Saturday, December 17, 2011

What a week. Or two. Three, actually.

Hello all,

So this is Mr Renaissance writing this post. Why am I writing this? Mostly because the last few weeks have been rather stressful and dear Eliska hasn't the time or energy to tell this story anymore. So if you'll allow me, I'll be your trusted storyteller for this tale.

It all started in November, when one of the residents of the house (Lucille Two) decided to move out with a month's notice. Which not a big deal in and of itself, but it is where we start.

That same month, the Baker was unable to pay his rent.  He had been laid off from his job at the beloved cupcake store. The Baker had recently ruined several batches of cupcakes at work and had laid the blame on another employee, but the managers unfairly blamed him.

We felt bad for the Baker and assumed his story was true. I had a little suspicion though, as the Baker is a HEAVY HEAVY pot smoker, and frankly, pilfered a lot of stuff from work. So much that I think he was likely fired more for the petty theft than the ruined cupcakes.

So the Baker tells us that he contacted the landlord and would pay the late fee along with his rent later in the month. He also said he would pay the utilities late as well, he was just in a weird place with the paycheck cycles being out of whack with the new job. Sounds believable, right? And he's a nice guy, so we give him the benefit of the doubt.

As the month continues on, the Baker begins openly stealing food and other goods from the house. Frankly, the entire house would gladly help the Baker, if he would ask. Instead he simply steals.

The kicker is that he is CONSTANTLY stoned. Quite literally he smokes from the moment he wakes until the moment he goes to bed. So he can afford pot, but not dog food for his 100lb rottweiler.  This also means he has plenty of time to actually do his household chores each week.  Instead Eliska has to "remind" him if she's in the mood to have them done.  We can all imagine how well this was going over.

As the month wears on, the house has a meeting to discuss the "communal" food to remove any confusion in the Bakers mind.  Unfortunately the Baker doesn't put two and two together and continues to steal food, detergent, dog food and whatever else is in the common areas of the house.

This reaches a tipping point, and between the empty room from Lucille Two and the Baker not paying rent, it would be incredibly difficult for the remaining two housemates to make the rent. So the decision is made that the Baker needs to move out at the end of December and they would need to find a more stable roommate.

So a house meeting was called and it was gently explained that things weren't working out with the Baker. He was told that it would be better if he would find a new place to live. He was surprised, threw up his hands and yelled "LAME" in a loud voice and ran upstairs. He was asked to discuss details but instead said there was nothing to discuss, he would move out and that was that.

This seemed like it might actually work for a few small, hopeful moments.

But this hope was quickly shattered when he then began turning the heat on full blast with open windows in 30 degree weather. It was apparent that he was interested in costing the house as much as possible before he left.

His behavior deteriorated to the point that we realized allowing him to stay through December was not tenable, so he was asked to come downstairs to discuss the details of his departure. He refused to leave his room. This prompted a call with a lawyer to understand our rights, his rights and possible courses of actions. Effectively what we learned is that only the landlord could affect his eviction and even that process has very clear guidelines and in the worst case, may take several months.

The lawyer advised that if there was theft taking place, then it should be reported to the authorities and a subsequent restraining order could be filed. So a quick call to the non-emergency line was made to file a police report.

The police arrived and we discussed the situation. They very clearly indicated that the pilfering that had been occurring was difficult, if not impossible to report. He then told us that this situation is relatively common and the rest of the housemates are pretty powerless. He said that the only two options are to lock your goods and belongings in your room, or move out. There was little the police could do in cases like this. The officer was also the one to advise us that the eviction process can take "up to 3 months".

The officers left and I went upstairs to see if I could talk with the Baker and convince him to accelerate or otherwise allow me to financially help him move on. (I can't reiterate how much of a toll this shitty housemate situation was taking on Eliska.)

The conversation was not particularly fruitful, except to understand that he would move of his own accord, in his own time, and that he "would give us as much notice as he was given".  WTH?  And that this isn't the first time it has happened to him.  So it was apparent he was better versed in how to handle the situation than we were. Touche Baker. Not only are you a shitty baker with poor ethical and moral standards, but you are enough of an asshole to inflict financial pain on those who call you on it.

I relay this to Eliska, and after yells of "Lies!" about all that he tried to tell me and the excuses he gave, she said "ok, we're leaving". This was Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, I rent a 14ft box van and park it next to the house. Eliska and the other roommate spend the day packing and loading the van while I work all day. Wednesday evening we look at three different places to rent.

Thursday I stay home from work and assist in loading the van. Frankly, this was almost necessary, for as efficient as Eliska is at Tetris, this skill does not carry over to optimally loading a moving van [Editor's note: I call as evidence our new storage room, thank you very much]. It is fair to say at this point, although Eliska is packing, I am in charge of the loading and logistics.

We spend at least 12 hours packing and loading the van on Thursday. By the time I am done, the van is literally packed, floor to ceiling. We spend the night in the place I've been living (I've been staying with a friend in his spare bedroom during the renovation). To say we were exhausted in an understatement.

Friday morning we check out another place to rent, near my renovation. After that, we both go to work, and manage to schedule one more evening appointment to visit a second place near my renovation. Low and behold, that evening we visit quite possibly the perfect interim place for us to live. Its blocks from my renovation. It's less in rent than our previous rent budgets, and it's half a block from the local pub and used bookstore. It has two bedrooms, two baths, an office, dining area, fireplace, reasonably sized kitchen, and a small fenced front yard.  Really it doesn't get any better.

We knew instantly when we looked at it, that it was perfect, so I pulled out my checkbook and forced a deposit on the landlord. He was thrilled as he just listed the unit and was happy to have already found a tenant.

As thrilling as this was, it also meant that there would be no rest, as we would need to disgorge the (filled to capacity) 14ft moving van into the new place. Thankfully it's a single story, ground level unit.

One of the few times I've asked for help in the last year, I called up a friend who offered to help us move and asked if he could help me unload the van. Well, in the span of two hours, with four people, we unloaded the van and were able to start unpacking.

But all told, Eliska was thrilled. She would have her own kitchen again. A house that we could keep clean. And more importantly, a place we could keep warm!  (Ok, maybe that's just me.)  Also, being so close to the renovation would be sooo helpful to me working on it at night, after I get home from work.

I'll add one thing on a personal note. Even with all of this stress, although we both had moments of rage and anxiety, we didn't fight once. We had one "moment", but neither of us would even consider it a tiff.

So now that I have gotten all of the items unloaded and placed in appropriate rooms of the house, it was Eliska's turn to lead. She took over the organizing and it was my turn to follow.

Or more to the point, I would call it "into the maelstrom", as she went into overdrive, getting the whole house squared away. By Sunday, the bedroom and bathroom were completely done. By Tuesday, the kitchen was done. By Thursday the office and Friday, the front room.

By Saturday I had moved in some of my belongings, namely a TV and XBox, which have become the center for entertainment in the living room.

And it was done. Within a week and a half, we had made the decision to move, packed up, found a place, unpacked and settled in. That was last Saturday, for the record.

And I know we are fully settled in. You know how I can tell? Just ask the dog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is coming!

This is the best thing ever.