Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The First Swing

"Adventurous." That's what the contractor said when he looked at the house. He was here to give me an estimate on the windows (most of which are shattered). "You got a lot of work ahead of you, girl."

So I do.

It's my first house, a run-down fixer-upper built in the late 1920's, with few updates but for some 70's wood paneling and a wall mirror painted in glittery gold swirls. (My realtor says she wants it for above her bed.) The furnace is busted, electrical wires snake in and out of walls (out of code!), and the bathroom floor is rotted through to the foundation. The house reeks of cigarettes (I'm finding butts in the tub, behind the stove, and beneath the brown wall-wall carpeting that I tore from every floor of the house - inc. the bath and kitchen - yuck!).

The good news: it's got character. At least, that's what I'm clinging to. I struck hardwood floors in three of the main rooms (living room and two front bedrooms), which are in fairly good shape, and there's a chimney (wood stove!) that's covered w/ those fake brick faces.

My realtor thinks the previous owners were brother and sister. Harsh, yes, but I'd believe it. They're moving into a double-wide mobile home -- and surrendered their dog to the pound b/c dogs aren't allowed at the trailer park. (Poor pup!) They painted their living room ORANGE. No, PEACH. Pinky-orange, make you wanna puke PEACH. With brown trim. The place was so filthy when I moved in (this wknd), I thought that maybe they'd opted to move out instead of taking on the chore of cleaning. They had this nurse's station planked down in the middle of the kitchen as a counter. It was HIDEOUS! I demolished it w/ a sledghammer and found, underneath, heaping mounds of mouse shit. I've lived in NYC, but never have I seen anything nastier.

My first job? Replace the toilet seat. No way in HELL was I putting my ass on that old thing. I spent the weekend ripping up the carpet, pulling the paneling from the walls, and hosing every surface down with gallons of bleach. The pile of debris that accumulated after Saturday's work, alone, was astonishing (see pic!).

My neighbors are wondering who the "wetta" (blonde chick) is. For whatever reason, I'm always the only blonde kid in the neighborhood. The house is in downtown Albuquerque, which is pretty ghetto, but, I believe, getting "cool." EDo (East Downtown) is already totally gentrified, and that's a mere three blocks from my place. Many of the houses on my block have already been restored, and I have faith that the trend is toward restoration -- which means CASH. I'm gonna be rich, bitch. Just as soon as I find the money to make all of these changes. And it's gonna take A LOT. I ain't got it.

I put an ad on CraigsList, looking for someone with "the skills to pay the bills." i.e. Free rent for someone who's knowledgeable/experienced in renovation and contracting. Beyond cosmetic stuff, I don't know squat. But, I'm willing to learn! I know this project is going to teach me a lot. And I'm ready to swing my sledgehammer at whatever needs changin'.

...more to come. And photos!

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