Monday, June 27, 2011

The Money Pit

The popcorn ceiling treatment in my bedroom has been raining down like snow.  Actually, I don’t think snow is exactly the best comparison. Have you ever seen pictures of a roof after a blizzard? It gets caked in layers of ice and powder and then suddenly someone slams the front door and an entire chunk the size of an encyclopedia breaks off and nails the unsuspecting Girl Scout cookie salesgirl in the head.  That is a more accurate description of how the popcorn layers are falling.  One night we heard a loud bang and couldn't figure out what it was.  I even searched the house for an intruder.  The next morning we saw another area of the ceiling was clean and there were chunks of white dust and plaster all over the dresser top and scattered across the floor behind it.  The patches are growing larger and larger each day.  At night I lie awake and try to figure out what shapes I see in the bare spots dotted across its surface-sort of an indoor I spy with clouds.  I swear there is an alligator by the air vent and a large bunny rabbit near the bathroom door entrance.

In addition, there are tiles loose in the shower and now that the wall hole is getting larger exposing the drywall there is a funky mold smell taking over the bathroom again. That same smell cost us $400 to fix last time-a Band-Aid on a cancerous tumor.  The windows are rusted, some don’t open, and the kitchen cabinets are in sad shape.  I am currently using two cylinders of salt and a box of brownie mix to prop up the framework of one kitchen drawer’s framework and another drawer is actually shedding chunks of particle board so we don’t use it at all.  The dryer is on the fritz which I can deal with because I can just hang the laundry out to dry but I will be absolutely in a pickle if the washer goes! It’s been acting up and we just can’t afford another appliance to go.  We’ve already replaced the oven and dishwasher.

Mike says that I got ripped off by the lady who sold this house to me.  It seemed like a good deal at the time.  The market during 2006 was sky high and there were no affordable housing options for a teacher in our area. For $900 a month you could rent.  For $1000 a month you could own.  So I bought, considering it a good investment.  Now our house isn’t worth a third of what I bought it for.

I suspect that I had always figured that the house would be a fixer up type.  Not the greatest shape at the moment but with a little help, it could be perfect one day.  Only I married a man who is superior in all things with the exception of handy work.  My maternal grandfather and my mother trained me to use the basic tools so I fix what I can.  I just rescreened the back porch the other day and I’m a wiz at using tape to fix just about anything-temporarily.  Mike didn’t really have the chance to do much tool work growing up in a privileged household so he and I work together to do the various little projects that come up-building the duck enclosure, assembling furniture, etc. But the big things just aren’t working despite that handyman fix everything yourself book that my mom got us for Christmas last year.  Every time Mike takes on a project on his own there seem to be more holes in the wall than when he started-bless his heart.  Oh well.  You can’t have everything.

Mike asked me if I had about $10,000 what would I fix first. If I had to choose one place that really needs help immediately I would say the bathroom.  The rest I can live with for a while. But the bathroom would require at my estimates around $6,000 in repair. There are no fairy God Mothers or Genies that live in lamps to help out with that price tag. If only I could win the lotto or something like it.  
I once saw this movie starring Julianne Moore called The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.  It was a true story about a mother who supported her ten children by entering jingle-writing contests. I can’t help but wish there were some sweepstakes out there for me to enter and win a bathroom makeover. If Mike and I were a little more saintly I’m sure Extreme Makeover Home Edition would help rebuild the house.  Aside from being teachers and having little hope of ever fixing our home’s set of problems, we don’t really qualify like the deserving families that do get help on the show.

That’s the problem with being lower middle class.  You’re not rich enough to help yourself but not exactly poor enough to get assistance either.  I remember when I was a kid and we were really poor, my mom was almost able to get a grant to get her nurses degree but they made $1,000 that year over the amount required to get assistance.  I’m beginning to think America is shrinking from a three class system to two: those that have and those that don’t.  All we can do is try our hardest to do better than the generation before us and be happy with the blessings we do have. My college professor once pointed out that even our poorest in America are still richer than the truly poor of the world.  At least my family has food to eat, a roof over their head, and clothes on their backs.  Things might be tough at times but we are making it work.  So I will count my blessings tonight and be grateful for the many things that God gave us… right after I Google bathroom makeover contests.  

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