I just spent four hours cleaning the house from top to bottom. Well, really more like three and a half, since I took a half hour break for breakfast. But the house is shining clean – hell, I even mopped the floors! It’s been a really long time since I did that, and I actually had to dump out the bucket of water halfway through the dining room/ kitchen area, because it got so dirty. I guess that makes sense, since that’s about the highest-traffic area in the house, but it was pretty nasty to see. I guess I need to do it a little more often, huh?

I used wood floor cleaner on the (can you guess?!) hardwood floors in the foyer, hallway, and library. They’re shiny and pretty again, save the one set of kitty paw prints running down the middle of the hallway. I wonder who could have done that?

So, when I wrote about falling the other day, Debbie emailed me and reminded me about yet another falling incident I’d forgotten to mention.

We were living together in a duplex on Goddard Street in Lisbon Falls, while the ex was stationed in South Carolina. It was in the winter, and there was a ton of snow and ice out, and we were going somewhere. I’m pretty sure Debbie was driving, because I usually made her drive – I’d be a happy camper if I never had to drive anywhere again; not that I dislike driving, but I’d rather be in the passenger seat so I can look around. We were taking my car, and Debbie was sitting in the car already, waiting for me to get my ass in gear. I walked along the icy sidewalk toward the car, and as Debbie always puts it, "One second you were there, and the next you weren’t!" – I slipped on the ice and fell flat on my ass.

That duplex on Goddard Street (should you ever make it to Lisbon Falls, well, first you have my sympathy, but if you turn onto Goddard Street from Main Street, it’s the first house on the right – not the one facing Main Street, the first one facing Goddard Street, and we lived in the duplex on the right side if you’re facing it) was such a shithole, I can’t believe we lived there for two years.

The spud was 4 1/2 when we first moved in, which means that Brian would have been around 1 1/2.

"Brian, take that rah-rah out of your mouth!"

Debbie had a job the first summer we lived there, so I watched Brian while she worked, and Brian very much took after his Auntie Rahbah (what he called me) with the falling stuff. Once, I was sitting in the living room, and he started tumbling down the stairs. I ran over and caught him by his foot. That wasn’t the only time he fell – there were one or two other times while we lived there, and I know he fell down the stairs at my parents’ house – but thank god, he was never hurt.

The duplex had a basement with a dirt floor, where the washer and dryer were. As the summer went on and it got hotter, the basement started to smell kind of funny. We joked about how there must be bodies buried down there, and once when the landlord’s wife came by to pick up the rent check, we made a joke, and she and her daughter got all freaked out. In retrospect, their reaction seems MIGHTY suspicious.

Next to the washer and dryer, there was a sink that the water from the washer drained into. After we’d been living there for a while, the sink didn’t drain as well as it had, and eventually, the sink would fill with – are you ready for this? – raw fucking sewage as something in the sewer line got clogged up. It would fill the sink entirely up, sit for a while, and then spontaneously drain.

And we wondered why it smelled funny down there.

There was no disposal in the kitchen, and you don’t realize how much food waste two adults and two somewhat picky kids get rid of in a week until you don’t have a disposal. We tried just dumping the food remains in the trash, but after the first week, when we went into the shed behind (attached to) the house, where we kept the garbage and found a lovely mass of flies and maggots. After that, we kept the food scraps in a big plastic container in the fridge, and when it got full, we’d dump it on my dad’s mulch pile behind their house, or find a big dumpster to toss it all in.

The sink in the kitchen was always stopping up, requiring repeated plungings with the toilet plunger. I remember clearly at least once, after getting the fucking sink unplugged, while Debbie was sitting on the front porch with a friend, I flung open the front door and bellowed "I CAN’T WAIT TO GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS SHITHOLE!"

And I can bellow pretty loudly, y’all. Just ask Himself.

The aforementioned shed was pretty damn big, and we kept a bunch of stuff stored back there. Once, I cleaned it out and held a big-ass garage sale at my parents’ house with the stuff I was getting rid of, and cleared over $200.

I didn’t have y’all to give it all away to back then, you know.

Next to the living room and kitchen was the dining room – if you think of the downstairs as a box divided into 4 squares, the two on the left were the foyer (front) and kitchen (back); the two on the right were the living room (front) and dining room (back). The dining room ended up being more of a toyroom for the kids, as I recall, and I don’t think we actually ate at the table very often.

The living room was small, but big enough for a couple of couches and a recliner (which eventually died and had to be hauled to the dump) and a small entertainment center. On the walls was cheap and crappy-looking wood paneling.

(You don’t know any of these people) See the crappy walls? The couch on the left is actually a love seat, which I got rid of after some time, and put a couch in it’s place. On the walls, you’ll see a poster of the US (on the left) and a poster entitled "Signs of the Times" (on the right). Over the windows hung multi-colored swags with mickey mouse heads on them. We were so fucking cool.

There was no downstairs bathroom, which ended up being a HUGE pain in the ass. The spud would be out playing with Brian and the neighborhood kids and wait until she REALLY had to pee before coming inside, and by the time she’d make it upstairs, she couldn’t get her pants down fast enough, and she’d wind up peeing on the floor in front of the toilet.

The carpeted floor, with carpet that didn’t come up.

Taken at a later time, this is the couch I bought at the Salvation Army to replace the loveseat. I had also gotten rid of the other curtains and bought red, white and black mickey mouse head curtains. See the pillow I’m holding on my lap, attempting to hide behind? I made that from the old curtains.

Upstairs were three bedrooms and the bathroom. One bathroom, four people. Shades of my youth…

I got the biggest bedroom because, I believe, I "called" it. I think the walls were light purple, but I may be making that up. My bedroom was next to the bathroom. Next to my room was the room the kids shared, and next to that, at the top of the stairs, was Debbie’s room.

But Debbie carries some weird gene my mother passed on to her, and always preferred for some weird-ass reason to sleep on the couch downstairs. The blue couch on the right-hand side of that picture above was Debbie’s couch. I don’t think she slept in her room more than twice in the entire time we lived there. Loooord did I hate walking down those stairs in the morning to see her sound asleep on the couch. I have no idea why I hated it so much – probably because of my anal belief that a LIVING ROOM IS NOT A BEDROOM, DEBORAH.

I’ve since loosened up. Really!

Here’s another shot of the living room. That’s Liz in the doorway – she was about to get married (not in that dress, though). You’ll note that the "Signs of the Times" poster is gone, replaced by a Kramer poster.

The spud wasn’t accustomed to sharing a room with anyone, least of all her younger cousin, and for the first few months, after we put them to bed and were sitting in the living room watching TV, she’d come to the top of the stairs and yell "Brian keeps WATCHING ME, and I can’t go to sleep!", and Debbie would yell at Brian to stop staring at the spud, and I’d yell at the spud to turn away so she couldn’t see Brian staring at her.

Sometimes Debbie would go out on Thursday nights, and I’d stay home with the kids. She’d wait ’til the kids were in bed before leaving, but somehow Brian ALWAYS knew when she was going out, and after she left, he’d come crying to the top of the stairs, and despite my repeated attempts to get him to stay in his room, he’d always end up there, so I started letting him sit up there until he fell asleep, when I’d carry him to bed.

The spud, Brian, and neighborhood kids on the porch of Dive Central.

There are about a thousand more stories I could tell about the Shithole on Goddard Street, but this entry has gone wickedly long, and I know Debbie’ll have stories to contribute, so I shall save the rest for another day.