21 November 2009

the 'rest of the story' concerning my house and apartment

when i think about things that go wrong in the community, i sometimes look at my house and think, hmm, something went wrong here. now that the new-ness has worn off, it's become more obvious to me that there's a lot of things that need fixing - and probably should have been fixed up a long time ago. and as much as i'm glad for the apartment, when i look at it honestly, i'm a bit embarassed by how shabby it is.

when i'm honest (and sometimes that's hard), i realize that part of that's my own fault. i could have put more time and effort into fixing up the place before moving in - the community provides paint and other resources, so long as i'm willing to do the work. but as soon as i knew i could move, i wanted to be there as soon as possible - and since i'm not exactly all that good at practical things, i wasn't really up for the amount of energy and time i would need to invest to learn how to do it decently (and most of my 'normal' helpers with moving/fixing network live in Canada - a bit too far to commute). so i moved in after some good cleaning and having a housemate paint a bit, and i did my best not to look too closely.

but now that i've been here awhile, i've seen more. and i've realized that i'm not the first person in this apartment who's not so good with practical things. and i'm not the only one who's tried not to look too closely. there's insulation sprayed into cracks but never fully cleaned up, the hot water tap wasn't working when i moved in, holes that have never been filled (papers filling some of those holes), a board and a cubby-hole that substitute for my kitchen cupboards (because i have none), a functional but shabby bathroom/shower, walls that are bubbling and cracking (my linen cupboard hides one and i'm hoping my cat either stops jumping against the other crack/dent or stays light enough not to make a difference), a ladder that's cracked enough not to be entirely safe, and so on. i feel like i'm moving in after people who chose not to make much initiative in the house - and that my house has been allowed to be neglected (after all, i have the only kitchen in the community which (still) has no cupboards whereas others are getting kitchen renovations).

but a bit of perspective helps a lot. when i put in a request for things, things get fixed up. my hot water works now. i know how to re-start the heating system. duct-tape has rendered my ladder safe - and there's a pending request for a new one (although it's probably good that i still have the old one since my cat uses it as his scratching pole).

and i discovered recently that all the big requests for fixing have been put on hold. the plans to renovate the bathroom have been in the works for awhile already but it just doesn't make sense to do it now. in about a year, the foundation of the house needs to be fixed up - the poles need to be replaced. so the plans to fix up the bathroom and installing kitchen cupboards will have to wait until that's done - and the house has re-adjusted. and hearing that news helped push away the nagging idea that my house/apartment has been neglected.

and i realize that if and where my house does bother me, i have an excuse for the big problems. and as for the little problems, i'm recognizing that i can still do something about them. i can still pick up a paintbrush or find some caulking or scrape away some of the remainders of the insulation. if i am planning on staying in the netherlands and the community, these are probably some helpful skills for me to learn.

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