he would not only be a good target for coming to the showing, but possibly for actually working on the project too. Funny. You know a guy for 31 years and he doesn’t want to help for shit, and you walk up to a stranger and he is right there on your wavelength. Wacky.
The last several days have been one huge mess of a house for me and Kellipup. Losing the studio alone was cause to have to absorb a whole room's worth of stuff into the house. Wednesday was the day when the street facing side of the studio was torn wide open and laid flat on the concrete. Since then, things have been a total clusterfuck of drums, studio gear, electric piano, guitars (in bags or cases, and a couple without—I never take my guitars anywhere, so I never bagged or cased them all), books, shelves, sofas, desks, and all sorts of other junk has all been moved from one room to another. The living room is littered with all this stuff. Finally, today I got the most work done in getting Kelli set up in the bedroom that we haven't rented in two months. She now has a whole bedroom to herself for her office and study. And I got the big room that was remodeled last year for my studio. Today Glenn and I set it up more or less as it will appear, with drums and piano and other stuff. It's sort of like the studio arrangement I had back in 2002/2003 before I packed it in for several months. Now, this is not a room prepared for sound so it remains to be seen what sort of drum use I can get out of it, if any. However, things here are not as restrictive as they once were at the old man's house while I was there, and I had spells of being able to play there with modest concessions as far as dampening the kit and room, but never any construction modifications. One wall faces the rest of my house, and my bedroom buffers the space between this room and the living room. Another wall faces the garage space, another the back yard with the hill that juts up, and the last wall is facing my neighbors. This room probably won't be able to get the sorts of mods that made the other room the great place it was, but you never know what could happen. But for now, I won't go bonkers worrying about that. It's just cool to see my gear set up again, and now in the coolest looking room in the house. As I sat at the drums today while setting them up, I looked out the window at the huge tree in my back yard. That alone is weird. For the last nearly seven years, my drums have been in a windowless sweaty box.
Now I have to put up my guitar hanger (full sized stud with six guitar hooks mounted to it), and find places for my guitar amp, mic the drums and patch some stuff into the rack. As for my guitar amp sounds, I am banking on my remote speaker cabinet trick that was used to some degree of luck in the old room when Glenn and I were recording drums and guitar at once. I have a 2x12 cabinet buried under a plywood and carpet box, which itself is buried under blankets and beside couch cushions. Its crude but it worked well enough to keep my guitar and drums separated while tracking simultaneously. I still like to use high gain for my guitar tones, so I can't really be goosing the power on the Mesa too hard without some heavy dampening, and I hate the idea of using digital models.
Yesterday and today, my dad came over and started to demolish the patio walls he built here in 2003. I had a secret rejoicing in me for that. The period when he built that patio was the most painful for me since at least 2001 when I found out he molested my sister ages ago. My old man is a cocky SOB who just can't do shit the way other people do it. He certainly doesn't do things better than people would, he just has to do things his way. Couple that with his property holdings, and he can pull a lot of rank on people who are dependent on him. Such is my experience. My mom and my step mom both had that sort of treatment. He even tried to pull it on his own mother at her house! The patio was just one of the latest instances of that.
In 2003 he had started his first piece of work here in many months once we had a leaky pipe at the ground level inside the bathroom where the rental rooms are. He took a sloppy and heavy handed approach to fixing it, and since we already had admitted to needing to remodel the bathroom anyway, he stripped out the tile/ceramic sink area and ripped out drywall. He put a cheap ass piece of linoleum down before he even went to work finishing off the drywall, then put a coat of paint down before he even sanded the drywall mud he put up. All of this was done in a really shoddy manner. I was disgusted. I found that the paint he had applied by one of his homeless laborer buddies would peel up. It wasn't a finish coat, nor would it work as a primer. Why it was painted was a total fucking mystery to me. It peeled off in sheets or bacon like strips. What crap. So once I found that out, I started peeling it up so they would be forced to do it again, maybe right. We had one roommate leave the week before all this happened, and one remaining. So Willy was down by a room's rent. There was no reason this bathroom/hall/carpet job could not have been done in a week, but he was doing this crap work, and I decided he should do better. So, instead of actually bothering to do this work better, once he saw me peeling up the paint in footlong strips, or sheets the size of a guitar's top, he just abandoned the job. It took me an awful long time to get that paint off, once it came to detailed spots. He totally left the work to me. He stopped coming over to work, and didn't hire anyone. But he'd come over and tell me how he was losing rent money and that the room would need to be rented. I was working a full time job for 3 weeks in March and found myself having to work on this bathroom after that, or whenever I could. He'd call and remind me to hurry up but would offer no real support. I managed to get the paint stripped and got the drywall to look like it was passable, then hired my friend Gene, who did the other bathroom a year before. Gene did the drywall mud texturing. I painted the stuff with a primer that was supposed to work, but didn't! So I found myself stripping the whole damned room AGAIN! I was pissed off beyond belief. Finally, I got it stripped and reprimed it and got it painted. I hired Gene to come in and do finishing work to install the cheap ass vanity cabinet and new sink, and to replace the shitty ass linoleum with the surplus piece I had from the other bathroom job. At least it matched. I got the old man to pay for Gene's work, but this whole project lasted SIX fucking weeks. My wrists hurt from all the scraping and sanding and painting. I couldn't play guitar for shit for a couple weeks. Willy, instead of helping me to get that work done, or doing it himself, was over here anyway, in a kind of mocking way. He was building a fence/gate on the side of the house. We didn't need this to be done. He thought it would be a good thing. While he was troubleshooting the water leak, he discovered the plumbing there was not the way he wanted it. So he took it upon himself to reroute the hot water only directly from the water heater straight across the attic space to the kitchen sink, with the tubing being partially outside. The idea worked, but his timing was shitty. He was doing all this while I was busting my ass in the bathroom, a job I never really asked to do.
In the end, he lost two months of rent on one room plus the cost of materials and labor for Gene and for whoever his cheap ass worker was. AND he also had to replace the carpet in the hall alone, while letting one room air out, and the bathroom be a total fucking mess for six weeks. He didn't want to replace ALL the carpet in the affected areas, so to this day, there is still a bedroom with the tiles intact, while the hall and the other bedroom have had their tiles stripped out. These tiles should have been stripped out before the carpet was put in back in 2001. But he was in a hurry to rent the place, and treated me with no respect then, nor in 2003, and not now...
About the time the bathroom was getting done and the place was rentable again, in mid April 2003 or so, he started to demolish the old patio cover that Bill Francis had built in 1997. That alone wasn't the problem; Bill's cover was not too great. It was pretty ratty. But while Willy had the thing stripped down to the slab, I was making suggestions that he build it RIGHT. I wanted to make sure that there was lots of light, as before, particularly from the south and the west. I wanted big windows on those sides, since he was determined to make it an enclosed room, albeit not as though it was a room in a house. It was supposed to be some sort of rec room. But instead of listen to me and put big windows in that would allow lots of light into the otherwise unlit living room, he did the opposite. Not only did he not use new windows, he used the small 18-24" tall windows that he planned to put at the top of his design... which was to be about five feet of bricks on all sides! The roof was solid, which made the living room dark. Then he had the brick walls built up ever higher so that there was about a 30" gap between roof and the top of the bricks. It got fairly dark in there, but his western wall also perfectly blocked the view from the dining room to the yard. I was pissed off as hell. He just ignored me. Anything I said, he did the opposite. He gave me nothing but lame ass sarcastic excuses and ass backward reasoning for why he had to build it this way. Supposedly we needed more privacy. What the fuck does he know about my need for privacy? From who? Why now, after years of an open and breezy patio cover/enclosure? He was just being a total asshole.
His workmanship was crap, as he always manages to provide here. His joints were sloppy, his straight lines weren't straight. His bricklaying was utterly shitty. At least he had the good sense to hire a guy after he did a section. In one of his usual cheap approaches he had a new layer of concrete poured on the slab to cover up the breaking slab below it. He built a door frame INTO the slab. The door itself was nicer than the one on the front of the house, and still is nicer than the one we eventually put on the front of the house, but its frame and threshold are submerged in cement. Everything about this fucking project but for maybe the roof was total crap. It was an abortion. Shit. His plan for closing in the gaps around the windows was to lay a piece of textured particle board over the window, nail it up, then cut out the space where the window would be. Who the fuck ever works like this??? This was horrendous, and he didn't give me the time of day. Instead, he laughed at me and offered to let me do it. I told him I just wanted him to do it right or not at all. I still had a front door to replace, an oven and heater to fix, and a French door to install. Thats not to mention that my big room needed a total remodel, and my bedroom needed to have its floor replaced, and lots of painting to go around, including the front of the house where he did his carport-garage conversion. It's not like there wasn't stuff that NEEDED to be done. His shitty garage work out front still was left without finish paint. But here he was, building this shitty box outside the living room. It looked like shit, it was illegal, it was repressive, it was totally unnecessary.
In August, after a summer of feeling like my roommates were ignoring me and my requests to have them clean up and keep the place in decent order, and enduring the building of the patio jail cell, I was going off the deep end in depression and anger. My home was being attacked by people both inside and outside of its walls. I couldn't get the old man to give me any support till August when we asked Eric the fat ass to leave. Robert left on his own. But by that point, I was just out of my mind. One day when Gus the Greek came to interview for the room Robert had left, the old man came by and started talking to him, and gave him the key on the spot and Gus was in just like that! Gus turned out to be a good roommate, but while he was being interviewed, Willy was condescending to me, he was talking about all the great things he had done for the house (as I am standing there, just seething with anger that this room was getting built, and that after the whole bathroom episode earlier in the year). I was pissed beyond belief. He's in my house, picking roommates for me, and telling them how I can't do this myself, and talking up a big plan for this room—stuff like 'oh, we could have a pool table, or foosball, or thisthatandtheother...' All this stuff going on, and I am just window dressing.
Around that time, I called the city to report this piece of shit work that only ever stood to satisfy him. Within a few days of that, I wanted to kill myself, and ended up at Halcyon, a nervous wreck racked with anger and fear and frustration, not only at this bunch of dad issues, but my own personal existential issues, and my decision to quit music.
While at Halcyon, I did manage to get him to hear a thing or two about how I was feeling, but despite the crisis state of things, we never really got past anything. We did have a conversation or two that seemed to break new ground, but after I got back, there was one day, a day less than a week later, when it just all flooded back. Kelli and I were in the back yard doing some painting on some little items, and he was here sitting like a king in his castle, in the patio. It was late September and I had asked him about installing the French door we had sitting in the garage since February, right before the whole bathroom/hall/bedroom issue was discovered. He probably made a comment about how he wanted to finish the patio first. Whatever it was, it escalated and I was getting more and more upset with him. He turned to look at Kelli, making talk like 'you hear a noise?' and 'he needs to learn to grow up' or any other such nonsense. He just ignored me, and talked to her. Finally, as I was yelling to be heard a few houses away, he just walked off and left without a word. I grabbed a brand new framed window (not even appropriate for the patio) he hadn't yet put in that was sitting there outside with us. As he closed the door on me, I picked it up by the frame and just heaved it down on the concrete in a fit of rage. Being only about three weeks since the day when I wanted to just kill myself, I was still really tender, and this sort of encounter was exactly the stuff I didn't need. I was seething in anger. How could he forget what nearly happened? Weeks before I wanted to knock myself off because of him. I thought maybe he'd give a shit and not push my buttons. Was his patio more important than me?
He left that day, and at some point soon after, he sent an email expecting me to replace the window by the end of that week. Not long later, he started on a new thing. Whenever I got upset about his work here, or called him on his shitty treatment, he now started to talk like, 'Hey, it's getting to be more trouble than its worth. Maybe I should just sell the house and be done with it.' Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck YOU asshole. Fuck you who didn't even wait for your mother to be dead in the ground before you came over here three days after she died and started building your fucking garage. Fuck you. Fuck you who wants to avoid paying for competent work to be done but will lose two month's rent money instead of getting it all done in a week, quite possibly for less. Fuck you who wants to "raise the value of the house" by doing shitty work and riding roughshod over my feelings and needs here. Fuck you who can't bother to call before you come over or can't bother to knock when you do show up. Fuck you who walks away from me when I am talking. Fuck you who shows me little human dignity and respect. Fuck you who continues to fuck with me by a nick here and a nick there, after chasing away the women in my life by your fucked up ways. Stay the fuck away from my wife. Fuck you who claims you love your only son, but can't bother to not participate in the sort of shitty behavior that almost killed him. Fuck you who says that there is no one else who matters in this world, but carries on like I am a hinderence to your greater potential as a landlord/property owner. Fuck you for reminding me how much you could get for this house if I were not here. Fuck you for turning our relationship into monetary terms. Fuck you for molesting my sister. Fuck you for making my junior high school years absofuckinglutely miserable. Fuck you for peeping on my girlfriend as she sleeps with me. Fuck you for moving my car out of the driveway when it was being worked on, at the same time as you were such an asshole that I finally moved house. Fuck you for telling me to move all my stuff out of here on new years day 1997 when I had nowhere else to keep it—it wasn't even your house. Fuck you for siding with the enemy when you listened to someone other than me about why I broke into the house here at 3:40 in the morning on a stormy new years day after a gig. Fuck you for talking down to me. Fuck you for not giving me encouragement to do what I wanted to do when I was learning how to play drums. Fuck you for talking your backwards and upside down talk when I need a straight answer. Fuck you for telling me its black when I am looking at white. Fuck you for all those days in Kmart when you picked seven shirts or pants and told me to pick three of them, all of which were ugly as hell. Fuck you for snagging this house and not respecting the wishes of your mother, or the people who knew her wish that I would live here without this shit you give me. Fuck you for playing your little game even after the goalposts have been taken down and the crowd went home. Fuck you for telling me to leave home because your imaginary Russian bride would be coming anytime now, but who never wanted to move in with you. Fuck you for bugging me to get up in the morning to find work at the same time you stopped working on account of getting fired. Fuck you for telling me that paying rent is an adult thing to do while you keep treating me like a kid that needs to be seen and not heard. Fuck you for getting in the way of my studio project in 1994-1997. Fuck you for throwing my dog over the fence when I was a kid. Fuck you for keeping Eda away from me after the divorce. Fuck you for forcing my mother to pay child support so I could go to Europe, so that you in turn could gloat about how great you were to have the foresight to see that I got to Europe like you did, and how she never would have provided such a thing if you weren't there to police her. Fuck you for pissing in my face and telling me its the spring rain.
But watching you have to take down the walls you built makes me smile. All you've done since you got this house is build walls, gates, fences. Barriers to keep people out, or to keep people in.
This last week or two has seen some dramatic change at the house. My dad evidently has been forced to take down both about half the bricks on the patio enclosure (down to about the level they were at before he did anything to change the place), and most dramatically of all, he's had to tear off a side of the garage and remove the garage door! Now the house is inching its way back to the state it was in back about four years ago before he inherited the place. It won't return fully; but the carport-turned-garage will be a carport again unless for some reason he should ever decide to actually build it right, with permits and construction methods that meet code. I have no reason to think he will decide to do that. He is huffing and puffing about all this work to undo his earlier work, saying things like 'I've never worked so hard to get nothing done' and such. The following is an open letter to him.
Well, it was no one's idea but your own, mister.
I never asked for you to build any of this stuff. Instead, I asked you NOT to build it, or to at least build it right, or at least to build it with some of my input considered and used. The garage started getting modified three days after your mom died, at just before 10 am. She wasn't even put to rest yet and you were here doing work that no doubt had been on your mind for years and years. I remember even as a child hearing you talk about what YOU want to do with this house, even while your own parents were here, keeping you at bay with their objections. There was talk about splitting the house in two so that one of them could live in a smaller place and rent out the rest of the house. Hell, you even made talk like that with Kelli and I. You tried to get me to give up my studio space for a kitchen so that we'd be in our own little two room apartment while you'd rake in money from the other half of the house. There has been talk about adding an enclosed patio (but not making it a real part of the house—halfbaked and stupid), or stretching the big room out, or adding an upstairs level over the garage. Lots of talk about how to make it more "valuable." To yourself.
Without adding a habitable space or getting Kelli and me to pay a full rate, or having us gone, I don't see how the value will amount to anything. If you need more rent money, you need to get more renters, or you need to get rid of Kelli and me. Assuming you won't do that, your options are limited. But all this talk is beside the point. Your methods are calculating how to make a bunch of lumber, concrete, pipes, wires, carpet, fixtures, and land amount to more value in your pocketbook. But I never hear how you are planning to make it more valuable as a home. This is where we diverge. I want the place to be more valuable as my home. I don't need your garage or patio jail cell. I don't need your gate. I don't need your mediocre workmanship all over the place. I don't need you rubbing in my face the fact that you could get more money if I weren't here. I don't need reminders that you are the owner and I am not. If home improvement is what you really want to do, you could start by stopping this constant reminder talk that you make the decisions here. You could stop threatening to sell the place out from under us when things don't go your way. You could stop being landlord supreme. If you want to do work here that amounts to something, I could give you a list of things that would matter to me and would actually make the place nicer. We could start with replacing the floor in my room which was never replaced, or dressing the rest of the house in molding, or replacing the sliding glass door which is leaky and coming out of its own frame. We could replace windows in my room. We could replace the kitchen floor and cabinets. We could paint the front. We could redo the hall cabinets. There are some projects that actually need doing. Those aren't even massive ones, but they would make the place nicer. We could even get a real garage built, or somehow make some secure storage space. But those are only house improvements, not home improvements.
I'd be more willing to help out around here if you were actually helping me meet the needs of the place, and not your own agenda. Time and time again, I've asked for one project or another, and instead usually got a project of your choosing. Some of mine have been asked for for years now. When will we do those? When will we do things that reflect my sensibilities and needs? If you have a finite amount of energy and will to do this work, wouldn't it be better to just do the stuff that actually needs to be done, instead of doing stuff that doesn't, and now, to tear down that very same work? What keeps me from helping you here is that you don't cooperate with me. I am not the kid who just has to go along with whatever is ordered. I'm 31 now, and have worthwhile ideas of how to make the place nice, and have done work that even you complimented a year ago on the big room, which anyone can see is the nicest room in the house. I even did it on a small budget, while still using qualified workers as needed, and letting them do what needed to be done, without telling them how to do their work. It entailed a drywall crew, a carpenter, electrician, floor installer, and a lot of my own time and patience doing the organizing, the seamless caulking, and all the painting. It was done professionally and it looks good. What is the problem? Why is it when I have ideas you shun them?
How does one calculate the value of home? Is my well being not worth $500,000? Are my dreams valued at somewhat less than that? Suppose you did sell this place? Would either of us be any better off than we are now? Is that the point? Would another shack amount to more than this one that I already call home? In the face of the collapse of suburban real estate values, would that stuff matter? What is the point in doing anything but keeping this place if everywhere else will be cut down the same? If you want to make it more valuable, then make it more energy efficient, make it so we can grow food (don't cut the orange trees down like you did, for starters), make it so that we could work from home if need be. I don't know what really needs to happen, but a lot of what you have been doing has done me no good, and some has sent me over the top with anger. The time I smashed the window was a week after I got out of Halcyon, where I swore I would try to deal with things better, but it was like you forgot. Did you forget? A few weeks before might have been the last you'd see of me, and now there you were, carrying on the same as ever. Did it ever occur to you that maybe rage of that sort is a problem for me (the sort that got me to Halcyon in the first place)?
Walls, gates, fences. That constitutes your signature on this place, and now some of that is coming down. I can finally see the lush green back yard from the dining room, and it is good. It was good before you built that damned patio jail cell. But you told me all I had to do was get up and walk around to see it. Well, if there were no bricks there, I wouldn't even have to do that. Your sarcastic reply is the sort of thing that made me call the city to report this. I didn't like what you built, and I utterly despised your cavalier attitude about how I felt. Had you not done that, I may not have called the city. But your total disregard for my feelings is what caused me to do that, and caused me to smash the window, and before that, the bike. Seething anger. I just gave it a voice. I want light, you give me dark. I want windows, you give me walls. I want space you give me dividers. I want cooperation, you give me silence and distance. I want 31, you give me 12. I want father, you give me landlord. Was I supposed to conduct myself in any other way? I don't recall being heard any better when I asked politely and spoke in a moderate voice.
Because you don't really care about that. I can literally yell and scream and you are still interested in how to get more money off this place. You tell me you don't like this property, that it doesn't have this or that, and it's too far from here or there. Those are your concerns, not mine. You may not like the orange tree in the back yard, but that doesn't mean you have to cut it down for no reason. You don't want to give me the house, sell me the house, or honor your own mother's wishes that I could have it. Nor does it seem you want to honor both your parent's wishes which were that I would get half of their property. Once upon a time, it was two houses. And now, you cheat me out of half ownership on the one house that was left after you already snagged the Julian house for yourself. Face it, your parents wanted me to enjoy some of their property when they were gone. You got it all to yourself. But I live here and I have more interest in this place than you, and do what I can to take care of it. What business do you have owning this place and profiting off of it after you got it for free? That's just found money for you. And I get what? $26,000 and some furniture and appliances?
You say that you won't let me have the house because then I won't have it taken away by a litigious wife. I don't have such a partner now, but a lot of the nonsense you do around here is just the sort of stuff that makes it hard to make a happy home. While we want to plant our feet here, you threaten selling the place. Oh, maybe I'll have that divorce-happy wife after all, if you keep playing games with me that makes it hard to know whether we'll have a home next year. Oh, we have our arguments over whether to leave this place for good, and just let you wallow in your riches, or whether we should stay and fight your nonsense. You won't let me have the place because you are afraid that my wife will turn into the wives you've had? So you're "protecting" me from my wife? Protection? Protection at the same time as you play this game which drives me totally mad and does actually cause a lot of domestic problems. Wow. You really do have this thing sewn up, don't you? In one broad (no pun intended) gesture, you can not only keep me miserable, but you can profit off it too! That must be even better than when I was a kid. I didn't make you money back then.
So tell me this. I never got handouts from you without having to do tricks first. You never bought me musical gear, you never gave me a car, you never sent me off to college. But you snag what might have been my inheritance, and now, even years later once I have played your game, you still don't seem interested in sharing. I think I am entitled to half of this place, either as owner or as the recipient of its sale price. I actually would like at least 51% interest since I am the resident here and should get priority say over what goes on here. If you need income from the place, that can be arranged, but I don't think I should have to pay to put up with your shit, and certainly Kelli shouldn't need to do that. For a guy who curses the location and layout of this house, and doesn't even bother to meet its real needs, it seems silly that you would have any real interest in running the show here. You never come over for purely social visits, you never act like a member of family, you don't even call before you come over, even to deconstruct the garage. What is your real interest here anyway? What if you only made $1000 a month off the place? What are your expenses here anyway, if you weren't spending on stuff we don't need? Taxes? Cheap. There's no HOA costs, not much of anything. You took forever to fix the oven, when it could have been done in a week for the same price. We did a $4000 remodel here last year. If you got $1000 a month from here, and let Kelli and me run the place as we see fit, what the hell is the problem in half ownership? I don't want to pay you money for something I should have inherited.
Um, well, yes it has been a little irregular here at TAPKAE central. Obviously there is the post-wedding afterglow, then there is having to prep the house for some new roommates, clean up in general, and even repainting our bedroom in the midst of this. Oh, and we have our day jobs too. We have thank you notes to write and send, a shitload of pictures to file through and decide what to do with, and we want to write some stuff in our wedding book. But some of that just has to wait. It has been pretty hot here, and sometimes, it's just too much to just sit around!
It has been nice to have no roommates for a couple weeks, and just the right couple of weeks at that. But we need to get back on track. The old man is getting pissy now, and wants us to pay at least $900 of rent which I elected not to pay in recent months because I needed it for my wedding. Well, he gave me no particular details on any consequences I would face, but did sort of say that he would get me back somehow. Well, now that I am in more debt, and two of his tenants have left here, he decides to cash in on this outstanding back rent. Oh, and he didn't bother to come to my wedding at all for some reason. He tells me he wanted to stay out of my way because supposedly it would be too stressful for me to see him there. Well, you know, he was WAYYYYYYY conspicuous in his absence, and there were plenty of people who asked about it, some more discreetly than others. Well, his loss. But mine too. I guess he has decided he wants to be landlord more than father. He had gotten a number of invitations and nudgings, but had made up his mind even before we officially sent invitations and reminders. So it was his decision and his alone.
So therefore, NOT ONE blood relative of mine bothered to show up. The list was short as it was, but damn. My step mom nearly didn't show up. I had to BEG her to show up, but she did. So the ONE relative of mine who bothered to come to my wedding is not even technically related to me except by a marriage that ended in divorce! My dad's parental contribution to my adult life is in the form of giving me a big break on rent here. For that I can appreciate his "sacrifice." What I can't appreciate is that he ended up inheriting the place when in fact my grandmother had expressed a desire for me to get the house. And now that he got it for absolutely nothing but yearly tax and maintenance, he still wants to charge me. Roommates I can settle on, but he refuses to honor her wish that I would be able to have at least a joint ownership in the house.
Now, I know I pay way too little, and nearly every time he comes over, he gives me a report of how much the house would rent for, and how good I have things, and I should just keep on with this and not do things to jeopardize it. Well, okay. So he gets what he wants—a steady income from me and some others, but he can't be bothered to even be vaguely parental or supportive in what must be the second most important day of my life, after getting born? Not a card, a gift, a well-wish? Maybe I thought he would have kicked down for some expenses or even lent a hand. Nope. Nothing but a belligerent passive-aggressive stab at me, saying he just figured he wasn't wanted there.
Lots of great opportunities for psychologists here! Hey, I appreciate not having to pay out the nose to live in my hometown. And I do a lot of work here to make myself useful, but hey, lay off the bullshit, mister. Kelli wanted to know if she could rent one more room for some additional space to do her book making work, and to have more personal space. He didn't even give her an answer. Well, only four months ago we had three people living here, but since Kelli moved in, he took the opportunity to ask for more rent. The thing is, her presence here doesn't do ONE DAMNED thing to affect his cost of business. She is living in a space that I lived in for three years, and now he decided it was all of a sudden worth three times the rate I paid. But it doesn't cost him shit to have her here! And now she wants another room, which if it were to happen, would mean we had three people living here instead of four, but she hasn't gotten an answer. Now, would he revert to being content with what he got for three people for the first few years? Or would he try to keep four people here so that he could get the better rate but disadvantage Kelli and I?
There is a lot of suggestions I get that say I should just move from here so I can dodge all this mess. And intellectually I know and agree with that. But I can't see it unless something changes. Kelli and I can barely afford to live in this town on our wages. I would like to move to a more rural setting, smallish town, in part because I believe in that sort of living arrangment. But some stubborn part of me doesn't want to let go of my "inheritance" and for a guy who has only lived in three places, and this place for over six years now, I don't like the idea of pulling up and going somewhere that costs so much more and isn't as nice as what I have. So the question really is do I want to put up with this shit forever? He does speak like he is committed to providing me with a place, but it seems that he utterly ceases to be anything resembling parental. Of course, there is no guarantee that he would be if I were able to pay enough all the time to keep him at bay, or to even move out and be done with the whole deal. It's just hard for me to imagine what I would do with all that stuff I have—house full of furniture, life stuff, and a room full of musical gear. And that doesn't include Kelli's stuff! I dont know. I just can't see doing the two bedroom apartment thing.