Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Asshole Factor # 3?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s me.
Maybe it’s the way I’ve been trained to view things based on the Profession I’ve been involved in for the last 16 years.
I’ll just tell you what happened and how I see it and then you can tell me if there’s another way to look at it besides "Asshole Factor #3."

Most of us have been through it—Contractors, Builders, Painters, Electricians, etc.
I hardly need say more but mention their titles and most people groan before another word is uttered.

What is a Home?
A Home is a place of refuge. A place where Private Lives occur.
A place of sacred privacy.
A place of security.
A place where Love can flourish or Die.
A Home houses Bodies and therefore,

What is a Body?
A Body is a Home that houses the Spirit.
A conduit through which Life is experienced in all it’s Joy and Pain.
A Body can offer comfort, can offer learning through Emotion, can offer Ecstasy, and finally, can offer a bridge to an Other Worldliness—or God, reached by a communion of two bodies connecting through Touch and Sex.

That being said, here’s why I am extremely pissed off.

It became clear to me about a year ago, due to circumstances in my life that I have not yet exposed to this Blog; I could no longer afford to live in New York City.
For various reasons, I needed to find a place that was ultimately less costly.

Preferring to eventually habitate in Europe or the Caribbean,
I delved into the practical possibilities of building a life somewhere out there.

Europe was out because I do not and am unable to obtain a Visa that would allow me to live and work there.
Marriage would be the only option.
Unfortunately, this choice is much more difficult to pull off in the EU than it is in America.

The Caribbean was even tougher in that I would need to have enough money to own a Home outright and still keep employment in the States.
Most Caribbean Countries prefer Locals to work or, if say, the Island is a French Colony, one must still have a French or EU Passport.
Once again, requiring marriage.

Amazing how everyone can come and work here, in America, but we are not allowed there.

A Journey throughout the US ensues.

First Choice: San Diego.
For a two bedroom, one bath, ranch-home with a small backyard, approximately 1500 square feet?
Almost a million dollars.
Out of my budget and not what I see for myself.

Second Choice: L.A.
(I like California because of the weather of course, but also because I have friends there)
Same issue. Same size home. Nothing fancy.
Around a million or so.

I visit Portland, Oregon.
Amazing City.
So much to do.
So many nice people and quite Cosmopolitan.
But I long for warmer weather all year long.

(I am cold even in the Caribbean! You know how women are. When I was living with Philip G., he would push the entire side of his comforter on top of me so I was buried so deep it was impossible to see even my body outline. And still I was shivering. While he lay naked, blanket-less and panting like a dog in heat next to me on the mattress.)

Southward, I go.
Savannah Georgia.
Sexy, dangerously strange, and romantically Southern with a built-in Artist community.
Two things:
One: I could see myself getting bored there after a while.
And Two: In the winter, the temperature drops below 30 degrees.

Long Excursion with Real Estate Agents covering the entire ‘right side’ of Florida—the East Coast.
Too many ‘Alter-Kochers’.
And something unspoken that makes me cry each night in my room after a long day of house hunting.
Too much ‘Bling-Bling’ without the substance to back it up.
Lots of Bravado and too many rude New York accents.

Finally, it comes to mind that a friend of mine from long ago at the RFDS had moved to the West Coast of Florida and has become a successful Real Estate Agent.
Mentioned to a Real Estate Agent on the East Coast, before I make any decisions, I would like check out the West Coast of Florida.
Her response: "That City is for the Newly Wed or the Newly Dead. You’ll HATE it."

Never the less, my friend and his wife, both my age, are there.

Although I quickly discern it an Ultra-Right Wing, Conservative Republican, Christian-tell-everyone-else-how-they-are-supposed-to-live, they do have strict Zoning Laws which makes this tiny town rather stunning and almost European-esc: Outdoor Cafes, Quality Restaurants, Sexy Bars, Well-Funded Theatres, Pedestrian Walking Districts…

Within moments of landing, I know I can never advertise my business or work my Profession there.
(They would burn me on a cross on my front lawn.)
But I instinctively feel I can find away around this issue if I need to.
I find, ‘A Home’.

My desire is to be near the center of Town.
And I want to be on the Beach. If Possible.
Everyone does.
And that’s why it’s impossible for me.
Homes in town or on the beach—or even NEAR the beach start in the millions.
Alas, I am relegated to sub-divisions.

The sub-divisions created by Developers that domino one after another off the main highway.

"Not for me’ I insist to my friend cum broker.

He maintains that he understands me, knows me since better-not-say-how-long and has the perfect Home I will fall dead over.
Together, we pull into a suburban community.

"Oh my god no! No! No! No! Every house is Beige! No!"

"There’re not all beige. Look. This one is Taupe. This one is off-Brown."

"Are you kidding me? I would shoot myself with a rifle in the temple if I even contemplated living here."

"Trust me."

"You don’t know me anymore."

"I know you so well. I saw you naked both physically and emotionally everyday at RFDS.’

"I can’t live in Beige!"

"What do you want?"

"Europe. The Caribbean. Anything BUT Beige!—Oh god. Why are we pulling in here? This is a Ranch House. I definitely DON’T want a Ranch House. I want two levels at least. I mean if it’s got to be Beige at least give me two floors!"

"Trust me. You’re gonna love this house."

Heavy Sigh.
"Saul. It’s a Beige Ranch House. We shouldn’t waste your time or my time—"

"Let’s just see it. It’s just a model. C’mon."

I follow, exhausted, wanting to cry.
Will I ever find a place to live in this entire United States?

From the front, it looks like a typical Ranch-Style Home.
Beige, as I mentioned a hundred thousand times.

We open the front door.
Instead of walking into the expected boring foyer, the doors open to a breath-taking Hacienda patio.
A pool with fountains run and tinkle with the sensuous sounds of water kissing.
Bougainvillea drip from Pergolas.
Statues lounge around an outdoor grill and dining table.

"Where is the house?"
"All around it. Surrounding the outdoor area."

The Home wraps around the outdoor area like a Home in Sao Paolo.
Like a Home in Ipaneema.
All glass walls face the outside pool and patio.
Speechless, I follow him through the interior.
4000 square feet.
4000 square feet of a Home? A Single-Family Home?
Oh my God!
I’ve been a City-Dweller most of my life.
My apartment that I pay many thousands of dollars a month for is 1600 square feet
(Which is HUGE for New York.)
Never imagined so much space could be mine.
With a pool, a fountain and a Hacienda too?

"How much? Please tell me ‘how much’.
"Let’s go to the Sales Office."

Philip, the Sales Rep., talks a fast, enticing rap.

(Yes, another Philip. Do you get the feeling I have a strange Karmic bond with ‘Philip’s’ by this point?)

The Home costs only $655,000.
That is a lot for some, but so so much less than anything in New York.
(Besides, perhaps, a Studio apartment.)
"Where do I sign?"
And I do.

The Bank Loan comes easily as I always pay my debts and claim all my money and pay my taxes.
(Even though I am ‘illegal’.)
And now comes the part in which, if you have been following this Blog, you know that my Client who mentioned my ‘Achilles Heel’—
(That I don’t take into account the ‘Asshole Factor’)
is proven correct.
I want my Home to be Special.
I want it designed as if it will be the last Home I will ever inhabit.
Because it may be.
I have no idea how long I will be able to keep up my business.
I am getting older.
It is a short-lived business.
Add to that, complications in my personal life I have not yet revealed in this Blog.
It may, indeed, be my last Home.
I may end up living a dying here.
I want it to be what I want.
I want it to be Europe.
I want it to be the Caribbean.
Of course I know its going to be a Compromise.
I’m a Fool.
But not completely.

Since I desire so many elements that the Builder (Royal Palm Builders) does not offer, my RFDS Friend and Broker recommends a General Contractor/Decorator that will help me build almost exactly what I am fantasizing.

She and I meet and swiftly do not get along.
She is a Leo.
I am a Scorpio.
Need I say more?
Okay I will:
She is a Bulldog. A Pit-bull.
I am a Cocker Spaniel in comparison.
But, on the recommendation of my friend, combine with the fact that I know no other person nor way to accomplish my dreams, I hire her at a fee of 35 percent of all she buys and does.
I am in New York.
I know a Pit-Bull will get the job done.
I know before I even begin, I am going to be sucked dry.
I don’t know what else to do.
I pray she is not as mercenary and ostentatious as she appears.
I pray she has a heart.
Prayers are not really a good way to do business.
But I pray anyway.
My ‘Achilles Heel’ Client says he worries about me.
Especially in this venture.
I say I love him for caring.
But know no other way.

Royal Palm Builders, it turns out, are not too pleased with my decision to go with an outside source.
Seems they make quite a bit of cash on what they call ‘upgrades.’
Yes indeed, the Home itself is only $655,000. But do I want a floor?
Because a floor is considered an ‘upgrade’.
Of course I could have the standard floor, but yuck.
Most anyone would have a floor that’s not linoleum.
If they could.
Do I want Cabinets?
What do you mean Cabinets?
Wouldn’t a $655,000 house come with Cabinets in the bathrooms, the kitchen and etc.?
Yes and no.
Pine or Pressboard? Or do you want something more?
Well…something more appealing would be nice.
That’s an ‘upgrade.’
In other words, $655,000 is just for the Frame.
Everything else is extra.
What the house comes with is basically what a mobile home would come with.
So they are pissed.
Royal Palm Builders are pissed at me.
Pissed at me because they are making no money off ‘upgrades’, since I have contracted all the ‘upgrades’ out, and ‘upgrades’ seem to be where, perhaps, they make their ‘real dough’.
A War, I haven’t yet discovered I am engaged in, ensues.

They promise me C&O by April.
Once we get C&O, my other Contractor (the Pit-Bull and her gang of Hounds) can come in and finish the Home according to my specifications within three months.
Their only job (Royal Palm Builders) is to provide me with a base of a Home worthy of C&O.
Basic walls, unfinished.
No doors.
Tubs, for sinks.
Cement for floors.
You get the idea.
Not much to do.
Based on Royal Palm’s estimation of April, I set a closing date for the sale of my New York apartment at June 30th, thinking, of course, by then, all will be completed.

I know you are laughing in my face right now.
You are and you’re right.
I am so so stupid.
I am so so gullible.
I am so so foolish.
I have too much faith in the word of others.
Why do I do this?
I do this because of me.
I do this because of my business.
Okay. I know. To the Outside World, I am just a Prostitute.
I’m aware of this perception.
But when I am with people, okay, yes, perhaps I am a Prostitute, but I am keenly aware that when someone hires me for several hours, I am placed in the august position of being in charge of, taking care of, and nurturing, their Home—their body.
The Home that houses their Spirit.
It is a position of honor and not to be taken for granted.
When someone hires me, as an Independent Contractor—just as I’ve hired these Builders or this Contractor—they have handed me what is most precious to them.
How can this not be comprehended?
I charge a fee, yes.
But I charge a fee and have developed my artistic sense to a level in which the fee is justifiable because I know I can benefit their ‘house’ and elevate their Spirit within that House.
Maybe even together, we can drift beyond the walls to God…who knows?
Time and Energy and Love can be rewarded by Barter, by Money.
Through practice, through study, through devotion, through Time, Energy, and Love, I make a living.
Is it not the same for these people who have the remarkable task of building a Home for families?
I am confused.

What happens next is this:
Royal Palm Builders, by obligation, graciously gives me rebates on all the ‘upgrades’ I do not take through them.
They allow me $19,000 for flooring.
In reality, flooring for a 4000 square foot home is in the range of 30-90 thousand dollars.
Thanks for the pennies.
They credit me back a few hundred for cabinets.
In reality, Cabinets for a 4000 square foot home is close to $40,000.
All this with my Independent Contractor/Broker, using her own people, takes a 35% cut off the top.
As you guessed, saving me NOTHING.
And so it goes.
On and on and on.
Now, a 655,000 dollar home is costing almost a million and ugh!
If this were going to be the case, I could have been in LA or San Diego.

Back in New York, the closing of my apartment is drawing near.
Of course I realize that we haven’t even gotten CO yet on Florida and therefore, there is no where to move to when forced out of my home here at closing.

In desperation, I contact my Lawyer and ask him to explain the situation to the Buyers.
I offer to pay any rentals they have, as well as storage fees, if they will just allow me to remain in my apartment until Florida is ready.
I offer because I need to.
And I offer to be nice.
Because frankly, by Law, I am able to post-pone but I don’t want to surprise them with any hardship.
I would rather give them warning and perhaps, together, we can find an equitable compromise.
No go.
They will not hear of it.
I can still delay but I hate the idea of causing them inconvenience and pain just because I am inconvenienced and in pain.

In the midst of all this, the Pit-Bull contacts me.
She needs $200,000 dollars to give to her subcontractors so they can order supplies so that the supplies will be ready when they say ‘go’.
She also wants her fees up front, as she usually doesn’t wait to take them until after the job.
I am a businessperson.
I understand.
But I don’t.

She knows we don’t have CO on the house.
She knows I close on my apartment in NYC on June 30th and she can have all the money then.
She also knows my household situation.
She picks me up in one of her three elaborate vehicles wearing a sapphire and diamond ring the size of a 50-cent piece.
Her sunglasses are Dior and framed all the way around the lenses in diamonds.
Her Rolex has no space that isn’t a gem.
I do not deny her her luxuries.
She has earned them.
But she understands my situation and the hardship she will cause by asking now.
She also is certain she will be paid either way or my house will not ever be completed.
She needs the money now.

Most frankly, I don’t have $200,000 sitting in a bank account.
Most frankly, she makes me feel as if I should.
I do understand don’t I, that to people ‘down here’, a half million dollar home is trailer trash?
I understand that, right?
The thought is exhausting.
There are days, nights, I worked so hard, so long. My face in crotches, in body creases, hours dragging on, watching the digital clocks tick over one red neon number at a time, fighting to stay awake, fighting to stay there, fighting for the next hour…my body, my arms emptied of all viscera, bones, blood. Depleted of substance. What remains is skin around hollow—like a deflated balloon. And still I stay. And still I wake the next day on two hours sleep. And still I do it again. And again. And again. Year after year for 16 years. All for this. For a Home I can call Safety. I can call my Haven.
And to them, it’s Trailer Trash.
$655,000 base price Trailer Trash.

I am most lucky to have a friend/client I can turn to who trusts me enough to loan me the money.
Of course he knows I will pay him back at the closing of my NYC apartment.
But my god. How terrible is it to be forced to ask for a 200,000 dollar loan?
And how awful is it for the person who has to trust you to loan it to you?
But he is a Prince, and he does.

In the meantime, Royal Palm Builders, who essentially have to furnish me with only a shell of a house—enough to pass CO, are blaming their lax-ness on the ‘Hurricane’, have done nothing.
When I finally contact Mark—the head Honcho—and plead my case to him—this is what happens:

"I know things are tough. But I based my closing in New York on your estimate of April. I even gave it several more months, just in case. I have not only myself, but a family with me—if it was just myself, I could live in a hotel, but I have others who are with me and depend on me, so all I’m saying is, if there is anything you can do to speed things along, I would greatly appreciate it. And basically, I just wanted you to understand the situation we’re in."

And he said to me, something I could never imagine coming out of my mouth, no matter if I could help the person or not—he said to me, something that couldn’t come out of my mouth because it lives no where inside me—he said to me something that only someone I never hope to know or ever have to know could say—he said to me:

"Well, gee, Life is Tough sometimes."

First I couldn’t breathe.

I walked away.

I knew I was dealing with a person who had lost all touch with Love and Life and God and what was important.

I knew I was in the midst of a person who thought he was winning but had lost already.
And I know, there is no fighting that.

So, in practical terms, my family and I will need to pay for two moves: one, into temporary housing, and the second into our home, whenever they feel like finishing it.

But on another level, I am so sad for him and for the World, and for Builders and Contractors everywhere.
It is a sacred job.
Other human beings are hiring their talents to create a Home, in which they may live and create and love.
And instead of being aware of that duty, it is desecrated and dishonored in the name of money.
And sad.
I don’t want to be there when they are on their deathbed contemplating the life they lived and the actions they performed.

How I relate it to my own world? Why I get so upset?
I have the privilege of healing ‘A Home’.
Like a Landscaper.
Like a Contractor.
Like a Painter.
Like a Builder.
People hand me ‘their home’.
Their most precious possession—their bodies.
Their bodies that house their Spirits.
If I touch their bodies with love; if I touch their bodies and bring them comfort; if I touch their bodies and through our connection and my touch we realize God, I have done what I think I am meant to do.
What I hope I am meant to do.
Is it any different with a Domicile that houses these Bodies and Spirits?

I wish I could send my thoughts to Mark at Royal Palm but I know it would make no impression—his Soul is too young and Karma needs to hit him hard before he explores ‘why’.

In the meantime, he will keep building and ripping people off for their ‘upgrades’ and inconveniencing families because hey, ‘life is tough’.

In any case, in the meantime, until Royal Palm Builders decides to finish our home, we will be vagabonds from June through who knows?

(Just between you and me—I think these Builders and Contractors should be arrested for Prostitution. Let the Courtesans go!)

Is that another Slogan?


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