Home is Where the Heat Is

Home is Where the Heat Is

Since I’ve moved into my apartment, it has developed a faulty light switch, a leak in the ceiling, a cut cable cord, and a mold problem. There’s no insulation, so my neighbor can hear everything I say, and it’s sometimes colder inside than out. But it’s cute, convenient, and mine, so that’s that. Here are some of the chores I’ve had to do in my new place.

  • Wipe dead flies of my door. How’d they get there in November? I have no idea. But a wet paper towel makes them go away.
  • Clean the mold off my futon. I never thought lysoling my bed would be so important. Hint: It helps if it’s is kept against an inside wall, not an outside one.
  • Taking out the garbage, or getting my neighbor to do it for me. I spend three days a week, including garbage day, pet sitting at my mom’s, so I opted for the second one.
  • Meeting said neighbors—they’re who you ask if you can’t work the laundry machine. This has actually been a fun one. They’re are all nice, older women who (unlike me) pay to keep their apartments heated.
  • Bug the landlord. This one has to be done regularly, like washing the dishes. They had to send their handyman out three times before he even saw the leak in my ceiling. And now I have to check if they’re sending a roof guy to follow up.

Luckily for me, my Mom’s place (where I pet sit now and used to live) has warmth and cable. I still think of it as home because, after all, home is where the heat is.



A Really Awesome Kindergarten

A Really Awesome Kindergarten

I moved into my new apartment last weekend. Mom helped me set up, and she said it was like sending me off to kindergarten. If that’s true…this is a really awesome kindergarten. Granted, the lessons so far have been about moving furniture.  But when I breathe in, I can inhale the independence (it smells like the Lysol I used to clean out the bathtub). Which brings me too…

  • Even if your bathtub is brand new like mine (no previous tenants), clean it anyway. Or you could get out feeling dirtier than you went in.
  • Electricity costs, but it’s still okay to use the heat. Especially if it’s so cold your nose is running. Note: Slippers are your friend.
  • If there isn’t much hot water, try boiling a tea kettle and pouring it in. Trust me, it helps.
  • Make sure you get instructions for how to pay rent. I bugged my landlord about it early and often. I fundraise for a living, so she never stood a chance.
  • Take stuff from your parents’ house to get you started. That’s what it’s for.

The wildest thing I’ve done in my new apartment was watch a movie and eat chocolate.  And it felt like Marti Gras.

Quest for the $900 Studio

Quest for the $900 Studio

I’m embarking on an epic journey, a modern day Odyssey if you will—to find an apartment. I’m wading through for-rent ads and yelp reviews. Hunting through mold problems and flea infestations in search of the Holy Grail, a clean, safe apartment for under $1,000 a month. This is what I’ve learned along the way.

  • WSG stands for water, sewer, garbage—that fee is actually for something. Application fees on the other hand are for absolutely nothing.
  • If someone recommends the apartment to you, mention it. You could be the person the sales lady says “I have a people begging me for apartments” to instead of one of the people begging her for apartments.
  • If it’s your first time renting, you may need a cosigner—that’s what parents are for.
  • Look at the apartment before you commit, that way you can see if the “fitness center” is two machines in the basement.
  • It can be hard to tell if the person on yelp is bitter when they say there are homeless sleeping in the laundry room or if the apartment really is terrible. Then again, homeless in the laundry room sounds fairly conclusive.

Note: If the city you’re renting in has 111 properties, you don’t have to take the first place you see (even if the sales lady gives you jelly beans).

Cooking Tips for People Who Don’t Cook

I am an expert chef, a virtuoso if you will…with the microwave. This tip list is for you if, like me, you enjoy Netflix and chicken tikka masala from a package. It’s preparation for the day, perhaps Thanksgiving, when a relative corners you and press gangs you into the kitchen.

  • If you’re baking a cake, don’t pour the batter into one pan. I did that once and it set off the fire alarm. That was the same time I couldn’t find the measurements, decided there weren’t any, and poured in random of amounts of each ingredient. It tasted surprisingly good.
  • When you make pasta, boil the water before you pour the noodles in. My sister didn’t trust me to do this, so she stood over me the whole time and put them in herself when my back was turned.
  • Oven mitts are your friend. If you don’t have mitts, use a towel. Burned hands lead to dropping things. Then the dish will shatter on the floor and food particles will spray half-way up the fridge.
  • It is possible to make a cupcake with cookie dough frosting and a cookie dough center. Google it and wheedle one of your friends/relatives to make it for you.

If all else fails, you still have your chicken tikka. Or even better, ice cream—the ultimate frozen food.

Housekeeping Tips for Recent Graduates

My mother recently took a traveling job as a nurse practitioner and I’ve been watching the house for her during the week. Since then, I’ve discovered that there are certain things that need to be done semi-regularly or there will be problems. For example, if I don’t take the compost out every night then I’ll end up with a swarm of fruit flies that look like something out of a horror movie. If I don’t let the cat in, she’ll meow and scratch at the door. I’m not actually supposed to do that last one. There’s a cat door six feet away, but she insists. To make housekeeping easier, I’ve composed this handy list of things that need to be done so I don’t forget.

  • Water the plants. It’s over eighty degrees out and if I don’t water them they will die.
  • Give the pets their medication. Some pets are high maintenance and need regular meds. We once had a cat that was on Prozac.
  • Clean the bathroom. If the bathroom isn’t clean, then it starts to smell. No one wants a bathroom that smells like the things they came in there to do.
  • Take out the garbage. After a while, it piles up and turns into a mountain. Then things start sliding off of it and it’s a pain in the neck.
  • Grocery shopping. It helps to look in the fridge before I go so I don’t get two of the same thing or miss anything important.
  • Mow the lawn. I’ve been procrastinating on this one. I told myself I’d do it last weekend, but I hung out with family instead. Then I told myself I’d do it on Monday and a friend came over.
  • Weed constantly. It’s the only way to keep the jungle from taking over. Especially in the northwest.

I hope this list is helpful both to me and to whoever’s reading this. Unless I have no audience and I’m writing into the void. If that’s the case, then I have a message for myself: Get off the computer and stop procrastinating on the lawn.


Tips for Moving Back in with Your Parents

After I left college, I moved back in with my mom. I had spent my last semester applying to graduate schools instead of looking for a job. All seven of the programs I applied to rejected me. This was bad in that my long term plans blew up in my face, but good in that I wouldn’t have to write essays for a while.

Moving back home has been like trying to put on an old, much loved jacket and discovering that it is now too small. As well as my mom and I usually get along, there are things we do that bug each other. I try to do the dishes when she’s making dinner and end up in her way. She listens to the radio to get to sleep, whereas I like it silent. To minimize the arguments, I have created this list of tips for living together smoothly.

  • Do your chores. Yesterday, my mom taught me to use the lawnmower for the first time. I learned there is a vent on the side that sprays out all the grass clippings. If you stand near this vent and the lawnmower has been started on a gravel driveway, then it will shoot gravel at you. Take it from me.
  • It’s not personal. Often, parents are upset for reasons that have nothing to do with you. They may have had a bad day at work or an afternoon of printer trouble. (Our printer is evil and should be destroyed.) Go out for a walk and leave them alone for a while.
  • Look for a job. Parents are more understanding when they see that you’re trying.
  • Find a show on Netflix that you both like. For us, it is FBI/police murder mystery shows. There’s something about wise cracking serial killers and exploding cars that helps us relax at the end of a long day. (If there is a car crash on one of these shows, then the car will It’s automatic.)
  • Keep in touch with friends. You’re going to need someone to rant to if things at home aren’t going so great. That’s what friends are for. Preferably, any and all ranting sessions should happen at a place where there is good food. It’s hard to stay angry with a mocha crepe melting in your mouth.

Good luck and remember that the food thing works with parents too. If all else fails, force feed them an omelet and some sweet potato fries. Assuming you can cook an omelet. Otherwise go with tea.