Day 208

Level 2 Chi Kung.

With all three children back at school (in spite of Jack and Katie’s best efforts to get another day off by claiming to be ill) I spent the day on a task I have been dreading, and putting off since late-December. Ever since we left New Zealand in 1990, I have had great difficulty forcing myself to deal with issues relating to my house in Christchurch. At first I simply disliked thinking about other people living in what I still thought of as my home and, as something of a control-freak, I felt uncomfortable with having to do everything through a succession of third parties, none of whom seemed that interested in complying with my wishes! When we first left the country, we left the house in the hands of an estate agent, who neglected to tell us that the tenants he had arranged pulled out at the last minute a week before we left. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness when, arriving in a town big enough to have a post office (somewhere in Tanzania) I opened a letter from my mother, in which she calmly said that, months after we left, the house was still empty, but that she was just as pleased, as she didn’t like the thought of strangers in my ‘dear little kitchen’. The house was still heavily mortgaged at that point and I was horrified that, without rent coming in, the monthly mortgage payments were making a huge dent in our travel money. My mother had always been very hard-headed about financial issues, so it was hard to know if her apparent dottiness was a result of early-onset dementia or part of her campaign to get us to return to NZ! Years of frustration followed, with various relatives poisoning my plants (spray drift) and cutting down my trees, and my Dad (bless him) advertising the house for a rent way below what we agreed, and then complaining when the phone rang off the hook for days on end … and then reducing the rent still further in the winter (‘because it is cold and they’ll have power bills to cope with’). As a result, I have formed a pattern of behaviour where I try not to think about the house at all, until some crisis arises which requires attention. This hasn’t worked so well the last few years, partly because Chantall, the estate agent who is paid a hefty commission to look after the place, has her own dysfunctional behaviour pattern, in which she apparently does nothing at all unless relentlessly chased. On the 19th of December, Chantall emailed me to say that EQC were keen to get on with repairs to the house. I immediately felt guilty as I assumed that I must have missed the email where all the questions I raised about the scope of works (back in August last year) must have been answered and my heart sank as I realised I was going to have to trawl through months of emails to find it. Then Christmas prep overwhelmed me and I didn’t give it another thought until a week later when Chantall wrote again to say that the tenants had now given a month’s notice that they would be leaving on the 18th of January (not sure how that’s a month but let’s not split hairs) and that January would therefore be the perfect opportunity to get the EQC work done. I immediately sent a holding reply saying that I would need to trawl through some emails and get back to her, but got an out of office message saying that Chantall would be on leave for the next three weeks. Another of Chantall’s behaviour patterns is that she is inclined to contact me with urgent news/requests, immediately before she goes off on leave. Very annoying.

So, I spent the whole bloody day going through email, trawling through every communication between Chantall and I since 2012. And of course what I discovered is that I haven’t, as I guiltily assumed, missed a crucial email. The ball was left very firmly in Chantall’s court back in August, when she promised answers to my questions about the scope of works, and to get a second quote for the electrical compliance work EQC are requiring me to pay for before they start, ‘in the next few days’! It is a mark of how exhausting it is dealing with Chantall that I am only insisting on two quotes – in the normal way of things I would always want three. A few months ago when a new heat pump was required, Chantall again got only one quote, and we saved $790 and got an extra year’s warrantee by insisting on two.

Anyway, it being a new year and all, I have decided not to revert to my old behaviour pattern: I have set a reminder to chase Chantall for a response on the evening of the day she returns from leave, and weekly thereafter ad infinitum!

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