Also in the running for music today, by the way (hey, I missed a couple days of blogging anyways! Time to catch up!), were "Turn Me On Mr. Deadman" by The Union Underground and "A Warrior's Call" by Volbeat, both of which were featured on the epic playlists turned out on the anniversary of Dimebag's death. I don't know if you listened to the radio that night…but there were some amazing tunes. Just thought the Sedating thing was…funny…cuz…yeah.
Okay, onward to the real blog-thing.
So, we have been living in a house since May of this year. Most of the time…but we'll get to that. We've been RENTING a house since May of this year. The place we lived before that was an apartment that was initially absolutely lovely.
The management, though – not so much. See, in a college town like ours, apartment renters are expendable students. There will ALWAYS be demand for apartments, so management can generally do whatever they want. They are usually huge companies (think multi-state, not just multi-property) who couldn't give two craps if you give a bad review and use legal complaints as toilet paper. There is just zero incentive to treat renters well, because they are usually less-than-savvy about their rights and there will be a brand new wave of renters each semester.
We were in this one for a one year lease. The lease was due to expire at the end of June, and we knew we weren't staying, but we hadn't picked a place to move to just yet. We had a friend's house in mind, but it wasn't "ideal," so we were still shopping around. There were of course a SLEW of abuses by management that we don't need to get into (think, threatening to steal anything we put on the porch because it annoyed our neighbors…who played music 24-7, me coming home and stripping for a shower only to find a maintenance man unannounced or unplanned painting over water damage instead of fixing it, insisting they come by when we were not home to look for things to kick us out for, etc.). But the biggest thing?
In less than a year there we had FOUR floods that had absolutely nothing to do with nature and everything to do with shitty construction and no real upkeep. We would just come home and the ceiling would be raining on us. Those, of course, were not the times we'd find management in our home…no, in those situations they were pretty unreachable. We paid the deductable on our renter's insurance twice in addition to the things we lost that didn't exceed it.
The most recent flood was in May. We arranged to cut the lease short a month for no penalty, but were not given anywhere to stay except an apartment to put our things in (but we could use none of the utilities except the toilet), and our deposit was withheld for "carpet damage." This flood was so bad the police kicked in our door while we were in work because they heard our dog crying and thought someone might be trapped, after being called out in the first place because the water was leaking into the neighbor's. A pipe beneath the sink had burst, breaking several dishes and flooding the entire apartment to a few inches. Anything on or near enough to the floor was trash. All of our furniture was ruined. Books, papers, bills, pictures, artwork, electronics. And more personal things – notes, memorabilia, little things.
It took so incredibly long to sort through it all. We were instructed to minimize damage to the walls and our possessions by cranking the AC and opening the windows – and we paid for that electric bill. Insurance came and threw unceremoniously everything we loved that was trashed in the dumpsters, and anything salvageable into random boxes. We had to list out every single item that was ruined.
I can't express how hard that is on a person.
The foster kittens were terrified and sliced my hands open trying to get them caught, dried off, and warmed up. Their momma, who I had been working with for months to socialize and fatten up, reverted to silence, cowering like she was in a coma.
I wrote down as much as I could. This photo of the rescued dog we kept for a month before he passed away – trashed. My textbooks, my last attempt at staying in school, trashed. The Lord of the Rings armor and weapons book I got in high school as a gift, trashed. Paintings, trashed. Jewelry, lost, accidentally thrown away. Every item of food that wasn't canned, trashed. I watched my whole life go into a dumpster.
I watched all the possessions I had packed, maybe never UNpacked but desperately hoped to so I could have my normal life back again, go out of their boxes and into trash bags. People picking up all of my things, not having any idea what they meant to me, deciding if they belonged in the moving truck or the dumpster. People I had never met. People who didn't KNOW what was important to me. It was HELL. We are still doing the paperwork. We still don't have a TV, a coffee table, a bed, a dining room table. The insurance company is tapping their metaphorical fingers on their metaphorical watches and reminding us that if we don't finish up and get them a list of items they won't pay us back for our lives, sopping wet, mildewing, and absolutely gone.
When a person's house catches fire, everyone pitches in. Money, clothes, furniture, food. We had some help, but unless you've experienced it, you can't imagine how traumatizing it all is. One day, you're fine. The next, everything is gone. People going through your things, picking it over to see what they can save or toss.
For months I was afraid to unpack boxes in case I found something broken, torn, or worse, still wet and mildewed. I put everything in plastic bins. Nothing was safe unless it was in a plastic bin. I wanted my life in a plastic bin, but it felt like I couldn't protect anything. How do you predict that? There was so much water it was gushing out the hole things in the side wall like a fire hydrant, flooding the yard next to our apartment. How do you predict that? How do you protect your life? How do you seal it up and keep it safe from everything you can't see coming?
I don't know how I survived it, but I know I didn't sleep for the two weeks it took us to get everything at least OUT. It still haunts me. I feel like my life has flooded. Everything I grab for, everything I try to keep safe, gets lost, ruined, or falls apart. It's like picking up soggy magazine pages and tea bags from the floor. It's all ruined. Everything is ruined.
Today just wasn't a good day. I couldn't leave the room again. I guess I felt like the world outside was a flood, and I've done enough cleanup. I'm tired of people blaming me for this. I am not a messy person. I have done my time, done my cleanup, done more than my share of pulling through.
Now I just want to sleep somewhere safe.
I want that clean, spotless bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, where everything is usable, safe, protected, organized, and tucked away in waterproof, fireproof, petproof, everythingproof containers.
I just don't believe it can happen.