Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bahrry the Bizarre

Bahrry, as you all can now attest, was completely ridiculous.  In addition to the big themes running through my time lived with Bahrry (like smoking, marathon stints in the bathroom, and pseudo-rude/sarcastic e-mails), he did a lot of less notable (but no less funny) weird things as well.  None of these things can really sustain a blog post on their own, but together, they're pretty funny.  So, as my late Christmas gift, I give you the following list:

Bizarre Things About Bahrry
  1. We lived together during the fall of 2008, and when the financial crisis hit, Bahrry developed a new, annoying habit -- yelling at the reporters on MSNBC regarding the financial crisis.  I mean, I understood that the financial crisis was a terrible situation that was affecting us all.  However, I question the sanity of someone who is driven to yelling at pundits the way my dad yells at the Redskins when they're loosing . . .
  2. He slept with the doors to his room open, so essentially he was in the living room.  Luckily for me, he also frequently passed out fully clothed. 
  3. The moaning.  I thought I might write a whole post on this, but couldn't stomach thinking about the details.  Bahrry had a mysterious lady friend who would appear in the middle of the night, service him, and leave before the morning.  I never saw her, but unfortunately I heard her . . . loudly.  Bahrry, without shoes on, was shorter than I am and at least twenty pounds lighter, and despite his bathroom regimen, not exactly a looker, which begs the question, who was this girl and what exactly was she getting out of the deal?
  4. One Friday night I got home around 10:30 PM, which is pretty standard for me.  As I walked in the door, Bahrry said in a snotty voice from one end of the hallway, "In for the night already?"  I did not dignify it with a response.
  5. After cleaning the bathroom once, Bahrry took the candle I bought to relieve bathroom smells out of the bathroom and put it in his room!  This act of thievery was easily discovered, since Bahrry left the doors of his room open to the living room at all times.  This started the great passive-aggressive candle war of 2008.  As soon as Bahrry left the building I returned the candle to the bathroom and lit it.  He came back shortly and definitely noticed the candle, but didn't say anything, and how could he?  The best part about my little plot was that, in order for him to complain about the candle's return to the bathroom, he'd have to admit that he took it in the first place, thus making him look like a giant idiot.
  6. One day he left his own candles burning all day in the living room while we were all at work.  Luckily he did not burn down the whole building.
  7. One night Bahrry came home from work and before even taking his coat off, walked up and down the hallway spraying air-freshener.  Then he put his stuff down, went to the bathroom (for 20 minutes) and left again.
  8. He crossed his name off the cleaning schedule and put a date next to it, I assume to prove he actually did his job, as if it weren't obvious the once a month the bathroom got cleaned.
  9. On a separate occasion, Bahrry came home and sprayed air freshener in the living room for a solid minute or two, begging the question as to why he didn't just smoke outside?
  10. He drank my coffee without asking.  Do not fuck with my morning coffee.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bahrry and the Bathroom

Of all the extremely ridiculous things about Bahrry, his bathroom habits were the most perplexing.  He spent the more time in the bathroom than anyone I've ever met, although given the sheer number of hair products he owned, that's not terribly surprising.  How much time would you spend in the bathroom if you needed to utilize 23,418 hair products on your slightly thinning head of otherwise unremarkable black hair?

In addition to the ludicrous amount of hair products in the bathroom (I'm relatively positive he wanted a girl roommate to save face with friends who might have noticed the several different kinds of shampoo, conditioner, gel, hair volumizer, and mousse in residence), Bahrry spent roughly four times the amount of time a normal person spends in the bathroom.  I am not exaggerating this.  When my parents were in town and we were assembling a wardrobe in my bedroom, Bahrry was in the bathroom the entire time.  For an hour and a half my mom kept asking me if she could go to the bathroom yet.  Eventually, in the interest of time (and brunch), we went to the restaurant down the street.

Bahrry's bathroom antics became a running joke among my friends and I.  A friend spent the night once, and after 45 minutes of waiting so she and her hangover could use the toilet, she finally had to knock to get him to hurry up.  I quickly learned to use the bathroom as soon as I had an inkling that I might need to go.  I'm a teacher, so I know how to hold it, but this was ridiculous.  Anyway, I started sending friends updates of Bahrry's bathroom antics to amuse myself, so I have a remarkably accurate accounting of the time spent by Bahrry in the bathroom.  The month of October was a particularly fruitful time.  I will share this in the form of a bathroom log:

Time Started
Time Ended
Elapsed Time
(If known)
12:00 PM
12:48 PM
48 minutes
1:18 PM
1:35 PM
17 minutes
blow drying hair – please note that the above 48 minutes was the same day and did not include any hair drying
~2:00 PM
2:45 PM
45 minutes
1:45 PM
2:35 PM
50 minutes
11:30 PM
12:05 PM
35 minutes
~11:00 PM
~11:30 PM
~30 minutes
I don’t know, but I had to pee the whole time.
~1:00 PM
~55 minutes
Unknown, but I eventually had to knock to get a chance to shower myself
6:56 PM
7:28 PM
32 minutes
beautifying himself for a night out

On one of these dates (October 5th to be exact), I had a date.  It was on a Saturday afternoon to the Botanical Gardens.  Before I left, naturally, I wanted to be clean.  Bahrry, as noted, spent 48 minutes in the bathroom.  When he opened the door, both Dan and I sprinted out of our rooms to get to the shower.  Clearly we'd both been lying in wait for our chance to pounce.  Dan, being nice, said I could take the next shower if he could just pee first.  I then spent from 12:49 - 12:57 in the shower.  That's 8 minutes, in case you weren't counting, or about 1/7 of the time it took Bahry . . . and I was getting ready for a date!  Dan, since he'd been waiting as well, jumped in right after I did.  He took a respectable 9 minutes.  Together we took less than 1/3 of the time Bahrry did.  When Dan got out, Bahrry went back in to blow-dry his hair . . . which really throws a wrench in my calculations, but pretty much cements my argument that he wasn't efficiently using his time in there . . . 

One of my theories about Bahrry and the bathroom is that he took baths.  Frequently (even with the cleaning schedule!) there would be a ring around the tub, the kind you usually only get from a bath.  We didn't have a particularly stopped-up drain, either, which could have been another explanation.  Could Bahrry have been luxuriating in a bubble bath for all those hours?

On October 25th, as noted, Bahrry spent nearly an hour in the bathroom.  I'm not sure about the times, exactly, because he was in the bathroom when I came home from the gym.  After I'd eaten lunch and cleaned my room, I decided action needed to be taken.  I knocked on the door and asked if he were almost done, since I'd been waiting nearly an hour.  He came right out and said, "All you have to do is knock if you want to get in," snottily, as if it were my fault that I didn't take a shower earlier because I didn't tell him I needed to.  Ridiculous, but it gave me great insight into Bahrry.  He is inconsiderate and self absorbed, but doesn't feel guilty about any of it because he projects the "wrong" onto the other person . . . even when it's something as simple as three people sharing a bathroom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bahrry and Noise

  • Fact:  Roommates annoy eachother, no matter how much they like eachother.
  • Fact:  Roommates often accidentally make too much noise and wake up/bother the people they live with.
  • Fact:  Roommates are usually remorseful when they do one of the above things, whether or not they think the other roommates should be annoyed with their behavior.
  • Fact:  Bahrry made an unbelievable amount of noise, far more than could ever be accidental, and was physically incapable of taking responsibility for his actions.  Somehow it always ended up being my fault that he was loud.
Way back, before I moved in with Bahrry and Dan, they sent me a list of notable things about the apartment.  Here's what they had to say about noise and my response:

we are usually up fairly late and a tv or music at reasonable levels is common (though obvious consideration will be given, just don't want someone annoyed every night)  I go to bed usually between 10 and 11, but generally read or watch a movie on my computer for a while after turning in.  The room seems fairly isolated in regards to the living room, and I'm a really heavy sleeper, so it shouldn't be a problem.  My past two rooms have shared a wall with the living room and I've only had noise problems with one roommate, who is quite possibly the loudest person alive and also maybe deaf.  I'm sort of used to my early bedtime and the idea that normal people are still awake and moving about.

All of that seems pretty normal.  People watch TV later at night than my bedtime.  I get it, and managed to live fairly peacefully with eight other people on completely different schedules before I moved in with these two bozos, so I wasn't concerned.

Boy, was I wrong.  These two might have been the loudest people alive.  I'm pretty sure the people downstairs hated us.  I kind of wanted to go down there and explain that it wasn't me, and then recruit them for my cause -- Operation Shut the Fuck Up.  

I should probably back up and explain exactly how loud Bahrry and Dan managed to be.  They had a gorgeous flat-screen TV hooked up to surround sound speakers and a subwoofer.  It really was an awesome setup.  The definition was so good that it really looked like the Sopranos were in the living room.  Despite actually not owning a TV now, I do appreciate watching on one, just not hearing the TV two rooms away at 2:00 am on a Tuesday . . . which happened pretty frequently.

I should back up again.  I'm not doing too well with the chronology of this issue, probably because the noise was so omnipresent it's hard to pinpoint specific turning points in our roommate relationship related to absurd loudness.  Never the less, there is this one time that comes to mind.  I'd been complaining to a friend about Bahrry for weeks when she crashed at my place after a particularly raucous night of dancing.  We got home around 3:30 and drunkenly inflated the air-mattress on the floor of my room, probably making an ungodly amount of noise of our own.  At 5:00 am we were woken up from our drunken stupors by Bahrry and Dan watching TV on full blast.  We could hear every word and, this is the kicker -- the airmatress was SHAKING.  Yes indeed, the subwoofer was so powerful that the bass could be felt two rooms away.  I also finally had a witness to the madness.

This kind of thing happened repeatedly.  I tried to drown it out with my ipod to no avail.  I actually bought earplugs.  That $3 spent at Duanne Reade was the best investment I made while living with Bahrry and Dan.  Unfortunately they didn't work all the time.  If I went to sleep with them in, I most likely wouldn't wake up, but if the boys were making noise when I was trying to fall asleep, I was in trouble.  Being sleepy, in case you have not yet experienced me in that state, does not make me any more pleasant.  Yet, Bahrry and Dan wondered why I did not want to be their friend . . . 

I did, several times, actually ask the boys to turn down whatever it was that they had on full volume (sometimes it was the stereo in the living room rather than the TV, and occasionally the stereo in the kitchen was a problem).  Dan, like most normal people, would say "sorry," and turn it down a little, probably while internally being a bit annoyed at having to do so.  Bahrry, however, would have an argument with me about it.  He basically blamed me for being annoyed, because how could he know that I was woken up by the noise if I didn't say anything about it?  Fair enough, but if the bass is shaking the floor boards, it is most definitely too loud for anyone, at any time.

The noise actually set off our final two confrontations and my eventual departure, but those stories are too juicy to be told out of context.  First we will have to finish exploring Bahhry as a character through Bahrry and the Bathroom, Bahrry and Sex, and Bahrry and Bills.  It'll be an exciting ride. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bahrry and Cleaning

As I've mentioned before, I am not a super clean person.  Right now my living room looks like a laundry bomb went off, my bed is unmade, and I have a bag of trash by the door that's been waiting for me to take it out for longer than I care to mention in public.  If cleanliness is next to godliness, then I'm definitely going to hell.  For all of my housekeeping shortcomings, I AM considerate.  I never wanted to burden my roommates with my mess.  The beauty of living alone is that laundry doesn't really need to get put away as soon as it's folded.  It can stay on the couch for as long as I feel like leaving it there.

When you have roommates, of course, you can't really be so lazy.  You sort of have to adjust your habits to the other person's threshold for dirt.  This is one of the reasons why I liked living with boys -- we have similar thresholds for dirt.  I thought Dirty Artie was an outlier, but even he (with the hording and stale towels) was relatively clean in common areas.  Enter Bahrry and Dan and their request for a "clean, responsible" roommate.

Bahrry, Dan, and I had a bit of an interrupted Getting to Know You period.  I moved in and was there for less than a week when I went off on vacation for the majority of August.  That first week the apartment was relatively clean.  In my rush to get out the door to the airport on the day I left, I made sure to wash my breakfast dishes because I didn't want to leave the new roommates with anything extra.  The dish drain was empty, and (being anal) I meticulously lined up my dishes to dry.

Flash forward three weeks.  I get home from Tajikistan and Turkey unbelievably jet-lagged and with a bit of gastrointestinal distress.  All I want is a nice glass of water.  The Brita is empty, so I go to fill it in the sink, but I can't.  The sink is so full of dishes that I can't even angle the Brita under the tap.  Try as I might, my effort is futile -- every way I try to tip the pitcher, the water just rolls right back out.  Then I notice that the dish drain is exactly as I left it -- meticulously arranged.  Neither boy has washed a single dish in three weeks.  Then I try to put something in the recycling bin, to find that not just the bin, but the entire cabinet under the sink is full of bottles and cans.  I give up on being friendly to the earth and turn around to put the item in the trash, and it's overflowing with pizza boxes piled on top of it.  I can't win.  I leave the trash/recycling on the counter.

Then I go in the bathroom.  After a fourteen hour trip, I was desperately in need of a shower.  Looking in the tub, I almost threw-up.  It was so full of dirt, grime, and hair that part of me wanted to clean it right then.  Exhaustion took over, though, so instead I went and got my hostel bathroom flip-flops -- the ones I wear while traveling so I can shower without sharing *things* with all the other backpackers flitting through the hostel.  My first night back in the U.S. and I couldn't even shower barefoot like a normal person in my own apartment.

The next day I cleaned the tub.  Then I started to think about a plan.  I thought I'd try to catch the boys and suggest we grab a drink and talk about apartment stuff.  Unfortunately, I kept getting up at 5:00 am and going to bed at 7:00 pm, missing them entirely.  After a few days of being on this ridiculous schedule, I sent them an e-mail:

So I'm finally mostly moved in (need to buy some hangers this afternoon and do a few more things, but not too much), and pretty much over my jet-lag (so no more going to bed at 7:00 PM and getting up at 5:00 AM).  I go back to work on Wednesday, sadly, but it should be a pretty laid-back week since the kids don't come until after Labor Day.  I was wondering if there was a night when we could all grab some coffee or a beer or something catch-up a little and talk about some apartment stuff, like maybe starting a low-key cleaning schedule, dish-washing, and buying household supplies.  I don't know what your schedules are like, but I'm free most nights this week (through Thursday).  

Dan sent back a perfectly pleasant e-mail suggesting a time.  Bahrry's was a little more . . . snitty?  I'm not even sure, but he didn't seem game:

Wow!...ur alive? was hoping to hear about ur trip or see some pics sometime... I was beginning to think that maybe you were locked up abroad, kidnapped by gypsies, or contracted some contagious form of eastern block isolationism?

I don't think i've seen or heard from you since your arrival, other than the subtle clues of mysterious furnishings....and bathroom cleanliness...i haven't even smelled any coffee!

i suppose its a sign of the times when writing an email to housemates is easier than knocking on the door & saying wats up? we need to have an agenda and sign in sheet for a meeting? i'd rather just drink...i don't think i really answered anything...

talk to u later..

So much for my efforts at being nice and congenial.  Did he just not want to talk about the apartment?  Did he just have a problem with me taking the initiative?  And if you noticed how clean the bathroom was, how could you have not noticed how dirty it was?

Anyway, Dan came home from work one evening and we went off to have a drink, not really knowing where Bahrry stood on the whole thing since he hadn't ever given a real response.  Dan was really nice and actually took me on a little tour of Park Slope on our way to grab some beer.  Hours (and quite a few beers) later, Bahrry finally showed up.  At this point I didn't really want to talk about cleaning schedules, and I wasn't exactly in the right mind-frame to figure out Bahrry's weirdness.  The night turned out to be fun, just not super productive.

Given that I brought up the cleaning thing and then didn't follow through, I felt like I should try to broach the subject again, I just wasn't sure how.  Then I woke up one morning to find projectile vomit all over the kitchen, the hallway, and the bathroom (including the bathmat I bought).  It was disgusting.  I left a note on hideously florescent paper asking for it to be cleaned.  I can't even remember how I managed to shower, brush my teeth, grab coffee, and get myself off to work in the midst of piles of vomit.  I must have blocked it out.

After getting an apology about the puke, I sent this e-mail (which I thought was fairly reasonable):

So, I've been meaning to sit down and talk about starting a low-key cleaning schedule basically since I got back from Tajikistan, but it just hasn't happened.  Since I know that this week will be pretty crazy for me, and I'll be out of town next weekend, I figured e-mail was the easiest way to get it done and to keep the filth at bay.  I have a pretty high tolerance for dirt, and I don't really like to clean, so I was thinking if we just did something to keep things under control we'll all be happy.  Basically, I think if we each take an area each month (kitchen, bathroom, hallway and living room), and give it a full, thorough clean at some point during our month (sinks, counters, stove, floor -- we might need to buy a mop, toilet, etc.), and take care of the other regular maintenance things (taking out the garbage, recylcing so the entire under-sink area doesn't get filled again, etc.) and be in charge of buying household consumables (toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, automatic shower cleaner), then it will make the apartment a nicer place to live.  What do you think?  I don't think it'll be too taxing as I've lived in apartments where we've done something similar before, and it's an easy way to ensure that one person doesn't get stuck with all the work and buying all the toilet paper.  We can rotate each month, but here's where I think we could start for September:

Kitchen -- Bahrry
Bathroom -- Margaret
Living Room and Hallway -- Dan

I'm an elementary school teacher, so I can make a pretty chart for the kitchen :)  Also, could we please impose a 24-hour statute of limitations on dirty dishes in the sink?  I definitely don't always have time to wash my dishes immediately after using them (you will almost never see my breakfast dishes clean before the afternoon on a weekday), but when the sink is overflowing to the point where you can't even use the faucet, the dishes have overstayed their welcome . . . and we're beginning to attract flies and I'd rather not bring any other creepy crawlers in.

 I didn't get a response from Dan, but did get this bizarre e-mail from Bahrry: could make one of those spinning pinwheels things like wheel of the unfortunate with caricatures of us all i.e., (me smokin outta my ears and ashing all over the house naked, dan hurling outta every orafice onto every surface imaginable, & you in a fetal position hiding under ur bed w/ a bowl of cereal & a bottle of wine...and maybe some arugula in your hair for good measure)....then there would be another wheel with all the required mundane chores i.e., (bathroom: streak removal,plunging toilets & sweeping pubes, kitchen: removing rotting meat products, maggots, & science projects from sink,living room: hunting dust bunnies, couch cereal,sock & condom removal)...we could all drink & take bets on who will get stuck with even if you get stuck w/ something u don't want to do u might still get best out of 23 or so
its win, win or it could be lose, lose....but i'm optimistic 
i think this worked on the brady bunch just fabulously...

It kind of sounds like he's trying to be funny, but by not giving me a straight answer, he's also kind of being a jackass.  I concluded immaturity was to blame.  I never got an answer from Dan, so after a few days of not seeing them or hearing anymore, I sent another e-mail:

So, I'm going to take the silence and the sarcasm as a "yes" and roll with this thing.  I can definitely make pictures if you need the visual assistance . . . sadly, I have no "under the bed," so I'll have to adjust mine, and Dan's promised not to make the projectile vomiting a habit, so his'll have to be changed as well.  In the lower grades we take pictures of the kids and stick them next to their jobs in case they can't read their names . . . I bet that could be arranged.  Anyway, in all seriousness, I think the cleaning schedule will just remind us all to clean.  I know I won't remember until I get really grossed out and then get annoyed about it.  Might keep us from running out of toilet paper too.  I should be home around 7:00 and I'm hoping not to pass out before 10:00, if you want to talk about it.

Dan sent me a perfectly reasonable response, adding some of his own apartment concerns (like buying two-ply toilet paper, which was probably in reference to my tendency to buy whatever's cheapest), and generally was positive.  Bahrry, of course, could already be counted on to be difficult:

Sarcasm, of course...u get that for free...Silence? what silence? i was almost certain we were going to get chastised for being too loud last night?...I'm just glad Dave wasn't hittin the sauce...and i didn't burn the house down!

In all seriousness, are you always this serious???...I don't think we need to have a major parent-teacher conference about this; the basic premise is not unreasonable & the tasks seem fairly clear & familiar. I think all of us by this point in time are aware ,in concept at least, with routine household responsibilities (but you can elaborate and educate, if you can make learning fun again)...Do you have sock puppets? in the end if the rigor of a set schedule for our social obedience is easier to swallow and appeases the authoritative animal be it, i'm sure we can all be clean and comply...

...damn, what a relief!...and i was totally thinking you were Already grossed out and annoyed....?

well...I can't wait to report to my kitchen duties!  

So, I have several comments:  1)  If you think you're going to get yelled out for being loud (which actually did not bother me that time, but more on noise later), why not just be quieter?  2)  Um, yeah I was grossed out and annoyed, hence the e-mail  3)  I thought I was being civil, more than serious, but I can be a giant bitch if need be, so stop being an asshole, and 4)  If you think a cleaning schedule makes my inner authoritarian happy, imagine how happy I would be if you would just fucking clean up after yourself. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bahrry and Smoking

Ahh, Bahrry.  After posting my last entry, a friend excitedly said, "I'm so excited that your blog has reached the era of Bahrry!" and I have to say, I am too.  Bahrry was, as you'll all soon discover, by far my most ridiculous roommate (even compared to the one who caused me bodily injury).  So today we'll start with our first topic of conversation:  Bahrry and Smoking.

As you may remember, Bahrry sent me an e-mail before I moved in, but after I'd been offered the apartment, with a list of various things to be aware of about the apartment.  One of those little things was the fact that Bahrry "smoked out the window near [his] desk at times."  I replied that I was fine with that as long as it didn't smell up the apartment.  I wasn't anticipating there being too much of a problem, given how large the apartment was.  I've included a schematic to illustrate how easy it would be to keep smoke contained in this lovely brownstone floor-through, if one chose to be considerate:

Now that you're fully acquainted with our layout, the story may begin.  The day after I moved in, a Monday, I spent the day teaching summer school and grabbed some take-out for dinner.  It was a beautiful July evening -- not too much humidity, sunny, and clear.  I was eating dinner in the living room, watching TV and taking in the sunset (we could see the Statue of Liberty!) when Bahrry arrived home from work.  He sat right down at his desk and lit up a cigarette.  He made no attempt to lean even close to the window, nor did he seem to care that I was eating just feet away from him.  I didn't know what to do with myself.  I was stunned (not to mention nauseated), so I just poked around at my food, declared myself finished, and retreated to my room.

Most of the rest of my night was spent unpacking and debating what to do about Bahrry and the smoking.  I knew that I needed to be direct about it, but I really hate being confrontational and I didn't really want to start my second day in the apartment making a rule about something.  On the other hand, I took Bahrry at his word when he said he "smoked out the window at times," and I felt that he should have stuck with that.  I never would have moved in had he said "I smoke in the living room regardless of whether there are non-smoking roommates eating dinner present."

Later that night Bahrry decided to wash dishes (more on how rarely that happened later).  Apparently, smoking is something one can do while washing dishes.  Who knew?  In fact, it's practically essential to the dish-cleaning process, seeing that the smoke wafted into my room for a good twenty minutes . . . even after I closed the door.  I resolved to talk to Bahrry . . .tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I didn't feel any more comfortable talking to Bahrry about the smoking, but I also didn't really want to have to keep just trying to avoid the smoke.  So I went and talked to him.  I asked nicely if he could try to keep the smoke actually out the window because I could smell it in my room and it really bothered me so I'd appreciate it if he made an effort to keep others from smelling it.  Later I found a scarf at the crack in my door, which Bahrry had, somewhat considerately, put there so that the smoke wouldn't seep in through the crack under the door.  Apparently actually blowing the smoke out the window or going outside was too difficult for him.

A couple of days later I was in my room with the door open and I thought I smelled smoke.  At first I thought I might be crazy, but I went to investigate and Bahrry was just sitting in the living room smoking.  This time I just went right up to Bahrry and confronted him:  "We need to talk about the smoking.  When you e-mailed me and told me that you 'sometimes smoke out the window by your desk' I was OK with that because I thought you meant sometimes when the weather was bad, and that all the smoke went out the window.  Since I've been here you've smoked in the kitchen, in the living room while I was eating dinner, and now I can smell it all the way down the hall in my room.  If you'd been honest with me, we wouldn't be having this conversation because I wouldn't have moved in here.  Smoking is a deal breaker for me, so I don't know what we're going to have to do, but I don't want to have to smell it anymore."

Bahrry was a bit taken aback.  I really don't think he thought I had it in me to be assertive about it.  Bahrry, for all of his faults, wasn't stupid or unaware, he just didn't give a shit.  The look on his face when I told him that "we" needed to find a solution to the smoke problem was not one of bewilderment like those I used to get from Dirty Artie when problems arose, but one of surprise, like, "No one has ever called me out on being such a dick before.  Now I don't know what to do with myself."  What he did do was mutter something about how he didn't know I could smell it my area while halfheartedly opening the window a smidge more.

I left for Tajikistan and Turkey the day after this smoking discussion.  I'm sure Bahrry spent those three weeks I was gone smoking up a storm.  When I got back it was marginally better.  When I wasn't in the living room he would still smoke in there, but come back to my door and put the scarf in the crack.  When I was in the living room he found other places to smoke, like the fire-escape.  He did have one funny squirmy moment about the smoking:  

We were having a bit of hurricane-related rain when Bahrry came home from work to find me in the living room.  He sat on the couch for a while and tried to carry on a conversation, but kept looking out the window at the gale-force wind.  Then he'd get up and pace for a little, all the while keeping an eye on the weather.  I could tell he needed to smoke -- he was practically shaking for a fix.  Eventually he paced himself right out of the room to go smoke in the stairwell.  

Well, that's what you get for being a jackass.  As a wise friend told me at the time, "situations like this are the exact moments that the 'sometimes in the house' standard is made for:  hurricanes . . . blizzards . . . riots . . . " 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making a Good First Impression

I don't know about you all, but I always strive to make a good first impression -- whether it be with new roommates, a new job, or on a date.  I don't want to bring out the inner crazy until I'm sure people will find my quirks charming and endearing :)  Every time I got new roommates, I proceeded with caution, not letting them in on my visceral hatred of bananas or my weird dislike of dishes in the sink until we were on firmer footing.

Bahrry and Dan apparently didn't think about how important first impressions can be.  I was scheduled to move in on a Sunday, in the mid-afternoon.  After waiting four hours for my absurdly late movers (being Ukrainian, they stopped to take a lunch break after another move ran long), spending most of that time playing Rock Band with poor Dave, who was waiting to move his stuff from the fake room into the one I was vacating, I finally made it to Park Slope around 6:00.  Barry and Dan had planned to be there when I moved in, but because I was so late they had had to leave for a prior engagement.  No matter -- I had the keys and we (by "we" I mean the movers) got things started.

The movers, who now that they were actually there were extremely fast, brought all of my worldly possessions up to my new fourth floor walkup as I did little more than direct traffic.  Things were going on swimmingly when a middle aged woman appeared at the door.  "Who's moving in here?" she asked.
           "I am.  I'm Margaret.  Nice to meet you," I said as I extended my hand.
            Ignoring my hand she replied, "Well I'm the landlord and I didn't know you were coming," turning on her heels and stomping back down the stairs.  Meanwhile, one of my movers is carrying my bed up on his back.

My heart sunk.  What did she mean she didn't know I was coming?  I knew I wasn't on the lease, but I'd done similar things so many times in my three years in the city that it hadn't really occurred to me that that could be a problem.  I texted the boys in a panic.  They apologized and reassured me that they'd fix it and explain the situation to me when they got home.  I was not reassured.  The movers, who I have just paid $300, have just left.  I'm completely moved in whether the landlady likes it or not.

I try to start unpacking as the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach grows.  Then there's a knock on the door.  It's the landlady's husband.  I open the door and explain that I had no idea that they didn't know I was coming.  I'm a teacher with excellent credit.  I'm a really good tenant, I promise!  I smiled a lot and tried not to let my voice quaver.  He was much more polite than his wife, saying things like, "Don't worry, this will all turn out fine."

When Bahrry and Dan finally got home, they explained the whole situation to me.  Before they moved in in March, the apartment had been vacant for months.  At some point the landlady, while her husband was out of the country, had been persuaded by her broker to lower the rent to try to fill the place.  Bahrry and Dan signed the lease, including a clause that said that someone off the lease could fill the third room, and moved in while the landlord was still out of town.  When he got back and found out what happened, he was pissed and had been trying to figure out a way to raise the rent ever since.  A friend of Bahrry and Dan's who'd been subletting before me was subjected to similar scrutiny.  She was given a free pass because she was just there temporarily.  Apparently Bahrry and Dan had chosen not to tell me about this little issue because they were "sure it was going to be fine."

Lovely.  Not only have my new roommates started off our relationship with a lie of omission, but the landlords who live on the first floor hate me.  Oh, and it's possible that the rent might go up $600/month.  I also have not eaten anything all day and it's really hot.  I hate moving.

The boys go down to talk to the landlords, coming back an hour later with good news.  I'm being permitted to stay because the landlord thinks I'm "a real nice lady."  Glad that my sense of manners ended up being helpful.  Bahrry and Dan say it was worth a little abuse from the landlords to get what they wanted.  Dan tells me later that it really wasn't so bad because the landlords really focused their wrath more on Bahrry, since they hate Bahrry, which, in hindsight, is not that surprising.  Bahrry is a piss-ant, and one of the most contrary and aggravating people I have ever met.  Stayed turned for posts devoted solely to different facets of Bahrry:  Bahrry and Smoking, Bahrry and Cleaning, Bahrry and Noise, Bahrry and the Bathroom, Bahrry and Sex, Bahrry and Bills, Bahrry and The Letter, and Bahrry Be Gone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Park Slope Bound

As I got ready to relocate to Park Slope, I also tried to prepare myself to be a different kind of roommate.  I realized that part of my problems with Dirty Artie had stemmed from the fact that I let things bother me for a long time without saying anything about them.  Bottled-up, all those little things that bothered me would eventually explode or manifest themselves in ridiculous passive-agressivity (see Towels, or the Time I was Kind of an Asshole for an example).  I hoped that I'd have a better roommate experience if I was just honest and upfront about what bothered me when it bothered me.  Bahhry and Dan, apparently, did not get the memo about how it was time to be grown-ups.

Before I moved in to the apartment, Bahrry sent me a kind of odd e-mail.  The content wasn't too weird, it was just weird that he decided to share these things with me after he and Dan had already offered me the apartment.  It made me feel a little like they were hiding something, but at this point it was already July 16th and I couldn't handle looking for another place.  Nothing they said seemed too extreme, except that Bahhry smoked, but since there was absolutely no evidence of the smell when I went to look at the apartment, his story that it was an occasional thing checked-out.  More on how wrong I was about that later.  Brandon the Bartender had occasionally smoked out the window when we lived together as well, and it was never a problem.  In the spirit of being honest, I was exceedingly clear about how I felt and tried to give very detailed answers the questions:

  • do you currently have someone who plans on frequently co-habitating, i.e., bf or gf?  I don't have a boyfriend at the moment.  If I were to acquire one at some point, I'm very respectful about others' space.  Also, I'm lame on "school-nights" so I usually, boyfriend or not, don't have people over during the week.
  • i do at times smoke out the window near my desk (though i should stop at $10 pack!) as long as u can live with that  As long as the living room doesn't smell like smoke (which it didn't when I was there) I'd be fine with that.  I had a roommate a while ago who did that and it never caused any problems.
  • we are usually up fairly late and a tv or music at reasonable levels is common (though obvious consideration will be given, just don't want someone annoyed every night)  I go to bed usually between 10 and 11, but generally read or watch a movie on my computer for a while after turning in.  The room seems fairly isolated in regards to the living room, and I'm a really heavy sleeper, so it shouldn't be a problem.  My past two rooms have shared a wall with the living room and I've only had noise problems with one roommate, who is quite possibly the loudest person alive and also maybe deaf.  I'm sort of used to my early bedtime and the idea that normal people are still awake and moving about.
  • the room does not have a "true" window looking out to a is a large casement window into a skylit lightwell  I've come to terms with the window-ish quality. 
  • the room does have shared (but closed) doors to the adjacent rooms  Fine by me.  If you really wanted to get in, you could come through the hallway :)
  • additional storage in the hall closet directly across from your room is available  Excellent.  I definitely have a suitcase that could find a good home there.
  • there is only 1 if u have an earlier morning schedule that is preferred (we usually occupy 7:15-8:15)  That works really well for me too . . . since I've usually already left the house by 7:15.  Right now I get up 6:00, although with the reduced commute it will likely be more like 6:15.  The very, very latest I'll be in the bathroom on a workday is 6:45.  If I'm not working I certainly won't be in there before 8:15 :)
Bahrry wrote back that everything sounded great.  We set up a time for me to drop off the deposit and pick up the keys.  The apartment still looked lovely, although I could have done without the flat-screen TV blocking the view out the fabulous bay window.  I let them know when I would be moving in, and they said they'd be around.  Everything seemed perfect.  Things were finally falling into place.

I recognize that this might be the most boring blog post ever, but I promise you're all in for some crazy stories.  The four months I lived with Bahrry and Dan were quite possibly the most ridiculous four months of my life.  This post is really just the background and set up for everything that happened later.  In Bahrry (whose real name is in fact a middle-aged man's name with a rogue "h" in it) I could not have found a more absurd roommate, or a better caricature of a person to write about.  You are soon in for quite a treat.  Just be patient.

Original craigslist post (in lieu of pictures, since I never managed to take any):

Hi there!

If you have been eagerly awaiting a move into the Heart of Park Slope this summer then your search is finally over!

We have a Wonderful Medium-size Bedroom in our Graciously Charming & Comfortable 3BR Brownstone equally awaiting your arrival!

Available Immediately!..Showing Today! Saturday 7/12/08!

The Apartment: Large 1200sf floor-thru 4th floor walk-up (which means lots of real sunlight, no annoying drunken trampling from above, & no gym membership req'd)
- 3BR/1BA/Kitchen/Workspace/Hall Storage
- Beautiful original stained wood detailing throughout, large 3-bay windows w/ original wood shutters, fireplace w/ ornate mantel & pocketdoors in livingroom
- great refinished original wood floors throughout
- 10' ht. ceilings
- Fully furnished and appointed with WIFI, Cable TV/DVR/Gamesystems, & Large Plasma w/ Surround Sound perfect for the game or movie nights!
- Full Kitchen w/ plenty of storage, usable counterspace, new gas stove, and even a full stereo system (for your listening pleasure while you cook...and hopefully wash your dishes too!)

Location: Prime Park Slope, located on Union/6th Av. nestled perfectly between all the best in cultural/recreational/entertainment amenities, 2 blocks from Prospect Park,short walk to Museum, Botanical Gardens, Library... the apartment is accessible to both 7th Av. shopping/dining & 5th Av. nightlife...if its beverages you desire? Tea Lounge & Union Hall..what more to say? Food?...Park Slope Food Co-op (for the communist in you) or Union Market (for the uber-capitalist in you)
Trains - close 5min walk to B,Q,M,R,2,3...and 10 min walk to Atlantic for more trains and LIRR

The Room: Nice 12'-6" x 9'-6" room, w/ med size built-in closet w/two drawers below, ceiling fan w/ 3light fixture, full length mirror, added nook in addition to room dimension which comfortably fits a full upright dresser 3'-6" wide x 2'-6" deep,large light well window, room will easily fit a queen bed, nightstands, computer desk, bookshelves...the room comes with a 36" sony tv and xbox which you can keep in there and use or we can relocate it. Additional storage may be available in the hall closet directly across your door as well.

Us: 2 professional straight males in mid 20's-30 in architecture & finance. laid back and easy to get along with, fairly active w. busy schedules though still like to go out & have folks over at the house occasionally so we don't have a problem with folks over occasionally as long as its not an everyday party , we are both respectful and clean...and expect the same.

You: gainfully/legally employed w/ proof of income or verifiable assets (No Credit Check!), male or female of similar age group preferred,clean, responsible, no living pets (Pet Rock & Invisible ones - OK!), no hard drugs,someone who likes to have fun no couch potatoes or total pot heads...we would like someone who is actually up for doing something occasionally rather than just breaking in the couch and breathing our air!...also we do enjoy having music or tv on rather late, though at respectful if you need dead silence for bed by 9pm, probably not the best idea.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


After the year of filth and frustration spent with Dirty Artie, living with Andrea and Dave was a breeze.  With three people living in a small space, we certainly stepped on eachother's toes from time to time -- drunken noise, dirty dishes, bathroom scuffles -- but for the most part we got along really well.  We hung out in the apartment, but certainly weren't best friends.  It was a pretty good deal, but after reverse commuting to my new job in South Brooklyn for just a few months, I knew I had to move when the lease was up in August.

I settled on Park Slope, a cute, fun neighborhood just 15 minutes from my school.  The buildings are beautiful, the rent is a lot cheaper than the East Village, and best of all most of my co-workers (whose company I really enjoy) live there too.  Then, of course, came the arduous task of finding a place (and roommates) who I liked.  I must have gone to see somewhere in the vicinity of thirty different apartments in three weeks at the end of June and beginning of July of 2008.  I went to some places that I didn't like, or the roommates seemed a little off, but most of the places had potential and just didn't work out.  It was really frustrating because I think I sounded cool enough on paper (28 year old teacher, likes to go out and have fun but doesn't bring the party home, spending August in Tajikistan so won't even be around after she moves in!) to invite over to check out the place, but then I'd get there and something wouldn't click.

Finally I had some luck.  I went to see a lovely three bedroom and really hit it off with one of the girls.  She was planning on spending the following summer backpacking around Central Asia and was totally jealous of my Tajikistan adventure.  I didn't get much of a chance to speak to the roommate, but she seemed really nice too.  I was definitely optimistic.  Then I got an e-mail from Shannon, the backpacking girl:  

Okay, I hope this isn’t weird. You came and visited our apartment last Sunday on 4th Street in Park Slope. We filled the room but I thought you were really cool, and my best friend Jill (she lives right down the street) has a room  available starting Aug 1. I told her that I had really liked you and thought that the two of you might get along well.

Apparently I can make new friends while trying to find an apartment.  I checked out Jill's spare room, and I liked it.  She was great and the apartment had a backyard, but a pretty ghetto kitchen.  I was definitely interested, but kept looking through craigslist in case it didn't work out.  

A few days later I found another place that I liked (interestingly enough it had the same floor plan as the first place) and the roommates seemed pretty nice.  They offered me the room and I told them I would give them an answer by the next day.  Then I got this e-mail the same day from Martha, the other roommate from apt #1 who I didn't speak to much on open house day:

I know we bumped you around to Jill (but we like her, and we liked you too). I don't know if you are still looking for a room for Aug 1, but our situation is drastically changed. Please let me know if you are still searching.

Cryptic and intriguing.  After a little investigating it turned out that their landlord and the landlord's real estate agent were trying to dick them around.  Shannon, Martha, and their old roommate had a lease.  Shannon and Martha wanted to sign a lease with a new person when that one ran out.  Like any normal people, they went on a hunt for a roommate.  When they found her and tried to get the new lease drawn up, the landlady told the real estate agent, who decided she was entitled to a broker's fee of two month's rent from each of the three rooms -- despite the fact that two of the girls ALREADY LIVED THERE and that she, the agent, had done nothing at all to get the third roommate into the apartment.  Not surprisingly, the third girl backed out and now they were scrambling . . . which is when they came back to me.

So, just to recap:  It's now July 15th.  I've been looking for apartments for three weeks.  I need to move before August 1st, when my lease ends, someone else moves into my East Village room, and I get on a plane to Tajikistan.  Two days ago I had no apartments and no prospects.  Now I have an offer on a beautiful apartment with some seemingly normal boys, an offer on a place I really liked with roommates I really liked that might cost me $2,000 in illegal fees, and a third place that the second place recommended to me that I didn't like as much but really liked the roommate and I have about 12 hours to figure out what to do.

My head was spinning and I had no idea how to make a decision.  I decided to e-mail the third place and see if it was still an option, since I hadn't heard definitely either way.  Jill's reply made my decision for me:

I am sorry not to have been able to get back to you before. As you mentioned, there are mysterious things going on with Shannon and Martha's apartment, and as a result, Shannon and I have been talking about the possibility of her moving in to my place. It has been a tough decision, but this evening we decided that we would do just that, which unfortunately means that my room is no longer available for August 1. This has caused a fair amount of trauma and drama, and I didn't want to extend any offers that I wasn't able to uphold in the event that a good friend needed a place to live. So, please make a choice based on your offers now, and I hope that you've found a place that you love!

This has all be kind of stressful and ridiculous, but it was really nice to meet you in the process. Again, my apologies for stretching out our decision-making process here, but Shannon and I have been talking all night to determine if and how this would work out. I'd love if you'd be interested in keeping in touch, and hope you have a great time working and relaxing in Tajikistan and Turkey next month.

And thus, my decision was made for me:  the beautiful apartment with the boys.  Jill's explanation of what happened was so nice and genuine that it really made me think that, despite the insanity that is the NYC housing market, normal, decent human beings do exist.  Then I moved in with Bahrry and Dan, and that shook my faith to the core.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens . . .

Bright shiny clean kitchen and walls free of push-pins
Brown paper moving boxes tied up with string
Dirty Artie's moving day is one of my favorite things.

Even now, three years later, the thought of Dirty Artie's moving day still causes me to spontaneously burst into song.  No more bills paid 3 months late, no more nauseating after-shave (I would have to either close the door to the bathroom or leave the living room entirely right after he put it on), and no more filth in the next bedroom!  Of course, moving out (which I am clearly an expert in) takes some logistical prowess, so the days leading up to Dirty Artie's move weren't without strife.

As you know, Artie had two TVs in the living room and one in his bedroom.  Each one of those TVs had a cable box. Andrea, who was moving from the little room to Artie's room, had decided to keep the cable box in there.  Neither of us saw any reason to have two TVs or two cable boxes in the living room.  More than a week before Artie's move out date, in response to him about something unrelated, I also mentioned that we needed to switch over the names on the cable and electric bills.  Andrea and I, however, were unwilling to switch either of these things into our names until Artie took care of the overdue electric bill and got rid of and canceled the extra cable box.  I worded it a little more diplomatically than that, but I was very clear.

Fast-forward one week, to the Thursday before moving day.  Artie comes up to me at 11:30 at night in the living room with the cable company form saying that all I needed to do was sign the form switching the account into my name and call the cable company and arrange a pick-up of the cable box and they would take it away.  I was not amused.  I said that I would not sign the form until the cable box was gone, that's what I told him last week.  He looked at me funny and said, "You can't make one simple phone call?"  I replied, "Why can't you?"  He replied that he's never around, which is a valid reason why it might be difficult for him to be home for the cable guy, but not a reasonable explanation as to why this was becoming my problem.  Also, we had a doorman, or he could have asked me earlier if I could be around for the pickup, or he could have taken it to Time Warner himself.  In fact, there are many different paths he could have chosen that did not involve passing the buck . . . and I basically told him as much.  Eventually I told him that he could sign the form now, before he moved, and leave it with us.  I would then sign it and mail it in when the cable box got picked up.  As he protested, I said, "It's your cable box and your  responsibility."  He said "fine, do what you want."

I was sure, even after being firmly bitchy, that I was going to end up having to take care of it anyway, but it gave me great pleasure to feel like I'd made Artie's irresponsibility HIS problem for once.  Old roommates running up the cable bill in your name because you never switched it over?  "Lost" cable box billed to Artie Evinton?  The possibilities for roommate revenge abound, but to my surprise, Artie got up early the next morning and dropped the box off at Time Warner on his way to work.  I then happily signed the form and sent it in.  It seems that I finally figured out the key to handling Dirty Artie . . . the last time I ever saw him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Towels, or the Time I Was Kind of An Asshole

Artie's grossness and lack of consideration continued on to the point where I ceased calling him by his name and only called him Dity Artie, or the Garbage Man.  He left dirty dishes all over the kitchen for weeks.  He clipped his toenails in the living room while I was eating dinner.  He slept on his bed without sheets for two solid weeks.  The piles of garbage in his room remained steadfastly in place.  Bills were never, ever, paid on-time.

For my part, I was having a pretty stressful year.  I'd just started teaching high school, and was absolutely in over my head.  My general craziness was part first year teacher syndrome, part the really difficult population I had no ability to deal with (18 year old ninth graders, functionally illiterate in Spanish and speaking no English), and part my incompetent, bullying, sexually inappropriate assistant principal.  In the midst of all this work madness, which once made me cry so hard on the subway that a stranger offered me a kleenex, I would come home to a filthy apartment.  I've mentioned before that I am absolutely not the cleanest person ever.  If you came over to my house right now you might be a little grossed out, but the thing is that I live by myself.  There's no one else here who might be bothered by the fact that my kitchen floor needs a good scrubbing, and I'm the only one to blame for the dirt in the bathroom sink.  When you have roommates you have to consider that they might not want to be the only one who ever cleans a bathroom used by three people.  We actually had a cleaning schedule when Brandon lived with us, but it had somehow been abandoned when Andrea moved in.

But I digress, I had a story to tell here.  A story about cleaning, and towels, and the possibility that I'm the subject of someone else's jackass roommate story.  I've mentioned before that we had an awesome roofdeck, perfect for parties.  I decided to have a bunch of people over at the beginning of June, right when it really started to get warm, and also, not coincidentally, when both of my roommates were scheduled to be out of town.  It just seemed easier to have a gaggle of friends running in and out to get beer and go to the bathroom without having to worry about what Andrea and Artie were up to.  

An awesome view by day; even better at night.

Before the party I cleaned the entire apartment, since no one else ever did.  There had been two gross, dirty, towels on the back of the door of our bathroom for at least six months.  Since they hadn't moved, been changed or washed in that time period I assumed that they had belonged to Brandon the Bartender.   Cleaning the bathroom for the party, I finally decided that I'd had enough of the gross towels and threw them away.  Andrea and I both kept our towels in our rooms, and Artie had two on the towel rack.  These back-of-the-door towels were actually stiff from God knows what (dirt?  mold?) and I was embarrassed to have people over while they were hanging from (and frequently falling off of) the bathroom door.

Flash forward to the next day.  Artie is home.  He has noticed that the towels are missing.  He is peeved because they were apparently his towels.  A bit of a confrontation ensues:

Artie:  I noticed that the towels from the bathroom were in the kitchen trash this morning.
Me:  Oh yeah, I was trying to clean up for the party.
Artie:  Well, the thing is that they were mine.
Me:  Really?  I thought they were Brandon's since they haven't moved from the back of the door in six months.  I've been meaning to do something about them for a while, but finally got around to it yesterday.
Artie:  No, actually they were mine.
Me:  I'm sorry.  Since they were so dirty, and stiff, and fell on the floor almost every time someone went in and out of the bathroom, I assumed they didn't belong to anyone.
Artie:  Well, I'm not sure what I'm going to do now without those towels.
Me:  Yeah, I'm sorry.  I thought that those other towels hanging on the rack were yours.  You know, I'm planning on washing my towels today, I'd be happy to throw yours in with mine, since I accidentally put them in the trash.
Artie:  I don't think I really want to use them again since they've been in the kitchen trash can.  It's a little gross.  I guess I'll have to buy new ones.
Me:  That's a shame.  Let me know if you change your mind before I put my laundry in.

End Scene.  So the man who lives in garbage, with piles of newspapers, clothes, and take-out cartons taking up half his bedroom is skeeved out by the fact that his towels, with six months of his body dirt on them, have been in the kitchen trash can?  Is there something more offensive about the use of tide after a towel has been in with the coffee grinds and beer bottles than sleeping on your bed without sheets for weeks in a row?   I guess on the surface one roommate throwing away another's towels IS an asshole thing to do, but considering the situation, does it make me a jackass that I only feel a little tiny bit guilty and am actually happy that he had to buy non-disgusting towels? 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And the door revolves again . . .

After last week's break for a little rumination, reflection, and revelry (albeit abbreviated as a result of whatever illness I caught from the germy little monsters I teach), we're picking up where we left off with Dirty Artie and Brandon the Bartender.  If you hadn't already figured it out, I far preferred Brandon to Artie as far as roommates went, but Brandon, unfortunately for me, would be the next one to move on to bigger and better things.  He got signed on by a band and they went on tour and he was gone.  He left a check for the December rent and his parents came to pick up his stuff and fully move him out.  Artie and I were just left to find ourselves a new roommate.

While I was living in SoHo I found new roommates twice through craigslist.  I'd also by now found two apartments of my own through craigslist and was becoming a bit of a connoisseur.  Artie offered to take care of the craigslist ad since he still had one from the time he'd found me and it would be easy to edit for the new open room.  I was overloaded with teaching and graduate school and more than happy to pass the buck on this one.  Clearly, I had not learned the most important lesson from the cable bill scenario -- Artie does not think like the rest of us.

In passing one day, Artie asked if I was free on Wednesday evening to meet people interested in the apartment.  I was totally fine with it, and Artie said he'd start scheduling appointments.  By the time Wednesday rolled around, I hadn't heard anything from Artie, and with our completely different schedules, we rarely saw eachother around the apartment.  After running around all day teaching and attending an early class, I flew in the door to our apartment and ran to check my e-mail to see if Artie had sent any messages about who was coming when.  Nope.  Nothing.

I started to relax, slipping on my slippers and ripping off my sweater to accommodate our typically overheated New York apartment, when the doorbell rang.  I answered, and a nice, blond girl about my age put out her hand with a smile and said "Hi.  I'm Jennifer."  I looked at her a little quizzically and she added, "I'm here to look at the room . . . "  Ahh.  

It turned out that Artie had made appointments with prospective roommates, he just hadn't bothered to tell me about them, nor had he bothered to get home from work before they started happening.  So there I stood, by myself, in my work pants and a camisole, showing off our third room, a converted room made out of half of the living room (a fact that Artie neglected to mention in the ad), to more than twenty people between the hours of 6:00 and 9:00.  At some point in the middle, Artie got home from work.  He was more of a hazard than a help, though, not picking up on social cues that people were ready to leave, and most famously sitting with his arms behind his head on the couch and announcing after I complained about the heat, "Well I never get hot in here," with large-scale, full-on sweat-stains in both armpits on full display.

Finally at 9:00, in a lull that was unfortunately not the end of the stream of people, I told Artie that I couldn't do it anymore and I had work to do.  I had a project due the next day, and I was going to go in my room to work on it.  If any of the last five people seemed really great and really interested, he could knock on my door and I would meet them.  He did.  Five times.  He seemed to struggle with determining importance . . . 

At 10:30, when the last person finally cycled through, Artie wanted to debrief.  I was pushed to my limit and, as it frequently happened with Artie, lost my cool.   I couldn't discuss which people we liked at that moment because I had a project to work on, and had wasted half my night meeting people who I would have preferred to never have met (like smokers, free-lancers, and 19 year old NYU students), and others who, given all the facts (like that the open room had no real window and was made of plywood) never would have come out in the first place.  I was done.  We could talk about it the next day or through e-mail, but I had no more time to give this particular endeavor.  Artie, for his part, seemed somewhat mystified that I might not enjoy meeting twenty-five strangers in my living room.
Eventually, we settled on Andrea, who turned out to be my ally in combating Artie's insanity and happily moved into this little room until we were free of Artie and his garbage and she rotated into his room.  Andrea is my longest lasting roommate relationship:  December 2006 - August 2008, which, considering the crazies I seem to attract, is saying a lot about Andrea and her general awesomeness (even if she seemed physically incapable of emptying the dishwasher . . .hey, nobody's perfect).

Everyone's favorite part of the room, the window into the living room!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Ending and A Beginning

Eleven months ago I decided to start this blog for one reason.  It happened one year ago tomorrow.  My roommate and I had a normal roommate disagreement -- voices were raised and doors were slammed.  We were frustrated with eachother and were both having trouble understanding where the other one was coming from, when she quite literally snapped.  Not in the "laugh about it later" kind of way that any one of us might finally lose our patience and lash out, but in the violent, breaking the law and making the apartment unsafe for me to live in kind of way.  With the help of some fantastic friends, I moved out within 36 hours, and my life as a roommate ended.

I've always found writing cathartic, as any of you who've received an e-mail missive detailing some ridiculous thing that's happened to me already know.  When I started this blog, it was the story of that crazy roommate that I really wanted to tell, but decided that organizing things chronologically made more sense.  And honestly, who doesn't love a good story about a landlady making moonshine in her tenant's kitchen?  But what's funny is that, now, I'm somewhat reluctant to tell the truly crazy roommate story.  Maybe it's related to the little fear in the pit of my stomach I have that I'll run into her on the street sometime.  Maybe it's that, unlike bathing in a bucket, there's nothing funny about filing a police report.  I'll probably still write about it eventually, but it'll have to wait in line.  I've got a few more Dirty Artie stories and of course you'll all have to be introduced to Bahrry with an "H" and his two hour long baths.

So tomorrow, in honor of one full year of living lavishly alone, I'll be celebrating at at least one happy hour.  My New Yorker friends, come on out and lift a glass to all the fantastic friends who helped me one year ago, by giving me a place to stay, being my bodyguard, helping me pack (or really, doing all of the packing while I spun around in circles trying to get my bearings), helping the movers so I didn't have to pay as much, making me dinner and inviting me over for cake so I wouldn't have to be alone, proof-reading e-mails and checking on the landlord-tenant laws in New York State, calling to check-in, and even encouraging me to write this blog.  You're the best!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Cable Guy

On a rainy Thursday, much like this one, sometime in the middle of November about four years ago, I got home from a long day of teaching and grad school to find that our cable wasn't working.  I tried the second television (remember, Dirty Artie needed to be able to access multiple football games at once, in the same room), but alas, it wasn't working either.  At first I thought the problem might be related to the storm.  There was an announcement on the screen imploring the watcher to call the cable company to get to the bottom of the problem, so I did.  After the inevitable 30 minutes on hold hearing how "Time Warner appreciates your business.  Your call is very important to us and one of our representatives will be with you shortly," I finally got an answer -- no one had paid the bill since June and thus had managed to rack up more than $600 worth of charges.  I would have turned off our cable too.

You might be asking yourself, has does one manage to become that delinquent?  First of all, with the three different cable boxes and the internet, our bill was pretty substantial to begin with, multiply that by five and you've got quite the bill.  How Dirty Artie managed to forget to pay the bill in his name, that came to the apartment addressed to him every month, we'll never know.  For my part, it did occur to me that I hadn't paid any bills since moving in.  No one had asked me for them, and while I was suspicious, I rationalized away any thoughts of the bills by thinking that I'd moved in at the end of August, making me responsible for September bills that would come in October and be due in November.  I mean, no one likes paying bills, so it's pretty easy to pretend they don't exist.

Back to my phone conversation with the Time Warner Customer Service Representative, who was, despite working for Time Warner, perfectly pleasant and actually helpful.  I explained to her that I'd just moved in, the bulk of the cost wasn't mine, but I'd had a long week and really just wanted to watch "Grey's Anatomy."  She told me the minimum payment needed to turn the cable back on, and I charged about $350 to my credit card.  Then I wrote a note.  I tried to be nice.  I said that "somehow" we hadn't paid the bill in awhile and our cable had been turned off.  I calculated exactly what each of the three of us owed, and then what each of them owed me for taking care of the problem.  I expected to see checks on the board the next day.  If it were me, I would have been really embarrassed that my roommate had had to clean up my mess.  Brandon the Bartender delivered and wrote out a check as soon as he saw me.  Dirty Artie was another story.

I think one of the reasons why I was constantly frustrated with Dirty Artie was that I assumed he would act like a considerate human being about things, but instead he was as dense as a doorknob about almost everything.  Friday came and went with no check from Dirty Artie, no apology.  I got angrier.  He could watch one of his three televisions at any time because I fixed his mess.  The cable company could cut off the cable if we didn't pay, but what could I do if he didn't pay me?

Saturday morning, after Dirty Artie woke me up late Friday night by blasting the aforementioned T.V. that I paid for, I decided to remove the remote controls.  It wasn't exactly cutting off the cable, but it would be irritating and make the cable less easy to use.  I went to the gym and the grocery store, and came back to find Dirty Artie watching T.V. and using the remote from his bedroom!  Curses.  My plan was foiled.

At this point, I had to stop being passive aggressive and just confront the oaf.  I steeled my resolve and asked him if he'd seen my note about the cable bill.  He said he had, and "Oh yeah, thanks for taking care of that."  Hmm, shouldn't we be more concerned about the time, effort and money that it took for our roommate to clean up our mess?  
         "So, do you think you could pay me back?  It's a lot of money and I can't really afford to cover you," I say to the pajama-clad couch potato lying inert on the brown and orange flowered frat couch.
         "Well, my checkbook is at work, so I can get that for you next week," he says as he stares glassy-eyed at the pre-game coverage of some college football game.  I'm pretty sure at this point there was actual steam coming out of my ears.  I'm sure that he would have seen a better show if he'd looked in my direction.
          "If you're not going to pay for the cable now," I say, my voice careening into a bit of an angry shout, "then I would prefer that you not watch the TV.  I spent the good part of an hour and more than $300 fixing this mess so that I could watch TV, so as far as I'm concerned anyone who hasn't paid me back should treat the TV as if the cable company has cut it off."  Artie looks at me with this face of dawning recognition, like it just occurred to him that his inability to pay the cable bill for five months might have inconvenienced me.  He got up immediately, put on a more respectable pair of pants, and went to the ATM.  I was happily reimbursed in less than twenty minutes, and Artie once again had three remote controls at his disposal.