When we decided it was time to buy a house, we decided we needed a multi-family house, because the income from a rental unit or units sure would help us in keeping our heads above water.
Douglas was getting ready to enroll in graduate school, and I was making like 30 grand a year... so we figured we'd be renting until about right NOW in our lives, and NOW no one can afford a house in northeastern Massachusetts... so it was a do or die situation in 1996.
We found this house quite by accident. We were looking at a two family house on the dead end street across the road from here, and decided we wanted to check this place out. It was a two family but one of the two units had been broken up into two units, so there were three total... one of which was illegal because they didn't have a second means of egress from the building in case of fire. We decided to rent that "illegal" unit out to our best buddy, and never lock the door between our two units, and we took the stove out of his unit for the building inspection to say that he really was living in with us and using our kitchen for cooking... he didn't really... he just used a toaster all the time. Not one to worry about preparing meals, as long as he had a toaster and a hot plate he was a happy boy. So it made everyone happy.
We rented him the front unit for 500 a month, and the 2 bedroom unit upstairs for 600 a month to some good friends from college. Our overall mortgage was about 1100 bucks a month, so you do the math. It was great for us because we survived on my income, with Doug in grad school and working for 2 years, and we paid off debts and totally stayed above water.
In 1990 our upstairs friends moved away to South Carolina (hi Chad, if'n yer readin' this) and bought their own house... we got other tenants upstairs and I'll chat about them in a second.
In the summer of 2000, our buddy in the front part of the house ran into some issues with heroin. We asked him to move out of the house. I would have let him stay here, but he constantly had people in the house that I didn't know, and we didn't trust them... so we had him move out. It was hard and I felt so bad, but with the door unlocked between our units I couldn't live like that for long.
When he moved out, we took over his unit. Jessica's bedroom is what used to be his livingroom/bedroom. We use the kitchen as an office and there is a tiny bathroom here. I have a mental picture of what I'd like to do to totally remodel this area, and a dream to do it. But it'll cost us big money, so we'll keep things arranged this way for a while.
Anyway, it was great to get extra space, and Jessica loves her immense bedroom (I wish she'd keep it clean but... whatever, I'm not the best role model). And I like not having the computer in the middle of the living room or in my bedroom. It works out well here.
Our upstairs tenants are interesting. It used to be a guy and his girlfriend, but they broke up and he kicked her out. Thank goodness. She was hard to deal with. She worked early mornings, so she went to bed at 7pm, would get up at 4am. And if my kids made one peep or were in Jessica's room fighting, she'd call down here complaining "I don't want to complain but I have to get some sleep..."
She has 3 kids who live with their father (shows how messed up she must be because in Massachusetts the mom ALWAYS gets the kids... that should have been a dead give away when I met her), and so she didn't seem to recall what it was like to HAVE kids, because she only had them on weekends, once in a while, and would regimen them from morning til night, getting up and having them vacuum at 6am (yeah, we can't make noise at 7pm but she can run the vacuum on hardwood floors at 6am. Fucking Get A Broom. It's hardwood flooring. Vacuums are for RUGS stupidass!) and then they'd fight and scream and yell until she pushed them out the door to take them somewhere and then they'd come back and fight and yell and scream more. The oldest kid would go out and play on our swingset, like he's 13 or something, so I wouldn't let the kids out to play then. He got stuck inside Geoff's babyswing, dumbass... and I told him to stay off it from that point. So he would sulk around the yard and throw stuff in the creek. I didn't like him much.
The daughter was nice, she must have been 12 or something. But her mother RODE her ass about her weight and would always say humiliating things to me in front of her. It broke my heart.
The youngest must have been 9. He was sweet and kind, and we took him sledding a bunch of times up on the hill out at Veasey Park. He didn't want to come back to the house. We were there hours one day.
So when the couple broke up, she psycho ex-girlfriended him for a while... leaving messages on the machine. The bedroom set was hers and she wanted it back... so she would call us and ask us to go up to the house and get it. Yeah. I'm getting involved. So they finally got things set up so she could get her stuff, and she took the dishrags, toilet paper, cleaning stuff and the bar soap.
Who takes the BAR SOAP and TOILET PAPER out of the bathroom??? She was a work of pure genius.
So he lived upstairs for a long time by himself. He's a family kinda guy, so he would have his mom and dad over all the time. His brother, his sister, the inlaws... and my house would be full of happy people not fighting and making noise but so not caring that my kids were noisy.
Or if they cared they sure didn't complain.
The house isn't very soundproof... so when the ex-girlfriend was still living here and she'd call me and complain "I can hear everything you people say down there ya know..."
"Yeah, I can hear everything YOU say too. This morning at 5 am you couldn't find your car keys and it was all his fault. So he was a 'cock sucking fucking guinea motherfucker,' then you threw a kitchen chair at him. And I think you threw a glass at him too. And then you found your keys. So I can hear you too, so keep that in mind..."
She hung up the phone on me after that one.
So my single male upstairs tenant lived quietly upstairs until recently. No, he didn't get a new girlfriend. Although I wish him happiness and success in love, that he has not yet found.
No. His niece moved in.
Her parents were going through a divorce that was getting ugly. So she needed to get out of the house. She's about 19 or 20, not sure... and she has had a real messed up past, but she's got a heart of gold. She's nowhere NEAR the bitch the ex-girlfriend is. She never calls down here complaining, and she sure is nice to talk to in the driveway when we run into each other. She doesn't like the dog sniffing her and got mad that he pee'd on her wheel of her car one day, so we keep him away from the front of the house.
She works nights, so she gets home anywhere between 6 and 9am. And then she cranks up the stereo, showers, unwinds, and goes to sleep or goes to her boyfriends for sleep...
She hasn't been accustomed to having someone down here... in fact, she did it on New Years Eve day because it was a weekday and she was just used to us being here on a weekday at 8am. Aaron and Michelle were sleeping in the livingroom and Aaron requested that I contact her and have her turn down the rap music she'd chosen to blast.
Normally it is classic or alternative rock, but she gets in a rap groove once in a while.
Lately it's "Karma Police" by Radiohead.
Every day for the last 2 weeks, since I've been home, I'm usually sitting here at the computer looking for a job or writing in the journal here, and I hear her come bounding up the stairs, which are right on the other side of my head, and the landing and kitchen are right above me. She hits the top step, I hear the keys hit the dining table, the two shoes hit the floor, 6 stomps over to the stereo and then the opening notes to "Karma Police."
Then I don't hear her stomping around much, she walks nicely, not like the ex-girlfriend who weighed 100 pounds soaking wet but sounded like her feet could blast right through the floors and come down and hit me on top of my head... for a skinny chick, she sure walked fat.
Karma Police plays about four times. Then she moves to something else. This morning it was an ecclectic mix of Pink's new party tune "Get the Party Started," which is tolerable to me, and keeping in the color scheme, some Pink Floyd... "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Excellent choices. And then some Aretha Franklin. And Karma Police one more time for good measure. So it's kind of cool. I'm glad she's got somewhat decent tastes. The other day it was the entire Houses of the Holy album from Zep, so ... I enjoyed listening while surfing. But in the past two weeks there have been times that I've longed for absolute silence, and I don't want to call her and ask her to be quiet. I understand her routine, and to be honest it isn't like I plan on being down here forever. It's daytime, it isn't like 4am, and she isn't vacuuming hardwood floors, so I'm okay with it.
I don't hear anything now, so she's either on the phone or she went to bed. Nope, there she goes down the stairs. Seeya! Have a nice day!
Honestly, I love the guy who lives upstairs... he's the best. We didn't raise the rent when our first tenants moved out but we could have. And we didn't alter the rent when the girlfriend moved out or the niece moved in. He always pays on time, he fixes stuff up there and doesn't ask to be reimbursed (we keep telling him to give us the receipts, but he shrugs it off. I just hope when he does move out someday that he doesn't take everything OUT that he put in). I think he recognizes that for a two bedroom in this area, he's got a sweet deal, so he just kind of does his thing and we let him decorate and repaint and do stuff up there to make his life happy. After all, he's the one who has to look at it, not us. So we give him free reign on the place.
The only thing I regret about them being up there is the bitch ex-girlfriend wanted us to alter the second bedroom before they moved in. There was a built-in 3/4 size captain's bunk with two drawers under it, and it was my favorite thing in the house. I wanted to convert this place to a single family one day and have that little room be my son's room or a playroom with the guest bed. I loved the woodworking, and how sturdy and beautiful it was.
She insisted it be taken out because she wanted to put a sofa in the room that folded out, and I couldn't see why. So we did. And we never replaced the floor under it, we put down plywood panels and they put a rug over it. I cried and cried when Doug pulled that thing out. And he was also heart broken. I told him to be as careful as possible, so he saved the drawers and the front panel where the drawers slide in... but we'll never be able to replace it or put it back in the way it was. I'm glad we have the drawers and front panel, because maybe we can use them when we build in the entertainment center in the living room. And that can always be a part of the house memory.
I like having them there, they are good tenants as I said... sometimes I wish I had a single family house, but ya know... this isn't bad. Someone is always here, so the house isn't left unattended when we go away on vacation or he goes away, and I feel safe. They are good people.
I have to get my act together this morning. I have some tidying to do before Mare gets here, and I took the car up to the garage this morning so I'm hoping to hear from them. Our brakes stopped working (not on the Saturn, but on the Beatermobile) and so before we had a catastrophic braking failure Doug decided I could be car-less for a while and it wouldn't be an issue.
Perhaps I'll vacuum my hardwood floors and listen to "Kid A" or "Optimistic." And I'll leave you with this. Kinger's new favorite place to sleep in the house is right flush up against the door in Jessica's room, which leads to the outside world, which has our mail slot in it. You've heard of those door snakes that stop drafts, right? Well, I've got a Rottie-Golden X draft stopper. He saw me coming with the camera so he rolled over onto his side, but he WAS sleeping on his back with his legs up in the air, all akimbo. It was a sight... I'll try and catch him again sometime.
And yes, Jessie's room is that purple color. That's a story for another day.