We started looking at houses just under two months ago. We knew we might be cutting it close because our lease here is up at the end of June. We didn’t have much choice, really. We wanted to make the purchase coincide as closely as possible with the end of our lease because if we wanted to break the lease, we would have to magically *poof* $2250.00 into our bank account. You heard me right. It would cost us over two thousand dollars to break our lease. And if we got to the end of the lease, hadn’t found a house, and wanted to go month-to-month, it would cost an extra $100.00 a month. Our money tree is a little fruitless right now, so we opted for the “time it just right” plan. We got lucky. Not everyone does. Their empty pockets are the proof.
I have four kids between the ages of two and ten. Each one of them is a little ball of energy and fire that needs to be released, preferably not inside. Luckily this apartment complex has a great playground in the middle. The only problem is this: There are so many kids who live here that never have ANY supervision that I can’t let my kids go play at the playground unless I go along. (Let me clarify something. The 2 year old does not go anywhere without an adult.) When we first moved in, I would let the three big kids go over to play. I gave the oldest a watch, and they had to stay together, not talk to strangers, not go into any apartment but ours, and check in every 15 minutes. After a few complaints from my kids about bullies and foul language, I started going down there with them. I NEVER saw another parent at the playground. The kids were fighting, bullying, and two boys the same age as my oldest had the dirtiest vocabulary I have ever heard. They say things I would be mortified to hear my husband say, much less my nine year old son.
In short, I can’t even allow my kids to play outside so I can get a little housework done. I have to go along with them and regulate behaviors so they can play in a fun, safe environment. I’m feared by most, and hated by all, but the kids know when I am there to be respectful because I know where they all live, and I’m not afraid to go talk to their parents. I look forward to having our own fenced in yard where our kids can play and run and not have to worry. Until then, I will stand up and be the b!+c# of the playground.
As you may know, I live in Montana. We joke about only having two seasons: winter and construction, which really isn’t that far off. I have personally witnessed snow in all twelve months of the year. You would think that since winter lasts approximately nine months out of the year here, snow removal would be a big priority. Sadly, you would be wrong.
All around our parking lot there are little signs that say, “Drive with caution. Hazardous winter conditions may exist.” No kidding? In Montana? This, of course, is a CYA tactic employed by the complex because they rarely plow the snow from our parking lot. That way, if you get in an accident due to snow or ice, they aren’t liable, and can say, “Hey, we warned you.” Last winter we had five inch ice ruts running through the entire lot. I measured. I was extremely thankful at the end of the day that I drive a gas guzzling, bad for the air, Earth-killing SUV. At least it was big enough to not get ripped apart by the ice. I’m looking forward to only having to cuss the city for the bad road conditions from here on out.
I don’t know about you, but I love color. Vibrant, fluid, shining color. As a photography major in college, I dreaded the assignments in black and white because I knew that no matter what the photos showed, they would make me feel lonely. It was the absence of color. I have never met anyone who, when asked to name their favorite color, proudly proclaimed, “White!”. So why is it that every apartment we have ever lived in has been ALL white?
White walls show everything. Every hand print. Every splash. Every “accidental” markering by the two year old. Then add in the white appliances, and the white blinds, and the white, white, whhiiiiiiiiiiitttttttteeeeeeeee… I compare it to being trapped in a Montana blizzard, only, eventually, the blizzard goes away. However, these white walls go on for.ev.er.
Would it kill the management to step back and try something bold? Eggshell maybe. Or ecru. Would tan be asking too much? Yes. Apparently it would. I am so thankful that the previous owners of our house saw the beauty in color and left it instead of painting everything white. Now if only they had left the lime green, crushed velvet, low rider sofa in the theater, we’d be in business!
If you are a parent, you know that one of the worst possible noises you can hear at 2:00 am is your child projectile vomiting in his bed. However, you get up, clean up the kid, clean up the bed, throw all affected clothes and bedding in the washer, and you move on. Unless…you live in an apartment with quiet hours.
We are forbidden from doing anything noisy (loud music, showering, vacuuming, running washing machine or dishwasher, etc.) between 10 pm and 8 am. This wouldn’t be a problem if nothing requiring cleanup happened between those hours. However, my husband is a restaurant manager who often spends ten hours a day in a hot kitchen. He’d like to be able to shower when he gets home, especially in the summer, but it’s always after quiet hours have begun. And let’s not even think about not being able to bathe the kid or wash the bedding from the example above. Can you imagine the smell by the time 8 am rolled around?? Exactly.
While I am grateful that some guidelines do exist, I think there needs to be a few exceptions. After all, the management probably doesn’t want this place to smell like vomit any more than I do.
At the beginning of every month, someone delivers a little apartment complex newsletter to our door. In fact, they put it directly into our apartment. It’s a task easily performed without having to open the door. Whoever built these apartments was really thinking. To make newsletter delivery easy and save some money, they skipped the weatherstripping around the door! That’s right. You can easily slip two pieces of paper folded in half through between the door and the frame. What a great idea. After all, it’s not like we live in a state where extreme temperatures are the norm…
Also, with the first cold snap each fall, the caulking around all of the bedroom windows cracks away and exposes an open hole to the outside world. I hope the owners did something great with the money they saved in construction costs, like found a cure for AIDS, or cleaned up Africa’s drinking water.
Along with our “Luxury living at affordable prices,” we get the smallest, cheapest appliances on the market, the least expensive carpet available in bulk, and only one entrance/exit in the parking lot. I hope there is never a reason for everyone to evacuate at the same time because many of us would be stuck.
In short, if you are planning to build anything that you want to advertise as “luxury,” cutting corners is not the way to get it done. People will not be happy paying high prices for shoddy workmanship. Trust me.
In yesterday’s post, I talked about the cheap workmanship of these buildings. This is the reason for today’s post about listening to our neighbors, whether we want to or not. There is very little to muffle the noise that comes from the surrounding apartments. I am sure my neighbors can hear us, because we can hear them. Constantly. Upstairs and down. The difference is, our kids are in bed by 8:30pm, whereas the next door neighbor will put her kids in bed at ten and immediately tromp up the stairs to visit the three male college students. Within a few minutes, her kids are standing at the door screaming for her. How do I know? We can hear EVERYTHING. Yes, that includes the last downstairs tenants who fought all the time. Yes, that includes people in the parking lot coming in drunk at 2am. Yes, sadly, that includes the extracurricular activities of the guys who live upstairs. We. Can. Hear. Everything.
As you enter our apartment complex, there is a big banner that hangs on building A stating “Luxury living at affordable prices.” Every time I see it, I can’t help but snort. I guess that depends on what you consider to be “luxury” and “affordable.” The fact that there is a tiny peanut shaped pool doesn’t make it luxury. Nor does the little putting green next to it, or the playground off to the west.
On the other hand, the fact that our rent is more than our mortgage payment, combined with a second, on our last house doesn’t scream affordability to me. We pay over $1000 a month for 1300 square feet of living space. For six people. I know compared to third world countries this would be a mansion, and we should be happy to have a roof and all that, and we are, but for what we are paying, this place should offer amenities like free baby poop removal and a weekly massage… Now that’s luxury!
I know I have talked about some of the problems we are having with our medical bills lately, but here’s a quick recap. All of the doctors and clinics here are affiliated with one of the two local hospitals. Therefore, all of the billing is done through one place. Sometime last year, the hospital we use started outsourcing its billing to another company. I really wouldn’t care except that this year we have gotten seven bills at least four months, and up to seven months, after the date of service. We had to make a mad dash to spend over $2000 from our flex account last year on over the counter meds, etc. so we wouldn’t lose it. Six out of those seven bills were incurred during the last plan year, which means we had to pay them out of pocket. They totalled almost $1000. Needless to say, I’ve been shopping around for a private practice, which apparently doesn’t exist here. Anyway, on to my story of today.
I noticed a while back that a new walk-in place had opened not far from my apartment, but I never got a chance to drop in until today. When I walked into the reception area, I thought it was funny that instead of a waiting room, there were three round tables, each with six chairs, and a reception desk with a very perky 14 year old girl behind it. (I’m sure she was over 14, but I’d need to check her ID to prove it.) She very enthusiastically asked if she could help me, to which I responded, “I don’t know. What do you do here?” “Oh, we are a medical marijuana distribution clinic.” Huge smile. Great customer service. “A what?” “Medical marijuana. Do you need some help?”
I see now that this is where I should have just said no (duh) and walked out, but I hesitated, and a giggle formed in my throat. It was just long enough for her to engage me in conversation that, looking back, was ridiculous, and probably made me look like I wanted pot, but was too embarrassed to admit it. By the time I got out of there, I was shocked and a little shaken. It was definitely not how I was expecting to spend my afternoon.
I drove home, still a little flustered, parked my mom’s car, and went up to apartment. Flash forward a few hours. We are running low on food (and dish soap, and bread, and mayo…), so I called in a to-go order at my husband’s restaurant. When I went outside to pick it up, my mom’s car was not parked in my spot. I stood there like a stooge, completely dumbfounded. They had towed my mom’s car right out of my parking space! The more I thought it over, the less sense it made. They wouldn’t tow it because she has my parking permit on her mirror. Oh God, please tell me it wasn’t stolen!! How was I going to tell my mom that her car, her one paid off, decent possession, had been stolen right out from under us???
I staggered up the stairs, opened the door, and I must have looked like I was in shock because Mom asked if I was feeling OK. “Um, no. Did I park your car back in my spot?” “I don’t know. I didn’t look when you got home. Why?” “Well, I’m pretty sure I did, but it’s gone.” I figured I’d better go back out just to see if I was losing my mind. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I scanned through the cars in the lot. Wait. What? Is that? No. Couldn’t be. Did I really do that? I slowly walked over to the car parked two spaces down from mine… Crap. I did. I had parked it in the wrong spot! I got in and started backing out just as my mom came down the stairs, spied my position, grinned and mouthed “oops!” in my direction. I’m not sure what happened, but I’m blaming it on a contact high from the medicinal marijuana clinic!!! (Do my clothes smell funny? I’m hungry!)
As a mother with four young children, I spend my day yelling cautions at the kids. Things like: “Don’t touch the stove!” or “The wild bunnies don’t like to be chased!” But the one thing that rings true around here is this: “Don’t run out into the parking lot because people drive too fast and you’ll get run over!” Our parking lot is a big loop, and people will drive through here like it’s the Indy 500. If a kid, or even an adult was to step out from behind a vehicle, they could easily be run over at top speed. I can’t wait to live on a quiet little street near the edge of the world where we can go outside and not immediately fear for our lives.
Eleven days and counting…