Monday, November 28, 2005

o home beloved

Some of you out there know what it’s like to live on a shoestring budget. And then there are those that know how to live with the lint that clings to a shoestring on shoestring budget. And that would be me.

My apartment is in a two-family house. That means, for those unsure, that there are two apartments in one house. Ours is on the first floor. All right, half the first floor. Okay, a third. My apartment lacks many things. What points it loses in style and comfort, however, are more than made up for in negative counter space and Addams Family-esque landscaping. Come with me, and let’s take a written tour…I’ll just give you some of my favorite spots.

When you first pull up to our home, you may ask if the zombies only come out at night. There is a patch of dead grass, approximately 3 x 5 feet in diameter, sheltered by a runaway shrubbery that looks like it could eat a small child. Up the stairs, and on the porch not painted, you’ll find a dirty papasan chair, a twin mattress*, a small Weber barbecue grill, and an empty wicker plant stand weathered by forty years in the snow for that “chabby chic” look that’s so hot right now. The house is painted a brown that the hue gods never intended. You know how they name the different colors of paints? On the sample card for this color, you’ll see the word “Wretched”. The roof had some emergency replacement shingles added last Spring, when the New England monsoons hit. One of two times I have actually seen my landlord at his property. (The other was when the pipes froze. I know, we’re so demanding.)

The Foyer:
A long, dark, stark, narrow, poorly lit, windowless, tunnel-like hallway with diseased carpeting and a coat rack. The hallway covers more than half the square footage of the whole apartment. You don’t see another room for 10 minutes when you finally reach the end of this hallway and scream for Auntie Em.

The Living Area:
Three drafty windows, with no screens, and more deadly carpet. White walls covering the burnt sienna paint underneath. Burn sienna paint was used by previous tenants who belonged to some sort of torture-by-color civic club. Burnt sienna snippets can be seen in full view on certain areas of the ceiling next to windows.

Lavender Walls. Laaa-venn-derrr….walls. Take it in. Mustard linoleum on the floor in a lovely geometric pattern that begs to be used as a bacterial reservoir for feet and toes. An oven that wanted to retire when Nixon left office, and a water faucet that sometimes goes on little hiatuses unannounced.

Deep dents in walls covered sloppily with caulk and painted over. A vanity with half a sliding mirror. A tub where only the floor of it has been resurfaced with a non-matching color. Several small octagonal tiles missing after having lifted and detached from the floor due to mold. Current tenants have covered said mess with an old window shade and packing tape, then placed bath mat flatteringly over all.

I think my roommates and I have all done what we can to make these quarters more comfortable. We have painted, scrubbed, waxed, stripped, covered, closed off, quarantined, and set fire to certain areas within our bedrooms so as to prevent the scurvy from taking us in our sleep.

Sun Room:
Back enclosed porch area with ripped screens, half a door knob, abandoned junk from 10 generations of tenants and a smell that isn’t human. (Actually, we have cleaned this portion of the house out quite a bit, but this was the condition in which we received it, and for this we give many obscene gestures.)

We don’t talk about the basement. We don’t go to the basement. There is no basement.

Someday I’ll have a camera, and then you’ll all be able to take a virtual tour. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed my alliterate home.

Now I know that y'all might be thinking right about now...stop whining and do something about it! Call your landlord, fix it yourself and send him the receipts! But don't write this pity party post and expect us to feel sorry for you! To which I will answer...but then what would I post about?!?! And what will I tell my grandchildren when it's time for one of those "I've had it much worse than you" stories? And furthermore, I'm beginning to like the Wretched house with man-eating shrubberies and purple walls. I pay month-to-month, I don't have a lease, so it's not like I can hold my landlord to any sort of binding contract (calling all lawyers: do I have a leg to stand on here?) And as far as pity goes, I'm not asking for it. This is just a fun writing exercise to see if I can capture the depravity that is my abode in written word.

How was everyone's Turkey this year? Scale of 1-10, you give it a.....????

*Twin mattress is a more recent addition to porch décor. We thought the porch needed something.
I am getting a mental picture of your living conditions and yes I feel extremely sorry for you. There it worked!!! You poor thing -- its tanamount to a lovely maiden being trapped in a dark wretched 19th century cursed palace!! You must escape!! Remember -- there's no place like home.
Woah... that interesting. But at least you don't have to worry about losing a security desposit!

Turky this year: 8.
Pie this year: 10+.
What would really add to the ambience is a broken down old car in the sideyard.
or maybe an old toilet on the lawn
Actually, the "lawn" (or the rank morass of sodden and impossible weeds) already features a small but tortured wooden chair, but it's hard to see these days. Joe will probably find it in 2007, next time he does "yardwork" (by taking an axe to every piece of foliage in sight, leaving shards of stumps that will pierce the army boots of those unfortunate enough to step thereon).

Mary, I can't stop laughing. You've captured the physical appearance of the apartment perfectly. My only complaint is that you've ommitted those ambient touches--the neverending moths, the ear-splitting roar of Mark's early-morning motorcycle, the deafening and house-shaking thunder of his early-afternoon Bob Dylan extravaganzas--that make the place truly home-like.

(Those who are wondering: I lived there for 8 months. Mary's the lucky tenant who replaced me. I'm sure she'll be eternally grateful for that.) :-)
Mary: it's true! I am a maiden trapped in a tower. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who sees it this way!

Got your email and never responded. I'm sending you a response soon! Give Terri my love!

g: turkey was an 8, huh? Well, pie is always more important, so if one has to compromise, looks like your numbers are adequate. Hope you had a great holiday!

cat: give me six months, I'm sure my car will fit the "broken down" description you recommend.

g: I'm sure the toilet we use now would work, since it currently only has one bolt securing it to the floor anyhow. Everytime time your rise from the "throne" it make this thud sound.

sylvia: thank you for covering those items I omitted! For those of you who don't know, Mark's official name on this blog is Harley Tattoo Neighbor Man. I especially love it when he brings over one of his many lady friends and blares suggestive blues music while I'm innocently attempting to read Neal A. Maxwell in my room. In fact, I think I'll have to post about that experience.
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