My Story, Yours Too.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: The House Hunt

Me overlooking the Butte County Watershed on the verge of Paradise, CA, 1/18/11

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
My education in draconian measures was sandwiched between the ups and downs of a housing search. It wasn’t easy, but I found a home. I’ll make the move at the end of February. Here’s the recap.

I just couldn’t fathom living with (1) a phlebotomist (i.e., she draws blood for a living); (2) a phlebotomist who covers her windows in plastic wrap for insulation; and (3) a phlebotomist who covers her windows in plastic wrap for insulation in Chico, California; where temperatures stay in the three-digits throughout the summer and don’t tend to drop below, say, 53-ish Fahrenheit in the winter. Thus, I told Phlebby “Thanks but no thanks.”

Jim offered my next best hope. He showed me his family’s second – or perhaps third or fourth– home, a nice, new house that I would eventually share with three others. At that time, he informed, I was the only prospective renter. We chatted for a good hour, during which Jim provided tips on the neighborhood, social scene and eateries. I was sold and asked for a housing application.

That’s when things deteriorated. “Well, I need to call my wife. She takes care of all the details in the lease.” Boy, does she ever. I would learn that Jim is one of those husbands who’d do best to never talk; his wife would ultimately counter everything he said. She runs a tight ship, a dictatorship.

Per our agreement, I  naively dropped by their house that evening to pick up a copy of the lease. I suddenly found myself in a family meeting, mafia style. I was afforded a seat at the very high kitchen table. Climbing onto an equally high stool, I was surrounded by mother, father and daughter. “We want to answer all of your questions,” mother (heretofore referred to as Sergeant) began, “but there are lots of people interested in the house. I’m showing it to a family this Friday. Our daughter might move back in too. I’ll make my decision by Saturday. You’re working at The Writing Loft? Mm hmm, so you’ll be doing the newsletter? Well, we have the option of asking for a co-signer if, say, the renter is beginning a new job. Here’s a copy of both leases. We’re going to sell the house when the market picks back up, but you’ll need to sign on for six months. I can’t think of anything else. It was a rough day at work. I’m hungry. Nice meeting you.”

Sergeant pushed two leases at me, one for the master bedroom – which I’d clarified I couldn’t afford. Each document was five-pages long and fraught with enough legal minutiae to keep our nation’s healthcare plan at a stalemate. Here’s a snippet: “Renter must take garbage cans to the curb by 0700am on Thursdays or will be subject to execution.” Oy, talk about draconian! Oh, maybe it read “eviction”. I don’t know. I just know that I left feeling scared and offended, but mostly scared.

Once I caught my breath, I reconnected with Steven. We’d scheduled a meeting to see his house, but I canceled in favor of a female roommate. The women weren’t boding well for me, and Steven graciously agreed to reschedule. Upon arrival the next day, his sister and baby niece greeted me too. It was a friendly exchange in a nice, comfy home that would allow sufficient privacy and room for my furniture. It’s far from Michael too.

The rent’s just over one-third of what I’ve been paying in the San Francisco Bay Area. I salivate at the thought of writing a three-digit versus four-digit rent check.

Last week, Steven accepted me as a tenant. I started getting nervous over the weekend, though, having not yet received the lease. Did he read my blog and notice that I’ve had some -uh- issues with men? Thankfully, yesterday’s text message was assuring. “Hi Robyn. I was thinking of getting a cat, and was wondering if you have any objections. Please let me know. Steven”

This spurred a whirlwind of memories. I’ll never forget the moment my “Nomezy” -- Naomi, a beautiful Snowshoe feline owned by my (ex)husband— glared up at me. Her innocent gray eyes asked, “Where are you going? Why?” I had no explanation as to why I’d been kicked out of our home. With all the strength I could muster, I consoled her through my tears. “Sorry honey. Thanks for teaching me to love a cat. I’ll miss you.” And I do.

Clenching my cell-phone, I snapped back into the present and replied to Steven. “I’ve had a cat before, and I’m fine with that. Thanks for asking.”


  1. "Mafia-style" -haha, they're hard core in your parts! lol

  2. I've had a landlord like the mafia style you mention. It was... unpleasant.

  3. Steven sounds too considerate for a man. Maybe you should have asked to see the cat first. It might have unusually large claws.

  4. Cats love where pigs grunt....hope your landlord is as lordly as he seems...good luck...and stay away from Draco... :) a big hug as you enjoy your new home...

  5. That lady had some very strange rules. I have a feeling that even family wouldn't want to move in.

    Your new place sounds like the right one.

  6. Glad you found a place. Sounds like he will be a good landlord, considerate too. As long as there weren't any 0:700 clauses in the lease :) Now the adventure begins, can't wait to read more. Kat

  7. Looks like you are settling in well. Your colorful snipets about the locals reminds me of a series of books I read about a town called Promise.
    It's been too many years since I had to fill out rental applications. I had forgotten what a big pain in the batooty it was. Glad that part is behind you for now.
    Tell us more of your new adventures in Paradise! Yeh we want to know more. More, more, more..... Xoxo ~Ames

  8. So glad you didn't sign on with the Sarge lady! But the gentle, thoughtful landlord with the cat and the good vibes--excellent.

  9. Oh, I was hoping you'd end up at the Mafia house and take out the trash at 7:01 just to be a rebel.

    I love these updates of your new life! Go get 'em girl!

  10. I love to hear about awkward situations where an innocent is thrown into a pack of bickering family members. Tight ship = dictatorship = funny stuff!

    That lady sounds insane. Think of the blog posts you would have had if you would have moved in there.

  11. I know, Cheeseboy, the fodder would've been great. I love my peeps, but not more than my life itself. xo

    Betty, I thought of that. It would've been fun - pushing it one minute later every day of the week. =->

    Thanks for all the cheering on. It helps, especially as I face the dreaded packing. xo

  12. You made two good choices. First was not going with the Anal Family. They would have cut you up and buried you in the woodshed. Plus you get to live with a KITTY so your life will be MUMMY free for the duration. On and one more thing. You look totally adorable in that picture.

  13. some people... could make for great posts though

  14. Steve sounds like the perfect roommate! I'm excited for you!

  15. Oh, Robyn I have missed you so!
    First of all thank you for your kind words on my blog, I really appreciate it :)
    Paradise looks good on you :)
    So glad to hear you found a place! Hope the kitty is nice, and Steven stays nice!
    gi gi

  16. Robyn - have you been reading the Chico News and Review?
    Had I been thinking straight, I'd have asked sooner.

  17. IT, thanks for asking. I picked up one when I was there last. Mainly, I was looking for housing and there weren't any listings. xo

    Gigi, love back to you, dear friend. I've missed you too. Thank you! ;0)

    Alex, wow. That means a lot coming from you. Thank you! xo

    Noelle, thanks. [-:

    Baygirl, there does come a time when I need to choose my sanity over my readership. It's a tough call, but I'll occasionally take the selfish route. xo

    Ah, shucks. Thanks, Kal. The sun was hitting my face, so I couldn't open my eyes. :~>

  18. this really is just fantastic!

  19. OY!!!! With an interview like that, who needs the Spanish Inquisition?!

  20. Steven sounds like a great guy! So will it just be you, him and the kitty?

    BTW..I love your picture!

  21. I love your stories! Not the stories themselves, but how you inject your funny personality into them. I'm glad you found a place. Now you can get down to it...

  22. I love reading your posts about these. The way you write them is so much fun!! The dictator lady sounds ridiculous...and I'm glad you didn't go with them. Cause that's just ridiculous.

  23. Praying for all the best for you my Friend! God will watch over you! Now I'm not sure if I want to move or not!! LOL!

    Be Blessed Robyn,



  24. Thank you all. I can laugh about it now, especially having read your messages, but she really shook me.

    Marg, thanks so much! xo

    Marlene, I'm telling you. I think they should send her to Egypt to end the uprising by her mere presence. ;0)

    Gayle, yes, just us three. He has family nearby though. It seems they spend a lot of time together. xo

    Pat, thanks. Have you seen that spot overlooking the watershed? It's pretty awesome for picture taking. [-:

    Babysis, yeah, a co-signer for a rental? I was really offended. xo

    John, prayers back to you, sweet man. I hope to get updates on your house hunt too. ;0)

  25. What an adventure for sure! This was just so well written, I was laughing out loud at the end. I am glad I get to take this journey with you (well not with you - but you know what I mean)

  26. Good grief! I'd have run the other way from those yahoos. I rent a home in CA and we have a standard lease and I trust the realtor to find someone who'll stay a while.

    Looking forward to the next installation.

  27. The thing about the trash caught my eye! Our son lives in a 4 br condo, and he is the only one who every takes out the trash! It really pisses him off! Now one of the roommates wants to move out and he wants Keil to come along. Keil asked me what I thought and I told him he would end up being the maid, and he'd still be taking out the trash. He's happy where he is!!

  28. Scary is right. I was scared just reading it. I think you made the right decision Robyn. A new kitty sealed the deal for me.

  29. Great post.. that first place sounded terrifying...Nazi's in hiding! who needs that shit?

    As for the last guy, as long as he didnt say- "I was thinking of getting a cat, let me know i fyou love pussy.." as a very roundabout inefficent way to see if you might be interested in him..

    Okay, inappopriate I know..I'm

    Great shot of you too.. the background looks alot like Australia...


  30. Terra, thanks so much. Glad you're coming along for the ride. xo

    CalGirl, you're right. It shouldn't be so difficult to rent a place. ;0)

    Judie, true. The reliable one is always taken for granted. That would've been me in that situation, and I hate getting up before, say, 0900am. xo

    Marla, me too. Thanks. [o:

    Anthony, you make me laugh. It is a very scenic spot. The photo doesn't do it justice. Nice to know it looks like Australia. xo