Life with Jesus

The Money Pit

 (If you haven’t seen The Money Pit (starring Tom Hanks), then you need to drop what you’re doing and go watch it on Netflix right this second. Then you can sympathize with me.)

Sometimes, I have days where I still feel like a high school student in my decision making. You know, like that time I gave my social security number out over the phone because the nice lady asked and then when my parents asked me who she worked for, I said, “Errr. I dunno.” Years later, when running a credit report, I exclaimed, “When did I open a bank account in New Hampshire?” Then I remembered.

Anyway, Alex and I decided in January that we were going to sign a six month lease at our place and then look for a duplex or a house to rent in the North Dallas area in June so that we could have, you know, a yard instead of a fenced in rocks, weeds, and poop.  Of course, because I’m pretty sure I have OCD, I obsessively checked craigslist daily for housing options. We talked and talked about budget and I said, “Alex, you can’t find anything quality for under $1000 in Richardson.”

You can imagine my delight when one day, I stumbled across a 3 bedroom/2 bath duplex in North Dallas for under $1000. I was thrilled. I called and set up a viewing so we could go see it. We met the landlady who seemed very nice and saw the place. It definitely needed a little work, but we were sold (especially when she told us that if Alex did the lawn, we could get $50 off the rent.) We put in our applications, she checked our references,we signed the lease, and handed over an entire month’s rent as a deposit. Whamo. Official duplex renters.

Then the fun began.

 ( I’m going to give you a more exciting, game-show version of what we saw when we viewed the duplex place that we had just legally agreed to live in for a year  without our price-sensitive, rose-colored glasses. )

Alright everyone, it’s time to reveal who’s won…

The Most Ghetto Duplex in the World!

Beth and Alex, come on down! Let me show you what you’ve won.

First, does artificial lighting hurt your eyes? Well, worry no more because your master bedroom comes complete with a fan that has had the light ripped out of it! These exposed wires give the entire room an industrial feel that only the most expensive lofts can offer. As an added bonus, the window in the master bedroom is completely covered in ivy so there’s really no natural light either. Perfect for vampires! As ANOTHER added bonus, neither the light in the kitchen or the dining room works either! That’s three special surprises for the price of one!

Do you not have enough balance challenges throughout your day? Let me show you this– a 3 inch diameter wire that runs through your master bedroom closet. You can step over it at least 3 times a day and you’ll be  a balancing master in no time.

Who wants just one piece of wallpaper when you could have fifty? That’s right- this wallpaper was installed by an amateur who specifically wall papered around the mirrors in the bathroom instead of bothering to take them off, in special preparation for some special family to have to take it down piece by piece.  In addition, you also get four layers of paper under those mirrors. Let’s see some sheetrock, baby!

The front door comes complete with butterfly stickers on the window.  And just in case there’s not enough light for you, there is a crack at the bottom that you can see daylight through that has been discreetly covered with clear tape.

Adding to the vintage feel in the living room are the 4 skinny mirrors hanging on the wall and the distinctly unique brown vertical blinds.

That’s no kitchen. It’s a discotheque! No boring appliances here. Only harvest gold will do for our winners. Just in case you were worried, the stove is miniature and that copper wire hanging out of the fridge IS very important.  It might appear you have four burners but three burners should be good enough. As an added prize, the knobs come off when you touch them and when you put them back on, you don’t know if you’re turning it to OFF or SIMMER or HIGH. Guessing games galore!

No time to decorate? No worries here. The guest bedroom comes complete with a cowboy themed switch plate. Howdy ya’ll.

Who needs a chandelier when the previous owner left a crystal bear light pull  in the living room? High class at its best.

Outdoor seating isn’t a problem at this place. The previous owner brought an entire redwood, sawed it up into impossible-to-move pieces, and put some sort of foamy insulation on the bottom. Party over here, ya’ll!

Does your dog like to eat paper like nobody’s business? Well, today’s her lucky day! This gold plated mail slot will ensure that all of your most important mail is delivered straight into your canine’s canines. That’s right- taxes, checks, magazines, warrants- all can be chewed up and strewn throughout the house before you even get home. Now you can use the “My dog ate it” excuse in earnest. Save it for the judge, lady. Hyuck, hyuck.

Love these brick floors but hate that sticky, black residue when you walk across them with barefeet? Well, worry no more because not even a steam mop {THAT WE PURCHASED FROM AMAZON FOR THIS EXPRESS PURPOSE} will get those puppies clean. Why? According to the landlord, “the previous tenants just used shoe polish.” No, she’s not joking!

Do you hate having to take your recycling all the way out to the backdoor? Following the example of the previous tenant, you can simply take the vents off of the air intake for the air conditioning and shove plastic bags and cardboard in there {I am NOT making this up.}. Who cares if the air conditioning only gets the house down to 83 degrees?  You can just call the “service” that the land lady pays a monthly fee for to come out five times only to tell you, “This unit is working perfectly but I did pull some human hair out of (some pipe associated with the A/C system).” Delish!

Who loves the movie “The Sword and the Stone”? Well, you can have your very own version right here in this tree by your front door…BECAUSE (drumroll please) there’s a disc brake from a car wedged into the V of the branches and the tree has grown around it! Beth, you and your sister will wail on that thing with a hammer and it won’t budge!  {Actually, my dad is King Arthur because he yanked it out with a crowbar.}

Do you know those crazy houses at the fair? Well, no need to go out for that, my friends. The Hispanic handyman the landlady uses LOVES to put everything in upside-down and backwards. Shower doors, doorbells, wall plugs, and yes, even deadbolts! Now you get a little brain exercise whenever you want to lock (or is it unlock?) your door.

FREE STUFF ALERT! The previous owner wanted you to have the following:

  • An open yogurt smoothie and assorted dollar store bath goods that had been left in a cabinet that had been painted shut. Who knows how long that’s   been there? Yogurt! Yum!
  • Approximately 15 phonebooks left in the kitchen. Because the kitchen is SO clean (in comparison with the rest of the house), we’re assuming not a lot of cooking went on in there.
  • 5 roach motels for the ultimate insect hospitality
  • Lovely glass rose vases

Last but not least, do you hate it when things work? Well, we do to here at the Most Ghetto Duplex in the World. What would you say if I could guarantee that on the day you move in, when you’re completely exhausted and overheated, you both will be laying on the bare mattress in your bedroom under the ceiling fan in the 86 degree heat and the fan motor will go out? OH THE IRONY.

Well, that’s all for now, folks but I’m sure there will be more! Congratulations, Beth and Alex! Enjoy your ENTIRE YEAR in this place!


I’ve had one and a half mini panic attacks of regret about renting this place. Apparently, the previous tenant had crawled out from under a rock and thought, “I think I’m going to rent a duplex” and we’re the lucky ones that gotta clean it up.

We’ve spent a month painting and cleaning and fixing and it looks livable. A professional finally convinced the landlady that “Yes, the two-inch, broken-down insulation is original to the house and no, it’s not doing its job well” and so we have a very nice man coming out to put insulation in on Wednesday. We’ll see. My parents are bringing a window unit so that we can stop living like drug addicts on an air mattress with no furniture at our old apartment (that we have until June 30th).  We might just live in the master bedroom this summer- eat our meals there, do all of our reading there, have dinner parties there.

In case you’re wondering, here are a few things I DO like about the duplex:

  •  The location is fabulous. It’s really close to 635 so I can just hop on and go to work. It’s close to our old hood, so we can see our friends often. It’s right down the street from an amazing park that has a bike trail that goes all the way down to White Rock. It’s in a quiet family neighborhood so that I can go walking without breathing in exhaust.
  • The neighbors are really  nice. There are a lot of kids, which is fun.
  • Our furniture looks great there. We got to pick our own paint colors.
  • Lots of room and a yard for Gracie.
  • Good acoustics for piano playing. Those shoe-polished floors really know how to reflect sound!
  • A one and a half car garage for all of our junk.
  • Plenty of cabinet space
  • Lots of windows
  • A covered porch out back so that we can enjoy being outside
  • A chance for an adventurous year with my sweet husband. Who knows what we’ll discover at the Most Ghetto Duplex in the World?

I think this upcoming year is going to be a test of patience and humility. I am incredibly thankful for a roof over my head and wonderful family and friends. Who cares if the A/C doesn’t work?  If Alex and I ever decide to buy a house in the future, then I’ll be an expert at looking at the glass half full.

“Oh well. The fence blew down but at least we aren’t scrubbing nicotine off the walls.”


“The dishwasher flooded the kitchen? Well at least we don’t have human hair in our air conditioning ducts!”

See? I can be thankful.

PS- If you don’t get an invitation to come over from us until the fall, it’s not because we hate you. It’s because we love you and our air conditioning isn’t working.

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