Friday, November 02, 2007

Return to Normalcy, Part One

Or, I suppose it's really more of a return to what passes for normalcy in my world.

I came back from vacation rested and well-fed and looking forward to settling back into my little apartment and really getting started into a routine of eating well, working out, and getting lots of work done on my dissertation. My folks, who had never visited my place before, decided to drive me back and stay the night at a nice hotel, since the day of returning was also their thirtieth wedding anniversary. After a not-too-early morning drive, we arrived at my place, and the first thing I thought after stepping in the door was, "what on earth is that smell?"

It turns out that, "what on earth is that smell?" is not a question that tends to bode well for the following weeks, especially when it is strong and clearly deeply bound up with the place that you live.

I didn't notice much other than the smell until a bit later, and wrote it off as a particularly bad case of mustiness after being closed up for two months in the summer. But then, in preparation for heading out for lunch, I went to the bedroom to pull on a skirt and some nice shoes. I opened the closet, looked in, and wondered why all my shoes looked...different.

It turns out that all of my shoes looked different because they were eaten through with mould. It also turns out that nice shoes made of nice materials also get eating all the faster and better because of it. To add to the fun, the carpet was also damp and thick with the slippery black stuff.

(The closet, after they took out the carpet and tore through the wall - yes, this really was the after shot.)

The rest of the day was spent throwing out bag after bag of shoes and bedding and baskets and clothing, and dealing with the super. That night was spent sharing my folks' hotel room. You remember? The nice one? The one they got for their anniversary?

Yeah. It was fun times. And totally not completely awkward at all.

For the next two weeks, I slept on my living room floor, out of the bedroom where all of the toxic mould was growing. I went to bed early and got up early because I never knew when workmen were going to show up, and I didn't feel like being walked in on while I was still in the shower. For the first few days, every time I left my apartment and came back there was a new hole in one or another of my walls. A few days in, I found more mould and soggy drywall in the kitchen. A week in, I found more mould in the work area that used to be a dining room. Although I was home a lot, I really didn't get much done between the need for lots of sleep, the constant disruptions to my life and schedule, and the need to be here to explain to the workmen that filling only half of the holes really wasn't going to work for me.

(The hole in my kitchen wall - one of five large holes in my apartment.)

Now, this all sounds rather dreadful, and it wasn't what I'd call a lot of fun, but it's actually reasonably funny now that it's all taken care of, and I no longer have headaches from the cleaner and adhesive fumes from the repairs. Everything is almost back to loveliness here (although, to be fair, it's now almost two months later.) But, it did prompt me to clean up a lot, and also to clean out, too. When I realised how much stuff I had, and how easy it was to get rid of without missing it, I pulled together eight large garbage bags and three boxes of to donate to the local thrift store, in addition to the more than eight bags of mould-ruined stuff and six bags of donations that went out that day. This is something I've been meaning to do for awhile, and although this probably isn't the ideal way to go about it, the mess really helped me to get a bunch of things taken care of, which is a pretty good feeling.

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