Renters Forever, We Find Ourselves With No Home

My husband and I, we are lifetime renters. We love the perks of renting: we don’t have to deal with maintenance problems, we have the security of living under the wing of another entity, and renting in Southern California is – without a doubt – cheaper than owning. In the volatile market out here, the risks of renting as compared to the risks of owning are minimal. These are all facts.

What is also a fact, though, is that when you rent you live in constant fear that your rent is going to be raised come lease time. It doesn’t happen often, in fact my husband and I have only seen it happen once before when we lived in an apartment complex owned by a big, brand-name company. Otherwise, our rent has never been raised, unless of course it was because we moved up to a nicer community with more amenities. Which has happened a few times, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was of our own doing.

So in May of last year, we moved to what we thought would be at least a semi-permanent place. It has by far been the nicest place we have lived. Nice area. Gated community. Plenty of room. Quiet neighbors. Clean pool. The only complaint we’ve had has been that the parking situation is a little tenuous, but even so we’ve been really happy. Comfortable.

Almost too comfortable…

As our lease renewal has drawn near, I thought for sure they would raise our rents. It seemed a given – the economy has been rebounding in the last several years, and this is a nice place. But then again, the anxiety has always been quelled by common sense. Reason. Rationality – they can’t raise it that much. Can they? Sure, the economy is rebounding, but not to such a degree that we can’t justify staying here. There are constantly people moving out of there, so they must want to keep some people around…right…?

On Friday of last week, we received our letter in the mail. They were “offering us” another year here – oh how gracious of them – and for only a 16% increase in rent.

Sixteen percent increase. That’s FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH.

$485 a month. That would raise our rent to $3041 a month for 1400 square feet.

Let that digest for a moment.

Initially in shock, because I had never heard of anything so outrageous in my life, I asked around, emailed the company, and posted on Yelp and ApartmentRatings.com. I thought for sure this was a mistake. I mean, really. When we first moved in, the man who owns the other three-bedroom unit on the other side of the complex told me we were getting “ripped off” for what we were paying as compared to him. He is still here, and I included that in my emails and reviews.

I wanted to be reasonable and understanding, and honestly I didn’t want to leave. We like it here, we are very comfortable and happy. But we also live on the incomes of a freelance writer and a film editor who hasn’t seen a decent raise in his wages in as long as we can remember (in fact, we have lost benefits in recent years).

So I waited patiently, started looking around some more. And I figured that if we didn’t hear by the end of this week we’d have to get more serious about finding someplace else. Finally, after not hearing back from anyone, today I went on Yelp to find a response to my review. Here is the candy-assed response they gave me.

Response

So basically: don’t want to pay our rent increase?? – SEE YA!

Renters forever, we find ourselves with no home.

As the day wore on, the reality of this situation started to really sink in. Not only are we completely unable to pay the increase of rent at our current place, rental rates in the area actually are around the same as we currently pay but there is nothing available – so far – in our time frame. I cannot even wrap my mind around that, let alone how many people I know that rent for cheaper than we do but that are holding on to their good prices for dear life.

It’s starting to sound a lot like New York City. I always knew there was a reason LA and NYC seemed so interchangeable.

We have family that owns property down the street from where we live and rents it out, but they don’t want to offend the person they are already renting to by giving them notice so we can take over the lease.

Let that one sink in a moment too.

So in just eight, short weeks we will have no home. Or a new home, but where or how I have no idea. The other alternatives are equally as terrifying: we move into an hotel until we find a place that is in our price range; or we finally decide that this is time to cut the ties of my husband’s career and move all the way across the country with no home and no jobs to speak of.

Nonetheless, I am left with this more philosophical mind frame of the times in which we live. Where no one is safe or secure. Own a home and the market could crash and you could wind up in foreclosure with nowhere to go. Rent a home and the market could soar and you could wind up on the streets with nowhere to go. No one is safe, the middle class is being squeezed out of existence as far as I can see it.

It’s terrifying, really. We were so comfortable.

Advertisements

Now That I Don’t Live In the Ghetto Anymore, What Will I Talk About?

Those of you that have been around here for a while know that I have a history of living in ghettos.

It’s – of course – of no fault of my own. We’re renters, so there is always the gamble that comes with renting. The area could change over time. The company that manages your building could switch, change it’s policies…who knows? There is never any guarantee that you get what you are billed when renting, because – quite frankly – that is what renting business is all about. Conceal and disguise. Change and turnover to get more rents. Really there are these same risks when owning; and in fact, this is the reason why we choose to rent instead of buy – so we always have the easy out of the end of a lease.

But it’s been a challenge to find a place that is not in the heart of the ghetto. A challenge that has taken almost five years, and a familiarity with our local moving company.

The first place that my husband and I rented was in Los Angeles, city proper (outside of downtown but still a Los Angeles address). The place seemed nice enough – it was bigger than we thought we’d be able to afford, and had a gated entry to the building. I should have known something was up, though when we moved in. To get our bed into the apartment, we had to ask the neighbor to open his front door so ours could be maneuvered through the narrow hallway between the two units. Standing there in his underpants, scratching himself occasionally, we learned all about his “lady friend” who we should not be alarmed to see coming and going occasionally at odd hours.

Then two weeks later my tires got slashed in the garage. Three months later the garage flooded during a mild rain. There were also no windows on one side of the apartment, so the average temperature was somewhere between 90 and 245 degrees.

1924130_522874673353_3783063_n

The second place we lived was in Culver City. Our dog got run over outside the complex (true story, it was absolutely devastating). But beyond just bad memories, this place was so ghetto that there was a constant smell of weed smoke wafting around the courtyard; and whenever it rained the awning fell off the side of the building.

After Culver City, we had had enough of city life. We tried it. We failed it. There was no way we could afford the rents or mortgages or nice cardboard boxes in better areas of town so close to the city. So we ventured back towards where we came from – along the coast about halfway between LA and Santa Barbara.

Right back into the ghetto. We lived in our first ghetto outside of Los Angeles for almost two years. Fist fights at two in the morning outside were common place. Evictions all around us happened regularly. Someone reported a meth lab in one of the complex buildings and the entire building was evacuated for two weeks to be cleaned out. Our bedroom window faced the parking lot, so routinely we heard people’s outdoors arguments, and one time listened to a teenage girl sob uncontrollably for three, straight hours because her boyfriend dry-humped some other girl under the bleachers at school.

After that place, I thought it could not get any more ghetto on a day-to-day basis than that. I mean we had lived in the city, which was pretty bad; but it wasn’t daily. There were at least some days in the city – once in a while – that you could leave your house and not see a gang fight going on in the parking lot; days when you didn’t get held up because you were  being questioned by the police after someone had been arrested for drugs; or at the very least you could through your pathway to the parking lot without tripping over beer cans. I thought if anything, moving again would just be that same moderate level of daily ghetto we had come to accept as commonplace.

1917443_525091151513_266188_n

Then we moved to the Barranca Vista, and that daily level of moderate ghetto was paltry compared to what the Barranca Vista had in store for us.

Our lease at the last ghetto came up for renewal and they gave us a 14 month or a 16 month option. At the same time we were in the process of helping my dad sell his house so he could move in with us, so we were going to be needing a bigger place and more flexibility on our lease anyway. We looked for any place we could find that had a shorter term of lease, and we found the Barranca Vista as pretty much the only option.

I really, really wanted to love the Barranca Vista as our temporary home. It was closer to my dad’s house, which would make helping with the sale easier. We had two stories there too, so there would be more space. And there was a park – a beautiful, nice, park – in the back of the complex.

But gotdamn was that place ghetto. Most of the neighbors were unemployed, so there was a constant stream of people swearing, screaming, fighting, and letting their kids run around and terrorize everyone. There was always someone’s furniture being thrown out on the front lawn. A girl right across from us, about 12 years old, lived as a foster child with a hispanic family. They had no less than 25 people living in their unit. She would sit outside on the porch and make out with the younger boys in the house. There were gun shots occasionally down the street at night. One time we came home from the grocery store and police were outside our building. They said they were there to pick up someone on a warrant, and that we should get into our apartment and stay away from the windows.

Within about a month I felt like I was developing PTSD from being in a constant state of ghetto warfare. It was horrible, and thankfully my dad’s house sold with lightning speed and we were out of there.

Now I’m not meaning to say that all rentals in the community in which we live are ghetto. Not by a long shot – California, particularly the Central Coast (where we live) is gorgeous, even when it’s foggy and rainy and rattling from earthquakes. As with all places, there are just pockets – a lot of pockets – where shit gets real.

Now, after two months of living in our new home – which is bigger, cleaner, quieter, safer, and in a really good area of town – I can say, without a doubt, that at least for now we are not in the ghetto anymore. I have yet to see any arrests, or gang fights. No one has screamed at all hours of the night. There have been no meth labs, no drug busts, and no evictions. No furniture left on the lawn, no clothes thrown out a bedroom window by a woman named Titiana, screaming “you take yo shit to that whore’s house!” You never know, it could go downhill. But until then: now that we no longer live in the ghetto, what will I complain about? This place is so uneventful and quiet and normal that it’s bordering on boring. There’s nothing to talk about, nothing to gossip over. I almost feel a little reminiscent of the days when police reports and middle of the night arguments were common place…

1782153_741213715163_7705042662322389805_n

All I Want For Christmas Is An Animal Carcass

hipster-taxidermy

Is that weird? I think it might be.

I keep seeing all these commercials about what men should get their wives for Christmas. Get her diamonds, they say. Get her a kitchen appliance, they condescend. Get her gift cards to the mall, they suggest (as if I wouldn’t spend all my husband’s money at the mall anyway).

I want none of those, though. I want an animal carcass.

For a few years now I’ve been on this organic, nature-y decorating kick. Two years ago on our anniversary I got my husband to buy me a set of moose antlers, which are now covered in leaves and sitting on my bookcase. I made a ‘birds on a wire’ decal to put around our kitchen window. I even got a breakfast table that had iron branches and birds for table legs.

Don’t mistake this for me being into the outdoors, though. I fucking hate the outdoors. I’m allergic to pretty much everything. In fact, I can’t even walk to the laundry room without sneezing. I’m also easily terrified by things in the wild – birds, possibly poisoning plants, bugs. I’ll never forget that one time at Girl Scout camp when we had to use a rope to climb up a relatively small hill and I was so horrified by everything we climbed through that I vowed to never enter the woods again.

And besides those few times in high school (which compromised my Proud to be a Dare Graduate t-shirt, as well as my virginity), I’ve stayed out of them since.

So it isn’t about loving nature. It’s also not about loving animals. I think animals are so gross. First and foremost, they piss and shit. Sure, all living beings do but not typically on my carpet or bed or hand. The majority of them are out to murder people and each other and shit too. Survival of the fittest and all that, right?

Not to mention that if I actually loved animals, it wouldn’t be shown by hanging their large carcasses and various body parts in and around my home. I’m also not really an animal murderer, per se, either; for Christ’s sakes, I was a vegetarian for six years.

You faithful blog followers are probably asking yourself now just why? Why the animals? Why the nature? Why the carcass?

I have three, very specific reasons why I am really into decorating my apartment with animals and nature shit now, and why I want to complete our home with a large animal head or carcass, mounted on my bedroom wall.

#1 Animal and nature decor provides topic for conversation

It should be no surprise for me to describe myself as a little misanthropic. That’s actually putting it really, really nicely. I fucking hate people. I hate having to put on a smile and fake pleasantries with people that I know are not always pleasant. And I hate having to figure out small talk topics with people that either (a) have no brain to speak of, or (b) think they are better than me, for whatever reason they think that.

Having a piece of an animal hanging around provides ample conversation topics. So does bizarre, nature-themed decoration.

#2 Body parts of deceased animals implies I own guns

I don’t own guns. I wouldn’t ever allow them in our home. But I still would love to scare the shit out of people that might be interested in stealing and/or attacking me.

Say robbers walk into my house. They see body parts everywhere. Taxidermy on the wall. Antlers on the bookcase. They trip over my snake-skinned ottoman. This implies that were they to get caught, they’d also get shot and wind up with the same fate as the many animals that adorn my home. It also totally deters them from attempting to kidnap or rape any of us, because who knows? I may be sleeping with the guns I probably killed all those animals with. Or what if I murdered those animals with my bare hands and a knife, that I happen to keep strapped to my leg at all times?

There are so many implications that come with a house full of dead animals.

#3 Possibility for permanent chastity

What could be a bigger turn-off to Poor Nick than having a large animal staring down at him? Judging him for those awkward thirty seconds. Questioning him. Implying that he is less virile than the dead animal on the wall.

Having kids changes your sex life, but not permanently. And my razor-lined chastity belt always comes with the risk to my own hoo-ha.

But the head or entire carcass of an animal – any animal – would serve as two wins for this lady. It would complete the organic, nature-y feel I’ve been going for in our apartment, for years now. And it would provide permanent chastity.

So who’s going to call Poor Nick and tell him to get this lady the carcass of an animal? Or maybe just a head. I’ll take any animal, really. Zebra. Lion. Bear. Deer. I’d even take a minx.

My Conversation With Non-Hottie Maintenance Man

Big sigh full of bullshit, faithful blog followers. Big sigh of bullshit.

So a few days ago we received a note on our front door. It read that the apartment complex is happy to announce they are participating in some energy efficiency program, and were therefore planning to come and install new lighting fixtures in all the units. I’m sure for all the go-green-love-the-Earth-hippies out there, you are patting your self-gratifying-selves on the backs right now in honor of another win for reducing humanity’s carbon footprint. Hip-hip-motherfucking-hooray for you guys.

Okay that was a little mean and I really and truly have no problem with being environmentally friendly. I just resent how much it costs to do right by the world. Obviously, my only response to this note from the apartment complex management was not a jump for joy in honor of saving the world, but rather the simple question: how much is this going to cost me?

I’m a little done with unforeseen costs from this place. Between raising our rents, which I am still not comfortable agreeing to (despite how many times my husband says he’s tired of moving), and our ever-rising utility bills, I was already annoyed. Then my shit started getting stolen off the front porch. So I called the management, and they in fact said that the electric bill would probably go up a little from this new lighting fixture, but these lights are saving the planet.

Doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me, either.

So the guy came over this morning to install the new fixture. Let me lay out the scenario.

It was morning(ish). I was tired. I have PMS. I still have a cold. And my allergies are totally off the hook too. I was also super depressed this morning, and by super depressed I don’t just mean “down” I mean I had a problem getting out of bed (but that’s another story and I’m not getting into that because this is a funny blog).

So when I got out of the shower, I was kind of lagging and I put on my robe because I knew this guy was coming over to put in the new light fixture between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. I knew it was not going to be Hottie Maintenance Man because the note said they were independent contractors coming to do this work. So I didn’t much give a shit how I looked.

I have three different robes. One is pink and short, and my lady parts can be seen if I bend over too far.If Hottie Maintenance Man were coming over, I’d wear that one. One is red and I’ve had it forever, so long I don’t even remember when or where I got it. It’s also from my smaller-chested days, so sometimes the girls will arbitrarily flop out of them for no apparent reason. Then there is my purple one that fits properly and goes all the way to my feet. A full body robe.

This is the one I chose to wear while I finished getting ready and waited for the guy to come.

While putting on my makeup, the doorbell rang and after only a few seconds of not having answered it, the guy started fucking pounding on the door with his fist. I can’t stand it when people do this; as if I’m supposed to just be standing behind the door all day waiting for you to grace me with your presence.

I answered the door and he was a gargoyle.

I don’t mean to be a dick. I mean, it’s National No-Bullying Month and I do not, under any circumstance, want to judge others for the way that they look.

But allow me to anyway, simply because he offended me. This guy clearly hadn’t even showered today, which was evident by how badly he smelled and the green in his teeth. Standing at my door was this dude, his belly hanging out of the bottom of his stained polo shirt that was just about as green as his teeth. He was standing there with a ladder and a shitty look on his face.

He looked me up and down – up and down – as he breathed heavily through his rotten teeth and hairy nose.

Then he said it.

“Ma’am I’m here to install your new lighting fixture. Do you think you could cover up and compose yourself before I come in?”

Are you fucking kidding me, dillhole?

No … seriously. Who says something like that? Cover up? I was more covered than I would have been had I been wearing clothes. And compose myself? I’m sorry. I am not screaming and crying. My hair looks fine. And I’m almost completely made up. COMPOSE MYSELF MOTHERFUCKER?!

That’s not what I said, though. No … this special breed of dillhole, douchesausage gargoyle needs a special response. Fortunately, my whit was sharp as a tack today, so I knew exactly how such a prude would easily be offended.

And I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure he was. He didn’t say much more to me the rest of the time, except that it would in fact be raising our electric bill.

What did I say faithful blog followers when this special gentleman asked me to “cover up and compose” myself?

“Hah! Sorry, I thought you were the regular building maintenance man, here for my weekly schticking. If you see him on your way out, let him know I’m ready for some of his Italian stallion.” 

And then I walked back to finish putting on my make up while he installed the new lighting.

300th Post, Ruined By a Jerkface

Well it’s Happy 300th B(itch)es! I had this great post planned. I was going to do a lot of photos. Funny stuff. A list of confessions. And gunk about anniversaries and getting busy.

Then this total jerkface ruined my mood, so we’re sticking to the theme of B(ITCH)LOG for this one. This will probably be more comical than my list of confessions. And you guys didn’t want to know about how infrequently I shave my legs, or about that time in Cabo I always reference anyway…

This weekend whilst I canned pickles and sun-dried tomatoes and shit, the husband broke out the Halloween decorations to keep little hands busy so they weren’t touching my canned goods. It’s a little premature (Halloween being over a month away) but regardless of that, it was a helpful distraction and – anyway – it’s our home so we can do whatever the fuck we want. You don’t see me complaining to anyone because the neighbor has had fake weapons made out of foil with red marker-blood drawn on them hanging from his window since we moved here. No one’s come up dead so I figure he’s into that freaky, gothic crap. I didn’t storm outside screaming when the guy across the way sat on his porch in his tighty-whiteys scratching his balls and smoking for an hour one day last week.

If I want fucking pumpkins and maize and shit around my house, I’ll fucking have pumpkins and maize and shit around my house. What you do in/on your space is your business. As long as it’s legal and nobody gets hurt, of course.

And anyway, our decorations are relatively modest. There is a little fall display on our kitchen table that I made Saturday (pictured above), which sits at the foot of my large Buddha. (This just inspired my uber-Catholic father to ask if I was presenting offerings to Buddha and, thus, going to hell. That was a fun pseudo-Catholic-joke-gone-wrong on his part.) We have a skeleton in the bathroom that laughs when you flush the toilet. There’s a little, glittery mummy on the breakfast table. Some cobwebs and lights on the indoor trees. And my third-string boyfriend “Boney” (for his massive, invisible boner) hanging from my pot and pan rack.

You can imagine then how I felt when this middle-aged nerd in Harry Caray glasses, with a pot belly hanging over his belt and sweat dripping from his brow, knocked on my fucking door to inform me that our fall decor offended him. Motherfucker said it “offended” his “senses.”

#1: It’s September and the last time I checked there is fall shit everywhere. The only things we have outside are a little skeleton thing that he probably did not see, it is so out of the way; and the scarecrow sitting between our two deck chairs.

#2: Even if Halloween were a fucking millennia away, fall is later this week. Therefore, a scarecrow – unambiguously a fall decoration – is totally acceptable.

#3: If I wanted to plaster my entire front porch with lighted signs that say “Happy Halloween Dickweed in the Harry Caray glasses!!!” with neon orange lights blaring until four o’clock in the morning, it’s my right to do so. I pay rent the same way this dillhole does. I pay my share of the community water bills, likely as high as they are because of this dude’s extra need for summer douching. I have just as much a right to display what I want as he does to display any nerd convention shit he may choose to display on his front porch. My. Fucking. Right.

So I told that jerkface to mind his business and get off my porch.

My retaliation to this anally bleached king of the middle-aged nerds is going to begin tomorrow and not end until Valentine’s Day. From now until then, I will be decorating our apartment prematurely for every holiday I can possibly find decorations for. And I’m doing it big. We’re talking blaring lights. We’re talking shit that talks and scares the crap out of you when you walk by it. We’re talking Christmas before Thanksgiving. Valentine’s Day on January 3rd. I want to blow this middle-aged a-hole back to a time when people minded their own fucking business and just shut the fuck up once in a while.

It’s going to be great.

Happy 300, faithful blog followers! You can see my psychosis and foul-mouthed antics still reign supreme after all this time. I suppose it’s best that I was in true form anyway for this blessed post. Maybe one day in the future I’ll finally do that confessions blog and tell about the scandal in Cabo…

What, Exactly, Are Big Girl Panties?

Sometimes when I’m out to lunch with my dad, he’ll say something along the lines of: “yeez, Heather … you should probably stop woofing down those french fries like there’s no tomorrow, or you’ll have to upgrade to big girl panties.” The oddity that is our father-daughter repertoire aside, I always think of this when I hear someone say “time to put on your big girl panties.”

Of course when people say that, they don’t mean you’re getting a little hefty around the backside. Well maybe they do, but for all intents and purposes we’ll assume that what they really mean is: it’s time to act like a big kid. They mean that it’s time for you to grow up. For you to make a decision you don’t want to make. Follow through with an action you don’t want to do. It means that you need to make a sacrifice, be an adult, and act your age.

And it means the big R. Responsibility.

I can think of  a few examples in recent memory that I wore my big girl panties.

Yesterday,

in the grocery store parking lot

Yesterday, in the grocery store parking lot, a skirmish unfolded and I was confronted with the need to hitch up my big girl panties and move along quietly. A woman parked next to us as we were getting out to walk into the store, and she therefore was walking in about the same general area as us from car-to-grocery. As we all crossed the lot to the store, a car pulled up very quickly and started honking, the driver yelling “hurry up!!” Rude, I know, but having the Pookies in tow meant I needed to keep it down to set a good example.

“Some people are in such a hurry,” I said calmly as we finished walking into the store, but then the woman that had parked next to us turned around and started screaming at the car. “Bite me you son of a bitch!” she screamed, causing everyone in the parking lot to turn and look. Inside she was my personal hero; outside she really needed to pull up her big girl panties and move on.

Last Friday, over text message with my Trailer Trash Mom

I invited my mother over for dinner over the weekend and she accepted. I know what you all are thinking: I was being too kind. I was, but then I really wanted to get more dirt on what is going on with her Hillbilly Husband/New Mexico trailer-drama. What can I say, I like a good story. So she told me she’d let me know which day worked better with my grandparents’ schedule and then I didn’t hear from her for a few days.

Friday I texted her and said: “Hey, I just went and got all the food for dinner. Do you know whether Saturday or Sunday will work best yet?” and she responded that they were invited to a family tailgate party for the UCLA-Nebraska game, and had decided to (a) extend it into a whole-weekend-family-affair, that I was (b) excluded from on account of the fact that I don’t like either team. This is how that family usually rolls, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like my mom, so it really wasn’t that big of a deal. It was still rude that she handled it like that, though, and if I were to let it get to me I probably would have said something nasty. But did I get upset, and scream and cry about it? No. I pulled up my big girl panties and put the extra food in the freezer for us to eat later next week; then waited to smile when Nebraska got creamed.

But what if you don’t want to put on your big girl panties?

This morning when I woke up, I was immediately smacked in the face with my very real “big girl panties” problem: our rent is being increased significantly. The problem is very complex. We’re trying to move to the Midwest – something I have been waiting to do for about 12 years now. Signing a 10 or 12 month lease (the two options we were given besides month-to-month) will lock us in here for another full year. A lot can happen in a year, and as I said I have been patiently waiting and working towards this for 12 years. It will also increase our rent even at that. Another option is that we pay the month-to-month rate and starve to death. There’s also the fact that this place isn’t even worth what we pay now – we had an attempted break-in a few months ago, my outdoor vase was stolen just last week, and a child of one of the neighbors was kidnapped on the 4th of July. But moving to another place while we buy some more time to figure out the whole Midwest move thing will cost a lot of money and lock us into another lease.

Ugh, I know.

You can see why I don’t want to pull up my big girl panties on this one. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and in the end the only one that will really be suffering, acting like a big girl, and sacrificing for it is me. I’ll have to stretch the budget to make it work. I’ll have to go another year waiting. It’s very frustrating, to say the least.

So while I do believe that there are a lot of instances when we need to let ourselves upgrade to big girl panties, figuratively speaking of course; I also believe that there may be a time to say “enough is enough.” Is there ever a time when we shouldn’t have to put on our big girl panties? What, exactly, are big girl panties, anyway? I always thought they meant adulthood. Sacrifice. Responsibility. Stuff you do but don’t want to.

But is always sacrificing, never taking risks, and settling for less really living?

The Joys of Apartment Living

Every once in a while, one of my friends or family asks just why we are still living in an apartment. “Why not buy, do the right thing?” they ask, when I then have to remind them that we don’t plan on staying in this palatial California community forever. I don’t want to the run the risk of being stuck. Beyond that, we actually like apartment living to a certain degree. Every time something goes wrong, it’s as easy and free as a maintenance request. There isn’t that notion of being stuck; and if we want to up and leave, we have the luxury of doing so with little hassle.

But then there are the downsides.

Sunday we came home to see that notices had been tacked on the doors, giving a final warning about people that had things stored in their carport spaces (which is forbidden by terms of the lease). This has been going on for some time, which is why I call it a “final warning.” And to be clear, I have no problem with this rule. They outlined it quite clearly in the lease; I’m happy to oblige.

What I take a little offense to, though, is the fact that they go on and on about how much “pride” they take in “the appearance and cleanliness of our community.” You don’t say.

After getting the notice, we went out to do some errands. Grocery store. Toys R Us. Stuff like that. When we got back, I got a few immediate reminders that the appearance and cleanliness of our community isn’t actually something the apartment complex takes pride in. This carport storage thing seems to just be about proving a point.

Exhibit A: Sexy Time at the Toyota truck in carport B. What the hell is this nonsense all over this guy’s car? I get a simple practical joke, but this guy’s car has been like this for ages. Every day, children ride up and down this driveway on their bikes and scooters to see this message of sexy time and dick licking at the Toyota truck in carport B.

“Family friendly community” indeed! In the last few months, this place has become less family friendly and more cesspool quality, with hillbilly brawls, beer cans all over the place, and parties going until 4 o’clock in the morning.

Exhibit B: The un-policing of neighbor infiltrations. Some time ago, I saw that the large gate between our apartment complex and the one next to us had been halfway torn down. To begin with that, it’s an eyesore – much more offensive than people storing things in front of their cars in the carports.

Then one day I was in the laundry room and some people from the unit next to us (they were talking about how nice it is to have a complex close by with more machines, since their complex only had a few) – they took up all the washing machines and dryers, leaving us actual residents to have to do our laundry another time. When I told the complex about it, they said it was not their problem.

Not your problem? Well those neighbor infiltrators have trashed the laundry facility, as well as the swimming pool – to the point that many of us don’t use either anymore.

Exhibit C: Cats and dogs. So I would really love to have a dog. For those of you faithful blog followers that are relatively new, I used to have a dog – his name was Watson. He was only about one when he died; it has been a year and a half since and I’m still not over it.

The apartment complex we live in now does not allow dogs; although, they do allow cats. Almost every unit has a small dog anyway and the complex does absolutely nothing about it. Worse, they do nothing to police the fact that these cats are supposed to be indoor cats for safety, healthy, and sanitary reasons, and yet they allow the cats to roam, constantly with no notices or threats, such as in the case of the carport storage. Being allergic, I take serious offense to other people’s cats hanging out on my porch. They also use our jasmine plant as a jumping toy and shit on our ledge frequently.

Exhibit D: The Carolina Trees. I think Carolina trees are beautiful if – and only if – you keep up with their mess. For two months this summer, the Carolina trees in the apartment complex parking lot were shedding their flowers. Everywhere. Fucking everywhere. And for two months, the maintenance and gardening staff (that work seven days a week – working hard, driving around in their golf carts, talking on the phone, and taking smoke breaks) didn’t do a damn thing.

This meant that every single time someone walked into our apartment during those two months, they were traipsing those flowers in with them. The flowers are sticky and turn black and gross in a matter of minutes. We usually remove our shoes when we come home, but I think it’s sort of rude to ask a guest to take off their shoes all the time. Now that the mess has finally been cleared, it’s time to clean the carpets, which are awful as a result of the Carolina trees.

So you see, there are definitely downfalls to living in an apartment. The noise of other units is a definite drawback as well; although, I still consider these petty annoyances to be minor compared to being permanently stuck as a homeowner in California. And anyway, I’m snarky enough to just take things into my own hands, which I’ve done by responding to their little notice, dropping it into the rent box just this morning:

What joys of apartment living do you encounter, faithful blog followers?