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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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?

5 (More) Pet Peeves: Home Edition

We live in an apartment complex of some couple hundred places. There are town homes, condos, and apartments of all sizes. When we moved here – just in November of last year – we really liked it. The rent was affordable. The area was almost too quiet. There are pools, a work out room, and the complex is relatively close to a lot of local stuff.

And now, as my husband feared, I fucking hate it.

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to live in apartments. For a while we considered buying a condominium, but the thought of being permanently tied to southern California would no doubt upgrade my difficulty finding reason to get out of bed in the morning to an utter inability to do so. I also like the idea of being able to get up and go without having to worry about too much, the sense of community, and some of the amenities as well as the ability to call maintenance for problems without having to deal with the cost and maintenance ourselves.

And still, as my husband feared, I fucking hate it.

I still like the affordable rent and all the stuff we have available to us. And I love the fact that we have had a lot of repairs that would have cost us an arm and a leg; yet, in reality cost us absolutely nothing since maintenance is included in our rent (unless we intentionally break shit). But some other things have happened since November that I don’t like. For one, no one abides by the pet policy (so it would seem), except for us. People are supposed to be allowed indoor cats only, and yet there are cats fucking everywhere. I hate cats with every breath in my body – I’m allergic and their dander and hair dropped on my front porch makes me sneeze and wheeze on a daily basis. Why the hell should I have to deal with that? Worse, as I have mentioned to you faithful blog followers before – one of those cats has completely destroyed my Midnight Jasmine. And don’t even get me started on the fact that they do not allow dogs of any kind and yet every other cotton-picking unit has a dog.

But it goes beyond the pets. Some hillbillies recent moved across the walkway. I can only assume these people are hillbillies because of the fact that I heard one of them say he lost his teeth. I see them come home with KFC and Taco Bell bags on a daily basis. It appears that none of them works, or at least works very little. By my count, there are 8 people living in the two bedroom apartment, with an additional 10 or so constantly coming in and out. They have parties every single fucking night. Every fucking night. They are loud. They are crude. Without a doubt they are hillbillies, and it is obvious that a lot of the neighbors don’t want to take it anymore (six other units have moved out since these people moved in).

Then this morning, we received a notice on our door that there have been recent burglaries in the area. So now our quiet and safe neighborhood is louder than shit until all hours of the night, and to make matters worse: unsafe.

SO I’m in a shitty mood (when am I NOT?). To blow off a little steam, I thought I would share five more of my pet peeves – home style ones. Now that I’ve gotten the neighborly ones off my chest already, my list focuses on my own house.

#5 Leaving recycling trash on the counter

I’m all for saving the planet, but sometimes it annoys the shit out of me. Not only do we produce very little recyclable waste, but we waste so much more in electronic waste as well as the enormous carbon footprint my husband’s car leaves behind. It thus seems almost a little childish to be making such a big deal about one ginger ale can once in a while. Not saying we shouldn’t recycle, just saying let’s keep things in perspective here.

We have no room in our place at all for a recycle can, so it sits out in our covered carport. The only job my husband has around the house is to take out the trash, which would of course include moving any of the recyclable things to the recycle can out by the cars. Annoying as all shit is when that recycling stuff, which my husband makes a federal case over “doing his part” for, is left on the kitchen counter – where I cook food. Trash, human garbage – often covered in bacteria and bits of food – left on the counter. Seriously – one fucking job.

#4 Wasting money “trying new things” that turn out to be crap

Last night we wasted an entire bottle of the crappiest wine I have ever had. Just as with saving the planet, I’m all for trying new things. But at some point, and with certain things, I really think we should stick with our “go-to”s, unless we have money to flush down the toilet.

Or down the drain, in this instance.

My husband convinced me to buy a new bottle of wine at World Market the other day. I was going to get one of my regulars but instead we got this Radio Buzz crap from Spain. When we opened it last night, you could actually smell the alcohol – it was that shitty. A couple sips and I couldn’t take it. Just a few more for my husband and the whole thing was dumped down the drain. I’m so tired of wasting money on stuff like that.

#3 Continuing to pretend like we are horticulturists

Speaking of wasting money, it has become my pet peeve that we must continue this little charade that we are horticulturists. As long as I have known my husband, and as long as we have been living together, we have been unable to keep plants alive. If our own lives depended on it, we would have been dead a long time ago.

I’ve done research, I’ve tried all kinds of different things – I just can’t keep them alive. Had a cat not killed my Midnight Jasmine, here, I would have (eventually). I have no idea at this point how much money we have wasted on this little project over the years, but at the very least the most recent destruction of foliage comes to $115 wasted. We bought those in February.

Maybe #4 and #3 would really be combined into one main pet peeve: wasting money stupidly.

#2 Leaving hairs in the sink

This really hacks me off. While laying in bed this morning, I could hear my husband trimming his beard and my blood pressure immediately began to rise because I knew that when I got to the sink it would be full of those little, annoying hairs.

They wouldn’t be so goddamned annoying if they didn’t clog the drain. I know they clog the drain and that my husband hasn’t told the maintenance people yet we need the drain unclogged. I also know that every time the maintenance people come they tell me to stop allowing my husband to try and fix things himself, because it usually makes the problems worse (this last time they said the management will start charging us for repairs because his attempt at fixing the shower door made it more difficult for them to fix, and they can always tell … how embarrassing that was).

So immediately after my husband leaves, I have to get up and wipe all of those disgusting fucking hairs out of the sink so that it doesn’t clog even more. Big annoyance.

#1 Not wiping crumbs off the counter/table

Oh my God faithful blog followers, this is the tip of the iceberg for me. I’m not sure why it makes me so crazy, but whenever anyone in this place leaves crumbs or smudges of shit on the counters or the kitchen table, I go absolutely bonkers. Maybe it’s because I have usually just cleaned only to see that a mess has been made. Maybe it’s because sometimes it’s in the form of leaving a knife with peanut butter on it sitting in the sink – the sink that was cleaned and will now have to be cleaned again. I don’t know, but I usually go ballistic about it. Like I did this morning.

There they are. My five (more) pet peeves. The home edition. Maybe the marriage edition. Maybe I’m just on the rag and pissed off at the world. Or just those hillbillies across the walkway.