Month from Hell

Wow, June is gone. And it felt about a year long. The Great Condo Disaster of 2013 is, for the most part, winding down. But ugh, what a nightmare while it was happening.

It has been four weeks or so since the condo flood. It pretty much turned our lives upside down. The first couple of weeks, our condo was basically unliveable. They ripped the flooring up, wrapped the entire apartment in plastic, and ran industrial strength fans and dehumidifiers for a few days to make sure there was no residual moisture in the damaged part of the house. (My sinuses can confirm they were entirely successful.)

Then began the destruction and reconstruction of the living area, kitchen, and office. The entire floor was pried up and replaced. Drywall came down and went up. Insulation went out and came in. Walls were repainted, messed up, then touched up. The ceiling came down, went back up, got sanded and leveled. Light fixtures, outlet covers, and the thermostat came down, then went back up.  Appliances? Disconnected and reconnected. Internet was down, then back up. Furniture was schlepped from one side of the apartment to the other to make room for workers. Things were broken, fixed or replaced, and strewn all over the apartment.

For about half of this work, the apartment was a dusty construction zone, dry, air-conditioning free, a hopelessly cluttered hellhole. At one point, the contents of the apartment were stacked to the ceiling, in one room, a giant, shrink-wrapped Jenga pile. You should have seen me contorting my way into dresser drawers in search of clean underwear.

Jenn and the cats spent most of this time living out in Yucaipa, a couple hours away in the desert to the east. Since Jenn was recovering from surgery, she was in one room while Cairo, Oslo, and Finley lived in another bedroom. Thank goodness for Marty and Dom for taking the family in; they were lifesavers for us.

But so far away! Meanwhile, I lived out of a suitcase. For the first couple of weeks, I stayed in hotels near the condo so that I could meet with contractors, but ultimately I moved back into the one undamaged room of the house, where the bed was an island surrounded on all sides by furniture taking refuge from the other rooms. During the week I went to work, as well as serving as point of contact for water restoration guys, flooring guys, painters, the HOA, various insurance agents, a lawyer, a damage estimator, the upstairs landlord, and…I’m forgetting somebody, surely. Jenn’s doctor, meanwhile, is half an hour away in the other direction, and I was driving her to appointments and procedures. So I was a freeway nomad ricocheting between Tarzana, Brentwood, Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Yucaipa, even Simi Valley at one point. Final freeway tally for the month: 8. (The 101, 405, 134, 10, 210, 118, 23, and — barely — the 57.)  I filled up the tank at least six times.

And the month from hell isn’t completely over. There are still repairs to finish up, and insurance payments to arrange, cleaning and hauling furniture back into position and putting everything back in place.

But Jenn is finally home, and so are the cats. The happy ending is we’ve made it through so far and are determined not only to get the apartment back to normal, but make it even better than it was before. Still a work in progress, but we’re getting there!

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