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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Arrrr, it's a rehabber's life for me!

Rehab changes (read: lowers) your living standards in ways you might not expect.

Friday night, after totally shocking ourselves by getting a solid second place at 52nd City's very fun trivia night, a small group of us then went on to a friend's very nice, rehabbed house in Benton Park. Three out of the five of that evening's group are currently in the middle of big rehab projects (all in Old North!), which we're living in during the work. The three of us couldn't stop oohing and ahhing at our friend's nice, finished house--both because of the charming way in which it was done, and the simple fact that it is finished:

"I love the red walls!"
"This kitchen is so charming!"
"Is that stove from the 1930s?"
"I can't believe you can walk around with your shoes off! Finished floors!"
"Look! A working bathroom!"

It brought me back to when Michael and I travelled to Kankakee, Illinois, last month and stayed in a very average, cheap ol' midcentury motel and we just could not get over how clean the place was. It was definitely not a five star hotel, but man, the simple fact that it didn't have smoke stains and encrusted soot and jagged splinters everywhere made it seem like a luxury to us.

Today, I was reminded of a phrase that our neighbor and fellow rehabber Kathy Sprehe used to refer to one of her worst rehab outfits: The Sloppy Duck Entourage. I thought about that phrase a lot the first ten days after we got the keys to our house last September, when there was so much garbage and vermin inside that we absolutely could not move in. But because we'd not expected the delay in moving, all our worldly possessions were inside our friend's box truck over in Sauget. Consequently, I had two outifts at my disposal, and I was forced to alternate between them each day for those ten days. I actually got reprimanded by my employer after a few days of that, when I showed up yet again in my too-long jogging pants, a dirty du rag, and my very oversized dingy "I TALK TO CATS" t-shirt. (My boss was definitely not a rehabber.)

The phrase popped into my brain yet again today, as I was walking down the street with a filthy, junk-filled bucket in hand, wearing a pair of plaster-streaked, old, stretchy workout pants that were a good four inches too short and at least that many sizes too small for me. I had no intentions of wearing those things outside of the house, but rehab makes you do what you have to do. Hey, at least the house looks good today, even if I don't.

4 comments:

Urban Review said...

Hang in there, it does get better I promise!

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

Thanks for the comfort, and yeah, I know things will pick up. And those pants I wore yesterday were more funny than anything else, as are a lot of the facets of life with rehab. Of course, ask me again in a couple of months when my house temporarily has no back wall, and I think I will need all the comfort I can get! (but it's not next month quite yet.)

Susan said...

Thanks Claire for the kind words about our house! I got lucky with the house in a million ways, most of which is getting engaged to a person who had the foresight to buy the house before the prices went up in our neighborhood!

But what you guys are doing is so important and I really admire your tenacity! I would love to rehab a house, but I wonder sometimes if I am up to all the hard work. And if I have the time and money that has to be invested, but you guys are proving you can do it on a limited income. When all your hard work is done you'll be able to say "I did that with my own two hands!"

Antonio D. French said...

Congrats on the 2nd Place finish. Sorry I couldn't make it. Something happened with the school board, maybe you've heard about it?

Next time, 1st Place all the way!