On Home Improvements

This coming February 1st, I’ll be celebrating 8 years in the same apartment. I really like my pad:

  1. It’s in an historic part of town — Richmond/Fort Needham — which was essentially blown off the map in 1917 following the largest “man-made” explosion prior to the nuclear age.
  2. The neighbourhood that emerged following the explosion, known as The Hydrostone, has become a very comfortable place to live.
  3. I live on the top floor of a 3-storey building on top of Fort Needham hill, looking towards the harbour and the Macdonald Bridge.
  4. Can’t beat the cheap rent: just over $600 for a large two-bedroom apartment.

In short, it’s a perfect setup.

Except that the building and my pad in particular have fallen into shameful disrepair in the last decade. There’s even been a fire in late 1995. But what was getting to me lately was the paint peeling off the ceiling; the fact the place hadn’t been painted properly when I moved in; the white enamel kitchen sink was worn beyond repair; so were the counter tops and the tiles in the kitchen and dining room; the toilet would only flush once every 30 minutes; the heat couldn’t be turned off, even in the summer when it was 30+C outside; high humidity and mold attracted mice, especially in the summer and fall… It reached the point where I was too embarrassed to have anyone over. At the same time, I would be damned before I would put a penny to improve a rental, especially after paying over $50K in rent over the years. I felt I had paid for the needed repairs, labour included.

Finally after several requests, the squeeky wheel got the grease. But that has meant turning the apartment upside down to accommodate the workers. I dreaded that part because I knew it would bring me to go through all the junk — mostly paper — I’ve been accumulating. I’ve been pitching a lot, but I also found a few gems, namely stuff I wrote for various reasons and that I can’t bring myself to pitch because I get a kick from this past work.

I’ll share a sampling with you shortly…