Sunday, July 18, 2010

Let's Make-over a Punk House!

BIG POST ABOUT TRYING TO FIX UP MY GROSS HOUSE. Summary: I'm trying to clean up a punk house and make it a nicer place to live and need help from anybody who likes to hang out here!

Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. Not having to commute and being able to wear whatever you want is pretty cool. But you also have to deal with a bit of isolation from the rest of the human race. Being shut up in my sewing room all day isn't a horrible thing, but I get a little crazy if I don't leave the house two days in a row. I've got a decent room to work out of, with lots of windows and a big view of downtown Sacramento, but the house itself is not a place that most people would enjoy living in. Or working in, every fucking day!

Some context for anybody reading this who doesn't know about my living situation: (local friends can skip this, you've all seen the damn place!) I live in a punk house in midtown Sacramento with 5 other roommates. Its over 100 years old, on a busy street surrounded by dive bars and homeless people. Before the punks took over it was a frat house. The frat boys did not treat the place well. The punks weren't much nicer (though we do NOT urinate in a "pee-corner" in the living room!) The landlord mostly doesn't give a shit about the house, as long as we pay rent on time and don't leave trash on the front yard. If we need any repairs done, we have to call him week after week until he finally sends over the handyman that looks like Santa Claus on the end of a prolonged meth binge. The foundation of the house is cracked and the whole place sways whenever people run up the stairs. (Or do any other vigorous physical activity, hehe) The roof in the back of the house needs to be replaced, so it literally rains inside when it rains outside. Its a shit-hole.

I've lived in this place for about two and a half years, and in that time I've had at least 15 different roommates. When I first moved in, the place looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a decade. (No offense, past roommates) Most people live here for 6 months or less, so its hard to motivate anybody to clean a mess that isn't their own. Whenever somebody leaves, they tend to forget certain junk items that they don't want to keep anymore. So if we don't constantly maintain the place, its gets dirty as hell and full of random crap that everybody is afraid to throw away.

When I realized earlier this year that I'm gonna be living here for a lot longer (unless we all get evicted, I've never been on the lease so I really have no rights here) I also realized that I can't stand living in shit anymore. I no longer want to fight back the urge to puke whenever I walk into the bathroom or kitchen. I no longer want to fight back depression when I walk down into the living room and find a sea of empty beer cans and random knick-knacks. (And a certain long-time roommate passed out snoring on the couch smelling like weed) I CAN'T FUCKING TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Its worse when I come home drunk from a show or a bar. I end up pacing around the place, making mental lists of all the things that are wrong with it and all the things that need to be thrown away. I'm not the first to do this (but probably the most neurotic), drunkenly throwing trash off the porch late at night is a great tradition here! (Brings to mind Tim's "I PAY RENT HERE" story, hahaha. I miss that old desk) I've also witnessed Mickie Rat's hilarious way of getting rid of shit that won't fit in the dumpsters: throw it up in the air as high as you can, watch it smash down on the sidewalk, repeat until you can stuff it all in the trash. (Really fun with computers! Or small items like vintage Jolt soda cans)

So last spring, me and new roommates Kian and Eoin decided to start cleaning the place up. I was super busy with school and didn't have time to help, so they started without me.

Cleaning this place up can be very damaging to the soul. You have to be OK with taking two steps forward, one step backward. The dirt and crap is so embedded in every corner of the house that you have to clean the same room over and over again to make any progress. Then the next house show or party happens, or the next roommate moves out, and the place starts to look just like it did before.

I took some "before" pictures back in April, and even though we've done a lot of cleaning and organizing, its still pointless to take any "after" pictures. Progress is very incremental. Its never gonna be a nice place, and it will keep slowly falling apart, but I think it has the potential to be a comfortable, sanitary, AND bad-ass place to live. Clean off all the dirt, paint the walls, throw away all the trash, and we've got ourselves a mostly non-depressing house!

If only it could be as easy as it sounds. After describing everything, I feel like a nutcase for trying to change this place. But I live here, I work here, and I don't want/can't afford to move out. I'm not happy with the status quo.

I hope to eventually be able to post awesome pictures of a house that I am proud to live in. Until then, I'll post a little about the cleaning process, just because I find it to be pretty funny. Humor is the best therapy for a frightening endeavor like this. We are doing this all with basically no budget, so hopefully the end result will prove that poor fuckers like us can live well!

Before I forget: WE NEED HELP! Friends, Sacramento, anybody who's been to a basement show/partied on the porch, who wants to help finish the job?

Here's what we've done so far. Starting out with an old picture.

This is Kian during our first ever cleaning party, last November. I had several friends over and we cleaned the place up after the Citizen Fish show in the basement. Three bands stayed over that night, it was dirty as hell! Its amazing how much work I've realized that we've done, with almost nothing to show for it. Except for people randomly mentioning "yeah, this place is a lot cleaner than before" its still gross and full of crap!

Kian and Eoin worked their asses off several months ago shampooing the carpet with a machine that Kian borrowed from her parents. When the brush went over all the fake blood stains in the carpet (from the Trash Film Orgy zombie movie filming a couple years ago) all the water turned red!

Getting ready to clean that scary part under the coffee table.

Giant sticky stain, before and after. The angles are a little off, but it shows how effective that carpet shampoo was!

Some "before" pics of the living room and stairs. Or actually "during" pics because we had already got a bunch of cleaning done when I took these. Believe it or not.

I also have some before pics of the kitchen and bathrooms, but those are too gross to put up until I have a decent after picture.

Pictures of Kian and Eoin cleaning out the bookshelf that was on the stairwell.

They just dumped all the books and boardgames on the stairs so they could move the shelf. Its pretty funny to look at all the random shit that was in there.

Andre walks in and wonders what the fuck is going on...

Eoin nearly escapes death by book avalanche.

Now on to my current project: cleaning out the basement! There's a small room on one side, full of junk, that would make a great photography studio for my clothing line. If I can get Reggie to let go of all that stuff first.

Let's go scuba diving, in trash! Some amazing things I found while organizing this stuff: a 1987 Newsweek, 1937 LAHS yearbook (no idea who it belongs to) and some really vintage looking empty beer cases. Along with matching empty beers.

I was wondering where my Anne of Windy Poplars book had got too. And my broken tricycle. Where does this shit come from, and why do people find a reason to keep it?

Rest of basement, complete with bike graveyard and 100 boxes of Avi's unsold Silver Sprocket records, hidden behind Mickie's old bed. Mickie has said that all the plywood on the floor is covering up a pit pit full of trash. Wonderful.

The other half of the basement is actually looking pretty good. Its a practice spot for three different bands. A while ago the Storytellers installed new carpet and put red sheets all over the graffiti-ed walls. Its actually kind of a cool place to hang out in. I'd like the other half the basement to look that way too, but its a pretty big dream.

That's all for now! Its been hot as hell lately, and we have no AC in the house, so cleaning has become an even more tortuous job. When it finally cools off this fall, I'll be in school and won't have all this free time to get stuff done. Fuck my life!

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