A few hours after I posted my blog, “A River (of shit) Runs Through It,” I came out to the living room to find a very down trodden looking husband. “Where is the happy ending baby,” he asked me? He was upset. And why wouldn’t he be? He spent the better part of his summer and every day from August to September working on building our house and making it a home. Up until this year, Sam’s summers consisted of working all day and then surfing every evening after work, he almost never missed a day of surf during the summer as long as I have known him. This summer he worked all day, got off, went to the house and started helping the contractors with their work. The last few weeks when they went past their completion date (September 1st), I was on bedrest and my due date was looming in the future (September 23rd), he was sometimes at the house until it was too dark to work anymore and would come back to our haunted apartment covered in paint and dirt and with cuts and bruises up and down his arms and legs and bags of groceries because he had to do that too. Why wouldn’t he be upset to see me post something so sad about the beautiful home he had built for us. “Babe, I wrote that 3 months ago!!” I told him. I could see he was still sad but was trying to be supportive of my entrance back into writing. “I will do a part two to the article, okay?”
I started writing “A River (of shit) Runs Through It,” our first night at the Residence Inn Extended Stay in Beverly Hills. I was up all night writing it because my head was so loud about all the events that had happened in a one week span, that I felt, if I didn’t get my thoughts out, i would never sleep. I ended up not sleeping anyways, I think I wrote until about 4am and had to be up at 6:30am for work. I posted the blog but never posted a post on facebook, and since I have about 2 followers from 3 years ago, who don’t even follow me, nobody ever knew I wrote it, and nobody ever saw it. But it was cathartic to get it out.
The insurance company came out to our house immediately after the floods. And they came with a whole entourage of people that were going to be involved in the process. We were told that every place that water touched would have to be ripped out. So essentially the back half of the house, or in other words, half the house. They were going to cut 2 feet up on all the walls that were just painted and 2 feet out on all the hardwood floors.Then they would bring in fans to dry everything and then we could start to rebuild, once the check from the insurance came. In the meantime, the housing relocation agency was going to put us up in an apartment in Torrance. Torrance!!! Sam explained to the insurance adjustor who was in charge of our case, Travis, who called often to check in on us that they wanted to put us in Torrance and that his wife was 7 months pregnant and worked in West Los Angeles and already had a very long drive without adding to it. Travis was appalled! Travis vowed to make this right and call us back. I should note, that one of the reasons they had to put us so far away is because I insisted that wherever we go would have to take Stewie, because I wasn’t going to have his life upended anymore than it already had been by having him separated from us. The truth is, he probably would have been much happier at his Uncle Bryan and Auntie Steph’s house, which Sam pointed out many times, the real person that couldn’t stand to have their life upended anymore was me and it was at the risk of Stewie’s happiness that I demanded he stay with us as we went from apartment to hotel to apartment. The housing agency called us back shortly after Travis got off the phone with us and let us know that they would be putting us up in the Beverly Hills Extended Stay Residence Inn, they took dogs, and they were about a mile from my work. It was only temporary while they looked for a more permanent solution for us.
Stewie hated the Residence Inn. They were so nice to us there, but Stewie is not a city dog. He did not like Beverly Hills. He had lived in a house his whole life and now we were on the second floor of a hotel. He had never even ridden an elevator before we moved into the hotel...we couldn’t take the stairs because we had to park on the top floor of the building and take the elevator down to our floor. He panicked so much every time we got in that elevator. Sam and I would take a big breath and pray that he didn’t poop himself as he shook and quivered under our feet (he has had a few incidents in his life of pooping on himself in public places because he gets scared).Guests in the elevator would marvel over what a cute dog we had and Sam and I would watched Stewie get real low and get into the pooping position and hold our breath and telepathically send him messages, please don’t do it Stewie, you got this buddy. When the elevator opened and he would bolt out with no poo on the ground we would exhale a sigh of relief. Sam and Stewie would get back to the hotel around 6PM from work and Stewie would pace the hotel floor crying and whining. We would try to take him out on walks in the street to go to the bathroom and it was actually good timing because the Pokemon craze just hit, so we could walk and look for Pokemons, but no matter how short or long the walk was, (a short walk being to the outside of the hotel entrance and a long walk being one city block because Stewie refused to go any further after that), he just would not squeeze a drop. He doesn’t like to pee in the city, or on a leash. So he would hold all his bodily fluids from 6PM until the next day at 8:30am when he got to work with Sam. I witnessed this a couple times myself when I took Stewie in and he did the longest pee I have ever seen every time.
After about a week of living in the hotel, Sam got a call from his friend Travis, the insurance adjustor, (they had become friends by this time), Travis was going to come out for a site visit and give us a rough estimate of what they would be paying us. Sam told me later that day that the visit with Travis went better than imagined. It turns out, Travis was a classic car fanatic and loved Sam’s ‘56 Chevy Pickup in our garage. Travis deemed that our house was an absolute mess, it would cost A LOT of money to fix it, they were going to pay for whatever it cost, except the plumbing, we were responsible for that. He gave Sam a check that day to start the work and let him know there was more where that came from. He also said way more would need to be ripped out than we originally thought, the master bathroom linoleum floors that i hated already, the floors in the guest bathroom, the walls in the master bedroom.
Sam spoke to his brother’s friend Lucas who is an architect and asked him if he would mind taking a look at the house just to give us some ideas, if we had to tear out half of it, maybe we could install a linen closet while we were doing the work, I really wanted a linen closet, and the house didn’t come with one. Lucas emailed Sam some drawings a few hours later with a completely different floor plan. The original Master bedroom had a really ridiculous floor plan, which wasted a lot of space, we figured when we bought the house we would fix that in ten years when we could afford it. Lucas had taken our floor plan and turned it into a masterpiece design by just moving a few walls. We just needed to wait and see what the insurance was going to give us financially and then make a decision if we wanted to do the work and pay the difference, or just fix what had flooded. We were on the clock, but it did seem, that if we were doing all this work anyway, why not do ALL the work, If we had to be put out for a month, why not two months?
A week after Travis came and visited the house, Sam called to see if he had any updates on what we would be getting. Travis didn’t work there anymore. Reading between the lines, he had been fired. We were told he was reassigned to a different case but Sam blew up his phone and email, emails bounced back and phone number no longer existed. Someone new was assigned to our case. We only had one point of contact before radio silence with the new guy for what I remember to be at least a week. The new guy called and said that he didn’t have a number for us, that he would have to come out and assess the situation, that Travis had made a mess of the job and nothing was done correctly, and that all this work for us would be put on hold because tornados were sweeping across the midwest and they were higher priority than our problems. Our one advocate in Travis was gone, this new guy didn't care about us.
The Saturday after Shitstorm, I went to my women’s secret society meeting in the morning. The night of the Shitstorm I had quite a few things going through my head, one of the ones in the forefront of my mind was, if I wasn’t pregnant right now, I would have a drink, I would get good and drunk. I was over 10 years sober. I did something at my meeting that morning that I hadn’t done in many years, I heard the old slogan in my head “you can’t save your ass and your face at the same time.” I raised my hand and shared. I shared how unhappy I was, I shared that I wanted to burn down my house, and I shared that I wanted to drink. Because it is a secret society, I can’t go into many more details than that, I’m going to do my best to tell this part of the story as anonymous as I can but it is also part of my story, I hope I don’t offend anyone. A woman came up to me and told me she would help me if I was willing to go to any lengths, I didn’t know what that meant but I called her anyway because I figured, if it didn’t work, then as they say in my secret society, “they’d refund my misery.” This woman said I would have to do some things differently, if i wanted to work with her, she asked what I was willing to do. I said I was willing to write anything she asked but not go to any secret society meetings, I didn’t have time to go to any outside of my Saturday morning. She said she wanted me to go to a meeting everyday until the baby was born, that would equate to about 90 meetings in 90 days. I told her she was crazy, did she realize I was almost 11 years sober? She said take it or leave it. I started going to meetings everyday after work, I hated every single minute of it. In fact, I shared at meetings about how much I hated being in meetings but I had no idea what else to do and I was pretty sure drinking wouldn’t solve my problems. I was a real asshole, I basically told them all to go fuck themselves. It was the same thing I did when I first came to the secret society 14 years before, told them all how fake I thought they were and how I wanted nothing to do with them, but I kept going back every week after I told them that, nobody else wanted me, and they kept reaching out their hands to me. All my friends kept asking me this summer, “who is this woman, does she know that you have been doing this for 10 years?” I told them yes, but that I was out of options and I had to try what she was suggesting but that it wasn’t working and if things didn’t improve, I would stop working with her. I truly hated every minute of meetings but kept going because I was desperate. Then on my fourth week of doing this everyday and feeling no change, I thought, I’m going to fire my sponsor, this is ridiculous and I still feel like shit, I’m going to go to my womens meeting and then I’m going to fire her. I went to my meeting and I heard a woman speak about how she had had a baby, stopped going to meetings and went out with double digit sobriety, she went out for almost ten years or maybe it was more, her daughter grew up with her drinking, she was taking a year cake that day. I don’t know what you believe in, but that day I felt like something bigger than me was speaking through her to me and I had two choices and two different paths I could go down. I knew as sure as the sun rises and sets, that I was going in the same direction as her, that would be me. I thanked her for sharing her story. She doesn't know just how much she changed my life. But one day, I'll tell her.
The housing company eventually moved us to an apartment in Playa Vista. The apartment, built on the burial grounds of Tongva indians was haunted. The fire alarms went off every single day of the week, first time it happened the firemen that came told us that they were there every day of the week and that it was built on Indian burial grounds and never should have been, no kidding, they dug up 417 Tongva Indian skeletons and I wonder if it was worth it, if the developers would do it again, because I’m sure I wasn’t the only person calling them asking them to fix the fire alarms and the elevators every day of the week and I only lived there for two months. And yes, the elevators were broken at least once a week and we were on the fourth floor, much to Stewie’s chagrin. I would get home from work, find the elevators broken and walk up one flight at a time, 40 pounds heavier than my normal body weight and I would stop and sit down at every flight to catch my breath. Stewie hated it just as much as the hotel and the only solace he found was laying in my pregnancy pillow, every time I came home, I found him curled up inside of it.I’m pleased to say, by the last few weeks of the summer, we had him peeing on the leash, and occasionally, he would do a poo. I’m realizing now that everything that happened in that apartment may require a whole separate blog.
Around the middle of August, my friends Sarah and Joey and their kids came to visit us, we went to the house to check on the progress, I hadn’t seen it in a few weeks and they hadn’t seen it at all. Their daughter found an earring on the floor and brought it to me, I asked her where she found it and she pointed to a spot on the floor, I walked over and found a pile of rat poop, upon further investigation, the whole living room and kitchen had rat poop scattered around. I won’t go into my second mental breakdown but I was forbidden to go back to the house after that.
I’m running out of time so I’m going to skip the bed rest and the high blood pressure and the laying on the couch in haunted apartment for last month and we will make that into a blog for when I have nothing to write about. Right now, I have tons of inspiration. We moved back into the house on September 11th, 2016 after being out for over two months. I had not seen the house in almost a month when we moved back in, it was safer that way. The house was beautiful. Better than I could ever imagine. Still, now a month since we have lived here, I go from room to room thinking, I can’t believe this is mine, I can’t believe how flipping lucky I am that my house flooded with shit. The truth is, when we bought the house, I knew it was a good investment but I didn’t love the house. Like I said, there was a lot I wanted to change, in ten years when we could hopefully afford to. I never imagined that it would happen in ten weeks! I feel like the guy in Spring Breakers (quite possibly the stupidest movie of all time that I ever wasted 1 hour and 34 minutes of my life on), “look at all my stuff, look at all my things,” except I don’t say it out loud because I’d sound like a dick, I just say it in my head to myself. I love my house. I love my shower. I love that Stewie can play in the backyard and those fucking fleas are finally dead after round 500 of flea control coming to our house. A few days after we came home with the baby, our hot water heater broke, they came out and fixed it and then it broke two days later and this time the gas company came out and put a red tag on it. I didn’t have the same feeling as before when that happened. I didn’t feel like the house was intentionally fucking with me and that it was going to fuck with me until we either moved out or I burned it down. It didn’t feel like the house was trying to ruin my life anymore. It just felt like bad luck. I didn’t lose it. I laughed. I boiled water for a week every time I had to clean the baby bottles. I said to Sam, “well babe, eventually all of our appliances will be replaced and there will be nothing left to break.” All we have left is that piece of pipe between the street and our house, the dryer, and the dishwasher. They will probably break next week after me writing that down, and I’ll try not to lose it then.
I got a lot of advice from people this summer telling us we should sue and that we had a case against the previous owners for not disclosing any of the problems with the house, which according to them, all started the day they gave us the keys. In the beginning, I was so angry, I really did want to ruin and destroy them. Someone just the other day suggested we sue again. I can’t stand an ambulance chaser. I’m not trying to be greedy, we already came out way ahead. I didn't even get into the fact that the second insurance guy that we were weary about ended up being even better than Travis and they even ended up paying for a significant part of the plumbing. It would be bad karma to even think about trying to get more than we have, when we already have been way overpaid. We were taken such good care of this summer. I sometimes stop and wonder if it was because the insurance company thought we might be ambulance chasers and they didn’t like the sound of 7 month pregnant women left living in shit house and insurance does nothing to help. Were they so good to us because I was pregnant or did we just have brilliant insurance?
Sam’s mom and Stepdad have started coming every Thursday for dinner. Two Thursdays ago, they brought a bottle of wine to have with their dinner and they each had a glass. When they were leaving to go home, Jane went to pull out the cork and pour the wine down the sink. Ever the good alcoholic, even when I’m not drinking, I wanted to know what the heck she thought she was doing and why would she waste that? I thought maybe she thought it was triggering to have it in our house so she was trying to help us. She said Burt would never drink white wine that had already been opened. I told her my parents were coming up that weekend and they had no qualms about drinking already opened wine and it would be nice for me to have something to offer them, so she left it. My mom and dad came up that weekend and we had Shrimp and Oyster Po Boy sandwiches from Bayou Grille and I was able to offer them wine with their sandwiches.
I got a message from my friend Sherah last week that a client we had shared and sober companioned together had died of an overdose. I really liked her. It would have still been sad if I didn’t like her. Young, beautiful girl, she was so funny and fun to be around which was rare with our job, usually I really didn’t like my companion clients and I can count on my hand the ones I worked with that I did. Most of them had no desire for help and as a result treated us like glorified babysitters, which we were. I felt so bad for this girls family.
Last week Jane and Burt came with another bottle of wine. I didn’t even realize they did, until later that night when I was putting my pumped milk in the fridge and saw it sitting there, a bottle of wine next to all my pumped bags of milk. I realized, staring at that green bottle, that just 3 months ago, in July, I wanted to drink. And I actually may have, had it been sitting right there in front of me. I wondered about Cameron and how long she stayed sober after we worked with her. Because I had a bottle of wine, sitting in my fridge, and no desire to drink it. What if she had waited for the feeling to pass? What if I hadn’t? I saw that bottle glistening next to my boob milk and I thanked god that I didn’t drink back in July because I could have missed all this. I would have missed all this. And that would be a supreme tragedy. I wish I could have told Cameron all that she was going to throw away and how really good it could be if she just waited and held on. But this life, it’s not for everybody.
This evening, Sam got home from work and I finished feeding Ollie and put her in the sling and turned on Elton John. We have had a rough few days of lots of crying and not so much sleeping. We had been trying to do this cry it out thing but it just wasn’t working for us and the sound of her crying literally shredded my soul. We decided we would try again in a few months when she was a little older. There are so many different books and different ideas and Sam and I are trying to merge all of our ideas and find what works best for us and Ollie. It was a long day today and I spent half of it, dealing with my other child and his itchy paws and bathing him and rubbing him down in coconut oil everywhere and then putting socks on in an effort to get him to not get the coconut oil all over our couch, and then giving him Benadryl because he wouldn’t move from his place on the floor when the socks were on, and doing all this with an almost 4 week old hanging in a sling. So like i was saying, Sam got home from work, I put Ollie in her sling, because I discovered that she likes being in the sling after eating and she will fall asleep in there if Elton John is on and I dance a little and sing to her. I went outside and the sun was setting and Stewie who was hopped up on Benadryl and nodding off, followed Ollie and I out and sat watching us as we danced. Sam was inside watching the debate of the century of two of the most horrendous monsters I have ever seen and I thought, what a strange world you have come into Ollie, where one of these two morons will become president. I texted Sam to pause the debate and come outside because it was so beautiful and the light was perfect on our house and it was a little cooler after about what felt like a 100 degree day and it felt so nice like fall was in the air. Sam came outside and the four of us sat on our porch looking out at the sunset, swaying to Elton John as the sun ducked down into the horizon and I thought, this is the fucking life. I’m so grateful a woman in my secret society made me go to a meeting everyday. Thank god she did. I could have missed all this.