Summer 1998, after the mugging, my Mom offered to increase my odds in the crazy bay area housing market by buying a place that I could live in. After six weeks of searching with my girlfriend then Amy, I found a 900 square foot detatched split-level house in North-Central Oakland.
Turns out there's a creek in the backyard - Sausal Creek. So most of the backyard is thick retaining wall, concrete, but when it rains, you're rewarded with the sounds of rushing water. I built a flower box out of some timbers and managed to have some nice load of beautiful plants thriving there. It was a fruitful relationship I had with my plants, when I worked from home as a freelancer; once I started my job at Gamers.com, only the heartiest plants survived, and took over the garden from the other plants.
Looking out the rear windows of the place, you see a thick collection of leaves and trees. It was a perfect place for a home/office - the illusion of being in the country, but still walking distance from bank, groceries, food, postal supplies, gelato. And there's Dimond park at the end of the block, through that it's a short walk to my Aikido dojo. It took me five years to discover that!
I took the small second bedroom and arranged an office of sorts there.
When we moved into the house, the inspector found some rotted timbers. I met Don Pearman, recommended as a good person to fix the place back up. I ended up helping him on his web site, and he wrote about my rotted back wall. When he pulled the back wall out, I asked him to put in a paned window and a dutch door. It made that back corner seem a bit more charming, even if I didn't end up spending much time there. I tried making it into an art studio for Amy, but she eventually moved into the Bend instead.
Don helped me dig out the basement so I could store my things there. In October 2001, after some months of studying Japanese, I wanted to force myself to live on the road awhile in Japan. I found some very nice tenants Tom and Dana to live there for the 18 months I ended up being on the road.
Jane and I moved back in to the house from our residence in Kakio Japan in February 2003. I worked out of the office, she worked out of the garage. We filled in the garage door with a wall to make it more room-like. She and I painted the dining room a rich garnet red. She moved out September 2003, leaving me living there, working to clean out five years of media appliances and maybe even my collection of multicolored suits in the basement.
I didn't clean much of it out before I elected, sort of suddenly, to relocate to Los Angeles to attend graduate school. I packed up five years in four days. Under advice from my real estate agent Alannah Rayne-Kern, I removed all traces of my life from the place and paid to have the walls painted, the floors buffed and shined, the little broken things around the house repaired and the place totally totally clean. Walking through my empty, sparkling house, I thought, why didn't I do any of this when I moved in?
I put this old creekside home up for sale. Mom recouped her initial investment, and I was given the chance to use the profit to make a down payment on a house in Los Angeles; Culver City to be more precise.
Over the years, I had many wonderful regular or extended houseguests and roommates, besides Amy and Jane, Tom and Dana, there was Tongsue, Lulu, Austin, Ethan and Alexis, Svante, Brian, Harvey, Sanae, Steve, Kira and Andy.