Wednesday, January 17, 2007

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say . . .

I've written a number of blog posts in my head over the past two weeks. I haven't committed any of them to magnetic patterns on a disk. Not even in a draft folder.

It's been rough, the move, rougher on me and the family than I thought it would be, and I've been angry, and sad, and tired a lot lately. It's been hard to strike a balance in my head about what I should and shouldn't write about. Am I overreacting to things? Am I being selfish, or diva-ish, or ungrateful? I feared posting a complaint about this or that inconvenience here, only to be chided, perhaps a bit justifiably, in my own comments section for raining on my own damn parade. After all, I got what I wanted, didn't I? I got a house. A house that will, eventually, with work, be a much better place to live than my previous apartment.

But still, I've been angry, and sad, and tired.

I've been angry at the sellers, who really left the house a mess on their way out. I mean, really, in more ways than I alluded to two posts ago.

They tore down pictures and curtains in such a manner as to leave gaping holes in the walls. They scuffed the walls, and the floors, on their way out. They tore a hole in the carpet in the living room, which they concealed during the walkthrough with a rug. (They left us the rug. The damn cheap ugly rug. I suppose as compensation?)

They took out decorative outlet covers and switchplates. They replaced some of them with cheaper or broken plates, and others they just left bare. They took out a nice new towel rack in one of the bathrooms and replaced it with the the original 50-year-old towel rack that originally came with the house, which I suppose they had been saving for that very purpose. They did such a poor job reattaching it that it actually fell out of the wall the first time we hung a towel on it, leaving a gaping hole.

They ripped out the cable connections from all of the bedrooms (which, incidentally, they had advertised as a feature of the house in the original listing). Not just the terminals for the cable connections, but the cables themselves. Ripped them right out of the walls and the floors. Ripped out the junction box allowing for multiple connections.

They cut holes in the walls to bring some plumbing up to code, as required by the contract they signed. As part of a list of code-required repairs that they delayed our closing, twice, to complete. And they left the holes there, in the walls. 12"x6" holes. Left them.

They left random piles of leaves, and piles of sweet gum balls, and piles of yard waste, and piles of dog shit in the yard.

The thing that gets me the most, I think, though, is the fact that they tore out the built-in toilet paper holder in the bathroom, damaging the bathroom wall in the process, and replaced it with a cheaper one, WHICH THEY GLUED IN. Crookedly.

Who knew it was even possible to care about a toilet paper holder so much. Apparently that toilet paper holder was a family heirloom or something.

I've been angry with the utility companies, every single one of which managed to mess up something major with the process of transferring our services from our old home to our new home. I had no phone service at my new home for four days. I had a slack electrical wire sitting in the branches of a tree in my backyard for nearly two weeks. A situation which, incidentally, the sellers had promised to have fixed before the sale, but did not. Then the phone company and the cable company both overcharged us on our first bills.

I spent something like 25-30 hours on the phone during my first week here just trying to get all of the utility problems fixed. On my cell phone, of course. Because the regular phone didn't work.

I've been angry with the mortgage company for telling me again and again when I asked them again and again that yes, they had all the paperwork they needed for closing, and then calling me AFTER closing to tell me they had forgotten things that I would have to fax to them immediately. Because, you know, I know exactly where these things are in all my half-unpacked boxes. And I have a working phone line, and a fax machine. Sure I do.

I've been angry with my real estate agent for refusing to talk to the sellers about possibly trimming or cutting down a tree that was severely damaged during the December 1st ice storm, a tree which had dropped branches during that storm that tore down the electrical service drop to the house and ripped off siding-- all damage which happened after we made an offer on the house, but before we closed the sale.

I am angry because right now I can look out my kitchen window, and see the very same dangerously damaged branch I pointed out to my real estate agent sitting on the ground in my backyard, on top of my downed phone line, that took a nice chunk of the just-replaced siding with it. The phone line that should "Probably get fixed by the end of the day on Friday. Probably. If they can get to it. Big storm, you know." (I know. I had no electricity, no cable and no reliable phone for days. Thanks).

And I've been sad. Sad to see my two-year-old shaking in his bed each night until midnight, unable to fall asleep because his new room is "weird" and "scary." Sad to see him refuse his lunch three days in a row because he "doesn't feel good." Sad to understand him so completely when he looks me in the eye and says, "Mommy, THIS IS NOT RIGHT." I've been sad, sad, sad, that fate has seen fit to gift my beloved child with an ability to adapt to change in his environment about as well as the average person could adapt to a punch in the face.

And I've been angry with myself, and sad, over the fact that I haven't been able to roll with these punches better myself. Because I DO have what I wanted. And I AM grateful. And somewhere under all of these, what I know will one day seem, petty annoyances, I am happy. And in love with the old bones of this old house.

But I'm tired. So tired. Of being tangled in packing tape, and painter's tape, and red tape. Tired of staying up even later than my son to fix all the things here that are broken.

Swing away, Pollyannas.


Anonymous said...

Wow that sucks!!! If I could give you a big hug right now I would. Whine away if it makes you feel better.

Rebecca said...

This is your blog, so you can write about what ever you want. It helps to get it all out.

I am sorry that your move and new house are causing you so many problems.

Sherri said...

Remember that you don't have to do it all at once. You'll be there for years to come, plenty of time to replace that t.p. dispenser.

Is there no recourse for compensation? Have you told your realtor about the items they took? If those things were there at closing, then they're yours. Period. Removing them was theft.

Those bastards.

Jaelithe said...

The only thing I could really do at this point, as far as I know, is sue the sellers, and it's just not worth it for what amounts to, at most, a couple of hundred dollars worth of damage (well, unless you count the tree). And in fact, we did notice some of this damage (not all of it had been done yet) at the walkthrough prior to closing, but my real estate agent showed no interest in helping us address any of the problems we brought up during the walkthrough, and the sellers' agent hinted that the sellers might actually be planning on fixing some of it before closing. I made the mistake of scheduling the walkthrough four days before closing, you see, because I wanted to give them time to fix things that were wrong, since the sale was so close to Christmas and I didn't want to move it again. Specifically I wanted to leave enough time for them to cut down that tree if I found it was in bad shape, but I didn't anticipate that my agent would totally balk on that issue.

All attempts to discuss any of these problems with my real estate agent have met with annoyed dismissal. "People always leave the houses this way," she says.

Uh, right. Because delaying the sale repeatedly and then trashing the place would SO be my reaction if someone gave me a nearly full-price offer on my house that had already been on the market for months in the middle of a real estate slump . . . Apparently according to her this is a common reaction.

The really interesting thing is that all of my new neighbors knew the previous owners of the house and seemed to think they were wonderful people. I've been dancing around telling my neighbors just how torn up the house was when we walked in after closing, because I'm afraid my new neighbors are going to dislike me if I complain about the previous residents.

And despite my anger at them, I don't really want to judge them. I never met them in person and I don't really know what their situation was. I only know how hard it was for me to try to close on a house and move right before the holidays; I am sure they were having similar problems.

Anonymous said...

I understand the anger and the sadness and the exhaustion. Its a feeling of helplessness, that you don't have the kind of control over your immediate surroundings that you should.

You SHOULD be angry, tired, sad, and exhausted. What you've been forced to put up with is completely beyond the pale. Don't be ashamed of those feelings.

And remember, if you need an extra pair of hands or a warm cooked meal, me and the missus are just a phone call away (or email, really). I know it's hard to ask other people for stuff (I really do understand) but we're here, if we can help, we will, gladly, with songs on our lips (those songs might be The Hustle, however, know, be prepared.)

It will get better.


Anonymous said...

Now it's my turn to offer you the shoulder you so reliably have offered me over the last few months. Is there anything I can do to help? I can bring my son to distract Isaac from the "weird" and "scary" new house by running his legs off for him. I can paint. I've learned to patch holes in drywall (after my sister-in-law left our house in some of the same condition as yours when she moved out after a nine month "temporary" stay when our house was newly built) and I can paint. I can hang towel racks with my husband's new laser leveler. I can help you pick out new face plates that will make even the ones the sellers took with them seem like 1970s throwbacks from a garage sale. I can help move tree limbs, can bring my husband and even take the wood off your hands for our fireplace if you don't have any use for the wood and want it out of your backyard.

Or I can take you away from it all, ply you with food and alcohol and try to make you forget for a little while. Your pick.

Jaelithe said...

Oh, you guys are all so sweet!

I will be totally happy to donate this wood to anyone with a fireplace who is interested. My county did tell me I could drag it to the curb for eventual pickup (still have to get around to buying an axe first so I can chop it into draggable pieces) but if anyone really does want it, they can have it.

Anonymous said...

now there is a mental image .. a tired, sad and angry jaelithe swinging an axe in the storm ... I would stay away if I was a houseseller or real estate agent at that point ...

So sorry to hear about all this ... I think I have never heard anyone talking about buying a house being easy .. maybe this is why we never really consider that . at least for now ...

On the other hand, now you can make this place YOURS and put up all the fixings and trimmings that YOU like :)

the mad momma said...

no you're not crazy.. you are well within your rights to be mad. i dont know why people on their way out cant leave a home they have loved and lived in, in good condition.

as for your son... i feel terrible. children do get so upset with a move and then to move to an unpleasant place is even worse.

all the best with the repairs etc.. wish I could offer to help but all i can do is offer empathy from another continent... hugs

the mad momma said...

no you're not crazy.. you are well within your rights to be mad. i dont know why people on their way out cant leave a home they have loved and lived in, in good condition.

as for your son... i feel terrible. children do get so upset with a move and then to move to an unpleasant place is even worse.

all the best with the repairs etc.. wish I could offer to help but all i can do is offer empathy from another continent... hugs

Anonymous said...

We had a similar issue with our new old house. Although, instead of several little things our basement flooded a month after moving in and we had to make $15,000 in repairs. In short it was VERY obvious that we had been taken.

At the time I too was tired, angry and sad to do anything. It's amazing and disapointing (astonishing, flabbergasting, etc...) how crappy people can be. Looking back on it today, I wished I would have taken pictures. I think we could have easily brought suit and won without going to court.

So I just wanted to write and tell you to take pictures if you can because you never know.


Her Bad Mother said...

There's nothing Pollyannaish that I can say. That all just plain sucks.

Anonymous said...

Ughhh. I can relate to the part where you find gaping holes in the walls where they took out curtain rods or drywall anchors or cabinents. You feel like you've bought one house and they've given you something completely different. (We have alot of pics and paintings on the wall but only because of all of the gaping holes. And there are chunks of wood missing from the trim on the staircase and the carpet in two rooms are just trashed.)

And as for the utility depts, GRRR. I'm angry FOR YOU. SO sorry to hear this.

And your little man? Hopefully it won't take too much longer to get used to the new house. It took Seth about two weeks. I think its harder to adapt when they have Sensory Issues. If swinging helps him like it did for Seth, can you put up a swing in the basement? If you need a little kid swing, I can give you one! Just let me know.

Sending you hugs. And it does make you want to scream when the current neighbors tell you how wonderful the former owners were. ANd you want to scream about how they were total assholes even though you took the high road. The former owners of our house, it turns out, badmouthed us to a few of the neighbors. (We gave them just a few grand less than they were asking and their house had been on the market for 4 months, but to them, we screwed them.) AND they outright lied to us about several very costly issues.

And what's funny is that the old owner is still invited to the neighborhood gatherings. They don't come. And we think its because they are so embarrassed about the fact that they KNOW we caught them in several lies regarding the house and property. Thankfully, our real estate agent was awesome.

I hope things work themselves out soon for you and your family.

Major Bedhead said...

That really sucks. We had some similar problems when we bought our house and it is completely depressing. It still makes me angry because we're still trying to fix things. I don't blame you at all for being so pissed off and sad and all the other stuff you're going thru. Hopefully your son adjusts soon. Poor kid.

Anonymous said...

Oh honey, that is a LOT to deal with in one blow. Please please please be kind to yourself. You are not whining, it's not like you are experiencing a handful of problems and being grateful doesn't get rid of unexpected problems.

I'm astounded at the fucking toilet paper holder. The hell?

I'm returning your kindness for these past few months, you are clearly having a hell of a time and there is nothing Pollyanna about it.

I'm here to bitch to, to get fresh cookies and dinner from, and to share drinks with!!

Anonymous said...

Can I take a ball bat to your sellers? I would file a complaint IMMEDIATELY against both agents and with the Better Business Bureau. Too busy my arse. I'm not leaving my house in that condition when I move; there's absolutely NO excuse. Be angry all you want, you've every right.

Anonymous said...

Youch. It will get better.

Debbie said...

I want to swear really AWESOMELY right now, for your sake, although I'm sorta late on this particular draw,

but I won't. because I'm a lady.

but I really, really hope you feel better now than you did when you wrote this - even though I'm fully aware that you were simply blowing off steam in punching all these words into the pc, and you probably felt (at least a little) better right when you published.

but I'm sorry that things are often so damn flawed in our daily lives.

and the birthday cake frosting was perfection. but you knew it would be.

love. Deb