Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bahrry and the Aftermath

It should first be said that, within 24 hours of getting The Letter, I had seen four new apartments and secured my favorite for a late December move-in.  Oddly, my reaction to the letter, other than shock at its pomposity, was fairly neutral.  All I thought was, "Well, I guess I have to leave now."  I'd basically been ready to leave for months, but just needed a little push.  I'm an incredibly persistent person, which has served me well in many instances (Peace Corps, anyone?), but it can sometimes get me in trouble.  Whether it be with a job, in a relationship, or with roommates, I have a really hard time realizing when its time to move on.  I always think that things will get better if I do this or that, since I've invested so much time/energy/money in this endeavor, it has to work; there must be a solution.  Often it does, and I'm rewarded for my resilience, but the mere four months I lived with Bahrry and Dan just was not one of these times.

Now, getting back to the infamous letter.  Lets start with content, and then we'll tackle what might be referred to as "craft," or "voice" were it not so preposterous.  Bahrry (as it was undoubtedly Bahrry's doing, although Dan remains culpable since he signed his name to it) made two points that I don't disagree with:  1) none of us was happy, so it was time for us to end our time living together; and 2) generally when a person moves into an apartment, they conform to the established order of things.  This is why it is especially important to be upfront and honest about your expectations before moving in with someone.  Of the three areas that were the biggest problem in our apartment (smoking, cleaning, and noise), any one of them could have been avoided by simply being honest about the situation before I moved in -- because in all honesty I wouldn't have.  No one is going to post a craigslist ad saying "we're hoarders!  come live in our filth with us!" but if you're going to say "we are both respectful and clean...and expect the same," you might want to wash your dishes at least once in the first month your new roommate lives with you.  If that seems a little too restrictive to you, you might want to reword your ad to say something along the lines of  "We're really busy people, and sometimes household cleaning gets away from us.  We're not hoarders, but neat freaks beware, there are no chore wheels here.  Hey, we don't even own a mop!"  

Honesty about the cleaning probably wouldn't have kept me away from the apartment, since I have a pretty high threshold for dirt, but a change of tactic (ie, the truth) about the noise and the smoking definitely would have.  I'm a teacher, and I get up 6:00 am (which is positively late in teacher world).  I'm passionate about my career and I care about my job.  I'm comfortable with the fact that I don't live the "work hard; play hard" existence of many New Yorkers.  If you've never experienced the pain of dealing with 25+ 9 year olds running about being needy (anything from "I need a pencil," to "She called me stupid," to "A boy beat me up in the bathroom") hungover, than you may not know what I'm talking about.  Try it sometime -- I guarantee you'll barely last the day.  Did I mention that you can't leave the little buggers alone if you start feeling sick and need to run to the bathroom?  This is not your "drink lots of water and try not to move your head too much" hangover of an office job, this is serious business.  But I digress, Bahrry and Dan and noise was where I was headed.  When Bahrry and Dan told me that they were "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)," and I replied that I usually go to bed between 10:00 and 11:00, but am a fairly heavy sleeper, I thought we were all on the same page.  Clearly we were not, since they weren't interested in consideration and I was interested in sleeping.  All they needed to do was tweak their ad to:  We are usually up fairly late watching TV or listening to music.  We are interested in a roommate with a similar schedule.  I never would have responded to that ad.

And finally, the easiest and most simple thing to have kept me away from that apartment:  The Smoking.  Smoking is bad for you and non-smokers don't like smelling it.  Most smokers don't even like smelling it in their homes.  It's illegal to smoke inside public buildings in New York City and recently college campuses have started going smoke free.  Almost every shared ad on craigslist mentions smoking in some capacity, and I would be willing to bet that, after the rent and the location, it's the most often mentioned characteristic in an apartment ad anywhere.  People are serious and unsubtle about it because it's a deal-breaker for most.  Had Bahrry simply said, "I sometimes smoke in the living room," I never would have moved in there . . . and I said just that within the first week I moved in.  If he didn't want to change his habits, it was his responsibility to be honest.

Of course, Bahrry and Dan didn't simply send me an e-mail saying "Hey, it hasn't been working out.  We all know this, and we think it's time for you to move on."  They decided that their message was best delivered in an overblown, pretentious, simile-ridden word document modified multiple times for amplified douche-baggy effect.  I'm not sure that comparing me to "a rodent held captive," or "missionaries whose purpose is to correct & save the heathen classes," actually makes me the one who looks badAttacking my job and the volunteering I've done by claiming that these "good deeds . . . are performed out of the desire for self-fulfillment, accomplishment, & ego-centric gratification of your own will & self-righteousness, rather than any selfless endeavor," really only serves to reveal what a condescending ass Bahrry really is.  Believe me, anyone who spends that much time in the bathroom couldn't handle spending a few hours in the airports of Ukraine, Tajikistan, Romania, or any other country I've volunteered in.  As anyone who has ever volunteered knows, rarely is anything truly done selflessly, but attacking others' work is a sign of a cold, resentful soul.

When I got the letter, I didn't want to dignify it with a rebuttal, but I did know that I'd have to respond in some way.  Living situations don't always bring out the best in people, me included, and I certainly didn't post Bahrry and the Blowup to absolve myself of responsibility.  It is just another chapter in my seemingly endless quest for a perfect place to live.  I sent Bahrry and Dan a quick e-mail stating:  "It is clear that we are all in agreement that we made a terrible mistake last summer agreeing to live together.  I did not read the whole letter, but got the gist of the hurtful language -- no wonder I've been so miserable here.  It's just really hard for me to be live with and hang out with people I don't respect and who clearly don't respect me."  I then asked for my deposit back and said I would leave by the end of the month.  Bahrry had a little trouble with that response.  I'm not sure how he wanted me to react -- sobbing?  a heartfelt note promising to mend my evil ways?

In my very last interaction with Bahrry, before I moved and set my gmail account to automatically send anything from his e-mail address to my trash, he sent the following (typos and all):

first of all, it appears our definitions of what constitutes respect are clearly at odds, as we believe we have never maliciously or intentionally willed any disrespect unto you and quite to the contrary have made considerable efforts & altered our own defined living standards to appease whatever concerns you have brought forth. We obviously had a certain level of respect for you from the onset otherwise we would have never invited you into our home. It is unfortunate that you have clearly chosen to brand us with such a negative image from your definitition of what constitutes respect which seems to hinge upon a couple dirty dishes & occassional noise...if we were to view the world through your lens, then we should be aghast, offended, & totally disrespected by your odd daily ritual of dirty dishes especially with spoiling milk on the kitchen countertop...i hope you weren't trying to be disrespectful with that??? has been clear that in spite of our best attempts at honoring your wishes, your negative perceptions are steadfast.

it is not surprising that you did not read the entire letter, as it clearly illustrates that you lack the respect or do not wish to be bothered by  the expressions or concerns of others...especially when it is critical or does not suit your self revolving purpose.

Also, he included a copy of my note and bolded the part that said "people I don't respect," as if that were some kind of damning evidence for his case that I might not have remembered writing.  Well thanks Bahrry,  now we're all on the same page.  You're right -- my morning cereal bowl that I can't be bothered to clean up until I come back from school, the one that I mentioned before I even moved in to illustrate how I feel about cleaning, the one that neither one of you ever seemed to mind sitting on the counter since you never asked me if I could wash it before I left, that cereal bowl is the key to our problems.  Now that I know that all that is wrong with me as a human being is embodied in a cereal bowl I can start on the path to righteousness.

While I, and most of my girlfriends, reacted right away to the flowery language and the length of Bahrry's initial letter, one of my guy friends saw right through it to the heart of the matter.  He picked up on lines like:  "we still do not know you," "we were not anticipating on sharing our home with some sort of distant transient or fleeting boarder," "We are not accustomed to, nor enthused about the obvious lack of communication, interest, & engagement associated with your hostile presence," and most importantly: "Although, we have in the past made honest attempts to extend an invitation in hopes of offering some chance for engagement & social interaction it is apparent that you possess no interest in pursuing any involvement with your housemates."  This friend (happily married with three kids) said that their letter wasn't about a blowup, or dirty dishes, but instead about not being their friend.  They met a cute girl, and thought "Hey, we could be friends with her and she'll bring more cute girls over to the apartment, won't this be great?" and apparently didn't think about the fact that they'd have to be good roommates in order for any of that to happen.  So to Bahrry and Dan, if you ever read this, you were right -- I moved into your apartment because it was beautiful and close to the subway and I never had any expectation of hanging out with you or bringing my cute friends over.  I wasn't against it, and it would have been a great space for a party, but my friends don't like to smoke and I never would have subjected them to that, or to Bahrry's general doucheyness.  And for Dan -- you missed out big time.  I always thought you were a nice guy, and had you not set your fortunes with someone as disreputable as Bahrry, I definitely would have set you up with one of my cute friends. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bahrry and the Letter

After the blow-up, things improved a bit in the noise, smoking, and cleaning departments, but I'd be lying if I said things were fine and dandy.  Things were a little bit tense.  I mostly just kept to myself.  While that may seem like a slightly ridiculous existence, I was hoping I could tough it out until the summer when a friend of mine planned on moving to the city and we could move in together.  I acknowledged Bahrry and Dan with a nod or a smile if we ran into eachother in the hallway, but we certainly weren't friends.  Quite frankly, I wasn't looking for two new best friends when I moved in anyway.  Looking back at the roommates I had prior to these two fools, I got along best with Jake, Brandon the Bartender, Andrea, and Dave.  We definitely got on eachother's nerves from time to time, but for the most part we were respectful of common spaces, of our roommates general needs, and shared responsibilities.  We all liked to have fun, and occasionally did it together, but there was never any pressure or expectation for the lot of us to be best friends.  That's all I really wanted out of my roommates.  My issues with the other roommates were myriad, but for me, I couldn't ever separate those living problems from social interactions, so the question of being friends never came up.  It's also one of the reasons I was wary of living with friends -- fear of ruing a perfectly good friendship over roommate disagreements.

Getting back to the topic at hand -- Bahrry.  Bahrry clearly didn't understand the concept of being respectful of your roommates leading to friendly roommates that might lead to genuine friendship.  I mean, he was missing step one, so it honestly didn't occur to me that he was interested in steps two or three.  But I digress, we're actually working with a chronology here, and you're probably wondering why I entitled this blog "Bahrry and the Letter" when all I've been doing is waxing poetic about friendships with roommates.  The blow-up happened in the middle of November, and in the weeks before the December rent was due, things did get better, and I made the decision to stay and take it month by month, all the while looking on craigslist for something perfect.  I paid my December rent.  At 1:05 AM on Sunday, December 7th (ie, late at night on Saturday), I was sent the following e-mail from Bahrry, which I opened the next morning:

Please see the attached.

Attached was a file entitled "Margaret Letter -- Final," clearly indicating that there had been multiple drafts of said letter, which is included below.  I will let you draw your own conclusions about the letter, posting my own next week.  I haven't altered or changed the following at all from the original.  I should also mention that, as a word document, this is three full pages, single spaced.

Dearest Margaret,

As the warmth & light of your late summer arrival has since faded & we find ourselves fast approaching the grey chill of first snow, signaling your third season with us, we find it forthright & necessary to present you with some of our most sincere & honest concerns regarding our current living situation.

As apparent from our initial invitation we were eagerly optimistic about the prospects of your arrival and the idea of having someone new & interesting to share our household with.  We were openly looking forward to the rewarding experience afforded by the opportunity of sharing a home enhanced by the exchange & interaction of unique individuals stemming from diverse backgrounds, interests & experiences all contributing to create a pleasant & enriching environment. In short, our expectations were hinged upon a living arrangement & atmosphere no different than the values that govern most customary human relations, bound on the premise of communication, consideration, & willingness to compromise when the inevitable conflict arises.  We do not believe our expectations were unreasonable in assuming this type of living situation could have been enjoyable & beneficial to all.  We were, perhaps falsely, anticipating the fruitful prospects of a peaceful & friendly living environment fed by the common will to enjoy & benefit from our shared interests as well as attempt to understand our differences.  

We feel as though we may have been unduly deceived by a quickly fleeting false fa├žade of personality & charm, strategically wielded with the sole intent of selfish acquisition of our residence, rather than the will to engage or contribute to it. We were originally impressed in finding someone of your caliber so involved in such noble & admirable pursuits, with works of charity & compassion in her arms, that we felt compelled to accept you into our home. Unfortunately, from our experiences with you, it appears a shadow has been cast on the glow of these seemingly good deeds, which we may only speculate (since we still do not know you) are performed out of the desire for self-fulfillment, accomplishment, & ego-centric gratification of your own will & self-righteousness, rather than any selfless endeavor.  Similar to the good works of missionaries whose purpose is to correct & save the heathen classes, whose manner of living is deemed unsuitable, by forcing upon them with charitable acts a new measure of order & control. Thereby attaining the salvation of their captor’s will & providing him with a sense of fulfillment. We feel this is perhaps analogous to our present situation, where we have suddenly been rendered into a subservient class restrained & chastised, subject to the new laws of our captor’s will.  

Upon your arrival, we can only assume that perhaps you were too overwhelmed with the daunting task of perusing listings & endless appointments to visit apartments, that perhaps you never thoroughly read our listing beyond the geographic location or just assumed the rest was inconsequential or malleable & could eventually be tailored to suit your specific needs upon gaining entry. If this was to be your modus operandi, then we unfortunately must inform you that it was never our intent to somehow misdirect you into the assumption that this would be an acceptable arrangement.

It seems as though you entered this household with a false set of expectations led by a belief that somehow we were looking to adapt and alter our lifestyle to the whims of some third party candidate entering anew.  Our contention is that any prospective candidate entertaining the notion of joining an already established entity does so with the understanding or will to either actively engage in, accept,  or assimilate to the set standards, and if not the party possess the freedom to decide otherwise. To us the onus of this decision bares solely on the third party and its substance should have been considered from the onset.     

In particular, we were not anticipating on sharing our home with some sort of distant transient or fleeting boarder, hence our taking the time to offer prospective roommates a very descriptive & thorough listing detailing not only the physical realities of the apartment, but also the existing lifestyles & personalities contained within. 

Though we have made avid attempts to accommodate & appease your recently expressed concerns and were perfectly willing to reach some mutual & respectful accord; we have yet to see our earnest efforts yield any positive results in the way of any improved “relations” other than a rather awkward and uncomfortable stalemate of silence & indifference. 

Perhaps you are accustomed to & prefer maintaining an aloof anonymity in your prior living situations, we on the contrary find it especially disconcerting & annoying.  We are not accustomed to, nor enthused about the obvious lack of communication, interest, & engagement associated with your hostile presence.

It would appear that the only contact & communication you wish to maintain with us as your housemates is limited exclusively to the realm of dictating mundane task-oriented functions to create some semblance of a simulated order borne out of an egotistic desire for control over an environment which you prefer not to have any true engagement with.   Although, we have in the past made honest attempts to extend an invitation in hopes of offering some chance for engagement & social interaction it is apparent that you possess no interest in pursuing any involvement with your housemates. We are uncertain whether this is customary in your previous experiences or are we exclusively so blessed?  Whether this behavior is intentional or incidental we can only speculate though no one is blind to the looming mountain of animosity which casts a foreboding shadow as you make entry into our once peaceful abode.

In spite of this overriding sense of some underlying hostility emanating from within you, we have made genuine attempts to entertain some level of conversation & engagement in hopes of eventually achieving some form of friendly common ground & peaceful co-existence, which we were optimistically certain could be an attainable endeavor…that is, assuming one possess the will to entertain the possibility.    It would appear through your behaviors & our increasingly limited interaction that the only relations you wish to entertain us with is that which is authoritative in nature & at times blatantly disrespectful in manner. 

Of particular note, we do not appreciate nor have the patience for the asinine, immature antics & temper tantrums suggestive of a self-centered child, such as those expressed in such sudden violent outburst one fateful night.  To further exacerbate an already uncomfortable situation, you exhibited the audacity to make idol threats foretelling of your intentions to abandon, as some sort of leverage over our living arrangements, which is equally intolerable & frankly absurd. This situation could have easily been averted & addressed as adults had you possessed the respect and courtesy of simply expressing your special needs in advance.  It would not have been a request so out of the ordinary that we would be unwilling to honor had we been respectfully made aware of the circumstance. We are not that unreasonable or intentionally disruptive & one would be hard pressed to make note of any deliberate actions on our part to exert any undue stress & suffering on your life.  Many of the problems we encounter appear to stem from a genuine lack of communication amongst us, whose root perhaps is the most bothersome as we portend it grows from some unknown branch of your personality inherently fixed upon the notion that we are somehow inconsequential or below the common respect of acknowledgement.  The seeds of such thought continue to perplex us though seem to bear fruit in the everyday behaviors & interactions, or lack thereof that we experience.  It is rather odd how customary, polite social engagements ,shared even amongst relative strangers,  such as “hellos” & “goodbyes” or the occasional “thank you” seem to deliberately evade our discourse. As brought to your attention previously, one would hardly know of your remote existence which lies somewhere in the silence between the occasional slamming door.       

We are not entertained with the pervasive presence of such festering hostility emanating from within the silent confines of your quarters.    It is as if the hostility brewing within the environs of your insulated yellow shell of solitude permeates the house much like the once loved lingering aroma of fresh ground coffee suddenly tainted, whose taste has never been rendered so bitter & unfamiliar.
We would assume & hope that you did not originally envision yourself forced into hiding like a rodent or recluse held captive within the isolated confines of your self-inflicted cage of repressed resentment. 
Although we do truly appreciate your responsibility in matters of household duties & punctuality with payments their benefits are typically short lived beyond the first of the month once the routine bare necessities of shared “living” have been fulfilled….but what better part of living remains beyond this rudimentary  form of existence, unfortunately as you would will it, nothing more. 

Even the crispness of a fresh $1000 bill to subsidize the outrageous cost of New York living has grown soft & worn, weathered by the daily toll & sacrifice from which it is earned. At what dollar amount does one sacrifice the enjoyment of life? Though the question is rhetorical & relative…the subsidy is simply not enough for this household.

It is obvious from your conduct that your time & experiences in our company have been nothing short of miserable & were it not for the convenience of the location, proximity to the train, & the considerable expenses associated with moving, you would have left, as alluded to, long ago.   
Though we would have loved things to have worked out more amicably, the trials of conflicting schedules & lifestyles exacerbated by what appears to be a genuine indifference or uninterested attitude towards attempting some friendly compromise or dialogue, have created an unpleasant atmosphere for all. It is not fair or healthy for any party involved to endure the constant feelings of annoyance & aggravation which frames the perspective of a burdensome & unpleasant living environment.

It is for the aforementioned reasons, which I’m sure you are duly aware of, that we are regrettably, respectfully & officially requesting you vacate our premises within (30) days or 1/5/09 .  Your deposit of $1000 will be returned in full for your compliance.  If arrangements cannot be made within said period your deposit shall be used on a per diem basis as needed.   

We do not harbor any ill-will towards you & wish you the best in finding a more suitable situation for yourself. We are quite certain that this is most certainly not the outcome any of us would have desired or anticipated, however we feel it is the best solution for all…. 

Bahrry & Dan

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bahrry and the Blowup

In the middle of November, when I'd been living with Bahrry and Dan for just three and half months (three weeks of which I was out of town), Bahrry and I finally had a huge blow-up.  It started, as these things often do, with an incident that wasn't entirely out of the ordinary, and had it been an isolated incident, probably wouldn't have led me to completely freak out.  However, after months of negotiating the smoking, the cleaning, the noise, the bathroom antics, the bills, and all the bizarre little things like candle thievery and random airfreshning, it didn't take much for the straw to break the camel's back.

It was a Friday night and I had turned in early because I had an all day conference that started early the next morning.  At about 10:00 PM, which I realize is quite early for a Friday night, I was watching the Sopranos on my computer while the boys were making noise in the living room.  Bahrry has his music on so loud I could barely hear the computer just feet from my face!  It got a little quieter, so I thought they were getting ready to leave.  The one big bonus of going to bed early on a Friday, as opposed to a day earlier in the week, is that the boys were bound not to spend too much time in the apartment and I could actually get some sleep.

After the Sopranos episode finished, the music started to get loud again.  I put my earplugs in and tried to go to sleep.  It was OK for a while, but then it got so loud I could feel the base.  So I went into the living room to ask them to turn it down, willing myself to be calm and polite, despite the fact that I was seething on the inside.  When I got in there the TV was on on mute with the music coming from Bahrry's room blaring and no one was even in either room!!  

I turned off the music in Bahrry's room, all the while muttering under my breath to myself about how ridiculous they were, how unnecessary the music and the TV were since they weren't event there, how I definitely wasn't going to pay the whole electric bill that month . . . and then bam!  There's Bahrry walking down the hall.  Now I was less calm.  

"I have to get up at 6:00 am!" I said in an exasperated voice.

"Well, we didn't know you were home," replied Bahrry.

"Well I am, and I'm trying to sleep and all I ask you to do is fucking be considerate."

"We," he repeated, despite the fact that Dan wasn't involved at all, watching TV at a reasonable level in his own room, "didn't know you were home."

Holding up my hands, and in a bit of a yell I say "I am this close to moving, and if you can't be considerate, I will!" and then I stomped off to my room.

Of course, I couldn't fall asleep after that.  While I can understand that he didn't know I was out, and that it isn't normal for me to get up at 6:00 am on a Saturday, it was too loud for the neighbors or for me to do anything in my room awake.  And what was his excuse for all the other times, that he "didn't know" I was home at 2 am on a Wednesday?

The next afternoon when I got home from my conference, I knew I had to talk to him.  I planned on being honest and contrite, to apologize for yelling, but to explain that I'd been pushed to my breaking point and that I just couldn't live with such an inconsiderate person.  I never moved in there thinking I would stay less than the year agreed upon.  I never intended to screw them, but I wasn't on the lease, and I'd have to leave in they didn't make some changes.

I followed my plan, and Bahrry, in true Bahrry fashion, tried to pawn it all off on me and make it my fault.  He said that they were clear about their lifestyle and I clearly didn't read the e-mail they sent.  My retort was that I answered each one of the questions thoroughly, so it should have been clear to them that it wasn't a good match.  Then Bahrry changed tactics and started blaming Dan!  Bahrry claimed that he always knew it wasn't going to work out but Dan, nice, considerate, door-mat-ish, does everything Bahrry asks Dan, apparently strong-armed Bahrry into allowing me to move in.  Clearly, Bahrry is completely full of shit, although I restrained myself from telling him that, and instead said, "The next time you chose a roommate, you have to be clear that it won't work and not invite them to move in unless you are willing to change."

The basic gist of the rest of the conversation was that Bahrry thought I should tell him every time something little bothered me, and I thought he should just be considerate.  We had a circular argument about it for a while, in which he would say something like "You have to tell me if the TV is too loud," and I would say, "I am telling you now that I'm not comfortable telling you every time you leave a dish in the sink and every time you have the TV on full blast after 11 PM."  It was not a terribly productive conversation.  I even told Bahrry flat out that he was "90% of the problem," and that I could live just fine with just Dan.

Then I told him that, despite any misgivings he might have had but not voiced before I moved in, they didn't matter much because I was there now.  I told him I was voicing my expectations, and that I would move if they were not met.  In most apartments this would probably be the logical solution to all of our problems, but I was trying really hard to make it work because moving is really time consuming and expensive, although I was reaching the end of my rope as far as this situation went.  I also thought a compromise would benefit the boys, who, if you remember Making a Good First Impression, actually were not allowed by the landlords to have another person move into my room.  If I left, so did my $1,000 contribution to the rent, with no real options for replacement.

I did admit to partial culpability, in the spirit of being a better person, because I do tend to not be confrontational about things, and then crack.  I have never, before or since, met someone as inconsiderate as Bahrry, though, which, in the heat of the moment, I actually said.  I suppose it was a little bit of a fake admission then, but whatever.  I was willing to do whatever it took at that point to just coexist . . . which I managed to do for just a little bit longer.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bahrry and Bills

This post starts marks the beginning of the end of the era of Bahrry.  Up until this point, the ridiculous things Bahrry did were irritating, grating, and obnoxious, but around the time of the bill confrontation, things began to get unbearable.  As it was, I already spent most of my time in the apartment in my room because I didn't want to deal with Bahrry and the smoking, the yelling at the TV, or the random air-freshening.  Dan was perfectly pleasant, but after a long day at work I really didn't want to have to have small talk with people whose habits were making me miserable.  With the exception of eating and making dinner, I mostly kept to myself.  My room was my sanctuary.

One day in the middle of November, Bahrry knocked on my door to tell me about the utility bill.  Mind you, I moved in in the beginning of August, and this was the first I'd heard of any of the bills we might have to pay.  I mean, I knew that I was going to have to pay bills eventually, and I knew they were probably going to be high because the boys were terrible about turning things off, but with all the other things going on, nagging about paying the bills on-time didn't exactly seem necessary.  As Bahrry started to tell me about the utility bill, scenes started flashing through my mind, like in a movie, of all the wasteful things I'd encountered in that apartment -- Bahrry's smoking window open while the AC was on all day, flash!  all the lights on in the apartment, flash!  the radio left on all day, flash!  the TV left on when no one was in the room, flash!  fans on inside when it's cold outside, flash!  I snapped out of it as I realized that Bahrry had just said the words "hundred" and "dollars" in the same sentence.

What??  $170 for two months, and that was just my portion.  All of August alone was more than $300, and I wasn't even in the country.  That's fucking OUTRAGEOUSLY high, and I essentially told Bahrry that.  In my old apartment, we only paid $15 a month in the winter, really only getting as high as $45 a month in the summer (per person).  I told him that the only way I would pay it is if he and Dave started turning all of those things off from now on.  I told him that it was fucking ridiculous that I come home every day to find a million lights on, sometimes the TV, sometimes the air conditioner with the window open.  I listed all the lights I find on when I come home (his room, his closet, the bathroom), how he left candles on the other day that could have burned the apartment down (which I suppose is not actually related to the electric bill, but seemed relevant to the theme at the time).  I told him flat out that I couldn't afford to pay him until I get paid.  I said that I don't want to be a bitch about it, and I shouldn't have to nag them about it since I'm not their mother, but I shouldn't have to pay for their irresponsibility.  I said that the only way I would pay this month is if they promised they would turn everything off when they left the room in the future.  I also told him that if they didn't, I would expect to pay a smaller portion next month.  Then I stared him down until he left the room.

I wasn't really sure where to go from there.  I mean, I turned all those things off when I got home anyway, so maybe they didn't even notice?  Passive agressively, I was thinking of leaving post-its that said "turned off by M, 11/13/08, 4:05 PM."  Too bitchy?  Did I even care anymore?

In my little tirade about how I would not pay for the boys' irresponsibility, I also asked if Bahrry would put the bills up on the fridge for me when they came in so that I could pay them in a timely fashion.  When you don't have a ton of money, like me, you need to budget your bills, and you don't always have $213.58 on a random Wednesday night.  When Bahrry first told me what I owed, he just had the number written down on a piece of paper, and I wanted to see the actual bills.  With all of my other roommates we'd posted the bills somewhere with a breakdown of who owed what below them.  It was not hard, but I do realize that some people care about these things less than I do.  Essentially, I told Bahrry (and by extension, Dan, who paid the cable bill) that I would need to see the bills once a month.  Since the boys actually paid the bills and I reimbursed them (the bills were in their names), it was really to their advantage to give me fair notice or I wouldn't be able to pay them back.
Getting back to the incident at hand, Bahrry left a list of what I owed on the refrigerator, so I could pay it when I got paid.  Then I realized the next morning that he didn't leave the actual bills, just a list on a piece of paper -- as if I was just going to trust him and just write a check for hundreds of dollars!  Clearly, he missed the whole point of my request.  I turned over the piece of paper and wrote that I needed the review the bills before I paid them.  Eventually he left the bills, and a breakdown of what I was paying for each month.  Then I wrote him a check and tried not to cry, just hoping that they'd take me seriously when I said that I wouldn't pay a full third if they didn't start making an effort to conserve energy.  And then I started to look for new places on craigslist.