Saturday, September 08, 2007

how can people live like this?

The walls had been freshly painted and linoleum tiles newly laid when the tenant moved in. Five years later, she was evicted for nonpayment of several months' rent. After she took all her stuff out I had a look at the place. It looks like she never cleaned the place even once, never opened the windows, and burned a lot of candles in addition to smoking heavily.

There must have been a lot of condensation cos the walls had brown drips from nicotine. All over the ceiling were brown and black smoke blotches. I usually like the smell of cigarettes, but here it was atrocious, stale. She had started to clean the ceiling and gave up after ten square feet. Millions of flyspecks on every high edge, on the ceiling fixtures. One 12" linoleum tile was missing and where it had been, the subfloor looked gouged, eroded -- if it had been plywood once, the surface was gone, exposing the core. This means a chunk of subfloor is going to have to be replaced. Several other tiles were cracked. The bottom of the oven was filthy. I removed pounds of rotting things from the refrigerator. Grapes looked like tiny kidneys. In the bathroom you could not find a single spot bigger than your palm where the paint had not peeled due to moisture. There was mildew in most rooms and, in about five places, the drywall was bubbling under the paint. The roof is less than 7 years old, so it could not have been caused by rain.

At some point she painted a few walls, but didn't bother with such niceties as newspaper, tape, or a tarp on the floor, much less an edge brush. It's like she just rolled everywhere without regard for switchplates or windowframes. Several places on the hardwood floor were paint-stained. The hardwood is going to need a complete resurfacing from stains and gouges. The basement stinks of cat pee.

She took most of the lightbulbs, but left her curtains behind. She seemed to favor sheer curtains with complex designs and tassels, and those shiny twisted rope ties, sort of like a pasha's den. Grandiose. I met her once; she was wearing a Gaultier scent, a lot of it.

God give me strength. Cleaning this place would probably be best done with a fire hose. This level of destruction makes me think of dystopian industrial photos, all rusting pipes and broken railings.
And she managed to do this in five years.

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