The Money Pit. Part 1.

As I was on my way to yoga one morning I heard the familiar “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind…” coming from inside my bag. Being the cautious, contentious driver I am, I immediately dug in my bag to find my phone.

“Hi!” Said an overly enthusiastic voice on the other end of the line. Man, I want whatever she’s having, I thought.
“My name is Mary! I’m the new leasing agent for the property you’re renting on Hazelhurst,” the voice said.
“Hi Mary,” I said, in an “I only drink decaf” kind of tone.
“Are you all happy with where you’re living?”
“Yes, we’re very happy, ” I replied. And we were. We had a great landlady (or so we thought), a huge house, and a very large back yard. Rent was a little spendy, and we were living in the hood, but you win some and you lose some right? So you get a fistfight or two on your front lawn. Who doesn’t?
“Gooood,” she said. “Well, I want to drop some paperwork off at your house sometime today. Will you be home?”
“I’m actually going to be out for most of the day, Mary. I can – ”
“- I’ll just leave it in your box then. K?”
“Um… Sure.” O-kay…

I go to the Y, drop Mini-Me off at the day-care and take my yoga class. I pick Mini-Me up from day-care and we did our usual routine. We get a sandwich, sit outside and enjoy our time together. We also bought a muffin so she could feed the birds. It was a perfect day, and I was feeling relaxed and happy. Until I got home.

As promised, Mary had left us the paperwork in our mailbox. I opened the envelope and pulled out the new renter’s contract. What? New renter’s contract? I still remembered the “old” renter’s contract that we had signed only 10 months earlier. We had agreed to rent the house for one year. At the end of that year, we could either renew for another year, or keep going on a month-to-month basis. Nice and simple, right? Nope.

The “new” contract had one little wrinkle. We could either renew our contract for another year, or we go to a month-to-month agreement, and we pay an extra $200 a month. That was $1795.00 a month. Whatever. Either way, we weren’t pleased.

So I called my attorneys. My in-laws. I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, Stacy! Attorneys for in-laws? How fortunate for you!” Don’t get all excited. If I were to get in any trouble not only would they NOT bail me out but they would most likely help the prosecuting attorney make a better case against me.
“Don’t forget the fire she started back in 1988,” my mother-in-law would say.
“Thank you, I almost let that one slip by,” the prosecuting attorney would say.
“She burnt up my kitchen cabinets making a Toasters Strudel, and almost killed my parrot,” my dad would chime in.
In my defense, it was an accident. The Toasters Strudel got caught in the toaster, setting the toaster on fire and then eventually setting the cabinets on fire. I did save the parrot. The parrot died years later from natural causes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

“Can she do this?” I asked my mother-in-law.
“What does the original lease say?”
“Hold on….oooh, here it is. At the end of the year the landlord has the option to rent from month to month, or renegotiate the lease.” I told her, all the while kicking myself for not reading the fine print.
“She can do it,” My mother in law told me.

So I’m just pissed. We have always been good tenants. We always paid rent early. When Hurricane Ike dropped a tree into our kitchen, we stayed put because we didn’t want to leave our landlord in a lurch. Yes, there was a tree in the kitchen. I know it wasn’t ideal, but it added a new ambiance to the place that you just don’t find in other homes. In any case, we stayed and put up with all the repairs. So now they want to jack up the rent on us? I don’t think so.

I happen to be stubborn. I don’t like being told what to do. So, naturally, I rebelled. I called Mary and told her that I didn’t like her deal, and that we would only sign a 6-month lease. Mary told me she would speak to our landlady and get back to us. Whatever. Poptart came home later that evening and I told him what our options were and we agreed to start looking for a house. ASAP. We contacted a realtor and had 3 houses lined up to view the next day. Yes. That’s how I roll.

It wasn’t just because we were mad. Poptart and I had been bouncing around the idea of buying a home, but we wanted to wait until he had more stability at work, and we figured that we had plenty of time. We knew that we had until November to cash in on the Obama tax incentives for first-time buyers, so we were planning to leisurely look over the next few months.

But Enthusiastic Mary threw that plan right out of the window. If we signed the one-year lease, we would miss out on the Obama money. And if we agreed to a month-to-month plan, we would be shelling out more than a mortgage payment each month. We were backed into a corner.

Thirty houses and one very frustrated real estate agent later, we finally found the perfect house. It has more than enough space and plenty of bathrooms. Plus, it has a small backyard, which we like. The last one had a backyard that was so large that Poptart spent hours on yardwork every weekend, so the new one was a big selling point. I even have my very own office off of the den. It’s perfect, right? A dream come true. Or your worst nightmare. Depending on how you look at it.

Ever since we have bought this house we have been plagued with problem after problem. Actually, the problems started before we bought the house. A pipe burst in the master bathroom a week before we closed, flooding the entire downstairs. Carpets ruined. Hardwoods warped. Luckily, this all happened on the previous owners’ watch, so they were responsible for repairing the damage. Here we were, thinking that it was a sign of good luck that the flood happened before we owned the house. But it was just the house’s way of welcoming us home.

These Facebook posts are a living diary of the attack the house has made on the Poptart family. We have so far survived the attack and still have managed to not turn on one another. Enjoy, hug your loved ones, and just be happy you don’t live here.

September 11, 2009

MD: We have a rather large animal trapped in the fireplace in the bedroom. After one vodka martini and a glass of wine I am trying to convince Poptart to open the flue.
“Open the flue,” I told him.
“And do what?” He said.
“Then we catch him!!!”
Then Poptart just walked away, shaking his head.
“We’ll call animal control tomorrow.”
“We’ll just see about that,” I told him.

Selena: I’m with Poptart on this one.

Jen: OMG Stace! You are such a badass! I am with Poptart. Wait for animal control. It could be a packrat, or a wolverine or something…ok maybe not a wolverine, but packrats are nasty bastards. Good luck!

Christina: Poor thing has to be scared-but I agree with your husband. Wait for animal control. You don’t need rabies. Especially since you are trying to have Puerto Rican Unicorn twin girls.

Poptart: Apparently, my wife thinks that raccoons are cute little woodsy creatures that bring you fresh cut flowers, and then sing you happy songs. Not in Texas. Here you shoot a Raccoon and you just make him mad. But I’m still cracking up at the maniacal gleam in her eye when she said “then we’ll catch ‘im!” Sweet, sweet Stacy.

Danny: God I wish we were neighbors.

Michelle: You’re a mountain woman. Just make a trap and get him. J/K, you should probably wait.

MD: Michelle, that’s what I was thinking! All I need is some tongs, surgical gloves, and a plastic storage bin. All of which I already have. If things get out of control, a little hairspray and a lighter ought to do the trick. I’m pretty sure the cats were in agreement that they were willing to use themselves as live bait. I’m just waiting for Poptart to go to sleep and it’s sooooo on.

Michelle: God I wish I were there. I would bring my silly string, glue gun and some duct tape.

MD: don’t forget the video camera. This is not to be missed.

Poptart: Tongs, surgical gloves, storage bins, silly string, glue guns, duct tape, and video cameras. I’m putting on a pot of coffee, and loading the shotgun. No way am I missing this.

Christina: Give it some of Michelle’s fruit cocktail and yams! That way you know it won’t be back!

MD: We haven’t heard anything for a while now, so I stuck my head up in the fireplace and hit the flue with a bottle of suntan lotion. SPF 30. I’m not totally insane. And yelled, “ARE YOU SLEEPING?” I didn’t get a response. Now I REALLY want to open the flue. The suspense is killing me!

Michelle: I like cream and sugar in my coffee, Poptart.

MD: Well, after a little more wine, Poptart is talking about getting some rope and attaching it to the flue. We plan to use the storage container and put it up against the fireplace and then pull the string to open to flue. Now we just need to find some rope.

Jason: Web Cam. Web Cam!!!!

We did eventually come to our senses and did not in fact open the flue. We had other problems on our hands. I posted the following on the next day to let everyone know.

September 12, 2009

MD: We have not yet addressed the animal in the fireplace, but not for lack of curiosity. Poptart and I have been busy this morning trying to free our two year old from the bathroom she decided to lock herself in. She did eventually free herself just as I was on the phone with an emergency locksmith. Poptart has removed every doorknob in the house with a lock on it. We now have to go to Home Depot. We have 11 doorknobs to replace.

This was just the beginning of a very interesting journey that we are currently still on. I’m just glad the computer and electricity are both still working so I can share this with you.

To be continued…

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