Notorious Possession


3411 Holyoke Dr.
Los Angeles, CA

Camera and Editing: Stanya Kahn


You would think that I would feel remorse or conflict about being here but I don’t. I think that means I’m a narcissist.

I felt desperate when I first entered the house. Lets go I said to my partner after sitting around the table brainstorming ways to make a better buck. Our friend from Wyoming was visiting. He a failed artist, hand made guitar maker was now making a bundle flipping houses in Lander. This guy owned 5 properties and had become a bonified businessman.

So in we went. This was easy. The house was still in good shape. This was it! Niko trundled ahead and was excited about there being a stair case. “Mom lets move in here”. I always wanted to live in a house with an upstairs.” What a good fit. We’ll live here and rent our house across the street and make money to pay off our back mortgage. This is the way to get out of our debt. Staking out the place I still didn’t feel guilt. This is what you do to survive. Glenda didn’t want it. Better us moving in there than a bunch of irresponsible ne’r do wells.

We walked from room to room dreaming and planning. I looked a bit closer at the “We can do it” Rosie the Riveter light switch plate, yeah, that’s talking to me, me! The Febreeze bottle on the couch…….? Slowing down, I took in closely a cardboard box on the couch. I opened it up from the already opened end and read the packing slip. It was from the Neptune Society Crematorium services addressed to Patricia Gallagher. The bill for $1,020 was dated March 2010. It was Pat! Her ashes were in the box!

Richard was our friend. He lived in the back house owned by Glenda and Pat. He also worked for Pasadena Unified, he was a Special Ed teacher. Pat was a dispatcher for NY PD and had a decent pension from them which floated both her and Glenda. Glenda was a librarian at Pasadena unified until she was laid off a couple yrs back. They managed on the one pension, but once Patty died Glenda was cut out since they weren’t married.

Richard was a big help to us when we first moved in. He asked us to mow the lawn and let us know our neighbors, ie: Glenda and Pat were grumbling about the scrubby grasses growing. He loaned us his lawn mower but it broke. Then we bought his weed wacker from him which we still use. His daughter Brenna used to babysit Niko.

One day he came over and explained to us that Glenda never indicated to him that she was going to leave. It didn’t make sense. Why would she leave? That house was paid in full!

July 08, 2012- I am sitting in the house with Pia. We decide to have a work day together in the house. There is lots of room to sprawl and it was a chance for her to see it more closely.

After sharing all that was in the rooms with her, we sat and talked. She sat on the couch and leaned back softly into the denim. After a few minutes, she pulls up fast and says “its like sleeping in a dead persons bed.” I’m on the floor looking at the scrabble game score pad and agree. But I am all barefoot rolling around in the gradue.

Pia goes out to the car to get her fabric to work with. I go to the upstairs bathroom and let the water run in the silence. While on the toilet, I open the cubboards and look closely at the 3 jumbo sized bottles of mouthwash. More odor management supplies. Oxy clean, Kaboom, Foam-tastic, Shout, Arm & Hammer. I look at the 3 perfect blue circles on the back of the door. What were they there for? I thought about the sky paintings they did in the closets and contemplated putting in my own sky art behind the door. Nah, no ones going to look behind the door at anything. I’m lucky if they glance inside the bathroom.

I am making the house my own by crapping in the toilet. Although I’ve had the utilities on for over a month now, its my first time to use the bathroom in this way. I think about what Jessica said about home ownership. “Theres a burden for owning your own shit”.

So I’ve marked my turf and it felt good. Although I needed to let the water run. It would have been great to have no shame of my sounds. Great, now the toilet backs up on me. There was nothing extraordinary about what I put in there but it just wouldn’t go down. Perhaps the water running weakened the pressure. That’s what I get for being self-conscious. This was my comeuppance, my punishment for not having enough ego or confidence. The shit was going to back up on me … all over my art work. This is a sign.

I should have tested it before. That’s where my fault lay… only in that. But then again, it’s okay to not control everything. That’s part of the work. Of course, there was an industrial sized plunger there. This is a system problem! I got everything down okay, after a few flushes.

Glenda had the towing company on speed dial. She lived in the front room of her house with 2 dogs that she yelled repeatedly at. “Get in here now” I said now” I don’t remember the dogs names though. It was so loud but I didn’t hear.

I ended up being the lucky one to last see her. She was waddling around in the street trying to catch her running dogs. It was her relatives from Kentucky that were loading up the house. She told me she was moving back. Richard said she wasn’t cashing his rent checks and he was feeling concerned about his own vulnerability. He didn’t want to lose his housing involuntarily. We told him to call her and find out what was up. He did and a few days later with the update that she got her leg amputated. Richard said he was going to leave. He was going to move in with his girlfriend. He left a lot of his stuff behind and Glenda did cash the checks eventually.

Under the stairs was a crawl space. In there was a scanner on its side, a brass urn like lamp an oak veneer end table, a carmex chapstick, burts bees chapstick and a masterpiece level scrabble game kit. I’ve been eying that scrabble game to bring home to Niko to replace our own warped water stained game board. Before swiping it I opened it up to revel in my score. Instead of plastic spendor there was a legal pad faced up there. The top sheet said Patty plus Glenda and long lists of tally’s and numbers each game dated with a month and year from 2006. A small heart inked with pen in the corner. The pressboard backing had the same columns different dates and lots of hearts and truelove foreevers. Here was the evidence I was looking for in spite of the shouting across the street. Inspite of left behind crematorium box sitting on the couch. Aside from my projected narratives onto the bedroom door with the key dangling out it, they loved each other sweetly. The pressure of little pink houses and het-normative nasty didn’t punch the love out these women.

We had a realtor friend look into the particulars of the house a bit. We decided we could afford to pay the outstanding taxes. We prepared ourselves to pay them. We mowed the lawn and tidied things up. Our realtor friend emailed that he found that Glenda took out a $250,000 mortgage on the house. She owed the bank lots of money and they were going to come and get it. And they did.​​


On-site dinner theater

Actors: Amy Howden Chapman, Laurnea Wilkerson, Mireya Lucio, Olga Koumoundouros