Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Countdown to Homelessness

It’s been almost three weeks since my last lengthy post. BeautifulTalker has already checked to make sure I’m still among the living. And yes…I am. I’ve just been in the middle of some serious transition.

Everybody already knows the story about my lovely new landlady who decided to give me 30 days to get out of my apartment so she could move in. Well, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pounding the pavement looking for a new home. And I’ve been finding USDA Grade A bullshit everywhere I look.

This one dude had what sounded like a really cool pad in the redeveloped section of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The greatest thing about that neighborhood is its architecture. The neighborhood has lots of brownstones that have been rehabbed by some really creative people. The architecture is reminiscent of what you would find in Harlem. In fact, the entire Rage in Harlem movie was shot in Over-the-Rhine.

Anyway, this dude was advertising a two bedroom, two bath townhouse with a fully equipped kitchen, family room, wet bar, deck overlooking the downtown Cincinnati skyline and free washer and dryer—all at a price tag of $845 a month. The figure worked within my budget, so I gave him a call and set an appointment to come look at the place. I took my Mom with me, because she always manages to see the imperfections I overlook and ask the questions I forget.

So me and Mom are checking out the place and trying to get a sense of this potential landlord. He raised our first red flag when he first pulled up because his car looked like the official vehicle for the Bush/Cheney campaign. But hell, everybody’s entitled to their own vote, so me and Mom kept it cordial despite his odd political views.

We went inside the private entrance—gagging after having passed about five garbage cans lining the side of the building that had been packed with what obviously had to be rotten meat. This was a truly funky red flag #2.

Inside the building was okay enough. The Bush-lover needed to get a cleaning lady to pay some attention to the hallway (red flag #3), but other than that, the entranceway was okay. We went upstairs, and I found out that the hallway that the cleaning lady needs to attend to is actually part of the apartment I would be renting. But I wasn’t trippin’ cause I can clean the hallway better than anybody.

Upstairs, we found a large kitchen with appliances so old, they had to be the first models ever made. The stove looked like it was about to literally fall out of the counter (red flag #4). The landlord explained that he really had to "jam it in there" to make it fit. Not a good sign, especially for someone like me who likes to bake. If I put a cake in that oven, it would fall just because of odd angle of the oven. The whole damn thing was just broke down looking. Not the kind of stove that inspires the culinary greatness to which I aspire.

The carpet throughout the whole place was probably the same shit they put down when they built the place a hundred years ago. It was just ugly and worn out, and it looked like a couple of dogs had marked out territories throughout the place (red flag #5). The bathrooms were equally unattractive. But all the rooms were a good size, and a creative decorator and some flashy throw rugs could really make the space work.

We ventured up to the top level, which featured a family room that extended the full length of the building. It had a wet bar, and that’s where the deck with the fabulous view was. And yes, it was truly fabulous. Upon seeing it, I started trying to convince myself that, despite the ancient stove, pee-stained carpet and bland bathrooms, I might be able to work the space quite nicely.

“So, where’s the free washer and dryer?” I ask. And that’s when we discovered the final red flag.

We proceeded down the steps, past the main floor and down to the entranceway. The landlord then takes a turn to go down another stairwell hidden underneath the stairs we just came down. The doorway to the basement steps was so small, even I had to duck down, and I’m only 5’4”. I kept trying to imagine how I would make this journey with a full basket of dirty laundry in hand, but I kept my mouth shut.

We finally climbed down to the basement by angling our bodies and treating the steps like a ladder. I don’t know how my mother managed considering she had hip replacement surgery just two years ago.

The landlord was jabbering away about the washing machine when my Mom caught my eye.

“Look up,” she orders by slowly mouthing the words.

Her frightened expression became mine as I saw what she was looking at. It appeared as if the entire ceiling had been sprayed with one of those cob web spray cans they use to decorate for Halloween. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Arachnophobia, but the entire basement reminded me of the scene when they went inside the barn to find the General spider. Everything inside the basement, with the exception of the washer and dryer, was literally covered in web. Web was hanging down from the rafters and drooping off the sides of old lamps and other antiques. It was everywhere. Truly the most disgusting site I had seen in a while.

So, without knowing exactly what to say, I said, “what is all of this?”

“Oh, that’s nothing but about 100 years of cob web down here. The basement is in its original condition. Isn’t that great?”

“No,” Mom and I both said in unison.

“And we need to get out of this basement because I’m starting to itch,” Mom added, rolling her eyes at this man for bringing us into the Spider Queen’s Den.

“So, what do you think of the place,” Bush/Cheyney-lover said once we got back up to the main entranceway.

“It’s a nice place,” I said sheepishly, trying not to have too much attitude with a stranger while my mother was around. “But we still have a lot more places to see.”

“Well, if you like the place so much, then why don’t you just get it,” he responds with a tone neither one of us liked. But, I couldn’t even respond before Ma-Dukes lashed out.

“You certainly can’t expect to rent this place to a woman, let alone rent it for $845 a month,” my Mom says with so much venom that it shocks both myself and the Bush Fan. “That basement is filthy, and no one with any sense is going to take clothes down there and expect them to come out clean. I wouldn’t want my daughter down there under any circumstance. We certainly appreciate your time, but my daughter won’t be living here.”

And with that, we left.

Most of the other places I’ve seen have been much the same. One place had tenants who smoked so many cigarettes, the entire apartment smelled like it was the city dump—but just for cigarette butts.

Another couple of spots were attic apartments that the owners tried to run through a Better Homes & Gardens redesign. But you would bump your head against the attic-angled walls every time you got out of the bed…and you’d pay more than $800 each month to do it.

Some of the folks renting apartments in this town must smoke crack to be advertising luxury in the form of Section 8 at the rate they do. They are the ones with the kind of places that make you want to bitch slap them for showing it to you in the first place.

This one dying-for-a-bitch-slap woman was trying to get me to rent her “beautifully landscaped, two bedroom, high ceiling, Victorian home.” However, when I got there, it was actually a “couple of flowers in a run down garden, a dining room and living room turned into two bedrooms and a kitchen pantry full of roach motels.” And to top it off, she smelled like a can of tuna left out in the sun. I’m gonna just leave it there on that one, but I know ya’ll get the idea. I put her down on my Christmas shopping list for a bottle of Summer’s Eve Feminine Wash.

So anyway, all I’ve been looking at have been spaces that won’t work for one reason or another. Some people might say that I’m being picky, but I’m allowed since this is the place where I’ll be living for the rest of my time in this town. Needless to say, I’m nervous, as I have to move this Saturday, and I don’t have an official new address yet.

So, send up your prayers to The Father, ‘cause your Sista Girl surely needs them. The countdown to homelessness is on, and I’m not trying to live on the streets.


The Surreal Life. The Experience Continues

Okay, everybody already knows my opinions about the first episode of The Surreal Life. The one key takeaway was the Flava Flav/Wonder Ho drama that was starting to brew. Well, it looks like the world just can't get enough of these two mismatched lovers, as there will apparently be a spinoff show that delves deeper into their odd love affair. Check this out!....

I'm Not Dead...

I've just been working my ass off lately. I got a promotion, and the workload has tripled. I guess that's a good and bad thing. But I am working on some updates, and promise to have them ready today. So, BeautifulTalker, thanks for checking on me, friend. I'll holla back shortly.

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