Saturday, February 02, 2008

Arrrrggghhhhh [Addendum]

OK, it started yesterday, this nonsense...

But first the background. The kitchen for tenants' use is in a room the size of a large boiler closet. I can probably touch the walls from the centre of the room. And we thought the one in the Harrow flat was small but that was probably just the size of my walk-in closet in our first apartment in Dallas. My mother and I continually bounce off each other in there, it's so annoying, so she's fine just getting on alone down there. Thankfully there is a window with an ineffective little bathroom fan above it (!)

The water in the kitchen runs hot for about 30 seconds maximum, then painfully icy for about a minute, and so the cycle goes. In my bathroom it's hot for about 15 seconds and then NEVER gets hot again, so I have perfected the 15 second facewash, and now brush my teeth in the shower at night. This is apparently the problem with any combi-boiler.

The toilet, being a loft addition, uses a pump system. For ages I didn't trust flushing paper down the toilet, and feel insulted that the landlord thought I'd also flush feminine products down too...seriously...and when I am showering the system empties about once every minute.

Yesterday, feeling better, I helped my mother do some cooking to stock the fridge for the week. We were sauteeing onions first thing, and the smoke alarm went off. I fanned it frantically with a foil pan and it stopped, started and stopped.

In the evening, though, it was a lazy oven dinner of chips and chicken wings. My mother overbrowned but didn't burn the chips, and put the wings in the oven in their store packaging (silver plastic bowl, which she thought was foil) so the alarm went off again and the plastic melted. Landlord and I came rushing up/down the stairs at the same time.

He emphasised, pointlessly, that the (open) window must be open when cooking and that the (flimsy) fan must be on too. I told him that they were on when we were simply frying onions earlier and the same thing happened. Then he (thankfully) disappeared, hopefully getting the point.

I threw the wings away because I wasn't about to poison Mum or myself with carcinogens, and popped in some frozen Thai cakes.

After dinner I was washing the dishes, water running so cold my hands hurt, then putting the dishes away I kept knocking my elbow on the saucepan handle on the counter, and the kettle on the other side, and saying bad words.

Not only that but the only thing I have seen for the past week were the walls of my erstwhile cute loft, which I had wanted to bond with, but not in this way.

Tonight my mother decided to shower in my bathroom because the Korean girl next door to her left a lot of dirt in their shower, and Mum doesn't want to clean up after her again. Did I ever tell you how many times she burnt our favourite new saucepan and has now had to pay for a replacement?

Anyway, Mum turns on the shower and the water starts filling the shower floor. I flush the toilet to see if that will activate the pump, but the toilet bowl just fills too. Just when Mum doesn't really want to use the shower downstairs, and just when I really really need to wash my hair. I fiddle around a bit, then realise that the switch near the floor outside the bathroom is switched off. I haven't looked at it in weeks, but there is a box near it, and I did vacuum the floor this morning.

So...that's my rant. Wonder if any more fun lurks around the corner for next week?

Following: a rather shameful addendum, but it's true and I am sharing it with you.
[It occurred to me yesterday with a shock that I once lived in my family's own 4-bedroom house, with more money than we could spend. I was naive enough to think that this would always exist, no matter where in the world I lived - Mum and Dad and "home" represent security, no matter how old you are. Three years in a houseshare in a million-pound house in one of London's premier neighbourhoods was a step down from that because once upon a time I didn't know what a houseshare was...but even that was nothing compared to my current frustration. This has to end!


Sweet! Vanessa just called from Houston and we talked for an hour and I have just smiled and laughed more than the last month altogether! :)


Palm Springs Savant said...

oh wow. I just caught up up the goings-on here...I've been out of the loop for the past few weeks Olivia. I hate it when smoke detectors go off like that- it causes such stress.

Anonymous said...

My dear, your story sounds dreadful! And just as you are recovering from being ill. Did you ever get new tenants for your Harrow place?

Olivia said...

The two Californians take first and second place today!

Palm Springs - ohhhh if only the word "stress" could be struck from the diary. It's becoming so cliche for me now...


Nikki - Yes, there is a tenant. More than half our deposit was returned a couple of weeks ago because they just took part of January's rent out of it. We signed a contract for a year with the option to break at 6 months. So I gave 2 months' notice in November, thinking I had to be out by January. But no, breaking at 6 months means giving notice at 6 months, not moving out at 6 months. Makes no sense! So technically we should have been there until March, making it a total of 8 months occupancy. *grrrrr*

Olivia said...

Rick - don't forget, you came by last week!

Selba said...

tsk tsk tsk.... doesn't sound good at all but at least, your day isn't very dull, still can smile and laugh during the phone call with Vanessa, right? :)

Take care!

L B said...

This is an good script for Fawlty Towers, not! Awww, but it was funny, if you look at the bright side! :-) I could almost imagine the Korean girl screaming Kimchi! Kimchi!! I hope things go better for you soon, my dear! It must be awful..

MattJ said...

Wow that sounds awful! :s I don't think I would live int he same place as more than one person again - I've been in a 2 bed flat share since moving to surrey and I am even finding that a bit claustraphobic. Currently giving serious thought to a part ownership in a 2 bed apartment thingy.

It sucks when people use your things and don't treat them with respect grrrr! and shower cleaning - I am getting angry on your mum's behalf here lol! Being a vicious sort, I would suggest some kind of Booby trap :p

Anonymous said...

Over-sensitive smoke alarms are a big nuisance.

I suggest that you (a) disable the alarm by taking the battery out and (b) get another alarm (they are only about £5) and install it near but not in the kitchen.

DirkStar said...

Oh my goodness!

Olivia said...

Selby - I laughed again today!


LB - oh look, Selby beat you to it for once. In fact so did the Californians.
Fawlty might be on to something there.


Matt - I don't think I could live alone. I mean, I like my own space in a house where other people are. I've heard of this part-ownership thing and it sounds like a good idea as long as both parties stay on good terms.

I know! We invited her to use our things as we moved from a perfectly stocked kitchen and she had nothing other than *her own saucepan* so there you go, why did she burn ours 3 times?

Any ideas for booby traps?


Anonymous - I would not dare. Landlord sees everything because he put a lot of thought into setting everything up just so.


Dikstar - indeed!

MattJ said...

Oh no the part-ownership is always with a housing authority, so you pay a mortgage on say 35% of the property then you pay about 2% rent on the remaining equity. It's a very good idea for single people who earn less than 50K in the Southeast ;)

Booby traps huh? Well, I'll go for the ones that won't get you arrested shall I? :D

A light coating of some kind of soap solution in your pan, wait for it to dry and leave it out for her to use?

lunaliar said...

Yanno Liv, I've been kinda run down about how things have been going here in Dallas, how we seem to be on a never-ending home repair/improvement track, how something happens and we're never able to save enough for our vacation, how I have felt kinda crummy and fat for the past couple of weeks...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that everyone, no matter how happy they tend to be, hits a rough spot. The good part is that you appear to have a huge trove of supportive friends to help you get through it!

Olivia said...

Matt - ooh that's a good one.


Jo - It sounds like you are on a late winter slump. Monday the 4th was national sickie day, the day when most people call in sick of all the year! One day in late Feb or early March you will suddenly wake up and the world will be a brighter place. don't worry, i'm counseling myself on this too!

Owning a home is an accomplishment to be proud of, but also a huge thing that ties you down. Hard to choose, I am sure, because when you have one you often want the other...

lunaliar said...

Liv, no kidding on having one and wanting the other. In fact, I have a poor trifecta of having one, wanting another and wanting what I once had. Pity, isn't it?