When Peter and I stumbled upon a little one-bedroom apartment in the charming (antiquated, declining) little riverside (glorified waste canal) town of Marysville, we were relieved. Every traditional apartment complex we'd looked into was pricy at best. With dog-fees, most wanted $1500 down - which we didn't have - and more a month that we could afford while attempting to save the necessary money to get the heck out of dodge. The Marysville place was small, but the landlords were an older couple - not a corporation - charged nothing more for the dog and had a yard. The building was full of other geriatric residents, and the only one who worked had a night shift. Rent: a paltry $250 - the same as Peter and I paid for our respective utility-free (as in, without not included) cabins in The Promised Land.

But as the old adage goes: You Get What You Pay For.

The Porch.
There is a nice sunshade curtain that is so old, it has melted into itself and the ropes used to lower it are welded to the wall hook. My one attempt to get it down last fall ended in some minor disintegration (think : touch a mummy, create a dust pile.) The porch light has a brand spanking new bulb, but the wiring is shot. You have to tape the light switch halfway up to keep it on at night.

The Kitchen.
The tilt-a-whirl oven comes with several unique features. I bought an oven thermometer out of desperation a few weeks in, to discover that not only is the internal thermostat off by about 100 degrees, but *which way* it's off depends on the phase of the moon. There is so much internal angle that the first batch of brownies I made came out a well-done 1/8 of a inch on one end of the pan, and a very gooey 1 1/2 on the other. Each burner on the stove has a different angle, so you have to be careful to only fill a pot so full if you are only left with the North Face version, let your noodles end up all over the kitchen. Also, the sink water occasionally comes out yellow, sometimes brown. The landlords were horrified when they found out I'd been drinking straight from the tap.

The Floor.
Of course the stove is a little 'off' because the floor is a little 'off.' So 'off' that a ball will roll from one end of the apartment to the other with no help. The kitchen tiles are new, but the carpet was laid down in the early 50's. There is a water stain the size of a good-sized human in the hallway. (More On This Later.)

The Ceiling.
It's a good thing we are short. Every time I get dressed in the bedroom, my hand smacks the ceiling light. It's only a matter of time before it shatters. In the bathroom, taking a shower is a dangerous undertaking. I have cracked my funny bone on the ceiling over the tub (the low-end of the apartment) so many times you'd think I'd have developed a reflex.

The Bathroom.
In addition to the minimalist-headroom, the tub drains so slowly (despite paychecks worth of liquid plumbers and excavation equipment) that a stopper is utterly unnecessary if one wishes to enjoy a warm bath. If you'd like a shower, you'd better be shorter than me. The water temperature is great if you only use the hot tap, but the showerhead comes out just at the back of my neck. And I'm a short 5'4.

The Heat.
Although the place comes equipped with four radiant heat heaters, they are controlled by forces beyond my understanding. 1) I am still not sure which position the pull tab needs to be to keep the vents open. But this seems be irrelevant because 2) the apparatus is made of metal, so even with the vents closed, heat pours into the apartment anyway because 3) it seems that the level of heating is entirely dependant on if our landlords are home, and if they are cold. They control the fate of the upstairs tenants. There is a major snowstorm brewing this weekend. I hope they aren't going out of town.

Apartment of Death.
Apparently the last three tenants have vacated to their final resting place. I would like to think that this is because of their age and (according to the Landlords) smoking habits. I'm not so sure any more. Peter and I are convinced that there is toxic mold brewing under the death-stain in the hallway. Evidence as follows: Fruit/Veggies left out overnight develop a nice fuzz within' 24 hours. Whenever the place is swept/vacuumed (stirring up dust bunnies of death) whoever cleaned/was around afterwards is horribly sick the next day with a nearly debilitating but strangely ambiguous malaise. We are both constantly congested (unusual for us) and have started producing awfully bloody stuff and (on peter's part) spontaneous nose bleeds. Last week, I sat on the floor next to the death-stain for hours and hours getting Wedding Invitations assembled. By the 4th hour, I was feverish and ill. By the time Peter came by after work, I was hardly capable of conversation. He got me out of there for a few hours. It cleared up almost immediately in the fresh, bitter winter air. The real kicker: all of our symptoms go away when we leave town. For as long as we leave town.

That's the funny thing about cheap rent: You end up spending all the extra money on duct tape, leveling blocks, Drano, elbow-braces, light fixtures, extra sweaters and socks (for when the landlords leave town with the heaters off to conserve energy), and dehumidifiers/air purifiers/KatrinaRita-mold-mask-specials. I'm just glad Pete's working at a natural foods store, so we don't have to spend money on (organic!) groceries. It all evens out in the end.


beholdhowfree said...

BWAAA! This is great, and a little frightening.

Do you remember visiting my little attic loft apartment in Houston? That place had lot of the same...charm. I was particularly identifying with the showerhead at shoulder height.

At A Hen's Pace said...

I hope for something better for you soon!!!