Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Shittiest Apartment Ever

August, 2010. There I was, back in New York City after living at home for the better part of my first year of postgrad. I had convinced a crazy artist lady to let me sublet her $700 per-month studio apartment. No way! WAY. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. No roommates! Freedom to walk around in the nude! Loud sex! Eating hot pockets on the couch while watching Sex and the City free of judgement! I was "living the dream." I thought that this was pretty much the best apartment situation I could ever hope to have in New York.

Except it wasn't. The price was right, but everything else was wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! Let me lay it all out for you:

("you live where?")
The apartment was at the very bottom of Crown Heights, so far at the bottom that it wasn't even Crown Heights anymore and I had to tell people it was Crown Heights just so they would know what the fuck I was talking about. (The neighborhood is actually called Wingate.) A few days after I arrived back in the city, I told one of my friends where I was living, which was a ten minute walk from the Sterling Street 2/5 and the Kingston Avenue 3.

She took a long, bored drag of her cigarette. "I don't know what those things are," she said.

As you all know, I love to walk. but when that walk entails me trying to get to the subway in a timely manner so I can avoid getting fired from the Strand for lateness because I haven't been inducted into the gosh-dang union yet, it's not fun. You know what else isn't fun? Carrying Trader Joe's bags for that long in 90 degree heat. Or opening the door to find that it snowed three feet while you were asleep and having absolutely no choice but go to work (once again: still not in the union). At least I was "feeling the burn" from trudging through all that snow. Tres inconvenient.

 illeana douglas has nothing on this woman
First, there was really bad "art" all over the walls. It was all like, "cool-looking" sticks that were painted and tacked above the couch, above the bed... Wherever. In the bathroom there was a "cool-looking" stick "statue" sitting on the back of the toilet. IT WAS A FUCKING STICK STUCK IN A BLOCK OF PLASTER. My friend came over one night and accidentally broke the statue. It was hilarious. What was not so hilarious, however, was when I finally moved out and she came home and discovered the broken statue (which i had neglected to tell her about) and threatened to charge me SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS for that piece of crap because that's how she makes her living, by selling sticks encased in plaster to discerning patrons of the arts. I said no way, Jose and got away with only paying for some teflon pans that I "scratched up and destroyed." (As if!)

She didn't have a vacuum but wanted me to sweep her carpeted floor. It was absurd. Obviously, like any sane person would do (or in this case, would not do), I did not sweep the carpet.  When she came back she said that the carpet looked like "it hadn't been swept in months." Also she said that if the drain in the bathroom ever got clogged I could just pour a can of coke down there and it would solve the problem because obviously coke is the same thing as acid. Well, I didn't sweep the carpet and I gleefully bought Drano to take care of the clog. 

Needless to say, she screamed at me about all of this shit over the phone when I finally moved out. 

(an example of what i was dealing with)
This was the cherry on top of the fucking cake. I feel like this woman knew that she had a mouse problem but didn't tell me about it. Why, why, why??? I struggle with this question to this very day.

It all started one evening in the early fall when I was watching tv and drinking a beer and having a grand old time. Then I saw the mouse. Whatever, I thought. I've lived places where there's a mouse or two afoot, and as long as we mind one another's business then I really don't care that they're there. But then something awful happened: the mouse ran into a glue trap that the crazy art lady had placed underneath the radiator. I didn't know what to do. I was horrified. I called my mom and had a nervous breakdown. That poor little mousey, I thought. I could hear my stepfather making fun of me in the background and my mom put the phone down and said, "this is not funny! there is a dying animal in her apartment!" In the end, the mouse ended up getting itself out of the trap, which was a relief. That sense of relief, however, was to be short-lived.

I saw that mouse running around on a daily basis. But then there was another mouse. Then there was a third mouse. There would be, like, two mice (haha I almost wrote "mouses" LOL) running around the living room at the same damn time. Oh, did I mention that my bed was one of those beds where you sleep on THE FLOOR??? I went insane. I bought it all: steel wool, snap traps, glue traps... They were all over my apartment. These mice were diabolical. They ate the peanut butter off the snap traps. They pulled themselves out of the glue traps with their incredible strength. Eventually, I killed two of them. Now there was only one left. the worst one. The most evil mouse of all.

I was trying to sleep. It was going NUTS all over my apartment. Sleep evaded me, despite the fact that I'd taken, oh, I don't know, three xanax pills? The clock struck three. I prayed to god to let sleep come to me and turned off the light. I lay there, frozen, listening to every little rustling noise that may or may not have been caused by a mouse. Then, I heard that dreaded sound coming from behind my pillow. I sighed. The inevitable was finally happening.

That is a fucking mouse, I thought.

It sure was! It crawled across my neck (okay so it wasn't my face- sorry). I screamed and flung the covers off me, sending the mouse flying across the room. It ran into the closet and I leapt out of bed, filled with murderous rage. I rearranged every single trap in my apartment around the closet so that the little bastard would finally meet his maker. Then I got back into bed and waited.

And then do you know what happened? I got it. I heard it run out of the closet and then stop abruptly. I threw on the light and there it was, mired in a glue trap. Halle-fuckin'-lujah! But now what? I wasn't about to put it out of it's misery (or, more appropriately, MY misery)  by hitting it with a frying pan or something. I decided the best course of action would be to use one of the "cool-looking" sticks to place the glue trap in a large saucepan. I carried the pan downstairs and out of the building. The neighbors' trash can was missing its lid so without thinking I just flung the mouse into it. Only it didn't quite make it: the glue trap ended up getting stuck to the rim of the trash can. By that point, I'd had quite enough and went upstairs. I went to bed and never saw another mouse at that apartment ever again.
Well, that's it. My worst apartment ever. I've had a few years to think about this, and I realize now that though the apartment had treated me badly, I had also been bad to the apartment. I let things fall into disrepair: the wardrobe rack that collapsed under the weight of all my clothes, the filthy carpet, the clog in the drain. I sucked at paying the bills on time. The ghosts of all my rebound fucks and almost-boyfriends filled the place with a distinct sadness that I felt awful leaving behind- out of everything I did, this, I think, is what I feel the worst about.

Sometimes I wonder if the apartment would have been better if I hadn't been so angry and sad about what was going on in my life at the time. Had I not experienced my first catastrophic break-up days before I was scheduled to fly back to new york, I would have been better to my body and better to my home- thus, everything might have been not-so-terrible, right?

Then I remember the mice. And then I say, "oh, right. nevermind."

At least I got to walk by this everyday: